The town of Dara Adam Khel has became a locus of firearms manufacture in response to the British occupation of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 19th century, and it has remained dedicated to that industry to the present day. While much of the firearms manufacturing there is done to a much higher standard than most people would expect, some shops are also quite happy to make cheap, poor-quality guns. It is those cheap examples that have become associated with the region for many people, and today we are looking at one such revolver.
This is a Khyber Pass copy of a Webley MkIV revolver in .32 caliber. It is in quite poor condition, with misspelled markings and several broken internal parts.It is a perfect representation of the stereotypical Khyber gun…
It would be interesting if you left an auction link (YouTube linking rules don’t apply on your website) to this particular revolver, because some of us are curious and would like to follow along, what kind of price this “poor quality-broken revolver” Webley “wanna-be” crude copy will bring at Morphy auction.
We look forward to your next book on the many firearms from there. There’s a hilarious Pakistani YouTube channel where he tests many guns made there. Would be great to see a collaboration…
Backbencher, can you post a link to the Pakistani Gun channel. Sounds like a fun watch.
Dara reminds me of Birmingham in the old days, when hundreds of gun makers operated out of small workshops, producing guns of various levels of fit and finish, using only simple tools.
In British India, I believe that civilians were only allowed to own pistols up to .32 calibre, a futile and pathetic piece of gun control, which probably explains why this piece is a .32. Pleasingly, Webleys of this calibre are still made in India for civilian sale.
I imagine this pistol could be repaired without too much trouble, and would probably be safe to use, as .32 does not put too much strain on the action. I don’t think it’s a bad copy at all, but like the Chinese warlord pistols, it’s really strange that the gunsmiths on the North West Frontier don’t seem to have appreciated that you need a decent rear sight notch. What can they have thought they were for?
Good question some of these people put in some laid out hours who knows how late this guy was up it could have been made on a Friday or a monday? But most likely it’s just a matter of he was looking to the Future for our Red Dot site lol
You mean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Ordnance_Factories_.32_Revolver
The Webley name using operation doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground.
Yes, as you note, Webley or Webley copy .32s are still in production in India. When they find a design they like, they keep on making it. The SMLE is a case in point, but also things like the Hindustan car or the Royal Enfield motorbike. Some of these even end up being exported back to Britain, which stopped making them years ago.
I must say I am surprised that Webley India seem to be making a 1911 copy in .45. I do not know if that would be legal for civilians to own in India, or if it would be for police and security use. I get the impression gun control in India is strict on paper but arbitrary in practice. I think payment of a few rupees smooths the passage of the paperwork.
What do you expect from a guy in a cave building and Repairing Firearms. I Remember the Bolt Action 8MM AK you talked about. From There.
You are now appearing in memes 😉
Old news. I think this one’s my favorite:
I don’t think you’re right to say that Darra Adam Khel’s arms industry was established in reaction to British activities.
IIRC, the industry was actually established by the British, in order to foster peace and stability. The idea was that if the locals (dominated by Afridis of the Adam Khel clan) had an honest trade they’d give up their traditional banditry, raiding and feuding. I don’t think the colonial authorities thought it through.
I worked in Peshawar in 2000, and visited DAK. I think locally made ‘Kalashnikovs’ started around $US 30. Many or most were chambered in 8mm Mauser (I’d guess that that was the cheapest cartridge made by local industry), they looked odd with ‘straight’ magazines instead of ‘bananas’.
One bloke offered me a Makarov PB suppressed pistol. I asked him what sort of fighting it would be good for and he replied ‘Sir, that is not for fighting, it is for murder’.
I was also offered, among a huge variety of locally-made and imported guns of all calibres up to 40mm, single-shot .22s disguised as fountain pens and mobile phones, and a Remington rifle whose engraving said it had had been gifted by President Truman to the King of Afghanistan.
Ian has a habit of trying to shoehorn 19th and early 20th century history into 21st century American concepts into an attempt to simply things, and this really doesn’t work well in many cases. I understand the reasons for this, that he just doesn’t have the time to present the full historical background, but none the less his explanations can lead people to wrong conclusions.
British India at that time only covered roughly half of what is now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The rest consisted of independent kingdoms and tribal areas which Britain had alliances with. These independent kingdoms were incorporated into post independence India and Pakistan involuntarily in many cases.
Most of the troops which Britain had in India were Indian under British and Indian officers.
However, they also depended upon their allies in India. The Northwest Frontier was an important source of irregular troops (particularly light cavalry) for Britain. The irregulars were paid but were expected to equip themselves (this varied over time, so this is a simplification). The tribes in that region in turn depended upon the British to help protect them from their own enemies, both in the district and from over the frontier in Afghanistan.
This network of alliances and shared interests is how Britain kept control over the region with a minimal number of regular British troops. The Northwest Frontier province in particular had a great deal of internal autonomy.
What all this meant though was that the tribes in that area required weapons. Since most of them were relatively poor, that often meant cheap, low quality weapons which were locally made. If called up for irregular service they may get issued British arms, but the rest of the time they would need their own.
Most things can be repaired with appropriate tools and material, so probably you’re right “wanna be” Webley could be repaired and put back into service, but you would have to carefully check metallurgy; making sure revolver could be safely fired, beyond making lockwork repairs.
It would be nothing to put better sites on pistol or using file to enlarge narrow rear notch.
I’m thinking when Ian features a pistol on forgotten weapons it brings up the value at auction and I’m just curious how much this broken down wannabe is going to bring? idk
I was there in 1992, it was a gun person’s wet dream, all kinds of firearms from all over the world as well as dubious locally made items. A lot of British and Soviet stuff obviously but also WW2 German, one shop had a row of MG34’s just in, another had a few MP 44’s, the guide we had to have who worked in the town didn’t really know what they were and said that they had no ammo. It seemed like they selling them to suckers as AKs!
The comparison to Birmingham is apt. Shops in Darra were and probably still are run by single families over multiple generations. Like the Birmingham “job shops” of a century and a half ago, some shops make nothing but springs, others specialize in rifling barrels, and so on.
The functional problems in this revolver are probably due to a combination of metallurgy and simple service wear. Most Darra guns were originally made from iron and steel from railroad tracks. (No, this did not please the British; after all, it was their railroad tracks that were being “appropriated”.)
Still, the metal and workmanship on this one are probably at least the equal of the Belgian and French “cottage industry” revolver makers of the 1840s through 1890s.
The small (almost nonexistent, in fact) back sight would be typical of a Belgian revolver of the 1870s. Also, remember that in most cases, you were dealing with people who were used to “point shooting” and so probably never used the back sight much at all.
The thing to remember is that, again in most cases, the only things the maker and user worried about with one of these is “will it work, does it hit, will it kill?”
I’d say the answer to all three on this one would be “yes”.
The odd thing about the rear sight is that the gunmakers clearly had a Webley .32 as a reference piece. They copied it very closely, but then completely messed up the rear sight. Why not copy that too? One thing the Webley did have was good sights, better, in my opinion, than the sights of contemporary Colts and Smith & Wessons.
Perfect for a Chinese warlord. I’ll take a dozen to go
Use of rails as a source of metal. Afghanistan is the only country in the world that HAD a railroad. The mullahs decided it was not approved by Allah and it was torn up between the wars
The thing is, Darra is in Pakistan…
What decade is this revolver from?
If its made like 30,40,50 years ago, it could be crude, but today they have fairly nice machines.