1909 Colt and ACP?


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C5rider
February 15, 2014, 11:29 PM
I stopped in to a LGS today and there was a 1909 Army Colt. The owner explained that this one had an ACP cylinder, not the more common Colt cylinder.

I checked the frame and it appears to be a factory stamped 1909 Army with the lanyard ring and all. And, it has a shoulder inside the cylinder that prevented the 45 ACP from going too far into the cylinder and did not require clips. I wanted to do some checking on this gun before proceeding, hence this thread.

He mentioned that it wasn't nearly as rare as the "Colt ammo" version. Is that because they didn't make any? I'm aware of the 1917 version, and I had been interested in a 45ACP revolver. But I'm not sure if this one is for me. It had home-made grips and one side looked good while the other had some surface rusting. He was asking mid-500's for the gun.

So the question is, "Precious metal" or fool's gold?

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Jim Watson
February 15, 2014, 11:40 PM
1917 cylinder in a 1909 revolver maybe.

Black Knight
February 15, 2014, 11:41 PM
I am no expert by any means so this may not mean much but the 1917 is the earliest Colt revolver in 45 ACP that I have heard of. Your 1909 may have been fitted with an appropriate 45 ACP cylinder and some point in time. Your gun is intriqueing. Someone far more knowledgeable than I should be along shortly with more definative information.

C5rider
February 15, 2014, 11:51 PM
Will gladly welcome more information. I wondered about the swapping of a 1917 cylinder. Sadly, I didn't look at the numbers on the cylinder. The frame, butt and crane numbers checked out, but I didn't look to see on the cylinder!

thanks!

Jim K
February 16, 2014, 12:26 AM
The Model 1909 was a Colt New Service, made by Colt to use the .45 Colt. But the Army found that the .45 Colt jumped the extractor because of its small rim and made their own ammunition, the .45 Caliber Model 1909, which was used only in that revolver and no other ammunition was issued for it.

So any Model 1909 chambered for the .45 ACP either has a Model 1917 cylinder or possibly a New Service cylinder made originally in another caliber and altered.

Jim

C5rider
February 16, 2014, 07:23 AM
Thank you for the information, as it answers many questions.

Old Fuff
February 16, 2014, 12:08 PM
Suposedly a few model 1909 revolvers were converted to .45 ACP during the early part of World War One because of the high demand for handguns that used that cartridge. Later more were modified outside of the army by changing the cylinder. If the revolver in question has a correctly fitted cylinder it should work well, but be aware that the bore is probably oversized for the .452" ACP bullet.

savit260
February 16, 2014, 12:27 PM
The first batch of Colt's 1917 ACP's didn't headspace of the cartridge mouth. Loose, non clipped ammo doesn't work in these (I own an early version) It seems unlikely that a factory cylinder from before 1917 would have been set up as yours is described.

Seems most likely it's a later cylinder fitted to your 1909.

Does your gun have a straight barrel (like a 1909 should) or does it have a barrel with a shoulder where it meets the frame like the 1917 (and later Colt's) have?

C5rider
February 16, 2014, 12:48 PM
Does your gun have a straight barrel (like a 1909 should) or does it have a barrel with a shoulder where it meets the frame like the 1917 (and later Colt's) have?

That's a good question. At first thought, I would have said that it was a tapered barrel (with a shoulder) like a 1917, but I wouldn't bet on it since I didn't think to make a note of it. Will definitely require a little more investigating. Likewise, maybe a closer inspection of the cylinder for any matching numbers, etc.

rcmodel
February 16, 2014, 01:01 PM
As savit260 said, Colt didn't use a chamber headspace shoulder in it's .45 ACP guns until sometime after S&W invented it for the 1917.

The gun you are looking at has had a later 1917 cylinder fitted to it, or it was re-chambered from a smaller replacement cylinder at some point after 1917.

rc

Old Fuff
February 16, 2014, 01:39 PM
Look for a mis-match between the blue finish on the revolver vs. that on the cylinder. The model 1909 was finished in Colt's high-polish/black blue commercial "trade finish" blue. Model 1917 military production (including cylinders) had a less highly polished finish that was more blue in color.

Of course if the whole gun was at some point refinished this observation won't do much good.

