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”?
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