The colt .45


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Barry the Bear
May 12, 2013, 02:48 PM
I went to my lgs with my 10 year old brother in law to look around and get some ammo. Well these younger kids are huddled around a citadel 1911 in .45 acp and keep saying its a colt .45 but my young brother nexts to me says "i thought that was a colt .45 " pointing to a ruger vaquero . I couldnt for the life of me tell him the right answer . So brands set aside, what is the true colt .45 ? 1911 or SAA?

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joecil
May 12, 2013, 03:02 PM
I would say the SAA since it predated the 45 ACP by about half a century or so. Besides it is my understanding Auto Colt Pistol is what ACP means.

highlander 5
May 12, 2013, 03:13 PM
45 Colt cartridge has always been associated with the SAA for as long as I can remember.
The 45 ACP came along much later and has always been THE cartridge for the Browning designed 1911.

jimbo555
May 12, 2013, 03:17 PM
The colt 45 revolver is the saa. The colt 45 autoloading pistol is the 1911.

Weevil
May 12, 2013, 03:18 PM
Well actually they both are.

The .45 Colt for the SAA revolver was indeed the original but the .45 ACP was designed as a pistol version of the .45 Colt.

The ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol.

They were both .45s designed for Colt handguns ones a revolver version and the other for pistols.

So I don't really think it's wrong to call either one a Colt .45.

Ed Ames
May 12, 2013, 03:47 PM
I would say out this way...

The vaquero is chambered in .45 Colt. The Citadel is chambered in .45 ACP or "Auto Colt". The oversized can of beer is a Colt 45.

:)

jeepnik
May 12, 2013, 04:06 PM
(insert Blazing Saddles town folk reverently repeating "Randolph Scott" here),Hmm, well according to the film and the tv show Colt 45, it would be a SAA. And since the movie stared Randolph Scott it's got to be true.:)

BCRider
May 12, 2013, 05:22 PM
I've "trained" myself to call the short ones "45 ACP" and the tall ones "45 Colt" just to avoid this sort of confusion.

And my tastes in beer means that I won't ever need to say "Colt 45" since I'd never order that sort of dishwater.... :D

BSA1
May 12, 2013, 05:24 PM
Hence one of the reasons for the term 45 LONG Colt.

Vern Humphrey
May 12, 2013, 05:25 PM
The Single Action Army (SAA) revolver was chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge (other chamberings were offered later.)

The M1911 United States Pistol was chambered for the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP).

So there are two .45 Cartridges in general use, one for revolvers and one for automatic pistols.

Rob G
May 12, 2013, 05:29 PM
I think if you really want to know about Colt 45 one should consider the words of Billy Dee Williams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHtT0x6_MDM

But in all seriousness I think it's probably a somewhat personal thing. When you say Colt .45 to me I automatically think of a 1911 and many of my friends would say the same. However older generations, or those really into the cowboy thing might very well think of a Colt SAA instead. Billy Dee Williams would of course think of a cold can of malt liqour.

Jaymo
May 12, 2013, 05:46 PM
Well, the 1911 is a Browning .45, since it was designed by John Moses Browning.
If you want to pick nits, which I sometimes enjoy. :)

If you really want to confuse the issue, throw in the Colt New Service DA revolver in .45 Colt, AND the Colt 1917 DA revolver in .45 ACP.

Ah, yes. Lando Calrissian doing commercials for malt liquor.
That takes me back about 30 years.

Vern Humphrey
May 12, 2013, 05:51 PM
Well, the 1911 is a Browning .45, since it was designed by John Moses Browning.
But he designed it for Colt. Colt owned the patents.

Deaf Smith
May 12, 2013, 06:03 PM
Yes Single Action revolvers (SAA stands for Single Action Army) tend to be made in .45 LONG COLT. The original version being the .45 COLT (the U.S. Army adopted a 230 gr lead slug at 850 fps) and bit later the civilian version, slightly longer, called the .45 LONG COLT which threw a 255 grain lead slug at 900+.

When the U.S. Army decided the little .38 Long Colt was inadequate they decided a semi-auto in the original velocity and weight would do the deed. Thus the .45 ACP threw a 230 gr FMJ at 850 (as it does today.)

Happily you can get a single action revolver in .45 Long Colt that also shoots .45 ACP with the change of the cylinders. But that is because the bore diameter was changed in the .45 Long Colt from .454 to .451.

All .45 Long Colt revolvers now days use the .451 bore dimension.

Deaf

Pilot
May 12, 2013, 06:14 PM
It depends on where you go.

http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii119/chicobangs/colt_45.jpg (http://media.photobucket.com/user/chicobangs/media/colt_45.jpg.html)



:evil::D

Oh yeah. Disclaimer: Alcohol and guns do not mix. Do NOT try this at home.

Vern Humphrey
May 12, 2013, 06:30 PM
Yes Single Action revolvers (SAA stands for Single Action Army) tend to be made in .45 LONG COLT. The original version being the .45 COLT (the U.S. Army adopted a 230 gr lead slug at 850 fps) and bit later the civilian version, slightly longer, called the .45 LONG COLT which threw a 255 grain lead slug at 900+.
Just the other way around. Scholfield persuaded the Army to buy some Smith and Wesson revolvers, but the Army wanted them in .45 Colt -- which was the standard at the time. The Smith and Wesson cylinder was too short to take the .45 Colt, so they proposed to design a shorter cartridge -- that's where the 230 grain bullet at around 800 fps came in.

The Army made its own ammunition in those days and stopped production of the longer cartridge, since both Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers could use the shorter cartridge.

Weevil
May 12, 2013, 06:33 PM
Another thing to consider is the .45 acp offered .45 Colt performance in a pistol version.


The .45 Colt was a tried and true performer from the era that had a reputaion for being one of the best manstoppers of the day. The .45 acp was meant to carry on this tradition for exellence but in an autoloader form.



The ACP is basically just the next generation of Colt .45.

ArchAngelCD
May 13, 2013, 02:36 AM
Wouldn't any .45 Caliber handgun manufactured by Colt be a Colt 45?

There is a distinct difference between a 45 Colt and a Colt 45. Many different manufacturers make a handgun that will fire a 45 Colt cartridge while only Colt can manufacture a Colt 45.

Old_Gun_Hand
May 13, 2013, 02:43 AM
It can refer to both and may be more appropriate to the 1911 since that only came in .45 while the Colt SAA came in a lot of calibers. The .45 LC was not the most popular as legend suggests. It may be now, but not back then when mean preferred the bigger calibers to match what they shot in their rifles. Rifle calibers were often the first choice and not the pistol .45 pistol cartridge.

It also can refer to a Malt Liquor. There is no right answer but I would have smacked, I mean, given that kid a time out for making me look foolish in front of other people. :D

ArchAngelCD
May 13, 2013, 03:06 AM
It can refer to both and may be more appropriate to the 1911 since that only came in .45 while the Colt SAA came in a lot of calibers. The .45 LC was not the most popular as legend suggests. It may be now, but not back then when mean preferred the bigger calibers to match what they shot in their rifles. Rifle calibers were often the first choice and not the pistol .45 pistol cartridge.

It also can refer to a Malt Liquor. There is no right answer but I would have smacked, I mean, given that kid a time out for making me look foolish in front of other people. :D
This is true, the Colt SAA was very popular in 44-40 because they could also buy a Winchester levergun in 44-40. Back then there were no leverguns chambered in 45 Colt. The only real SAA revolvers chambered in 45 Colt were made for the Army, hardly any were in civilian hands, that's probably why no Winchesters in .45 Colt. (I think I got the history right)

Vern Humphrey
May 13, 2013, 01:08 PM
Wouldn't any .45 Caliber handgun manufactured by Colt be a Colt 45?

