British Bull Dog revolver
|British Bull Dog revolver|
Webley .450 "The British Bull Dog" model - 1870s
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Designer||Philip Webley & Son|
|Manufacturer||Webley and various manufacturers in Europe & USA|
The British Bull Dog was a popular type of solid-frame pocket revolver introduced by Philip Webley & Son of Birmingham, England in 1872 and subsequently copied by gunmakers in Continental Europe and the United States. It featured a 2.5-inch (64 mm) barrel and was chambered for five .44 Short Rimfire, .442 Webley, or .450 Adams cartridges. Webley produced smaller scaled .320 Revolver and .380 calibre versions later, but did not mark them with the British Bull Dog name.
The design of the British Bull Dog revolver had been in existence since 1868, but Henry webley registered the trademark in 1878. From that time to the present, the term has come to mean any short barrelled double-action revolver with a swing-out ejector rod and a short grip.
Intended to be carried in a coat pocket, many have survived to the present day in good condition, having seen little actual use. The design originated in 1868 for the Webley Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) model revolver and was manufactured as late as 1917.
Numerous copies and variants of this design (authorized and unauthorized) were made in Belfast, Belgium, Spain, France and the USA during the late 19th century. American copies were manufactured by the firms of Forehand & Wadsworth, Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson. Belgian and American versions were produced in smaller calibres, but most large calibre American copies were chambered for the .44 Webley (.442 British) cartridge.
A version made by Webley, but finished by Belfast-based gunmaker, Joseph Braddell, known as the Ulster Bull Dog used a longer grip frame than the standard, making the revolver easier to control and shoot.
The Bulldog was popular in Britain and America. US Army General George Armstrong Custer was said to have carried a pair at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. British Bull Dog revolvers were issued to employees of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company through 1895.
A .44 calibre Belgian-made British Bulldog revolver was used to assassinate US President James A. Garfield on 2 July 1881 by disgruntled lawyer Charles J. Guiteau, who was angry that Garfield had not appointed him to a Federal post. Guiteau reportedly wanted a British Bulldog revolver with ivory grips instead of wooden ones, as he believed they would look nicer when the gun was displayed in a museum, but decided not to spend the extra $US1 that the ivory-gripped model would have cost. In all, he paid US$10 for the revolver, a box of cartridges and a penknife, before spending the next day familiarising himself with the revolver's operation and firing 10 practice shots with it into trees along the banks of the Potomac River. He eventually used the revolver to shoot Garfield a week or so later in the Sixth Street Railway Station in Washington, D.C. After Guiteau's trial, the revolver was placed in the Smithsonian Institution but disappeared some time later.
The large calibre British Bulldogs are now considered collector's pieces. Ammunition for these pistols is no longer commercially manufactured.
- Dowell, p. 68.
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- Dowell, William Chipchase (1987). The Webley Story. Kirkland, WA: Commonwealth Heritage Foundation.
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