.44 Special in a .45 Long Colt?


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AFDavis11
February 25, 2012, 06:54 AM
I'm curious about what you think would happen if someone tried to fire a .44 Special round in a .45 Colt. Im only talking revolvers, thus the thread location. I've noted that it chambers fine. Would it be really inaccurate. Does a bullet need some sort of tension/pressure to run down a barrel?

Would the brass expand too far?

It would seem to me that it would work just fine. Naturally, there isn't enough value to me in actually trying it. So I'm relegating it to a thread discussion; an "in theory" only question. I know, there isn't a good reason to do it, or to even try. I'm not going to.

Would the gun explode? Would the brass be ruined? How innacurrate would the gun become?

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Elm Creek Smith
February 25, 2012, 07:00 AM
The round would fire, the case would probably split, and the unstabilized bullet would go somewhere down range like a thrown brick, not fast and not accurate. Not a good idea.

YMMV

ECS

powell&hyde
February 25, 2012, 07:13 AM
Yup, Not a good idea to try!!

AFDavis11
February 25, 2012, 07:16 AM
Agreed, and no real value. I appreciate the comment though about low velocity. I didn't expect that.

Walkalong
February 25, 2012, 08:30 AM
Just chambering, and chambering properly are two different things, and yes, the bullet must fit the bore to seal it and build up pressure, as well as grip the rifling to impart spin on the bullet to stabilize it and make it shoot straight.

El Creek Smith answered the results part of the question.

Risky buisness
February 25, 2012, 11:07 AM
]44 Special in a .45 Long Colt?
an "in theory" only question
ACK!!! (in theory of course,) As a previous poster has mentioned case splitting, where can that high pressure gas go? Out of the cylinder on both ends, where would your support hand be? Only the correct ammunition for that firearm please.

rcmodel
February 25, 2012, 11:12 AM
Yea!
You should at least wrap some masking tape around it so it fits better! :D

rc

natman
February 25, 2012, 12:00 PM
I'm curious about what you think would happen if someone tried to fire a .44 Special round in a .45 Colt. Im only talking revolvers, thus the thread location. I've noted that it chambers fine.

Would it be really inaccurate. YES

Does a bullet need some sort of tension/pressure to run down a barrel? YES and NO. It would probably project the bullet out of the barrel somewhere downrange.

Would the brass expand too far? YES

Would the gun explode? PROBABLY NOT, BUT THEN....

Would the brass be ruined? YES

How innacurrate would the gun become? HOW INACCURATE DO YOU NEED?

Don't do it.

Driftwood Johnson
February 25, 2012, 01:00 PM
Howdy

I have never tried chambering a 44 Special in a 45 Colt revolver, but I am going to. The 44 Sp brass is considerably smaller in diameter than the 45 Colt, so I will be interested to see how far off center the cartridge sits in the chamber and whether the primer lines up well enough to be fired when struck by the firing pin. Don't worry, I am not going to actually try shooting a 44 Sp in a 45 Colt revolver, just going to eyeball the possibilities.

In answer to your question about tension and all that, yes, a bullet should be constricted not only by the barrel but by the chamber throats, so that expanding gasses remain behind the bullet and do not sneak around in front of it. Without being contained behind the bullet, the gasses do not build up as much pressure as they are supposed to.

************

But in a related subject, I have fired 44-40 cartridges out of a 45 Colt revolver. No, I did not do it by accident, I did it on purpose. If you are not familiar with 44-40, it carries a 44 caliber bullet, usually between .427 and .429 in diameter, but the cartridge has been necked down from a diameter close to the same as the 45 Colt cartridge. I'll pop in a couple of photos when I get the chance. Bottom line is, a 44-40 cartridge will chamber in a 45 Colt chamber, and although it is not a perfect dimensional match to the chamber, it will center well enough that it will fire.

