TM L96: 308AWS to SMLE conversion

.308 SMLE, Cold War, Custom builds, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Quite some time ago, a client proposed making an Enfield with the magazine in the right place. Now, this is after the Matrix SMLE (Gas) but before the newer Red Wolf No.4, making it among the few with a magazine in the ‘correct’ place.

The simplest way to achieve this was to take a TM L96, which uses a feed ramp to take BBs from the magazine (located in the correct place for that rifle) forward to the chamber as it is effectively a VSR with an added on magwell/feed ramp system.

The first job was to modify the action/magwell to be as small as possible. I kept trimming it down until it was as small as possible without losing the rigidity required for this system.

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I could then fit to to the fore-stock.

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An original trigger guard was not an option sadly, as it did not fit around the dimensions of the donor.

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As a result, I designed a custom one. My first attempt didn’t quite look right.

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My second attempt was much better though.

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The next step was to attach the nose cap unit and top guards. 

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As with the VSR builds, I fit the metal parts before doing the shaping so that the shape fits around these. In the picture below, you can see the rear top guard has been cut away for the rear sight and sight guard.

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Cut down to size and part of the shaping done.

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It still needs to be shaped round the back end a bit to improve the grip, but the overall shape is coming together. 

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It interested, you can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

L42A1: Build 3

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

The receiver in place on the rifle, a little tweaking was of course needed for the stock to fit the new action. Onto the side attaches a steel plate which is tapped for the scope.

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Another improvement is the first use of my newly designed Enfield trigger. This steel trigger drops into the standard VSR trigger unit.

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Although not perfect, it pretty closely resembles the original trigger and certainly gives it a nice pull.

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Another improvement is adding in a thick, steel custom nut. This is much stronger than the regular aluminium screw that is threaded into the original receiver.

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There’s really not much more to do on this now. I have a new scope mount design for the new receiver which needs making but there won’t be much to see on that!

 

It interested, you can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

New rubber melee weapons

BC-41, Cold War, Edged Weapons, Fairbairn-Sykes Knife, NR40, Products, Weapons, WWII

It’s been a while since I did a post about melee weapons, but there are a few items now available in the Etsy shop which may be of interest to followers of the blog.

 

BC-41

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The BC-41 was an early fighting knife adopted by the British Commandos. Inspired by earlier Trench Knives, this is great for an inexperienced knife fighter who can punch and slash and be fairly likely to do some damage.

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It was fairly quickly put aside in favour of the Fairbairn-Sykes design, which was much more flexible in use due to being able to hold it in a variety of ways. Ideal for the experienced and practiced knife fighter, though some would argue of questionable use to the average soldier.

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You can find the BC41 here.

 

Fairbairn-Sykes

The mould for the Second Pattern died a death recently and I reckoned it was time to do something a little different. The new knife is a First Pattern, though at a glance it could easily pass for a Second Pattern.

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As with the previous model, it is stiffened so that it doesn’t flop about. This is aided by a new rubber I am using for thin blades which is slightly harder.

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It has an optional sheath based on the second pattern version to keep costs down, though it should fit in a repro sheath if you already have one.

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You can find the Fairbairn-sykes here.

 

NR40

For the Soviets among you, the NR40 will serve you well for WWII and post-war impressions. Although it has long since been replaced in service, privately procured ones have remained popular with Russian soldiers.

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Once again, this is stiffened and uses the new rubber mentioned above to maintain stiffness on this relatively thin blade. This is cast from a reproduction but should fit in original and repro scabbards.
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The NR40 is here.

 

You can take a look at the Etsy store for these and other interesting and unusual items, but don’t forget to join us over on Facebook where there’s nearly always something interesting going on.

Lanchester Build: Part 1

Custom builds, Lanchester, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

First things first, I draw out the stock template on the wood.

I took the drill to the stock and took out the detailed bits, then sawed through the rest. I’m very much looking forward to the day when I have a bandsaw to do this job…

Over in the metalshop, I bent, tacked and welded the steel parts together. On this build I am making a new magwell, but will be using the original magwell sleeve.

The fore-end of the Lanchester, showing the foresight and sight guards. These will need to be hardened to be much use I think.

Fitting the action to the stock. This is always a long job, but having recently got a hold of some lovely blue oil paint I’m improving my fitting technique and speed quite a lot!

Showing the bottom plate, which I am going to draw around to cut a nice, deep recess for.

