Best Man Stopper - British Webley .455 calibre?

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by Kent Detective, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Kent Detective

    Kent Detective New Member

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    A short question.

    I have read that during the Great War (WW1) the British service revolver (mainly Webley's) was the most effective handgun used in the trenches.

    The British .455 calibre cartridge is often said to be the most effective man stopper EVER? Apparently the .455 did not produce a sharp recoil which is surprising given the size of the projectile.

    Why was the .455 so effective?

    Are these .455 rounds still being used by anyone and if so where can they be bought.

    I have an interest in all things to do with the Great War.

    I'd imagine that a modern weapon in .455 would be an awesome gun to go up against?
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  2. BillM

    BillM Active Member

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    Hmmm---455 Webley MkII. 265 gr at 620fps.

    45 ACP 230 gr at 830 fps. I think the 45 ACP has the edge. Is it
    the most powerful handgun cartridge of WWI? Maybe. Here's a list:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_infantry_weapons_of_World_War_I

    The only other big bore I see at first glance is the 1870 Gasser. It's
    a contender, tossing a 300gr or so bullet at around 690fps. By some
    standards that surpasses both the .455 Webley and the .45 ACP.
  3. Kent Detective

    Kent Detective New Member

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    The .455 was apparently very tame to shoot which is surprising given it's raw power.

    In my books a .455 revolver is a formidable weapon given it's ultra-reliable platform - the revolver. Personally given the option to carry a modern semi-auto pistol or a revolver, the simple 6 shot revolver (in any calibre above .38) would be my personal top choice. :eek:

    It's sad this old calibre (.455) has died out. :(
  4. BillM

    BillM Active Member

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    Well--it hasn't totally died out. Both Hornady and Fiocchi still load for it,
    but I know of no currently manufactured arms chambered for it.

    Seriously--the 45 ACP will do everything the old 455 did and more. And there
    WERE revolvers (more than auto's) in 45 ACP in WWI. Smith and Wesson and
    Colt both made them as the model of 1917. They continued with the model 25, and the current stainless mdl 625. I shoot a 5" 625 45 ACP revolver in USPSA Revolver Division competition---fun gun!:)

    I would love to have a Webley in 455. Have one in 38, and have always liked
    the top-break design. Maybe someday I'll find one that hasn't been converted to 45 ACP that's affordable.
  5. Old Grump

    Old Grump New Member

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    Slightly larger hole and uses a heavier bullet than the 44 special but has about the same effect. For close up and personal the .455 would ruin a boogermans day but it was a long way from being the most accurate or hardest hitting handgun anywhere, any time. I would not turn one down if once came my way because it is still an effective man stopper.
  6. Kent Detective

    Kent Detective New Member

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    Thanks chaps. I enjoyed reading your comments...;)
  7. dragman

    dragman New Member

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    put a 500 S&W on someone and forget about the webley! lol in all seriousness it was a great round and very accurate and shootable, but the 45 ACP is a vast improvement over it.
  8. Archie

    Archie Member

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    One can load the also-nearly-forgotten .45 Auto Rim with a 250 grain SWC bullet to 700 fps very handily. I suppose one could duplicate the 265 grain bullet with some searching.

    The same holds true for the venerable .45 Colt cartridge.

    I like big heavy bullets at moderate velocity. I feel very comfortable so armed.
  9. Hogpost

    Hogpost New Member

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    The Webley 455 and the US 45 ACP were easily the most effective handgun manstoppers of the war, and difficult to judge in comparison. The reasons for the 455 being cited as "most effective" during WWI would include:
    1. All other European rounds were wimps, mostly 32 & 9mm, the Luger being the most powerful large diameter in common use.
    2. British officers in the trenches actually used their revolvers more often than their opponents, who typically saw the handgun more as a badge of rank than a serious weapon. Thus the number of instances of actual handgun use would favor the British. Compared to the number of 455 handgun-armed British, the number of 45 ACP handgun-armed Americans was miniscule.
    3. While 455 velocity is low, most encounters would have been at distances less than 10 feet, where bore size & bullet weight mean more.
    4. 45 ACP hardball is round-nosed, for smooth function in an auto. 455 Webley for revolvers was blunter, delivering more immediate shock at close-range impact.
    5. The writer from whom you got your statistical pronouncement was undoubtedly British. Beyond just chauvanism, he would have been reviewing mostly British records. Such records would include primarily claims of surviving Brits telling of their shot's effect, and a much smaller number of surviving Brits describing the effect of a German or Austrian revolver shot at themselves.

    The 455 Webley was, and is, a good manstopper at close range, and very probably accounted for more knockdowns during WWI than any other handgun round. But it was not by any means the most effective round of its time. That distinction would likely be reserved for the 45 Long Colt.
  10. Regular Joe

    Regular Joe New Member

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    There was a time when I had fun loading and shooting my stainless super blackhawk. My accurate load for it was 8.0 gr. of Unique behind a 240 gr. hard cast bullet. That ran just about 1,100 fps. It was part of the fun to compare that load to others that had come before. That kind of performance used to be considered fantastic. It was so very curious to me that I could load the same gun and cartridge with 26 gr. of W296 behind the Sierra 250 gr. FPJ, and make a good deal more power than I ever had a use for. I'll stick with modern stuff.
  11. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    having fired both the webley and 1911 i choose 1911

    its a reference to back to WW1 times and europeans know squat about hand guns thinking they have to be "petite"

    times and knowledge change ..

    6 shot and a 30-40 second reload
    8 shots and a 2 second reload

    hmmmm ;)
  12. carver

    carver Moderator

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    You and me both! .45APC, or .44Spcl. Don't need, or want, anything else.
  13. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    I cast and reload .455 MKII with an RCBS hollow base .455 Webley mold. I also reload .45 ACP from time to time.

    There was a .455 "Man Stopper" bullet back in the WWI era. A commercial bullet with a hollow base and a hollow point. It is said to have been rather effective, but I have never used them. It was not a military issue bullet.

    The model 1911 .45 was and is a fine military pistol and superior to the Webley revolver in all but reliability. Remember, in 1914-1918 ammo was not as reliable as it is today.

    For common self defense in an urban area there is still something to be said in favor of the old .455 MKII. It is deadly at close range and Webley's slow, heavy, bullet is not bad in a city. Faster moving jacketed projectiles can do more harm to bystanders as they bounce around or punch through cars and houses.
  14. flgunner

    flgunner New Member

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    A neighbor recently bought an old Webley which needs some work and so has prompted me to some research. Found this thread and thought I would add a comment about the Webley use in WWI. Read T. E. Lawrence's "Twelve Pillars of Wisdom" - the book that prompted the movie "Lawrence of Arabia." He describes his use of the pistol in a camel-mounted charge that is interesting. Been a long time since I read the account, but seems Lawrence shot his camel in the back of the head and killed it during the melee.
  15. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I've always understood one of the things that made the .455 such a good close range weapon was that its slow, heavy bullet also had quite a long ogive and would tend to start tumbling upon contact.
    Also the early versions were lead instead of jacketed but I don't recall if the WW1 version was or not.
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