Wembley Guns

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Wembley is an area within the London borough of Brent, on the far western side of the city. Beginning in the 1950s, large numbers of immigrants from the Asian subcontinent began migrating to England and thus it is rich with the Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cultures. Nearby is the famous Wembley football stadium and a little bit further is Heathrow Airport. But it also has one of London’s last remaining gunshops and such is the topic of this review.

 

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Some of the airguns within the gun racks. The air gun sport in Britain is vast, with all the accessories that markets in the US enjoy such as slings, suppressors (sound moderators), scopes, and bipods. The shop had scope rings as their largest amount of accessories.

 

Woody’s of Wembley is a fishing and gun shop nestled in between a clothing store and a funeral home. “My dad’s had this shop for 43 years [Est. 1963]. Back in his time, every rack was filled with shotguns and rifles. Now it’s confined to that one back corner” says the owner, Chris Drewett, gesturing towards the shelf of shotguns and .22 LR rifles occupying 4 feet of space whereas the shelf has almost 20 other feet devoted to airguns.

 

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All of these targets look like they would be great for .22 LR plinking, except that they are made specifically for air guns and thus would have .22s blowing holes through them.

 

The majority of what the shop sells is air rifles (.177-.22) and an almost equal amount of airsoft guns. Ironically enough, in the United Kingdom, you need a license to purchase 6mm airsoft guns but not one for the pellet guns (unless they are more than 50 % brightly colored, or the customer is a registered member of a community; re-enactors, film makers etc…) . ” Police were getting fed up with kids running around with airsoft guns in the parks, so they started licenses so only the people serious about using them would have them” Chris talks with a kind of sorrow about the state of firearms in the UK. He himself is a passionate shooter with a life long interest, owning as much as is possible under the current regulations.

“We moved to airguns when the regulations started changing in this country, the gun market became too limited, pretty soon most of it was people selling old granddads shotgun because they couldn’t be bothered to maintain the active firearms licenses. And to go shooting here became harder because most of the land is private and not public”. Indeed, a quick glance at the website shows that the shop makes no mention of the shotguns and rifles in stock.

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This is the firearms section of the shop, mostly 12 gauge shotguns and .22 LR rifles. The black rifle behind the shotguns is a AR15 from the Philippines chambered for .22 LR.

 

But make no mistake, the airguns that are sold, are truly impressive, some costing more than entry level center fire bolt action rifles in the United States. The finish and the stocks on most are very well done. Majority are CO2 powered and take a cylindrical magazine of between 6-12 pellets. Some of the break open spring powered air guns are in the shelves but it’s the emphasis on the modern day semi automatics that has British shooters captivated. There is some target shooting with them, but many people like them in the country side, where alot of farmers will even pay shooters to disband of pests on their land that they need taken care of. Some of this small game includes rats, rabbits, pigeons, squirrels, and Magpies, among other animals.

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A common sight one might see in the States, but all these are CO2 .177 air pistols firing BBs instead of wad cutters. All these are in the 70-200 price range. Before the store trip, the air pistol resembling an H&K USP Compact was fired and was surprisingly good accuracy out to 20 meters.

After firearms and airguns, the shop has a vast amount of accessories and scopes. Almost 2 full cabinets are packed with scopes from Vortex, Nikon, and Schmidt & Bender. They range from fixed 4x power up unto variable 4-12x designed to withstand the recoil of high caliber rifles. The last major component of the shop is the fishing section in the front, of which is not nearly as regulated as firearms are. There is also a good amount of surplus military and civilian camping gear on sale as well.

A back room, containing a small testing area for the airsoft guns and a workshop, mostly for airguns but they can work on some firearms as well. As stated on the website-

We keep a lot of spares “on site” and are able to repair most makes of air weapons within an average turn around of ten to fourteen days. This repair time can occassionally lengthen due to very busy periods in the shop or illness. Upon completion all guns are chronographed to ensure that they do not exceed the 12 ft lbs kinetic energy limit and the results entered in our workshop logbook.

Eager to come home with something uniquely British in manufacture, the author looked at some of the rifle cases and scopes. Much to his dismay, there was almost nothing in the shop that is made in Great Britain, most of the products are imported from China or America. So the Chris brought out a 12 gauge leather cartridge belt made by Brady, a high end British leather maker that makes the kind of leather belts one sees on safari hunters in the early 1900s. Satisfied with the superior quality of the belt and not phased by the complete irony of using it with a Benelli Super Nova Tactical, the brand new belt was bought at a fair price of £70.

If any of the readers are in London, the author recommends a visit to Wembley Gunshop, not as an attraction that Trafalger Square or Buckingham Palace has to offer, but to get a glimpse of what the British shooting community is on about and how they do business. British shooters are just as if not more passionate about the shooting sports as we are, it’s just an unfortunate conundrum that their laws are to the point of zealousness in regulating the sport. Recently a survey was taken wherein eight in ten Londoners agreed to heavier restrictions on carrying a knife on ones person. This along with attempted bans on kitchen knives clearly illustrates the point.

