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Old January 31, 2014, 03:24 PM   #1
Jim567
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Webley Mark V 1917, Converted - 45 acp

Is this weapon safe to fire with .45 acp in full moon clips as converted?

Is one type of .45 acp safer to fire in the pistol that others?

The pistol is very tight and in excellent condition inside and out.

I have seen some in not as fine condition split .45 cases every time ( it's been years, can't remember if the rounds were reloads ).

This one does not. I have only fired 18 rounds through it.

Thanks for the input.

Jim
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Old January 31, 2014, 04:12 PM   #2
James K
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It is not a matter of splitting cases, it is a matter of pressures. The old .455 revolver cartridge had a working pressure of around 11,000 psi. The .45 ACP has a pressure of 21,000 psi, or almost twice as much. There have been Webley Mk VI's blown using .45 ACP, and the Mk VI is a stronger gun than your Mk V.

The Mk V, BTW, is a fairly rare gun, with only 20,000 being made in 1913-14. The conversion hurts the value, but even so, it is highly collectible.

If you shoot it, I strongly suggest you load the .45 ACP with .45 Colt data (NOT RUGER ONLY data), or use .45 Auto Rim cases with the same light loads.

Please do not accept the claims by a few Anglophiles that the Webleys are super strong, can't be blown up, etc. Not true.

Jim
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Old January 31, 2014, 04:27 PM   #3
Jim567
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Jim,

My apologies.
It is a 1917 Mark VI.
I assume same caution applies.
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Old February 1, 2014, 02:12 PM   #4
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Does it look like this?

This one is also a 1917 date

The "shaved" Webleys are much more common than uncut ones these days, because when the supply of .455 ammo dried up it was a way to keep the gun functional.

Many people have shot these converted guns for decades without trouble, and so believe that it is fine. Some have had their guns come apart, and know its not fine.

Essentially standard GI .45acp ball ammo is proof level load for the Webley MK VI. Each and every round is the equal to a proof load, and while some guns can handle this some eventually fail. DON"T do it. AND, REALLY DON"T shoot anything hotter.

The Webley is physically a big gun, which makes people think it is stronger than it actually is. Its fine to shoot a converted Webley with .45ACP BRASS, loaded to a level the Webley can handle. Its not fine to shoot .45ACP AMMO.

The Webley is built for a 260gr bullet moving at a 600-700 fps speed.

Note that some Webleys that were shaved will handle the .45Auto Rim brass as well as ACP brass in half moon clips. Some will only handle ACP brass in clips, and the AR brass's thick rim will drag on the recoil shield, possibly to the point where the cylinder won't rotate. Look at the rear edge of the cylinder. If just the bottom edge of the numbers is shaved off, AR (auto rim) brass might not work. If a larger portion of the numbers are missing, AR brass might work acceptably.

Best practice, DO NOT SHOOT YOUR WEBLEY WITH FACTORY .45 ACP AMMO!
Shoot your Webley with proper handloads in .45acp cases with clips.
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Old February 1, 2014, 04:22 PM   #5
Jim567
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Thanks 44 that's the one.
I will check the numbers when I get it out of the safe, I remember there is enough of the numbers showing on the cylinder to tell they match the frame.
It's odd the cylinder does not lock up tight until the trigger is pulled unlike more modern revolvers that lock on cocking.
It does lock up tight as a nut
at that stage though.

Cheers
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Old February 1, 2014, 07:00 PM   #6
James K
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Don't worry about that Webley cylinder not locking up when the action is at rest. The cylinder won't rotate, but it will move quite a bit out of alignment because it is held only by the trigger stop (the actual cylinder stop is on the trigger), which is narrow but has a wide notch in the cylinder. The design was actually outdated when the Mk VI was made, but Webley apparently never saw the need for a complete overhaul of their design.

Thanks, Jim, for the correction. I was a bit confused because the Mk V didn't jibe with the 1917 date. The Mk VI is stronger than the Mk V and previous Marks, but there is still too much risk of damage for firing factory .45 ACP.

