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455 Webley revolver with bayonet
In theory, shaved Webley cylinders were a great idea. Instead of trying to deepen the chambers for 45 Colt ammunition, officers could use half-moon clips to load three rounds of 45ACP at a time. Later, in the early 1920s, full-moon clips holding six rounds made the reloading process even quicker. Firing a dozen rounds in combat works fine, but routinely putting 19,000-21,000 psi jacketed bullets through top-break guns build to 13,000 psi and soft lead will lead to mechanical problems sooner or later. 1/500in difference between bullet diameters and a hard copper or nickel jacket reduced accuracy as well, with smaller 45ACP projectiles being good enough for a hit across a bunker but not so great at twenty paces.
Unfortunately for people who like to actually¬†shoot their .455 Webley revolvers, shaved revolvers are usually less expensive and more readily available. Moreover, until Steinel began producing 455 ammunition, 45ACP was far more readily available. Downloaded 45ACP ammunition with hollow base¬†semiwadcutter¬†bullets is a solution for those who handload, but I found that my results with other people’s ammunition were hit and miss…too often “miss”. What’s the point of shooting a known accurate handgun and having a torso-wide spread at fifteen yards?
I wasn’t sure what to think about the two new loads from Steinel marked “for shaved Webley”: they were 45ACP cases loaded with coated 262gr flat point and 230gr plated round-nose bullets. The heavier bullets are rated at 560fps, the lighter plated bullets amble along at only 460fps. I had two revolvers available, a short birds-head grip Mk.IV and a square-grip Mk.VI, both with cylinders shaved down for 45ACP. Neither showed good accuracy with 200gr semiwadcutters¬†loaded to about 600fps.
The low-power plated load proved decently accurate: at twelve yards, the spread was roughly a hand-breadth. As is typical for these guns, the point of impact was higher than the point of aim, but not ridiculously so. Recoil was light. The slightly more energetic load with the longer coated bullet was almost match-accurate despite the heavy triggers. Twelve-yard spread was 2-3 inches, with most of the hits overlapping. On half-height silhouettes, the plated load permitted reliable engagement out to 35 yards at least, and the coated load well past 50. All of a sudden, shooting the old Brit wheelguns is fun again!

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