Webley Self-Loading Pistol

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Webley Self-Loading Pistol Mk. 1
File:Webley Self Loading Pistol.jpg
Webley Self-Loading Pistol
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1910-1942
Used by Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Webley & Scott
Designed 1910
Manufacturer Webley & Scott
Produced 1910-1932
Weight 1.13 kilograms (2.5 lb)
Length 216 millimetres (8.5 in)
Barrel length 127 millimetres (5.0 in)

Cartridge .455in W&S Auto
Caliber .455 in (11.55 mm)
Action Short Recoil
Muzzle velocity 236 metres per second (770 ft/s)
Feed system 7-round detachable box magazine

The Webley Self-Loading Pistol was an up-and-coming design in early magazine-fed pistols. The gun was designed in 1910 by the Webley & Scott company. The Mk. 1 entered police service in 1911 in a .38 ACP model for the London Metropolitan Police. The .455 version was adopted by the Royal Navy in 1912 as the first automatic pistol in British service. The pistol was also adopted by the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Flying Corps .[1] Its predecessor was the unsuccessful Mars Automatic Pistol, made around 1900.

Having a semi-automatic pistol in official British service was a big change in weaponry. It provided a weapon deadly at close quarters, with multiple shots to engage any more combatants. The reloading time went down along with rate of fire as well.


The pistol's original cordite cartridge left a lot of residue in the barrel causing frequent jamming. This was fixed in 1941 with nitrocellulose instead of cordite in the .455 cartridge. This new cartridge for the Mk.1 was called the Mark Iz. Among other things, the pistol was awkward to hold due to its bulk and awkward grip.[2]

One generic problem with semi-automatic pistols, especially some of the first, is that with more capability and ease, comes more moving parts. With more moving parts, comes high probability of jamming. This was a problem partially caused by the cordite in the cartridges, and partially caused by the extreme pressure put on the small parts after constant use. The biggest problem was not a mechanical error, however, but an operator error. The British service men and women did not know the key importance of constant cleaning. This was mostly because the soldiers were not used to cleaning their revolvers all the time; they thought the Mk. 1 was no exception, while in reality, it was.[3]

Improvements and variations

The first models of the Mk. 1 had the safety on left side of the hammer. This was later moved to the left side of the frame, where it could lock the slide. Service versions were also outfitted with a grip safety.


  1. McNab, Chris (2009). Firearms. Queen Street House, 4th Queen Street, Bath BA1 1HE, UK: Parragon. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-4075-1607-3. 
  2. [1][dead link]
  3. Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7. "Soon after World War II the major powers all but abandoned the revolver for standard issue" 

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