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 Guns.com.
Today when you say speak of a ‘thirty-eight,’ most people think first of the near universal .38 Special round, used since 1898. Well lets set that aside and speak of the ‘special’s granddaddy– the .38 S&W. This 140-year old mild-recoiling round was a favorite of yesteryear and is still a viable shooter today.
Back in the 1870s Smith and Wesson was introducing a new revolver, what later became known as their First Model series and they needed a new, reliable round for it. They produced the 38S&W just for this reason. They mounted a 140-grain .361-inch bullet on a 0.78-inch long brass case with a .433-inch rim diameter over a charge of black powder to produce a 1.20-inch long cartridge. It was very successful and soon almost cornered the handgun market, being one of the most powerful and hard-hitting rounds of the day. After about 1900 it was updated with smokeless powder and bullets up to 200-grains (the British Army .38/200 load), but overall is still the same round.
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com
The Webley MkIV is an example of a 38SW caliber revolver that is still very, very shootable