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Matthew Allsopp

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The Revolver and Holster

Nowadays in movies and in life, the semi-automatic pistol is the handgun of choice. Revolvers, sometimes referred to as "wheel guns," are still manufactured but are not carried often as sidearms by the military and law enforcement agencies of the world. At the turn of the century however, the old wheel gun was all we had. From cowboys to colonial British troops, the revolver was the weapon of choice. By World War I, significant improvements had been made to the weapon.

click to enlarge
An actual Webley MKVI,
dated 1917.

The revolver carried by Indiana Jones has changed from film to film, and in some cases from scene to scene. In Raiders, Indy carries a Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector II. This was a revolver chambered for .45 caliber rounds and introduced a few years before World War I. Normally made with a five or six inch barrel, the two examples used in Raiders had barrels cut down to four inches in length. This gun can also be seen in the 1985 film, The Aviator, starring Christopher Reeve.

Briefly in Raiders, during the Raven Bar scene and the Bantu Wind scene, Indy can be seen using a Browning HP semi-automatic pistol, common in Europe in the late 1930s.

In the brief moments that Indy has a gun in Temple of Doom, he carries the same Smith & Wesson revolver. Although there are sources that say this gun changes immediately once it plummets from the car window. The dropped gun has been argued by some to be a Colt New Service M1917, another World War I era revolver, but this has been debated.

In Last Crusade, Indy trades up the American makes for a British weapon. The massive revolver he carries is the famous Webley MKVI. Webley revolvers were used extensively throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Besides being used throughout the British colonial campaigns in the Middle East, Africa and India, the pistol was heavily used in World War I in its final major incarnation, the Mark VI. In World War II, many Webley MKVIs, officially deemed too large and heavy for use as a sidearm, still found service in the war against Hitler.

While officially the pistol was replaced with a much smaller Webley, known as the .38 caliber MKIV, the hefty MKVI was still favored by some soldiers and Royal Air Force pilots. This is because its very sturdy construction meant it was easily re-chambered for the more powerful .45 ACP round and pilots bailing out over Nazi-occupied France wanted to pack some serious heat. It wasn’t a very accurate pistol at long range, but heaven help anyone who took a round from the Webley MKVI at closer ranges.

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Left, 2 shots from Raiders showing the Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector II.
On the right, a screenshot from
Last Crusade showing the Webley MKVI.

Webley pistols of all makes have made it into a variety of films, especially British colonial adventures like Gunga Din, Khartoum, Lives of a Bengal Lancer and The Four Feathers. The MKVI is arguably most famous for its appearance in Lawrence of Arabia as Lawrence’s personal sidearm.

In Last Crusade, Indy’s Webley changes from time to time rather subtly. In some scenes, it is the traditional Webley MKVI, while in other scenes such as the Grail Temple, it is a variant known as the Webley-Green with a more rounded grip.

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A true British Webley
holster used in
Temple of Doom.

All of these pistols, the Smith and Wesson, the Webley and even the Browning HP are all over 70 years old now and are sought by collectors and firearm enthusiasts. Finding them at all is rare. Finding them in useable or close to perfect condition is even harder.

Incidentally, the holsters Indy wears in the films are traditional leather flap holsters commonly used by European military personnel for their revolvers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These holsters can be found replicated by a number of firearms accessory dealers. Supposedly, the Raiders holster was custom made, while the holsters in Temple of Doom and Last Crusade were true British Webley holsters.


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