Sherlock Holmes and the Webley Revolvers
In the Sherlock Holmes Canon, there is mention of Sherlock Holmes carrying a revolver. Various Sherlockian researchers have Identified several Webley revolvers that Sherlock Holmes may have carried to include the Webley .422, the Webley .450 Bull Dog and the Webley .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver. These three Webley revolvers will be the focus of this singular investigation.
The Webley .422 revolver first appeared in 1868 as a standard weapon for the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The weapon was manufactured in Birmingham, England. Because of its larger size it was used for open carry by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The .422 was too large to be utilized as a concealed carry revolver by the Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard detectives. The uniformed Metropolitan Police did not carry a firearm.
Webley .450 Bull Dog
The .450 Webley Bull Dog revolver first appeared in 1868 as a concealable weapon for the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). In 1878 Webley registered the trademark. The designation has come to designate any short-barreled double-action revolver with a swing-out ejector rod with a small grip.
Because of its small size the Webley Bull Dog revolver was used as a concealed carry revolver by private individuals in England and the United States. A Webley .450 Bull Dog sadly was used to assassinate United States President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881.
Webley .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver
The Metropolitan Police Revolvers began production 1883 in Birmingham, England. This revolver was an update to the 1868 Webley Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) The updated model was adopted by the London Metropolitan Police in October 1883 for concealed carry by Scotland Yard Detectives.
May 21, 1884.
The P. Webley & Son Model Metropolitan Police Revolver has a short barrel of 2 1⁄2 inches in length. The short and stout revolver holds 6 rounds of .450 Boxer and was designed to be carried concealed by the Scotland Yard police detectives because it easy to carry unnoticed in a detective’s coat pocket.
To verify that a revolver is indeed a Metropolitan Police issue Webley one would need to examine the left side of the revolver frame. At that location it would be stamped “POLICE WEBLEY’S” over a pair of cuffed hands above the marking “M.P.” for Metropolitan Police. It would also have had a Metropolitan Police inventory number stamped below the cuffed hands stamp. As an example, in the photograph the inventory stamp reads 1543.
The top of the revolver frame would be marked “P. WEBLEY & SON/BIRMINGHAM”. It would also be stamped with the words, London/Birmingham to further designate the revolver being manufactured for the Metropolitan Police in London at the Birmingham factory.
Which of the Webley Revolvers Did Sherlock Holmes Carry?
Sherlock Holmes may have carried numerous types of revolvers. If Sherlocks Holmes could carry only one of the Webley revolvers I submit that it would be the .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver.
I have made this deduction that Sherlock Holmes would have selected the .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver based on several observations. The .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver is smaller than the Webley. 422 and would be more easily concealed in Sherlock Holmes coat pocket. While the Webley Bull Dog is similar in size it can only fire 5 rounds verses the Webley .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver six round capacity. It was the state-of-the-art revolver at the time in England. Assuredly as a Consulting Detective Sherlock Holmes would have acquired the most state-of-the-art revolver of his day. The most imperative reason why I believe Sherlock Holmes would have selected the .450 ShortBarreled Metropolitan Police Revolver is because of its connection to Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police.
The Metropolitan Police Revolver is the Webley that I would have selected if I were Sherlock Holmes, and in fact I did. I own the exquisite and historic .450 Short Barreled Metropolitan Police Revolver displayed in the photographs within this fine article.
Daniel J. Benny, Ph.D., CPP, PCI, CII, CFE. CII is a Private Investigator located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. He is a member of the World Association of Detectives, Association of British Investigators, Council of International Investigators, Pennsylvania.
Association of Private Investigators, Pennsylvania Assocation of Licensed Investigators, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and ASIS International. He is the author of seven security related textbooks.