I had heard for so long that if the .427 bullet of a 44-40 was fired in the .451 barrel of a 45 Colt that it would 'rattle down the barrel', an exact quote from many sources, and not hit anything, that I finally decided to try it. It so happens that I load both 44-40 and 45 Colt with Black Powder for Cowboy Action Shooting. One day at the end of a match, while everybody was packing up, I put five 44-40s into one of my 2nd Gen Colts, chambered for 45 Colt. I aimed at the center of one of our typical steel targets and fired all five shots. Typical Cowboy targets are a piece of steel maybe 16" square or so. From typical Cowboy distance, about ten yards, I hit the target with all five shots. No great feat of course, but so much for the bullet 'rattling down the barrel' and not being able to hit anything. No the gun did not blow up and no the brass did not split. The front end of the brass mushroomed out to the chamber diameter, so it was pretty well ruined, but nothing split and nothing let go.

I repeated the experiment again a couple of weeks later with the same results. Yes, these were Black Powder rounds, so the pressure was not as high as it would have been had it been Smokeless, but frankly, I don't think it would have been a problem if I had done the test with SAAMI sped Smokeless either. The simple fact is, once the bullet leaves the cartridge, if the bore is not well sealed, pressure will never build up as high as it is supposed to. Gas 'leaking' around the bullet will keep pressure down nowhere near what would be required to damage the gun. I actually reported this on the Ruger Forum a year or so ago, and from the responses I got might have thought I had been playing with nuclear weapons. I was told I was lucky the gun did not blow up and that I was lucky the bullets did not go over the berm and strike a house someplace downrange. These comments were made by people obviously unfamiliar with the two cartridges, people who believed every thing they read on the internet, rather than actually trying something themselves.

I used to work for an old grizzled mechanical engineer. When he was a young man in the Army he was attached to Aberdeen Proving grounds, and he did a lot of work with artillery ballistics. Most of what he was doing was wading through mud, recovering shells that had been fired. Anyway, he told me about some tests the Army did with 45ACP ammo. The old thing about what happens if you throw a cartridge in a fire. What they discovered was if ammo cooks off without being confined in a close fitting tube (like a barrel) the bullets did not achieve enough velocity to puncture a layer of corrugated cardboard.

As far as accuracy with a bullet that does not get a good bite on the rifling is concerned, sometimes we forget how things were done a long time ago. The American Revolution was fought mostly with muzzling loading smooth bore muskets. Although their accuracy was obviously no where near as good as a rifle, they could still hit targets with surprising accuracy. You certainly did not want to be standing 25 or 50 yards in front of somebody with musket. The ball was not that inaccurate, you would probably be hit.

I used to have a Lee/Enfield 303 British that keyholed with everything I put through it. Cast bullet handloads or factory Full Metal Jacket stuff, it did not care, I could not get a bullet to leave that bore without tumbling. But the surprising thing was, at 25 yards, even though the bullets went through the targets sideways, they were still on paper, and not very far away from the bullseye. If I had been shooting at a man, I would have hit him every time. So really no surprise that my 44-40 bullets hit the targets when fired from a 45 Colt revolver. Just not enough time and distance for drag to really take effect and send the bullets spinning off into space. Fifty yards would probably have been a different story, but not ten yards.

BCRider
February 25, 2012, 01:45 PM
A little looking at the case and bullet sizes should indicate that it's a far from good idea to try. It might chamber close enough that the rim keeps it from falling through but that hardly suggests that it's in any manner a good idea to shoot it that way.

For the bullets alone a .44Spl uses a .429 size bullet while the .45Colt uses a .452 bullet. That's a whopping .023 difference in size. If you placed a .44 bullet into the .45 barrel it would drop right through easily. Might even make rattling sounds on the way. This shows that it won't get a gas seal or engage the rifling at all. So the accuracy would be of the sort of a rock thrown at the target. Yeah, it'll go downrange. But it'll be tumbling and rolling and would not even be as accurate as a smoothbore flintlock by a whole lot.