I have cut the recess for the bottom plate deep so that the trigger reaches through to the correct depth in the trigger guard. I may need to tweak the trigger design though as at present it is a bit sticky. Far from ideal in an automatic airsoft gun!

I can finally get to my favourite bit: Shaping the stock. The Lanchester has a very slim, feminine wrist on the stock reminiscent of a P14/17 rifle. As a result it will have to rely on Lipos in the back of the receiver which is unfortunate but better than sacrificing the stock strength at the weakest point further. Even when I have carefully selected the grain to flow down through this for maximum strength there’s only so much you can do to keep it strong.

The Lanchester, pretty much roughed out. Now onto the rear sight, locking lugs and detailing!

 

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

L42A1: Build 2

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Weapons

Since the last post, some of the 3D printed parts have arrived. The scope mount isn’t bad, the receiver is OK (not shown here) but both need a few tweaks to be perfect.

I’m very pleased with the shape of the 3D printed bolt parts, some minor tweaks and they will be perfect. I need to work out how to get them made in metal though as plastic simply doesn’t have the strength required for the job.

In the meantime I’ll keep using the steel handmade bolts for testing.

The receiver side plate painted. Although this will do for now I have a new design for a side plate integrated with the receiver itself.

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Moving the outer barrel off-centre means a new spacer, but it does improve the aesthetics of the rifle massively. I have also tapered the woodwork a lot more to allow use of the iron sights.

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I am also making new scope mount screws that look more the part than the temporary ones. Deep knurling makes then very nice to grip to tighten and remove, these will be oil blacked for wear resistance.

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The new screws in place. I’m going to re-dip them as the oil loosened up the flux on the joint.

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The bolt is a temporary measure, it will be replaced with a cast one once I have the kiln working.

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In the meantime it looks OK and will be oil blacked to tidy up.

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I have some tweaks to make to the receiver design and scope mount but this is the majority of the work done. The new receiver will have a steel side plate for the scope mount. I hope in the future to cast the rest of this piece.

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As you can see, it takes an original rear sight leaf. while it’s nice and secure for the battle sight, I need to make a locking system for the ladder.

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You can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

L42A1 Build: Part 1

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

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With some dimensioned parts, I could get some bits laser cut and underway…

Receiver and scope mount first, this is a pretty simple tap, screw and weld together job by my standards!

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Once this was done, I marked out the lower stock, indicating the depth for each section.

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I then drilled to each depth to rough out the space for the internals. Once I made my way around the outside of each section, I took the rest out by chisel.

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Once it was roughly fitted, I scooped out the lower to expose some more of the receiver.

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I made a spacer/mount for the outer barrel. These parts will all be screwed into place and covered by the top guard.

For the curious, this is the magazine well design for the production rifles I intend to make for customers. I’ve played about with it a bit and it allows for a pretty fast reload with only a little practice, which makes it somewhat better suited to those up-close and personal moments than most VSR builds.

The top guard in place, waiting to be shaped.

So far, the main thing that is annoying me about this build is the barrel, which is a bit too low in the stock. I may have to revisit this at a later date and fit a wider diameter barrel higher in the woodwork, with the inner barrel off-centre.

This replica will make extensive use of 3D printed parts for the detailing. The foresight is closely related to the Sten MkV foresight I produce. The receiver and scope mount are new designs, which should fit around the existing metal parts. Although it is possible to purchase an all-metal replica L42 scope bracket it would cost almost as much as an authentic scope, so this will take a small bore scope suited to the period, maybe with some cosmetic modifications.

 

You can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Spring SMLE: Complete.

Imperial Era, Lee-Enfield, Products, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

At long last, the first spring rifle is complete! I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a VSR based SMLE, though there are a few tweaks I shall be making to production versions.

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I think in future versions I shall sit the action lower down in the stock to achieve a lower profile. Then I can add things like a charger bridge, maybe even splitting the back of the receiver for added authenticity.

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This example is using an original rear sight leaf. In future versions I hope to make reproductions to minimise the number of irreparably modified originals. The rear sight will also host the TDC hop adjustment mod, saving you a helpful upgrade.

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I may have to use No. 4 Enfield swivels unless I can find a way to reproduce these, swivels are becoming harder to come by.

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After the success of the 3D printed Sten MkV foresight, I have continued to use this technology here to create the outer barrel impression and foresight unit.

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The barrel has been trimmed down to fit. The VSR barrel is a little long so I removed it, cut and re-crowned it on the lathe.

