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Last updated on 05/08/2024

Notes on a method of turning a shaved cylinder Webley into a desirable revolver.


Figure 1. Typical Mk 6 Webley with shaved cylinder.


These notes are based upon one person’s opinion. They apply to the Mark 6 Webleys that were converted from the original .455 caliber to 45 ACP by shaving (lathe turning) the back of the cylinder. This is now considered dangerous by shooters and undesirable by collectors.


There have been decades of comments on the best, safest, hand loads for use with these revolvers. Alas, little is mentioned about the fact that the various configuration studies have different effective case volumes. This is a significant consideration when dealing with small case volumes, a variety of bullets and powders. Cases used are 45 ACP (with full or half-moon clips), 45 Auto Rim, 455 Mk 1 and 455 Mk 2. Added to these variations are balloon head and solid head cases which present additional differences in effective case volume.


The full-moon clip was initially developed and introduced by P. Webley and Son for the 38 HV (38 ACP) cartridge, holding eight rounds, used in the Webley-Fosbery 1902 model. A variant was later adapted for the 1903 Fosbery, holding six .455 Mk 2 cartridges. This was a cheap, effective semi-disposable design. An evolution of the clip-loading concept became popular during WW-1 for firing 45 ACP rounds from Colt’s and S&W’s Model 1917 revolvers chambered in that caliber. At the time semicircular “half-moon” (3 round) clips were used in pairs. In more recent times, “full-moon” (6 round clips) have become available and popular. 


The purpose of the present approach is to slightly modify the solid head of .455 Mk 2 cases to fit a .45 ACP clip. These cartridges will be loaded to SAAMI specs, with a Mk 2 cast lead bullet.  A “shaved” Mark 6 can then utilize ammo which are “standard” Mark 2 rounds loaded in a full-moon clip. The same rounds are loaded with standard dies and shell holder and can be fired in an unmodified Mark 6 without clip. Now, the “shaved” Mark 6 might be considered the more desirable handgun. A full-moon clip loaded with cases containing sleek Mk 2 bullets is the quickest-loading of all revolver speed loaders!


Figure 2. L. to R. Loaded 1903 38 Fosbery clip, 38 clip, 45 ACP clip, Loaded 45 ACP Clip (with modified 455 Mk-2 ammo)


Although numerous bullet designs have been used and tried in the various Marks and designs of the Webley .455 revolvers, the most widely used is the Mk 2 bullet design in its later (c. 1930s) full metal jacketed variant, the Mk 6.



Figure 3.  Mark 2 Bullet shown with FMJ variant


Having defined a general goal, as presented in the title, it is now a straightforward task to evolve the “rules.”


Table 1 Ideal Characteristics for a Shaved Mark 6 Speed Loader Cartridge

Bullet: Mark 2, 265 grain, hollow base. Lubricated. Commercially sourced or cast from RCBS Mold Number 57947.
Cartridge Case: Drawn solid head sourced from Starline, Fiocchi, Hornady or M&S (These initials presumptively indicate Mountain & Sowden, a UK firm).
Powder: W 231/HP 38. It fills the case/bullet combination and is known and trusted for this use.
Clip: Full-Moon. 0.045 thick tempered steel for Colt/S&W 45ACP
Clip Loader: Moonloader. Discontinued. Not brand critical.


Having stated the advantages of securing Mk 2 cases in an easily available full moon clip and using the very sleek Mk 2 bullet, it remains only to modify the cases to fit the clip. At first consideration this sounds troublesome. It does involve lathe work, but, of the simplest kind. A parting tool is ground to the correct width (0.047 inch). After touching the side of the case adjacent to the top of the rim a plunging cut of 0.040 inches is done. The job is completed as shown in Figure 4. These modified cartridge cases still fit the same shell holder, still reload in the same dies, still function in any .455 revolver and are not structurally weakened. This is illustrated by the comparison shown in Figure 4.




Figure 4 Sectioned cases illustrating cut above rim


This modification cannot be done to a balloon head case as the plunging cut will separate the case into two pieces.

The loaded cases may be pressed into a Full Moon clip as shown in Figure 2. This operation cannot be done by hand. A Moon loader is required. Removing the fired cases from the clip is accomplished with a Demooner. This type of equipment is popular, may be purchased from vendors like Brownells, and typical examples are shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5. Moon clip insertion removal tools. Type typical.


Using a full moon clip in a shaved Webley confers an additional advantage over speed of loading. It also offers support to the extractor which was thinned down to a degree which no manufacturer would consider for a large caliber revolver.

Having narrowed shooting down to one bullet type, one case and one powder what remains is manufacturing tolerance and component availability. The availability of .455 Mk 2 cases is ever varying over the years. The variations observed on the basis of single specimens illustrates this matter. Case weight is of interest because it is related to the effective capacity of otherwise identically dimensioned cases. Alas, the length of the cases are shown to vary as well.


Table 2 Weights (grains) and lengths (inches) of 455 Mk-2

Unprimed Cases

Brand Weight Length
Starline 93.1 0.763
Fiocchi 87.0 0.744
Hornad 87.4 0.751
M&S 86.4 0.739
Kynoch 87.1 0.741
REM-UMC 70.8 0.755
K 42 70.3 0.747

Thoughts on Loads


These are my thoughts. They are not laboratory tested data. They were gathered in a variety of my Webley Mk 6 revolvers, all of which are over 100 years old, of unknown history. The goal was to discover a load that would produce a Muzzle velocity of 600 to 650 fps from a solid head Mk 2 brass case with a 265 grain Mk 2 bullet. In other words reproduce, the original British Mk2 ballistics with modern components. I can only surmise and hope that this represents a safe worthwhile load for my personal use.


The details are in Table 1, above. The cases actually used are M&S. The Chronograph used is the Labradar.

Labradar - Labradar (

Muzzle velocity in British Military parlance is at 30 feet but, the chronograph used reports real Muzzle Velocity and that is what is presented. In any event the difference is only a few FPS.

455 2  4.0 grains of W 231/HP 38. Average Velocity is  639 FPS.

My goal has been achieved. One can reasonably assume that recreational shooting can proceed with a reasonable expectation of safety comfort and hopefully, precision.



A Final Thought

Inasmuch as these musings are about the MK 2 configuration with Mk 2 cases and full moon clips it is possible to bypass Mk2 cases due to their rarity and expense and just use 45 ACP cases with Mk 2 bullets. The result resembles a 455 Mk 1.

Figure 6. L. to R. Loaded 455-2 Full Moon clip, Loaded Full Moon Clip with 45 ACP/455-2 Case/Bullet Combination. The individual rounds from L. to R. are 455-1, 45 ACP with Mk 2 Bullet, 455-2


The 45 ACP case with Mk 2 bullet fits comfortably in a Shaved Mk 6.

Because of the greater volume of the 45 ACP case a larger powder charge is necessary to achieve the same muzzle velocity as from the Mk 2 cartridge case.

45 ACP with Mk 2 Bullet,    5.0 grains of W 231/HP 38. Average Velocity is 637 FPS using new Starline cases.


A mentor and teacher told me that when you write something, ask yourself three questions before you present it to others.

Is it new? – In this case it is in that the focus is on the Shaved Mk 6.

Is it true? – Tests and measurements were performed.

Is it interesting? – You are still awake.