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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.