Driftwood Johnson
February 17, 2014, 05:00 PM
Howdy

I picked up this Colt New Service a couple of months ago. I have not actually had a chance to fire it yet, I am waiting for spring. This one was made in 1913 and is chambered for 45 Colt. A friend has one that looks exactly like it but his is chambered for 38-40. Mine still has the original hard rubber grips with the SN scratched onto them on the underside. There are no identifying numbers on the cylinder, just the SN on the frame under the crane and the same SN on the crane. You should be able to make out the 45 Colt caliber designation on the barrel in the last photo.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/New%20Service/NewService02_zps7b270c75.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/New%20Service/NewService01_zps3ee157c1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/New%20Service/NewService04_zpsc84b7a05.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/New%20Service/NewService03_zpsb706f2f2.jpg


The next photo shows several antique 45 Colt cartridges, except the modern round on the left. The round all the way on the right is one of the Army 1909 rounds with the larger diameter rim. This round was made at the Army's Frankford Arsenal in December of 1913. The rim measures .539 in diameter. Current SAAMI spec for the 45 Colt rim is .512 if I recall correctly. I dropped several modern cases into the cylinder and I do not believe the extractor will have any problem dealing with modern rims. Most of the rims in the photo are around .510 in diameter, and the New Service does not seem to have any problem extracting them either. The smallest diameter rim in this group is about .505 in diameter. The extractor had no problem extracting it, but things might be different if the chambers were dirty.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/45ColtCartridges.jpg


This box of antique ammunition holds Benet primed, copper cased, folded rim rounds. The two crimps on the side of the case hold the internal anvil plate in place, there is no visible external primer on these rounds, they look like rimfires. But they are centerfire, the priming compound was deposited on the inside of the case head, and the anvil plate was pressed against it. When the firing pin struck the rear of the cartridge, the priming compound was crushed between case and the anvil plate and the flame leaped through holes in the anvil plate to ignite the powder. This was the original form of the 45 Colt round, this box was made in 1874. Notice these are the 30 grain, military loads. These rims are also tiny, only measuring about .503 - .504 in diameter. These rims might cause a problem in my New Service, if I were to fire them, but I am not going to be shooting this box. By the way, these tiny rims are one reason that rifles were never chambered for the 45 Colt cartridge in the 19th Century. Not enough rim for an extractor claw to grab hold of. These rounds were meant to be poked out from the inside by the ejector rod of the Single Action Army, so the rim did not have to be very substatial.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/45ColtBenetPrimedBox03_zps73800f6e.jpg

By the way, this New Service is the biggest revolver I own. The frame is larger than the frame of a SAA or a S&W N frame like the Model 1917. Together with its 7 1/2" barrel it makes for one really big revolver. I'm going to load up some light Smokeless rounds for it and it's going to be a lot of fun to shoot it in the Spring.

savit260
February 17, 2014, 05:41 PM
A now deceased friend of mine used to let me shoot his 1909 on occasion , and the extractor would indeed skip over the modern 45 Colt every now and again. More often than not it was fine though, but it DID do it a few times.

While the New Service IS a big revolver, it's fairly svelt for it size. Definitely smaller and lighter than a Redhawk for example.

It's a nice size package IMO, IF you have fingers that are long enough to reach the trigger. Probably not well suited to those with short fingers.

Here's my 1917 shipped at the end of 1917. Well worn, mechanically tight and quite possibly my most accurate double action.



http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c337/savit260/ruger022.jpg (http://s30.photobucket.com/user/savit260/media/ruger022.jpg.html)

351 WINCHESTER
February 17, 2014, 05:44 PM
I had a 1909 several decades ago and it too would skip over regular .45 colt ammo (Remington). I didn't know any better so I sold the gun for a nice profit anyway.

BobWright
February 17, 2014, 05:46 PM
Driftwood johnson,

What is the round third from right in the cartridge photo? The one with the short rounded bullet? and what is the headstamp?

Bob Wright

BobWright
February 17, 2014, 05:50 PM
As to the M1909/M1917 revolver, I'd like to see a photo of the cylinder retaining lug on the frame.

The .45 ACP cylinder is shorter on its rear face than a .45 Colt, to accommodate the half moon clips. If originally made for .45 Colt, the frame would have to be altered at this point to hold the open cylinder in place.

Be interesting to see how this was done. New side plate, maybe?

