Webley 1910 Automatic Pistol: British Innovation

The Webley company was Britain’s premier producer of handguns in the 19th and 20th centuries. While most well known for their revolvers, they did produce a number of different semi-automatic pistols to try and break into the lucrative self-loading handgun market. While the designs never emulated the success of their foreign counterparts, they did feature some interesting design elements.

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Alex C.

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


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  • gunsandrockets

    Fascinating pistol.

    I can see the resemblance of the Webley locking mechanism to the very early Browning short-recoil dual link barrel design. As the barrel moves parallel to the firing position in order to unlock the barrel from the slide.

    In theory the Webely mechanism would be practical with a very short barrel, while the tilt barrel locking of ordinary pistols can run into problems.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Very cool pistol. I’m surprised it wasn’t more widely adopted, especially with everybody trying to find pistols during WW1.

    • Tom

      The Royal Navy did adopt a version of the Webley (in the .455 Webley auto round) just prior to WWI but for obvious reasons everyone wanted to concentrate on existing weapons. The Army on the other hand was basically institutionally against semi autos. Officers did however have to purchase their own sidearm so some did buy them but in general everyone stuck with the tried and tested Webley revolvers though there was limited use in the Army with the Royal Horse Artillery and Flying Corps. After WWI there was simple not the money for new weapons.

      Had WWI not happened or been delayed by a few years then its possible that the British/Empire military might well have been using semi autos in addition to Pattern 14 rifles.

      • gunsandrockets

        You mean Pattern 13 rifles. I doubt the UK would have replaced the Lee-Enfield without replacing the rimmed .303 cartridge as well.

        • Tom

          Yes should have wrote 13. Of course how long it would have taken to sort the ammo out is open to speculation.

  • LG

    The “V” spring which you like so much is weapon’s achilles heal. If the starboard grip panel looses it’s integrity, cracks, breaks etc., then the “V” spring can not function reliably.

    • ostiariusalpha

      That’s right, coil springs > V-springs and leaf springs in durability and reliability most any day. But they are kind of cool looking, like on a flintlock and such.

      • LG

        Correct. The Webley is even more vulnerable because the thin grip panel is necessary to secure the spring and transfer bar. It would not have been as bad if these had been housed inside of the frame instead alongside thereof.

    • Tassiebush

      I reckon Alex knows that. He’s just pointing out that it’s freakin cool having a well made autoloader that has design features belonging across about 3centuries.

      • LG

        That was common knowledge when Webleys were around and shot a lot. Unfortunately there is at many times a system wide amnesia requiring relearning of once common knowledge. How many readers of the column have seen with their own eyes a Webley fail for that reason? It is part of the collective knowledge which should be maintained.

        • Tassiebush

          Yeah Fair point. It’s certainly important to know about the limitations and flaws of such things. I found myself pondering how to introduce a coil spring into the same space.

          • LG

            Also remember that the British firearms industry was primarily a “cottage ” industry with small firms fabricating one particular part, springs, fasteners, etc. I can not prove it, but I would bet that with the relative ease of local obtaining “V” springs used in side by side shotguns /rifles and then current revolvers, combined with British entrenchment in “traditional “ways contributed greatly in the choice of “V” spring use.

          • Tassiebush

            That’s pretty likely. I recall reading about aircanes being made as multiple parts sourced from small contractors who specialized in one part. Again like your examples the v or leaf spring was in use.

  • wetcorps

    What the hell happened to that glock?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Extended barrel. 😉

    • Anonymoose

      That’s no Glock! It’s a P38 that killed a glock and is wearing its skin!

  • Chase

    should keep your left eye open when you shoot (sympathetic reflex and all)… just sayin. I use a small piece of masking tape on my safety glasses to prevent my left and right eye from competing for focus on the front sight. Still allows for peripheral vision and still allows light into your left eye so it doesn’t alter the iris of the right.

    These series of vids are awesome keep it up!

    • The_Champ

      I might buy the sympathetic reflex idea for precision open sights on a target rifle, but do you really think it’s critical shooting a combat pistol?

      As for the tacticool idea of maintaining situational awareness…..I never really bought into that idea. Which is to say, I’m actively shooting at a target in combat, somehow I have the presence of mind to sort out a nice sight alignment and sight picture, and because my support side eye is open, I spot my second target in the midst of delivering rounds? Kinda doubt it. And its not as though people don’t immediately open their other eye after shooting.

      That and after years of shooting one eye closed it is a hell of a trick to re-train two eyes open shooting.

      Just my opinion fyi.

      • BattleshipGrey

        I don’t think shooting with both eyes open is going to make you able to instantly track multiple targets, but it will allow you to see movement aside from your current target so that you won’t be caught completely blindsided. In short, it’ll potentially give you better reaction time, not necessarily make you more deadly.

        • The_Champ

          Yeah I think I understand the theory, I just can’t imagine that it would hold up in any sort of reality.

          That said nothing wrong with training to find a perceived edge, so long as there aren’t any detriments to the technique.

      • mazkact

        I cannot speak for Alex however I have a condition in which my dominant eye switches without action on my part. As a child my Father and older brother tried to make me shoot with both eyes open I could not. With both eyes open and looking down the sights I see two front sights. These days I use a blinder in order to keep both eyes open and maintain my depth perception. My Optometrist told me the fancy name for what causes this but I forget, it is somewhat common.

        • Cymond

          When I was a kid, I didn’t have a dominant eye. We had a blowgun, and I could see 2 barrels when I focused on the target. It made ‘windage’ easy because I could just put the target between the 2 barrels. Elevation was much trickier, as was achieving a consistent velocity.

      • Tassiebush

        I’m opposite. I feel funny closing one eye except perhaps with a scope on a high setting.

  • Jolly

    What happened to Patrick?

  • Alex all the guns you show in these videos are some really nice examples of them. You definitely have an above average quality collection.

  • Tassiebush

    Wonderful! I have seen them in books but the insides and functions were fascinating. That return spring and it’s lever was a fascinating approach. Thankyou Alex!