Actually, the supply of .455 ammo in the U.S. never "dried up"; it was never there in the first place. Unlike the .45 ACP and the 9mm, the .455 was never used in SMGs or any guns other than the revolvers which were considered obsolescent in 1940. Plus the British never considered any handgun to be a real combat weapon; ammunition was issued for both the .455 and .380 on a basis of 12 rounds per gun, with an additional 12 rounds in unit supply. That was intended to last the war.

That meant that unlike the .45 ACP, which the U.S. issued with open hands, the British revolver cartridges were scarce and there was no vast quantity of surplus ammo. That was the reason importers converted those revolvers to use the .45 ACP. If they were aware that the cartridge was overly powerful for the gun, they obviously didn't let that bother them.

Jim
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Old February 2, 2014, 01:15 AM   #7
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James, there was at least some .455 ammo imported, I have the old ads (1950s vintage) with both the gun and ammo for sale. Been a while since I looked at one, but I know I have them somewhere in the slowly mouldering stacks of 50+year old magazings cluttering my cave...

Can't be certain till I find one and see, but something is telling me the ammo was going for $1.70 a box...

While there was never a supply in the US like the .45, or even the 9mm, there was a quantity of .455 imported, along with the first guns, I think. I think when that batch of ammo ran out, there wasn't any more to be had, or not for some time, at least.

Scarce ammo supply, plus the strong desire to sell the guns, and a somewhat different attitude towards safety in general than we have today is what got so many Webleys converted. Also, in those days there was NO hot .45 ammo, it was all ball or target loads, and after all, Webleys rarely blow up with ball .45 ammo, so, why not? Right?

Different era, different attitudes, and maybe some folk didn't know, or didn't care about things we consider important today.
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Old February 2, 2014, 11:49 AM   #8
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I do not recommend shooting standard 45ACP ammunition in these pistols as they were not built to withstand the pressures.

I have one of these and after testing it with a number of handloads, I am going to continue to use the lightest ones.

Whoever did the caliber conversion did it cheap and reamed the chamber mouths oversize.

I have no idea of the diameter of the barrel, but it must also be wide. I found .454 diameter bullets shot OK with a little leading. Smaller bullets gave more leading. I don’t have a mold that casts bullets .457, the larger dimensions are probably more appropriate.

I thought I would use some loads I developed in my 45 ACP revolvers. I had some Elmer Keith loads of a 250 with 6.5 grains Unique. That load was way to hot in a Webley. Actually stretched the top strap recess!

After that happened I realized that this mechanism is a lot weaker than any solid frame I have ever handled.

I also reconsidered using Elmer Keith loads in any of my 1917’s. His loads are entirely too hot for vintage pistols.

I eventually decided that 3.5 grains Bullseye was a good load. It shot to point of aim and was easy on the pistol.

Code:

45 Auto Rim				
					
455 Webley MkVI  	rechambered 45ACP		
	manufactured Enfield 1923			
					
255 LSWC  (.454)   3.5 grs Bullseye  thrown, R-P AR cases, CCI300 primers
	Jun-Aug 02
				
Ave Vel =	541		  	 	
Std Dev =	10		 	 	
ES =	42.44		 	 	
Low =	522		 	 	
High =	565		 	 	
N =	24	
	 	 	
 Shot to point of aim 25.0 yards			
					
							
255 LSWC  (.454)  4.0 grs Bullseye  thrown, R-P AR cases, CCI300 primers
	20-Jan-02	T = 42 °F	
		
Ave Vel =	640		 	 	
Std Dev =	21		 	
ES =	79.1		  	
Low =	586		 	
High =	665		 	
N =	12		 	
 Shot to point of aim 25.0 yards			
					
					
255 LSWC  (.454)  4.5 grs Bullseye  thrown, R-P Auto Rim cases, CCI300 primers
	20-Jan-02	T = 42  °F			
Ave Vel =	681				
Std Dev =	8				
ES =	28.4				
Low =	667				
High =	696				
N =	12	
			
 Shot to point of aim 25.0 yards better accuracy		
					

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Old February 3, 2014, 04:42 PM   #9
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Hi, 44 AMP,

Yes, there was some .455 ammo, but even then it was scarce. I was around (then) Interarmco quite a bit at the time (my now wife worked there) and both .455 and .380 (the British revolver ammo, not .380 ACP) were pretty scarce for the reason I mentioned - they just didn't make a lot. I got some .455 and .380 but it was not like .45 ACP and 9mm P with literally tons available. The limited .455 supply dried up very quickly, but Interarmco and others had already been having those guns modified. The conversions were mostly done in the US because had they been done in the UK, the guns would have had to pass proof at .45 ACP levels and (IMHO) some would have failed. So they were proved for .455 when they were sold out of UK government stores, then converted after they reached the US.

