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WW1 Handgun Oddities

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RWS
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WW1 Handgun Oddities

#1 Post by RWS » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:49 am

Here's two oddities from my Great War collection... a Webley Mk I Navy semi-auto in .455 rimless and a Spanish Garate Anitua substitue standard Old Pattern .455 revolver (more a copy of a S&W Frontier revolver than a Webley).

-Bob
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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#2 Post by DeaconKC » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:49 pm

Bob, I love both these, but I am truly curious about the Spaniard. The quality of Spanish makers was all over the place during the war. How is this one built? It is a good looker!
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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#3 Post by steamer » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:59 am

Great looking old pistols - I like that they still have their lanyard rings.

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#4 Post by RWS » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:35 am

The parts fitting is very good. Not much finish left though. It times perfectly on 4 chambers and is out of time on two adjoining chambers. I think the ratchet is worn or damaged on those two chambers. Spanish steel is often thought of as "soft".

FWIW, I gave $250 to a gun show walk-around for this revolver.

I have a small collection of WW1 British handguns and a Spanish Old Pattern Substitute Standard .455 revolver is required if I am to have a full complement of representative specimens.

As noted, this revolver is an Garate Anitua, but to be really correct I need to find specimens of an Orbea Hermanos and a Tracaola as there were 3 Spanish companies trying to sell revolvers to the British. Since it took me 20 years to find this one I'm not optimistic that I will live long enough to find the other two.

I have not shot it, nor do I intend to, deferring to its 100+ year age. The S&W breaktop design is nowhere near as robust as a Webley, and I'm sure spare parts are unobtainable should I break one. For its time though, the low-pressure of the .455 cartridge was a good fit for the weaker Spanish S&W copies, and the British were scrambling for arms of all types, so I can see their interest in the Spanish guns. However, I am unaware of any instance in which they were issued to front line combat troops.

- Bob

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#5 Post by Ghoulardi » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:14 pm

though not officially issued by the gov't, and not widely used, but to me the most unusual sidearm oddity used in WWI has to be the WEBLEY-FOSBERY Automatic Revolver

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#6 Post by M67 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:04 pm

A nice pistol and revolvers.
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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#7 Post by indy1919a4 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:05 pm

RWS.. Fantastic pistols. I have a soft spot for Spanish knock off guns. I wish I could come across some detailed information on the production of those Spanish firearms

But reason I write, Is I have a Spanish Garate Anitua that has the same issues as yours, 4 of the cylinders lock up tight, 2 will not lock up unless I do it John Wesley Hardin style. Now it is my understand the the the Spanish shipped about 30k, with 6k being rejected and sent to Italy.

Now mine has some British acceptance marks, but not as many as it should for an accepted pistol.

Mine has several "Crown over V" stamps with one "Crown over GP" stamps, but that is it.. I think there would be more if this was a full accepted pistol.

Mine has the screw hole for the Lanyard ring, the the ring was removed.

I would like to think that these are tough enough for a few shots. Its not like a 455 round is a high power round.
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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#8 Post by indy1919a4 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:10 pm

Ghoulardi wrote:
Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:14 pm
though not officially issued by the gov't, and not widely used, but to me the most unusual sidearm oddity used in WWI has to be the WEBLEY-FOSBERY Automatic Revolver

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Ghoulardi, I do not know what to say, the webley-Fosbery has been my favorite pistol since Watching Zardoz as a kid. Not to mention it being the firearm of choice in the Maltese falcon.. If ever you are in the Indianapolis area, I would be glad to swap some shots with you to shoot that... I have Gatling guns to canons to swap

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#9 Post by RWS » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:00 am

What great luck to own a Webley-Fosberry! I think there is little doubt that the W-F is the holy grail of a WW1 handgun collection, although a pre-Luger Borschardt is a close second. I had a chance to buy a WF about 40 years ago for $1,200 (which was probably fair market value at the time), but I could not afford it at that time and so had to pass.

