A very nice and unusual Webley Metropolitan Police Model 1883 revolver, issued to the New South Wales Police Forces.
The Metro Police was one of Webley's most successful and imitated designs. This is a variant on the "RIC" series, and went through several design changes. This is the Model 1883 variation, which was adopted by the Metropolitan Police in the UK in that year; it was retailed by Webley under that designation. The design specifications for this gun included a 2-1/2" barrel, as it was intended to be concealed by officers who were issued firearms. One of the famous officers who carried a Model 1883 MP was "Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard," Sherlock Holmes' foil in the famous detective stories by Conan Doyle: this same model is the one Holmes himself used to shoot the savage Tonga in The Sign of The Four, according to Cecil Baring-Gould's authoritative work on The Holmes Canon, The Annotated Sherlock Holmes.
The London Metropolitan Police were only the first to adopt this powerful and hard-hitting gun: it was a wild success in the "Colonies" as well, and the New South Wales Colony in Australia adopted it, among many others.
This specimen is marked with the famous "Manacled Hands" Logo that Webley used on guns sold to police agencies; and in addition it bears the stamping "N.S.W. Police" and an inventory number (1669) below the Manacled Hands. Police-marked Model 1883's are by far the least common ones encountered.
The caliber is stamped on the left frame flat as ".450," which is the ".450 Boxer," also known as the ".450 Short." This is NOT the same as the .455 caliber. (I will include with this revolver 35 rounds of reloads for it in the proper caliber, and please check my other auctions, I have two full boxes of Fiocchi .450 Boxer I'm selling as well.) Cases can be made from cut-down .45 Long Colt brass and any .455" bullet will work.
The condition is obvious from the pictures. I believe this gun has been professionally refinished, but if so it was long, long ago. All markings are clear and there is no blurring of even fine stampings, so it's possible this is the original finish, though as I'm not certain I won't make that claim. The bore is excellent, the action is crisp and tight in both SA and DA mode, and the gun is eminently shootable. The one-piece grip is in good condition with no cracks or chips, but there is some scarring on the right side that I think was caused by the metal stud on a holster.
Malcolm Dowell's book "The Webley Story" carries a picture of a gun identical to this one, on Plate 38C. The Model 1883 is distinguished by having cylinder flutes (earlier versions of the RIC's didn't) and was also noted for its accuracy despite the short barrel. Dowell provides a contemporary account the demonstration in which Mr Henry Webley presented the gun to the Metropolitan Police in May 1884:
"Mr Webley fired five shots at 9 yards...the result was that the bullets lodged in a space 2-1/4" x 1-1/4"...the distance was increased to 15 yards...2-1/2" by 1-1/2"...at a distance of 25 yards the same undeviating accuracy was maintained--a surface of 2-1/2" by 3-1/2" being riddled..." and concludes by saying, "The police adopted it straight away."
The top strap is marked "P. Webley & Son," a firm which went out of existence as such in 1897 when Webley bought W.C. Scott and merged the two companies to form "Webley & Scott." This gun predates that merger, and hence is a pre-1899 antique. No FFL is needed for purchase, but please verify that you are legally able to own this gun where you live.
PLEASE SEE AUCTION #9646661 for factory ammunition for this gun!
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Sorry, no foreign bidders on this one. I think the short barrel disqualifies it from antique status in Canada.