I have a Mk I and a Mk VI both of which are still .455. It is available and I can make ammo from .45 Colt or .45 AR if necessary.

The boxes, BTW, hold 12 rounds, so $1.70 a box would be pretty expensive for the time.

Jim
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Old February 4, 2014, 01:48 AM   #10
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Hi James!

Thanks for the inside info.

Have you made any .455 cases from .45 Colt? Besides shortening, did/do you have to do anything else? I have been thinking of making some from .45 Colt or .45 Schoefield cases.

My 1917 Mk VI has been shaved, but just barely. It works fine with acp brass and S&W half moon clips. .45 Auto Rim brass will not work (I tried it), the rims are too thick. Full moon clips I have tried are too thick.

I did get a box of Hornady .455, and fired 6. or rather, 5. One didn't fire, and a couple of the others pierced primers. So, essentially, my gun is cut just enough so .455 won't work right, but not enough to take AR brass or a thicker than S&W 1/2 moon clip. .45 Colt/schoefield rims are just a little thicker than the .455, so I'm thinking that may make enough of a difference for the brass to work. Loads, of course would be kept to Webley appropriate levels.

Thoughts on this?
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Old February 4, 2014, 10:40 PM   #11
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For a gun that has been shaved, I recommend using .45 AR brass. You may have to trim the cases to length* and you will have to thin the rims. That is done on a lathe by just cutting the rim down from the front. It can also be done on a drill press with a half-inch chuck by using a safe-side file. The .45 Colt can be made into .455 the same way, just more case trim is needed.

The same technique can be used to make Japanese 9mm revolver ammo from .38 S&W. After the case rims are thinned, size in a 9mm or .38 Special die.

*I say may, because the chamber leade of those British revolvers varies a bit; usually, the .45 AR will work fine as far as length goes.

Jim
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Old February 6, 2014, 04:04 PM   #12
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There's a guy making a "headspacing plate", or something like that, for Webleys converted to .45 ACP. I don't know if it's just supposed to sit on the back of the cylinder, held in place by chambered cartridges, or if it's supposed to be soldered onto the cylinder, or what?
For a gun that's going to be shot, I'd much prefer the ACP conversion, so I'm not sure why someone would want to use the plate to convert the gun for use of obsolete, relatively obsure Webley rounds.
My S&W 2nd Hand Ejector has been fitted with a M1917 cylinder, achieving the same effect as shaving the original cylinder, and I wouldn't want to convert it back (I'd rather get a .452" barrel!).
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Old February 6, 2014, 09:22 PM   #13
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The plates I have seen were screwed on. I am not sure I would want one that was held on by the rounds themselves. They have to fit well, else the brass can bulge into the crack, but the only person I actually knew who used one said it worked fine.

I understand those plates are used mainly by folks like my Anglophile friend who want to fire the original ammo. For practical purposes, the .45 Auto Rim is better, but it also needs loaded down.

Re-reading my post above, I note some possible confusion. When I mentioned trimming the rim on .45 AR, I was thinking of making .455 brass for an UNshaved cylinder. But the technique will work also for a revolver with a cylinder that has not been shaved quite enough.

Jim
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Old February 14, 2014, 06:03 AM   #14
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There is a lot of confusion of all of the .455 guns. The .455 is loaded so low so it can be shot in the old made in 1882 guns not that the made in 1918 guns wont hack it. Pretty much a myth that people just wont give up on as MK-1 ammo ran twice the pressure as the WW-1 ammo does. Go .45 ball no that will beat the gun loose in time but lead 250 grain slugs at like 700 750 FPS they will survive better than a colt will.

Last edited by radom; February 14, 2014 at 06:15 AM.
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