Webley .38 Mk4?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Dave55, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Seems this was coming up with a solution to a problem that didn't exist and a bad solution at that. I've never been a fan of very powerful pistol cartridges but the old fashioned.38 S&W (9×20mmR) round seems particularly anemic, especially since the pistol could easily have handled the more powerful but still mild shooting .38 Special. Or better yet stick with the proven .455. A .22 WMR rimfire has more energy than the puny .38 S&W with the jacketed service bullet.

    I'd still love to have one of these though.

    Webley .38 Mk4 (IV, war finish)
     
    JimHerriot likes this.
  2. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    There was a bit of a glut of these around the UK in the mid 90s. as police (and other occasionally armed) forces switched to automatics. I think there were stocks from South Africa a bit later too (when the Boys Anti-Tank rifles and 2" Mortars arrived) . A fair amount were deactivated, I got a couple from Ryton Arms for heritage jobs. The complaint from reenactors was that they weren't technically military issue.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
    JimHerriot and Dave55 like this.
  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Too rich for my blood. Nice though. I thought they'd be much cheaper.

    Webley Mark IV .38 British "War Finish" - Revolvers at GunBroker.com : 875171340
     
    JimHerriot likes this.
  4. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    That all applies to the UK of course. It does seem that whatever really steered the UK military away from the Webley to the ridiculously similar Enfield mattered. There is no supporting evidence for British Military use, it is not listed in any spares, repairs, training or familiarisation regime I have seen. The only manual I have seen is for supply to continental resistance groups. It was however the favoured arm for issue to any civilian organisation requiring side arms.
     
    JimHerriot likes this.
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    In the inter war period there was a bit of a scare over armed bank robbers and Lloyd's Bank arranged for a number of its bank managers to have fire arm licenses and issued a Mk IV 38 to them. My grandfather had one in his desk drawer. I don't believe there was ever an instance of a bank manager actually using one.
     
    JimHerriot, TTH and ceolredmonger like this.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I have never read anywhere that the .38 S&W was as weak as a .22 RF. Since I've been researching firearms and ammo for my writing I've spent a lot of time checking out firearms sites and the general opinion there is that while the .38 S&W is certainly not close to the higher end of the scale as a self-defense round it is not useless and can do the job at very close ranges (and in infantry combat all pistol ranges are very close). It's in about the same class as the .380 ACP. The British Army, like ours, used .22s for training and I doubt seriously that they would have issued a front-line weapon to their troops if they thought the cartridge was as weak as the .22. As to the Webley Mk IV being easily capable of taking the .38 Special, I'm not sure. The Webley revolvers were quite strong and the frame could have taken the .38 Special round OK, but you might have had to redesign it with a longer cylinder. The .38 S&W, from what I've heard, was substituted for the .455 in British service revolvers post WWI because it was felt that the .455 was simply too powerful and the revolvers chambering it were too heavy for the only occasional use to which both were put. The .38, being less powerful, was also easier to train recruits to use quickly and accurately. (It is harder and takes longer to teach a man to be a competent shot with a pistol than with a rifle.) Finally, the .38 S&W (.380) round had long been used in Webley commercial revolvers made for the police and civilian markets and so it was readily available. The Enfield No. 2 revolver, the official service weapon adopted in place of the Webley Mk VI, was essentially an unlicensed copy of the commercial Webley Mk IV, so the government may not even have had to pay royalties to Webley. (There was a legal mess about it, forget how that worked out). Cost-cutting, don't forget, was a vital consideration between the wars for all western armies, including ours. Finally, pistols were not considered very essential weapons anyway, so cutting costs there was easier to get away with. A combat soldier is not like a police officer or private citizen who has to rely on the pistol as his primary weapon, and while they were widely issued in WWII their actual use relative to issue was pretty low. During WWI British officers often preferred to carry rifles like their men, which also made them (the officers) less conspicuous. In the front line infantry during WWII British officers typically carried submachine guns or occasionally rifles or US carbines instead of or in addition to their issue pistols. As far as the round goes, the standard British Mk II .380 ball had less velocity and muzzle energy than standard US commercial .38 S&W rounds of the time but its 178 grain bullet was a good deal heavier than bullets in use in the US, which ran around 145-146 grains. I don't entirely buy the arguments in favor of the .38 S&W/.380 revolvers and if I had been in the British Army I might have preferred a .455--IF I could have handled the weight, recoil, grips, and blast that is, all important considerations especially for a small man with small hands like me. Certainly many British troops did prefer .455s, and the .455 Mk VI remained in use throughout the war and was not declared obsolete until 1947. Many large-frame Colts and S&Ws in .455 and .45 were available too; Orde Wingate carried a Colt New Service in .455.
     
