In the wake of the First World War the British Army decided that it needed a smaller calibre revolver as the old .455 was proving difficult to train young soldiers on. Webley went away and developed a new revolver in .380/200 calibre. The British Army took this new design and passed it to the Government ordnance factory at Enfield who made a small number of internal changes and started producing the revolver in 1931 (much to Webley’s annoyance as they had done all the development work). In 1938 a new version of the revolver was introduced, the Mk 1* which had a spurless hammer and was double action only. It has traditionally been viewed as for use by armoured crew where the lack of a spur meant there was one less thing to catch on items within a tank, although not just tank crew were issued the Mk 1* revolver. A new and more contoured plastic grip was also introduced to aid double action shooting.
During the War further simplifications were made to the revolver to speed up production and this led to the Mk 1** which is the example we are looking at today:
This revolver has led a hard life and it is fair to say it is pretty rough. The barrel has been shortened by an inch and all the finish is missing, plus stamps on the barrel indicate that it was modified at some point to use 9mm Knall blank ammunition:
There is a reason why I picked up this revolver, even in this messed with condition; that is the manufacturer. Albion were contracted to produce a small number of these revolvers, but only produced about 25,000. The markings on the side of the frame indicate that this is one of these rare Albion produced revovlers:
The bakelite grips have the thumb grooves moulded into them to aid the shooter in aiming and firing the revolver in double action:
The revolver has a top break to allow easy reloading. There is a small latch at the top, that can be undone to allow the barrel to be pivoted down:
Note also the spurless hammer and the rear sight notch. When opened a central extractor pulls the six spent cases upwards and if done with a bit of force, pings them out ready for reloading:
By all accounts the spurless revolver was not particularly popular and there are anecdotal accounts that men tried to swap them for Webley or Victory pattern revolvers when possible to have a revolver that worked in both single and double action.
This revolver might be rather rough and missing a few parts, but it does fill an important gap in the collection and sits well with the Webley and Victory models I already have.