Few things are as emblematic of the once great British Empire and the great global military might Brittania wielded than the Enfield revolver-that double-action pistol tied off at the end with a lanyard to keep it secured-or the riding crop uniformed British officers loved to slap on their thighs.

Paints quite the dashing picture, wouldn't you say, Old Chap?

The Enfield Revolver, but which one? In case you didn't know, there were actually two.

The United Kingdom's Royal Small Arms Factory cranked out a pair of self-extracting pistols bearing the name. There was the earliest model-the Mk I and Mk II, a cannon chambered in .476 caliber, and there was a later version-the Enfield No. 2 Mk I, chambered in .38/200 (.38 S&W).

So which gun would you prefer-the unwieldy .476 with its recoil or the .38/200 Enfield?

For my money, I think I'll take the latter. But you decide.

Every British officer-gentleman required his trusty sidearm. Uncouth to be seen carrying a common infantry rifle, don't you know? The .476 Enfield Mk I and Mk II served Britain's officer corps through the 1880s. It was also issued to Canada's Northwest Mounted Police and various colonial units.

The .476 six-shooter has a stout recoil, sending a 265-grain lead slug downrange via 18 grams of black powder to the tune of 600 feet per second. In the hands of a skilled marksman, it could be fired 18 times per minute under optimal conditions. But the .476 was somewhat difficult to unload and load.

Its effective range was only 75 feet (25 yards), to be charitable, two or three times that.

Enfield Mk I and II revolvers were lugged around the British Empire, used in various Colonial brush conflicts, until the 1930s when Britain produced a lighter sidearm with less recoil-the Enfield No. 2 Mk I. In the interim, the Brits had introduced the Webley service revolver (1901 to 1915), and although the Webley was sufficient to knock the stuffing out of enemy combatants, like the .476 before it, the Webley's .455 round was a bit stout in the recoil department.

So the Enfield No. 2, Mk I with its lighter .38/200 round became Britain's service revolver (1932 to 1957). And it caught on, so much so that 1/4 million copies were eventually manufactured.

The .38/200 was a good, close-quarter sidearm designed by the Royal Small Arms Factory and Webley & Scott in 1928, produced into the 1950s. Unloaded, it weighs slightly less than a pound and a half. Two versions were produced: A double-action and a double-action-only revolver.

The .38/200 has a capable rate of fire of 20 to 30 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 600 feet per second. The Enfield No. 2 Mk I employs fixed front post and rear notch sights. Like the .476, its range is modest-actually quite similar statistically-but its weight and recoil are considerably less.