Coyote3855
February 25, 2012, 01:55 PM
I am loathe to admit being so stupid, but several years ago I somehow mixed a couple of .44 Magnum rounds in with .45 Colt and fired them in an 1866 Winchester replica rifle. No damage to me or the rifle. I'm much more careful these days. Cases did not split and I didn't realize the mistake until I was picking up the brass. (Hangs head in shame...)

Jim K
February 25, 2012, 06:45 PM
There are really two different issues here involving a .44 Special (or a .44-40) fired in a .45 colt chamber. The first is accuracy and practicality. Unless the bullet is hollow based and will expand into the rifling, accuracy will be poor, though a man-sized target at 25 yards would almost certainly be hit. But with a normal bullet, enough gas would escape to reduce the velocity and make such use impractical except in an emergency.

The second issue is safety. Why would anyone think that firing an undersized bullet would be dangerous? The pressure would be low, not high, and the idea that the gun would blow up is silly. Could the case split and allow hot gas to come back? Probsably not, as the difference in case diameter is not enough to allow a brass case to split (aluminum cases, were they available in those calibers, might be another story).

That being said, I don't recommend or endorse using the wrong caliber ammunition in any firearm. The situation in this case is quite limited and narrow; please don't read this post as saying that it is safe or desireable to fire any old round in a gun if it will fit in the chamber!

Jim

SlamFire1
February 25, 2012, 06:59 PM
I fired one 44 Special round in a 45 LC. I do not recommend this as the case is really stretched in the case head and if there was a brass flaw in the case you will experience gas release back into the action.

44 Special round fired in M25-7 S&W revolver 5" barrel

250 LSWC 7.3 grs Unique WLP (nickle) primer 620 fps

same round averaged 930 fps in 6.5" M24

Jaymo
February 25, 2012, 07:11 PM
.44 special pressures are about half that of .45 Colt, so pressure would not be a problem, even discounting the smaller bullet diameter.

So, I could take thise .44-40 ammo I was given, shoot it out of my .45 Colt and essentially fire form it into reloadable .45 Colt brass? Hmm. (wheels turning)

willypete
February 25, 2012, 07:30 PM
.44 special pressures are about half that of .45 Colt, so pressure would not be a problem, even discounting the smaller bullet diameter.

Whut? .44 Special SAAMI pressure spec is 15,500 psi, .45 Colt SAAMI pressure spec is 14,000 psi.

IMO, what you need to worry about with .44 special in a .45 colt revolver would be the poor gas seal around the cartridge. .44 special is smaller diameter all the way around the cartridge than the .45 colt, and gas will bleed all over the place, including around the rear of the cylinder. You might sustain injury firing a .44 special in a .45 colt. Don't do it.

.44-40 doesn't have this problem because the body of the case will seal around the rear of the chamber under firing pressure. .44 special, not so much.

Jaymo
February 25, 2012, 07:38 PM
That's funny, the SAAMI specs for .44 special I'd read were 12,000.

Perhaps I'm thinking of .38 special +p or .45 ACP that runs around 23,000.

Oop! Mah ba. I was mistaken. I just checked the SAAMI site. I must be getting old/senile.

Either way, the shorter/smaller OD case and smaller OD bullet in the Colt chamber should drop the pressure to ridiculously low levels.

Vern Humphrey
February 25, 2012, 08:51 PM
Yea!
You should at least wrap some masking tape around it so it fits better!

rc
Years ago in Egypt, my Dad bet a member of the Camel Corps that his Martini-Henry wouldn't fire -- the bet was for an Egyptian Pound, plus twenty piastres to pay for the cartridge.

After a couple of tries the guy picked up some little sticks and wedged them in the chamber to support the cartridge, and the ole Martini spat smoke!

earplug
February 25, 2012, 08:57 PM
Range I used to shoot at had a collection of mismatched fired rounds. Most were for pistols, 9mm in 40 S&W, 357 SIG in ? that sort of thing. I don't recall seeing any split brass. Mostly people getting magazines mixed up for same model firearms.
The extractor was able to hold enough of the rib to enable the rounds to fire. No injuries were reported, only malfunctions.

rcmodel
February 25, 2012, 09:02 PM
No doubt!

