They were originally designed to use the old gunpowder propellants.; They had a muzzle velocity of 1,750 feet per second (533 m/s) and a maximum firing range of 8,700 yards (8,000 m); firing a 50 pound shell.; The 5-inch calibre was soon discontinued in favour of QF 4.7-inch.
The gun was installed as a conventional coast defence gun in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.; Its more common use ashore in the UK was as "moveable armaments" in forts: on 2-wheeled carriages similar to field carriages but intended only for moving short distances to position guns for defence of the fort.; These used either obsolete 40-pounder RML carriages or special high-mounting carriages for firing over parapets with recoil controlled by a hydraulic buffer built into the platform to which the carriage was fastened.
A number of guns mounted on carriages from obsolete RML 40 pounder guns accompanied the British siege train (heavy artillery) to South Africa.; However, they were not required for the expected siege of Pretoria, which did not eventuate.; Its usefulness in the field was limited by lack of a recoil control system, and the QF 4.7 inch gun was the most commonly used British heavy gun in that war.;
There are two surviving examples is Australia, both in Queensland.