enfield revolver


On some of the photos of my Enfield revolvers I was asked by several people if the revolver pictured was an original No2 with it’s hammer spur intact. Well, in fact, I have 2 Enfield revolvers with the original hammer spur as well the original wooden grips. One however appears to have a later finish one it. As far as I can discern it would have been specifically requested that it keep it’s original configuration through FTR, so it is also a slightly unusual example. 

The fully original Enfield is marked for the “RAF” in the first row and the one that went through FTR, but retained it’s spur and grips is across from it. The bottom two are more typical examples of No2MkI** revolvers vs the No2MkI revolvers in the first row.

If you are interested in these revolvers I would suggest you pick up the Ian Skennerton book, “.380 No.2 Revolver” pictured here. 

Enfield No2MkI dated 1937

EnfieldNo2MkI dated 1937

Albion No2MkI** dated 1943

Enfield No2MkI** date unknown


The British Enfield Mk I/MK II Revolver,

By the late 1870′s the British Army was still using the old Adams revolver as its standard issue sidearm. Many of the old cap and ball revolvers had been converted to accept metallic cartridges, however the revolver dated to the 1850′s and was quickly being outclassed by competing models produced in France, Belgium, and Austria. 

Designed in 1879 by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, the Enfield revolver was adopted by the British Army and the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police in 1880. A six shot revolver designed to fire a .476 caliber blackpowder cartridge, the Enfield had some interesting design features on paper, however it was ultimately a flawed design which severely limited it’s service life.

The hallmark of the Enfield revolver was it’s Owen Jones self extraction system. The Enfield was loaded one cartridge at a time through a traditional loading gate on the right hand side of the revolver. However it utilized a break open extraction system which was intended to eject empty cartridge casings while leaving loaded rounds in the chamber. Unlatching the mechanism allowed the barrel to tilt up while the cylinder moved forward. As the cylinder moved forward spent casings would be ejected from their chambers.

The idea was that spent casings were short enough to clear the gap between the cylinder and frame while live cartridges would not. The problem was, it was not uncommon for spent casings to fail to clear the cylinder, becoming jammed within the mechanism. In addition wear tended to weaken the spindle arms which failed to ejected spent casings, while hinge wear could cause the barrel to wobble, decreasing accuracy. Black powder residue from the .476 Enfield cartridge also had a tendency to cause the ejection mechanism to jam.

The Enfield revolver saw use in some colonial conflicts, most notably the Second Anglo Afghan War. During the war, British soldiers complained that the .476 Enfield cartridge lacked stopping power. Due to the flaws of the Enfield design, the British Army began to phase out the Enfield revolver in favor of the Webley revolver in 1889, giving the Enfield a short service life of only 9 years.  The Northwest Mounted Police continued to use their Enfields until 1911.


The Gunmakers of the Khyber Pass,

The Khyber pass is one of the few land routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan, cutting through the large Sipar Ghar Mountains.  Once part of the Silk Road, the strategic importance of the Khyber Pass had led it to be a source of conflict for since the times of Alexander the Great and ancient antiquity.  Where there is conflict, weapons are needed.  Thus, the people of the Khyber Pass region learned that money could be made by producing and supplying weapons to the various warlords, empires, and armies that have fought over the pass.  

While a strategic region, it is also a remote region, thus the gunsmiths of the Khyber Pass often have to make due with substandard materials such as scrap metal, spare parts, and simple tools.

Simple people who tended not to travel beyond their homelands, the Khyber pass people had little idea of weapon designs from around the world, thus they copied the weapons that they had direct contact with.  Starting in the 19th century, most weapons produced were British firearms, since the region was under British influence from the 19th century until after World War II.  Hence, most Khyber Pass copies from the 19th century up to the 1970’s tend to be clones of British firearms such as the Enfield musket, Snyder Enfield, Martini Henry, Martini Enfield, Lee Enfield, and the Webley/Enfield revolver. Using ingenuity and improvisation, these weapons were produced in small workshops and peoples homes, sometimes even by hand.  Remarkably these firearms are of good quality, especially considering their source, but not as good of quality as the original.  Khyber Pass copies are heavily sought by collectors, and there are three ways to identify them.

1. They typically are not as good of quality as an original.

2. Afghan decorations and embellishment.

3. Khyber Pass copies tend to be stamped with British proof markings, although misspelled or incorrect stampings.  Anachronist markings are also common, for example, a Queen Victoria proof mark dated after 1901, the year of Queen Victoria’s death.

