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Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax
Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax
Nationality

British

Date of Birth

29th March 1849

Date of Death

1920

Associated Companies

Webley & Scott

Role(s)

Civil engineer
Small arms designer

Famous Works

Gabbett-Fairfax Mars

Hugh William Maunsell Gabbett-Fairfax (1849 - 1920) was a British small arms designer. He is known for creating the somewhat infamous Mars pistol, one of the first semi-automatic pistols designed in Britain.

HistoryEdit

Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax was born in 1849 in Trichinpolis, India. In 1898, he started work on his "Mars" pistol, inspired by Mauser's success across Europe. His efforts resulted in a large, hefty handgun, which he collaborated with Webley & Scott in 1901 to produce. It was manufactured in 4 different calibres - .45 Mars, .360 Mars, 8.5mm Mars and 9mm Mars - though recoil was heavy upon firing any of the cartridges. This meant that the Mars was not commercially viable and so Gabbett-Fairfax submitted it to the British and French armies for military trials. The French showed little interest in the weapon, while the British sufficiently tested the Mars and found it to be incredibly unwieldy as a service pistol. Infamously noted in the British Army trials was a report of the Mars' performance that described it as "a nightmare", and that "no one who fired once with the pistol wished to shoot it again". Some praise did emerge, mostly concerning it's high stopping power, especially when chambered for .45 Mars, but there were no military buyers and despite positive publicity in sporting magazines, it did not go on commercial sale since Webley & Scott stopped producing the weapon after around 80 were made. Gabbett-Fairfax and some colleagues of his made efforts to revive the project, but ultimately these efforts were largely unsuccessful. Gabbett-Fairfax ended up bankrupted since the project was funded almost entirely on his own personal funds. He died in 1920, and his son of 23 years old, Thomas Gabbett-Fairfax, had died in the First World War three years beforehand.

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