Correct. Any .45 caliber handgun manufactured by Colt could be called a Colt .45. And Colt .45s come in two flavors -- .45 Colt and .45 ACP.

murf
May 13, 2013, 01:54 PM
the 45lc was not chambered in a lever action rifle because the rim was too small.

there were many manufacturers of the colt 1911: remington, singer, ithica (i think). so, a 45 caliber colt patented firearm could be, and were, manufactured by other companies. the government could do anything it wanted when the world wars came along (money talks).

i will always refer to the 45 caliber cartridge, originally designed for the colt single action army back in 1872, as the 45 long colt. less confusion thataway.

murf

tipoc
May 13, 2013, 08:01 PM
From the OP:

I went to my lgs with my 10 year old brother in law to look around and get some ammo. Well these younger kids are huddled around a citadel 1911 in .45 acp and keep saying its a colt .45 but my young brother nexts to me says "i thought that was a colt .45 " pointing to a ruger vaquero . I couldnt for the life of me tell him the right answer . So brands set aside, what is the true colt .45 ? 1911 or SAA?

Short answer, with brands set aside, they both are. If that helps understanding any.

But you can't set brands aside totally because that's part of the history that gave birth to the term, "Colt 45".

A SAA made by Colt and chambered in 45 Colt is now and has been since 1877 referred to as a "Colt 45". Different from a "Frontier Six Shooter" which was a SAA made by Colt and chambered in 44-40.

A Ruger Blackhawk or Uberti SAA chambered in 45 Colt are called a Blackhawk in 45 Colt or an Uberti in 45 Colt, or Long Colt if one prefers, both terms refer to the same caliber.

When the 1911 came along, manufactured by Colt to the Army's specs and chambered in 45acp, it was a natural that folks also called it a "Colt 45". The military never called it that nor did Colt, but everyday folks who are not such sticklers for proper nomenclature, well they did. That continued for a long time. Nowdays many non gun folks still call all 1911s a "Colt 45". Most shooters no longer apply that term to all 1911s. But if it's made by Colt and it's in 45acp it can be your Colt 45.

So if I was explaining this to a 10 year old I'd say, "Nope that gun is a Ruger Blackhawk that shoots the cartridge called a 45 Colt. The gun is a lot like the old 45 Colt's though. That other gun is a pistol called a 1911 type. It's also based on a gun made by Colt shoots a slightly different cartridge. It's complicated and takes time to learn. We have the time though, and it's fun!"

tipoc

tipoc
May 13, 2013, 08:11 PM
Double post.

ottsixx
May 14, 2013, 02:07 AM
the old revolver was or is the 45 colt the 1911 is the 45 ACP "automatic colt pistol".

moxie
May 14, 2013, 03:05 PM
Back in the old days, before the term "1911" became popular, we called all 1911s "Colt .45s" or just ".45s," regardless of who made them, Colt, Ithaca, Remington-Rand, etc.

Of course we were so dim-witted we even called mags clips sometimes. I've got a friend who was a Marine M-60 man who got to use his 1911 in earnest a few times. He still calls mags clips and for some reason I don't feel compelled to correct him. Safer that way.

Somehow, despite such inaccuracies, we got through the night.

Greg528iT
May 14, 2013, 03:47 PM
He still calls mags clips and for some reason
In basic he probably learned to shoot an M1 Garande 1st.. where you load the magazine with the CLIP.. the clip was the portable thing that held the bullets when not in or just prior to loading the gun. So.. when looking down at a bench where bullets have been staged ready to insert into the gun. A M1 Clip and a 1911 magazine serve exactly the same purpose. The means of inserting bullets into the gun.

moxie
May 14, 2013, 04:08 PM
Most guys back then called them clips for whatever reason. And I'm not going to correct them!

JRH6856
May 14, 2013, 04:58 PM
I thought Colt '45s was the baseball team the Houston Astros used to be. :what:

BullRunBear
May 14, 2013, 06:19 PM
I grew up in a navy town in the 50s and, of course, there were plenty of Marines around, both active and retired. Colt 45 generally meant a 1911. Ammo for it was 45acp. Just common usage for the time and place. The cowboy guns we saw on TV were usually called Colts without the caliber.

This was Rhode Island (not exactly a gun culture area). It wasn't until I started shooting handguns as an adult that I learned the revolver/45 Colt vs pistol/45acp designations.

Jeff

JDBoardman
May 15, 2013, 03:56 PM
JRH6856:

You are stretchin' it some to call the Houston Astros a 'baseball team'

BlindJustice
May 15, 2013, 04:20 PM
Colt Single Action Army aka SAA aka "Peacemaker" The US Army version is in .45 Colt 1873 some call the cartrdge .45 Long COlt

>45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol ) aka .45 Auto-1902
developed for the M1911 & it was also adapted for the
large frame S&W 2nd Model Hand Ejector and the Colt
New Service DA revolvers with the use of half moon clips
both revolvers named the M1917 by the US Army Then,
in the early '20s, with a lot of M1917s going to surplus
Remington Peters created the .45 Auto Rim cartrdge
which can be used without the moon clips

S&W didn't chamber a civilian model of the .45 Colt
until the mid-80s with the Model 25-5 I believe.

R-


R-

murf
May 15, 2013, 05:12 PM
blindjustice,

s&w continued making the model 1917 after the war for civilians and police. in 1950 the name changed to "model 1950 military" and ,later in the decade, became the model 22.

murf

JRH6856
May 15, 2013, 05:40 PM
When I was growing up, the 1911 was the ".45 Auto" and the SAA was the "Colt .45" or ".45 Colt"

S&W didn't chamber a civilian model of the .45 Colt
until the mid-80s with the Model 25-5 I believe.

Unless you count the S&W .45 Schofield which chambered the same round the Army issued for the Colt SAA which was not the .45 "Long" Colt. ;)

jeepnik
May 15, 2013, 07:17 PM
Hence one of the reasons for the term 45 LONG Colt.
Actually, the "long" came about to differentiate the .45 colt from the shorter .45 Schofield when the army was issuing both. While the Schofield round would work in the Model 1873, the longer round wouldn't fit in the S&W Schofields.

There never was a .45 Long Colt, although I have seen a few boxes so labeled in error by the manufacturer.

unspellable
May 15, 2013, 09:26 PM
The history needs a bit of clarification here.

The 45 Colt cartridge came first.

Next the 45 Schofield. Why didn't S&W make it long enough to take the 45 Colt? Modern replicas do.

You could only put three 45 Schofields in the SAA due to its wider rim. (Also applies to my Italian SAA clone.)

Next the 45 Government. The 45 Colt rim on a cartridge with the Schofield length. You could put six in a SAA at the expense of a some what increased risk of getting a rim under the extractor on the Schofield. This cartridge went on the civilian market where it was known as the 45 Short Colt. (Had nothing to do with the 45 ACP which it predated.)

Next came the 45 Revolver with the wide rim, 45 Colt length, but loaded to 45 Schofield ballistics. This is the cartridge the Colt New Service Model 1909 was meant for. This was a stop gap in service for only two years as the army had already decided to go semi-auto.

Lastly, the 45 ACP, originally intended to duplicate the Schofield ballistics in a shorter case.

You will note that excepting the 45 Colt, all these cartridges have more or less the same ballistics as the 45 Schofield. The army felt that the 45 Colt recoil was a bit much.

Now you guys can go back to debating what to call what.

JRH6856
May 15, 2013, 09:35 PM
unspellable, you left out the the .45 Auto Rim. ;)

unspellable
May 15, 2013, 10:14 PM
Mia culpa!

There is also a cartridge known as the 45 Short or 45 Corto. I have a box of them by Fiochi. I think it's a European cartridge and not really related to the 45 Colt family although it appears to be more or less the same diameter and would chamber and fire in a revolver chambered for 45 Colt or 45 Schofield. Or at least the later, I haven't really made a close examination of the rim.

JRH6856
May 15, 2013, 10:23 PM
And then there is the .45 GAP.

unspellable
May 15, 2013, 11:07 PM
There is also the British 476 Enfield cartridge. I have no opinions on this point myself, but there are those who say the original 45 Colt was inspired by the 476 Enfield.

Jim K
May 15, 2013, 11:11 PM
When I see another thread on the .45 vs. .45 vs. .45 vs. .45, [and on and on] I just curl up in the corner in a fetal position and pull my blanket over my head until it all goes away.

