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Popular handguns in the UK

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by akodo, Mar 12, 2015.

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  1. akodo

    akodo Member

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    The UK has some draconian gun laws right now, especially handgun laws, but this wasn't always the case.

    Does anyone know what handguns were popular in the UK for personal protection from, say, end of WW 2 until the draconian laws kicked in?

    You have the obvious Webley Mark IV, Enfield No. 2, and Smith & Wesson Victory model...all three chambered in 38/200 (a type of 38 cal round that predates the 38 special) carried in WW2, so I am sure a lot of those got into civilian hands.

    But did many Browning Hi Powers get brought home, or bought new?

    I always think of revolvers as more USA and small semi-auto pistols in 32 acp as more European, but does that trend hold in the UK as well? Were pocket pistols from the likes of FN or Beretta or Mauser being imported and sold in any noticeable numbers?
     
  2. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    akodo

    Actually several gun laws occurred in England quite a number of years before the end of WW II. Since the Firearms Act of 1920, due in part to concerns over the number of guns being brought into the U.K. after WW I, as well as fears of increased civil unrest (as seen with the revolution in Russia, troubles in Ireland and in other countries), the individual right to keep and bear arms was now left to the determination of the Home Secretary and the local police establishment. Later Acts (the Firearms Act of 1937, 1968, 1988, and 1997), placed further requirements, restrictions, ownership prohibitions, and outright bans on a great number of firearms, most notably handguns.

    I would say that prior to the start of laws restricting handgun ownership in the U.K. that various Webley revolvers, probably followed by semi-autos made by FN, were probably the most popular handguns back then.
     
  3. g.willikers

    g.willikers Member

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    The rulers of England have never trusted the citizenry with weapons.
    Crossbows were restricted long ago.
    At one time there were a lot of Lugers in the country, and S&W revolvers, too.
     
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Even before the Act of 1997 that effectively banned private ownership of handguns in England, they were considerably restricted. Personal protection was not justification for a license to purchase and CCW was all but unknown.

    I subscribed to The Handgunner, Ltd. for several years and the guns under discussion were pretty much the same American and Continental stuff we see here. Not much of a UK firearms industry. Webleys were around but not as common as you might think. There was the dealer who kept six consecutively numbered WS Targets for the local team, though.

    There was a small British handloading industry with some products not matched here. Wamadet specialized in loading gear that bridged the gap between hand tools and bench presses. The Prime press was a high leverage press on a sturdy stand, suitable for reforming brass to different calibres. Both meant for small footprint operation in a land of smaller houses and flats than here.
    Prime also made several different devices to decap Berdan primers without the mess of hydraulics or the workload of gouging punches.
     
  5. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    1905 was the first year the English government began to impose serious restrictions on civilian handgun ownership.
    As a rule, it is NOT justifiable to even THINK of using a handgun in defense of ones life or property, the old, "It just isn't done old man." philosophy applies here.

    Handgun sport shooting remains popular in England but the laws governing what is OK and what is a no no are quite involved.
    Basically muzzle loading pistols and revolvers using black powder or a substitute are ok as are cowboy type single action revolvers with barrels of 12 inches or greater.
    Same applies for target revolvers and semi automatic .22 pistols.

    There are no provisions for citizen ownership of combat type handguns unless the weapon has been rendered completely deactive and incapable of firing any type of projectile.
     
  6. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    When a gentleman might have carried routinely for self-defense we're back in Victorian times with revolvers, Sherlock Holmes style.
     
  7. Comrade Mike

    Comrade Mike Member

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    Too bad about our neighbors across the pond. Some of that reloading gear previously mentioned sounds pretty neat
     
  8. Wanderling

    Wanderling Member

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    From what I read, they liked Webleys and imported autos.

    BTW, there was an interesting graph I found a few years back - I will see if I can find the link - showing murder rate in the UK from late XIX century to our days.

    Basically, the murder rate dropped rather steeply at the end of XIX century, kept going down through 20s and 30s, sort of leveled out 40s and 50s, picked up a bit in the 60s and then was on an upward slope from 70s on.

    The first serious restriction on handguns ownership - I think it was late 20s or 30s ? - didn't even seem to make a blip on the graph. It fell rougly into the middle of the trend line for that time period and there was no downward bump after that, it just continued the same gentle slope as before. I.e. the anti-gun laws seemed to make no impact on the downward crime rate already well under way. And the upswing in the violent crime rates happened when the restrictive laws were already decades in effect.
     
  9. Seven High

    Seven High Member

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    I've read stories about WW2 vets bringing back Browning Hipowers, Walther P38s and Lugers. I assume that they are hidden away now. I also read a news media report about surplus ComBloc pistols and revolvers being smuggled into England and France. There must be somewhat of a demand for them.
     
  10. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    Big market for deactivated guns over there, too. At one point in time, I was looking at doing a Krinkov build and it was hypothetically cheaper to order an entire deactivated AKSU from the UK for the furniture to build one than trying to find Russian handguards and a correct flash hider imported here in the US
     
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    The general preference in the UK was for revolvers, not auto pistols. The latter were seen as "foreign", "unsporting", and "suspicious" to the point where no British writer would arm his villain with anything but a "Luger" or his hero with anything but a "Webley". (Of course most British writers would not have recognized either if they fell over it, but that is another story.)

    Even today in the UK the term "revolver" is synonymous with "handgun", confusing people who make such distinctions. (Not long ago I read a British article saying that Winston Churchill carried a Mauser revolver in South Africa; it was a C96 "Broomhandle".)

    While some vets did bring back captured guns, the practice was "discouraged", with threats of summary courts martial and long prison terms for violations.

    <Deleted Off Topic Content>

    Jim
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2015
  12. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    Folks, let's please keep this on the topic of Handguns in the UK. When we go too far into foreign gun politics we drift into general politics and other unpleasantness (some of which I've already had to clean up). Thanks in advance for your understanding.
     
  13. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...in the UK for personal protection..." None. Pistols Act of 1903 enacted licencing. The Firearms Act of 1920 created a government issued licence to own any firearm. No handguns or firearms licence for self defence after W.W. II. Self defence was not a reason to get a permit.
    The 38/200 is just a .38 S&W with a 200 grain bullet. Brit military has traditionally had no funding between wars for much of anything. They decided using a bigger bullet would give their revolvers more power.
    Any issued Browning Hi Power brought home would be stolen. Troopies were not allowed to keep their issued firearms anywhere, including the U.S.. Mind you, up until sometime between W.W. I and II, officers provided their own side arms of a standard chambering. Not sure when this ended. Definitely in force for W.W. I though.
    "...Winston Churchill carried a Mauser revolver..." A C96 isn't a revolver. Winny did carry one at Omdurman though.
     
  14. greenmtnguy

    greenmtnguy Member

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    It is still possible to own and shoot black powder revolvers - I know some folks who belong to the equivalent of the SASS over there and they do have target competitions with ROA and similar style SA blackpowder revolvers (non metallic cartridge)
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    There have even been smokeless percussion conversions for revolver shooting by Loyal Subjects. .38 HBWC + 3 gr Herco + 209 shotshell primer.
     
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