Webley-Fosbery (or Fossies) revolvers are beautifully made gun from the Golden Age of British armsmaking, and they are quite unique. I am sorry to say that I have never fired one—you have to go to my old friend and fellow Field Editor Garry James for that kind of experience. While the recent Italian Mateba revolver has some distinct similarities, the Fossie stands different in the history of small arms.
Developed by George Fosbery in the late Victorian era and marketed by Webley at the turn of the century, the Webley-Fosbery was a big heavy service revolver. Chambered initially for the .455 service cartridge (later for the .38 ACP), the gun was loaded by breaking the action muzzle down to expose the rear of the cylinder. This was a popular system of loading and worked well if the gun has a strong hinge. The unique feature of the Fossie was a recoiling upper—barrel, cylinder, hammer, etc.—that rode back a short distance when fired. The recoiling movement both turned the cylinder and cocked the hammer, while a strong spring returned the upper to battery. This presented the shooter with another crisp, short, single-action trigger pull.
Despite the obvious complexity of the system, the gun worked well in rough service and was popular with British officers.You will not see their like again.
Photo courtesy of Adams Guns