I bought my Webley Eclipse Mark 1 when they first came out, so that would have been around 1988. I’d already decided I wanted an underlever gun rather than a break-barrel and the choices were the Eclipse or the Weihrauch HW77. Despite the good reviews the Eclipse was getting, the Weihrauch seemed the better choice: a more stable company behind it, a gun with a better pedigree and track record and the suspicion that German engineering was better.
After a few phone calls – this was a year before the Word Wide Web was created – I tracked one down in a gun shop about sixty miles away, so I jumped in my car and dashed down there. I walked in, explained to the shop owner that I’d called him a couple of hours previously and that I was there to pick up one shiny new HW77, but he said he didn’t have one in stock and would have to order one with no real idea of how long it would take to arrive. British customer service at its best!
After some discussion during which I have to admit I was brow-beaten to some extent, and not wishing to waste a 120-mile round trip, I walked out with an Eclipse.
It’s been a good gun: I crank it up, shove a pellet in and pull the trigger and it does what you’d expect it to do. Now and again a bit of oil goes in. Occasionally it doesn’t see the light of day for twelve months or longer. With a 4×40 Bushmaster parallax-adjustable scope, it hits the target reliably and produces nice tight groups at twenty-five metres. It’s been worth every penny and I’ve got no complaints about it whatsoever.
Having said that, I decided it was about time it had a proper service. It wasn’t until I fired a pre-charged pneumatic rifle about six months ago that I realised how harsh the Webley felt in comparison, so I started searching for someone who would give it the love and attention it deserved. I spoke to a few gunsmiths and the nearest I found who seemed pleased to be offered the business were RB Sporting in Ross-On-Wye. Estimate: seven days and £40.
They were good to their word and seven days later I went back to collect the gun. They’d done a fine job – all the seals were replaced and the lubricant which had been sitting inside it for a quarter of a century had been replaced with something a lot newer – and after remounting the ‘scope, a short session re-zeroing it proved that it fired a lot more smoothly. Well done, RB Sporting!