Ye olde Forehand & Wadsworth Bulldog

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by nicksterdemus, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. nicksterdemus

    nicksterdemus New Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Yep, the classic American made, "British Bull-dog." I'm guessing it was made for the S&W 38, 1878-1890. It's in the 55K serial range, the numbers on the butt And cylinder are sharp and the trademark is decent save for the far left where the T has taken a hit and the M has been buffed out. So it's more of trade ark w/dog visible. Neat little pocket gun that's in need of a return trigger and loading gate assembly. I'm guessing the gate has a spring as well and would be held in by a pin. Short of buying a parts pistol any hope of locating parts? Any diagrams of parts list? I'm not sure if the trigger return spring is flat, bent or coil. Thanks...
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  2. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    I think its best to show it to a gunsmith, especially if you have given any thought to firing it. Parts will be very hard to find. I have restored some old handguns and often have had to make up parts from scratch.

    By the way, 'British Bull dog' was a popular game a school when I was a kid. Though it could get quite violent! One kid on in the middle of the ground, with anything from 20 to 250 plus on the other. The large group charge across, the one has to catch someone, who then joins them as catchers. The big group then charges back, loosing more kids to the catchers until there are only a few runners. Good game, but as I said, it could get a bit dangerous.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2008

  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Dec 30, 2003
    houston, tx
    there are two schools of thought on these forehand & wadsworth marked british bulldogs, 1. manufactured in its entirely by F&W, 2. imported by f&W from belgium fully assembled. in either case parts are hard to find and in most cases will have to be made. does your revolver have any proof marks on the front or rear of the cylinder.

    F&W carried these revolver in thier catalogs between 1880 and 1890. none so far have been seen marked forehand arms co., which is what F&W became in 1890 after the retirement (or death) of henry wadsworth.

    needless to say these F&W british bulldog revolvers are suitable only for blackpowder cartridge pressures and should not be fired with modern smokeless ammo. F&W was not alone in offering a british bulldog marked revolver, iver johnson also marked a revolver marked "british bulldog" that was a variation of their "american bulldog" series of revolvers. plus a host of belgium manufacturers manufactured revolver marked "british bulldog". the belgium manufactured one will often be found engraved and with fancy grips.
  4. nicksterdemus

    nicksterdemus New Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Tranter I would have a gunsmith inspect if decided to shoot.

    No Belgium or any proofs, serial # stamped on the butt and the face of the cylinder. Has the stamped bulldog on the left side w/trade above and mark below but the M is missing. Probably lost to buffing for a re-nickel, though the serial #'s are clear and sharp, or off-center listing to the right stamp. Inside the black checkered gutta percha grips the frame is stamped "2". Double or single action, top of the 2 3/8" keyhole style barrel is the cross symbol then Forehand & Wadsworth. The 38 rimfire was originally 130 gr boolit and 18 gr BP. Outside lub .375" and basically the same as the later 38 short colt centefire. I'm finding out what I can. The F&W came in 7 shot 32, 6 shot 38 and 5 shot 41. I'm guessing the cylinders and frame were same size and any of the pivoting loading gates would fit the other. Remington makes a high velocity 38 short colt, 125 gr @ 730'ps, 149.87'lb. I was hoping to find something around 125gr/650'ps/117.24'lb muzzle energy. Of course, I wish to have everything in good working order first before I delve into the possibilities of live fire.
  5. nicksterdemus

    nicksterdemus New Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Yeah, I'm shameless and will post on my post. 18 gn of BP isn't much. I'm not sure of how the strength factor of a larger size top-break would compare to the solid frame, smaller Bulldog. I read where some folks were loading for top-breaks w/2 gn of unique. I don't reload, but I do remember firing 60-90 gn of BP out of a 50 cal muzzleloader. Then I accidentally dumped 2-60gn preloads and didn't even bother w/wad. Slapped on a cap and pointed powder at a tree. Lotta smoke.

    The little Bull-Dog sure looks like a Belgian-Webley knock-off. Squatty, checkered, percha-gutta ball grips, screw on trigger guard, half notch, SA/DA trigger, swing out hull extractor, loading gate, that funky, flying check mark of a hammer and "British Bull-Dog screams, "I came from across the pond."
    Yet, no proof marks, the odd cross symbol combined w/Forehand & Wadsworth on the barrel and that Trade Mark bulldog stamped in the side makes ya go humm.
    An inexpensive, one-piece frame design that works well w/short barreled, pocket pistola combining a fluted cylinder and an almost traditional cylinder mini-flutes that guides the cylinder lock into a surprisingly rock solid lock-up. The oval shaped barrel, w/extra meat on the top flat, makes for an inexpensive area to slot for a front sight while the internal rib design adds strength to the assembly.
    Why did they bother w/SA on a belly gun? Was this a throw back to dueling on the field of honor?
    BTW, look what I found concerning BP charges:
    38 short rimfire is in the same class as the centerfire 38 short Colt. Originally 130 gr boolit and 18 gr BP. Outside lub .375"

    38 long rimfire 150/18gr. Some 140-150 up to 21gr.
    Both 38's from 1866.

    41 short (Derringer) 130/13 gr. Good for mice and sparrows or moral boosting. intro 1863

    41 Long originates 1873 163/13-15gr the centerfire 41 short is an outgrowth of this cartridge and guns chambered for the long could shoot the 41 short centerfire. In power this cartridge is in the same class as the 38 S&W centerfire in black powder loading.

