Webley Mark I

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Ken W, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. hrf

    hrf Active Member

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    Incidently, the oversized "broad arrow" on top strap and N on hump behind the hammer on one shown identify it as one issued to the Royal Navy.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The revolver in the OP's pictures has been converted to use .45 ACP with half-moon clips or .45 Auto-Rim. As such, it is not, IMHO, worth $1000; more like $750.

    For anyone owning such a gun, I STRONGLY recommend NOT firing full charge loads in either in that gun. For shooting, I suggest using .45 AR if possible, then using a load that won't exceed 12,000 psi. .455 or cases made from .45 Colt will give excess headspace.

    That Mk I still has the recoil shield made as part of the frame; they changed to the dovetail type later in production. The military proof and inspection marks and the broad arrows indicate that was a military gun and as hrf says, one issued to the Royal Navy or Marines. Mine (#805) is a civilian gun with TWO sets of proof marks, the original Birmingham marks and a set of later London marks. (I don't know why; it was not converted and is still in .455.)

    As others have noted, the cylinder retaining screw is not original. It should be a large head screw with a wide coin-type slot and the threads under the head.

    Jim
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  3. Ken W

    Ken W New Member

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    So it's one of the original ones then? That's makes it a double shame that it has been altered. Wonder how many are actually left that are all original?


    I'd have to agree. Shame, it probably would have fetched the guy a decent price if it hadn't had the cylinder messed with. Not that $750 is chump change. ;)
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    FWIW, here is a quick way to tell if a Webley cylinder has been shaved. If a dime won't fit or won't fit easily easily between the cylinder and the recoil shield, the gun is in the original .455. If a quarter will fit, the cylinder has been shaved.

    Jim
  5. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    That MKI is also a reblue. Not a bad job at all, but not original and cuts down on value.

    Ammo: Some years ago, I bought a .455 hollow base mold. It was not cheap but it's the only way to go if you want affordable and accurate ammo. For the MK I, black powder works best, it gives an impressive boom and the old boy hits the target, can't ask for more.
  6. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    is the 455 fioochi safe to shoot?
  7. Ken W

    Ken W New Member

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    I no longer endorse this item. I went back to look at it again and pass on more information that I have discovered from responses here and at another forum plus my own research. He still has it marked as 455 and refuses to change it despite the pictures I emailed him and the detailed explanation I provided. There actually is remnants of the serial number on the cylinder he pointed out, matching no less. I pointed out that all of the numbers were not visible on account of the cylinder being shaved. He replied that "I don't care" even though I mentioned that it would be dangerous for anyone to fire non black powder or very low hand loaded rounds in .45 auto and also if someone tried to fire a .455 in it on account of the excessive headspace. He figured that if someone buys it that doesn't know what it is than it's their problem. This is very disturbing and, I hate to say, probably typical of small shops like this all over. All they give a damn about it profit. What a wonderful system.
    If after all of this someone is still interested in it you can PM me and I'll provide the contact info. Don't expect a change in the $1,000 price tag though. At least until it sits there a few months.
  8. Ken W

    Ken W New Member

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    I can't say for certain. It's specs are fairly low powered, listed below:

    Technical Information
    Caliber: 455 Webley Mark 2
    Bullet Weight: 262 Grain
    Bullet Style: Lead Round Nose
    Case Type: Brass

    Ballistics Information:
    Muzzle Velocity: 655 fps
    Muzzle Energy: 420 ft. lbs.


    Even so I'm not sure I'd try it without getting a definite answer from an expert on the matter.
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The problem with firing those "shaved" revolvers with .455 ammo is not with the pressure, but with the unsupported rear end of the case resulting from excess headspace. If the revolver is loaded with .455 ammunition, the cartridge will fall into the chamber until it is stopped by the rim. But when the round is fired (assuming the firing pin can reach the primer), the case will move back, and part of the case will be unsupported, possibly resulting in the case failing and releasing gas. Even at the low pressure of the .455, that would not be good and could result in injury to the shooter. That will not happen with the .45 ACP case, which has a stronger head than the typical British .455, but the .45 ACP standard load runs over twice the pressure of the .455, inviting trouble in the old revolvers.

    I reiterate my advice; fire those guns only with lightly loaded .45 ACP and clips, or with lightly loaded .45 Auto Rim.

    Jim
  10. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    yep.. so if shaved.. lite 45acp..

    what about the auto rim 45 you mention.. what are it's pressures like? would it have to be laoded low as well?

    and when you mean low? do you mean the lowest 'starting' charge on a regular 45acp?

    sounds like the real safe bet is to find an unshaved one and load with 455 then?
  11. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    unfortunately I have seen it all over. uninformed or straight out dishonest sellers.

