Educate Me on Webleys!

This is a discussion on Educate Me on Webleys! within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Well, I went to a very crowded gun show today here in San Antonio, and whereas most of the prices were too inflated for my ...

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Thread: Educate Me on Webleys!

  1. #1
    M2 [OP]
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    Educate Me on Webleys!

    Well, I went to a very crowded gun show today here in San Antonio, and whereas most of the prices were too inflated for my tastes, I did see a Mk III Webley revolver for $750 that caught my eye! It was in really nice shape, but since I am somewhat clueless to this particular gun I decided to do some more homework before buying one. Oh, there was also a Mk IV going for about $680, but it wasn't in as good of shape as the Mk III.

    I have been itching for a Webley for a while, and I have read the couple of threads on here that talked about the; but I am still unsure as to which are the ones to look for and if there are any to avoid. I would prefer the .455, does anyone have any guidance on how to find a gun and ammo for one?

    Of course, I know that .455 is tough to find and not cheap, and that there is also a way to convert them to shoot .45 ACP using moon clips, but how reliable is the weapon once that has been done. Also, how much does that decrease the value of the gun?

    Any other tips and/or guidance would also be gratefully appreciated!

    Thanks! M2

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    I love old Webleys. They're fast and slick. The models chambered for the .455 are still potent short range medicine. I've got a couple and wouldn't take for them. Mine are very accurate out to 15 yards which is as far as I've ever really tested them. Their topbeak design is strong and superior to most other 19th century topbreaks marketed. I'd about as soon have the .38/200 cartridge of British World War II fame as I would a .380 ACP. The old .455 is a great warhorse and would "put the slap" on most any assailant at close range. I've got adequate supplies of brass so hand load for the .455. It's no trick to achieve 750 fps from a 255 grain semi wadcutter. The .454 diameter case lead bullets work.

    The lock work appears to work much the same as the older classic Colt "V-Spring" design, workhorse through much of the 20th century. Think Python internals for the most finely finished example of this Colt design. The Webley might well be more robust though.

    Many of the .455 Webleys were converted to .45 ACP when they were imported back in the 1950s. Some eschew this conversion but I think it works out in the later Mark IV, V, and VI Webley revolvers which have heat treated components. I've played with others' .45 ACP converted Webleys and they were great with half moon clips.

    No separate step needed to stroke an ejector rod for cartridge case ejection on the Webley. Just press the latch, open it up, and the cases are "out a' there!" Not a bad concept, especially when one adds in the concept of using moon clips for quick reloads.

    Only the age of Webley revolvers and and replacement parts availability issues make them impractical for serious self defense. Otherwise they represent a very sound revolver design. Their still lots of fun to feed and care for and make great companions at the range or in the field if one cares to collect them.

    It's also a design that ought to be explored for applications in a modern revolver.

    Here's a photo of my Webley Mark IV .455 from 1899 and also it's younger brother Mark IV .38/200 from 1943.


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    M2 [OP]
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    bmcgilvray

    Thanks for the info, I wish you were closer to San Antonio as I would love to see those Webleys you have in person. I was wondering if a Mk III was an advisable purchase, this one was really in nice shape and it was the first Webley .455 that I've handled (the others I have seen have always been in display cases). There is just something really cool about these revolvers, maybe it is the history behind them or maybe it is just because it is what Indiana Jones carried in The Last Crusade (a Mk VI). I would probably not shoot it too much, but I would love to own one!

    Cheers! M2

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    To continue with more Webley information than anyone would care to know.

    In the "nothing-new-under-the-sun" department, here's a link to the Webley- Prideaux speed loader that predates World War I.

    WWII Aviation Novels - Caird Publications>Scrap Book>RAF Armament Bits - Guns

    The earliest variations of the Webley .455 revolver, the Marks I through III are generally considered only suitable for black powder loads. I've seen many of these modified for use with the .45 ACP and moon clips and have never heard of a failure.

    Beginning in 1899 with the introduction of the Mark IV revision, the Webleys were heat treated to be better adapted to use with smokeless powder. The Marks IV, V, and VI probably make most sense from a shooting standpoint.

    Today it would be a shame to modify an original .455 Webley for use with .45 ACP. Many .455 Webleys were imported in the 1950s and were modified for .45 ACP, both before and after they were sold here. Original "uncut" examples are hard to find. I've always looked at the large Webley revolvers and find many more modified guns than originals. Webley auctions found on GunBroker frequently mention the fact if the gun is not modified and prices are higher original .455 chambered revolvers.

    Hornady has .455 ammunition available as does Fiocchi. The Fiocchi factory load is very mild, propelling a 262 grain bullet only about 640 fps from my 4-inch barreled Mark IV. Fiocchi brass has an absolutely dismal case life, usually losing a few to cracks in the initial firing. It's all downhill from there with subsequent hand loading.

    I obtained some Mountain & Sowden .455 cases that appear to be of the "everlasting" variety, holding up well through many loadings. I bought them in England prior to their infamous 1997 handgun ban so don't know if they are still being manufactured there.

