Whether one looks at comic books, fiction or film, firearms play a huge part in geek culture. In fact, there’s an entire web site dedicated to document who carried what.
This feature takes a look at some of these weapons – focusing on their real-world performance rather than in-universe function. If there’s something you want to know more about, be sure to mention it in the comments.
Today we’re going to look at a couple of iconic firearms used by the late, great Sean Connery: the Walther PPK and the Webley-Fosbery.
Bond, James Bond
Sean Connery’s passing brought forth a surge of reminisces and it’s altogether appropriate to pick a couple of his most distinct roles and the guns guns that helped make them famous.
The obvious place to begin is James Bond and his famous sidearm. Must has been already written about the PPK, but what I think is really telling is that this design, which is almost a century old, remains in production to this day.
In fact, production cannot keep up with demand. While I’m sure some of the sales are to Bond fans, the fact is the PPK is a superb firearm and the very features that made it the weapon of choice for a secret agent also support its use for personal defense. It is comfortable to hold, easy to shoot, and very reliable.
It’s also gorgeous and fit perfectly with the casual glamor of Connery calling for the shoe during a high-stakes game of Baccarat in some European casino. You can’t have a guy looking that dapper pull out a snub-nosed .38 or something blocky like a Colt.
Like Connery, the PPK was perfectly suited for its role.
The Gun is Good
I’ve written about Zardoz before, but one thing I didn’t address was Zed’s rather unusual firearm: the Webley-Fosbery. This is a strange creature, neither fish nor fowl: an automatic revolver.
This oddball hybrid had a brief moment of popularity when semi-auto pistols emerged in the 1890s (and the Mauser C96 was fresh and new). Standard revolvers require manual action to cycle the cylinder and cock the hammer. The oldest type – single action – rotate the cylinder when the hammer is cocked. Pulling the trigger when the hammer is down has no effect. One must manually pull it back in order to fire it.
Double-action revolvers use a stronger, longer trigger pull to rotate the cylinder as well as bringing the hammer back before allowing it to fall. Most modern revolvers can be used in either mode, but there are historical replicas that are single-action only and some concealable pistols are made to fire only in double-action mode.
What does an automatic revolver bring to the table? You get the same clunky size of a standard revolver with the added mechanical complications of an auto-loader. The cylinder still weights a ton, it can’t be loaded as fast a magazine-fed weapon but you do get a little less felt recoil – albeit at the price of the thing see-sawing around as it cycles.
Britain’s Handgun Shame
One of my favorite conversation starters among firearms enthusiasts is to ask if anyone can name a single brilliantly successful British handgun design. No one can, because there aren’t any.
These two weapons drive that point home. Even in fiction, Britain’s premier intelligence operatives have to rely on a German firearm to get the job done. I guess that’s improvement over him using an Italian weapon, but it’s still pathetic.
It speaks volumes that while John Browning was developing the FN 1900 – which would redefine self-loading pistols – the Brits were fiddling around with automatic wheel guns. The British eventually created an automatic, the Webley-Mars 1913, but it looks like it was assembled out of Legos. Not the cool modern Legos, either, but the blocky 70s ones. No wonder they stuck with revolvers until after World War II.
Webley-Fosbery revolvers are highly sought after by collectors because they are odd and scarce. I can’t say I’ve shot one, though I handled another variation on the concept, the Mateba, which also is out of production because automatic revolvers are a stupid idea.