Southpaws will like the fact that the cocking bolt can be switched to the left-hand side.
Prototypes have always fascinated me, and I’ve been lucky enough to have seen many of them over the years. Late-stage, pre-production prototypes, like the subject of this test, are especially interesting, because they’re just a tweak or two away from becoming the airgun that will be offered to us as the finished item. I grabbed this particular example during a ‘new products for 2021’ meeting with Webley’s owners and distributors, Highland Outdoors, and I’ve been blatting away with it at every opportunity.
Those opportunities have been many and frequent, too, because the Webley Nemesis X is, essentially, a short- to medium-range rifle, and that means I can test it in smaller, more sheltered places, without the weather doing what it does on a far too regular basis. With the lockdown still in place and my club range closed, this Webley prototype has not only been convenient, it’s been positively therapeutic. In these days of technical advancement, when our airguns have been refined and developed to produce jaw-dropping performance, we sometimes lose track of the pure pleasure of a random plinking session. The Webley Nemesis X brought me back to that happy state – and here’s how it did so.
The Webley QGS 4 is a compact anti-cracker of a moderator.
WHAT IS IT?
The Nemesis X is the full, ambidextrous rifle version of Webley’s best-selling, CO2-powered pistol of the same name, minus the ‘X’. Where the Nemesis pistol takes standard 12-gramme CO2 capsules, the X runs off a screw-in 88-gramme cylinder, which also forms the foundation of the rifle’s slide-on skeletonised butt section. Simply press the spring-loaded, butt section release catch, slide off the butt, screw in the CO2 cylinder, then slide on the butt until a firm ‘click’ tells you it’s securely fitted. Easy.
For the .177 test example, each cylinder should supply in excess of 200 shots at around 9.5 ft.lbs., dependent on ambient temperature, and around 250 shots in .22. There will also be an adaptor available as an optional extra, which will allow the Nemesis X to use a pair of 12-gramme capsules instead of the 88-gramme tanks. I’m assured that this adaptor can be taken out of the rifle, without losing the CO2 it contains. Now that is a handy feature and I’ll be testing that as soon as the adaptor is finalised.
(MAKE SURE THIS PIC IS ROTATED 90 CCW) The ambidextrous, drop-down grip is perfect for a bit of close-range rat reduction.
THE MAGAZINE SYSTEM
A ‘double-seven’ magazine cartridge is supplied with each rifle, and loading it is a straightforward matter of dropping pellets into the seven bays, rotating the spring-tensioned inner carrier as you go, until all chambers are loaded. These pellets are now gently held under spring tension and will remain in place when you flip over the mag’ and repeat the process for the second, seven-shot load.
Once the rifle’s cocking bolt has been drawn back and the manual safety catch has been applied, the double-loaded magazine is then inserted from the left-hand side of the action. Closing the bolt loads the first pellet, and after pushing off the safety from the right, the Nemesis X is ready to shoot. Cocking the action chambers the next pellet, and when all seven have been sent downrange, it’s time to apply the safety, cock the action, withdraw the magazine, flip it over, and re-insert it to present another seven pellets.
It’s a simple, clever little system, and it can be used by anyone. There’s a single-shot adaptor planned, and at £7.99, this is a must-have. Mind you, spare magazines are only £19.99, so perhaps Nemesis X owners will prefer to have a stash of mag’s.
Screwing home the 88-gramme CO2 power source sees the Nemesis X ready to produce over 200 shots in .177.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRIGGER?
As soon as some prospective purchasers see the description ‘factory-set trigger, non-adjustable’, they give out a bit of a groan. Don’t do that in this case. Here’s a factory-set trigger that works extremely well, and for a couple of perfectly valid reasons.
First, the Nemesis’ trigger system doesn’t have much work to do, in terms of holding back the stored energy of the rifle’s hammer spring. A comparatively light spring equates to a more finely-set release pressure, and that’s exactly what we have here. The two-stage delivery of this trigger unit is perfect for the needs of the Nemesis X and its user. My groups at 20 yards prove beyond doubt that this rifle has a trigger that complements it. This is a proper trigger for this rifle, and it’s backed by a solid safety catch, and that’s all that matters.
Simply slide over the hollow, skeletonised butt section until a loud 'click' tells you all is secure.
This section of the features rundown won’t take up too much page space, because the Webley technicians refuse to reveal the origin, design, or specification of the barrel fitted to this prototype. They did confirm that this is the barrel the production guns will get, and that of course it will be ½-inch UNF threaded for a silencer, without the fore sight mounting grooves left on the prototype, that really was it. ‘It’s a bit special’, was the parting remark, accompanied by a wink, and so far, I’d have to say I agree.
That's an easy-to-use, affordable little double magazine. Clever stuff.
