Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

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Shivaji.Dasgupta
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Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Tue May 02, 2023 8:39 pm

Today I saw a Senior citizen came to Arms store with his Webly MarkI long barrel Revolver. He is second Generation owner of this weapon. Its in his family for more tahn 60 years and before that it was in WWI arsenal. From there to some British officers Gun collection and ended with this family. It is marked as .455 but he was purchasing .32 cartridges.
On asking he said that the weapon was converted in .32 long back by some gunsmith of Calcutta ( Now Kolkata).
My question to the senior members that is it possible with Webly revolvers. Both the Cal. Is different.
Though I know my India Run on Jugar rather than Technology
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by timmy » Tue May 02, 2023 11:32 pm

Yes, this would be possible.

The big questions would be, how was the conversion done, and how well was it done.

Firstly, the chambers would need to be sleeved down to accept the 32 (presumably, 32 S&W Long) cartridges. This would mean that six identical chamber inserts would need to be machined and inserted into the cylinder chambers. Whether or not the throat would be bored out (it would be easier to bore out the chamber throats in the cylinder and use straight sided inserts, but there's something to be said for retaining the throat "step" and machining the inserts to match), The inserts would need to be retained in the cylinder chambers, perhaps by silver soldering them in place.

Note that here, it would be vital to machine the inserts to be exactly centered in the original chambers. This would maintain the timing of the cylinder and ensure that the new chambers line up with the new barrel.

Secondly, the barrel would need to be relined to a 32 bore. Probably, the original 455 rifling would be bored out and a sleeve prepared to fit, and then have it affixed in the original barrel. The bore of the insert would have rifling of the correct dimensions, and be centered in the old bore to line up with the new chambers in the cylinder. A new forcing cone would be reamed at the cylinder end of the barrel.

I once new of a fellow who did something similar, many years ago. He took a damascus-barreled L C Smith shotgun and made 45-70 sleeves for the two barrels. These he made slightly off-center on one end by a few thousandths of an inch. He then took the gun to the range and, by turning the inserts in their bores, got the new rifled inserts to converge at a range. After marking the inserts when he achieved regulation, he silver soldered the inserts into the bores.

I would have imagined that the heavy weight of the inserts would have disturbed the balance and "swing" of this converted shotgun considerably, but I never handled it, so I cannot say.

This is all to the point that, yes, a Mark 1 Webley could be converted to shoot 32 S&W long, but whether it was done in a way that preserved the original gun's operating and shooting properties would be the question.

Whoever had this done would then be able to use the gun without the limitations of obtaining 455 ammunition, though how the gun qualified for prohibited/non-prohibited bore in past days might be a question. But, perhaps, this allowed the owner to use the gun. It may not be ideal for concealed carry, but it might also be a lot of fun to shoot at the range.

The Mark 1 has its odd look, due to its odd method of loading and ejection. Back in the days when these guns were common, doing such a conversion would make some sense. But nowdays, such a gun would have collector's value, so the wisdom of altering such an old weapon might be ill-advised. It would be interesting to see, and especially, to shoot such a conversion, if it was done skillfully.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Wed May 03, 2023 7:47 am

Got it Timmy. I think the gun was converted atleast 50 yrs or more years ago. At that time the gun laws were not like as of now and in Calcutta there were a large no of Gunsmiths from British Era who earned their reputation of making custom Guns for Landlords and wealthy people.
Thanks for your detailed info.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by veeveeaar » Wed May 03, 2023 7:51 pm

I have seen a old revolver, I think it is a colt with a cylinder loading door ( old school type) with barrel and cylinder inserts . I dont know the original bore size, but the inserts are .32 bore size. But the alteration or conversion will be noticed only by a experienced gun enthusiast.

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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by timmy » Thu May 04, 2023 6:05 am

Using these big revolvers with small cartridges like 32 S&W would make for a very pleasant shooting gun, given that, with all of the weight, they would be like shooting a 22.

Just as a piece of trivia, the concept wasn't unknown: The big Webley Fosbery "automatic revolver" was chambered in 38 Auto (the older, weaker predecessor of 38 Super) for their target model. The smaller case meant that the revolver could hold 8 rounds, rather than the normal 6 of the 455 version.

The cost of gunsmithing work today is so high that it isn't practical to do this, especially with revolvers that have collectors value.

