The success of the world famous Webley firearms company was in no small part due to the existence of the RIC. In 1867, Philip Webley launched a new compact revolver design, which was to achieve recognition throughout the world and remain in production for more than 60 years. Webley secured a contract to supply his weapon to the RIC in January 1868, a stroke of good fortune which ensured the financial success of the company, and established it as the foremost supplier of personal firearms to the Government and Colonial Forces for years to come.
For more information on Webley revolvers and references, see this link
The revolver was of the 'solid frame' variety, a sturdy and heavy piece. Most commonly found in .450 and .455 calibre, it was designated the 'Royal Irish Constabulary Pattern', and was stamped with the letters R.I.C. on the frame, along with the Webley logo and patent number.
A Webley 'New Model' First pattern RIC revolver, this example with Serial No 36129
In September 1869, Lord Berkeley presented a pair of RIC Model revolvers to Brevet Major General (Volunteers) George A Custer, Lt Col 7th US Cavalry Regt. General Custer was to die at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, defeated by the combined forces of the Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne Nations in June 1876.
The solid frame pattern revolver saw service in the RIC for many years, but was gradually replaced by the new and improved 'hinged frame' Webley revolver from 1890 onwards.
The first revolvers issued was the No 1 (First Pattern), .450 calibre issued to the RIC (up to serial number 17538); thereafter the slightly improved 'New Model was issued from circa 1881.
From 1890 the hinged frame revolvers began to appear, in sequence as follows:
MkV1 revolvers, .455 calibre with 4” barrels and serial numbers 450000-454000, were received by the RIC in the period between 1918 and 1922. Many of these were later sold to the Gardai Siochana, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and also to the Union of South Africa.
Note - Many New Model revolvers are described as 'RIC issue', and can be found with serial numbers up to 102052 (circa 1914). It is important to note that the letters RIC do not in themselves confirm that an individual piece was issued to the RIC. They were sold in their thousands to ordinary civilians. The police added their own identifying marks, often referred to as 'inventory numbers'.