As to the history of Spanish .455's not a great deal beyond some topical information is known and I hit my own knowledge limits pretty quickly. As best I can tell the following are facts (kindly supply corrections if anyone knows better):

Even when augmented with revolvers from Colt and S&W in .455, the British could not keep up with demand for combat revolvers. In 1915 a contract for almost 30,000 revolvers was let, to be filled by three different Spanish firms. As noted above these firms were Anitua Garate, Orbea Hermanos, and Tracola Aranzabal. These were given the term Old Pattern, and were also often referred to as Substitute Standard.

The quality of the Spanish revolvers was not commensurate with that of British or American products so the rejection rate was high. At least 6,000 Spanish revolvers were rejected for quality defects and these rejects were allegedly sold to Italy in 1916.

These three Spanish firms had been making unlicensed copies of the S&W 1881 Frontier break-top revolver for years, so it was very easy to simply use an alternate .455 chambering.

Markings, or lack thereof, is all over the map as these revolvers went to several dominions. Specimens from Australia and other British colonies have been observed (especially Ireland), and some were sold to Russia. This makes it difficult to know just where any given Spanish revolver might have seen service.

To the best of my knowledge, all the Spanish Old Patter revolvers were issued with Bakelite grips. My Garate, as well as well as Indy's, has had replacement wooden grips installed, most likely due to breakage of the original grips. It is interesting to note that the original Bakelite grips on the Anitua Garate and Orbea Hermanos guns did not extend to the bottom of the frame. It is alledged (but not confirmed by any source I am aware of) that the reason for this was to leave an exposed portion of the grip frame as a striking surface. It has become known in lore as the "skull cracker".

I think that's pretty much about all I know. Other contributors are welcome.

-Bob

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#10 Post by indy1919a4 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:33 am

Well, I can not argue with you other then this erronious claim that the Webley Fosbery has a close second.. But that can wait for another day :)

Many thanks for your info.. Does yours have any acceptance Markings????

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#11 Post by RWS » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:24 pm

No. Sadly, it is devoid of any markings altogether except for the serial number (755). Might be one of the rejects, I dunno. I just know that I got it at a price that I thought was fair.

And... you really don't think a Borshchardt pistol would be a close second to a Webley-Fosberry? All I can say is do the research and compare the prices. But of course I think you jest.
-Bob

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#12 Post by indy1919a4 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:32 pm

RWS wrote:
Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:24 pm
No. Sadly, it is devoid of any markings altogether except for the serial number (755). Might be one of the rejects, I dunno. I just know that I got it at a price that I thought was fair.

And... you really don't think a Borshchardt pistol would be a close second to a Webley-Fosberry? All I can say is do the research and compare the prices. But of course I think you jest.
-Bob
Well as I can make out my acceptance stamps it has several visual inspections, then it has one secondary proof.. (what ever that means)

But it does not have any nitro proofs like you find on a Webley.. So I think that Mine was a reject.. Keep in mind that there also were Commercial sales of that firearm. I kind of like
that mine was a reject.. It took a boat ride to sunny Italy.. Considering the times, Heck thats not bad.. One more piece in the giant world of firearms history.

Ok now towards my comment about the Borshchardt not being a close second to a Webley-Fosberry... I was perhaps being more vocal about how the WF has no close second. It is a class
onto itself... More of an emotional comment vs a logical comment. God knows the Borshchardt is the start of Luger.

But to be behind the doors honest with you, I would not kick either one out of bed. And where as I would tell each that I love them the most. The Webley-Fosberry would get the other pillow.. :)

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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#13 Post by S.B. » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:37 pm

All, very nice looking firearms in this thread. Question, was it or were there Webley Forsbys shaved as in No.1 Mk VIs? or would tghis gum up the works?
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Re: WW1 Handgun Oddities

#14 Post by indy1919a4 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:19 pm

That is a good question.. But the pistol would have worked, because in 1914 Webley made some test Webley-Fosberys in 45 acp and clips.. And they worked...

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