Today the Khyber Pass gunsmiths are still at work, although the guns the make have changed.  As technology has advanced the Khyber Pass gunsmiths have moved on to producing modern firearms, such as the AK-47/AKM assault rifle, the SKS, the Tokarev pistol, and the Colt 1911.  Khyber Pass ingenuity has also led to the creation of various “frankenguns”, produced from the parts of various different weapons which are pieced together into a working firearm.


Enfield No. 2 Mk I

Classic British revolver chambered in .38 Smith & Wesson, though it was a modified version called the .38-200. Since it is a break-open revolver, it ejects all of its spent shells in one motion, making it very fast to reload. This is in stark contrast to another WWII revolver, the Russian Nagant M1895, which had a horrible reload time since each shell had to be ejected one at a time and then loaded one at a time. (GRH)


The Webley Mark I Semi Automatic Pistol,

For decades the Webley and Scott Company of Birmingham, England was known for producing fine British break top revolvers.  In the early 19th century, Webley and Scott made a foray into the semi automatic market with its Webley Mark I semi automatic pistol.  Utilizing a short recoil action, the Webley Mark I was a single action semi automatic pistol outfitted with a 7 round detachable magazine.  The Mark I was first issued to the London Metropolitan Police in 1911, originally chambered in .38 ACP.  However, it was the big military contracts that Webley was after when it switched caliber to .455 auto in 1913, a cartridge similar to the .45 ACP.  The Mark I was adopted at first by the Royal Navy, then by the Royal Horse Artillery, and finally by the Royal Flying Corps.  However the Mark I failed to secure acceptance with the whole of the British Army.  Originally the .455 auto was loaded with cordite, which caused fouling resulting in jams, misfires, and malfunctions. This problem was greatly exacerbated by British soldiers, who were accustomed to rarely cleaning their service revolvers, and treated semi automatics the same. As a result the British Army stuck with its Webley and Enfield revolvers.  The Mark I also had poor ergonomics, and was uncomfortable to shoot.

The Mark I would serve with the Royal Navy, Royal Horse Artillery, and Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force) throughout World War I.  Production ended in 1932.


The Lend Lease Smith and Wesson Model 10 “Victory Model”

The Smith and Wesson Model 10, also known as the Smith and Wesson “Military and Police”, is perhaps the most popular American made revolver of the 20th century with over 6 million produced.  Originally the Model 10 was produced for the military around the turn of the century, and also served as a common sidearm during World War I.  After World War I the Model 10 was popular as a police revolver, since it was chambered .38 special, then the most popular law enforcement caliber in the country.

Even though the Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol was the standard sidearm of the US Military, during World War II thousands of Model 10 revolvers were contracted to supplement the Colt 1911.  Smith and Wesson Model 10’s produced between 1942 and 1944 were called “Victory Models”, and sported a “V” in the serial number.  Many were exported to the United Kingdom as part of the Lend Lease Program.  Lend Lease models were chambered in the .38/200 cartridge, a .38 caliber cartridge similar to the .38 special that was the standard sidearm caliber of the British Army during World War II.  Most models featured a 4 or 5 inch barrel.  A special snub nosed model was also produced for the Royal Air Force, which won the hearts of British pilots due to its small compact size compared to the Enfield and Webley revolver.

During World War II, over 560,000 Model 1910 revolvers were exported to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa.  In comparison the British only produced 270,000 Enfield revolvers, the official sidearm of the British Army during World War II.  Often British servicemen preferred the Smith and Wesson revolver, as its swing out cylinder was sturdier and more reliable than the break top cylinder of the Enfield and Webley. After World War II, many Smith and Wesson Model 10’s were sent back to the United States, where they were converted .38 special. 


Webley & Enfield pistols

1st photo

Webley Mark VI 1917

Webley Mark IV 1944

2nd photo

Webley Mark IV 1944

Webley Mark IV

made for the Singapore Police Force, note the SPF on backstrap. It also sports a slightly smaller grip

6th photo 

Enfield No2Mk1 1934

This pistol retains original grips as well as a spurred hammer, although it has been through a refurbishment as it sports a “cerakote” finish. 

Enfield No2Mk1 1935

This is the only non-matching example in this collection. It went through a refurbishment in 1952 as evidenced by a ‘52 marked barrel. Although it is technically a No2Mk1* because of the bobbed hammer, it is not marked as such. 

8th photo

Enfield No2Mk1** 1944

Albion No2Mk1** 1943