This week, Dear Reader, I’m going to be telling on myself. When I first pulled the Webley Alecto out of its foam-lined black plastic case, I thought: “Oh cool, another single-stroke pneumatic air pistol.” Little did I know that I had a happy surprise in store.
I grabbed the Alecto, a container of Crosman Premier Light (7.9 gr.) .177 pellets, and wandered outside to punch some holes in a paper target at 10 meters. I was happily sending pellet after pellet downrange and enjoying the heck out of the Alecto when it started to sprinkle. So I packed up the gun, pellets, and pellet trap and scooted inside.
Back at my desk, I began wondering whether Airguns of Arizona had the Alecto up on its website yet. I found it at http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/webley.html and was idly scrolling down the page when the following jumped out at me: “Multi-pump Pneumatic Pistol” “1-3 Pumps.”
“HOLY SMOKES!” I thought, “this changes everything.” Right then and there, I decided maybe I should read the manual for this pistol to find out what the deal is. But manual is strangely reticent to reveal that the Alecto is, in fact, a multi-stroke pneumatic pistol. The only place that it is mentioned is in the CAUTION section on page 4. To whit: “If you require extra power, the cocking procedure can be carried out to a maximum of three times. Extra cocking strokes (presumably beyond 3 strokes – JE) will not increase power but will eventually damage the internals of the pistol.” Oh.
Clearly, the good folks at Webley have not truly grokked the significance of what they have created here, so let me lay it out for you. In the past, if you wanted a self-contained air pistol with an excellent trigger, low recoil, and worthy accuracy suitable for high-accuracy plinking or casual club competition, the obvious choice was a single stroke pneumatic pistol like HW75, HW40, FAS 604, or Daisy 747.
If you wanted a self-contained pistol capable of killing small game at very close range, you could choose pistols like the HW45 or RWS LP8 and deal with the recoil of their spring-piston powerplants. Alternatively you could choose a low-recoil pump-up pistol like the Crosman 1377 or the Benjamin HB17 or HB22 and do a lot of pumping to generate sufficient power for dispatching vermin or small game at close range.
But the Webley Alecto, it would appear, offers the promise of the best of both worlds: excellent trigger, low recoil, and excellent power (for a self-contained pistol) at only three pumps. Could it be true? We’ll find out in just a little while, but first let’s take a stroll around the Webley Alecto.
Available in .177 and .22, the Alecto stretches just 11 inches long and weighs 2.4 pounds. Shaped to look like a modern semi-automatic pistol, most of the Alecto is sculpted of a matte black engineering polymer. At the extreme back end of the pistol is a metal notch sight that is adjustable for elevation and windage. Just below the rear sight on either side of the upper cover of the Alecto is a lever. Both of these levers must be pulled upward to release the upper cover for cocking and loading. At the far end of the upper cover, near the muzzle is a blade front sight with a small red dot on it. This blade front sight can be flipped 90 degrees to reveal another front blade of lower height.
Underneath the muzzle, the lower half of the receiver is fitted with a Weaver rail for mounting accessories such as a flashlight or laser. Moving back, the trigger guard is molded of matte black polymer and encloses a silver metal trigger and push-pull automatic safety. The trigger is adjustable for left, right and downward movement; trigger position forward and aft; and trigger spring strength, from just under a pound to about 4 pounds. Moving back again, the Alecto features a match-style grip (available in left or right hand) with an adjustable palm shelf.
To get the Alecto ready for shooting, pull the levers on either side of the upper cover upward and then swing the aft end of the upper cover up and forward until the cover is completely open. Returning the upper cover to its original position charges the action, cocks the trigger, and activates the automatic safety. You can pump the Alecto up to three times, and the effort becomes stiffer with each successive stroke. Before you complete the last stroke, insert a pellet into the end of barrel prior to returning the upper cover to its original position.
Now you’re good to go. Take aim at your target, flick the safety off (you can’t help but notice the automatic safety since it blocks the trigger), and squeeze the trigger. At 1 lb. 1.4 oz., the first stage comes out. At 1 lb. 12 oz., the shot goes down range with a pop (The pop gets louder as the Alecto is charged with more pumps). At one pump, the Alecto launches 7.9 grain Crosman .177 Premier pellets at around 365 fps; at 2 pumps, about 480 fps, and at 3 pumps, about 560 fps. At three pumps, that’s very comparable to the power you would get from an HW30 rifle or the RWS LP8 pistol, and a bit more powerful than an HW45 pistol in .177.
It strikes me that the Webley Alecto delivers a whole lot to like in a handsome package: a virtually recoilless pistol suitable for high-precision plinking, casual target competition, or pest control at close range.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight,
– Jock Elliott