Webley-Fosbery Auto-Revolver (Video)

We shot a video on the Webley-Fosbery last year, but it was in a dark room and with a low-resolution camera. I’ve since had another opportunity to handle one of these very interesting pistols, and have a new video of much higher quality. More information on the gun, and a copy of the original manual to follow later this week!


    • Checking on Gunbroker, the two recent ones I see were a somewhat rough example shaved for .45ACP moonclips that sold for $6400 and a pristine cased example with two barrels (one short, one long) that was bid up to $14,000.

      • I actually facepalmed when I saw “shaved for .45ACP”. So sad when rare guns get butchered for ill-conceived conversions. Isn’t .45 ACP a good deal higher pressure than .455 Webley?

  1. I must admit that my previous mindset towards much of British equipment as odd and awkward is being, after seeing this, somewhat dispersed. This is smart little (albeit with full power cartridge) handgun; I actually like the concept.

    When comes to revolvers in general, they are pretty well out of scene; however they had made tremendous contribution in firearms development. By the way, what was the first auto-pistol adopted by British military? Was it 9mil Hi-power or one of Webley pistols?

    • Shortly before WWI the British Navy adopted the Webley-Scott 455 semi auto (not a revolver in any way, it was a blow back), and during WWI some Army units were issued it as well. Then after WWI they were declared obsolete and England went all in with revolvers. Well into the post-WWII era they adopted the high power 9mm.

      Interesting contrast with the US. The US had a small caliber revolver in the Filipino insurrection, found it wanting and went to a large caliber. The English had a large caliber and between the two wars went to a small caliber. The US adopted the semi auto before WWI but supplemented it with revolvers. The English Army adopted a revolver before WWI then supplemented it with a semi-auto.

      • The Webley & Scott Mark I was a locked-breach design, not blowback. Blowback refers to a gun who’s breach is not locked on firing.

      • Thank you for reply; this is well explained! Transitions from one type of firearm to another seem to indicate search for better answer, which for most part was not obviously easy (and is not easy even today, as we can observe in case of U.S. military partial transition from 9mm back to .45cal).

        Regarding Webley-Scott pistols (and in consideration what Big Al says further down) it would be probably good idea to look at some of these in future. I have among other books complete review on Revolvers&pistols by A.B.Zuk, but it does not show internals.

  2. As a 1911 fan, I found it fascinating to see a “cocked and locked” revolver! Perhaps now that firearms ownership appears to have thankfully gotten its second wind, and interest is at an all time high, (Isn’t that wonderful, by the way?) in a few years, after having built their self-defense collections, new shooters will delve into collecting to a point where reproductions of strange and intriguing guns such as this will begin to appear. I hope it is only a matter of time.

      • Oh Ian, I still suspect half the best stuff is still in the back of grandpa’s closet…When you go on tour, just tell the noobs to buy the repros! LOL.

  3. Webley-Fosbery trivia —

    As Bogie said in the “Maltese Falcon” – “They don’t make ’em anymore….” (Sam Spade’s partner was shot with one)

    And for you Sci-Fi fans, Sean Connery’s character in “Zardoz” used a Webley-Fosbery.

    • Connery (the Scottish nationalist who lives else where…) after making his money as an actor, often portraying violence, went on to front cinema adds calling for a ban on handguns in Britain.

    • Unfortunately, in “The Maltese Falcon” they mixed up the two types of the Webley-Fosbery. They referred to it as an 8-shot even though it was the .455 version; the 8-shot Webley-Fosbery revolvers were chambered in .38 ACP.

  4. Quick question — you mentioned in the video that the Webley-Fosbery used in the US army pistol trials was in .45 ACP. W.C. Dowell has it that the gun was in “the Colt .45 Revolver cartridge”. Did Dowell get it wrong?

    • Whoops – I think that was an error on my part. I’ll see if I can confirm it for sure, but the test ones were probably in .45 Colt. The testing also included both S&W and Colt revolvers, and those were both in .45 Colt.

  5. Just a note on the video – I *love* the close up photo with arrow pointing out a small detail on the pistol. It’s much clearer than trying to pick out a detail while the video camera is autofocusing.

  6. I’ve always found auto-revolvers fascinating, on that note does anyone know anything about this design- http://www.horstheld.com/0-Prototype.htm? I haven’t found anything about it online beyond what’s on the above website- probably just a one-off that went now where, but a gas-operated revolver is to interesting to not look into…

    • I’ve seen the photos, but haven’t been able to deduce how the gun works. It doesn’t look like the cylinder is removable, and it’s totally shrouded. Makes me think it’s more like an automatic pistol with a rotary magazine (a la Mannlicher-Schoenauer) rather than a true revolver. I would definitely like to get a closer look at it some day, if I ever happen to run into its owner.

      • I’d been wondering about how the cylinder worked, that definitely makes sense, and makes the design that much more interesting- A clip-fed ‘revolver’. The other thing I’ve always found odd is that if it’s a one off how’d it end up in an advertising catalog (kinda thing you’d want to hold on to), definitely adds something to its history.

  7. Dear Magus: When Sam Spade was shown the murder weapon in the novel “The Maltese Falcon”, he identified it as a Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver, and added, “Thirty-eight eight-shot. They don’t make ’em anymore.” Dashiell Hammett, the author, was rather unspecific with guns in all his other fiction so I wonder if he wasn’t having a jab at the other mystery writers who were too gun-fetishist by choosing such an odd, exotic (for the U.S.) and specific firearm. I don’t remember what Bogart said in the movie version. (Incidentally the Bogart version was the second or third film made from that novel.)

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