Jim

unspellable
May 15, 2013, 11:30 PM
Jin K, give us a break. So far at least this has not been a this vs that thread, just history.

JRH6856
May 16, 2013, 12:49 AM
There is also the British 476 Enfield cartridge. I have no opinions on this point myself, but there are those who say the original 45 Colt was inspired by the 476 Enfield.
Let's see, the .45 Colt showed up in 1872, the .476 Enfield/Eley in 1880, so I don't think so. Now, the .450 Adams which the .476 Enfield replaced was introduced in 1868 as the British Army's first centrefire revolver round. It can be fired in the original (.454) Colt SAA so it is a possibility.

jeepnik
May 16, 2013, 06:38 PM
The history needs a bit of clarification here.

The 45 Colt cartridge came first.

Next the 45 Schofield. Why didn't S&W make it long enough to take the 45 Colt? Modern replicas do.

You could only put three 45 Schofields in the SAA due to its wider rim. (Also applies to my Italian SAA clone.)

Next the 45 Government. The 45 Colt rim on a cartridge with the Schofield length. You could put six in a SAA at the expense of a some what increased risk of getting a rim under the extractor on the Schofield. This cartridge went on the civilian market where it was known as the 45 Short Colt. (Had nothing to do with the 45 ACP which it predated.)

Next came the 45 Revolver with the wide rim, 45 Colt length, but loaded to 45 Schofield ballistics. This is the cartridge the Colt New Service Model 1909 was meant for. This was a stop gap in service for only two years as the army had already decided to go semi-auto.

Lastly, the 45 ACP, originally intended to duplicate the Schofield ballistics in a shorter case.

You will note that excepting the 45 Colt, all these cartridges have more or less the same ballistics as the 45 Schofield. The army felt that the 45 Colt recoil was a bit much.

Now you guys can go back to debating what to call what.
The only folks who thought the .45 colt was "too much" were armchair warriors. They figured it was more than needed to deal with human targets. But what they didn't even think of was that, when dealing with horse mounted troops, you don't shoot the troop, you shoot the horse first. The horse power (pun intended) of the bigger .45 colt round would do just that.

As an aside, that's one of the things that's always bugged me about combat involving horses in the movies and TV. Whether with firearms or edged weapons, they never show the horses being shot/stabbed/slashed or in any other way maimed. Yet, if you took down the horse (a much bigger target/easier for a man on foot with an edged weapon to disable) the rider will at the best be shaken, if not injured or killed when the horse goes down.

Then again, you never see the horses pulling wagons or stagecoaches being shot to stop the rig, yet, shoot one horse and the whole mess, horses, rig and people just end up in a tumbled mix of dead stuff.

unspellable
May 16, 2013, 07:09 PM
It's the armchair warriors who think the recoil wasn't too much. While the concept of shooting the horse was very much in the picture, you have to keep in mind that not every trooper was a gunny, recoil matters. The army did look for less recoil.

You will note that although the 45 Revolver has a case a frog hair longer than the 45 Colt it was loaded to only 45 Schofield power levels.

The original specification for a 45 self loader (Before the army had any real notion of what pistol they would end up with.) called for a 45 cartridge loaded to Schofield power levels.

The army was very much looking for 45 Schofield power levels, NOT 45 Colt power levels.

Vern Humphrey
May 16, 2013, 07:10 PM
You could only put three 45 Schofields in the SAA due to its wider rim. (Also applies to my Italian SAA clone.)
The .45 Schofeld worked in the SAA without any rim interference. The Army manufactured its own ammunition at the time, and decided to ONLY manufacture the .45 Schofield (or .45 Short) because it could be used both in the S&W and the Colt. So regiments armed with SAAs were issued .45 Schofield ammo, and had no complaints -- in fact, they liked it better due to the reduced recoil.

The cartridge with the wide rim was the .45 US Revolver cartridge developed for the M1909 revolver -- the Colt New Service. Those cartridges could only be loaded in every other chamber if used in a SAA. The .45 Colt, as commercially loaded those days, however, could be loaded in both the M1909 and SAA and would function perfectly.

unspellable
May 16, 2013, 08:45 PM
The Schofield had a wider rim and only three would chamber in the SAA. That's why the 45 Government was developed by the army for use in both revolvers. (That's the bit where the army was producing their own ammunition.) Remington (and possibly others) then put it on the market as the 45 Short Colt which is where the term short Colt originated. Had nothing to do with the 45 ACP which was still off in the future.. It's a distinct cartridge from the 45 Schofield. BTW: Modern brass head stamped 45 Schoefield tends to have a narrow rim, don't go by that. Too much trouble for the manufacturer to adjust the machinery for the wider rim. The 45 Government was notable for being more likely to get under the extractor on the Schofield revolver than the proper Schofield cartridge which is why the Schofield cartridge had a wider rim in the first place. (BTW: The 45 Schofield cartrdige went on the civilian market as the 45 S&W, distinct from the 45 Short Colt.).

The 45 revolver, like the 45 Schofield could only be loaded three at a time in the SAA.

Baba Louie
May 16, 2013, 09:41 PM
When I was a kid, 1911's were called .45 autos. (well, that's how my Dad taught me since most were Colts, some R/R, Ithaca, US&S etc, not to mention the older WWI era RemUMC & Springfield Armory)

Colt .45s (AKA Peacemaker or SAA) were cowboy guns made by Colt.

Jim K
May 16, 2013, 11:01 PM
I know I swore off, but things are very confused.

I know what COTW says, but there was NO ".45 Schofield" or ".45 S&W" cartridge made before the Schofield was adopted by the Army. Only a handful (35) of First Model Schofields were not bought by the Army. The Army adopted the Schofield in 1874, only a year after adoption of the Model 1873 SAA. Frankford Arsenal was given the first production order for the .45 cartridge of Schofield length in August, 1874, and as soon as production began, no other revolver cartridge was issued by the Army until the end of the SAA era. So, except for a few cartridges c. 1873, the Army never issued the .45 Colt ("Long Colt").

Nor did the ".45 Schofield" have too large a rim; it had the same rim as the .45 Colt. Later, when the .45 Model 1909 cartridge was adopted, it became confused with the .45 Schofield and the "three in a cylinder" story was transferred back to the Schofield cartridge. Confusion is compounded by the variation in rim diameter of both the .45 Colt and the .45 Government. COTW gives it as .506" but in fact, samples of both rounds, Benet primed as well as outside primed, show a diameter as great as .522" (vs. c. .538" for the Model 1909 cartridge).

After the Schofield was taken out of service and sold on the civilian market, several commercial ammo companies made the cartridge. Some chose not to make new headstamp bunters and used ".45 Colt" on the short cartridge, further adding to the confusion.

Jim

JRH6856
May 16, 2013, 11:27 PM
^^^this thread is certainly illustrating that confusion.

unspellable
May 16, 2013, 11:37 PM
Jim K, you have certainly added to the confusion, but you have also raised a couple of points that might be worth following up on.

First, it should be noted that the original 45 Colt had an even narrower rim than the narrow rim we are accustomed to today.

Secondly, the Schofield revolver, being a top break with an extractor star would want a wider rim whether it got it or not.

Thirdly, it's clear the army did develop the 45 Government which later went on the civilian market as the 45 Short Colt. Why?

Fourth, at some point the 45 S&W cartridge appeared on the civilian market and is generally considered to be the same as 45 Schofield and not the same as the 45 Government or 45 Short Colt.

And there are lots of stories around about the 45 Schofield not chambering properly in the SAA.

The 45 revolver had a wide rim (hard fact, I have a box of them in the original issue box.)

Why, unless they remembered the extractor issue? And there were a few SAAs still in active service during the 1909 New Service's heyday. And having a few 45 Revolver cartridges in hand, I tried it, and they don't chamber properly in the SAA or its clones.

I guess the bottom line here, is did the original Schofield cartridge have a wide rim? Every thing I've seen would seem to say it did.

unspellable
May 16, 2013, 11:45 PM
For those of you who hand load the 45 Colt for revolvers larger than the SAA, and particularly swing out cylinder revolvers, Starline once ran off a batch of what they called "wide rim 45 Colt" brass, or what I might call '45 revolver" brass. I learned about this after they were sold out. This brass would be much better for the average swing out cylinder revolver. Go and bug Starline to run another batch!!!

