Webley MKV 455

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by etteroc27, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. etteroc27

    etteroc27 New Member

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    I have just purchased a Webley MKV1 455 that has been altered to shoot 45acp. This is about as neat a gun as I have seen in a long time, and I want information on it. It has proof marks and numbers and symbols all over it. Is there a book on these old pistols (Mine was made in 1918) that I can research the origins of it?
    I loaded up some acp cases with mild load of bullseye and a 230 gr. cast bullet and using half moon clips, shot it some. It's a pleasant gun to shoot. I didn't try it for accuracy yet.
    Any info on where to find the history of this model will be appreiciated.
  2. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  3. etteroc27

    etteroc27 New Member

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    Thanks, I will see about getting them.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Stick to those light .45 ACP loads or toi .455, which I think Fiocchi is making. But AVOID GI or factory .45 ACP!!!! For all its bulk and size, the Mk VI is not especially strong and they have had the cylinder walls blown out shooting .45 ACP, which runs 21,000 psi, while the .455 runs about 12,000.

    Jim
  5. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    The MK VI is plenty strong enough for .45 ACP, but the flat base bullet is not all that accurate in the .455 barrel. The best combination is if you can find a hollow base mold to cast .455 bullets and load those into .45 ACP brass. I loaded up a few recently using 3.5 gr. of Bullseye with a 265 gr. MK II bullet, this works well in the old Webley.

    There was a debate on a different forum some years back as to the strength of the .455 shooting .45 ACP ammo. Some images were shown of a blown up MK VI, and someone still has a few of those images posted on-line. If you could see all of the images, you would see that the ammo which blew up the MK VI had been hand loaded; which was evident from the commercial primers within GI brass. In my experience, the MK VI revolver will shoot .45ACP with safety, and in fact a few were proof tested in Birmingham for .45ACP w/o issue. The main problem in my opinion is that .45ACP often does not shoot with much accuracy in the Webley Govt. models.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Any MK VI will shoot the standard GI .45 ACP safely - until it blows.

    The standard pressure for .455 Revolver ammo was 5 1/2 tons (2200x5 1/2 = 12,100 psi) and max was 6 tons (13,200 psi). IMHO, anyone who fires in any gun ammo that is almost twice the pressure the gun was intended for is not doing the gun any favor.

    Yes, the Mk VI revolvers converted in England were proved with .45 ACP proof loads; as in all proof testing, the only sure thing is that the proven gun didn't blow. No one knows how many did.

    Sorry, you can read those results as you please and insist that (as one poster put it), those "Webleys are the strongest revolvers ever built because they were made of proper English steel by English craftsmen." Take, that, you colonials and your S&W 500!!

    BTW, the British War Office warned against firing .455 Automatic ammo, with pressure comparable to the .45 ACP, in any .455 Revolvers. Probably just a bunch of Yankee infiltrators, but I think I would take their advice and stick to low pressure loads in the Mk VI.

    Jim
  7. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    I don't believe there were any MK VI Webley's which failed proof test for .45 ACP. The .45 ACP converstions have been around for over 60 years and in all of that time no one questioned the safety of this combination of gun/ammo until the age of the "internet gun expert."

    The only data I have ever found from the British War Office was an advisory against attempts to fire the .455 Webley Automatic cartrige in revolvers. This advisory was most likely given in light of the fact that if the revolver was fired there would be no way to eject the brass w/o the use of a rod.
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    I would think that the prohibition against "attempting to fire" the 455 auto round in revolvers was because, without a rim to stop it, it would just fall through.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:455_Webley_auto_cartridge.JPG

    I've got copies of the pix mentioned, and yes, they do appear to be reloads, so it is possible that someone tried to turn a 45 ACP into a 44 magnum. Then again, I've reloaded thousands of 45 ACP, and never made overloads. So, just because they were reloads does not mean they were "Super Max ++P++".

    I have also fired a grand total of 6 rounds of hardball though my Mark VI (dated 1917 on the frame), and after tightening up all the screws that shook loose, I decided that I would not submit that poor old gun to that kind of beating again. So I have my "Webley Loads", which are much lighter. If I feel the need to shoot heavy loads in a 45 revolver, I either use hardball in a Smith 625 or 454s in a Super Redhawk.
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Sorry, but the WO did know what they were doing, and they did issue that warning because of pressures. As to the .455 Webley Auto falling into the .455 revolver chamber, you might try it. The .455 Webley Auto is semi-rimmed, and will fit and fire just fine in a .455 revolver, though ejection can sometimes be a problem if the ejector jumps the small rim. That semi-rim is the reason the Colt Government Model pistols made for the .455 Auto have an extra wide magazine and magazine well, along with a barrel cutout for the rim. The .455 Webley Auto chamber has no sharp shoulder and a .45 ACP will drop in too far. A .455 Eley (Colt) magazine won't fit into the standard .45 pistol.

