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DateOriginal Topic
28th March 2005Ownership and use of AZW type revolvers
By Coll
Due to present gun laws is it possible to own working models of AZW related revolvers, or are they maybe included in the concealed firearms category and so, maybe, be termed illegal ?

As the Martini Henry rifle appears to be quite popular, I was wondering if the pistols available during this campaign were also considered of great interest and if anybody has one or more makes from this era.

Additionally, has anyone been able to actually use these revolvers on a shooting range and if so what are they like to fire - accuracy, bullet effect, etc. ?

28th March 2005Chris
Here in the US both are legal to own and I know people who Martini-Henry rifles and revolvers from that era. Any weapon more then 100 years old here does not need to registered.

As for the UK, I would contact you local police station and ask.
28th March 2005Michael Boyle

I'm no expert on British firearm laws, but as far as I can tell from the following, you as a common citizen, have little hope for owning even antique hand guns:

There even seems to have been a move afoot to ban de-activated firearms as "the main source of illegal weapons being
reactivated decommissioned guns"(it would take a great deal of convincing for me to accept that!) :

(I tried to get the original article but I'm not yet ready to pay a subscription fee to the Times Online.)

I for one have a great interest in the hand guns used in the AZW, though the closest I've come to firing one was a Webley .38 that a neighbour had brought back from WW II (having traded a samurai sword for it).( Not very close as most of the Webleys in use during the AZW were .455 !)

Webley and Son had been making 'break-top' revolvers since the 1870s but the most popular models used seem to have been the Royal Irish Constabulary and it's civilian cousin the "British Bulldog", both double-action with loading gate as opposed to break-top. (It is interesting that many accounts have Custer using a pair of R.I.C.s at the Little Big Horn though one would be hard pressed to find that illustrated in any subsequent paintings!)

It would seem that hand guns had little effect during the AZW based on the surviving Zulu accounts where they marvel at the number of shots fired by them and the paucity of hits. After Isandhlwana there are accounts of Zulus carrying pistols but it seems to have been more of a 'fashion statement' (as with youth today).

Could part of the reason for hand gun lack of effect be that they were non-issue thus the army not providing training and practice in their use? Presumably the officers having to buy their own pieces would also have to provide for their own ammunition and expertise.

Of the millions of British hand guns produced few made it the States,most of the rest having being destroyed by the British government, thus they have become very dear indeed. I am none the less trying to procure an old .455 specimen and will let you know how they stack up on the firing range if successful.

(I'm still having no luck in reference to Durnford's side arm, but I'm not giving up!)


28th March 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.


Thanks for your detailed reply.

I think if I was going to obtain a revolver (as part of Col. Durnford's uniform) it would be a non-firing replica.

It would be great to hear if you managed to get a hold of a working AZW type revolver, especially how it performed on the shooting range.

It is fortunate we are not back in 1879, or I would have to fight the Zulus using harsh language and shouting Bang ! Bang! as a replica isn't going to be much help.

I'm sure I heard that replicas are also being considered to be banned.

Talking about the pistols Custer used. When I watched the mini-series 'Son of the Morning Star' starring Gary Cole, in the battle scene at the end, I was aware of the revolver he was using, but couldn't tell what type. I wonder what they chose to arm him with in the programme ?.

On a previous topic I mentioned that there didn't seem to be any accounts of Zulus using revolvers during battles after Isandlwana, but was sure they were worn as trophies rather than actually being fired.

I hope to discover what Durnford's choice of revolver was, as I still find it interesting to know if he really did prefer Colts.


29th March 2005Chris
SOTMS is the most accurate movie about Custers Last Stand.

It is my understanding, that he indeed did have 2 Bulldog pistols with him as well as a Remington rifle. Many of Custers men had privatly purchased rifles as the Army issue was crap and laways jammed (the mian reason for Custers Last Stand).

What is the reasoning behind all this gun banning over there? Will they ban cars and steak knives next?
29th March 2005Edward Garcia
If I know my guns as well as I think I do then Custer could not have carried Webley "Bulldog" revolvers at Little Big Horn since the Bulldog came out in 1878 - two or so years after Custer's demise. I believe that he actually carried two ivory stocked Webely Royal Irish Constabulary revolvers – most likely the No.1 version of 1867 since the No. 2 R.I.C. pistol was introduced in 1876. Whatever type of handguns that Custer carried on that fateful day they were never seen again.

Both George Custer and his younger brother Tom – who won two Medals of Honor during the American Civil War – owned Galand & Sommerville .44 revolvers presented to them by Lord Berkeley Paget, that were made the Birmingham firm of Braendlin & Sommerville. Tom’s revolver, in its original case still exists so could not have been carried at Little Big Horn.
29th March 2005Peter
Several years ago in the USA a number of British gun dealer/collectors were feeling the heat of the tougher UK gun laws & selling some great Victorian handguns from their inventories/personal collections at antique gun shows Stateside. That material has since dried up & Victorian/Zulu War British handguns are very hard to find beside being very expensive when & if you do find them!
29th March 2005Alan Critchley
part of the reason for the gun banning over here maybe the number of gun related murders. Did I hear that in one year it was 89 or so here and 11,500 (or was it 17,500) in the US?


29th March 2005Michael Boyle

Fun with statistics, I love it!

Firearm homicides/100,000:

U.S.- 3.72
U.K.(including N. Ireland)- 5.54
Excluding N. Ireland- 0.3

Total Homicides/100,000
U.S.- 3.72
U.K.(including N.Ireland)- 9.74
Excluding N.Ireland- 3.65

Above from:

(The preferred method for murder is and seemingly has always been - a blunt object.)

For an interesting comparison on U.S./ England,Wales crime see:

For a humourous statistical comparison on this morbid topic (from a model train site no less) see:

Considering there are over 80 million legal fire arm owners in the U.S. one could think things would be much worse!

(Continuing the re-route from another Custer/LBH diversion!)



29th March 2005Michael Boyle
Sorry, mucked it up a bit, total U.S. firearm homicides (including in prevention of a crime) should read 5.70.
8th April 2005tim rose
If you are seriously interested then it is possible to obtain the correct legally deactivated revolvers of the period but at a cost - there are a number of suppliers out there - I got my Webley R.I.C. revolver [the same model as Chard carried] about 3 years ago for the princely sum of 85 GBP but there again I was in the right place at the right time with a dealer who hadn't a clue - Tim