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Here’s an important feature, I have lined the magazine well with steel which means magazine release should be consistent and not pinched by the wood. Other VSR Enfields don’t have this lining and I have seen magazines get stuck. There is a new design for this which I will use in the production versions to allow very fast magazine changes.

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The fake magazine is solid resin, painted to look right. There is no need to destroy a perfectly good magazine for this build!

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The original buttplate. I’m hoping to make reproduction ones for future versions. As this is an original buttstock you would still be able to fit an original if this happens.

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I’m hoping to improve the bolt handle and back of the bolt shape. However I am pleased with where it now sits, nice and authentic on the rear band you can achieve quite a good rate of fire.

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So, there are some changes to come for production but I’m very happy with this first go!

You can see the whole VSR SMLE build here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy. This will be available soon.

Spring SMLE: Part 4

Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

I’ve had the mould sitting about from previous projects for SMLE magazines. I took a resin cast from this, cut it down to size and added some screws into the top to secure to the gun. I painted it with acrylics, which are great for getting metallic and weathered finishes.

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I’ve removed the rear band assembly to do some detailing and finishing work.

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I thought I would attach a few pictures of the band before being cleaned up here as I forgot to show the build process for this part. I’ll let you work out the details…

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Markings will be kept simple for this, no attempt to replicate the originals as they would require a very random set of stamps.

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As I’m replicating various Mks of firearm I can’t use the Mk system to denote changes in the designs of the airsoft versions as ‘SMLE No.1 MkIII MkI’ is a bit confusing! However I’m not going to stamp ‘V0.1’ onto this as it would look out of place, so it will be denoted as MkI. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.

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Now it’s clean and marked up, it’s heated up and into the oil it goes for that lovely, black satin finish.

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Finally, screwing on the buttplate and some last finishing touches before assembly….

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You can see the whole build so far here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

Spring SMLE: Part 3

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The last SMLE build post was a view of the rear sight on its own. It is now mounted on the rifle, awaiting the rear sight leaf.

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The foresight unit for this is experimental, 3D printed in ABS. This design isn’t perfect but it’s not a bad start!

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The ridge on the back was accidental, I considered cutting a recess for this to fit, but decided against it. I cut this off and filed it flat.

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A view of the back of the foresight, which has slumped a bit in printing. The next version will hopefully be more square.

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I cut a flat section at the end to take the nose cap insert. The back of the insert doesn’t reach the back of the nose cap, so there is a piece at the back cut to a curve to fit this part into. The hole drilled through is for the vertical  bolt that secures the nose cap.

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In future versions I hope to have wood going further forward into the cap itself, with the transverse nose cap screw going through it. This system is still pretty strong though as it still has a substantial bit of walnut at the front.

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In place, the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the top guard is different to the last picture of it. I’m making a new top guard that is a bit chunkier and rugged than the original for durability.

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There’s still a good bit of material to remove, but this will just be a couple of hours’ work.

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Then some alterations to the rear sight before sanding, oiling and finishing up!
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You can see the whole build so far here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

The Webley review

Customer Reviews, Imperial Era, pistol, Weapons, webley, WWI, WWII

I thought it was about time that I took a look at the new Well Webley. Having owned a Wingun for some time and having seen the incredibly low price point of the Well I had to see what it was like.

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First impressions:

Side by side, these two guns look very similar in shape. It’s clear that the Well is a plain clone of the Wingun, differing in a few small details, other than the obvious differing finish. Although the Wingun is available in a black finish, I’ve never had one to compare to this.

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The Well finish is thick, when you first get it it needs breaking in a bit to make the action smooth both in the hammer, trigger and break-action.

The Well lacks the detail of trademarks, but in use these are not things you will realistically notice. It does however have some seamlines which would need filing off for the optimal aesthetics.

Weight-wise they are very similar, with similar heft and balance. On the scales, there is only 10g between them. It is quite clear that the Well is a direct clone on the basis of this. Aside from the finish and trades, the only clear identifier of the Well is the screw that controls the cylinder lock. This is a Phillips head rather than a flat head. I have no idea why they chose to do this as they use flat head screws elsewhere.

 

The shells appear to be interchangeable (however see below for more detail on this), I can drop Wingun and Well shells into each revolver with both cycling absolutely fine. The Wingun shells are better fitted and finished, with the heads of the Well shells being a little more rough and a little softer. The Wingun shells also have ‘Webley .455’ written on the back, which may seem to make them more authentic at first glance, this is disregarding the diameter of the shells being .38.

