I was doing research on the new India Nidar revolver being produced at the Ishapore Rifle Factory when I came across this striking image of mostly .455 revolvers from a locker in some un-named Indian government facility. The person who took the picture had access to the stocks of firearms for legitimate purposes, and did nothing illegal. They answered a question on an Indian firearms forum which I found intriguing. From indiansforguns.com . . .

As regards other revolvers, there are enormous stocks of the old .455s which was the standard before the .380/200.

They are more or less retired and most are locked away to die slowly.. occasionally they make an appearance when the situation demands so . While a few were purchased directly for police use, most of those in the various state police inventories appear to have been inherited from the army even before independence. Obviously, most would be Webley&Scott Mk IVs and VIs and magnificent beasts they are.

Most MkVIs bear almost no markings and are somewhat coarsely finished, probably indicating war time (WWI) production runs. There are also many Colt and S&W New-Service revolvers marked .455 ELEY. Also to my surprise I dug out a few specimens of Webley RIC(Royal Irish Constabulary) No1 DA revolvers in .476, and the Webley Fosbery .455!! Why, a Webley MkIII small frame with safety latch in .38 (perhaps 380) appeared out of the pile!! I can post pictures if required.

In the picture there are five MK VIs, three MK IVs, one MK III in .38, one RIC in .476, a Webley Fosberry in .455 and a Colt New Service in .455 Eley. A lovely collection, just sitting in an India arsenal. The poster indicated that there are “enormous stocks” of .455 revolvers scattered about India in government hands.

I think back to the days when Springfield trapdoors went for a few dollars, when you could buy surplus Krags, and most of the best (and worst) of the worlds arsenals ended up in the United States (because the United States had more freedom than anywhere else). These things happen in surges.

The last surge we had was when the SKS rifles, the CZ 52 rifles and pistols, the Makarovs, the Tokarevs, and many, many others became available in the 90’s. I bought a lot and sold most of them.

There will be other surges. Many Ishapore .308 rifles were purchased from India and imported to the United States in the last one. It takes some genius to figure out the right buttons to push to show how an Indian bureaucracy can make some money by trading these antique and obsolete revolvers for cash, or maybe 10 to 1 for state-of-the-art GLOCKs?

When that undiscovered genius succeeds, I hope that he remembers the small contribution I have made to his success. I would like something in good working condition, maybe a .476 RIC, or a Webley MK I, II, or III. I already have a couple of MK VIs. I would prefer a pre 1898, so no FFL would be necessary. I would not turn down a WG, even if I had to dig up a friendly FFL!

I suspect many thousands of .455s are out there. India is a huge country. The British were there since before the revolver was developed. Who knows what other treasures are hidden in the storage lockers of the bureucracy that exemplified the term “red tape”?

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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38 Responses to India’s Hidden Firearms Treasures Headed Our Way?

  1. I wonder what they look like on the insides. Some of those are black powder and the Indian climate may have been harsh on them if they were just stuffed away and forgotten.

  2. I’ve been hoping for something like this to get a good firearm for cheap that would gain in value kind of like the mosins and such slowly going up in value

  3. I’ve got a Mk III in .38. Inherited from the father in law. It’s the only gun I own that I haven’t shot.

    • In my yute I watched Zulu. I went in search of a Webley 6 and a Martini. Couldn’t find either but I eventuall found a webley mk. 4. Firearms searches pre internet were a chore.

      In my inexperience I bought standard civilian .38 S&W, the parent round for the .38-200 that the webley was chambered for. It was a pleasant and reliable shooting revolver but because of the difference in loads and the way the sights were set up it was very inaccurate.

      With the knowledge I have now I’m sure the results would be different.

      • I’ve seen one Martini Henry in a surplus store. The guy bought it from some other guy at a surplus show (gun show for surplus stuff) for less than $200. It looked decent. I never asked what he wanted for it, and I don’t know why as I also want one. I was at a gun store here in a different state and they had quite a few boxes of ammo for a Martini Henry. I was shocked to see it on a shelf and not covered in a crust of old dust.

        • Might have been a Khyber Pass special. I bought one while on my first deployment to Afghanistan, to send to a friend at the Army Museum in PA. Hard to tell from the real deal, unless you’re an expert.

      • If you want a Martini Henry check out International Military Antiques, they have the last of the “Nepal Cache”. Prices start at under $300 for the uncleaned ones.