I think Elmer Keith relates a story in Sixguns about some kids being held captive by a BG. They found a black-powder 38-40 cartridge in the flotsam & jetsam in the cabin and wrapped it with paper so it would fit the chamber of their .45 Colt.
And proceeded to shoot the BG with it., ending his career as a BG.

Been a while since I re-read Sixguns again, but pretty sure it's in there somewhere.

rc

willypete
February 25, 2012, 09:32 PM
Either way, the shorter/smaller OD case and smaller OD bullet in the Colt chamber should drop the pressure to ridiculously low levels.

Agreed. This is part of the reason it's OK (not safe, not advisable, but possible) to fire a .45 Colt and a few other cartridges in a .410 bore shotgun.

I doubt the .44 special would headspace properly in a .45 colt chamber, though. Gas leaks might ensue, and you know what might happen...

You'll put your eye out!

solvability
February 25, 2012, 09:34 PM
You can shoot 243 in a 308 and 270 in 30-06 too if you want.

willypete
February 25, 2012, 10:38 PM
You can shoot 243 in a 308 and 270 in 30-06 too if you want.

The difference being that those two smaller cartridges headspace the same as their parent cartridges and gas will only leak around the bullet down the bore, not around the cartridge case.

cwl1862
February 25, 2012, 10:49 PM
Just because you can doesn't mean you should!:rolleyes: Besides that little experiment could have disasterous results. I wouldn't risk it.

Driftwood Johnson
February 26, 2012, 04:31 PM
So, I could take thise .44-40 ammo I was given, shoot it out of my .45 Colt and essentially fire form it into reloadable .45 Colt brass? Hmm. (wheels turning)

Howdy Again

Believe it or not, some guys actually do that. 44-40 brass is much thinner at the neck than 45 Colt. So some guys actually do fireform 44-40 brass in a 45 Colt chamber, then load it as 45 Colt. The goal is that the thinner brass at the neck of 44-40 will expand better to seal the chamber from blowback.

However, my little adventure with shooting 44-40 in a 45 Colt chamber did not result in brass that would be suitable for that. Here is a photo. The case in the middle is one of my 44-40 rounds that was fired in a 45 Colt chamber. It is surrounded by a piece of standard 45 Colt brass on the left and a 44-40 on the right. You will notice that the neck of my 44-40 round expanded to fill up the 45 Colt chamber, however the rest of the case has pretty much retained its 44-40 shape.

The reason for this is:

1. 44-40 brass is extremely thin at the case mouth, so the case ballooned out to fill that portion of the 45 Colt chamber.

2. The brass of the rest of the case is considerably thicker, so the Black Powder load did not develop enough pressure to expand the rest of the case to fill the 45 Colt chamber. I do know that some guys in CAS do this, to get less blowback with light 45 Colt loads, but they must be using a hotter load, to expand the rest of the case to fill the 45 Colt chamber. Also, 44-40 has a wider diameter rim than 45 Colt, ~.520 vs ~.512 for 45 Colt. This may cause a chambering problem with some guns.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/44-40shotas45.jpg

MCgunner
February 26, 2012, 05:44 PM
Ummmm, ummm, can, ummm, a .32 Colt be chambered and fired in a .50 S&W Magnum? Umm, well, ummm, can it? :rolleyes:

What does the gun say on the barrel? Is there something you don't understand about proper load in the gun?

mackg
February 26, 2012, 07:27 PM
I'm a little worried that some readers would jump to unsafe conclusions after reading this thread, so I'm going to repeat a story written by Skeeter Skelton's son, who is a Border Officer himself.

He and his partner once found that a Mexican officer had a beautiful Colt New Service in .45 Colt. They offered to purchase it but the deal took time, food and beverage before a final meeting was agreed on.

