Original British Victorian Zulu Wars Era Model 1872 Mk.II Adams .450 Revolver - Serial No. 2819

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. These are VERY rare, especially in this condition, with the markings still intact! This is the Model 1872 Mk.II ADAMS .450 Revolver, officially termed the "Pistol, Adams' Central Fire, B.L. (Mark II)". This particular version was only made for a short time in 1872 before the introduction of the Mark III, so all of them are definitely from before the Zulu Wars, meaning they have a very good chance of having been used during the conflict. Company director Christian Cranmer was given two of these by his father when he was 14, however at the time only percussion revolvers caught his fancy, and they were traded away. Now, decades later, he finally has found more.

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 was accepted in List of Changes No. 2227 of 22 Feb 1872 as "Pistol, Adams' Central Fire, B.L. (Mark II)". 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.

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. This is only the SECOND example of a Mk.II that IMA has had, and is definitely the best example we have had, in very good condition with some of the original finish intact.

This fine revolver is marked ADAMS'S PATENT on the right frame along with the Adams's trademark symbol by the grip. It also still has the complete address marking on the top of the barrel:


The frame and cylinder bear various other proof and acceptance markings, including the CROWN / GP "Gunmakers Proof and CROWN /V "Viewed" marks from the London proofhouse. The revolver is also marked with serial number 2819 on the frame, cylinder (faint), and on the frame underneath the hammer. Various other parts have shortened number 19 stamped on them. From all the we can see, this is an "ALL MATCHING" example, and it's a good one! We see no signs that any parts have been swapped out during its service life.

Punched on the right hand side of the barrel's rear is the abbreviation H McK, which is unknown to us but might be the Officer's initials. Interestingly the full length of the rear spine of the walnut grip with SEVEN deliberately carved notches with THREE more on the front face of the one piece grip indicating perhaps 10 kills. Those sort of numbers we feel indicate the African ZULU WAR of 1879.

This revolver is complete, with no missing parts that we can find. The wood grips, still fully and fairly crisply checkered, are in fine condition. Overall it shows a nice worn patina on most of the metalwork, with the cylinder displaying some original bluing. We checked the bore, and it does show rifling, but is quite worn, so this is definitely a revolver that saw quite a bit of service, very possibly in Africa.

In fully working order the mechanism is a bit worn but tightens up during use. Very romantic and very rare, just what you need in your hand when watching the Movie "ZULU"!


Year of Manufacture: 1872
Caliber: .450 Boxer
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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