Jim K
May 17, 2013, 09:39 PM
Hi, unspellable,

It is really rather simple. There were only two cartridges used by the Army in that period - the .45 Colt (aka "long Colt") and the .45 Schofield (aka .45 Government, or .45 S&W, or .45 Army, .45 Short Colt, or even .45 Colt). The .45 Colt ("long Colt") cases are about 1.27" long; the shorter cases are about 1.10" long. After c. 1874, NO .45 "Long" Colt cartridges were made, purchased, or issued by the Army. The ONLY .45 revolver cartridges issued were made by Frankford Arsenal and they were the short case.

Part of the problem is that cartridge makers, especially Frankford Arsenal, did not hold tolerances very well in those days, so case length and rim diameters can vary rather widely, giving rise to the idea that there were different cartridges involved. For example, I have a Frankford Arsenal Benet primed .45 Government cartridge with a rim diameter of .516", and a Frankford Arsenal outside primed center-fire (F A 93) with a rim diameter of .522". Same cartridges, both made by the government factory, both issued for the same single action revolver, but a noticeable difference in dimensions.

That kind of discrepancy has led to the idea that there was a separate .45 S&W, made by or for S&W for the Schofield before it was adopted by the Army. There was not, at least as a commercial cartridge; S&W reportedly used cut off .45 Colt cases for its testing, but I have not been able to confirm that.

The Model 1909 cartridge is a separate item altogether. The Army, determined to replace the .38 revolver, and fed up with the seemingly endless search for an auto pistol, decided to buy a .45 revolver, which became the Model 1909. It is simply a Colt New Service in .45 Colt, with military markings. But in testing, the Army found out that the small rim of the .45 Colt cartridge jumped the extractor on the new revolver, making the gun inoperable until the jam was corrected (I tried it once, and it took ten minutes). So the Army developed its own cartridge, the Model 1909 cartridge, with a larger rim diameter (about .536") than the .45 Colt. That cartridge was never made commercially, only at Frankford Arsenal for issue to the Army. Colt never chambered any revolver for that cartridge or changed the New Service in any way. Due to the larger rim diameter, only three of that cartridge will fit into the SAA Colt.

So did the Army care? Nope. By 1909, the Model 1873 was long obsolete and no longer being issued. Most had been sold off. And the Army Model 1909 cartridge was never made or sold on the commercial market, so Colt didn't care, either.

I know this is far too long, but I think it is accurate and as good a summary as I can give.

Jim

unspellable
May 17, 2013, 11:18 PM
Hi Jim,
The cartridge for the 1909 New Service was officially the “45 Revolver”. (At least that’s what it says on the army issue box.) Otherwise I agree with everything you say about it. As for the 1909 new Service revolver I suspect the front sight may have had a slightly different height than the civilian New Service in 45 Colt. Guess at this point it would take some measurements to resolve that question.
The Schofield revolver has a star extractor and is subject to the same problem of getting the rim under the extractor. I’ve never had a Schofield but it’s been my experience with top break revolvers that they are a bit more prone to the problem than swing out cylinder revolvers due to the difference in orientation when opening the cylinder.
As for the shorter versions of the 45 cartridge: It’s a hard fact that the cartridge the government was producing was known as the “45 Government” and also a hard fact that Remington later produced it for the civilian market as the “45 Short Colt”.
Was the 45 S&W different? Did it have a wide rim 0r not? I’d like to see some more on that point. If it did have a wider rim, it doesn’t automatically follow that the army used it. Was it something that went on the civilian market later? Was there a commercial loading labeled 45 S&W or 45 Schofield, regardless of dimensions or when produced? (Barring modern stuff from the discussion.)
As for production variances, they do exist. I’ve seen VERY early examples of the 45 Colt and the rim was almost non-existent.
One question I’ve never heard an answer for is why didn’t S&W simply make the Schofield long enough to take the 45 Colt like some modern Schofield replicas?

JRH6856
May 18, 2013, 12:17 AM
One question I’ve never heard an answer for is why didn’t S&W simply make the Schofield long enough to take the 45 Colt like some modern Schofield replicas?

Perhaps for the same reason that Winchester didn't make a rifle chambered for .45 Colt. Colt held the patent and wouldn't allow it.

Jim K
May 18, 2013, 02:44 AM
Hi, JRH,

I would think they didn't want to make new forging dies and revamp their entire production line for a relatively small sale of less than 9,000 guns.

Hi, Unspellable,

The official and complete name for the 1909 cartridge was "Caliber .45 Revolver Ball Cartridge, Model of 1909" and that is what is on the boxes I have seen.

The Model 1909 has the same front sight height as the .45 Colt New Service because it is a .45 Colt New Service.* The Model 1909 cartridge has the same case length and ballistics as the .45 Colt; the only difference is the rim diameter. (Don't confuse the Model 1909 cartridge with the .45 Schofield (by whatever name).)

As far as I can determine, the first "official" nomenclature for the .45 Schofield was Cartridge, Cal. .45 Revolver, Ball (S&W Schofield Length). Later, when it was the only revolver cartridge being issued, the parenthetical phrase was dropped and it became just the Cartridge, Cal. 45 Revolver, Ball, and that is what the GI boxes were marked. The reloadable outside primed case was given the designation Model 1882, but IIRC the boxes were not marked that.

The .45 Army, .45 Army Revolver, .45 Gov't, .45 Gov't Revolver, .45 S&W, .45 Schofield, were all the same cartridge; any differences were due to variations in manufacture, not to different cartridges. Yes, some REM-UMC cases were headstamped ".45 COLT". UMC cases were stamped ".45 S&W", and Peters cases were stamped ".45 C GOVT". Frankford Arsenal cases were stamped "F", "RF" or "LF" and the month and year. The "RF" meant it was a reloadable (Model 1882) case; when the "R" was confused with the .45-70 marking for rifle ammunition, the reloading indication was changed to "L". Benet primed cases had no headstamp.

*Yes, I measured.

Jim

shafter
May 18, 2013, 08:41 AM
They're both Colt 45's however the SAA is what immediately comes to mind when someone mentions a Colt 45.

unspellable
May 18, 2013, 11:34 AM
My 1909 cartridges have the bullet weight and velocity on the box and they are downloaded from the 45 Colt, more in the 45 Schofield range. I'd go drag them out for a second look but as it happens I'm on the road in another state at the moment.

Jim K
May 18, 2013, 05:16 PM
Correct, and my error. The boxes show a velocity of 725 fps +/- 25 fps, so anywhere from 700 to 750 fps, considerably under the .45 Colt ballistics and, as you say, in the .45 Gov't range.


I have not wanted to get into experimental cartridges as there is plenty of confusion with the formally adopted ones. There were several experimental rounds, as Frankford played with rim diameter, trying to find a size that would work in both the New Service and the SAA. But the production Model 1909 cartridge will fit in the SAA only if every other chamber is skipped.

There was a Model 1906 with a full jacket bullet (the Hague convention banned expanding bullets in 1899), and S&W considered producing a revolver for that round to the extent that they had UMC make 6000 rounds for development work. In the event, the Model 1906 round was not adopted and the Model 1909 cartridge was adopted instead.

Jim

unspellable
May 18, 2013, 09:16 PM
Jim K
I have always regarded the 45 Government & the 45 Short Colt as army issue and civilian versions of the same cartridge,

I have always regarded the 45 Schofield and the 45 S&W to be the same cartridge.

I’m still chewing on the idea of the first two being the same as the second two.

Went web surfing. (Too much time on my hands stuck in this hotel room.) And I found mention of the 45 Government having a wider rim than the 45 Colt but not so wide as the 1909. Sort of obvious it couldn’t be that wide.

I found a picture of a Peters cartridge head stamped 45 Gov which would seem to indicate there was a civilian cartridge labeled as 45 Government. I have information to the effect that Remington marketed a version of the 45 Government labeled as 45 Short Colt. Question; when did Remington take over Peters?

