The name Enfield Revolver referres to two separate models of British Service Revolvers dating from the late 19th century. The .476 calibre Enfield Mk I and Enfield Mk II revolvers were in service between 1880 and 1911 by the British Army and the Northwest Mounted Police.
The Enfield Revolver, both in Mk I and Mk II form, was a break-top revolver, whereby the barrel swung on a hinge when unlatched to allow acess to the cylinder to load and unload the cartridges. This action opertated the unusual and overly complicated Owen Jones self-extraction system. The action of pulling the barrel downwards would pull the cylinder up, away from the cartridges allowing them to drop out. Becaused spent cartridges would generally deform after being fired, while unfired cartridges would remain intact, it should have meant that any unfired cartridges remained in the cylinder while spent ones dropped out. However this system did not all ways work and was quickly replaced by the Webley concept introduced by the Webley Revolvers.
Other features of the Enfield Mk I and Mk II included an improved version of the Beaumont-Adams double action mechanism which meant more consistent firing and a shorter trigger pull (which the Beaumont-Adams Revolver was occasionally criticised for) and a relatively deep cut (for the time) rifling pattern on the inside of the barrel. A ring for tying a strap to the Enfield Revolver was located under the grip.
Perhaps the most impressive feature about the Enfield Revolver is the fact that Enfield were forced to complete the design, develop it and provide prototypes for testing in 16 days. This feat may explain the issues in the various systems of the original Enfield Mk I Revolver, however none of these issues were fully rectified with the Mk II Enfield Revolver, released in 1882.
The Enfield Revolver was designed to use Enfield's own .476 Enfield cartridge, developed alongside the Enfield Revolver. It must be noted that the .476 Enfield used the same .455in diameter bullet as the .455 Webley cartridge did, and therefore the bullet (which was shot from a barrel with a greater bore than it perhaps should of had) would have to deform more than it was originally designed to in order to engage with the rifling.
The Enfield Revolver would be used by two countries during its production life. The British Army, having put pressure on Enfield to design a brand new service revolver in 16 days, adopted the design in August 1880 having demanded it to be trialled in January of the same year. British interest dropped after 7 years as issues began to arise with the design (wearing hinges, barrel loosening etc.) and the popularity of the Lancaster Pistol (in its use by Officers) and Webley Revolver (which became standard issue in 1887) became apparent through their simpler, more reliable designs.
In Canada the Enfield Revolver, in both editions, became the famed sidearm of the North-West Mounted Police after its Commissioner Acheson G. Irvine ordered 200 Enfield Revolvers in 1882. The force became fully equipped with Enfield Revolvers in the mid 1880's with 1,079 examples registered as the property of the NWMP. Although there were some concerns over the potentcy (particularly the high stopping power being the main concern) of the .476 Enfield cartridge, the Enfield Revolver would remain in use with the force until 1911, replaced by the Colt Peacemaker and several imported Webleys.
In modern times, the Enfield Revolver has become particularly desireable. Its unusual design, both mechanically and aesthetically, has meant that some examples, if shown to have been used by the NWMP or British Army, have sold for the best part of $2,000 (£1,350).
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Firearms - Ian V. Hogg