I have a P. Webley and Son marked single shot .22 target pistol, serial number 1052, with a 10 3/8 inch barrel, and with provision for a shoulder stock. It is marked like the P Webley revolvers :" P. Webley & Son London & Birmingham" on the barrel, plus has the winged bullet logo on the frame like the revolvers. I have seen later Webley and Scott marked.22 pistols of this type, including one pre war Webley and Scott marked version with a slighty higher serial number of 1317. But I had not previously heard of P. Webley & Son marked pistols of this type. My question is that if P. Webley and Son ceased to exist in 1897 when they merged with W.C. Scott & Richard Ellis & son to become Webley and Scott, does that date this particular pistol as being made during prior to 1897?
That is not a Model 1909 which has a sheath trigger and a bag grip. It is a second model made around 1913.
Do you have the actual delivery record in hand for this serial?
I'm often amazed at which records have survived.
Do you prefer the Dowell/Bruce/Reihart nomenclature? Webleys never referred to a "Model 1909" that I am aware of. At least I got the assembly date about right!
Many folks don't realize how Webley's worked, with none of the detailed record discipline found at Colt or Smith & Wesson. Nothing went to waste, just because it was obsolete. There were several variations in single-shot grip style before 1914, and I suspect whether one began after the other ended. This circa 1913 pistol might not have been delivered until the 1920s! Too bad the Germans scrambled such records as Webleys kept.
I suspect several single-shots were ssembled from leftover Tranter (or post-Tranter) parts, before Webley-sourced frames appeared. There are at least three Tranter grip styles, one of which matches some Webley frames under that massive wooden handle and weight.
I have one marked "A. Blertin, Paris" with an address shared with one of Webley's larger retail and shotgun brand outlets. And its barrel is marked AF! (The address became an Enfield rifle refurbishment site during the Great War.)
"P.Webley and Son, London and Birmingham" was only the retailer marking on the barrel, wasn't it, used before and after the amalgamation with Scott and the 1906 incorporation? The top of the barrel is where the retailer's name was usually inscribed. The manufactury itself never was located outside Birmingham.
You are, of course, precisely correct.
(After one reaches a certain age, one often gets carried away by the minutae.)
The Webley firm had some hard years after the disaster of 1904, brought on by the British Government. Browning's small pistols were swamping the personal protection market, and the military revolvers just weren't selling quickly enough. Whiting's automatics were hard to make and sell, until the London Police and the Navy took them up, both with strong backing from Winston Churchill. A sale was a sale, and new dies were expensive! So P. Webley & Son it stayed for a long time.
The single-shots are favorites of mine, now rare. They are superbly accurate, and, unlike their Stevens competitors, they stay latched closed!
As was pointed out Richard Milner has the post 1900 factory records. Sometimes they are disappointing since not many were sold directly from Webley to the public. This is one of the only known first model Webley single shots. As is obvious, it is essentially a Tranter. Very early on Webley attached the Tranter bottom barrel release to the trigger guard.
Many thanks for all the good information. I did suspect it might be something like that. I think of British industry in general as always being inclined to be frugal, and as quite willing to put effort into using up old parts, or continuing to use old marking dies, particularly as compared to US industry, which seemed more happy to scrap out anything anytime to accommodate any production or design change. I have 10 British Land Rovers from the 1960's and 1970's, and the several that were made right around the time of a model transition always seem to scream that fact with the strangest mixture of new model parts combined with old model parts including what seems to be some deliberate factory adaptations to allow using up batches of remaining parts left over from the previous model. I worked for the US gun maker O.F. Mossberg for a few years many years ago, and the attics and outbuildings had a big and interesting assortment of left over parts from very long ago discontinued models, and that was just whatever remained from the masses of parts I was told were periodically sold off as surplus to Numrich/ gun parts co.
I had a friend who was a cost engineer for Colt before and after WW II. He told me a wonderful story about Colt trying to use up the many thousands of over produced 1911A1 magazine release buttons by incorporating them in the new design for post war Woodsmen. He was still working for the military at time that decision was made. When he returned to Colt and saw what they we doing, he quickly pointed out that it was costing the company $1.25 to use up parts that cost $.75 so the change was made to the ugly plain cast bottom release.
As the above gentlemen have indicated, the parts for these pistols were very likely crafted all at one time; the idea of 'manufacture' is illusory with these pistols.
I've been gone off this board for a a while, off about, but I have a good idea of what I'm talking about as far as these pistols go.
As the other Joel says, and others, the parts for these pistols were made very likely in a lot batch (or whatever it's called in England) and then parceled out as orders came in. For my lights, if you go on the current W. W. Greener website, you will find these self-same pistols, at least the frames and internals, sold under Section 5 as Pistols for Humane Dispatch, Re-Proofed from (I'm not kidding) Black Powder, in a .32 caliber. Whenever W&S made the frames, it was long time ago.