    The .455 round is probably equally effective as the .45 ACP, however achieving its effectiveness at lower velocity and with a notably heavier bullet, in its original guise. Any lead bullets of .454 diameter works well in my old revolver. For that matter .452 bullets are still plenty accurate. I've carefully worked up some performance hand loads that would duplicate anything the .45 ACP can do but one is probably best served by utilizing a hand loading guide's .45 ACP minimum or starting load data for extrapolating to loads for the .455. Nowadays there's adequate .455 hand loading data available on the internet to satisfy.

    If one was more interested in inexpensive shooting then one would likely be best served with a World War I Mark VI that has already been converted to .45 ACP. They're commonly available and in fact one will run across them more frequently than they will the unmodified examples.

    The Webley revolver features a lot of screws and part of the fun of an extended shooting session with one is passing over it with a screwdriver, tightening the screws. It's a known characteristic of the breed. The screws won't fall out however nor is the revolver ever rendered unsafe or unreliable. The trigger guard screws are the worst offenders on my .455. My .38/200 doesn't exhibit this tendency.

    I even tote my Webleys afield on hikes etc. Another bit of trivia is that I've found that my big Webley fits perfectly in holsters made to fit N-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers. I have a heavy leather 4-inch N-Frame holster dedicated to my Webley.

    Some years ago I was mowing around our old lake cabin on our home place and had my .455 Webley holstered on my hip. I was nearly finished and had an "island" of tall grass in the midst of a large mown area. As I went round and round I suppose I'd herded a field rat into the center. Suddenly, just in front of my mower he broke and ran. As he bounded across the mown grass I quickly drew the Webley and snap shot him as neatly as you please. Such a hit wouldn't happen for me again in a million years. The large bullet cut a round furrow along the left side of his head, removing his left eye and ear.

    I took a photo of it to send to my English friend to show him that Webleys still served in remote areas of Texas.


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    Finally! Someone who has some experince with the Webleys. I have a MarkIV that was my grandfathers. He aquired it in a trade with an Engish officer in WWII. He traded his 1911 for the Webly. Everyone I've asked about shooting it has said not to until I get it checked out by gun smith. Is that acurate? They said they are just not solid enough to fire with thier age. I would love to shoot it. Atleast once. My father had it before me and he never fired it. It has not been converted to 45 auto. Sorry to not have ananswer for your question about price. I would never sell mine. But I would like to shoot the one I have. Do you current owners feel they are a safe to shoot today? Within reason? I still would have it checked.
    Ultra Raptor

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    I shoot my Mk VI all of the time, luckily a guy at my range makes the 265gr hollow based bullet that I reload with. To check your Webely. making sure it's unloaded

    Cock the gun
    finger holding the hammer, pull the trigger. At the same time use your other hand to wiggle the cylinder, it should be locked up fairly tightly at this point.

    Note: Do not dryfire the Webely, you will break the firing pin.

    My avator is the automatic version of the revolver

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    Found one that's about an hour away, a Mk VI with an original holster. It is marked 1917 with the Australian Military "D" with broad arrow, and the seller is asking $795. It has been shaved down to accept .45 ACP. I was hoping to find a .455, but the nice thing about this one is I can check it out in person before buying it. Is it worth the trip?

    Cheers! M2

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    Seems high to me. There's several on GunBroker that currently are showing more reasonable prices and some are still .455. One really reasonable example is shown that is cut for .45 ACP though it doesn't say so in the auction blurb. One can always tell because the cylinder serial number is partially removed. It is a bit finish challenged but the metal surfaces are clean. It's currently $205.

    Always look for Webleys on GunBroker under two catagories: The FIREARMS catagory and the COLLECTIBLE FIREARMS catagory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    bmcgilvray

    There was a Mk IV similar to the one on the left at the gun show this weekend going for $750. It had the same shorter barrel and different grip than most of the Mk VIs I've seen, what--if any--significance is there with those differences?

    Cheers! M2

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    Oh, is this the infamous "Bird Butt" pistol, so-called because of the shape of the hand-grip?

    Cheers! M2

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    I remember a scene from the movie, "The Wall" (Pink Floyd) where the kid's father was cleaning a top breaching pistol in a tent, during WWII. Was that a Webley? One of my favorite movies by the way.....
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" - Thomas Jefferson

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    M2 [OP]
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    Well, I finally "pulled the trigger!" I paid more than I wanted to for one; but this little beauty is on its way to my gun safe!






















    (More pics to follow...)

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    You are looking at a Webley Mark VI, 455cal with a 6" barrel. The cylinder has NOT been shaved. The metal finish shows wear on high areas and sharp edges, with other minor scrapes present. The finish is thinning on the grip straps. The grips show some wear with scrapes and dings and some embedded dirt. The action is crisp and the lockup is tight. The bore is shiny with defined lands and grooves. Matching numbers no noted import markings. Serial # 3590xx.
    From what I have been told, the export markings are not original but outside of that it is a pretty nice example of a Mk VI.

    Rod, we will have to meet up to go shooting one of these days after it arrives. Hopefully that won't take too long!

    Cheers! M2

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    Distinguished Member Array Colin's Avatar
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    Very nice!! You can get a set of reloading dies from Lee, if you don't cast yourself, but know someone, you could buy the mould and work out a deal for them to make the proper bullets for you.

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    I've had one that was modified to shoot .45 for 20 years. I have shot it a lot, its fairly accurate, and its really an amazing looking gun. I've never carried it concealed, but I guess you could.
    A veteran, whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable
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