Webley Venom Cobra Carbine .177"The Prologue
Now the commencement of this review has been a long time coming, even for me. As regular readers will know there was, going back two or three months, several rifles in the queue for being fettled, both spring and pcp's, but the addition of a sash clamp to the tools cupboard meant that fettling the springers was susequently vastly speeded up, which in turn meant that the "queue" reduced quite rapidly. However, all that gain was lost where the Cobra Carbine was concerned.
Before last Christmas I was asked if there was anything I fancied and I must admit I was quite drawn to the Cobra Carbine. Now even though the rifles are made abroad, albeit to a much higher quality than they were around 18 months to two years ago, the rifles are quite pricey. Mind you, for a carbine, the sidewinder versions were supposed to have a vastly increased shot count to that of the nearest rival, (HW100). With this in mind, perhaps there was a chance of getting a carbine rifle with my prefered magic number of shots of around 75 to 80.
Not being much of a fan of thumbhole stocks I opted for the ordinary beech sporter stocked Cobra Carbine. The local shop duely enquired with Webley and they had them in stock, but only for a walnut thumbhole stocked Cobra Carbine to turn up. Webley cock up no.1.
The shop asked me if I liked the thumbhole stock and I have to say it didn't feel too bad at all. My main quibble being that holding the rifle thumb up, the tip of my thumb was against the underside of the bolt, i.e. it was a bit short on space. The shop said that they would do it for a "good price" as Shirley had ordered what I'd asked for in the first place. I should point out that all this went on in the shop with my eyes closed as I didn't want to spoil the surprise too much before Christmas.
So come Christmas Day I was pleasantly surprised and had several dry shots with the rifle. The rifle seemed very well balanced with the action very well finished and the walnut stock a very nice well finished bit of wood. The best bit was the fact that the bolt is spring loaded, not unlike a Lea Enfield .303", in that when you lift the bolt handle the bolt springs open by about a 1/3 of an inch. The trigger was nice too. Smooth, positive, yet not too heavy or indeed light.
With several rifles already in the "queue" the Cobra joined them to wait its turn to be fettled. We move on a month or two to the early part of this year. Several of my rifles, the ones due to be fettled, were propped up against a wall in my flat. I can't remember why I wanted my T.R.U, but I went upstairs to get it, grabbed hold of it and the knuckles of my right hand just brushed the Cobra, which then sloped in an arc to the right along the wall, perhaps a distance of no more than around 18", where it fell to the floor, not particularly hard, but enough to snap the stock almost clean in half at the thumbhole!
I was really quite amazed at this. The rifle only slid down the wall and didn't make too much of an impact on the floor, yet the stock broke almost into two pieces, only hanging together by a thread, so to speak. As you can imagine the expleatives were aplenty! Something along the lines of "Neigh, neigh and thrice neigh!"
Once I had carmed down I inspected the stock and I was, well, quite concerned at just how thin the wood was at the top of the thumbhole. I went to the shop a couple of days later and explained the "event" and as it was my fault I asked them to order a new stock for me and I would pay, however, as the thumbole stock was of poor design and would have probably broke with a light knock in the field, I decided to order a bog standard beech sporter stock in the hope that it would be much stronger.
About a week went by and I was told that the chances of getting a sporter carbine stock was likely to be no chance at all. Webley cock up no. 2. However, I was told that I could have a walnut rifle thumbhole stock, but this was longer than the carbine stock. Brilliant! Two different length stocks. What a way to keep the costs down, NOT!
I asked how much and was told at least £95 just to get it in to the shop, and we didn't know if it came with an adjustable but pad fitted. The problem was still that it was a walnut thumbhole stock and I wasn't prepared to pay for a stock that might just end up in two pieces again. So I didn't order one and the began a long wait to see if a carbine beech sporter stock would ever turn up. I even asked if they would take a stock off a rifle, but was told they didn't have any complete rifles either. This turned out to be the case for several months.
As it was a fairly clean break in the original stock it was thought that it might be repairable, but there was just not enough "meat" in the stock around the thumbhole area to effect a good strong repair.
