Original British Victorian Zulu War Era Model 1872 Mk.III Adams .450 Revolver with Interesting Provenance

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This is very very rare, it is the Pattern 1872 Mk. III ADAMS .450 Revolver issued to British Officers at the time of the ZULU WAR in 1879. As a teenager company director Christian Cranmer received TWO of these from his father. He was 14 at the time, but was so upset that they were not percussion revolvers that he traded them away! At the time he had NO CLUE what they were truly worth.

This is the first cartridge model ARMY Revolver Adams supplied but competition was getting very brisk and soon Webley and Enfield Revolvers were taking all the Military orders. This revolver, the model of 1872, was an adaptation the Adams model of 1858 Double-Action Percussion Revolver, also known as the Beaumont Adams. The cylinder of course was different, but it was still in the long percussion length. In 1878 Adams developed the M-1878 with a shorter cylinder that had been made as a cartridge revolver in its own right.

We all know and love the Movie ZULU and most everyone knows that Michael Caine in the final redoubt scene is seen to be carrying a MARK VI WEBLEY Revolver circa 1916. No authentic Adams Revolvers could be found at that time from the prop house suppliers in London.

Now the interesting twist, our example has been totally sanitized, ALL of its original markings including serial number have been removed. The Collector in England from whom we bought this many years ago told us it was found in a Zulu Kraal at ULUNDI at the end of the Zulu War in 1879. Presumably it was taken after the massive British defeat at ISANDLWANA, which was the subject of the other Zulu Movie, "ZULU DAWN". Often stolen/captured weapons were subject to "sanitization" to obscure the origin of the item. We think the English Collector made a good point, but we have nothing other than the Revolver to confirm the Zulu connection.

The revolver comes complete with Officer's lanyard ring to bottom of grip, as well as the original MkIII swivel ejector rod, so often missing. The grip itself has been polished and is no longer checkered, the revolver fully cleaned with a very pleasing blue finish. Currently it works correctly in Single action only and would require internal adjustment to operate correctly in double action also.

Ready to display!

More on the Adams 1872 Revolver:

This revolver design, the model of 1872, started out as a conversion from the Adams Revolver of 1858 in Percussion, known as the Beaumont Adams. This modification took the Double-Action only Adams 1854, and gave it the ability to shoot in the more accurate single action. Further modifications resulted in the Adams model of 1866, the last percussion Model produced.

In 1867, Robert Adams' brother John Adams patented a breech-loading revolver which was adopted by the British government in place of the Beaumont–Adams. It was a solid frame pistol with six chambers, in .450 caliber. After official acceptance of his pistol, Adams left the London Armory Company and established his own factory, the Adams Patent Small Arms Company. His pistol was manufactured in three distinct variations (differences related mainly to methods of spent cartridge ejection) between 1867 and about 1880. The models were tested and adopted by the British Army and Navy, with the last, the M1872 Mark III, seeing the widest use.

The .450 Adams was the first official centerfire cartridge service revolver adopted by the British War Department . However, the "Mark I" Adams was actually a breech loading conversion of the primary percussion service revolver, as indicated by its official designation in the W.D. "List of Changes" entry 1738 of 26 Nov 1868 - "Deane & Adams' Revolver Pistol Converted to a Breech-Loader by Mr. J. Adams" . This indicated that The Adams Patent Small Arms company was converting the 1866 models to breech loading cartridges. This was accomplished  by adding a loading gate and bored-through replacement cylinder, with a fixed case-extraction rod.

In February of 1872, the Mk.II was introduced, and it was not a conversion from previous designs, but one purpose made as a breech loader, with a two piece frame. It still had the same fixed side-mounted ejector, which was replaced with a patented swivel ejector on the Mk.III version, adopted afterwards in August 1872. The very brief List of Changes entry for this pattern simply states: "It differs from the previous pattern, Mark II (L.o.C. 2227) in having a more efficient extractor." This model was the most widely produced, however to find them in this nice condition is extremely rare.

By 1880 however, the Enfield Mk.I revolver was introduced, and it replaced the Adams in service, though it was itself then replaced shortly afterwards by the Webley Mk.I.


Year of Manufacture: circa 1878
Caliber: .450
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 6 inches

Overall Length: 11 1/2 inches
Action: External Hammer Double/Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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