Webley self-loading 1904


#1

Gents:
I am a former member, who for a few years had other concerns over-whelm hobbies, but the other day as I opened my cartridge cabinet to have a look-see. I bent over and whacked the door with the top of my head causing the few hundred cartridges to fall and sound like hail.
As I was sifting through them, the urger to rejoin struck me.
Anyway-
I have a 1904 self-loading cartridge which I bought some years ago with the last connection I had with members here.
What is the value of such a cartridge?

I try to acquire multiples so I cal have line of similar cartridges lined up like little soldiers in the cabinet.
I have not been to the St. Louis show since '03.
Do these ever come up for sale, or the rare 1906 ACP which I know is expensive?

I have several of the black c17s, what is the history behind these?

On a last note, I have .450 short with a copper-clad flat point bullet, were they ever loaded that way?

I bought my collection of British .450-.455s from one of you gents, (I lost the name when my old computer went pffft) and I thank you/him greatly, I still love to just look them over.


#2

RpR,

I cannot help with the WSL 1904 but on the .450 perhaps I can add a little.

Firstly, congratulations on being interested in a serious cartridge (the .450 Short) which in 2011 will have been loaded continually for 144 years, served its country’s armed forces and police for nearly 60 years and was made or marketed by over 80 companies (Fiocchi still load it in ball and blank). But no one seems to care except me, plus one guy in Australia, and possibly you !!

By “copper clad” do you mean a copper jacket or a copper wash on the lead ? The only copper-jacketed .450 I’m aware of is a variation of the so-called .450 Rumanian made by SFM or its subsidiaries. As far as copper washed is concerned, all those I have seen so far looked like someone did an amateur after-market job on them. The only “flat point” bullets I’ve seen are the very blunt British “target” bullet (also referred to as the “Naval” bullet) and some bullets provided by Paris Sport for their lathe-turned .450/.455 cases. However, I’ve been collecting them long enough to know that I haven’t seen them all even with 600 .450s in the collection. Perhaps a picture of your rounds and details of the headstamps would help?

By the way: The .455 Webley SL with the black case was covered in IAA Journal 465, page 20.


#3

Please describe your “1904 Self-Loading Webley” cartridge, including its headstamp. Better if you supply a picture of the cartridge and the headstamp as well. There are not many Webley auto pistol cartridges, even including the standard .455 SL. But, it does make a nice “group” of rounds as you mentioned.

Lynn Harris, of New Zealand, before he passed, wrote quite a nice pamphlet, or monograph, on these rounds. Many people, including me, have used his work as the basis for further study of the group of rounds, and he wasn’t lacking much. Of course, he was a very good researcher and highly knowledgeable in all fields of firearms and ammunition.


#4

John M and I (and many others) have discussed the origin of the “C” headstamped blackened .455 S.L. rounds for a long time, and I postulated that they were possibly made for proofing the .455 Government Model pistols made by Colt for Britain, and that perhaps the “C” had some relevance to Colt.

I now think I was wrong on the last point. They are certainly proof rounds and I still think they were probably used for proofing the Colt pistols, but I have become more convinced that they were made by Curran Metals and Munitions of Cardiff.

CMMCo were a subsidiary of Birmingham Metals and Munitions Co, and were a reasonably large scale contractor for artillery cartridges during WWI. As we know, the bullets are from BMMCo so that is a strong pointer,so it is quite possible that the cases were made at CMMCo. and sent to BMMCo. for loading. I believe that CMMCo was simply a metal fabricator and had no loading facilities, but that may not be correct.

Why make the cases at CMMCo when BMMCo were apparently already in production of that calibre? I don’t know. Perhaps the “B” cases were also made at Curran’s and the change of headstamp was simply to distinguish the proof rounds? It was quite normal for cases to be made in one place and loaded elsewhere.

So many possibilities, so little proof…

Regards
TonyE


#5

While I am not yet ready to let go of the possible identification of the “C” as “Colt”, Tony is so much more knowledgable on British items than I, that I now hold the two theories as totally equal in possibility. He was right - we discussed this subject in length, and I found it a stimulating and enjoyable discussion through and through. I will mention here that only two loads are found with the “C” headstamp, proof and dummy. Both of these are loads needed in the manufacture of a firearm (in this case, the Colt), and that while the black case was an American symbol for a proof at the time, it was not the standard British symbol for proof loads, which was a purpole stripe across the base. I have various British “purpole stripe” proofs, including both commercial and military headstamps in .455 Auto. Colt would not have needed any special run made of ball ammunition for testing, as that was in sufficinet supply from normal British stores.

For more information, read the IAA article on this subject. I though it might as well be summarized again here for non-members and those who don’t have the older IAA Journals, though.

Would still like to see a picture of what you are describing as a 1904 Webley cartridge on this thread, and any others. Plus the headstamp. Then we can probably broaden the discussion staying with the original, main question of the thread.


#6

If I have it identified correctly, my 1904 is head stamped W&S Auto 455-K and it is loaded with a jacketed bullet with an exposed round nose lead tip and brass case. Bill


#7

Sounds to me like you are correctly describing the cartridge. It should have a copper primer cup.

There is another round with the same headstamp generally referred to as the .455 W&W (Webley & Scott) Model 1910. It is basically the same cartridge as the regular .455 Webley Auto Mark I, except that it has a much thinner rim. It has a copper primer cup as well, and a full metal jacket RN bullet of the normal ogive for the .455 Webley caliber. It also has a norrower extracotr groove and extractor-groove bevel than the regular .455 Mark I.