On the day of the meeting, the Mexican wasn't at the office. It turned out that he had loaned the gun to a couple of his men who wanted to shoot it.
The two guys apparently didn't have any .45 Colt ammo, but decided that .44 Magnum would be close enough if wrapped in adhesive tape......

The officer had missed his appointment with Skeeter's son because he was at the hospital checking on his men who had both been injured when the gun blew up.

So a smaller caliber might be "okay" to try in a bigger one, but as some mentionned adhesive tape, I don't want anybody to get hurt.
I was myself surprised by the story, until I remembered that peak pressure happens close to the cartridge head and apparently before the bullet has moved much.
Smaller bullets alone don't make the experiment safe.

Jaymo
February 26, 2012, 09:35 PM
I remember the story about the .45 being blown up bu shooting it with .44 mag.

I wouldn't shoot .44 special in a .45 colt. I have .44 revolvers for the .44 ammo and I have .45 ammo for the .45 revolver.
I could pull the bullets from the .44-40 and fireform them for the .45 colt.
Or, I could sell them and put the money toward more .45 colt ammo.

I'm not an idiot. I just play one on tv.

The Lone Haranguer
February 26, 2012, 10:39 PM
Normally, you should never fire the wrong ammunition in any firearm. However, if it is a life-and-death survival situation - such as the one rcmodel recounted - that is different, and is the only exception.

Hardtarget
February 27, 2012, 12:14 AM
I saw .44-40 ammo shot through a .45 chambered Judge. Not very accurate. The owner said he asked for .45 Colt. It (the .44-40 ammo) was sitting next to the .45 Colt and he didn't notice the clerk pick up the wrong box. I think 10 rounds went down range. None of the cases split...the gun didn't blow up...the guy was embarrassed by the whole situation. We shot other guns for a while.

Mark

GCBurner
February 27, 2012, 12:18 AM
I think the only cartridge made to be fired in multiple calibres is the "5-in-1" blank, which will chamber and fire safely in .45 Colt, .44-40, .44 Magnum, .38-40, and .410 shotgun.

willypete
February 27, 2012, 01:13 AM
What does the gun say on the barrel? Is there something you don't understand about proper load in the gun?

Sometimes, it's ok to bend or break the rules when you're doing so in an informed manner. If no one ever did anything outside of what was safe or sanctioned, life would be very boring and we'd all still live in Africa or the Middle East.

trex1310
February 27, 2012, 10:21 AM
I think you should get in the habit of firing only what is stamped
on the barrel with obvious exceptions like .38spl/.357 magnum etc.

MCgunner
February 27, 2012, 01:12 PM
Its amazing the number of folks that think they can shoot .45ACP in a Judge without moon clips. :rolleyes: How's about firing a 16 gauge in a 12 gauge single shot? Try that one. See, this habit could get dangerous real fast. "Informed" experimenting is still outside the realm of safe gun handling in most cases and I won't do it. When I was a punk kid, I shot a few cut 16 gauge shells in my old full choked Iver Johnson single shot. Didn't hurt the gun, but I sorta shutter at the thought now days. I've grown up and gotten less stupid, not smart mind you, but less stupid.

Lots of guys talk about shooting .32 long in a Nagant revolver. Me, I don't like the Nagant revolver, anyway, but I wouldn't do it.

S.B.
February 27, 2012, 01:15 PM
Case will split and dangerous gases will blow back into your face.
Steve

RevolvingGarbage
February 27, 2012, 01:28 PM
9x19mm will often drop fit into the chamber of a .38S&W break top, and will go off if you pull the trigger.

Do NOT try that one, unless you like holding grenades as they go off for a hobby.

Driftwood Johnson
February 27, 2012, 06:13 PM
Sometimes, it's ok to bend or break the rules when you're doing so in an informed manner.

Exactly. That is why I posted about shooting a few 44-40s in a 45 Colt. I am very familiar with both cartridges, the loads were Black Powder, and there was no way enough pressure was going to be generated to damage anything.

