[Guest Post] Mk. IV Webley

[ This post was written by Wayne Watson ]

Some years ago, I was passing by my favorite gunshop and the inevitable happen= there was something in the safe that I MIGHT be interested in. A Mk. IV Webley, complete with Lee dies and the original holster. Being broke, I immediately put up my Tanfoglio 9mm in trade to secure it unseen.

The pistol did not disappoint, far from it, it was mint. I’m sure it was owned by an officer senior enough to both have a batman and to remain a respectable distance from the ‘sharp end’- as it was made in 1917 (a quick google of the serial number determined that) I’m thinking it probably saw some kind of service in ‘The Big One’.

Now some folk are happy just to own such a piece.

I’m not one of them. Firearms are made to go bang, so it was back to the net to find a load. My favorite gunshop had the brass-HORNADY 455 WEBLEY- at $90NZ /100, plus 250g .454 slugs to fit- not the original 265g ‘flying dustbins’, but as near as I could get. There was little reloading data out there then, but 3.5 g of 700x was mentioned and that I had. I was in business.

A few club members where horrified that I would contemplate actually firing a 1917 pistol in mint condition.

To hell with that! These were made to be fired- and fire it I did. The load worked well and the wife had no trouble shooting it. She was actually thinking that I might give it to her, but that was no happening and I had to pay her off with another S&W .38 for her collection.

I have even used it in a few CAS matches and for those who grumbled about double actions, I invited them to try and shoot it in that mode. The trigger pull probably didn’t matter when confronted by screaming fuzzy-wuzzy’s or whirling dervishes, but it played havoc when thing to hit a steel plate at seven meters.

Most of the year this pistol takes pride of place in my VERY small collection (one pistol is a bono fide collection!) but it does visit the range at least annually- and also stars on the cover of my first book- ‘Meddlers in Time’.

This article was written by a Guest Author. The views contained in this article reflect that of the author and not necessarily that of The Firearm Blog or TFBTV.


  • fred johnson

    Nice photos of a really nice example of that revolver. My first ever firing of .45 ACP was with my grandpa’s WWI surplus Webley in the 1980s. I’ve loved break open revolvers ever since.

  • Elijah

    I’ll have to agree you with you on this one.

    These handguns are meant to be fired. They are solid pieces of work which will survive you, your sons, and your son’s sons.

  • Andrew

    That Lucky Strike lighter. I must have it.

  • Fascinating to read. The Webleys that were imported into the USA after WW2 almost all had the rear of the cylinder milled down so that they would accept .45 ACP rounds on “moon clips” (or .45 Auto-Rim). My dad had one.

    I fired it. Single-action, a light breeze would set it off. Double-action, the trigger pull was so hard that I felt as though I was trying to pull an automobile with my index finger.

    I can’t imagine shooting it during a trench raid in the Great War and then having to try and reload it in the dark.

  • Gorgeous pistol. I would love someday to just be able to hold and examine one, never mind drop the hammer.

    That is a true piece of military history you’ve got – color me utterly envious.

  • Ray

    As a Brit I have to thank you for sharing this with us. I’m also glad you’ve shot it and used it as a firearm should, just take good care of it.

  • armed_partisan

    Cool pistol. I’ve always loved top-breaks, and I wonder why nobody builds one for sale in the US anymore (Last one was the H&R 999 Sportsman, which I only find for premium prices) especially a nice centerfire. Webley’s are very cool. Unfortunately, around here, all you find are .38 S&W/.38/200 models. Of three gunstores, I know of one place that has an S&W Model 11, another that has (or had) a Enfield Mk. II (not a Webley, but close enough), and a third that has a commercial Webley snubby in .38 S&W. Have never seen a .455 Webley go for less than $800US, and in that condition, it’s a $1000 gun around here. Tanfoglios are very good, but they’re imported down the street from me, and they go for about $350-$400, so that was a good trade!

    Also, I agree that guns are made for shooting, not storing.

