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Thread: ***WARNING for shaved or cut Webleys in .45 ACP/Auto Rim*****

  1. #1
    Boolit Master The Virginian's Avatar
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    Exclamation ***WARNING for shaved or cut Webleys in .45 ACP/Auto Rim*****

    This caution is directed at owners of .455 Webley revolvers - or any other revolver originally chambered in .455 for that matter - that have been converted in some manner to chamber and fire .45 ACP cartridges in moon clips (or .45 Auto Rim cartridges without moon clips)

    You will likely have been told (or have read) that it is fine to shoot "factory" or "GI Spec" .45 ACP (or .45 Auto Rim) cartridges in your altered .455 revolver, and you may well already have put many such rounds through your revolver without mishap.

    Please be aware that in the view of many who are familiar with these revolvers IT IS NOT SAFE TO FIRE SUCH ROUNDS.

    Please consider these facts -

    1. The operating pressure for the Mark VI Webley revolver (the last, and strongest, of the .455 Webley service revolvers) was a maximum of 13200PSI (i.e. six 'long tons' of 2200 lbs).

    2. The standard operating pressure generated by milspec and full factory loads of .45 ACP ball ammunition is 19,000PSI.

    3. The pressure of .45 ACP milspec and standard factory loads exceeds the proof load for the Mark VI Webley revolver.

    4. The dimensions of the chamber throats on Webley service revolvers are a bit variable, but generally are smaller than bore diameter for some reason - but this system worked well with the original hollowbase bullet design, which was quite soft (20/1 lead/tin) and non-jacketed. These soft bullets swage down passing through the chamber throat (.... my own view is that this was intentional, to get the most out of the relatively small powder charge, and thus maximize the velocity produced ....) but then the base expands nicely to engage the rifling in the bore. However, the general consensus is that jacketed bullets (such as those loaded in most GI-spec .45ACP ammo) can work to dramatically increase the already excessive chamber pressure generated by such rounds.

    5. Furthermore, the earlier models of .455 Webley service revolver were not as strong as the Mark VI. Indeed, the Mark I, Mark II and Mark III revolvers were in fact designed for black powder loads.

    Although it cannot be denied that many .455 Webley revolvers have survived being subjected for a long time to standard .45 ACP ammunition, that is equivalent to having been fed a steady diet of proof loads. Simply put, it is a testament to the sturdiness of Webley service revolvers, but can hardly be considered either safe or advisable! It is best to handload these shaved Webleys with lead bullets in the .452-455" size range ad 230-270 grains in weight in either .45 ACP or .45 Auto-Rim cases downloaded to 620-710 fps. This is the only way to safely enjoy shooting a shaved Webley.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I can validate the above based upon my own experience and stupid things I have done in the past.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master The Virginian's Avatar
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    If I dare ask, did you damage a Webley in the process? If so could you share the experience to help with the warning? I run into people all the time that scoff at the warning and insist that it is an OK practice, which of course it is not.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I have a former Queensland Police Mk4 bird's head grip with 4" barrel, converted to .45 ACP. I fired about 500 rounds of Saeco #954 as-cast and unsized wheelweight bullets of .455" diameter in Winchester. 45 ACP cases and WLP primers, with 5 grains of Bullseye. This is a standard, but full charge .45 ACP load, about 830 fps in an M1911 pistol, 800 fps in my 5-1/2" S&W Hand Ejector and 750 fps in the 4" Webley, which is a Boer War period piece.

    While running the falling plates in rapid DA, the barrel catch popped open. This was during a match, so I closed the revolver and fired one more shot and the gun popped open again.

    Upon further inspection it was determined that the barrel catch screw had sheared off. Disassembling the gun the frame was undamaged, but the barrel catch had spread open slightly, and the snapped off barrel catch screw could be removed by hand, leaving the broken, threaded stub in the frame.

    Sandy Garrett of Northern VA Gunworks tore down and inspected the gun, admonishing me for running an accelerated endurance test" firing the equivalent of proof loads, reminding me that I no longer worked at the Proving Grounds, and that I, of all people, should know better!!!!!!

    Because the gun had no collector value, he decided to make a replacement barrel catch screw of slightly larger diameter than the original, from a heat treated 8-8 high carbon steel M4 metric bolt, reaming the hole in the frame on the milling machine to repair a slight elongation which was caused during the failure.

    He also reamed and polished the barrel forcing cone and made some minor adjustments. I spent as much on the repair as I did for the gun, but it is a wonderful fun shooter which excells in fast, rapid DA work The gun is now "married" to milder loads with the 230-grain Saeco #954 cowboy bullet with 4 grains of Bullseye, for 630 fps, and with luck and avoiding similar future stupidity, it should last another 115 years.
    Last edited by Outpost75; 02-09-2014 at 04:17 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Virginian View Post
    If I dare ask, did you damage a Webley in the process? If so could you share the experience to help with the warning? I run into people all the time that scoff at the warning and insist that it is an OK practice, which of course it is not.
    The logic seems to be, "I (or a friend) have done it X number of times, therefore it is safe.". That same spurious logic can be applied to driving drunk or 120 miles per hour or both.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  6. #6
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    I used to drive 120 miles an hour all the time! But I was also a pursuit driving instructor...........

    The bottom line is, use only ammunition the original firearm was designed for, especially when dealing with 100+ year old specimens.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master




    Scharfschuetze's Avatar
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    Blew the valves out of a Plymouth Fury police car once at a little more than 110mph...

