So, I may have gone a bit overboard and filmed more video at this upcoming Julia auction than I actually had time to publish before the auction takes place (but there were so many amazing guns there!). One way I am going to cheat my way out of the dilemma is to post two videos today. They are both on fantastically rare Webley & Scott automatic pistols, so I figure they will go together pretty well.
First up, a Model 1904. This was basically the first working automatic pistol made by Webley (there was a 1903 toolroom experiment, but it didn’t really work). Like all the Webley automatic that would follow, it was designed by William Whiting. The 1904 was the company’s first effort at making a semiautomatic sidearm for the British military, so it was chambered for the .455 cartridge (a special rimless version made by Kynoch, after early experiments using the .455 rimmed revolver ammunition caused lots of problems stacking in magazines). It is a rather huge handgun, and uses a short recoil mechanism with two separate locking blocks. This particular one is s/n 23 – very few were made before it was rejected in military trials and Webley redirected its efforts toward smaller commercial pistols. I don’t know if I will ever have another chance to handle one of these, so I tried to make the most of the opportunity:
Webley came back to the military-style pistol a few years later, and the Model 1910 was a bit more successful – nearly a thousand of these were made. By the 1910 version Whiting had refined the locking mechanism to the angled lugs on the barrel that would remain in use through the Royal Navy contact in 1912/1913. This particular one, though, is a prototype with a number of unique features – most notably the lack of a grip safety.