    JimHerriot and ceolredmonger like this.
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I said .22 WMR ;)
     
    JimHerriot and TTH like this.
  8. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    The best is the enemy of the good. As I understand it - Analysis of First World War experience with firearms showed a problem with the design of British arms. These tended to assume access to a high level of training and competence not necessarily appropriate in wartime. This was coupled with the realisiation that specialist gun smith made arms were not suited to mass production in an emergency (c.f. SMLE). The problem with moving to less powerful or visually appealing weapons brings out the experts to rubbish them. It all boils down to what a citizen soldier with rushed training can use, not the career peacetime marksman.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
    Chris C, JimHerriot and TTH like this.
  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Hey! Don't muddle my OCD with logic! :)
     
    JimHerriot, ceolredmonger and TTH like this.
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Ahhhhhh...sorry.
     
    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. Listy

    Listy Active Member

    Annoyingly the book I have, the tables do not list units, I'm guessing its FPS and Joules.

    .22WMR data (pistol variant):
    40g Bullet, moving at 1428 MV giving 180 energy at the muzzle
    .38 S&W
    200g bullet, moving at 630 giving 176 energy at the muzzle.

    Technically the claim seems correct, although by a negligible margin.

    The .38 S&W entry has an interesting little comment on it.
    Is the 200 grain bullet, moving slower, not going to deposit more of its energy into the target, as a more solid whack?

    Source for the data is Cartridges of the World (12 edition) by Frank C Barnes.
     
    TTH likes this.
  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    The government of the day, via Enfield, certainly did a job on Webley with this one, but when it comes down to it it's always about the money (unfortunately).

    So as an adjunct to Listy posting above, plus with no little bias towards Dave55 and TTH (as I hope all are keen on technical drawing too).

    Drawings of Webley and Enfield from the UK 1984 Orbis Publishing Ltd edition "Secret Warefare" by Pierre Lorain, adapted by David Kahn.

    Also, by way of reference (and my preference for the 1972 French published original edition "Armement Clandestine" by Pierre Lorain) covers of both preceding editions to the UK publication, as well as the contents pages from the 1983 published USA edition "Clandestine Operations")

    My personal preference is due to something being lost in translation twixt the French and English language versions, and also I don't always agree with the content of either!

    N.b. Contents pages included to encourage Dave55 to seek out a copy in the States (should he not have it already of course)

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.

    SECRET WAREFARE.jpg

    WEBLEY MkIV.jpg

    ENFIELD No2 MkI.jpg

    ARMEMENT CLANDESTIN.jpg

    CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS.jpg

    CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS CONTENTS 1.jpg

    CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS CONTENTS 2.jpg
     
    TTH and Dave55 like this.
  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Both the Webley and Enfield lost their single action capability in later marks, right? I've heard it was nominally at the request of tankers to prevent the hammer 'snagging' but seems like another step backwards to me. The holsters had flaps.

    Armchair is especially comfy today.
     
    JimHerriot and TTH like this.
  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I don't know about the Webley Mk IV, but the second mark of the No. 2 Enfield (Mk I*) was DA only. According to John Weeks it had a fearsome DA trigger pull which "required the wrist muscles of a Hercules." This was often modified in the field.
     
    JimHerriot and Dave55 like this.
  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The best source for British service ammunition is the site created by the late Tony Edwards, a member of this forum. The standard WWII .380 ball round was the Mark II, which had a 178 grain bullet and MV of 600. .380 inch Ball - British Military Small Arms Ammo
     
    JimHerriot likes this.
  16. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Tsk.....Reichsrevolver M/79 long in .44 Russian (even too BIG for Imperial German standards)
    Reichsrevolver.png
    Sorry...BTT, please.....
     
    Dave55 and JimHerriot like this.
  17. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hey Dave! (and TTH too)

    I grew up in an era when the quick draw was king, both in the UK and sur la continent.

    And, in my later teens served with chaps of my (and previous) generations who as kids had grown up with same holster wise. We quickly learned that accuracy was the rightful ascender of the throne. Notwithstanding that, flappy holsters rapidly became de-flapped once ok'ed, and in a very short space of time better forms of carry were procured (even so, many of the t'uppney crush generation still thought they were Tom Mix)

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
    Dave55 likes this.
  18. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    :cheers:
     
    JimHerriot and TTH like this.
  19. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

  20. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

Share This Page