455 Webley Auto Mk.1 Proof

On the late Tony Edwards’ excellent site there is mention of this 455 Webley Auto Mk.1 as a possible proof loading and he also mentioned there that the C is still unknown. Has any new evidence been presented to solve this?

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The only plausible explanation I’ve gotten was that it was a proof load, sent to Colt, to be used for the 1911s in .455 that they were making for GB.

Hi Daan
There is a thread on here from sometime back if you care to see what was said, & no one seems to have a positive ID for this cartridge or the C. So Tony’s comments are still valid as far as I am aware.

Thanks Peter and jonnyc, I have found that old thread, which makes for some interesting reading. I have taken the gist of it and will try to update the website tomorrow. It might also be worthwhile to do a headstamp checklist

The .455 Webley Auto cartridge with “C” headstamp is only found in two special loadings, the black case, which during WWI was a method in the USA of identifying proof loads, and a functional dummy, whose headstamp includes the word “Dummy,” more of an American term, I think, than a British one.

During WWI, England bought M1911 Colt pistols in .455 Auto Pistol in a “gold dollar purchase,” which, as I recall, predated the contract, in a different serial number series, that are the .455 Colt 1911s most often encountered. England demanded that proofing and final inspection of the pistols be done by British technicians. Now, ball ammunition would not have been a problem. Plenty would have been on hand in England to supply Colt with ammunition for required function testing of the pistols. Remember, the .455 Auto Cartridge was never made in the USA. Colt would have needed proof loads and functional dummies for various tests, and these were likely in short supply in England due to the small use of the .455 Auto in their armed forces during WWI (Compared to the various Marks of Webley .455 Revolvers).

I mention all this to address the question of the “C” headstamp on dummies and (probably) black-case proof loads, a factory designater unknown in England on .455 pistol ammunition, and specimens of which are more common in American collections, it seems from a study done by myself and a prominent collector from England some time ago. The dummies are ever scarce in American collections.

All of this points to the “C” on the headstamp designating “COLT,” the likely end user for these cartridges. The rounds themselves were unmistakenly made in England, with the Birmingham Metal and Munitions Company being the likely manufacturer.

Am I sure it stands for Colt? Absolutely not! We have yet found no solid documentation showing what the “C” designates. Right now, it is only conjecture, but in this instance, it is conjecture with some circumstantial evidence behind it.

John Moss