Woody’s of Wembley is reachable by the Piccadilly line from central London and getting off at Alperton station or on the Bakerloo Line and walking from Wembley Central. If readers want to take it up a notch, they can head over to Northwood, which is close by and where the Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds are located. For a measly £170 ($285) one can receive an hours worth of shotgun instruction with clay pigeons, the posh method of course.

Photo credits to Jasmine Pal, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Woody’s of Wembley
565 High Road
Wembley
HA0 2DW

Tuesday to Friday: 9am until 6pm
Saturday: 9am until 5:30pm
Sunday & Monday: Closed



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Michael

    Oh my god, there are guns in England, I must write to my MP ( equivalent of congressman).

  • asdgasg

    Every time I go to my range in Prague, there is at least half-a-dozen Brits shooting. That is what I call a passion – flying over half Europe just to be able to shoot.

    • Mike the Limey

      I fly to the US two or three times a year so I can shoot the firearms I wish to.
      Thanks to the generosity of my American friends who accommodate me on my visits, this is both affordable & great fun.

      • jcitizen

        I have an acquaintance who used to visit from the UK to shoot here; he even got his mitts on a few legal machine guns. He liked us so much he moved over, across the pond! Quite welcomed too, I assure you!

      • Wesley John Blokker

        I would welcome anyone from Europe over to my humble home if they ever wanted to go shooting, Hell, I would extend this over to practically anyone in the world including people in the US! Lord knows I need a shooting buddy! 😉

  • Ken

    Come to the United States.

    • Clone

      Easier said than done. Unless you jump the fence in Mexico it is quite hard to get into country. Legal immigration is expensive, difficult and takes a bloody long time.

      • ATman

        Come to Canada we let just about everything through and I personally know a small Scottish contingent who all drive truck. The only downside is that to get a gun license you will have to live here for 3-5yrs before you can get one.

        • Bear

          Actually a brit can apply for and hold a Canadian gun license as long as certain conditions are met

          • ATman

            But I am a thousand percent sure that a certain level of residency has to be met for a PAL.A hunting license is different than a gun license and just about anything that crawls and can understand grade 9 level English can get one. You dont have to be a citizen but until a regular PAL is issued there is a requirement for residency I do know that there are a couple of instances when limited licenses are granted early but that is rare.

          • Bear

            http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/information/lic-per-eng.htm

            You can do the safety course and the PAL is valid for 5 years

          • ATman

            I stand corrected a friend of mine is who is from the Philippines was told by an rcmp officer he had to get his citizenship first and I thought I had previously read of a requirement for residency. The only thing I can imagine being an issue is the records check process being a bit complicated.

    • Pcm979 .

      Sponsor me for my Green Card?

    • Brocus

      The US is rather unfriendly towards immigrants lately. There are places with less discrimination, violence and class warfare in the world where prospective immigrants have a better shot at a good life.

      • How many of these countries that you speak of will let you own machineguns?

      • It’s not so much unfriendly towards immigrants as it is entering illegally.

        • dan

          Not necessarily, I know a few people from Israel that have given up trying to come to the U.S. because of all the b.s.. it seems like we make it easier to just walk across the border than go about it the proper way. We are no longer telling the world to give us your tired and poor. We are however telling those south of the border, we don’t want you here wink wink ah hell you made we will put your kids in school while you await deportation

    • Burst

      You do understand that “abandon all your friends and family- you get guns!” is kind of a crappy offer, right?

      • Ken

        Because offers made on the internet are completely serious.

      • HSR47

        Not really.

        Also, it’s not just guns: It’s also a legal system that isn’t insane when it comes to self-defense. In the states, self-defense is an accepted legal concept, unlike in the UK.

        • Mike the Limey

          Not actually true, as demonstrated by several cases recently, including where a judge told a violent burglar that he should expect to get shot should he break into farms.

    • Wesley John Blokker

      I already have friend, I am from the Netherlands, I came here for love of my wife and I also fell in love with America itself and the Bill of Rights with the second being by far my favorite since it protects the other 9.
      It was a long and arduous process and after 11 years with 6.5 I spent in the US Army I finally got my US citizenship. Just to let our friends overseas know, You can own firearms as a green card holder, I have owned firearms for 8 years now.

  • Fruitbat44

    Speaking as a Brit while I’m glad that there are still such places, overall it’s . . . -sigh- or perhaps . . . 🙁

  • Pcm979 .

    Britain: No Fun Allowed. Don’t become us, America.

  • USMC03Vet

    This is so sad. An empire that civilized the world is now an island that where you can barely own a pellet gun.

    • Graham2

      It really isn’t as bad in the UK as a lot of people make out. If you’re honest, with no serious criminal convictions, it isn’t actually all that hard to get a firearm certificate and a shotgun licence. I use all sorts of firearms and shotguns and cull foxes every week on a local farm and target shoot at Bisley with 5.56mm and 7.62mm rifles most months.

