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War Finish Webley

Webley and Scott had produced revolvers for the British military for a long time.  Their .455 revolvers had ruled the subcontinent of India, and taken tigers in Africa.  The .455 Webley revolver was synonymous with Officers sidearm.  Before WW1 came along, an officer could carry any sidearm he wanted, as long as it shot a service .455 round.  The First World War changed that paradigm forever, and everything got standardized, and when the war was finally over, downsized.

Webley revolver

The Webley Mk. IV was a result of many things.  Armies had got conscripted and had to be trained in a hurry, so no time for training to handle the big .455's.  A gun was needed that any young recruit could master in a hurry.  (Which means firing it without dropping it!)  The government also wanted to spend less money on purchasing arms.  Webley already had a revolver in the works that met the specifications.  The Webley Mk III in .38 S&W.  With a little work, they adapted this civilian and police revolver to look like a miniature Webley Mk. VI.  Enfield was assigned with Webley to come up with a design,  but the revolver was already done.  With the designs in hand, Enfield came up with their version, which was adopted by the government, mainly because they were already a government agency.  Webley was left holding the bag.

Webley revolver

WW2 happened along, and Enfield couldn't keep up with the demand for it's version of this little revolver.  The British government contracted for all the Mk.IVs that Webley could make,  as this turned out to be a big war.  The demand was so great that Webley had not the time to finish the revolver properly, and frankly they were embarrassed by the fact they had to leave grind and tool marks on the gun.  The obvious solution was to spell it out, and wartime Mk. IVs had War Finish stamped on the left side.  

Webley revolver

This plucky little revolver fired a .38 caliber version similar to the .38 S&W Super Police.  The round was shorter and fatter than a .38 Special, and had a special lead bullet that weighed more than the standard .38 S&W bullet, coming in at 200 grains.  Some government tests stated that the round proved to be similar in stopping power to the .455.  I would have to say any gun can kill a guy, but this bullet is no .455.  The Mk. IV is sturdy and very reliable, and it's almost impossible to wear it out.  Parts are easily available (wish that were true for Mk. VIs) but resale prices have never really caught on for this robust revolver.  If the pistol had been imported into the US after 1968 they suffer the indignity of a cross bolt safety having to be added to satisfy the BATF.  This does rather ruin the lines of a collectable gun.  This example escaped that fate.  By 1954 the British were done with revolvers, and the Browning Hi-Power became the standard British sidearm.

Webley revolveer

The PHSADC Webley Fosbery

The Webley Fosbery was an attempt to bring the revolver into the modern age.  By modern age I mean the beginning of the 20th Century.  Autoloaders were making inroads into the military gun market but mostly in smaller calibers than the standard British service revolver.  The Mauser C-96, carried by Winston Churchill as a young cavalryman for instance, was a .30 caliber.  George Fosbery thought an automatic revolver, based on the Webley service pistol, would bring along the famed stopping power of the .455 cartridge.

Webley Fosbery

The automatic revolver consisted of a top half of the Webley revolver mated to a slide, which after firing, advanced the cylinder to the next round and automatically cocking the hammer.  Not an autoloader as such, but did have the advantage of a lighter trigger pull, as enjoyed by automatic pistols of the time.  The revolver wasn't a great commercial success, but it was a robust revolver and is now an interesting collectors item.

The PHSADC Webley Fosbery

A Pakistani company is interested in bringing the Webley Fosbery back into production.  They have been making hunting supplies, knives, and shotguns until now, but have branched off into pistols, and export a copy of the Tokorev TT-30. Recently they have reverse engineered the .38 and .45 Webley Fosbery and are working towards its production  and acceptance by global quality organizations.

Webley Fosbery .45

The Pakistan Hunting and Sporting Arms Development Company is committed to bringing Pakistan's gunmaking process into the 21st Century.  They have a big hill to climb, for instance, with the perception that Pakistan's guns are made in the small shops of Darra, where one room shops equipped with a few files and a vise turn out some impressive looking (but maybe not so impressive under the hood) firearms.  PHSADC aims to get away from that perception. Their factory employs 200 people, and while they don't look like the CNC centers of Colt for example, it's light years ahead of their kin in Darra.

Webley Fosbery .38

They are going to build this Webley Fosbery copy in both .38 and .455 calibers, and here are a few pics of unfinished guns they are still working on. This gun reminds me of a Spanish .44 I passed on years ago, primarily because it was Spanish.  It was a copy of a S&W No. 3 and it looked flawless, but it bothered me because of the perceived quality of Spanish guns that I had at the time.  I do have this old Spanish copy of a S&W .38 from a company that was consumed in the Spanish Civil War.  Although there are some Spanish guns you should pass on, this one works great, always has, and I suspect will for quite a long time.