Here’s where it gets screwy. I found a lengthy discussion thread on modifying a Ruger Blackhawk to take the 45 Schofield involving reducing the ratchet diameter to make room for the wider rim? This is really screwy. Assume for sake of argument the Schoefield had a wide rim. Why butcher a Blackhawk? Plenty of 45 Colt brass around. When I pick up modern Schofield brass at a gun show it doesn’t have a wide rim. Yet, if they were going to that much trouble they had wide rimmed something. Unfortunately they just called it 45 Schofield and gave no further information. If they had a collection of some 110 year old brass it wouldn’t make much since to use it.

BTW: Never tried dropping a 1909 in a Blackhawk, only my New Service and my Italian SAA clone. And it does make since that S&W would start out using trimmed 45 Colt brass in the back room, whether the final cartridge had a wide rime or not.

I have a rifle chambered for 360-400. Trying to sort that one out is worse than the 45s above. There are five different versions, no two of which are intechangable.

Jim K
May 19, 2013, 12:30 AM
I noted in #56 that Peters used the ".45 GOVT" headstamp. I know of no headstamp or box reading ".45 Short Colt" or any version of that, though I have little doubt the cartridge was informally called that, especially since it would fit the Colt SAA.

The four cartridges you mention are really all the same and all of them should fit the SAA.

I agree with you in not understanding about altering the Ruger. Any gun that takes the .45 Colt should also take the .45 Schofield or whatever; I think someone was confused. (But that is surely impossible, isn't it? ;) )

Note: All the information I have written concerns the situation as prior to roughly 1909. Today, some cartridge and ammunition makers have turned out cartridges for the SASS and CAS sports and for modern guns, and those were often given, or called, names other than the ones by which they were originally known, or differ from cartridges originally called by the same name.

Oh, BTW. Remington was purchased by Union Metallic Cartridge Corp. (not the reverse as is often written) in 1912. In 1933, DuPont purchased a controlling interest in the combined company. Remington bought both Peters and the Parker shotgun company in 1934.

Jim

tipoc
May 19, 2013, 01:08 AM
Let me butt in a bit.

In 1873 the Army adopted the Colt SAA in the black powder cartridge named and called the "45 Colt" This had a 250 gr. bullet in a case that was 1.290" long and a good enough rim for the SAA. It got about 900-1000 fps from the 7 1/2" barrel guns the Army used. It was a lucrative military contract for Colt which had an established history with the U.S. military.

Now in the same time frame Smith and Wesson had rich military contracts with Russia, Japan, Turkey and a good many contracts in the U.S. but none like what Colt had with the U.S. Army. Most of it's contracts were for variations of the Model 3 which were popular in 44 Russian caliber and 44 American.

In 1870 a cavalry coronal by the name of Schofield contacted S&W and offered to upgrade the #3 so it could win a military contract. S&W made him a distributor for their guns and he went to work. The result a few years later was the S&W Schofield model of the #3.

In military trials the Schofield reloaded faster and was easier to reload on horseback than the Colt SAA. The Army liked it but they wanted them to chamber the gun in the 45 Colt cartridge. They had guns in that caliber and wanted to keep them. According to Roy Jinks in his History of S&W, D. B. Wesson told the Army that it was impossible to chamber the guns in 45 Colt because the ejector star could not catch the small rim of the 45 Colt cartridge. But he said they have their own round which would work. But...

Two things were happening here, one was that S&W did not lengthen the size of the frame or cylinder from the size for the 44 Russian. To accommodate the length of the 45 Colt they would of had to do both. The other was the strength of the top break design S&W had. It would work with the 44 Russian and American rounds but with the much more powerful 45 Colt? Likely not as the 45 Schofield round that S&W came up with was more akin to the 44 Russian in power than the 45 Colt.

But anyway the Army ordered a few thousand of the S&W Schofield with it's long barrel and short round. The exact dimensions of the "larger rim" of the 45 S&W round are a little fuzzy. Maybe at that point in time a bit larger.

The Colt SAA could be loaded with either round. But the Schofield only the short round. Here is the origin of the 45 Long Colt moniker and the 45 Short. This difference caused any number of problems for the military when the wrong round ended up in the wrong place. By 1880 the military was selling the Schofields as surplus.

Both round were produced on the commercial market and both sold well for awhile. But the 45 Colt (Long Colt) stuck around while the Schofield fell into obscurity till Cowboy action shooting revived it.

tipoc

unspellable
May 19, 2013, 01:35 AM
Re the S&Wield accommodating the 45 Colt. The S&W frame was long enough for the 45 Colt. The rub is that if you lengthen the cylinder enough to accommodate the 45 Colt in the then existing frame, you have to give up the gas ring, This makes the revolver overly susceptible to tying up due to powder fouling. Modern replicas make due without the gas ring on the grounds they will be burning smokeless.

tipoc
May 19, 2013, 12:47 PM
The S&W frame was long enough for the 45 Colt. The rub is that if you lengthen the cylinder enough to accommodate the 45 Colt in the then existing frame, you have to give up the gas ring, This makes the revolver overly susceptible to tying up due to powder fouling.

Possible, also another way of saying it wasn't long enough. But we do know that the story that the case rim being too small on the 45 Colt made it impossible for S&W to use the 45 Colt round in the #3 and so S&W came up with the 45 Schofield (Short Colt) was not the actual reason for the change.

The Army wanted a round with the same power as the 45 Colt. S&W gave them a round that was shorter and less powerful. The Army accepted it because reloading the gun was so much faster and this could offset the loss of power. They did not produce a round with the same power levels as the 45 Colt but with a slightly wider rim. This could have been done easily. Why not widen the rim of the 45 Colt? Which is something that was done a few decades later. S&W never placed a round close to the power of the Colt round in a top break design. With the metals of the time and the design of the #3 I don't believe they could do it. They were also disinclined to put the name "Colt" on the sides of their barrels.

The Enfield and Webley top break designs could chamber the 45 Colt and 45acp. But this was some years later. The metal in the Webleys and their design was stronger as well. By that time S&W had the Hand Ejectors and top breaks were passe for S&W.

tipoc

Jim K
May 19, 2013, 04:44 PM
I think a short lesson is needed on the Schofield revolver. The Army was fully committed to the Model 1873 (Colt SAA) revolver. They wanted to change over to cartridge revolvers quickly, but they did not adopt the Schofield because they much wanted or needed it. They adopted it because of the influence of Col. John Schofield, former general and Secretary of War and future commandant of the USMA. Any real or perceived advantages of the S&W design were of secondary consideration.

But S&W apparently recognized the political reality behind the adoption and knew their revolver would be dumped as soon as Schofield's influence waned, so they had no desire to invest a lot of money or time in guns for the Army contract. Total Schofield production was some 8600 guns; S&W had sold almost that many guns to Turkey and well over ten times that many to Russia. They seemed to have considered the U.S. contract nice to have but not worth too much work or much disruption of regular production.

Jim

blindhari
May 19, 2013, 05:54 PM
In 1967 I was an armorer at Ft Benning. I had just had 3 stripes removed at OCS and was working as a spare armorer form the pool assigned to the matches on main base. I was fortunate to see some of the finest shooters in the Army. Over at the pistol ranges there was an old, and I mean ancient, SFC with a black flapover holster on his left hip set for cross draw. He had a bet on with a first Lt who had sort of coerced the range masters assistance. With range shut down to all others the range master lobbed a dummy, heavy, pineapple cast iron, grenade about 50' down range. First shot from a holster draw hit it before it stopped rolling. Next five kept it moving but at least twice I think he didn't hit it but kicked it with range gravel. Turning he told the Lt. "45 auto is a hell of a weapon, but not against a 45 long colt. Now about that beer...". I have known since that day the difference between a 45acp/auto and a 45 long colt

blindhari

tipoc
May 19, 2013, 06:08 PM
Let's look again at the Schofield and draw on Supica, Jinks, and Charley Pate.

In 1870 the U.S. Army purchased 1000 S&W "American" version of the #3 revolvers chambered in 44 American. These saw some testing and use. But in 1873 the Army adopted the Colt M1873 preferring it's greater strength and simplicity over the #3. That the #3 was faster to reload was considered secondary to the strength of the Colt and it's round. In 1874 they took possession of 8,000 of the Colt's chambered in 45 Colt.

