[Video] Enfield Revolver No.2 Mk.1 .380/200 history and shooting

TFBTV has gone international. We are pleased to we welcome Mike to the channel, bringing us gun history all the way from Europe.

Often mistaken for a Webley, the much maligned Enfield No.2 revolver was one of the last newly-designed revolvers adopted by a major power. But were they as bad as their reputation suggests? Certainly, many of them on the market are wobbly and have problems, but is one in good condition actually a solid service revolver?

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Guns in this video:
Enfield No.2 Revolver
Webley .38 Mk.IV

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]

 



Mike B

Mike was lucky enough to go to a school with a 25 yard smallbore range, only 25 minutes from the centre of British shooting at Bisley, and had a firearms certificate before he had a driver’s license. Moving to a more gun-friendly country has allowed him to service his milsurp habit. He lives up in the mountains in Switzerland and vlogs at YouTube as Bloke on the Range. He can be reached at mike@tfb.tv.


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  • Swarf

    Who is that bloke?

    • Reazione Catena

      YouTube as Bloke on the Range. He can be reached at mike@tfb.tv.

      • Swarf

        Uhm… yes. Thank you.

  • Reazione Catena

    I have a Webley and an Enfield 1932 in nice condition… I learned something… my Enfield is still regulated for 200grns! Thanks for a some great information…

  • codfilet

    I have my No.2 Mk1 laying in front of me right now. It’s an Enfield, dated 1931. It still has the full length front sight, and the double-action only hammer. It’s a solid, very tight pistol-no slop at all.

  • Mike

    Who sells 200 grn ammo

  • FelixD

    “is one in good condition actually a solid service revolver?” NO. I own several in NRA excellent condition or better and they do not compare to ANY S&W K, L, or N frame .38 or larger.

    • LAMan

      Care to sell me one cheap? 🙂

  • BattleshipGrey

    Thanks for sharing this. Great addition to the info in the vid.

    • LAMan

      Thanks. Was looking for a “minor caliber” round, available in the same make & model in both 4″ and 2″ to outfit my girls. Knew of the .38 S&W, and looked into its old British Army and “Super Police” 200g loadings. I know that armies can make dumb decisions 🙂 but wanted to see why the Brits considered the .38 S&W, of all things, a suitable replacement for a .455.

      Turns out they were constrained by the cylinder length of existing Webley (ahem, ahem!) models in a similar caliber, so they skipped the longer .38 SPL that they knew was popular with US police and searched for a way to make a more effective cartridge out of the shorter .38 S&W. The 200g, very blunt, soft lead bullet Mk 1 load was the result, and they did some serious testing that eventually included shooting human cadavers and livestock, as Thompson-LaGarde had done in the US in 1904. The Brits were well aware that bullet destabilization was occurring almost immediately after initial penetration, and intentionally kept velocities down near 600 to increase likelihood of penetrating a soft target, then tumbling. Poor man’s hollowpoint?

      Thus, “slower was better,” and less was deemed at least “good enough” in terminal ballistics, and preferable overall when viewed as a weapon system for its intended users: a hastily-trained wartime conscript army in the trench fighting of “modern war.”

  • That is an awesome post, thank you. I have downloaded the F-S book and will study it intently. After a quick scan, it’s clear how the 1942 revolver manual is clearly related to their ideas.

    • LAMan

      Thanks for putting together a great video, and bringing out an oldie with an intricate and controversial history! There are just so many half-truths floating around out there that denigrate the gun or its ammunition, that it’s hard to get a grip on them.

      I know the archives are scattered in several different locations in England, but it would be fun to track Ordnance reports to see what troops in the field actually experienced with the Enfield. There’s a common reference made that “it wasn’t very popular with the troops, who preferred the Colt or Browning automatics”! There’s never any context given, yet I can very well imagine a soldier might have preferred a 13-shot Browning or 7-shot 1911 automatic to any revolver with a fistful of loose cartridges, not to mention the ease of obtaining Sten 9mm or Thompson .45 ammo vs. a separate .38 caliber packed in the tiny 12-round boxes you showed!

