Webley MK VI: Rule Britannia

Webley revolvers today truly are symbols of imperial British might, and the MK VI is perhaps the most coveted, as most have been ruined by conversion to fire .45acp (a cartridge that is much more powerful that the .455 Webley loadings). In this video, we do some shooting with a true British icon.

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Transcript …

(multiple gun shots) – [Voiceover] I don’t think there’s a handgun more quintessentially British, than a fine Webley revolver.

This is a Webley Mark 6 produced in 1926, and they were adopted in 1915 and served until the 1960’s in the far corners of the Empire.

This example was made at the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield, where they were made from 1921 until 26.

The Webleys are of a top break design, and you’ll notice the lever located on the rear of the gun to the left of the hammer.

This allows the gun to not only open to be loaded, but also auto ejects spent casings.

The Webley revolvers are single action, double action guns, so you can cock the hammer and pull the trigger or simply pull the trigger.

Ammunition used in this gun is 455 based on the Mark two cartridge.

There were six versions of this cartridge all in all.

And the Mark two being the most prolific.

You can load the guns one cartridge at a time, as was common with most service revolvers of the day, or if you’re lucky enough to have something called a Prideaux device, it loads all six chambers in one fell swoop.

However, these are quite rare and expensive, and I unfortunately don’t have one to show you.

This was my first time out with this gun, because the ammunition is extremely difficult to find.

You can make it yourself by turning down 45 long colt, but I got lucky and managed to find two boxes for sale.

So instead of me yammering on, let’s see what this thing can do.

(multiple gun shots) (metal snapping) (multiple gun shots) (metal snapping) So my only real gripe about the Webley revolver is the trigger pull.

In single action, it’s not very good, and in double action, it’s quite bad actually.

However, if you’ve been spoiled by a Smith and Wesson or Colt, this revolver probably won’t do it for you.

But damn, if it doesn’t look cool and shoot very well in spite of this.

(multiple gun shots) I can honestly say this was a really fun range day with this old classic British revolver.

It’s not a gun that you’re likely to see very often, especially in the original 455 caliber.

As most have been, in my opinion, ruined by being altered to fire 45 acp, which can also be very dangerous.

I started to get the hang of this gun towards the end, and I really wish I had more ammunition and it was more common.

However, such as the folly with some Old Mill SIRT guns.

Anyways, this is Alex C with TFBTV.

Really hope you enjoyed this video.

(patriotic music)



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • De Facto

    I’ve always been interested in the Webley, though the somewhat obscure .455 chambering is sufficiently offputting that I’ve never tried to find one. While I realize many purists dislike it, If I found a Webley that had been converted to .45 ACP, couldn’t I just use low pressure loadings to fire it safely?

    • Tom

      Best to go the handload route as the “safe” loading for a Webley is well below that of the .45 ACP. Also AFAIK the bore of Webleys tends to be a little undersized so stick to soft lead bullets.

      • Fix Bayonets

        Rcbs makes a proper mold. 265gr hollow base, .455. The bores are dead on. It is the throats of the cylinders that are undersize, to bump up initial pressure, then once the bullet clears, the hollow base bumps up again to fill the grooves.

        Mine is shaved (I’m not made of money, it was 1/4 the cost of an unshaved one) and I use .45 ACP brass, with the aforementioned bullet over Unique. Works great. Added benefit, the proper .455 bullets are incredibly visually distinctive.

        I use once fired range pickup brass. It saves having to over expand it if it is already blown out a bit over factory brass. Also, it’s free.

        Regarding safe pressure- Webley 13,500 psi, .45 18,500 psi. NO standard .45 load is safe!

        • RealitiCzech

          Yep, handloading is the way to go. I took it up after getting my Mk VI. You can get the components for pretty cheap, it’s just when you want to speed up the process that things get expensive. Safe Webley loads kick less than .38 special – tons of fun to blast away with.
          Also, I like the ones cut for .45 ACP – moonclips are fun and fast in a Webley.

  • Spencerhut

    .455 and even .45ACP modified Webley’s, given properly loaded ammo are both fun to shoot. Loading .455 is fun when you track down the correct lead bullets. The .45ACP loads should be kept separate from your standard .45ACP ammo as it is fairly under powered and could cause malfunctions with autos.
    It is a shame that almost every Webley I seem to run into anymore is “cut”. Look at the S/N on the cylinder, if the entire S/N is not there, it’s been cut.

  • oldman

    Always wanted one well not just the MK VI but the whole series of Webley revolvers.

  • ostiariusalpha

    Ha ha! Webleys are iconic in the best sense of the word, and .455 is a lovely round. Great video, Alex!

  • Burst

    Be interesting to see the potential if you could find a skilled Webley armorer.
    Just how smooth could you make it with modernized, lightened springs?

    The world may never know.

  • schizuki

    I just picked up a nifty CO2-powered BB gun version of the Webley. Big, hefty piece, the action works the same, and it even uses cartridges that you press the BB into the nose of. No ammo worries here!

  • Richard

    My dad has one that was made in either 1916 or 1918, the last time I saw it the finish wasn’t too bad looking for a ~100 year old man stopper

  • jamezb

    I had a MkIV .45acp conversion I picked up (in the long-long-ago; the before-time) for $80 or $100. The MkIV was the birds head 5″ bbl version of the design. I loved the gun, it was smooth, accurate, of impeccable quality, and oh, so weird. Unfortunately it fell to a minor KABOOM which partially sheared it’s left locking lug due to a hot TSMG round in a bag of mixed surplus ammo. I sold it for $50 as a “WALL HANGER ONLY” – I wish now that I’d kept it, as I really feel the lug could have been rebuilt by a good TIG welder.