The influential Col. Schofield began work on improving the #3 in 1871. The improved Schofield design was tested by the Army and approved for purchase. The Army requested it be chambered in 45 Colt but S&W demurred and offered it in a shorter 45 caliber round (The 45 Schofield, but the Army never called it that).

Jinks and Supica maintain that the frame and cylinder of the Schofield #3 were too short for the longer Colt round. This is true. It would have taken a major disruption of production of the lucrative model #3 to rework the Schofiled for the longer round.

In 1875 the Army ordered 3,000 of the Schofields. Two years later an additional 5,000 were ordered and received by the Army in 1877.

By the end of 1877 the Army had 8,000 Schofields and 15,000 Colt's. Only a few Schofields were made for the civilian market. The majority made were for the U.S. Army.

The Schofield was issued to the 4th, 9th and 10th cavalry (the latter the famous Buffalo Soldiers). Others were issued to state militias. The Schofields saw military service for a few decades in odd ways and places.

Their were problems with the cartridge lengths. This led the military toi begin the Long Colt and Short Colt common use designations. But the confusions was likely not the dominant factor in the Schofields demise as a military handgun.

In 1878, Charles Pate maintains, the U.S. Army tried to order more of the Schofields. S&W said no.

From Supica pg. 99:

It should be noted that 1878 was the year that S&W introduced it's New Model Number Three, replacing the American, Russian, and Schofield, and perhaps the factory wanted to focus it's large frame single action revolver production on it's new and improved model.

It's also worth noting that Col. Schofield received a royalty on his design and not on any improved models.

So in the beginning of 1878 more than half the guns chambered in a 45 caliber cartridge that the rmy had were Schofields. Not exactly an after thought.

The Colt SAA and the remaining Schofields soldiered on till they were replaced in 1892 by double action revolvers, note faster on the reload and on the shooting, in 38 Long Colt.

tipoc

JRH6856
May 19, 2013, 06:35 PM
I think a short lesson is needed on the Schofield revolver. The Army was fully committed to the Model 1873 (Colt SAA) revolver. They wanted to change over to cartridge revolvers quickly, but they did not adopt the Schofield because they much wanted or needed it. They adopted it because of the influence of Col. John Schofield, former general and Secretary of War and future commandant of the USMA. Any real or perceived advantages of the S&W design were of secondary consideration.

But S&W apparently recognized the political reality behind the adoption and knew their revolver would be dumped as soon as Schofield's influence waned, so they had no desire to invest a lot of money or time in guns for the Army contract. Total Schofield production was some 8600 guns; S&W had sold almost that many guns to Turkey and well over ten times that many to Russia. They seemed to have considered the U.S. contract nice to have but not worth too much work or much disruption of regular production.

Jim
Are there any sources to confirm that it was General and Former Acting Sec of War John McAllister Schofield who helped in the development and not Major George W. Schofield whose name is on the patent (http://www.google.com/patents?vid=138047)?

John M. Schofield was promoted to the permanent rank of Brigadier General on November 30, 1864 (brevet Major General), and that was his permanent rank, not Colonel.

Major George Wheeler Schofield was his brother so there is still a reason for his influence with the Army. George Schofield was a brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers during the war and reverted to his permanent regular army rank when the war ended.

More info (http://ww2.rediscov.com/spring/VFPCGI.exe?IDCFile=/spring/DETAILS.IDC,SPECIFIC=9823,DATABASE=objects,)

tipoc
May 19, 2013, 07:28 PM
According to Roy Jinks in his "History of Smith and Wesson" it was Major George W. Schofield, a member of the 10th calvary. His brother was General John M. Schofield. It was the latter who was the president of the Small Arms Board in the spring of 1870.

It was allegedly General John who told his brother Major George about the #3 revolver. Major Schofield took the gun and ran on the improvements. S&W thought highly of the possibilities involved.

They wrote to Major George Schofield On Oct. 18, 1870:

"...We are disposed to give you every possible advantage as we wish to have you use your efforts to introduce the new pistol among the class you name."

They offered Major George Schofield a S&W dealership to press the #3 with the Army. He did that and the result was the Schofield being adopted. Likely he used his brothers influence. Such was normal practice then and now.

tipoc

JohnKSa
May 30, 2013, 01:57 AM
Yes, some REM-UMC cases were headstamped ".45 COLT".If that's true, then at least two ammunition companies were making short cartridges headstamped .45 COLT.

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/taylor/45_short_colt.htm

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/taylor/shortcolt/45sc2.jpg
http://www.leverguns.com/articles/taylor/shortcolt/45sc3.jpg
I know of no headstamp or box reading ".45 Short Colt" or any version of that, though I have little doubt the cartridge was informally called that, especially since it would fit the Colt SAA.Now that it has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were at one time, two different cartridges, both headstamped .45 COLT, differing in length, it becomes absolutely clear why people started referring to one of them as long and the other as short.

And it makes a lot more sense than trying to claim that people started calling the .45 Colt the .45 Long Colt to distinguish it from the .45 Schofield. The designation ".45 Schofield" is already plenty different enough from ".45 Colt" to avoid confusion.

So was it correct to ask for .45 Long Colt if you didn't want the short ones? I'm guessing it would be hard to explain what you wanted without using the words "short" or "long" in your description! :D

Jim Watson
May 30, 2013, 02:16 AM
"45 Colt" This had a 250 gr. bullet in a case that was 1.290" long and a good enough rim for the SAA. It got about 900-1000 fps from the 7 1/2" barrel guns the Army used

They didn't do it for long. The Army cut the load soon after adoption. Some say to reduce recoil, some say because cylinders were failing proof test. This in the long case before they started issuing .45 Gov't for common use in Colt and S&W.

Related question; Will a Colt really accept true .45 S&W? Some sources say the .45 Gov't made at Frankford Arsenal had a smaller rim than the original S&W cartridge.


S&W never placed a round close to the power of the Colt round in a top break design.

The No 3 New Model and First Model Double Action were offered in the Frontier model with 1 9/16" cylinder for .44 WCF (and in very small numbers .38 WCF)
They did not sell very well, as witness a good number of .44 Russians with the long cylinder, built to use up the parts on hand, but they did think the top breaks would hold the hotter rounds.

tipoc
May 30, 2013, 02:18 PM
Let's make it simple...cuz it is, or rather it was.

In 1873 the Army adopted the Colt SAA in 45 Colt round. We all agree on this.

With a bit of change that round is still with us and is a common caliber still today. If we all don't agree on this we should cuz it's true.

A few years later the Army also adopted the S&W Schofield adapted #3 but in the caliber named 45 Schofield.

By the end of 1877 the Army had 8,000 Schofields and 15,000 Colt's.We all agree on this. We know it to be true.

Now the military had given themselves a problem. The 45 Colt round would not fit in the Schofield and the 45 Schofield might fit in some Colts and maybe could function but not always reliably. We all agree on this.

Now the military came up with a solution. Beginning in the late 1870s or early 1880s they manufactured their own ammo. The "45 Colt Government" round, which was known as the 45 Short Colt. Which was intended to fit and function in both weapons. That round stuck around from the late 1870s to about the 1930s. If we don't all agree we should cuz it's true.

Now not agreed on is that the Schofield was also called, a short Colt, by many who did not know the technical difference. So in common parlance confusion was created and existed and grew. Especially as the 45 Colt Government did not last as long as the Schofield round. The latter remained in continuous production. It also created confusion, that has lasted to this day, to have more than one round used by the government called 45 Colt.

Now we've seen the "leverguns" discussion here on the topic...

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/taylor/45_short_colt.htm

and folks can go to page 319 (in the 10th edition) of Barnes "Cartridges of the World" under the listing 45 Colt/45 Colt Government in the "Obsolete Handgun cartridges" of the book. You'll find the Schofield in the "Current" section of the book.

Yes there was a 45 Long Colt and a 45 Short Colt.

