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Webley Revolver Question

Article about: I have no picture but maybe some one can help me regardless. A friend has an old British Webley military revolver. Its an older one possibly an 1890s era. Maybe Boer War. Not the later WW2 m

  1. #1

    Default Webley Revolver Question

    I have no picture but maybe some one can help me regardless. A friend has an old British Webley military revolver. Its an older one possibly an 1890s era. Maybe Boer War. Not the later WW2 model. Pretty beat up but all there. Below the hammer on the but strap its stamped RFC in small letters. Its a period scrip type stamping. He thought it stood for Royal Forces Canadian. I thought it might be Royal Flying Corps. Anybody have any input? I know its hard to say without a pic. Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    hi , is it the type with the grips known as the birds beak grips? i have seen a 455 webley dated 1914 marked to the R.F.C.
    as you describe it was sold with a ww1 trio to a ww1 RFC officer.....cheers paul

  3. #3

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    It was a mark 4 Webley, not familiar with that style grip. Thanks

  4. #4

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    RFC might stand for Royal Flying Corps, but it does not stand for "Royal Forces Canadian". The Canadian forces, regular or militia, have never referred to themselves by that name. If it were Canadian and entered the Canadian forces inventory after about 1907, it should have a Canadian broad arrow, the standard British broad arrow closely surrounded by the letter "C". (An example is seen in the picture of the rifle butt shown below.) It might also be marked CEF for Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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    Of course, there were two Mk 4 Webley's, one dating from 1899 in .455 calibre (inasmuch as it is a Webley I assume I am required to make that misspelling) and the other introduced in about 1932 in .38 calibre. The early .455 Mk 4's had the birdshead grip, as shown here.

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    The later models of the .455 Mk 4, as shown below, had the same grip as the later Mk 6's. The Mk 6 was not introduced until 1915, a year into the war.

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    The Mk 5, introduced in 1913, looked much like the Mk 4, but was designed for the new smokeless powder. Mk 4's were designed for use with black powder cartridges. Mk 4's and Mk 5's were used in large numbers prior to the introduction of the Mk 6. You say yours was used by the British forces, so I assume it is carrying a broad arrow and other goverment arsenal proof and/or regimental markings. If yours is like my Mk 6, it is covered with the things. I must have 30 of the little broad arrow buggers crawling all over my pistol, with nearly as many proof and acceptance marks! Of course, many Mk 4 Webleys, both from the Boer War and in the early days of the Great War, were private purchase and might have no markings at all other than pressure tests and similar civilian proofs.

    The 1932 Mk 4 .38 looked much like a late .455 Mk 4 or like a scaled down Mk 6, as you can see. The Royal Flying Corps was long gone before this Mk 4 was even a gleam in the Webley designer's eyes. Of course, that's not to say the British government might not have come up with another RFC...perhaps the Royal Fishing Commission? You can make up all sorts of RFC combinations, but the only one I know of as part of the British armed forces is the Royal Flying Corps.

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    A big word of caution. Due to the scarcity of .455 ammo in the 60's and 70's, many people shaved the rear of the Webley cylinders to take .45 ACP ammo. This ammo is too strong for the reinforced Mk 6 Webley and is dangerous. In a Mk 4 it would be a disaster. The .455 Mk 4 was designed for black powder cartridges. Even the standard Mk 6 .455 cartridges (referred to as Mk 2 cartridges--go figure) are too powerful for use in a Mk 4. If you want to shoot it, use black powder cartridges.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    Thanks, it is the model with the birds beak grips. Stamped behind the hammer on the grip strap is RFC Under that L.13, then under that 94. Any idea on what those markins indicate. Thanks for taking the time to upload the pictures with the detailed description.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    The picture of the .455 Mk IV with "updated grips" is incorrect. The picture is of a Mk VI. Upon closer review I do not know that there ever was a .455 Mk 4 produced with updated grips. The "updated" Mk 4's I was looking at were .38 calibre, not .455. Sorry for the error.
    Last edited by wingandprop; 04-20-2011 at 06:42 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    You are very welcome Survival. The backstrap area is commonly used for regimental markings. There are books that will give you the full explanation of all these markings, one of them being ‘The BROAD ARROW’ British & Empire Factory Production, Proof, Inspection, Armourers, Unit & Issue Markings by Ian Skennerton, Ian Skennerton's. These numbers normally include unit identification and weapon inventory number. There are also many forums for collectors of British military weapons and one of them can probably give you that information. I suspect you are looking at a very rare, early war, Royal Flying Corps marked pistol. Either that or it dates from when Britain's Rugby Football Clubs were really tough! Some of the proof marks you might find on your pistol to help date it are shown here. . The later Webleys show their date of manufacture on the frame below the cylinder, but I don't know that that is true for the Mk 4.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Webley Revolver Question

    It has the crown BV mark which indicates Birmingham after 1904. Its only in fair condition. They had evidently released it and had welded the cylinder and hammer to the frame. They had only just tacked it so later on some one had ground out the welds and partially restored the gun. I will try to include some pics if I can figure out the process. Thanks again for the help.

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