We have been given a private collection of air rifles to include in our November 25th Firearms, shotguns, airguns, arms and militaria auction. Amongst these are some interesting examples but the jewel is the Webley Service Air Rifle. This .22 air rifle has a 25 inch barrel and serial number S3378 dating it to around 1935-36. The Webley Service rifle went through six evolutions during the production life, a lot of the changes being to the rear sight but there were other modifications, the example in our sale being from the third series. The rifle is expected to sell for around £300-500 in our November sale.
The Service Air rifle was Webley’s second attempt at the air rifle market which was dominated in the UK mainly by BSA. The Service or MkII as it is also known was a huge improvement on the MkI which did not see the commercial success the company was hoping for. Both the MkI and the MkII Service air rifle share the same barrel over cylinder cocking mechanism, this being an enlarged version of Webley’s air pistols which had seen great commercial success. By using this design the company saved on some patents costs, the action already being covered. The MkII or Service featured a bolt mechanism to close and tighten the barrel around the breech as well as other design improvements which are credited to Albert Edward Statham as well as the Webley factory.
The term ‘Service Air Rifle’ has nothing to do with the armed forces, the name purely being the one chosen above ‘Flying Bullet’ air rifle in reference to the companies famous winged pellet logo. The Webley MkI air rifle actually had more ties to the armed forces as there was a prototype version of the MkI supplied to the Board Ordanance for use as an artillery gun training aide whereby the angle of the gun could be tested by the trajectory of an airgun pellet rather than using a full shell.
Production of the Webley Service MkII air rifle ran from 1932 through to the start of WWII when the company was engaged in more pressing work. This limited eight year run makes these air rifles uncommon in today’s market. Following the conclusion of WWII the Service Air Rifle was replaced by the ubiquitous Webley MkIII of which several examples are included in our November sale.
The November 25th Firearms, Shotguns, Airguns, Arms and Militaria auction will be on view 10am – 4pm on Monday 22nd, Tuesday 23rd, Wednesday 24th November. We would ask people interested in viewing this sale in person to still book an appointment and bring ID with them when visiting the saleroom.
Should you have any items you would like to consign to a future auction we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact Chris Large by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 01270 623878
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