Like the Original, but Worse

In July 1879, the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield was ordered to produce a self-extracting revolver to compete against foreign models for an upcoming British Army test. Enfield’s first handgun, it was accepted, but soon found “a clumsy weapon” and, within a decade was replaced by a Webley-pattern break top design.

The mighty Webley .455 Mark VI, seen here at the Berman Museum in Anniston, Alabama with an aftermarket Pritchard-Greener bayonet, was the standard British Army revolver of the Great War-era. (Photo: Chris Eger)

For the next almost 50 years, Webley had a lock on the British sidearm trade but, in 1932, this changed after Enfield was ordered to cough up a second revolver design in a short-cased .38 caliber chambering, and did so with a model that looked a lot like the Webley.

The Enfield No. 2 was born and was soon made worse by the Enfield No. 2 Mk. 1* standard.

More in my column at


  • Worth noting, that while the standard Smith and Wesson Round nose is less powerful than an anemic .380 loading, Buffalo Bore now sells ammo for the .38/200 that turns out performance closely akin to .38 Special, making it much more suitable for personal defense. I’ve had this revolver for thirty plus years and enjoy shooting it a couple of times a year. It is quite accurate and now, with the Buffalo Bore ammo, a more versatile arm.
    Thank you for this website, I enjoy reading your eclectic collection of articles.

  • Top break revolvers are not terribly strong and prone to stretching or breaking the frame, or breaking the latch, if fired with ammunition loaded to higher than blackpowder pressures.
    It is possible to make the wartime No. 2 Mk. 1* even worse than issued form. In the 1950s and 1960s many were sold off as surplus, and tended to have badly corroded bores, and/or muzzle crowns damaged by cleaning with a steel cleaning rod. As it is non-trivial to rebarrel these–the barrel, topstrap, and barrel extension for the frame hinge are all one piece, making replacement prohibitively expensive–many surplus dealers lopped 3″ or more off the barrel and reinstalled the front sight atop the 2″ or so that remained. Now your unreasonably large and heavy revolver with a horrible DA trigger, on which SA is impossible by design, has a fraction of the sight radius it previously had and the 380/200 ammo, which was barely getting up to 600 ft/sec before out of the 5″ barrel it previously had, is now leaving the muzzle at, maybe, 500, and may or may not stabilize as it trundles slowly downrange slowly enough to see in flight if the sun is right behind you.
    The No. 2. Mk. 1* was an abomination even before they got the rifling corroded out of them by wartime use with corrosive ammo, even before American surplus dealers lopped the barrels off and occasionally refinished them in ghastly half-assed bubbly nickel. They still show up at gun shows, and the vendors demand a premium price for the “custom gun” they’re showing off.

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