This fairly recent addition to the fold has ticked a couple of long-standing boxes--an early Webley Mk 3 with the initial style "monk's cowl" stock, and with the gorgeous factory-option Parker-Hale aperture sight.
The serial is in the 16xxx range and best as I can tell from Chris Thrale's superb recent tome on Webley rifles, it dates from about 1954, thus it represents fairly early production after the first-series two-stage trigger was discontinued. The rifle is in really excellent condition, and shows off Webley's high finish standards of the time. I was also very pleased to find it had been gone through by a first-rate tuner! It shoots every bit as nice as it looks.
The different feel from the later more rounded stock (introduced around 1958) is very noticeable. The later stock (top rifle in photo below) balances and handles very well in its own right, but the older rifle feels more slender and compact, easier to carry and with a more front-heavy balance.
I've certainly seen fancier walnut on Mk 3's, but that's not to say this one is anything to be ashamed of!
The action has several interesting details: 1. artfully shaped, comfortable trigger blade:
2. beautifully done stamped markings:
3. interesting "notch" in the cocking link to clear the cocking lever:
4. fine ribbing on the end of the cocking lever to improve grip:
5. knurling at the rear of the receiver, which is actually a separate removable piece on this older rifle (a legacy from the different trigger on the first series Mk 3's):
This Mk 3 does not appear to have ever had the typical open rear sight mounted in the provided dovetail, so the peep sight has likely been there since it left the factory.
The PH 16M sight is one of my favorite airgun accessories ever, a really superbly-designed sporting sight. The mechanism is small and sturdy, and well away from the line of sight for an unobstructed view of the target--a superb detail for a sporting sight. Note how both windage and elevation scales are easily visible from behind. The arm carrying the eye disk can swing out of the way, for use on rifles that have an open sight zeroed at a different distance.
Parker-Hale made all types of sights, and a bewildering variety of eyepieces for them! The Mk 3's PH 16M usually came with a tiny eyepiece which gives an unobtrusive "ghost ring" sight picture; but all manner of different styles were available, including some with adjustable-size apertures built in.
This PH 59 "Midget" eyepiece has an internal rotating ring with 6 different diameter apertures. It is 3/4" in diameter to conform to certain UK shooting rules.
This PH 60 sight works similarly to the Midget, but has a separate eyeshade and can take colored filter lenses.
The PH "Iris" aperture is a continuously-variable aperture opening of overlapping thin steel blades, similar to later German sights. The separate PH 62 eyeshade is beautifully made of blued steel with a matte phosphate finish on the rear face, and will also fit other Parker-Hale eyepieces, including the PH 60.
The Mk 3 has long been one of my favorites, and I like this one a lot!