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World One War: Webley Pistol

Updated on April 21, 2011
Webley & Scott Mk VI. Caliber .455 pistol which was the standard British Officers side-arm of the war
Webley & Scott Mk VI. Caliber .455 pistol which was the standard British Officers side-arm of the war
Daniel Radcliffe playing Jack Kipling in the TV drama 'My Boy Jack' using a Webely MK VI revolver
Daniel Radcliffe playing Jack Kipling in the TV drama 'My Boy Jack' using a Webely MK VI revolver
Webley Revolver Opened
Webley Revolver Opened
Webley .455 ammunition
Webley .455 ammunition

One of Great Britain’s armed services most influential and well recognised weapons of World War One is the Webley Pistol.

The Webley Revolver was the standard issue service pistol for Great Britain’s armed forces between 1887 and 1963.  The gun came in many variants, two of which, the Mk IV and Mk VI were used during the First and Second World Wars.

The design of the Webley gives its technical name which is a top break revolver with automatic extraction.  This means that the revolver breaks open in order to eject spent cartridges from the cylinder and reloading rounds into the gun.

The gun was designed by Webley and Scott, weighed 2.4 lb. and was 11.25 inches long.  The guns rate of fire was 20-30 rounds per minute and the muzzle had a velocity of 620 ft. /s.  The guns top effective range was 50 yards.   

The first Webley or Mk I was adopted by the British Army in 1887, and the well-known Mk IV rose to prominence during the Boer War.  However, the now famous Mk VI, which was introduced in 1915 and used throughout World War One, is the well-recognised revolver of the period.

The revolver itself is an extremely powerful gun.  Firing a .455 round the impact of one of these rounds at close range will go straight through a human body.  Despite the Webley being phased out of military use following World War 2, the .38/200 Webley Mk IV variant is still in use by police forces throughout the world.

Although the gun was universally used, much practice was required in order to use the gun accurately.  This was due to the gun jumping on being fired.  Further to this, British officers often used personally purchased German Lugers or C96 ‘Broomhandle’ Mausers.  This was attributed to German side-arms having greater range than their British counter-parts.

In 1914, the standard Webley revolver was the Mk V which was adopted by the British Army in 1913.  There were in fact considerable numbers of Mk IV’s still in service as the order for 20,000 Mk V’s hadn’t been completed by the outbreak of war.

In 1915, the Webley Mk VI was officially adopted as the standard side-arm for British and Empire troops.  The weapon was issued to officers, airmen, naval parties, trench raiders, machine gun teams and tank crews throughout its varied career.

The revolver proved to be so popular and hardy that several accessories were developed for that Mk.  These included a bayonet, a speed loading device and a stock which allowed the gun to be used as a carbine.  Another prototype variant was a self-loading automatic. This type was available from 1913; however the army thought it to be to complex.  Despite the army turning the variant down, the Navy utilised this variant.   

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