  • Doug

    Good article. I’ve had a Webley on my list for quite a while.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    What a lovely old hand-cannon! And in that pristine condition! Congratulations to you for your find and purchase. I’m currently trying to get an old US M1 Carbine back into shooting condition after sitting in my uncle’s closet since 1943, when he “purchased” it with two bottles of Scotch Whiskey from a young Marine (my uncle was a Merchant Mariner on a Sun Oil tanker). I really want to return it to “shooting condition”, even though it has a VERY low serial number and, as far as I can tell, is an all-original, Inland-manufactured carbine. As you can see, I’m as proud of it as you must be with your Webley. These weapons were meant to be fired, so enjoy yours as I enjoy mine!

  • Seanus Maximus

    I had one of these with the shorter barrel and birds head grips, an absolute joy to shoot, mass produced but hand fitted. There’s a certain elegance to these Edwardian revolvers similar to the Colt Single Action but they thrive on being used. Here in the UK we are now denied such things and I for one am very jealous of what seems a nicely finished example.

  • Jeff

    Good to see a Kiwi post!!!

  • paranormal

    I’m pleased to say I have two. One is a wall hanger. Unusually it has a really nice double action trigger but for some reason I just can’t get it to shoot straight, so it remains the wall hanger.

    The other, my first ever centre fire pistol, is a motley looking piece missing screws, worn blueing & broken springs, and with a massive double action trigger pull. This is the pistol I love. It also won the 2009 NZ National Service Pistol Classic Match.

    It’s surprising I can get accuracy out of my Webley. I use a mix of brass, mainly North Devon Feild Supplies brass purchased in England (at Bisley) when they still had a firearms industry. I use Hodgdon HP38 powder behind the same .452 200 grain semi wadcutters I use in the P14.

  • Oswald Bastable

    Thanks everyone- I just wish I had proof-read it before sending it off!

    As for the lighter- I picked that up on ebay years ago.

  • Flashman

    I had two Webley .455’s as personal weapons in Africa.

    A 4″ MkIII from the Anglo-Boer War period – this was a good concealed carry – a bit bulky but with the right jacket it worked well. [My brother also had a MkIII which he also concealed carried daily – his argument was that in his situation, any aggro would be at little more than arms length range and the intimidation factor and those huge slugs would be decisive. I agreed and got the MkIII too.]

    A 6″ MkVI dated 1918 – ex South African Army. Sold out of service with only storage marks after having seen little use. An excellent pistol in all respects – very accurate in single action mode and with a very slick DA operation for what it was. This was my everynight bedside pistol.

    Cases? Cut down 45 Colt brass with a fine lathe thinning of the rim from the UK’s Empire reloading store [when the UK had a pistol retailing industry] – very durable brass. Fiocci factory loads [hot] then recycling their brass – rather thin brass so don’t expect too many reloads unless you water down the powder charge. 45ACP brass [not loaded rounds!] will work at a pinch – peen a “rim” using a drift or punch – just enough to fit the extractor and reloading shell holder. [Cut down and rim thinned .303 brass was transformed in to snake shot loads – Africa remember – block the case with craft store sealing wax.]

    Projectiles? Anything in .45 seemed to work OK. A cheap option was 200gr lead intended for 45ACP. Empire supplied some butter-soft HBWC items that ran to 250gr or so.

    Dies? North Devon Fire Arms – RIP – supplied a superb set of dies. Beware Lee shell holder for Auto Prime is too generous – results in an imperfectly seated primer. Place on flat steel surface and gently tap the primer home using a mandrel from inside [not outside!] the case.

    Loads? Use any 45ACP powder. Start very low and work up. Don’t go too hot!

    Had to say bye-bye to Erebus and Terror when I returned to New Zealand. But since getting back into pistol shooting two years ago, I’ve secured a Webley MkIV in 38 S&W and am now on the hunt for minter .455 MKVI – well that’s the bucket list plan anyway!

    Thanks for reading – apologies for the prolixity!!

  • “gunner”

    for the webley fanciers, try to lay hands on a copy of chipchase-dowell’s book “the webley story” its long out of print i believe, but with digging in the book shops you might turn up a copy. (no, my copy is not for sale!)

  • I have a 1926 Mk VI, I shoot 265gr hollow based bullet out of mine. New brass can be had from Starline. Lee makes a die set and a mold. I bought the mold and gave it to a guy who makes the bullet for me, apparently the hollow base is a pain to get right. If you slug your gun, make sure you slug all of the chambers as they will vary.