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Webley Bull Dog Pocket Revolver (1872)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 6/28/2013

The Webley Bull Dog Pocket Revolver proved popular with civilians living out on the wild frontiers of the late 1800s.

The British Webley Bull Dog pocket revolver was a small, powerful firearm that saw considerable commercial success in a variety of forms. The type saw its introduction in 1872 with production being handled by the concern of Philip Webley and Son (often noted as "P. Webley & Son") of Birmingham, England. The popularity of the Bull Dog was such that the type was produced well into the 1900s and copied the world over by such firms as Forehand & Wadsworth in the US and others from Belgium to Spain and China resulting in a myriad of clones in circulation. As a "pocket" revolver, the firearm was specifically designed to be small and compact, able to be concealed in the pocket of a user's coat - hence the term "pocket revolver" used to describe this class of firearm. Additionally, the Bull Dog was a relatively inexpensive sidearm for the time and is thought by some to have given the Colt Single Action, Smith & Wesson and Remington revolvers of the Old West a run for their money as the true "Gun that Won the West".

Outwardly, the Bull Dog followed conventional revolver design with a solid frame receiver encompassing a multi-shot, reusable revolving cylinder which was loaded manually. The hammer spur protruded from the upper rear portion of the receiver and the pistol grip was ergonomically curved for a firm single-hand grip. The trigger was slung low in the design, curved to accept a trigger finger pull and protected over in an oblong trigger ring. The barrel was decidedly short and gave the Bull Dog its distinct appearance but also its compact nature. A fixed iron sight was added to the barrel just aft of the muzzle and intended for accurized fire - though the firearm was really a short-ranged weapon at best. The finish was primarily nickel with wooden grips while the barrel was internally rifled and externally smooth in appearance. Various production forms saw some Bull Dogs completed with exquisite engravings along the cylinder and receiver surfaces. In fact, so many different forms of the revolver went on to see the light of day that exact identification is sometimes impossible without the help of "true" Bull Dog experts. The Bull Dog was eventually chambered for a variety of cartridge calibers including the .44 Short Rimfire, the .442 Webley and the .450 Adams as well as other, more "exotic", breeds.

One of the more "famous" (or infamous) uses of a Bull Dog in history was utilized by lawyer Charles Guiteau to assassinate then-US President James Garfield on July 2nd, 1881. Garfield eventually succumbed to the infections brought about by the assassination attempt and died. Guiteau was subsequently executed for his actions in 1882 to which the revolver used in the shooting made its way into the archives of the Smithsonian - only to disappear completely some time later.

Needless to say, many existing Bull Dogs available today can fetch a considerable price if in the right market and in the right condition for she has proven a favorite of collectors the world over.

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Specifications for the
Webley Bull Dog
Pocket Revolver


Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Philip Webley & Sons - UK (Among Others)
Initial Year of Service: 1872


Overall Length: 72mm (2.83in)
Barrel Length: 64.00mm (2.52in)
Weight (Empty): 3.31lbs (1.50kg)


Caliber: .44 Short Rimfire; .442 Webley; .450 Adams
Action: Revolving Cylinder; Double-Action
Feed: 5-shot revolving cylinder
Rate-of-Fire: 6 rounds per minute
Range: 50ft (15m; 17yds)
Sights: Front Fixed Iron


Variants:
Bull Dog - Base Series Designation


Operators:
Australia; Belgium; Canada; China; France; India; New Zealand; Pakistan; Spain; United Kingdom; United States