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Last updated on 05/08/2024

Why are some Webley Mk 6 Frames slotted for the flare gun shoulder stock?

by R. Gussman, March, 2022


Every so often a Mark 6 will be observed which has a slot along the bottom of the grip frame under the left-hand grip panel. With the grips on the revolver, it is very easy to miss. Why is it there, for what purpose?
The Webley No 1 Mk1 flare gun has the same grip configuration as the Mark 6 and all of those guns have the slot, both long barrel and short. The long barrel Flare gun could be used for all flares including parachute flares, which engender considerable recoil. Therefore the long barrel guns were fitted with a shoulder stock. It had a raised rib which fitted into the slot on the frame body and made the attachment extremely rigid. Further strength was provided replacing the right-hand grip with one fashioned from Bronze. The stock was not fitted to the short barrel flare gun as it would have brought the muzzle too close to the firers face.

Figure 1 Flare Gun No.1 Mk 1, above. Rare Slotted Webley WS Target Model. Stock S/N Matches Revolver, below. (WS Target Model is a refined version of the Mk 6 with a 7 ½ inch barrel) (Image courtesy of R. Maze) 1


A slotted grip Mk 6 is very seldom encountered. 20 years of observation have turned up only seven examples ranging from S/N 185464 (1916) to 390524 (1918), a span of over 200,000 revolvers. This information does not indicate how many were made but, firmly establishes that the occurrence of slotted examples is randomly dispersed over the production range.


Was it someone’s intent to purposely mount the flare gun stock on the revolver?

  • It is unwieldly to carry.
  • The stock requires a tool to remove it.
  • Then, a holster is needed for the revolver and the stock must be secured.
  • It is dangerous to use. The off hand can easily be injured if it covers the cylinder gap.
  • There is no catalog or Army page showing the stock and revolver joined.
  • There are no reports of the combination being used in action or training.


Origin of slotted revolvers
It has been claimed that, depending upon shortages, flare gun frames were converted to revolvers and that is the reason for the appearance of slotted revolver grips. It is obvious that the revolver and flare gun frame were born of the same steel forging. The first machine operation is to turn the forging into a flat slab with parallel faces. If, indeed the second operation was to mill the slot into the left side of the evolving frame its presence can be explained.  From there onwards the frames irretrievably diverge. A finished flare gun frame can not be turned into a revolver frame. Too much metal has been removed.

Figure 2 Left side view of a flare gun frame (L) compared to a Mk 6 frame (R) (Flare gun courtesy of R. Maze. Images courtesy of J. Black)

Figure 3 Right side view of a flare gun frame (L) compared to a Mk 6 frame (R) (Flare gun courtesy of R. Maze. Images courtesy of J. Black)


A secondary explanation might be that, upon one or more occasions, a batch of revolver frames was accidently slotted during production, rejected but, held in reserve. During the Great War, production pressure might have allowed some of these reserved frames to be utilized. This would explain the random occurrence of revolvers with the slot over a wide range of serial numbers.


Given the illogic of the combination of revolver and flare gun stock, why was it produced? The answer may be that it was not produced.
Not one single Webley catalog page, factory note or official War Department record has ever come to light showing the Mark 6 combination. Discounted are modern retailers’ efforts at joining a stock and a grooved Mk 6. This co joining is illegal in America unless the piece is registered with the BATF&E, NFA Branch as Any Other Weapon. A shoulder stock on a weapon with a short barrel length, such as the Mark 6, must be registered, unless it is specifically listed on the Curio and Relics list. In order for an application to be placed upon the list to be considered, the origin of the co joining must be confirmed. Efforts at adding the combination to the list have thus far been rebuffed.


1 R. J. Maze, “Howdah to High Power”. Excalibur Publications, March, 2002. ISBN #