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.455 Webley

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.455 Webley
.455 Webley
Country of origin

Great Britain

Manufacturers

Webley & Scott, BSA (Birmingham Small Arms), Dominion Cartridge Company, Eley Brothers, Fiocchi (Italy) Grenfell & Accles, Hornady (USA), Kings North Metal Company, Kynoch Ltd, Royal Arsenal

Designer

Webley & Scott

Year production began

1887

Year production ended

Present

Cartridge type

Straight, rimmed

Overall length

1.230in (31.2mm)

Case length

.777in (19.6mm)

Neck diameter

.476in (12.1mm)

Base diameter

.480in (12.2mm)

Rim diameter

.535in (13.6mm)

Muzzle velocity

600ft/s (180m/s) - 750ft/s (230m/s)

Primer type

Small pistol

Used by

Great Britain, British Empire, Commonwealth

The .455 Webley is a famed .455 calibre revolver cartridge, developed alongside the Webley Revolver of Great Britain by Webley & Scott in the 1880's. The .455 Webley was designed in several different versions throughout its service life.

Design DetailsEdit

The .455 Webley was based on the older .450 Adams and .476 Enfield cartridges (although neither of these cartridges provided a parent case for the .455 Webley) which had a case diameter of .476in, a feature that meant that the .455 Webley would be used for a longer period of time as well as quickly replace the older cartridges as firearms chambered for those cartridges would need no adjustment to accept the .455 Webley.

The .455 Webley was designed to fire a .455 diameter, soft lead, bullet. However the intervention of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 meant that the British Armed Forces could not use soft lead bullets as these could deform when they entered the human body. However, the bullet needed to deform to allow it to engage with the rifling in the barrel, otherwise it would tumble and greatly reduce accuracy. After 1907 the use of soft-lead declined in the .455 Webley, with various lead alloys being used instead.

VariantsEdit

The .455 Webley has been developed over its service life, with major changes occuring as a result of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Each version had its own markings and reason for development.

.455 Webley Mk IEdit

The Mk I of the .455 Webley, officially becoming the standard calibre of British sidearms in 1891, was the first version of the .455 Webley. Using 265 grains (17g) of blackpowder to propel a soft-lead round nose bullet the Mk I would be replaced by a more efficent version in 1897 when experiments with cordite as a propellent showed that a shorter case was more efficent.

.455 Webley Mk IIEdit

.455 Webley Mk I & Mk II

.455 Webley Mk I (left) and Mk II (right).

The Mk II, adopted in 1897, was identical to the Mk I bar two significant features. As mentioned above, the Mk II used cordite to propel the same round nosed, soft lead bullet but was also made shorter, with cordite burning more efficently in shorter cartridge lengths.

.455 Webley Mk IIIEdit

Known more memorably as the "Manstopper" bullet, the Mk III of the .455 Webley featured a soft lead hollowpoint bullet, designed to be used by police and colonial forces. Introduced in 1899, the "Manstopper" was almost immediately banned by the terms of the 1899 Hague Convention, due to the fact that it was designed to deform (as a result of a hemi-spherical hollow which was designed to allow the bullet to deform), with the Mk II re-entering service in 1900.

.455 Webley Mk IVEdit

The Mk IV .455 Webley was an attempt to put the Mk III into service without violating the terms of the Hague Convention. Instead of a hollowpoint bullet, the Mk IV used a flat-nosed soft-lead bullet. The Mk IV was also designed to improve upon the Mk II in terms of efficency.

.455 Webley Mk VEdit

The Mk V .455 Webley was the first of the .455 Webley cartridges to feature a new harder lead alloy, rather than the soft lead of old. Introduced in 1914 the Mk V would fail to stay the distance, being replaced by the Mk II (in the same year) as stocks of the Mk II remained and proved to be more effective with the Webley Revolver during the First World War. 

.455 Webley Mk VIEdit

The Mk VI .455 Webley was the first .455 Webley to fully comply to the Hague Convention, albeit 22 years after the 1907 meeting. With a copper Full Metal Jacket and a harder lead, round nose bullet the .455 Webley would be used during the Second World War by British Forces. Two propellents were used with the Mk VI, with a choice of either nitrocellulose (a more powerful propellent that had seen greater use in the 1920's and 30's), marked "VIz", or more traditional cordite, marked "VI"

.455 Webley Auto Mk IEdit

.455 Webley Auto

The .455 Webley Auto Mk I cartridge.

A version of the .455 Webley designed specifically to be used in semi-automatic pistols such as the M1911 in 1913. The cartridge was semi-rimmed to be more efficent in the semi-automatic pistols being primarily used by the Royal Navy.

PerformanceEdit

The .455 Webley is a deliberately low to moderate power cartridge, designed so that the heavy frame Webley Revolver, combined with a lower power cartridge, will produce little to no recoil meaning a greater rate of fire and better accuracy. The calibre size of .455 means that the .455 Webley has superb stopping-power and penetration with little recoil produced.

Bullet Weight / Type Velocity Energy
265gr (17g) / FMJ 700ft/s (210m/s) 289ft/lbf (392J)
265gr (17g) / Mk I 600ft/s (180m/s) 212ft/lbf (287J)
265gr (17g) / Auto Mk I 750ft/s (230m/s) 337ft/lbf (457J)
265gr (17g) / Mk II 600ft/s (180m/s) 220ft/lbf (300J)

The various different versions of the .455 Webley all produced roughly the same muzzle velocities and energy figures, even with changes in propellent amounts, with the figures shown above representing the major changes in design.

UsageEdit

The .455 Webley would be used by the British Army for as long as the Webley Revolver remained in service. In its 76 year service life, the .455 Webley would be manufactured by a variety of companies before virtually disappearing entirely. As a result, any firearm chambered in .455 require no license to own (in the UK), as the .455 calibre has been deemed obsolete and therefore difficult to obtain. However in Italy and the United States the .455 Webley Mk II remains in production with Fiocchi and Hornady respectively. 

The low power of the .455 Webley made it a popular target shooting round, particularly in practical shooting, as very little recoil is produced with the heavy frame Webley Revolver. The .455 Webley also became a popular round to be tuned to greater pressures, as the Webley could cope with much higher pressures than the standard .455 Webley could produce. 

ResourcesEdit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.455_Webley

Revolvers of the British Services 1854-1954 - W.H.J. Chamberlain and A.W.F. Taylerson

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Firearms - Ian V. Hogg

http://www.chuckhawks.com/webley_revolver.htm

http://world.guns.ru/ammunition/revolver-cartridges-e.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:455_Webley_auto_cartridge.JPG - Webley Auto Image

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WebleyCartridges.jpg - Webley Mk I & II Image

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