Here’s another recent addition to the collection. A 1973 Series 2 “Suncorite” Webley and Scott Junior air pistol.
The Webley and Scott Junior range was first introduced in 1929 with a smoothbore .177 barrel. Initially it had grooved wooden grips which were later replaced with similar grooved or ribbed metal grip plates. At first the rear sight was fixed and was later replaced with an adjustable sight. Then, just for good measure, they removed the adjustable sight again!
Production of the Junior continued until 1938 and didn’t resume again until the Series 2 Junior was introduced in 1945 following the end of World War II. The Series 2 Junior was a revamped model of the Series I. However, parts were not interchangeable between the Series 1 and 2 models. The metal grip plates of the Series 1 were replaced with coarse chequered black plastic grips. Initially the grips extended forwards slightly, but noticeably, at the top of the grip. Apparently this extension served as a thumb rest. The extension was removed after 1951 and the coarse chequering was also replaced with fine chequering. The barrel on the Series 2 was also shortened to make it flush with the end of the pistol.
The Series 2 variants prior to 1958 were stamped “BIRMINGHAM 4” which was the time when the company changed location and hence the Birmingham 4 postal code was no longer appropriate. Also, until the mid-1950s the Series 2 had a fixed rear sight. An adjustable rear sight plate was then added for the remainder of the Series 2 pistols. Series 2 Juniors up to 1958 were also available in nickel or chrome plating as a factory option.
On the whole, both the Series 1 and 2 Juniors were .177 smoothbore. However, it is said that a small number of rifled barrel variants were made especially for New Zealand. They must be quite a rare item to find!
Throughout the production cycle of the Series 2, various changes to the components were made internally. Such as changing from a two piece combined spring guide and end cap to a one piece unit. This change occurs in the mid-1960s. The Series 2 continued to use a leather with brass insert breech seal right up until 1970 when it was replaced with a rubber seal.
The Junior was typically constructed of a frame and a separate compression tube that was inserted into and attached to the end of the frame. The two parts were made of different metal. The frame was made from a soft iron and the compression tube was manufactured from steel. This is the reason why the Junior has a unique two-toned colour with the frame a plumb colour and the compression tube a black colour.
John Griffiths, author of the Encyclopedia of Spring Air Pistols, also notes that there are differences to the design of the frame under the grip plates depending on which company Webley and Scott had subcontracted to forge the frame. However, without removing the grips, the pistols look identical.
In its final year of production, 1973, Webley and Scott used a new method of finishing their air pistols. Instead of the traditional bluing, they tried a method of black phosphating using Suncorite 243. They also applied this to some Webley and Scott ‘E’ series Premier air pistols. However, their experiment with this coating did not last the year but was the last they used on the Series 2 Junior. The 1973 Suncorite Juniors were also stamped on the left hand side between the grip and the trigger with either “A” or “B”.
There were some Junior pistols that were engraved at the factory by apprentices to cover up any blemishes and imperfections in the metal. These are rare and highly sought after by collectors.
Finally, the Series 2 Junior was replaced with the MKII Junior in 1973 which I shall save for another article.
Until next time, happy shooting!