    I collect bolo and broom mausers. you see guys with the chinese copies of a broom.. like a hanyang... you point it out to them.. but they still refuse to 'care'
  12. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    OK, we’re going to put Jim K to the test!!
    All this talk about early Webley’s got me to dig out a couple of pictures of two I owned a number of years ago. I’ve gone through Boothroyd’s book and just got myself even more confused with the MkI, Mk1*, MkI**, MkII, MkII*, MkII**, MkIII, MkIV, MkV and MkVI, (Apparently the Mks I,II &III came in two different barrel lengths, 4” & 6”.) The first one I had identified as a MkI** and the second as a MkII (Civilian).( It has the Winged Bullet W/S logo on the side of the frame.) I have to assume that I was going strictly on the frame for identification and now I just don’t know what they are. Both had been shaved and, for all I know are a compilation of parts that were thrown together to sell to us Yanks….

    Attached Files:

  13. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    saw a mk6 at a show.. guy said he shot 45acp with moon clips in it.. but also said he shot 45 auto rim and 455 original in it.

    my question is how? did he have a special clip for them made up?
  14. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    He would have needed a shim for the .455 rounds or an extra long firing pin. (without a shim he would have been playing with a dangerous headspace problem.)
  15. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    would a hollowed out moon clip act as a shim. the guy at the show had a couple clips.. one looked like it had been filed on. one I asusme was for 45acp..t he other? for the rimmed cartridges? and he removed meat fromt hem to get them on the cartridge base under the rim?
  16. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Were they half or full moons? I would have to check to see if there is any kind of a groove above the rim on a .455 that a half moon could clip into. (Otherwise it could come loose with cylinder rotation and fall out at an inopportune time...:eek:) As for setting headspace, as long as the clip thickness was right, it should work.
  17. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    i was learry about it. price was good but I passed without much observation.

    he had 2 sets of clips.. one looked like a full clip.. and had shiney metal exposed and looke dlike it had been machined. that appeared to be the one he said he had for 455 or 45auto rium. i believe the half clips were normal and 45acp

    again.. i didn't actually measure them as it made me feel uneasy witht he questions on that gun.. even though price was attractiver.. :)
  18. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Deadin, I think your first gun is a Mk I with a barrel from a later Mark. Mk I's were not upgraded to the new cylinder retention system but the barrel of a Mk III would fit a Mk I if the frame were altered to take the lever fixing screw. The second picture is of a Mk II; it is the same as the Mk I except that it has no hump on the backstrap. AFAIK, all the service models Mk I, II and III were made only with the 4" barrel. Both the guns pictured have been "shaved" to allow the use of .45 ACP with half-moon clips.

    The Mk I was made with the recoil shield as part of the frame; the Mk I* had the shield as a separate part dovetailed in with a screw to keep it from moving sideways.

    The Mk IV (not to be confused with the Webley commercial Mk IV in .32 and .38) was approved in 1899 and was the same as the Mk III but with a slightly different hammer spur and a sturdier firing pin. It was also available in 5" and 6" barrels in addition to the standard 4".

    The Mk V had a slightly larger cylinder (.012" larger) to make it safe with smokeless powder. (see note)

    The Mk VI, adopted in 1915, is the "Webley revolver" that most American gun hobbyists know, as thousands were sold war surplus in the 1950's. It is the quintessential "British army revolver" and is seen in just about every WWI and WWII movie. While the frame is not very different from the Mk V and previous Marks, the longer barrel and square butt make it look larger than the earlier models.

    Note: I strongly advise against firing ANY of those converted revolvers with standard .45 ACP or .45 Auto Rim. The pressures of factory .45 AR are lower than the .45 ACP, but still way above the standard pressure of the .455 Webley. It is of interest that the British War Office issued a bulletin warning against use of the .455 Webley Automatic cartridge in ANY of the service revolvers, so the danger of high pressure loads in those revolvers is not something some American dreamed up last week.

    Jim
  19. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jim, that's pretty close to what I thought.
    However, Ezell in his "Handguns of the World" mentions a Mark I** and a Mark II**. He states that both of these were a recognized "conversion" using a Mark IV barrel and a Mark V cylinder. This could explain the first picture although he states that it should be the 6" barrel, not the 4". As these changes were done in 1915 as a wartime expedient there may have been some 4's in there. From his definitions, the second picture is just a standard Mk II, as there were only minor changes from the Mark I*. The most noticeable being a slightly changed hammer. (And the lack of a hump..)
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  20. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I had the same thought about wartime expediency. The frame is a Mk I, with the hump. But the barrel shows no sign of ever having had the Mk I type retention screw.

    Jim
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