    Jim
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  10. etteroc27

    etteroc27 New Member

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    I loaded up some rounds with 3.0 grains of Bullseye and a 255 grain cast bullet. It was so mild that the recoil was almost non existant. My 32-20 kicks harder. I am going to try 3.5 grains with the same bullet and see how it shoots. That will probably as hard as I push it. I just want something fun to shoot targets with, not game. I will try to find some hollow base ones for it.
    The cal is marked on the right hand side in front of the cylinder. It reads .455 space, .750 or .760. It's hard to tell the middle figure. I assume this is standard 455.
    It also has wood grips, serial numbered to the gun on the inside. Lots of proofs and stampings on it also.

    Thanks for the info. so far. Tom
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    .760" in the proof marking is the standard case length of the .455 Mk VI cartridge, part of the commercial proof marking. If the revolver was converted in the UK to use .45 ACP with a moon clip, that proof should be there as well with the earlier proof struck out. Conversions done in the US were not proven, since the US has no proof law.

    Jim
  12. etteroc27

    etteroc27 New Member

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    What would that proof look like? Some of the marks are light and hard to read.
  13. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    It did not look semi-rimmed, which is why I said what I said, but after enlarging the picture and laying a straight-edge on my screen, I see that it is. Another great theory shot to hell by somebody that knows. :eek:
  14. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Member

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    When I was looking for ammo for a .455 automatic, I rummaged around on some British firearms forums (yes, there are such things). Over there, they are much more concerned about the danger of firing 45 ACP factory loads in .455 revolvers than people seem to be in the USA. I know it has been common practice here for a long time...but that does not actually make it a good idea.

    Last year, I noticed someone on a gun sales website offering to convert Webley revolvers back to .455. I don't remember what it cost, nor have I heard anything about how good their work is.

    PS - I used to have the Dowell book about Webley pistols. It was not good - very dated and badly organized, with poor photography by today's standards. Now that there are better books about Webley available, I could not recommend that anyone buy it.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  15. runes

    runes Member

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    I bought a 1917 through the mail for $14.95 back in 1959. Yes you were free to do that then. I was 15 years old.
    The pistol was brand new in waxed paper, and yes I still have it. As a matter of fact my wife loves to shoot that gun.
    I do down load the rounds just to be on the safe side.
    I also have a Webley Green army revolver That cost a womping $17.50. It has the best double action I have ever tried. It,s marked .455 but 45 LC fit fine and I load that with black powder
  16. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The Webleys will usually show two sets of proof marks. The military proof is crossed pennants, with a crossed scepters and crown showing where it was proved and the inspector's name. There is sometimes a separate inspection marking.

    When military guns are sold out of stores, UK law requires that they be proved using the commercial proof; those marks consist of the caliber, length of cartridge (or shell for shotguns), standard working pressure expressed as something like 6 tonnes per [ ]", the latter indicating square inch. (I have used brackets to indicate a square.)

    At one time, foreign made guns had to have the marking "NOT ENGLISH MAKE" as well, and some returned Lend-Lease guns have that.

    Some folks believe the commonly seen "ENGLAND" mark is British, but it is not. That is the Country of Origin (COO) mark required by the US on all imports, but its presence on a gun indicates importation prior to 1968, when the law was changed to require that firearms use the current "import mark" rather than the COO. Either mark can be put on either in a foreign country or in bond here, but it must be present prior to legal importation.

    Jim
  17. etteroc27

    etteroc27 New Member

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    Thanks Jim. I'm really curious about this old gun. It is in pretty decent shape, not perfect by a long shot, but very presentable. When I have more time I will post the marks on the gun and perhaps you can explain them to me.
    Tom
  18. ignats

    ignats Member

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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  19. Max Donovan

    Max Donovan New Member

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    Lots of good info on thread. I shoot several 450's, 455's and 476's and load 455 W&S Auto for others. (I will eventually get a 455 auto, I do have the W&S 32, 9mm and 38 ACP pistols.) Richard and Molly M_____, once-upon-a-time UK service pistol pistol champions, told me that the 455's require a .456+" hollow-base bullet to shoot best scores. The .450" throats cause the HB bullet to "come out like putty" and expand into the rifling.
    To recreate Bisley c.1900, shoot 20 yards at a black tennis ball with fixed sights and full power ammo. The course is 6 shots in one minute, six shots and 12 seconds, six shots in 6 seconds, then change hands and do it again. This simulates the young British leftenant, typically a rich kid who will not inherit, fighting on foot with his riflemen against Afghans, Zulu's, etc. who are dying to close in and slice him into hash. Contrast this with the USA where the cavalry board chose the pistol to reach out and touch a fleeing enemy who was trying to escape. Our troopers needed range and power, UK officers needed double action and fast reloading. Enjoy, Max
  20. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I don't know the practice in the Zulu wars, but in WWI and WWII the ammunition issue for revolvers (both .455 and .380) was twelve (12) rounds, with another twelve in unit supply. One somehow gets the impression that H.M. forces didn't consider the revolver a serious weapon. Since neither revolver cartridge was used in anything else, that is one reason why there was very little surplus ammo of either caliber, unlike, say the U.S. .45 ACP or the German 9mm '08 where production was in thousands of tons.

    And of course that is why American importers had those Webley revolvers reworked to use .45 ACP with half moon clips. There just wasn't any .455 ammo available.

    Jim
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