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The British Bull Dog was a popular type of solid-frame pocket revolver introduced by Philip Webley & Son of Birmingham, England, in 1872, and subsequently copied by gunmakers in continental Europe and the United States.[1] It featured a 2.5-inch (64 mm) barrel and was chambered for .442 Webley or .450 Adams cartridges, with a five-round cylinder. Webley produced smaller scaled .320 Revolver and .380 calibre versions later, but did not mark them with the British Bull Dog name.

British Bull Dog revolver
Webley .450 "British Bull Dog" model - 1870s
TypePocket revolver
Place of originBritish Empire
Production history
DesignerPhilip Webley & Son
ManufacturerWebley and various manufacturers in Europe & US
Barrel length2.5 in (64 mm)

Cartridge.442 Webley, .450 Adams, .44 Bull Dog
ActionDouble action revolver
Effective firing range15 yd
Maximum firing range20 yd
Feed system5-round cylinder
SightsFixed front post and rear notch



The design of the British Bull Dog revolver had been in existence since 1868, but Henry Webley registered the trademark in 1878. From that time to the present, the term has come to mean any short barrelled double-action revolver with a swing-out ejector rod and a short grip.[2]

Intended to be carried in a coat pocket, many have survived to the present day in good condition, having seen little actual use.[3] The design originated in 1868 for the Webley Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) model revolver and was manufactured as late as 1917.[4]

A version made by Webley, but finished by Belfast-based gunmaker, Joseph Braddell, known as the Ulster Bull Dog, used a longer grip frame than the standard, making the revolver easier to control and shoot.[2][5]

The Bulldog was popular in Britain and America. US Army general, George Armstrong Custer, was said to have carried a pair at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.[6] British Bull Dog revolvers were issued to employees of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company until 1895.[2]


Numerous copies and variants of this design (authorized and unauthorized) were made in Belfast, Belgium, Spain, Pakistan, France and the United States during the late 19th century.[7] American copies were manufactured by the firms of Forehand & Wadsworth, Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson. Belgian and American versions (aka: Frontier Bulldogs) were chambered for the .44 S&W American or .442 Webley cartridges.[5] The .44 Bull Dog was a popular American cartridge that was a shorter and less powerful cartridge that could also be fired from .442 Webley caliber revolvers. In 1973 Charter Arms introduced their Bulldog revolver. It is a five shot snub nose that is designed for concealed carry or a back up gun. It was named in honour of the original but does not share a design.

Garfield assassinationEdit

Charles J. Guiteau used a .442 Webley British Bulldog revolver to assassinate U.S. President James A. Garfield on 2 July 1881. Guiteau was a disgruntled lawyer, who was angry that Garfield had not appointed him to a federal post. Guiteau reportedly wanted a British Bulldog revolver with ivory grips instead of wooden ones, as he believed they would look nicer when the gun was displayed in a museum,[8] but decided not to spend the extra USD $1 that the ivory-gripped model would have cost.[8] Though he could not afford the extra dollar, the store owner dropped the price for him. In all, he paid $10 for the revolver, a box of cartridges and a penknife,[9] before spending the next day familiarising himself with the revolver's operation and firing 10 practice shots with it into trees along the banks of the Potomac River.[8] He used the revolver to shoot Garfield a week or so later in the Sixth Street Railway Station in Washington, D.C. After Guiteau's trial, the revolver was placed in the Smithsonian Institution but disappeared some time later.[8]



  1. ^ Dowell, p. 68.
  2. ^ a b c Bruce, Gordon (2011). "The Bulldog Pack, variations of the Breed". In Dan Shideler (ed.). Gun Digest Book of Revolvers. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 68. ISBN 1-4402-3157-5.
  3. ^ Ficken, Homer R. "Webley's 'The British Bull Dog' Revolver: Serial Numbering and Variations". Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7.
  5. ^ a b Hogg, Ian V.; Walter, John (2004). Pistols of the World. David & Charles. pp. 128–129. ISBN 0-87349-460-1.
  6. ^ Heier, Vincent A. (2009). Little Bighorn. Arcadia Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-7385-7007-5.
  7. ^ Kekkonen, P.T. "British Bulldog revolver". Gunwriters. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
  8. ^ a b c d Elman, p. 166.
  9. ^ Elman, p.171.


  • Elman, Robert (1968). Fired in Anger: The Personal Handguns of American Heroes and Villains. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company.
  • Barnes, Frank C. (1972). ".44 Bull Dog". In Amber, John T. (ed.). Cartridges of the World. Northfield, IL: DBI Books. p. 170. ISBN 0-695-80326-3.
  • Dowell, William Chipchase (1987). The Webley Story. Kirkland, WA: Commonwealth Heritage Foundation.
  • Henrotin, Gerard (2013). "Bulldog" revolvers explained. Belgium:

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