Interesting Antique Revolver Seized In UK Police Raid

    Seized 19th Century Revolver (Merseyside Police)

    An interesting 19th century revolver turned up during a Police raid in Liverpool, UK. The revolver has a tip up break action and appears to be styled similarly to the Webley-Pryse cartridge revolvers of the 1870s-80s with an octagonal barrel.


    Webley-Pryse No4 Revolver

    Sadly, no information about the revolver was given so it’s time for some detective work.┬áThe fairly low-resolution photograph of the pistol released by Merseyside Police gives some clues about the revolver’s origins. Firstly, the unusual frame scalloping near the hammer, the distinct trigger guard – with its additional strengthening piece and the large plunger beneath the barrel. These are distinct features of pistols made by the Belgian gunsmith Albert Spirlet – in fact the gunmaker’s name can just be made out stamped on the pistol’s frame as “AL SPIRLET” followed by a serial number below it. Established in the 1860s, the Spirlet family continued to manufacture pistols into the 20th century.

    A Spirlet tip-up revolver broken open (

    Based in Liege, Spirlet’s tip-up pistols came in a variety of patterns, some of which can be seen at To load the revolver the frame release catch, just in front of the trigger guard, was disengaged and the barrel and cylinder tipped backwards. To eject any remaining spent cases the plunger beneath the barrel could be struck which pushed a star-shaped ejector upwards. The seized pistol is possibly chambered in an 11mm cartridge, a calibre which were popular at the time, or another ‘obsolete calibre’ which deems the pistol to be an antique and can be owned without a firearms certificate.

    The revolver was discovered by a police search team during a raid on a suspected gang member and drug dealer’s home. It was found along with a collection of┬ámachetes and swords, as well suspected drugs and an airsoft gun.

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]