Yes the original 45 Colt round (Long Colt) was loaded down from it's original black powder specs by the military. Exactly why is not known. Folks can make intelligent guesses but that's different from knowing.

Yep the 45 Short (45 Colt Government) was loaded to about the same power as the Schofield which was about the same power level as the down loaded 45 Colt (Long Colt), according to Barnes.

Yes S&W did not want to make a gun that could chamber the 45 Colt (Long Colt) round. It would of meant substantial changes in the production lines and to the guns. There may have been other reasons as well and likely were.

Yes S&W never made a top break revolver that was strong enough to handle the power of the original loading of the 45 Colt. Their guns could handle the 44 Russian and American, the 45 Schofield and the 45 Short Colt. They never made one strong enough or big enough to handle the 45 Long Colt.

No, when the Army adopted the Schofield it was not simply to please a General who was the brother of the designer of the gun. They wanted the gun.

tipoc

Life During Wartime
May 30, 2013, 05:57 PM
My rule:
The 1911 shoots the .45 ACP
The SAA shoots the .45 Colt
Therefore, calling a 1911 a colt .45, is while somewhat accurate, confusing. For that reason, I would say the SAA
but at the same time its both lol

murf
May 30, 2013, 10:57 PM
found some good info on the saa, the schofield and the 1909 colt da revolver.

go to "hathitrust.org". search the SUBJECT "firearms. then, refine your search for the publication dates of 1917 and 1874. you will find an army ordinance publication on the above subjects.

lots of interesting info there. just thought i'd "muddy up the waters" a bit.

murf

bigdogpete
May 31, 2013, 12:03 AM
I would say out this way...

The vaquero is chambered in .45 Colt. The Citadel is chambered in .45 ACP or "Auto Colt". The oversized can of beer is a Colt 45.

:)
I am still laughing on this one...

jim243
May 31, 2013, 01:18 AM
I am still laughing on this one...

You must be drinking that Colt 45 (LOL). It's not actual beer but a Malt beverage.

Jim

Jim Watson
June 2, 2013, 12:20 AM
I recall, but do not still have, an article in The Handgunner, Ltd. about the Colt SA in .455 and .476, regular options for the British market. The author wondered how they got cartridges with .530" rims into the relatively small Colt cylinder. He enlisted a contact in the Rolls Royce tool room for precise measurements.
They found chambers slightly diverging from throat exits at the standard set out to a wider spacing at the breech to clear the rims. Unfortunately I recall no discussion of firing pin placement on the hammer or firing pin bushing placement in the frame.


In 1906 Frankford Arsenal specified and provided the cartridges to be used in .45 test pistols, the one for autos not enough different from .45 ACP to matter, and very close to the 1905 Colt .45 Rimless Smokeless except with heavier bullet. The round for prospective revolvers was the same except rimmed. (Not to be confused with the post-WWI Auto Rim.)
Which makes me wonder why FA tooled up for an all new round, with .45 1873 length, simultaneous extraction rim, and smokeless powder for the interim 1909 .45 revolver.
Why did they not go with the previously specified official revolver round? Is it known or knowable at this late date?


I have read a number of reports of Ruger .45 revolvers having to be altered to accept Starline "Moderm Schofield" cases. Just goes to show Ruger is not Colt... or S&W.

hgte2001
June 2, 2013, 12:33 AM
Wow, here is how it was done when I was boy growing up.

I am getting the 45--meant I was getting the commander 1911 or one of the full sizes.

I am getting the colt meant the 45 colt.

Sometimes the "Automatic" meant the 45 ACP or one of them.

I am getting the MAG or the 44 MAG meant the blackhawk. I always new by Dad's inflection.

So to this day! I say 45 colt for SAA Ruggers and 45 only for 1911s. I call my glocks by model number 36, 30, and 21.

Jim K
June 2, 2013, 01:37 AM
"Which makes me wonder why FA tooled up for an all new round, with .45 1873 length, simultaneous extraction rim, and smokeless powder for the interim 1909 .45 revolver."

I think the easy answer is that they didn't know it was interim. The hunt for a satisfactory auto pistol had by then been going on for 9 or 10 years and the end was not in sight. But while the gun guys on the boards were having fun playing with all sorts of neat futuristic hardware, the real Army had to look to getting guns to shoot people with if there was another war (and there always seems to be another war). The old SAA was obsolete (some would say it was obsolete before it was adopted); the .38 revolver had been a long drawn-out disaster; and the new pistol was somewhere in the future.

So, the idea was to adopt an available, reliable revolver and go with it, and that is what they did. Did they say, "Let's adopt something for a couple of years until the Model 1911 is adopted?" No, not any more than a car buyer today chooses to wait until the 2015 model because it will have more features. They adopted a perfectly good revolver they felt suitable for the indefinite future. That it was short-lived was something they could not have known or been sure of.

FWIW, when Colt and Savage were going down to the wire in the Army tests, and counting failures and broken parts, two Model 1909 revolvers used as controls paced the pistols round for round with NO failures except for two rounds that had no powder in them.

Jim

Jim K
June 2, 2013, 02:23 AM
At the risk of going backward here:

"A few years later the Army also adopted the S&W Schofield adapted #3 but in the caliber named 45 Schofield...The 45 Colt round would not fit in the Schofield and the 45 Schofield might fit in some Colts and maybe could function but not always reliably. We all agree on this."

Well we all don't. Those statements assume that there was a cartridge (made by/for S&W?) called the .45 Schofield, that preceded and differed in some significant way from the combination cartridge adopted and made by the Army. If there was, I can find no record of it. I know what COTW says, but no other source I can find mentions, pictures or cites any reliable source indicating the existence of a separate and distinct cartridge for the Schofield before FA production. The first production order for the Schofield length ammo was issued to FA in August, 1874, before the Army had revolvers for it.

The first Army tests of the Schofield system were carried out with altered No. 3 revolvers chambered for .44 S&W American. (I found one report that says S&W tested early .45 Schofields with cut down .45 Colt cartridges, which seems to make sense, but I found no confirmation of that statement.)

So, if someone can show documentation of the existence of a ".45 Schofield" which had too large a rim to fit in the SAA, etc., I would appreciate seeing it.

On the two Schofield brothers, my error and I apologize for that confusion.

Jim

Jim Watson
June 2, 2013, 11:31 AM
"I think the easy answer is that they didn't know it was interim."

I think they did know the 1909 was an interim solution, the Army had its mind made up that the auto was the way to go. They just didn't know that the interim was to be only 2 years. Had it been longer, we might have gone to France with revolvers to start with instead of as supplements to autos.

But my question remains, is it known why they devised a new cartridge when there was an official revolver round already specified from 1906?

tipoc
June 2, 2013, 12:54 PM
Jim K,

On the 45 Schofield. I think Roy Jinks and Charles Pate covered that. The military liked the #3 as improved on by Schofield but they wanted it in 45 Colt (long Colt). S&W said "no way Jose" for reasons that Jinks, Pate and others cover and were discussed above. So the "45 Schofield" round was developed.

Several sources, some linked to already in this thread, have said that the round was developed with the S&W gun in mind and worked well from it but had trouble firing from the Colt SAA particularly once it was fouled from black powder or dirty, etc.

These troubles led apparently to the 45 Colt Government as an attempt at a solution.

This led to at least 3 45 caliber revolver rounds in use by the U.S. military in the 1880s not counting the British rounds floating around.

A reprint of the old 1899 Winchester ammo catalog I have on hand shows three 45 caliber revolver rounds that they offer, the 45 Webley, the familiar Colt and the "45 S&W" which it describes as "Adapted to the S&W Revolver, Schofield Pattern".

tipoc

MEHavey
June 2, 2013, 02:03 PM
"...go to page 319 (in the 10th edition) of Barnes "Cartridges of the World" under the listing 45 Colt/45 Colt Government in the "Obsolete Handgun cartridges" of the book. You'll find the Schofield in the "Current" section of the book.