If you are so lucky as to possess the right to own one in the UK, you are owning a piece of history. I have no idea if W. W, Greener can export parts; I would LOVE to have a spare mainspring, or a sideplate, for instance.
The .22 Target Pistol is NOT a '1909'. That is a problem I ran into years ago; the blowback auto trainer pistol may have some claim to that, but not the .22 Target. I believe the .22 self-extractor is called the '1911'.
I thought that because the .22 Target was described as a 1909 in a 'Gun Values' book, Modern Guns, I believe, that described it as such. It is not a '1909'. I have absolutely no idea why it would be called that. It may very well be the year all the parts were consolidated, or gathered, for their subsequent assembly over the next, what? 60 years?
I am, by the way, among other projects, indexing my longtime project of documenting what's left of these fine pistols. I have visual examples tracing everything from the Tranter Parlor Pistols, both nominal 4" and 6" barrels (the lineage is obvious) through the pathetic leftovers of the W. W. Greener Section 5's. I plan a website within the next year, although it will not encompass serial numbers or manufacture dates: I think the frames were all made at the same time, and some of them may very well have been inherited from Tranter.
I simply don't know.
I took mine out today, this very day, and showed a 15-year-old boy, the son of a friend, the basics of pistol shooting; and told him why he was unlikely to ever see another of these fine pistols outside of a museum. He was appreciative, and shot quite well.
Joel White in Wisconsin
Where in WI do you live? I am south of Mt Horeb. I probably have more photos of humane killers than anyone else. For instance Webley not only made them on their break top single shot frame, they also made them on the semi auto 32/22 single shot frame.
Last edited by [email protected]; 05-24-2012 at 12:43 PM.
Joel, I'm in South Central Wisconsin, and a member of the venerable Beloit Rifle Club, where I went shooting yesterday. I'd love to get together sometime and compare collections.
I think, at this point, with the Webley and Scott SS pistol, that anecdotal and first-person information is likely more accurate and on-spot than offical records, as far as how many of these pistols are left and where they ended up. I've learned, for instance, that the Melbourne Shooting Club was started with a Webley SS, 'borrowed' from police stores after WWII, having been confiscated by the police from an active airman.
I've seen an ad for a pistol for sale on Craigslist Mumbai, marked with a retailer's name. Interesting stuff. It seems, some of these pistols went into Section 7: I've seen auction results in England, where Webley SS's were sold for quite reasonable prices, adverted for 'Black Powder Proof'. Prices like 100 pounds, which seems pretty reasonable. The fact they were auctioned at all leads me to believe they were either Section 7 and not legally shootable, or deactivated, which I can't believe, because the expense of deactivating a .22 Single Shot seems nutty.
Anyway, I've made the point for several years here that these pistols are EXTREMELY RARE. I watch the acution sites, and honestly, I've seen the same guns come up for sale multiple times for progressively escalating prices. Simpson, LTD, down the road in Galesburg, IL had one up for $1600 not too long ago, and seems to have sold it! Holy crap.
I'm just attached to mine, and will never get rid of it: it goes to my daughter, but they are so fascinating, unusual, and historical for a number of reasons. Also, hand made, and phenonomal shooters. Mine is beat up, the screws are buggered up, the finish is almost gone, but the thing is absolutely still the most accurate pistol I've ever fired. Amazing.
Joel White in WI
I'm still up and felt it would benefit to show this jpeg from my old, old archives. These are Pistols For Humane Dispatch, as mentioned by Joel Black, as opposed to me, Joel White! Always good to meet another Joel, having grown up in a Catholic factory town, where people thought the name 'Joel' was weird.
You know, I had no idea about this class of 'pistols' until I read the book, WE BOUGHT A ZOO, which despite the recent movie, is set in the UK; it described a panther getting out, and also, tellingly, described the 'keeper' having a certificate allowing him to pack a Colt Python .357 Magnum! I read the book and said, "Huh!?"
That's where I learned about the 'Humane Dispatch' license. That guy had, on his personal license, an Humane Dispatch Colt Python, limited to the standard 2 rounds, full-bore .357 Magnum hollowpoints. Probably one of the few in the UK. He also had a rider or whatever for 12-bore shotgun slugs. AND a high-power rifle.
If you read the actual book, WE BOUGHT A ZOO, you will learn a lot about UK firearm laws.
JoelW, If You email me your snail mail address, I will send you a CD with a bunch of data sheets that one of my co authors made that include photos and complete descriptions of many of the Webley single shots, humane cattle and horse killers and other others by English makers like Cash. I also have photos of some of the Webley single shots I owned including some in the original cardboard boxes, a few that were cased and one in .32 S&W and another in .38 Special.