Wednesday, January 13, 2010

THE BRITISH BULLDOG REVOLVER; The Forgotten Gun that Really Won the West

"THE BRITISH BULLDOG REVOLVER; The Forgotten Gun that Really Won the West" by George Layman is one of those wonderful books on what has been, heretofor, a somewhat esoteric subject.  The hardcover, 191-page book is well worth the purchase price of $34.99 and is available direct from the publisher, Mowbray Publishing

I have long had a passing interest in the subject, late nineteenth century large bore pocket revolvers.  As followers of my blog know, I have really enjoyed their modern descendents, the "snub-nosed" revolver.  I've also been enamoured of certain Webley products.  I was recently struck with the idea that I didn't have one of these early guns, either a Bulldog or a Webley.  It occurred to me that I could kill two birds by way of getting one revolver but the fact is that I knew too little to make a judicious purchase.  You see, I want to be able to shoot this little gun, too.

Now "The British Bulldog" doesn't spend very much time on putting these guns in shooting order or loading for them but it does provide that basic information.  What the book focuses on the beginning to end history of these revolvers from their inception as a development by Philip Webley & Co. from their Royal Irish Constabulary revolver,  It describes, as best the author has been able to discern, the history of the many European copies as well as the two major manufacturers of the type.  A detailed description of both the Iver Johnson and Forehand & Wadsworth versions of the gun is given. In so doing, Mr. Layman manages to throw in some useful information for the collectors of other arms in the description of makers and proof marks as well as a description of the guild system in Belgium where as many as 2 million of the guns may have been produced.

Mr. Layman makes a good case for the idea that the Bulldog, not the Colt, won the west.  In doing so he touches on history more than a bit.  He actually has photos of some "famous" Bulldogs as well as their background and correct identification. 

The photos are another thing that sets this book apart from others.  Wonderful photos, wonderfully reproduced, large enough to permit one to discern the details and with extensive, descriptive captions.  Mr. Layman and Mowbray have done really well with the photos in this book and if you're "photocentric", i.e. like to see what's being described you won't be able but to like this book. 

As I said, the book is well worth the purchase price.  It is a fun read, I read it all in one evening, but has the necessary details and illustrations to make it thoroughly informative as well.  I suggest that you buy it.

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