      The “tolerance stacking” issue was suggested to me by Ed Harris, formerly an engineer at Ruger. It just made no sense to me that an army spent from the early 1920’s to the mid-1930’s developing this handgun and its ammo, only to have it “unable to reach the targets” on range day, or the famous tale of it being “unable to penetrate a German overcoat”! What ammunition can’t penetrate cloth??? Well, ammo strongly subject to a bullet-in-bore malfunction because it was operating at very low pressures with a heavily jacketed bullet, and the top-break design tended to leave a cylinder gap larger than most swing-out cylinder guns, such as the S&W Victory. Add a chamber at max specs and a bore at max specs, and lo and behold you’ve lost so much propellant pressure that the bullet sticks in the bore. Likewise, a bore at min specs plus bullet at max could leave you with extremely weak performance; add in a max spec cylinder gap and once again, fatally inadequate pressure to make the bullet perform as expected.

      When I fired modern CIS (Singapore) Mk 2Z ammo through the small-dimensioned Colt, or the more forgiving S&W, believe me that bullet was (a) penetrating 13 dual layers of tightly rolled overcoat and lining; (b) five or six 6″ jugs of water, coming out the bottom or side, penetrating into a row alongside, and typically exploding jugs 2 & 3 or 3 & 4 because of tumbling, then smashing sideways at lower velocity through another jug or two; (c) drilling 2-3″ deep into a pine tree at 55 yards, being found nose forward; (d) being found about 2″ into the tree, having turned sideways upon penetration; (e) several layers of overcoat, then absolutely blowing up a water jug inside it because the bullet was tumbling fiercely.

      By contrast, few modern hollowpoints of small caliber will even reach a third jug, and few of large caliber can reach a fourth jug, because their expansion serves as a “parachute,” slowing the bullet and lessening penetration. 30-36″ of penetration through milk jugs full of water is roughly equivalent to 14-20″ through muscle simulant, so a properly performing Mk 2 FMJ of 178g would reach an opponent’s vitals more readily than most modern wonder bullets, while creating a heckuva mess en route!

      And as they say, in close combat, shot placement is king and penetration is queen. A light hollowpoint that expands while passing through an opponent’s extended arm is liable to stop after only shallowing penetrating his body, or perhaps glancing off of ribs, and can leave a determined man on his feet and still shooting back.

      The 200g lead bullet is all this and a bit more. Colonel Hatcher of yore and several others commented on the “terrific damage” done by a 200g bullet, and Colonel Askins actually shot a German soldier through-and-through across the body with a “creakingly slow” .38 Special 200g bullet, “knocking him heels over jockstrap” and “leaving him in a dying condition.” Don’t know the velocity of that round, because .38 Special 200g loads ranged from high 500’s to about 730 fps. Interestingly, Askins was puzzled that the golden material coating the bullet somehow made it accord with the Hague or Geneva Conventions. In other words, it meant that he was shooting a “Lubaloy” coated lead bullet by Western or perhaps Winchester that looked like an FMJ, if the coating was pristine and you didn’t look too closely. The proprietary lubricant was slick, golden, and thus looked clean and jacketed!

      I’ve seen at least a couple of references from the early 1960’s or thereabouts that note the 200g .38 bullet was more powerful than civilians needed, and was best reserved for police! That, in turn, may have been a reference to the weak designs and/or shoddy build of the common top-break caliber .38 S&W pocket revolvers of the 1875-1940 period, which were designed for the 145-146g soft LRN bullet used in your Prvi Partizan ammo. Amazing tidbits of history that pile one atop the other, leaving us moderns confused about guns, calibers, loads, bullets and actual performance!

      S&W made J frame, swing-out cylinder guns in this caliber until 1974, and Colt used its D frame to do so until…perhaps mid-1960’s? Complicate the entire picture still more that Colt marked its guns “.38 Colt New Police” and had ammo manufacturers load it with a 150g flatpoint bullet–ranging anywhere from 685-770 fps from a 4″ barrel! This was simply the .38 S&W cartridge with a more efficient bullet design, and the cartridges are fully interchangeable, while the famed .38 Special used a 158g bullet at about 770 fps from a 4″ barrel (advertised usually as 850, but from a 6″ barrel). And depending on the writer, it was either great or pathetic!

