View Full Version : 1895-97 .455 Webley Revolver

November 7, 2008, 11:56 PM
I picked this up in a trade a few days ago. It's a Mark II so that put's it in the 1895-1897 production range. I has not been converted so it is still chambered in the original .455 Webley caliber. Fiocchi ammo is still available for it for about $.70 per round. I has what looks like the original holster and is in pretty good shape other than missing the screw that holds the extractor in the frame. I'll see if Martin Retting has this part or arrange to fabricate a replacement. I shot it this past weekend and it feels like a lightly loaded .38. An interesting piece of history :D


November 8, 2008, 04:32 PM
I love Webley's. The date would put it close to the Boer War, which, I think, was 1899-1902.

What did you trade for it, if you don't mind me asking?

November 8, 2008, 04:50 PM
Traded for a computer.

November 8, 2008, 05:32 PM
I got one of those also.
Great shooter.
Hornady also makes ammo.



Doug Bowser
November 23, 2010, 11:44 PM
I have a decent Webley Mark I. it dates to 1889. It has been converted to .45 ACP w/ clips. The bore is mint as well as the chambers. I use 200 gr .452" bullets with 3.5 gr Bullseye. I slugged the barrel and chamber throats. Both are .4515"/ The usual is .455" bore and .450" throats. They used a hollow base bullet in the old service loadings. At 25 yards off the sandbags it will shoot 2" to 2,5" with 6 shots.


November 24, 2010, 12:14 AM
You asking for a kaboom


WildblackpowderonlyAlaska ™©2002-2010

November 24, 2010, 03:14 AM
Traded for a computer.

I'll trade you TWO computers for it...:D

Mike Irwin
November 24, 2010, 10:05 AM
What Mark Webley is it?

If it's a Mark I through Mark IV, it should NOT, under any circumstances, be fired with smokeless powder!

After adoption of cordite the British had to withdraw all early Mark Webley revolvers because even the low pressures generated by the cordite was too much for these early guns.

Firing an early Mark revolver with smokeless powder isn't really a question of if the gun is going to let go, it's a question of when it's going to let go.

November 24, 2010, 11:57 AM
That is a very nice revolver you picked up. With firearms that old I personally don't like to shoot them and keep them more as a collectors item.

James K
November 26, 2010, 12:07 AM
Does anyone know the pressure level of that Fiocchi ammunition?

I certainly agree that none of those revolvers, including the Mk VI, should ever be fired with factory .45 ACP, .45 Auto Rim or .455 Webley Automatic ammunition. The War Office issued a specific warning against firing the last in any .455 Revolver. (The .455 Webley Auto is semi-rimmed, so it will fire and extract in a revolver - at least for a while.)


November 29, 2010, 11:29 AM
Just MO, but IIWY unless it carries the proper British "Nitro" proof marks I wouldn't fire anything but BP cartridges in it, or perhaps equivalent handloads using IMR "Trail Boss" or Pyrodex P.

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I don't think that the Webley top breaks are particularly strong. A look at the ballistic figures of the various cartridges for which they were originally chambered should tell you about everything you need to know to form your own opinion, but Jeez!, even the No.3 S&W's fired considerably stouter loads and they're generally considered to have been relatively fragile pieces.

They're your eyes and hands, so you get the final decision. Just please keep in mind that even if it's in relatively nice condition, it's still more than 110 years old. Better by far to err on the side of caution, IMHO.

James K
November 29, 2010, 09:45 PM
Those Webleys are big and look a lot stronger than they are. But in all honestly, failure of the top latch itself is almost unknown. What fails is the cylinder wall, which just can't be relied on to stand up to (.45 ACP) pressures that exceed the proof load!


November 30, 2010, 09:31 AM
I know that the .455 Webleys are big; I owned an old surplus Mk. VI when I was a very young man, as well as an Enfield No. 2 in .380/200 a bit later. This was pre-GCA '68, and there was still some surplus ammo for them turning up now and then.

I remember being surprised (and a bit disappointed) that actually shooting such legendary military weapons turned out to be such an "underwhelming" experience. At the time, my only bases for comparison were the .38 Spl. from my dad's old Colt OP and the .45 ACP from a pal's 1917 S&W. To my youthful and inexperienced self the difference in relative performance as perceived by the hand and in reaction-on-target, were quite pronounced as I recall.

Perhaps I should've enumerated my concerns more clearly when I stated my opinion about the relative strength of the Webleys. While I agree that its latching system is much stouter than that of any other contemporary top-break I'm familiar with, IMO that contributes more towards extending durability under field conditions than it does to make the design capable of withstanding more powerful ammunition. As a practical matter, if a cylinder wall blows out does it really matter if the latch is still fastened?

IMHO, the British applied the same sort of inertia in their thinking with their individual military weapons during this period that ended up costing them their motorcycle industry later: They opted to keep trying to incrementally adapt what they were accustomed to making in the face of a radically changing paradigm instead of innovating.

James K
November 30, 2010, 09:19 PM
The big problem with top break revolvers using powerful ammo is that eventually the latch will loosen up. Not could, not might, but will. No matter how strong it looks, no matter what the inventor says, it will loosen.

But the British had no fear of that happening. The standard ammo issue for any revolver was one (1) twelve-round box. One more box per revolvers was supposedly available in the the unit supply. And that was for the duration. Now you know why tons of surplus .380 and .455 ammo available were not available after the war.

So good old Leftenant Teddy Atkins (Tommy's older brother) was given his 12 rounds and told to get on with the war. (Some British soldiers and officers took to crimping the rims of 9mm STEN gun ammo and firing that in the .380 revolvers, just to have something to practice with!)


December 1, 2010, 09:22 AM
" Lt. Atkins would've dispatched his Pathan assailant, but pity stayed his hand. 'It's a pity that I've run out of bullets' he thought." :rolleyes:

December 2, 2010, 09:10 AM
As has been already stated, it is a bad idea to shoot new production .455 Webley ammo in a Mk. I-III revolver (and I personally wouldn't do it in a Mk. IV either). New production ammo (Fiocchi and Hornady) is loaded to Mk. II cartridge specs (smokeless powder). The Mk. I-III is only safe with the old Mk. I black powder cartridge, the Mk. IV's were later strengthened in an attempt to make them suitable for Mk. II ammo, and the Mk. V and Mk. VI were specifically designed for Mk. II ammo. Your Mk. II revolver should only be fired with handloads using black powder or maybe a BP substitute. What is really scary is that I've seen Mk. I revolvers modified to fire .45 ACP.

James K
December 2, 2010, 10:44 PM
What is also interesting is that most of those conversions were done in England, and were proved with .45 ACP proof loads.

I can understand the importer's point of view. He had tons of old Webley revolvers and next to no ammo. So he had do something or be stuck with a bunch of unshootable guns and lose his fanny to boot. Everyone knew the Colt and S&W 1917 revolvers worked fine with .45 ACP and moon clips, so why not the Webley? I don't know what percent (if any) failed proof, but the ones that passed went on the market.