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.
The Webley and Enfield series of top-break .455 and .38/200 wheelguns were the standard issue British officer’s kit from the 1880s through the early 1960s when they were finally replaced by the Browning HP.
Webley MK VI .455 Infantry Revolver, MK IV .38 SW short Police Revolver, Albion .38 SW Tankers Revolver.
These guns were even the subject of a popular after-market bayonet sold for the discerning English gentleman trench raider in the Great War.
The Webley with the 1915-era Pritchard-Greener Revolver Bayonet
British trench raider with Webley 455 and Pritchard-Greener Revolver Bayonet (Via Osprey)
In the end they remained in service into the next World War, even while England’s enemies all used semi-autos (Germany = Walther, Luger, Mauser; Italy= Beretta; Japan= Nambu) as did her Allies (U.S= 1911, Soviets= TT30, France= MAB and Modèle 1935 pistols).
A girl shooting a Webley under the instruction of British sailors, England, 1939
Mmmmmm, let it wash over you. Also note the Smith 1917 .455 wheelgun to the bottom left
A British officer aims his revolver at a smiling suspected Mau Mau during a night raid. 1952, Kenya note the trigger discipline trigger discipline and the similarity to the depiction from the Trenches above…some things never change