TWO SET-UPS AVAILABLE
The Nemesis X will be sold as a rifle-only package, for £174.99, or as an outfit, comprising rifle, 3-9 x 40 Webley scope and mounts, plus a Webley QGS 4 moderator, for £214.99. As mentioned, there’s single-shot manual loading tray and the 12-gramme capsules adaptor for £54.99. Personally, I think those spare magazines for a penny short of 20 quid will be the go-to optional accessory, but only time will tell. Meanwhile, please join me as I take an exceptionally enjoyable mooch around with the Webley Nemesis X.
Factory-set, non-adjustable - and just right for this rifle.
IS IT A LIGHTWEIGHT?
With an all-up weight of just 5lbs 13oz, this outfit will never tire you out through carrying it around. Yes, it’s light, but not so light that it’s difficult to keep on target. Again, this is a rifle designed for ‘serious’ use out to 25 yards. That use mainly involves the control of rats and feral pigeon, and the Nemesis X has the accuracy and muzzle energy to do that job extremely well. In my 50-years (blimey!) of shooting rats and ferals, I’d estimate that rested shots have been used around 90% of the time, so freestanding on-aim stability isn’t the crucial factor it is on conventional sporters. That said, out to 20 yards, I’d be confident of taking unsupported shots with this rifle, and the groups I’ve shot, plus the targets I’ve hit, provide all the proof I need of its effectiveness.
You definitely won't get tired carrying this one around all day.
HOW IT HANDLES
The Nemesis X is ambidextrous, and production examples will have a bolt-swap facility, where the cocking bolt can be switched to either side. That’s the southpaw appeal dialled in, then, but what will users find when they first pick up this new Webley?
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First, I think they’ll be surprised at how well the Nemesis rifle comes to the shoulder. Provided the proper care is taken to get the scope in the right position for perfect eye-relief – and there’s a full 15 inches of Picatinny scope mounting rail available to help you do that – you’ll be locking on to rat and pigeon skull-sized targets with pleasing efficiency.
The rifle’s fore end profile is a mix of Picatinny rail at the base and top, with a ventilated, synthetic ‘oval’ to accommodate the supporting hand. Due to the rifle’s light weight, the front hand acts more as a guide than support, and overall the handling is secure and positive within the required use of the Nemesis X.
An impromptu group, shot on the bottom of an orange juice carton, as I propped the rifle aganst a fencepost.
ACCURACY AND CONSISTENCY
All CO2-powered guns are, to a lesser or greater degree, temperature sensitive. It’s the ‘expansion reaction’ of the released CO2 that drives the pellet, and that reaction increases/decreases according to the rifle’s temperature. Within the warmth of my man cave, which I maintain at a balmy 75 degrees in old money, the chrono’ returned an average of 10.2 ft.lbs., using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets straight from the tin. When the rifle was exposed to a couple of hours’ worth of mooching about and zapping targets every couple of minutes in the late-November chill, that muzzle energy output dropped to just over 9 ft.lbs. Interestingly, at least to tragic folk like me, the rifle’s consistency remained … well, consistent. After a couple of ‘clearing’ shots, the following 25 toed the line with an average deviation of 12 f.p.s. Yet again, at the ranges for which the Nemesis X is intended, this deviation makes no discernible difference to its commendable accuracy.
For the record, this prototype .177 calibre rifle produced plenty of sub-20mm groups at 25 yards, using the scope provided, and I’ll be fitting a higher magnification model to see if I can improve on that. I’m confident – but then I usually am.
Cards on the table straight away – I’ll be adding a Nemesis X to my airgun armoury. Not as a collectable, or a curiosity, but as a practical tool for rat and feral clearance in and around farmyards, stables and similar confined situations. This rifle has the combination of accuracy and muzzle energy, within a dependable build quality, I can really make use of, without going ‘full PCP sporter’ when there’s no need.
Depending on how the twin 12-gramme capsules converter performs, the Nemesis X package is also something I can recommend to those who need to control rats and ferals, but who don’t want to commit to a PCP rifle and charging gear.
Importantly, the Nemesis X system, from charging it with CO2 to loading its magazine, is easy to learn and even easier to use as part of the package. As things stand, after my experience with this prototype version of the Nemesis X, I believe it’s going to be a huge rifle for Webley – and for thousands of happy airgunners.
Model: Nemesis X (Prototype)
Country of origin: UK
Price: £174.99 (Rifle only) £214.99 (with 3-9 x 40 Webley scope and mounts, plus QGS 4 moderator)
Type: CO2-powered, multi- and single-shot, sporter
Calibre: .22, .177
Trigger: 2-stage, non-adjustable, with manual, resettable safety
Stock type: Ambidextrous, skeletonised, synthetic
Weight: 2.65kg (5lbs 13oz) Including scope, mounts and silencer
Length: 965mm (38ins)
Barrel: 510 mm (20 ins)
Power source: 88-gramme CO2 cylinder. Twin, 12-gramme capsules adaptor to be offered as optional extra for £54.99
Shots per 88-gramme tank: 200-plus in .177 and 250-plus in .22, at 9-plus ft.lbs.
Average energy: 9.5 ft.lbs.
Contact: All Webley stockists