However, if one were to find an old conversion that was well done (and not being able to notice the work is one indication of good work), and if one wanted a fun shooting range handgun, I think buying something like this would be a very fortunate find!
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by eljefe » Thu May 04, 2023 3:56 pm

I recently read about a chap in the US who was boasting about getting a 10ga shotgun relined to a .470 or a .500 nitro. Money seemed to be no problem. Wonder why the gunsmith was charging him
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Vikram » Thu May 04, 2023 8:41 pm

timmy wrote:
Tue May 02, 2023 11:32 pm
Yes, this would be possible.......
Thanks for explaining the conversion process in such detail, Tim. The amount of work it takes for such a conversion makes it very cost-inefficient in the present day, as you have pointed out.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Vikram » Thu May 04, 2023 8:43 pm

Shivaji.Dasgupta wrote:
Wed May 03, 2023 7:47 am
there were a large no of Gunsmiths from British Era who earned their reputation of making custom Guns for Landlords and wealthy people.
That is very interesting. Do you know about any such guns in existence? Would be really interesting to see the examples of their work.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by timmy » Fri May 05, 2023 12:49 am

eljefe wrote:
Thu May 04, 2023 3:56 pm
I recently read about a chap in the US who was boasting about getting a 10ga shotgun relined to a .470 or a .500 nitro. Money seemed to be no problem. Wonder why the gunsmith was charging him
Is this Buckstix?

He has posted here on a number of occasions.

One of Buckstix's more recent projects that I read about was having a 25 Auto double rifle made up for him. He has all kinds of double rifles and seems quite devoted to them, as well as being able to financially support bringing his desires to reality.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Fri May 05, 2023 8:30 pm

Vikram wrote:
Thu May 04, 2023 8:43 pm
Shivaji.Dasgupta wrote:
Wed May 03, 2023 7:47 am
there were a large no of Gunsmiths from British Era who earned their reputation of making custom Guns for Landlords and wealthy people.
That is very interesting. Do you know about any such guns in existence? Would be really interesting to see the examples of their work.

Yes. Vikram.
As I got an opportunity to see a a double Barrel rifle which was richly engraved and few details were Highlighted with Gold plating. That was once with the Royal family of Mayurbhanj and Later sold out. It was surely for some Raja but at that time mobile camera was not known so I don't have a pic of that.
One Revolver from some captain who was closely associated with the Royal family of Bastar. It was customized as the owner has a small palm.
Till 1955 Calcutta was the main Hub for east and Central India for arms and Ammunition purchase.
Start from present Day chattiisgarh Orissa, parts of Southern states, North eastern areas, un Duvided Bihar etc. They all look forward to Calcutta for best weapons
Few Names also I would like to mention here. They are not in any books but only in some old memories and writings.

Sri Umapada pal was a reputed Gunsmith ( Banduk mistry) of that time. He worked with Manton and others. He was famous as Pal da or Pal Babu. But no information of him after 1950.
Dhiren Chandra Adikari was another name. He himself was a gunsmith but his hobby was stage play. Theater and stage drama known as Yatra or Yatra Pala in bengal. He had a shop of costume making for these stage plays. He was a frequent for Orissa and ChattishGarh based royalties. He use to repair weapons on their location and was very interested in Hunting

Yashin Mia is another name I found but very minimal information is available on him. His ancestors were in trade
of Cannon casting and he was residing in Metia buruz area.

Khairuddin Bux is also a name in Gun Smith lobby. His ancestors were came to bengal after Fall of Lucknow in 1857 Mutiny. They were also by Generations Bandhukchi with royalties. He was famous for metal works. Resides in Metia Buruz

Gulam or Ghulam Mia is also a name I found as gunsmith. He was in Kolkata but in 1930s he shifted to Present Day Bangladesh on a job of Gun care for some Royal Family. No news after that.
Their main customers were the princely states dotted the present Day west Bengal, Bihar Jharkhand, Orissa CG and Parts of North Eastern areas.
Tea Garden officers and owners. Mines owners. Jamindars and other wealthy family of eastern India.
Few of the very interesting weapons still exists with Dhalbhum, saraikella, mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal etc Royal families till the best of my knowledge.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Vikram » Sat May 06, 2023 12:11 am

Thank you for sharing these details. It would be really fascinating to see the examples of these gunsmiths' work. It is also surprising that gun-making on the lines of the British gun trade did not take off in India. There was a huge market and probably many talented craftsmen did exist at that time.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Sat May 06, 2023 11:00 pm

Sorry vikram that I forgot to mention
I have not seen any of these Antique pieces but I came to know one more thing that during British Era ( prior to 1947) there were many muzzle loaders were also sold every year and a particular group of craftsman were present on those days in Calcutta who use to do the engraving and also Meenakari ( meena art work with Brass and colored stones etc ) on the guns.
These craftsman were from Lucknow and surrounding area and they shifted to Calcutta with the Nawab of Awadh.
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Re: Old webley MarkI long barrel..455 converted in .32

Post by Vikram » Mon May 08, 2023 6:48 pm

Thanks again, Shivaji!
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