There is a little-known round we have been calling the Model 1910/1912 Transitional, for lack of a better name. It is headstamped " • ELEY • 455 AUTO and is somewhat rarer than either the 1904 or the 1910 rounds (the dots on the headstamp are not perfectly round dots as I have had to show them). It is the same as a .455 Mark I but has the thin rim of the 1910 model. However, the extractor groove and bevel are normal for the later .455 Mark I, and it has the smaller primer of the Mark I. Primer cup is copper. Bullet is normal .455 RN FMJ CN.

Then, of course, the Webley .455 Auto, sometimes called the Model 1912 Mark I. It was made by several factories in England, and also by Kirkee, in India, the latter during the 1920s Mine is date “25” and headstamp K^F 25 I. The “^” is used here to represent a broad arrow on top of the letter I", which is the Indian version of the Broad Arrow Government Property Mark.

The stadard Mark I round was made for the military and commercially in England, and made in Ball, Proof and dummy rounds. There may be other loadings, but if so, they are extremely rare. I have heard of a blank, but have not seen one that I can recall. There is a solid steel, unheadstamped dummy, simply turn to the shape of the cartridge but with a flat base, like a rimfire. We know it is a “real” British round, and was probably either an armourer’s dummy of some sort, or a box-makers dummy. Thye are scarce, but most certainly NOT rare.

Your 1904 round is a very, very nice round to have in a collection. While not the rarest round in the auto pistol game, they are not common, and are simply an interesting round in all respects. I like this series very much, remaining among my favorites after 50 years of collecting auto pistol rounds.


#8

My round is the soft-point bullet round, I should have mentioned that in the first post.

Does the soft-point bullet come up for sale often, and are they in double or triple figures in price?

Thank you for the excellant response.

I have noticed upon very close inspection of my .455 semi-auto type rounds, that while all have blunt bullets there appears to be at least two distinct shapes with one being fairly flat on top and the other with a more distinct high-spot as it far from anything resembling a point.
Is this do to a change over the years or different manufacturer?


#9

The blunt bullet is Birmingham Metal’s shape. It is pretty unique to their company. One of the reasons we think that the “C” headstamp could be related, since they have the same blunt bullet. Certainly, the bullets in the “C” rounds are BM manufacture.

All the 1904 types have the soft-nose bullet. Have never seen a FMJ myself. I shouldn’t have said “all” are. I should have said I have not ever seen one with a FMJ bullet first. Who knows what they atually made. In these rounds, for every one we see as collectors, there could be others, sometimes many others, that were basically pre-production or experimental, that we have never seen and in many cases never will.

I don’t do values - sorry. I have little interest in the monetary value of these things. If I can afford them when they come up, I buy them. If I can’t, I leave them. When I sell something, I have te try to recall what I paid, weighed against whtever them seem to be selling for, and frankly, I hate the whole process of selling cartridges. I was a profession firearms dealer (Gun Shop manager) most of my adult life, and is too much like work instad of a hobby. I am the last gun in collecting to ask about values. I am sure they tghey are not “dime box” cartridges" though. While not, in my opinion, rare, they are plenty darned scarce now and an important and interesting cartridge to boot.


#10

I’ve recently found a picture of a 7 round .455 W&S Auto box labeled “For Colt Auto-Pistol”. Does anyone have ever seen a similiar box? What about its contents?


#11

Can you post a picture please Fede?

I suspect that it will be a RAF packet as they were the principal receipients of the .455 Colt Government Model. Depending on the date, the cartridges could have any of the normal British headstamps, E, B or R^L.

This is the normal WWI .455 SL packet: note the struck through N for Naval Service.

Digressing for a moment, here also is a nice packet for the .45ACP Colts that the Royal Navy/RNAS had in WWI.

Regards
TonyE


#12

Tony, thanks for the pictures and information. Here it is:


#13

Makes one wonder why the Empire didn’t just adopt the .45 ACP. I have a WWI-era Colt M1911 originally intended for the .455 Auto which is so-marked on the slide (“Calibre .455”, but no RAF markings). When I bought it in the late 1950s, it had a standard .45 ACP barrel, and has worked flawlessly for a great many years with that barrel and .45 ACP magazines. I remember something about a minor modification of the .455 slide (or maybe it was the frame) being required to accept a .45 ACP barrel. However, if so, mine had been already modified when I got it. I’ve used the same frame with a different slide. magazines, recoil springs, and barrels for 9X19 and 9X23 Win, also .400 Cor-Bon, plus a .22 lr adaptor, so it’s essentially 5 guns in one (even more if you count using .38 Super, 9mm Largo, and 9mm Steyr in the 9X23 chamber). Indeed a very versatile pistol.

I believe Gen Hatcher discussed, in Hatcher’s Notebook, firing .45 ACP ammunition in the .455 M1911 without problems. That I have not attempted, as I do not have a .455 barrel.


#14

The British did “adopt” the .45ACP but only for the Thompson which makes your question even more relevent but I think the principle reason was cost. We had our own pistol factories although the .380 was underpowered it was there. Not my favourite calibre though.
Most .455s were converted to .45ACP post war in civilian hands. A simple barrel swap. I don’t think you even had to change the mag(s)