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In terms of feel, both are pretty much identical. The Wingun is perhaps a little smoother, but to be fair it has seen heavy use ever since I bought it, meaning any rough edges have long since worn off. The break action is slightly easier on the Wingun, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have had this revolver open on me in the field: resulting in either spilt shells or a delay while I close it in order to fire. The Well appears to have a little nodule on the action lock which gives a slightly more positive lock-up.

The Well, on first opening the revolver, had a very loose fitting cylinder. The cylinder lock does not work like the original (which is very well replicated on the Wingun), but appears to be entirely reliant on the two screws that hold the locking piece itself. These were initially far too loose, meaning that the locking piece did not grip the cylinder. On tightening, the cylinder no longer fell out, however it became unreliable to cycle in double action. Loosening the cylinder lock slightly allowed the cylinder to remain locked in place and cycle fairly reliably.

The auto eject works well on both guns. The Well is perhaps a little heavier, but again this could be due to wear on the older Wingun. The barrels, on all airsoft revolvers I have experience of, move forwards and backwards with an attachment that interfaces with the cylinder to provide a seal and reduce gas loss. On the Wingun, this is aluminium. On the Well it is some kind of rubber. I’m yet to see if it actually makes any difference in wear over time but it does seem to make single action use slightly heavier for the Well. Not so much that you would notice in anything other than a precision shooting environment, which these replicas are really not designed for.

On the note of precision, the Well has a feature the Wingun is seriously lacking. The Well comes with a fixed hop pre-installed in the barrel. Although it is not a majorly difficult feat to install a fixed hop using either the o-ring method or a flat hop, it is nice to be saved a job, especially given it would not have been a difficult thing for the original manufacturers to do.

Testing

Conditions of testing:

Chronoing and accuracy testing will be with .25g BBs. The Wingun is not in stock configuration, it has had an o-ring hop added. The temperature outside hovered around 1 degree Centigrade. It was probably colder in the workshop.

 

Time for the fun bit. Firstly, I loaded a new CO2 cartridge into each gun, fired off 12 shots from each to take the edge off (good practice when you are shooting at people!) and loaded the shells. I started with the manufacturer provided shells, then shot some of the Vintage Airsoft single and shot shells

The results were… interesting and somewhat unexpected. To the point where I will probably retest at a later date. It was VERY cold in the workshop which will account for some of the results but not the inconsistency.

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After firing off a couple of batches of shells it felt like the Well was low on power, so I put it aside to run the same tests on the Wingun. When I finished two Wingun tests, I picked the Well up to continue testing and it was back up to strength. Interestingly it seems like the Well suffered from cooldown much more than the Wingun, which considering their build is near-identical is surprising.

Accuracy:


Accuracy tested at 5m, obviously you will generally be further than this. I may come back and do further testing on this at a later date.

On these Huns head targets, the bull is 30mm, the second ring is 70mm.

The Well:

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The Wingun:

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In this test, the Wingun produced a significantly smaller group. In fact the first Well group was largely not on the paper. Further testing is definitely required.

Notes on use:

The extractor of the Wingun is a a bit more positive. The Well sometimes fits the shells and sometimes does not. It seems random as to when it does or does not, I presume this is due to cylinder movement as described in the first part of this review.
It is hard to see the spacing issue with the VA shells due to their being white, in the picture below you can see that the rims sit proud of the cylinder. It’s no more than a millimetre but it prevents rotation and even lockup.

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How it should look:

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Also, when loading the CO2, the Well grip panel did not click back into place easily. I had to bend the spring clip a few times to try and get the correct angle for it to fit into the lock and hold the grip in place properly.

Another issue I had with the Well was that it did not always cycle reliably, the hand would push the cylinder but not push it all the way around somehow.

 

After using the Well for a bit, this happened:

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The extractor snapped. Hence having to come back later.

Summary

In summary… if these revolver were the same price, from my experience of these two samples, I would say the Wingun edges it. It is more consistently reliable and hasn’t broken in my extensive use of it whereas the Well example I have broke in the testing phase.

The Well does have a more positive lockup, which is nice. Also the ready-fitted hop is a good thing, though when firing the shot shells it appeared to have very similarly tight groupings to the Wingun with its o-ring hop.

So the difficult bit is that they are not the same price point. The Well is, at the time of writing, 1/3rd of the price of the Wingun (on a good day). It is hard to say that you should spend so much more even when out of the box reliability is such an issue.

 

I am sure that the Well could be made reliable, but it will require time and effort. The Wingun is a pick up and play gun with minimal maintenance required to keep it going.

 

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