Yes there was a 45 Long Colt and a 45 Short Colt." Well I'll be.... :what: ;) :D

JRH6856
June 2, 2013, 04:37 PM
Since we are into old catalogs, the 1897 Sears & Roebuck Consumer Guide (Catalog), page 581 lists only one (under "Center Fire Cartridges for Target and Sporting Rifles":

.45 Colt's
No, 8327. Colt's
Army and D.A.
revolvers, 45
caliber, center
fire. Per box of
50, 84c. Per 100,
$1.57; wt. 3
lbs. per box.

The engraved picture appears to be of the long cartridge.

The only .45 caliber revolvers listed are on page 574: "Colt's Single Action Army, Frontier and Target Revolvers" ($12.95), and "Colt's Army Double Action Revolver" ($13.75).

Kleanbore
June 2, 2013, 07:52 PM
Terrific thread, folks!

Jim K
June 3, 2013, 10:58 PM
Let's take one question at a time.

Jim Watson asked, "But my question remains, is it known why they devised a new cartridge when there was an official revolver round already specified from 1906?"

The 1906 round was originally intended for testing revolvers for the 1906 trials, which were open to both revolvers and auto pistols. It was essentially the .45 Government with a slightly larger rim and a jacketed bullet. The drawing spec showed a rim diameter of .533", but one source indicates specimens as small as .525". FA made 10k rounds and UMC made 5k. There was no further production, but presumably the tooling would have still been available in 1909. I can find no indication that the Model 1906 round was intended or required to be usable in the SAA.

The reason for the 1909 cartridge was (AFAIK) that because of its small rim, the .45 Colt cartridge "jumped" the extractor and hung up the gun. That could certainly happen with the .45 Government, but was less likely with the commercial .45 Colt. (There was no government .45 Colt and had not been since 1874 or 1875.) For that reason, the Model 1909 cartridge had a larger rim (.536"-.538").

Note that the Model 1909 revolver was not "chambered" for the Model 1909 cartridge. It was sold by Colt as chambered for .45 Colt; the government round was ISSUED FOR and USED IN the revolver, but its original chambering was .45 Colt.

To try to see if the jamming concern was valid, I deliberately tried to get both a .45 Colt and a .45 Government to jump the extractor of a Model 1909 revolver. It took me over 15 minutes in each case to get the jam fixed and the gun back in operation, so the Army's concern was very valid. In fairness, getting the .45 Colt to jam was harder than to get the .45 Government to miss the extractor.

Jim

Jim K
June 3, 2013, 11:16 PM
OK, tipoc, I am still not clear on this so-called .45 Schofield or .45 S&W or whatever it was that supposedly came out BEFORE the Schofield was adopted and FA began production of a common cartridge for both guns.

I can find no evidence that such a cartridge existed. If S&W had .45 cartridges for testing of the Schofield, other than those provided by the government from FA, I can find no record of it. As I said, one source says S&W used cut down .45 Colt cases, but I can find no confirmation. While the Schofield was in service, there was no commercial production of ammo for it; there was no need. AFTER Schofield revolvers were sold off, several companies made ammo, but that was later.

So, AFAIK, there was no ".45 S&W" or ".45 Schofield" cartridge as distinct from the FA-made ".45 Government" and the later commercial cartridges were identical with the FA round. All, of course, would fire in the SAA Colt. .45 S&W, .45 Schofield, .45 Government, were all the same cartridge.

I am not clear on the statement that "the round was developed with the S&W gun in mind and worked well from it but had trouble firing from the Colt SAA particularly once it was fouled from black powder or dirty, etc."

The round was developed by the Army at Frankford Arsenal as a common cartridge for both revolvers. I have not seen any information that it "had trouble" firing from the SAA. It was the same diameter as the .45 Colt and would have no more "trouble" than a .38 Special in a .357 Magnum chamber. In later civilian use, the short case might have left residue that would prevent the longer case from seating, but that would not have been a problem for the Army, as they issued ONLY the .45 Government, not the .45 Colt, from 1874/5 to the end of the SAA era.

Jim

tipoc
June 4, 2013, 04:56 AM
Jim K.

OK, tipoc, I am still not clear on this so-called .45 Schofield or .45 S&W or whatever it was that supposedly came out BEFORE the Schofield was adopted and FA began production of a common cartridge for both guns.

On the origins of the 45 Schofield/45 S&W round.

Roy Jinks in his work "History of Smith and Wesson", Charles Pate in his work on U.S. service revolvers, and Supica and Nahas in the Standard Catalog all tell the same story on the origins of the round. On page 98 of the Third Edition of the Catalog they state that beginning in 1871 Schofield and S&W were working to improve the #3 for sale to the U.S. Army. As a part of this the Army wanted the gun in 45 Colt but...

"S&W demurred, noting that the rim of the 45 Colt was inadequate for positive extraction in the S&W design,...Instead, S&W offered to redesign the military cartridge to a .45 caliber round that would function in both types of revolvers."

The Army accepted this and ordered the guns and adopted the ammo as well.

Further in Michael Bussard's 3rd edition of the "Ammo Encyclopedia" he states on page 764;

"In 1875, the U.S. Army adopted the .45 Colt cartridge...along with the .45 Schofield, .45 S&W American and the .45 Colt Government (an unsuccessful compromise cartridge to fit all)."

On page 765 he treats the 45 Schofield and the 45 S&W as the same cartridge.

These are discussed in the section of his book on "Centerfire Military Handgun-Obsolete"

Barnes on page 319 of the 10th edition of his "Cartridges of the World" on the 45 Colt Government says:

"This is something of a bastardized cartridge, combining the length of the S&W Schofield revolver round with the rim of the Colt SAA round."

So Jinks, Pate, Barnes, Supica and Nahas, and Bussard all state similar origins for the 45 Schofield round and also identify a separate .45 Colt Government round. 3 separate cartridges.

I said this earlier that the Schofield round was developed by S&W as a part of the Army adopting the gun and a condition of it. The round did not appear before the gun did.

Barnes and Skinner state on page 319:

"It seems likely that some early 45 Colt SAAs would not have chambered the Schofield ammunition, even when the gun was clean."

Barnes and Skinner maintain that the .45 Government round (which was developed to work in both the Colt SAA and Schofield) had trouble in the Schofield:

"...the Schofield does not function as dependably using the smaller rimmed 45 Colt Government cases: incautious manipulation or a somewhat worn gun can result in the extractor slipping past the rim...The gun cannot then be closed."

They also mention the potential problems if the gun is fouled by black powder or dirt.

So there are several sources here that state there were 3 distinct rounds. The 45 Colt, the 45 Schofield/45 S&W American and the .45 Colt Government. The latter was developed by the military as a stopgap because the Colt round would not fit in the Schofield and the Schofield round had trouble in the Colt. Has the S&W round worked well from the Colt SAA there would have been no impetus to develop the .45 Government.

tipoc

Jim Watson
June 4, 2013, 11:16 AM
J.K., I conclude that the likely reason for the .45 1909 was that it was easier for the Army to have FA tool up for a new cartridge - same as .45 1873 with larger rim for simultaneous extraction - than it was to get Colt to deliver New Service revolvers for the .45 1906 that had been produced only for trials. That let them use off the shelf guns.

Still have to wonder, though. We had a guy shooting a New Service .38-40 at IDPA last week. Extraction and ejection were normal with a cartridge that fits the SAA.
Seems FA could have made 1909 cases with rims larger than 1873 but still usable in SAA.
Which is what we are told is the case with modern drawn brass .45 Colt.
But I don't know anybody who routinely shoots a DA .45 Colt who can comment on its reliability.

tipoc
June 4, 2013, 12:52 PM
Jim K.,

Here is a link to a discussion of this subject and pics of the 45 Colt, 45 Schofield/.45 S&W, and the .45 Government. The pics here show rounds manufactured from Frankford Arsenal.

Also some nice pics of the balloon head brass cases of the 45 Colt.

There are also pics of the later 1909 45 rounds with names and dates of manufacture which I believe can be helpful to us.

The link is from the Colt Forum...

http://www.coltforum.com/forums/colt-revolvers/63694-colt-45-a.html

The take in this discussion is that the early "45 Government" of the 1870s was essentially the Schofield round. That though contradicts the reports that I quoted from above.

tipoc

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