Bob Wright

Driftwood Johnson
February 17, 2014, 05:54 PM
What is the round third from right in the cartridge photo? The one with the short rounded bullet? and what is the headstamp?

Headstamp is U.M.C. (Union Metallic Cartridge), 45 COLT. Primer is copper colored. Rim is .510 in diameter. Dunno what weight the bullet is, nor what kind of powder is inside, I ain't gonna pull the bullet. But it is not a round ball, if that is what you were thinking.

BobWright
February 17, 2014, 06:07 PM
Driftwood Johnson: Headstamp is U.M.C. (Union Metallic Cartridge), 45 COLT. Primer is copper colored. Rim is .510 in diameter. Dunno what weight the bullet is, nor what kind of powder is inside, I ain't gonna pull the bullet. But it is not a round ball, if that is what you were thinking.

The bullet does not appear to be a 250~255 gr. typical, looks to be much lighter. I can't find any such bullet in my references. The only lighter weight bullest I know of were the wadcutter bullets and round ball loads. An the round ball loads are seated completely inside the case.

Would be interesting to know.

Bob Wright

P.S. Tthe copper primer would indicate black powder loading.

Driftwood Johnson
February 17, 2014, 06:43 PM
If you fill the case with FFg, you can seat a round ball on top of it and crimp over the ball.

But yes, clearly the round you asked about is not a round ball, it is a bullet shaped projectile of some sort. There is no 'extractor groove' on the case, may or may not be a balloon head, probably is. Sorry, no idea when it was made. I pick up old rounds where ever I find them, usually without any history.

Jim K
February 17, 2014, 10:39 PM
It has been a while, but IIRC, there was a Lyman mould that produced a .45 bullet like that. Could that round be a reload?

Jim

Driftwood Johnson
February 18, 2014, 08:16 AM
I don't remember where I picked up that round. No idea if it is a reload or not. My point in posting the photo was showing the extra wide diameter of the 1909 round.

Jim Watson
February 20, 2014, 12:28 AM
Bert Shay wrote in the 'Handloading for Special Purposes' chapter of Henry Stebbins' 'Pistols, a Modern Encyclopedia'

"My first big gun, about 1923, was a New Service Target with 7 1/2 inch barrel and rosewood stocks, a thing of awe. In service on a battleship, I wanted it adapted to the Auto case, with all that free ammunition slipping by and trips ashore necessary to buy .45 Colt stuff. I pestered Colt every year until about 1930 when they gave up and fitted a cylinder and crane, also a 6 inch barrel."

Jim K
February 20, 2014, 09:45 PM
I think Mr. Shay was mistaken. I don't see any reason Colt would have replaced the crane, but unlike the S&W's of that time, the Colt cylinder stud was not a separate part but an integral part of the sideplate. Changing to a shorter cylinder would require that the sideplate be altered or replaced.

Jim

Vern Humphrey
February 21, 2014, 02:18 PM
It was not uncommon to replace M1917 cylinders with .45 Colt cylinders -- and presumably the other way 'round.

There is a problem there, though. The M1917 cylinders have excessive headspace, as compared to the .45 Colt cylinders, because of the clearance needed for the half moon clips. This means when the cylinder is changed either way, the gun has to be re-timed, and that usually requires a new hand.

Check the timing on this gun carefully.

BobWright
February 21, 2014, 02:43 PM
I've switched a .45 ACP cylinder for a .45 Colt with no problem with the timing. The cylinder ratchet is in the very same relative position relative to the hand. Going to the longer cylinder does require filing down the lug on the side plate in order for the cylinder to open.

Going from .45 Colt to .45 ACP requires either building up the lug with weld metal and dressing it down with a file, or replacing the side plate.

Bob Wright

Jim Watson
February 21, 2014, 09:26 PM
Seems to me that if you put a .45 ACP/AR cylinder in a .45 Colt revolver, all that would happen at the little cylinder stop lug would be that the ACP cylinder would come back a whole .030" before fetching up against the stop and the extractor pushing the clip full of empties out. I don't think .030" is enough slop that the gun will fall apart. Is it?

Jim K
February 21, 2014, 10:46 PM
Probably it would work that way as far as unloading, but the cylinder ratchet would hang up on the latch when trying to close it unless the cylinder is pushed forward or the muzzle held downward.

