Type: Revolver, Double Action
Chamber: .455 British service; .38/200 (.38S&W)
Weight unloaded: 995 g (Mark 1 – Mark 5 with 4 inch barrel); 1100 g (Mark 6)
Length: 260 mm (Mark 1 – Mark 5 with 4 inch barrel); 286 mm (Mark 6 with 6 inch barrel)
Barrel length: 4 inch (101 mm) Mark 1 – Mark 5; 125 mm (some Mark 3 and Mark 4); 152 mm (Mark 6)
Capacity: 6 rounds
The first top-break revolvers were developed by the Webley & Son company (Webley & Scott Co. since 1897) of Great Britain in the 1870s. First Webley revolver had been officially adopted for Royal Army & navy service in 1887, as a Webley Revolver, .455, Mark I. It was a break-top, six shoot, double action revolver, chambered for blackpowder .455 British Service cartridge, officially known as Cartridge .455 revolver, Mark I. This cartridge launched heavy, 18 gramms (265 grains) lead bullet at relatively slow muzzle velocity of 180 meters/second (ca. 600 fps). Later, smokeless version of this cartridge had been adopted, but since it also could be fired in early revolvers, the gain in the velocity or muzzle energy was very minor.
All Webley top-beak revolvers featured two piece frame, which hinges (“breaks”) down at the forward low end for ejection and loading. The ejector is actuated automaticayy when the frame is broken open, simulateonusly removing all six cases from the cylinder. The cartridges then can be inserted by hand. In the case of revolver being rechambered for .45ACP round, half-moon clips are used to load the gun (two clips, each for 3 rounds). All Webley revolvers were Double Action or Double Action Only, with very distinguishable shape of the barrel and frame lock with lock lever on the left side of the frame and V-shaped lock spring at the right side. Below is the list of all Webley revolvers, officially adopted in Great Britain. Many other variations were also manufactured for civilian and police use.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 1. Adopted in 1887, chambered for blackpowder cartridge. 4 inch (101 mm) barrel, “bird head” shaped grip.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 2. Adopted in 1894, almost the same as Mark 1, but hardened removable steel blate was added at the back of the frame breech, hammer was strenghtened, grip was slightly rounded.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 3. Adopted in 1897, this was Mark 2 with improved cylinder to frame lock. Cylinder can be removed for cleaning. Since 1905, some Mark 3 revolvers were also made with 5 inch (125 mm) barrels.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 4. Adopted in 1899, this was an improved Mark 3, made from different steel, with smaller and lighter hammer and wider cylinder slots. Since 1905, some Mark 4 revolvers were also made with 5 inch (125 mm) barrels.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 5. Adopted in 1913. Mark 5 was designed to accept smokeless (cordite) ammunition, and thus, had larger and stronger cylinder, and accordingly redesigned frame.
Webley revolver, .455, Mark 6. Adopted in 1915, it was the “ultimate” Webley .455 six-shooter. Mark 6 featured redesigned, more squared grip, 6 inch (152 mm) barrels, removable front sights. Mark 6 revolvers were manufactured by Webley & Scott until 1921, later these were manufactured by Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock. Oficially rendered obsolete in 1932 with the adoption of the Enfield No.2 .38 caliber revolvers, but widely used by British troops during the World War Two.
Webley revolver, .38, Mark 4. Oficially adopted for military service in 1942, this was initially a scaled-down version of the .455 Mark 6 revolver, chambered for .38 S&W cartridge, and developed by Webley & Scott in 1923 for police use. These guns were oficially regarded obsolete as late as in 1963. It should be noted, that oficial british .38/200 ammunition was based on early, blackpowder .38 Smith & Wesson cartridge, and was used with heavy 200 grains (13.4 gramms) bullet, leaving the muzzle at relatively slow velocities of about 198 meters/sec (650 fps).