    Then I came across an old posting.

    I just found a line drawing of a Webley British Bulldog in Cartridges of the World, 4th Edition.

    It's the spitting image of the guns pictured above.

    The caliber it is associated with is the .44 Bull Dog.

    "The .44 Bull Dog appears to have originated about 1880, perhaps a year or two prior to that. The first reference the author could locate was in the 1880 Homer Fisher Gun Catalog, reproduced in L.D. Satterlee's Ten Old Gun Catalogs. British Webley Bulld Dog revolvers are advertised therein. American companies loaded the round up to about 1938-39. The 1933 Winchester catalog lists it as for "Webley, British Bull Dog and H&R revolvers."

    The Bull God type pocket revolver was quite popular through the late 1800s. The .44 Bull Dog cartridge was much superior to some of the rimfire calibers of that period. It provided reasonably good short-range stopping power in a fairly compact weapon. However, it is solely a short-range self-defense round of little value for antyhing else. It is in the same general class as the .41 Short Colt. The cartridge has been obsolete for a good many years. Both black and smokeless loadings are encountered."

    The ballistics list a 168 to 170 gr. bullet, a muzzle velocity of 460 fps., and a muzzle energy of 80 foot pounds!

    Each camp has their points.

    Maybe the key to the mystery lies in the style of ampersound.

    Why is the design the letter 8 on about a 40 degree CW list w/separate, small capital L, w/acute angle instead of 90 degree, to the side?

    Why didn't they make the ampersound as a one piece image
    How does it compare w/ Webley & Sons or Webley & Scott?

    As well, what's the meaning of the cross and why a period @ the end?

    Maybe, if we can find other examples, of what I call the lazy 8 ampersound, the muddied waters will partially clear...
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  6. 45Auto

    45Auto Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2008


    I would like to recommend a book: THE BRITISH BULLDOG REVOLVER; THE FORGOTTEN GUN THAT REALLY WON THE WEST by George Layman

    The various makes and models of Bull-Dog are covered, including Belgian, English and American. The Bull-Dogs made by Forhand & Wadsworth are a major focus of Mr. Layman's book. But not alot of info about IJ and H&R Bulldogs.

    F&W made these with and without the company name. Some F&W's are marked INDIAN BULL-DOG. Unlike Belgian made Bull-Dogs, I have found that most F&W Bull-Dog parts are interchangeable within the same caliber. I have found the loading gates and ejector units to be the same on all .38 and .32 F&W Bull Dogs.

    Best regards,

  7. nicksterdemus

    nicksterdemus New Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Thanks Greg. I've been thinking about that book. Maybe Santa will drop it off. Nice herd you have there. I would like to know more about the stamped bulldog trademark, among other tidbits.
  8. Captain Dad

    Captain Dad New Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    Nice collection. I have tried researching info on an Indian Bulldog, (ser #23149), that I got from my father's collection. It shows more wear than yours, and would require some work before it could be fired. Do you know of a resource for the break-down of this piece?
  9. Skiludd

    Skiludd New Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Hey Greg! I've got a British Bulldog like you have, but need to see a couple of the parts to be able to make a spring and another part. Could you email me at The pistol belongs to an old friend and I'm just trying to get it back together for him. If I can't he may just want to sell it for parts.
  10. Canton Collecter

    Canton Collecter New Member

    Sep 13, 2010
    Canton Michigan
    Is there anyone out there that could help me ID (yr) a Forehand & Wadsworth .38 (short ?), hammer, ser# 73211, 5 shot, chrome plated ?, black grips (8 point star,badge & F&W). Looks like a twin to a Iver Johnson except as to how the cylinder releases. Two post top barrel release. 3 1/4" barrel, about 7 1/2" overall. Any help would be appreciated. THANKS, Roy
  11. 45Auto

    45Auto Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    Canton Collector. A picture is necessary. F&W made several models which could be classed as "early" and "late." As Bill Goforth mentioned above, After the death of Wadsworth, the company name changed to Forehand Arms. This can help date the piece, but again an image or two would be of considerable help.
  12. Hodge

    Hodge New Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    I'm also having trouble finding parts for my 1880's F&W bulldog .38 if any one could shed some light on my project it would be appriciated
  13. 45Auto

    45Auto Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    I don't know of any parts sources for these revolvers. If you need a part, you have to make it or take it from a parts gun. The trigger return springs are of the "v" type, you can get assortments of little v springs from Dixie Gun Works, find one that's close and file it down to size. That's about all I can suggest.
  14. Hodge

    Hodge New Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    Since I last posted I rigged me up the spring that spins the cylynder it took 4 ever to get it to spin and stop just right on the next round I used a old Harley valve spring but after many attempts and even more hours mess in with it it spins better than I thought it ever would does anyone know where I can find a diagram to show me the parts and thanks for the info
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
Curio & Relics Forum Moores 7 shot revolver ejector holder Mar 15, 2016
Curio & Relics Forum Older Revolvers May 28, 2013
Curio & Relics Forum New FFL C&R Holder Aug 12, 2009
Curio & Relics Forum C & R Holder Discount... Nov 1, 2008
Curio & Relics Forum Golden Rule Mar 4, 2003