    Thanks for posting that article Virginian. I've generally just shot moderate cast boolit loads through my shaved Mk VI, but I will now forgo any thought of shooting ball ammo through it.
    Keep your powder dry,

    Scharf

  8. #8
    Boolit Master The Virginian's Avatar
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    Thanks guys and great supporting information here. For those who don't handload, a .45 ACP gun is basically a wall hanger, but there is a company that will handload lead bulleted .45 Auto-Rim downloaded to .455 ballistics. It has been a few years, but I think they are still in business. I am glad I am able to handload for these fine warhorses as they are fun to shoot.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for bringing this subject up! Here's a link to a much larger discussion of the subject over on the British Militaria Forum: http://britishmilitariaforums.yuku.c...m#.U0DUsvldWiA
    I got lucky with one unit: There was enough cylinder rim left so I could still support about 1/3 of the .455 Webley cartridge rim, which allowed me to fire the Webley round.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master RobsTV's Avatar
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    Been looking for an original Webley for a while now, and have yet to find one that is not shaved for 45 ACP. Planned on shooting Black Powder through it. Is it possible to simply get a shaved Webley and using 45 ACP brass, load it with black powder, and lead from 45 acp mold? The general rule of full case of BP probably wouldn't apply. Might need fatter mold. Haven't even looked at case volume or more details, just this thread popping up gave me the idea. Any thoughts or tips on this?

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    If you want to load holy black to shoot in your Webley, it will work fine. The. 45 ACP case is close to the length of the original .455 Mk1 brass and capacity is correct. You will have better results with softer bullets cast 50-50 plumber's lead and wheelweights, or 1:25 or 1:30 tin/lead, about 8-10 BHN, and a soft lube such as SPG, or if you mix your own, equal parts of beeswax and Crisco. If you have trouble finding beeswax, mix paraffin and Vaseline 50-50 by melted volume, then blend that mixture with Crisco to double the melted volume. This makes an expensive anf effective blackpowder lube.

    If you use a standard. 45 ACP bullet and load to normal overall length the blackpowder rounds will usually cycle an M1911. On crowded range days when I want more elbow room, I just bang off a few mags and it usually does the trick.

    Do not try this on an indoor range, because the majority there and the range management don't have a hill billy's sense of humor....

  12. #12
    Boolit Master RobsTV's Avatar
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    Thanks for the confirmation that I can get an altered Webley and load up the 45 ACP cases with BP. Already loading BP for 1873 Winchester 38-40 and 1884 Springfield 45-70 using 18:1 lead/tin and good BP lube, so easy to add another cartridge to the mix. I figure if a gun was designed to use BP, and is still going strong 100+ years later, it deserves to be used the way it was intended, only with real BP. If more people thought that way, this thread would not be needed.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Forgive me for treating you like a novice! Please post your results.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Back in day when Lincolns were winning Mexican road races, I did most of length of the Yolo Causeway @140 MPH + (speedo reading) Luckily I didn't have one of those revolvers,too... Onceabull
    "The Eagle is no flycatcher"

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I got to meet a older gunsmith in Willits, CA. back in the 80's going through his nice old time shop downtown. He brought out his "house gun" that was a 5" .455 webley break open action that was loaded with, and chambered for 45 long colt. This was a WW1 gun. He said it was no problem, he loaded the rounds "short" Glad it was him pulling the trigger on that one and not me. He didn't mention his loads, I didn't ask.
    Chris

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    There is really no need...

    for .455" bullets in the Webley revolvers. I shoot both a Mark IV and Mark VI which were altered for .45 Auto, and have measured a good many more - the chamber mouths are quite uniform at .450" - .451", while the groove diameters are no larger than .453". I do not believe there is any advantage to be gained by swaging-down an oversized bullet only to hope it will expand again to full groove diameter.
    I use .45 AR brass, which works perfectly, and load the ammunition with commonly available moly-coated cast bullets of .452" diameter. Standard .45ACP dies are used in my Dillon 550.
    The Mk VI shoots to point of aim at the customary 20 yards when loaded with a 255 grain bullet and 4.0 grains of Green Dot - MV is 620 FPS, equal to the original Mk 2 smokeless load.
    The Mk IV prefers a standard 230 grain RN for proper elevation, with the same load of Green Dot - I have not yet chronographed this load, having only recently acquired the Mk IV, but it is surely safe.
    There is no evidence of leading with these moly-coated bullets.
    Both of these Webleys give outstanding accuracy with these loads, and I see no need to experiment with larger bullet diameters, though I have a quantity of 265 grain HB bullets of .455" diameter - neither do I need special dies.
    The same loads could be used in .45ACP brass, with moon clips, but I really prefer the .45 AR brass in these revolvers.

    mhb - Mike

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Any opinion on the suitability of Fiocchi Webley ammo in a MK II? Uncut, of course.

    Bill
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The Fiocchi ammo is good, if you can find any.

    Thing to remember is that in reloading the brass this is the short case and most published US data from Lyman and others is for the longer Mk1 or .455 Colt case, and you must not increase above the minimum listing starting loads in Mk2 brass.


    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Any opinion on the suitability of Fiocchi Webley ammo in a MK II? Uncut, of course.

    Bill

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Cwheel....I had a Webley/Green cut short that chambeted and shot well and accurately with 45 colt (rem factory lead). The gunsmith that checked the firearm out originally said it was chambered for 45 schofield, as that is what the cartridge markings inside the cylinder showed. And indeed it did.

  20. #20
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Any opinion on the suitability of Fiocchi Webley ammo in a MK II? Uncut, of course.

    Bill
    I remember trying it in my oddly cut MK VI. I don't remember the results, but I have all 20 empty cases from the box, so it must have at least chambered and shot. I don't remember accuracy or anything either way, but I never bought any more, so probably wasn't great in my Webley.

    If you want the brass to play around with, I'll send it to you for cost of shipping.

    Dave

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check