  • Edeco

    I like them, wish someone did a new DA top-break. But relatively stubby, rimmed cartridges are good for top breaks and such cartridges aren’t much of a thing anymore. Apparently it can maybe be done with longer cartridges like 38 or 357, but you’re losing some of the elegance there.

    • RealitiCzech

      Seems like you could make a really tiny snubnose in 9mm or 10mm as a break-top. Moonclips would make it just that much faster to reload.

      • Edeco

        Yeah, but then the cases don’t pop out dramatically :S

        • iksnilol

          I am always afraid I would get sprayed in my face with cases if I tried that.

    • Richard

      .44 special could do

      • Edeco

        Yeah, could do. Not the longest, skinniest revolver cartridge, but a sub-magnum cartridge can be so much stubbier…

    • Kelly Jackson

      Sadly it never went anywhere

      • Kelly Jackson

        Open

        • MeaCulpa

          When open that thing really looks like a flare gun. Oooh now I’m missing my issued P2A1.

    • nadnerbus

      38 Smith and Wesson is still out there. Kind if a wimpy round, and relatively rare, but it can still be purchased new.

    • Everyone went away from top-break actions, because the latch is the weak point of of the frame. A one-piece frame is far stronger.

      I’m sure that there probably are .38 Special top-break revolvers, but you maybe shouldn’t use +P loads. A .357 Magnum top-break revolver is a non-starter – too much pressure.

  • RenHoek

    Ahh the Indiana Jones gun, I’ve always wanted one but they are hard to find and the ammo is scarce.

    • iksnilol

      I thought Indy used a S&W 1917 more.

      • kyphe

        In the last crusade he uses a Webley green but in the first two movies he uses a number of S&W including the 1917 both in 45 ACP and .455. He also used a browning hi-power as a stand in for a 1911 in the second movie. Apparently the blanks for the 1911 were crap and caused too many retakes.

        • ostiariusalpha

          He also use the Webley in the *BLECH* 4th movie. As for the Hi-Power, I thought Indie was just a big roller, because the Browning was a bit over twice as expensive as the Colt for civilian purchase.

  • Yuval Pecht

    I was issued a Webley during my service in the IDF as an MP, long past the sixties – in the early eighties…

    • jamezb

      Why not? Once a man – stopper, always a man – stopper…

    • MeaCulpa

      Israel just gained one point for awesomeness!

      • jamezb

        To go with their other “awesome firearm points” for the Uzi family, Galil’s, the Dror/Johnson LMG, 8mm 1919A6’s, their gorgeous hb-FAL variant, the Jericho, the Tavor…etc.

  • AHill

    I’m quite fond of my Mark I in 455. I’d be lying however if I told you I bought it because its a fantastic looking and functional piece of history. My honest reasons for purchasing it were 1) its favourable legal status and 2) the ammo while scarce is not impossible to find.

    I’m still shocked with how great it shoots and how well the mechanical aspects have held up for being a 100+ year old gun.

    (by favourable legal status I mean it is not registered and I can carry it legally anywhere I can legally carry a long gun. The fact you don’t need a license for it is just icing.)

    • jamezb

      AHill, here are you from, if you don’t mind me asking? What makes the Webley’s legal status different from other handguns there? Its age? Being a revolver?

      • AHill

        Canada. The Webley (Marks I, II, and some early III’s) qualifies because of its age (made before 1898) and its caliber. Another neat antique option is the Broomhandle Mausers but they are not only rare but quite expensive when they come up for sale. A few M1895 Nagants in 7.62 are around as well.

  • Vincenzo Amato

    I own one of this in my collection here in Italy. Fascinating gun! Fiocchi makes occasionally small batches of ammo for it.

  • WFDT

    I own a Webley Green variant and one of these days I’ll shoot the 21 rounds of .455 I was able to get my hands on.

  • LazyReader

    Some guns are like a pickup truck, you take it with you everywhere
    And some guns are like Ferrari’s, they’re nice to look at, but you wouldn’t want to own one.

    • iksnilol

      And some guns are like Skodas.

      FRIGGIN AWESOME whilst being inexpensive/non-flashy enough so that you can bring it everywhere.

  • Charles

    I was quite happy to have found the MkVI I bought early this year until I discovered the problems inherent in the “shaved” cylinder. Not everyone performing the modification was on the same page, and as a consequence headspace could be WAay too large for the differences in thickness of brass head (ACP & autorim) and/or moon clip thickness, produced by an untold number of manufacturers. Even with the Auto-rim head thickness varies enough between manufacturer to cause some FTFs. I found a guy on the ‘bay that makes cylinder face spacers to specification that cured ALL of my FTF problems, and makes it so that every piece of autorim or handload ACP ammo that I’ve made for my Webley fires as expected. His original spacer was meant to allow use of .455 Webley ammo/brass in shaved cylinders (otherwise, an impossibility !)
    I’ve also found Hornady soft-molded .45Colt bullets work perfectly when topping my Star auto-rim brass with some Clays and a Rem. primer traveling at about 735fps.

    • Doctor Jelly

      Link?

  • Mr.Volt

    The Colt may have won the West but the Webley won the rest!
    No offense, it is just a teasing joke.

  • I have a 1917 vintage MK VI (shaved for .45 ACP) and it is a bloody magnificent beast, I love the heck out of it even though I haven’t fired it yet due to not having found a reloading press on steep enough sale to fit my budget (and not being fool enough to use factory loads of ACP). Anti-ergonomic as its century-old grip design is, I can get a firing grip on it in double action mode that has the lowest bore axis of any handgun I’ve ever held, including the Chiappa Rhino.