Webley 1913 Naval Model (Video)

William John Whiting spent about 10 years trying to get the British military to adopt his automatic pistol, and finally achieved his goal in 1913 with a contract for pistols supplied to the British Royal Navy – only to have the expense of World War I wipe away all interest in self-loading pistols.

I should also point out that my description of the cartridge in the video is slightly misleading. Whiting began his self-loading pistol work with the standard .455 Webley revolver cartridge, but this final version instead used a special .455 Self-Loading cartridge with a much less prominent rim (which significantly simplified the feed process).


  1. I love that gun, I love all Webley pistols from that period reminds me of industrial Britain with a touch of tweed.

    I went to the Tower of London as a kid in about 88 and got a book…


    That book, this was in the there. Along with the anti turk square bullet Puckle gun and various others. It said, if I remember the books long gone it was used by the Royal flying Corps also.


    This fellow has a revolver though, so I’m not sure 🙂

  2. Interesting locking method “slatted” depression of the barrel, out of a cut out in the slide.

  3. They’re so odd looking that it was one of the first handguns that specifically drew my attention as a child in the ’60s.

  4. I like this design, specifically the locking concept. I just wonder – what would happen, if the grip angle was more acute (perhaps not as radical as on Lahti); if it allowed to use revolver cartridge. Maybe someone who read on Webly pistol history can educate me on that.

    • Look at the Desert Eagle. It has a relatively “shallow” grip angle, similar to a 1911, yet was designed to use rimmed revolver ammunition (.357, .41, .44 magnum).

      The key isn’t grip angle, it’s magazine contour. The Eagle magazines are built much like those in a .22 rimfire auto, except bigger.Combined with the almost straight-in feed path to the chamber (very little up-angle on the cartridge being fed), the result is extremely reliable feeding.

      BTW, I owned a low-number .357 Eagle for over 15 years before trading it for a mint 6″ M-27 Smith with Patridge square-blade front sight. No feed failures in several hundred rounds through it.

      With a short OAL round like the .455in, the only problem I could see would be bullet contour. The RNL and RN-FMJ rounds should have fed very well; the big, cylindrical “Manstopper”, not so much.

      Of course, the Hague Accords and Geneva Convention took a dim view of that one, anyway.

      On the other hand, the old Gold Cup .38 Special worked quite well with .38 Mid-Range wadcutters. And the 9 x 20 SR (9mm Browning Long)version of the Webley, which was a blowback IIRC, functioned perfectly well with that semi-rimmed round and the same feed geometry as the big .455. It was still cataloged by Webley & Scott as late as 1939; it’s on p. 162 of the Stoeger catalog for that year.



      • When I was stationed in New London I got to know a Chief Gunner’s Mate who was stationed at the officers’ finishing school up the coast in Newport, RI. One time we were at the range (I had a Blackhawk Convertible he thought was the best .45 ACP revolver he had ever seen) and he pulled out a S&W Model .52 semiautomatic in .38 Special wadcutter. I’ve put a LOT of flush-loaded .38 wadcutters through K38s but that was just a ridiculously accurate target pistol and it functioned flawlessly with the one round it was designed for.

        • “it functioned flawlessly with the one round it was designed for”
          The problem with Webley automatic pistol chambered for .455 revolver ammo is that the pistol can be jammed when using older ammunition (unlike the British revolvers which can use the earlier rounds – for example .455 Webley revolver can use .476 Enfield). This can cause the rejection of Webley automatic pistol for revolver ammo.

      • You Sir! Are a gun clever clog’s, with a name… eon, so Sir read in the Fg42 thread my “diamond” action, feasible or not eon? He he, one wishes to know.

        • I read the post. In essence, you’re describing a square-tube “boltway” assembly, and using a square section bolt within it. Said bolt rotates through 90 degrees to lock up against the front of the boltway.

          It would actually need to be a bolt carrier, in that both it and the bolt would have to move back a certain distance together until the bolt hit a cam to rotate it and begin the unlocking process, after which it would continue back alone, the bolt carrier coming to a stop. The original AutoMag pistol (.44 and .357 AMP) used such an arrangement, except with a conventional “round” bolt and multiple locking logs. The basic layout was inherited from the Grant-Hammond autopistol.

          This arrangement would work in a short-recoil operated system. But it would be bulkier than a round bolt with locking lugs. It would also be applicable to a gas-operated system, assuming a short-stroke gas-piston (see; M1 Carbine)acting on the bolt carrier.

          The most reasonable use would be in a mass-production weapon intended for “expendable” use, as it could be made from heavy stampings (the carrier and outer receiver) and sinterings (the bolt itself). A relatively large weapon, like an MG or autocannon, would be the logical choice as bulk would not be as much of an issue as a it is in a small arm.

          I suppose you could use such a system to create a PDW with a stamped, square-section receiver firing a full-on intermediate cartridge like .223 instead of pistol rounds like 9 x 19mm,resulting in, say, an Ingram MAC-10 or French MAT-49 “clone” that used M-16 magazines. (The latter would probably be better ergonomically.) But the expense compared to more conventional designs…?

          A 2cm cannon built on these lines might be interesting. Keep it up- the only way to tell if an idea in weapon design is “good” or “bad” is to first think of it.



          • Nein! He he, not that one scroll right down the other “diamond” lark, thanks though and 2cm hey : )

  5. I am fairly sure I have seen pictures of Colt 1911s made prior to the US entry into WW1 in .455 Navy Rimless. It would have been a logical contract. The Royal Navy was frantically scrambling around for weapons in 1914; a while back while discussing the 8mm Lebel Remington Rolling Block it developed that the Brits found a couple of thousand 7 x 57 rolling blocks in a Remington warehouse and bought them for the Navy. The thought of an ensemble of a military rolling-block with mounted bayonet, a 1913 Webley and a 1915 set of Royal Navy undress blues is a grin. Fashion statement? I got yer fashion statement!

    • Jim in Houston, there were at least a few. One of my Grandfathers carried one, he operated a camera in an observation plane after surviving almost 2 years in the trenches.
      They transferred quite a few of the (Very few) survivors of his battalion to less dangerous posts in an attempt to preserve what institutional memory was left.

  6. All my old books referencing this design claim that it was even more dirt intolerant and unreliable than the Luger. Any truth to that, or was it really only the case with older models that were still trying to utilize a rimmed cartridge?

    I also vaguely recall seeing pictures of a “sword pistol” version of this, with a blade extending up from the receiver like the Japanese Nambu pistol sword on display at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Anyone else have a memory of this?

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