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P. Webley & Son British Bull Dog

Though considered obsolete, the Bull Dog is sought after by collectors.

11/29/2010

Made by P. Webley & Son of London & Birmingham, England, the British Bull Dog, a scaled-down version of Webley’s Royal Irish Constabulary Model, was introduced in 1872 and made until 1914, when World War I put an end to a revolver already becoming obsolete. But during the 1870s and ’80s, it was one of the most popular double-actions in Europe and America.

It was squat and compact like a bulldog, and its 2½-inch barrel produced a loud “bark.” Moreover, its five shots were capable of inflicting a lethal “bite” at the close ranges dictated by a shallow-grooved top strap and small front sight blade. Chamberings included .44 Webley, .450 C.F., and .455 Webley.

With its bird’s head grip, large trigger guard, and prominent hammer spur, the British Bull Dog was an ergonomic revolver, although recoil from its big bore was stout. The Bull Dog’s popularity was enhanced by its compact size and affordable price, which ranged from $9 to $15, depending on chambering. Naturally, it was copied, primarily in England and Belgium, as well as by firms such as Iver Johnson, Harrington & Richardson, and Forehand & Wadsworth in America. Spurious stampings included American Bulldog, Western Bull Dog, California Bulldog, and my favorite, American British Bulldog. None of these have the value of guns made by Webley.

Finishes were blued or nickeled, and grips were checkered walnut, ivory or pearl. The cardboard boxes were usually discarded, some guns were engraved, and cased versions are scarce. There is no logical order to serial numbers, although three models were produced: No. 1 with a fluted cylinder; No. 2 with an unfluted cylinder; and No. 3 with an enlarged grip.

In his excellent book, “The British Bulldog Revolver” (Andrew Mowbray Publishers), George Layman mentions a Belgian copy of a .38 British Bulldog selling for $390 at auction in 2004 and authentic Webley versions selling for $175 to $1,800, depending on condition. According to Layman, No. 1 and No. 2 models are more desirable, and a No. 2 gun ranges from $400-$750.

The gun shown here is a nickeled No. 2 in 85 percent condition with ivory grips. As such, its value is $700 and destined to go up, given the increasing collectability of these guns.

Gun: P. Webley & Son British Bull Dog
Caliber: .44 Webley
Condition: 85 percent—NRA Excellent (Antique Firearms Condition)
Manufactured: 1880s (est.)
Value: $700

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6 Responses to P. Webley & Son British Bull Dog

daniel darke wrote:
June 02, 2013

Dad brought home a couple of these revolvers from Belgium after WW 2. I would say his fire. a center fired 31? cal.that are copper clad and black powdered.The 32 sw are too large to fit.The gun which lacks any rifling in the barrel, keyholed every round fired from 15 feet. The grips are beautifully. carved with a dog or lion's head in relief. Yes the carving scroll work is top notch. The hammer is of the rebounding type and adjustible. A well made belly gun that holds 6 rounds. I would like to acquire more

Nick Shoemaker wrote:
August 21, 2012

I have a .44 cal P.webely and sons revolver. A buddy had owed me some money so i got this in return. Im dying to know if its legit, and if it is. is anyone intrested in buying it??

hrf wrote:
December 03, 2011

Eddie, the trademark identifies your British Bulldog as one made by the former Forehand & Wadsworth Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. They are pretty common but the engraving and pearl grips should add value to someone who has the missing parts.

Eddie wrote:
November 20, 2011

Comments...I have acquired what I think is a Webley .38caliber bulldog revolver. It is engraved on the frame, barrel, cylinder, etc. and has pearl grips. I fear it is missing a few pieces under the barrel that secure the cylinder. The only markings I find are a stamp of awhat appears to be a dogs head located on the left side ofthe frame and the words 'Trade Mark' above and beneath the dogs head. Can you help me identifiy the piece and place a value on it? Thank you very much for your time and effort.

Doc wrote:
June 07, 2011

Mr. Ficken's comments should be taken seriously. He is the nation's leading authority on these revolvers. He was of immense help in teaching me the partuculars concerning a similar .44 Webley British Bulldog when I acquired it some few years ago. I've fired mine and find it pleasant to shoot, accurate, and of course nostalgic.

Homer R. Ficken wrote:
February 20, 2011

The quotes from Layman's book are unfortunate, as George nicely covered the U.S. and Belgian copies, but most of his info regarding the original Webley models is incorrect: There were no No. 1 and No. 3 The British Bull dog models; those designations were used only on the Webley Pug, RIC, and other solid frame models. Webley's earliest British Bull Dogs were marked simply "Webley's Patent" with no model number, and all subsequent production and variations were marked Webley's No. 2. The example illustrated is an early one, and depending upon serial number, probably dates mid to late 1870s. Webley's BBD model was also never chambered for the later .455 cartridge, the .450's successor, and it's dangerous to suggest same as some will chamber the hotter .455 round, but these are black powder guns. Homer R. Ficken