  4. ‘The last surge we had was when the SKS rifles, the CZ 52 rifles and pistols, the Makarovs, the Tokarevs, and many, many others became available in the 90’s.’

    Um… ever heard of a thing called the ‘Mosin-Nagant’?

    • I think the M-N ‘good days’ are kinda over. Guys have been collecting the good ones for the last 20 years, and pretty much all that comes in these days is WWII junk.

      You can’t get one for under $150, and that’s as rough as they come. (YMMV) Anything that’s nice, or historically interesting is gonna be $350-700+.

  5. The honest citizens of India NEED these far more than we do. India pretty much prohibits the importation of firearms.

  6. Maybe I’ll buy one of those the next time I call a computer support line that I thought was in Cupertino and turns out to be in Mumbai.

  7. My best friend’s dad has a Webley-Fosbery that’s been in the family since WW1 (and was “lost” in a bottomless evidence locker for several years after being recovered from a burglary).
    After being introduced to that revolver, I’ve always wanted a .455 Webley. I’ve come across a few over the years, but they’ve all had shaved cylinders or were .38s. I know I’ll never be lucky enough to own a Fosbery, but maybe if that batch is imported, I’ll finally be able to get an original, unmolested Mk. IV (but likely with a billboard import stamp).

  8. I’ve got a Webley VI. I believe it’s stamped .455/45 I have lead .45 ACP bullets loaded to lower pressures that I shoot in it. 18,000 or so PSI. Also got some FMJ’s to “clean the bore” after 48 or so shots.You need em cause the accuraccy starts to suffer. On a bright sunny day you can see the silver streak as they head down range. I enjoy shooting this classic firearm. I was told it was a canook mountie gun at some point. No idea how to prove it just a legend.I got in a trade with my father-in-law who got it from his father with the cavat that I cannot EVER sell it. Suits me fine! I love it. I added pearl grips and a period field mod waxed flap holster.

  9. I wound up with a bunch of gun stuff out of an estate. Included were 14 rounds of .455 Webley Mark VI ammo. Now if I had the gun.

  10. “There will be other surges.”

    Eh, that entirely depends on who is the “Current Occupant, 1600 Penn Ave.”.

    What I’m wondering is, can those be re-chambered in modern calibers?

      • You COULD shave the .455 cylinder to take moonclipped .45 ACP rounds. If you are a horrible person and like destroying history and any collector value.

        Sadly, the utter lack of .455 ammo means I can barely afford to shoot the Old Girl. So I’m currently looking for a standalone shaved cylinder that I might swap out for actual shooting, until I can get set up for reloading.

    • “Approximate prices”? You’re getting a little ahead of reality. Nobody’s importing these. I doubt if anyone is even talking about importing them, other than Dean’s wishful thinking in this article, based on a picture he saw on the internet. Sure, it would be cool if someone did find a way to import ’em, but right now, the only way to get one of these is to go to India and bribe the right cops and bureaucrats.

      • It is a great picture. Maybe spreading the knowledge that these treasures are out there, and undervalued, will help some commercial genius to figure out a way. Global commerce and communications are getting easier all the time. English is the language of government in India.

        India citizens are not allowed to own pistols of greater than .32 caliber. I do not believe that Indian arsenals make any .455 ammunition.

        It would be a win-win to sell these obsolete antiques to Americans who already have so many guns a few extra will do no harm…./S

    • Have not seen these on a gun show table lately, but I am guessing somewhere in the 5-figure range for the Webley- Fosbery, depending on condition. The .455 Webleys in original condition (cylinder not turned down to take .45acp in full-moon clips) are probably pushing a grand, depending on condition.

      Once you get your Webley, buy a Pritchard pistol bayonet for it from Atlanta Cutlery or another historical replica catalog. (http://www.atlantacutlery.com/p-1564-pritchard-pistol-bayonet-reproduction.aspx)

      Then it’s “Over the top, lads!” (Ignore the Maxims.)

  11. India’s Hidden Firearms Treasures Headed Our Way?

    These don’t look like treasure to me. They look like unwanted garbage that someone is going to make a few bucks off of by selling them to fools who will buy anything.

    Even the Colts and S&Ws are garbage. .455 Eley indeed!

  12. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I want a Webley Fosbery so bad! I glanced at the picture and didn’t see it there at first. I went back when Dean mentioned it in the article. Instant nerdgasm!

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