      • Henrik Bergdahl

        Now do that with a semi auto that is not .22lr 🙁

        • Julio

          Point taken… but we can have .22 WMR semi-autos as well! : )

          • Wesley John Blokker

            And I have seen some innovative designs to make AR-15’s and AK’s legal there! Like the lever release rifles! It’s genius!

  • Xyxxyz

    One quick correction most for rifles are what we can PCP. Pre Charged Phummatic. The are filled from diving bottle ( or with lots an lots of pumps on a special pump).

    For any one who does not know the 12ft/LB is about the difference between an air gun (very limited restriction for honest adults) and a firearm (which for a honest adult is not difficult to get BUT you have to have the patience to jump though lot and lots of hoops).

    An airgun of over 12 ft/lb has to go on a firearms cert.

    xyz

    • That was my initial reaction, but I think that the author was referring to the pistols.

    • Harry Bedford Exeter

      Hey thanks for that, I saw that PCP title all over the magazines and in the shop but hadn’t realized there was a deeper distinction between “airguns” and PCPs.

    • Alex Nicolin

      Airguns fall roughly into 4 categories:
      1) Spring powered, where a spring or a gas piston drives the main piston, which compresses the air and pushes the pellet out of the barrel. The piston is cocked by breaking the barrel or an under-barrel lever.
      2) PCP, where the pellet is driven by compressed air is released from a rechargeable tank by a valve which is struck by a hammer, much like the striker of a firearms. The tank is filled with a high pressure pump or scuba tank, since pressures are 2000-3000 PSI.
      3) Pump (single/multi stroke) which are PCPs where the tank is integrated with the pump and can only be charged manually. There are hybrids which can be charged externally or by integrated pump (ex. FX Independence).
      4) CO2 powered, which work similarly to PCPs, but with the distinction that the bottle is non-rechargeable, and factory filled with CO2. Some hybrids exist, that are able to use both compressed air and CO2. (ex. Benjamin Discovery)

      Low power “BB guns” are either CO2 or single stroke. Spring powered guns can be either low or medium power, but there is a practical limit, related to cocking effort – the most powerful can deliver about 30 ft-lbs. But all high power air rifles are PCPs, with some generating 60 ft-lbf or more in .22″ and .25″.

      • jcitizen

        I bet getting nail guns for construction is a big hassle!

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    A license to own 6mm Airsoft guns. Oh man. How did that even HAPPEN!?

    • Ben

      It’s not a licence per se, it’s an exemption from the VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which bans airsoft pistols).

      To own airsoft guns you have to be over 18 and demonstrate that you have reasonable need to possess them, i.e. sporting use, re-enactment, as a prop. This is usually done by being a member of a relevant organisation. You then provide your membership number for that organisation when purchasing and then everything is OK.

      This is not a licence provided by the government.

      Alternatively, if it is 50% coloured in one of the approved colours or clear then you don’t need the exemption. However, modifying it after purchase puts you back outside of the law unless you have an exemption.

      Ironically, to buy an airgun you just need to be 18 and buy it in person.

  • A Very British Househusband

    WE MUST CLOSE THE 6MM AIRGUN LOOPHOLE!!!!!

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    You don’t actually need any form of licence to purchase an airsoft rifle in the UK. This is a common misconception based on industry guidelines but there is no requirement in law for it.

    I’m disappointed by the coverage of UK related matters on this blog in all honesty. Two posts stating it is illegal to sell a wooden replica firearm in the UK are still up despite numerous people pointing out in the comments that that is not the case and no amendments have been made to correct either story.

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/02/18/splinter-sell-wooden-replica-guns/
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/05/29/fn-hershales-latest-aq-fn-scar/

    As a UK based reader I do enjoy reading this blog but a little fact checking would go a long way as would editing a story to accurately reflect the facts when it is pointed out that it is incorrect.

    • jcitizen

      I see dewat military collectibles for sale online in the Uk all the time – the have more to choose from than we do as far as demil guns are concerned They are high quality, and the only difference is they have no bolt, and the receivers are full of metal. Otherwise you could not tell them from the original, and in fact were the original firearm at one time. The prices are very good – they make me jealous! 🙂

      The other amazing thing is they typically come in the original transit chests with all accouterments – all original of course!!!

  • Michael

    Lots of us Brits who moved to America shoot. I think we bought most of the Enfield Rifles .
    Anyone notice the suppressor on the rifle?

  • Alex Nicolin

    That’s how most gun shops in Romania exist. At least half of the gear is actually fishing gear, airguns and rubber ball pistols. You need non-lethal weapon permit for the last two, and the conditions are almost the same as for a “real” firearm – background check, medical and psychological check and owning a metal locker at home. The rules are even stricter than during communism, when one could own airguns without permit, and store them as he pleased.

  • ChuckyTee

    This is sooooooo sad and sooooo scary at the same time.Grown ass men reduced to pellet rifles.