Usta be there was a whole lot of wildcatters in this country. Guys who made up their own cartridges, working from the seat of their pants. I also seem to remember there was a guy named Elmer who did a lot of experimenting with hot 44 Specials. We would not have a 44 Magnum cartridge today without guys who are not afraid to do a little bit of experimenting. (Of course Elmer blew up a 45, so then he decided to stick with 44s. Chalk that up to experience.

How many of you guys will only fire a brand new gun fresh out of the box? When you buy an old gun do you take it to a gunsmith to have him check it out, or are you familiar enough with it to rely on your own knowledge to determine if it is safe to shoot?

Worst comes to worst, last I looked it is still OK to fasten a gun down to an old tire and pull the trigger with a string from a distance if you are not certain it is safe.

highlander 5
February 27, 2012, 06:31 PM
I can speak from personal experince on this. Years ago I had a freind who came shooting with me and mistakenly fire 44 mags loaded to 44 Spl loads from a 45 Colt. Had both a 44 mag and 45 Colt with me. The cases didn't split but they did come out looking like a pilsner glass. I did manage to resize the cases back to 44 mag specs and made a note not to bring said friend to the range again. Revolvers were both Ruger Blackhawks and as far as I could tell no damage done to the 45.

Pigoutultra
February 27, 2012, 09:01 PM
It's somewhat understandable that someone could mistakenly chamber a .44 special in a .45 colt since they both have the same rim diameter.

lloveless
February 28, 2012, 06:55 PM
I don't think that a .45 colt will fire from a .410 shotgun without damage to the gun since the shotgun is .41 caliber. An aquaintance of mine wanted to shoot a .41 mag in a .410. I don't know if he ever finished the experiment for want of a cartridge.
ll

willypete
February 28, 2012, 07:05 PM
"Informed" experimenting is still outside the realm of safe gun handling in most cases and I won't do it.

The actual experiment is the last thing you do after researching the possible effects of your actions. You don't grab a .44 special or magnum and shove it in a .45 colt chamber and pull the trigger, you research pressure levels, cartridge dimensions, internal ballistics, and maybe ask a few experienced individuals (y'know, like on a forum) what might happen. Then, IF you have decided that such a thing might be possible, safe, and advisable, you MIGHT consider doing so.

That's "informed" experimentation. You don't have to actually do something stupid to determine that it's stupid.

If you don't want to try new things, fine. Someone's already mentioned Elmer Keith. Progress has to start somewhere.

I don't think that a .45 colt will fire from a .410 shotgun without damage to the gun since the shotgun is .41 caliber.

Depends on the shotgun and the .45 colt load. .410 chambers are much longer and larger than the .45 colt shell (which will just barely headspace properly in the .410 chamber. True, the barrel is smaller than the bullet, but a soft lead .45 caliber bullet at low pressure can be fired from a .410 shotgun with no damage to shooter or gun.

smkummer
February 29, 2012, 09:45 AM
I had both a 44 special Colt SAA and a New Frontier Colt in 45 at the range one day and both ammo boxes were green plastic. This was maybe 5 years ago and I noticed the report sounded stange. I believe the load was 7.5 grains Unique and the 245 Kieth bullet, a warm load in 44 special but I am sure full pressure was not obtained firing in a 45 Colt chamber. I cant remember if I was shooting at paper or cans at 25 yards but believe I hit whatever I was shooting at maybe 1/2 the time (6 shots). Upon ejecting the cases I noticed the buldge (yes pilsner glass shape) but I can't remember if they came out hard. I was able to resize the cases back to 44 special. So now today I almost never bring 44 special and 45 Colt to the range at the same time. It really bothered me that I made that mistake (I am 51 now) but when shooting with buddies, distractions can happen. So yes, in an emergency one can do it and I would not have an issue doing it if my life depended. I used to have Ruger loads for my Colt 45 Anaconda in Red Boxes so I would not make a mistake and fire them in my SAA but as on now, all my 45 Colt loads are loaded at SAA pressures. Now my 44 special and 44 magnum ammo is on green boxes and 45 Colt is in red or gray.

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