A month or so went by with me mentioning it every so often when I paid a vist to the shop, then one day after I'd been in there the Webley Rep' arrived and he said that he would have a look when he got back to Webley in Willenhall, only to be told that the only stock available was a rifle length walnut thumbhole
, which I refused. This was probably around April of this year.
I then went on the Webley website, found an email address and sent them an email voicing my concerns, to which I never received an answer. Several weeks later I found another email address, but yet again I didn't get an answer. I'm struggling to remember now, but I may have sent another email, without getting an answer. During all this time I even contacted Gnib to see if they could do something. Unfortunately they don't do a stock for the Webleys, but did suggest, after sorting a problem out with customs and a Daystate stock, that they would arrange to collect the part of the stock that the action fits into in an attempt to take a molding of it to add another make of rifle to their list. However, I'm still waiting for them to get back to me on this.
We move on to two or three weeks ago. I was reading a thread on here that mentioned that the Webley website was now working again. Funny? I thought it had been working fine. Anyway, I had a look and found a contact form to fill in and this time, hey presto, I received a reply
The chap at Webley appologised and after a few emails being sent and received and confirming that all the stocks were the same length, I arranged with my local shop to get be a beech sporter stock. Gary in the shop questioned the fact that I'd been told that all the stocks were the same length, but he ordered one anyway. About three or four days later I popped into the shop and was done up like a kipper, being told that Webley had sent a walnut thumbhole
. I'll get em' back in the shop one day
So, we go into the back room of the shop and the first thing I noticed was that it was walnut, not beech, but it was a sporter
. The next thing we noticed was that he stock was,....... wait for it, ....... 75mm longer than the carbine stock
! I COULD HAVE FLIPPIN' HAD ONE OF THESE THREE FLAMING MONTHS AGO
In desperation I gave the stock a good look over. Yes it was o.k, but the inletted area wasn't fantastically finished and where the sides of this area drop down to the fore end of the stock it looks like it's been done with a hack saw. The action fits in the stock as it should, so in desperation I asked how much? "Don't know" was the answer, "they haven't sent an invoice." "Oh, stuff it", I said, put some QD studs in it and when they send the invoice I'll cough up".
I contacted Webley again and pointed out my concerns and told them that I wouldn't be buying any more of their products as it seems to me that they can't back up their stuff. I know they've been through hard times on several occasions, but these sort of antics will mean that they will be on hard times again in the near future if they ain't careful. You'll never guess. O.k, you probably have, they haven't got back to me again
. A couple of plus points though. The stock did come with the adjustable but pad already fitted, and a trigger guard, which makes me suspect that the stock has been taken off another rifle.
So, the rifle is all back together. I'll be oiling the stock before I start fettling the rifle in my usual manner, cleaning the bore etc.
Photgraphs and proper start to the review coming soon.Cobra Carbine (overview)
• Lightweight (6.4lbs,2.9kg).
• Compact (35.4”,90cm).
• Webley-developed, choked barrel.
• Multi-position, two-stage trigger.
• Rear-bolt action with anti-double feed feature.
• Rotary quick-fill charging system.
• Thumb-Hole, high quality Walnut stock.
• Left handed stocked versions available from launch.
• Offered in both .177 and .22 calibres.
• Easy Load™ Stainless Steel 10-shot Magazine System.
• Adjustable butt pad.
• Easy Reach™ safety catch.
• Long-life seal system.
• 1/2 ” UNF Thread for silencer.
• Built in pressure gauge.Update, CLA Game Fair 2010;-
I went to the CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall this year and eventually found the Webley stand. After some confusion I found out that I was actually talking to the chap that had emailed me concerning my Cobra Carbine stock. They still stand by what they say concerning the length of the stocks for the Cobra's and Sidewinders, i.e. They're all the same length.
If you do fancy one of these models or the Sidewinder you better get hold of one soon as it looks like they won't be available under the "Webley" banner once stocks of the rifles have been cleared. The problems with the manufacturer in Korea copying the Webley design and making them under different names, i.e. Prestige and another name, which escapes me, along with the fact that there seems to be no patent law in Korea, looks like production of the Webley Cobra and Sidewinder rifles will be discontinued, at least under the Webley and Webley model names.
I've decided to not oil the new stock on my rifle just yet, until I have tested the rifle and made sure that it's peforming correctly.