      Has your head exploded yet? 🙂 Now add in the widely-cited references to the US Army’s .38 Long Colt’s failures to stop Muslim jihadis known as “Moros” in the Philippines Insurrection of the early 1900’s. 150g LRN at 770 fps, it had the same tissue-parting, low stopping power effect as the 158g .38 Special LRN, which was merely a slightly longer cartridge case with 2 more grains of black powder when introduced in 1899. Subsequent police pistol lore was rife with references to the 158g LRN as a “widowmaker,” as many policemen drilled a criminal with it center mass, only to be shot or stabbed by the crook before he bled out.

      Oh, and the US military load for the .38 Special was a 130g pointy FMJ bullet at 800 fps, a formula still widely used in practice ammo available today. Needless to say, it had poor stopping power in military service with airmen, sailors, MP’s, etc.

      People mix and match these references rather loosely, commonly condemning .38’s and turning away to .45’s! If the Brits had stuck with their original 200g blunt round nose, their service lore on the Enfield would be totally different and much more positive. Had the American military simply used flatpoint 150g bullets in its .38 Long Colt, and the police used a flatpointed 158g in the .38 Special, and the Army not introduced the weak-sister 130g FMJ, and all users of the .38 S&W cartridge used it in its “150g FP at 770 fps .38 Colt New Police” format or its “200g .38 S&W blunt LRN Super Police format”…how different would be the stories told about .38’s in US combat and police work!

      I’m about to expend some 25 boxes of vintage .38 S&W and .38 Colt New Police ammo from different gun makes & models and chronograph it, and will publish the results online. Should be fun!

      • Richard

        “…It just made no sense to me that an army spent from the early 1920’s to the mid-1930’s developing this handgun and its ammo, only to have it “unable to reach the targets” on range day…”

        Honest question – have you ever served in the military?

        I have, and have no problem believing that the British could spend 15 years developing a weapon and cartridge combination and the result being complete crap.

        • LAMan

          Honest answer: 24 years active duty, US Army. That’s me in the avatar, blurry though it is.

          I pointed out specifically that I know armies make mistakes. But who buys a pistol whose bullets can’t reach the target, or can’t even exit the barrel? Problems with the Enfield reached that level on a widespread basis after the switch to FMJ Mk 2 ammo, and the Internet is rife with simple condemnations of the British as “stupid,” but not asking the obvious questions.

          It was a pistol, not a cutting edge XM-whatever rocket science project.

          Yes, armies blunder badly in the design and selection of weapons all the time. They’ve been able to make pistols that shoot bullets for some centuries, however. That’s why I believed that this was an (admittedly minor) historical curiosity that begged for a rational answer.

          As a historian, I always proceed from the assumption that a decision probably had at least some basis in reality, some redeeming quality or rationale, even if things turned out quite wrong in the end. So when I encountered overwhelming consensus that the British were completely mindless in choosing a pistol, but without explanation of why or how such a thing could be, it struck me immediately as overly simplistic. “They were just so STUPID back then!” is a phrase that tends to get me going 🙂 Spent way too much time grading essays and trying to push students past that point, offering simple condemnation rather than explaining why & how something was screwed up.

          Does that make sense? An arcane issue, admittedly, but that’s what hobbyists and historians specialize in…especially retired ones like me!

  • mazkact

    I love Webleys and Enfields but everyone I find for sale is badly out of time.

  • John

    Now I see why the British military chose the Glock as its sidearm. If you’re an army that doesn’t particularly care about handguns and doesn’t much care about maintaining them all the time, a Glock will supposedly handle a bit of abuse just fine. Also perfectly ambidextrous.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Nice video! It’s nice to see you coming up in the world, and British shooting getting some recognition. I’ve also enjoyed and learned from your other videos.