Workers at the factory in Peshawar

  They have or are working on agreements for the guns to be sold in the US  by Century Arms and TG International, but my requests for information from those 2 companies have gone unanswered.   PHSADC has had a booth at the Shot shows since at least 2010, and are serious about getting into the global market.  It will be interesting to see if they succeed.

If any one is interested in purchase, email Waqar at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Pricing is still yet to be determined.

Webley Fosbery .38

The Liberator Files.. Concealed Carry

All this talk of 21st century Liberators got me thinking about a new carry gun. The requirements were a) Something small and concealable, b) Large caliber, preferable 45 caliber c.) Simple and not prone to jams or breakdowns. The perfect gun would be an original Liberator.

The Liberator pistol

This gun almost  fulfills all the requirements. It was  made by the US during WW2 to be dropped to the underground in France. It was made cheap, with few moving parts, 10 rounds in the butt of non-marked brass (I guess we didn’t want anybody to know we made it, like anybody else used 45 Auto..) a stick to poke the used rounds out and a cartoon to show the French partisans how to use it. I guess we didn’t have anybody around at the time that could speak French.

Liberator in a holster

But a few problems did crop up. If I carry it loaded and cocked, there is a small issue of accidental discharge. So far it’s been pretty good. You hardly know it’s there. The other problem is the second shot. I like 45′s because you don’t usually need the second shot.. but what if 2 guys jump me. Now reloading quick is a problem.

But I’ve been working on that. With a little work I’ve managed to change the mechanism to full auto, and worked a 30 round mag into the butt. Now it is fierce!

Full auto Liberator

But there are new problems. Once you light it up it just empties the magazine. Also reloading the magazine is tedious. I shouldn’t have welded it on. But I think all these problems are fixable. I really should rifle the bore for a little more range. The bullets keyhole immediately after leaving the muzzle, but that’s not really a bad thing.

Next I’m working on a Liberator sniper rifle!

21st Century Liberator

Amongst the craziness going on in the US over guns, a group known as Defense Distributed has designed and built a single shot plastic gun that can be built by anyone on one of the new 3D printers that have emerged from the Maker Space.  The pro-gun activists are just as rabid as the anti-gun activists and this is being played out in the US media and being watched by the entire world.

picture of Liberator pistol

This new gun is based heavily on the WW2 Liberator, a cheap zip gun built by the US to be airdropped to anti-Nazi partisans in Europe.  Someone in the government must have got cold feet, as most of them were dumped in the ocean, and it still remains to be seen if the gun was actually useful for it's original intentions.

picture of Liberator's parts

DefDist's gun is similiar in many ways. It's cheap to make and simple in the extreme.  It uses a common roofing nail for a firing pin, and metal has to be added to satisfy the governments requirement that it set off an airport metal detector.  It's also a smoothbore, and this has to get it into the AOW (any other weapon) category.  Even the modern FP-45 replica of the Liberator pistol has a rifle barrel to keep out of trouble with the law.  

picture of original Liberator

Anyway, the DefDist people have a dramatic video shooting it's one bullet.  Enjoy.

Mystery Webley

One of OBG's readers sent in these pics in an effort to solve the mystery of missing marks.  It seems to me that this gun has escaped going to the proof house for some reason or other. Here is his description...

What looks to be a Webley VI in very good condition.  There are no import/ENGLAND stamp and no TONS Proof.  Fit is excellent, finish is shinny blue (not at all flat).

picture of Webley pistol

There is no manufacturers/patent stamp that I can recognize.  I know to look for either the Patent or the winged bullet on the left side of Webleys and the Enfield stamp on the right side on Enfields.

Serial numbers are nicely struck on the barrel, lower receiver and cylinder in the normal places, and they match in style, depth, and of course the number (236xxx)

Each chamber on the cylinder bears the crown over GR over crossed lance over P.  the Cylinder has not been shaved.  The face of the cylinder has a broad arrow, what looks to be an o or c, and a faintly struck mark that looks like a stylized U over something over something else (to faint to make out)

picture of Webley pistol

Several broad arrows appear on various small parts including the unlocking lever (above the screw on the left side of the pistol) on the top strap just forward of the rear sight on the left side, the side of the trigger guard on the left side forward of the trigger.

The back strap is marked A.A. over something I can’t make out over 1.A.C.C.  over RTC over 66.

picture of Webley pistol

On the underside of what I call the holster spreaders (triangular horizontal pieces forward of the cylinder) there is what looks like a crown over Y2 over 13

There is a capital letter M on the grips above the lanyard ring (both sides)

Finally the heal of the butt, forward of the lanyard ring shows a small SA, each with a small arrow over each.   The S and A are side by side, but the S and it’s arrow are staggered a little below the A and its associated arrow.

OBG:  What marks there are seem to be in the right places and look like the marks on my 1918 Mk. VI.  The serial number seems to be about 100,000 before it.  Anyone know the deal on the missing marks?

picture of Webley pistol