Jim

BobWright
February 22, 2014, 09:36 AM
As I recall, that distance is far greater than .030". Seems more like a 1/4" travel. Long enough to be disconcerting, I'll tell you that!

Bob Wright

Driftwood Johnson
February 22, 2014, 05:43 PM
Howdy

.030 is the correct number. A double action revolver chambered for 45ACP has about .030 more head space than a revolver chambered for 45 Colt. That is to allow for the thickness of the moon clips that ride in the extractor groove of the 45ACP rounds. When the 45 Auto Rim cartridge was developed in the 1930s it was designed with a rim that was nominally .090 thick, as opposed to the nominal .060 thick rim of the 45 Colt. The extra .030 was to take up the space reserved for the moon clips.

In this photo, from left to right the cartridges are 45 Colt, 45 Schofiled, 45 Cowboy Special, 45 Auto Rim, and 45 ACP. You can see how much thicker the 45AR rim is than the 45 Colt rim.



http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/45C45Sc45CowboySP45AR45ACP.jpg



This photo is a little bit out of focus, but you can see the thicker 45 AR rims in the space behind the cylinder in the S&W Model 1917 at the bottom of the photo, as opposed to the thinner 45 Colt rims in the Colt New Service at the top of the photo.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/New%20Service/headspacecomparison_zpsf3d41dfb.jpg

.030 of extra material would need to be welded onto the ledge on the side plate of the New Service if a 45 ACP cylinder was installed. No, the gun would not fall apart, but it would not function properly if the .030 of new material was omitted.

Jim K
February 22, 2014, 09:23 PM
In #27, I wrote "the cylinder ratchet would hang up on the latch when trying to close ... the cylinder."

Did you folks think I would make that statement without having tried it? ;)

FWIW, the cylinder stud of the M1909 measures .121", the Model 1917 is .162" or closer to .040 than .030, but close enough. The cylinder lengths measure 1.620" for the 1909, 1.593" for the 1917, or .027", again close enough to .030.

Once the 1917 cylinder was closed in the 1909, it functioned and timed perfectly. (I did not fire the gun, but saw no reason to think it wouldn't work.) The reverse won't work, because the longer 1909 cylinder won't come back far enough in the 1917 to close.

Jim

badfiddler
February 15, 2015, 12:45 AM
I don't usually resurrect zombie threads but I think I have some useful info. I have a Colt Mod. 1909 that has what I believe to be a 1917 .45 ACP cylinder fitted to it. The serial number on the butt of the gun and the one on the cylinder crane DO NOT match each other. As the story goes, I believe my grandfather carried this as a doughboy in France in WWI. I assumed it was designed to shoot .45 ACP until I did a little research and found out it was originally chambered for .45 LC. The barrel is NOT tapered (so it is a 1909). I have indeed shot .45 ACP with and without half moon clips with this (required some manual extraction of casings as I remember without clips). It is a blast to shoot. Probably shot it last about 20 years ago. Frame serial number puts the year of production at 1911 and crane serial number puts cylinder production at 1920. I have read on several forums of the possibility of some of the 1909s being fitted with 1917 cylinders for use in the first world war, this may be the case. I have not tried putting any .45 LC cartridges in the cylinder but my guess is they're too long.

Scott

P.S. I have fired this single and double action and the timing is spot on.

Jim K
February 15, 2015, 01:17 AM
Since this "zombie" has been revived, I will note that I have seen nothing about the military modifying Model 1909's to use .45 ACP. The Model 1909 was issued during WWI, but only to troops in the U.S.; none were sent overseas because of the ammo situation. In April, 1915, Frankford Arsenal was ordered to produce 2 million rounds of Model 1909 ball. There is some question as to whether that order was filled, but if it was, there should have been no shortage of Model 1909 ammunition for the limited issue of those revolvers.

Jim

BSA1
February 15, 2015, 10:26 AM
Given the high demand for handguns in W.W.1 I wonder if this gun was manufactured with a 45 ACP cylinder to meet early wartime production numbers. As the Government needed large quantities on revolvers I doubt if the inspectors cared if the gun was a 1909 or 1917 as long as it passed inspection. I also doubt that Colt would have tossed the frame of a previously made 1909 that was laying in inventory in the trash when it could easily have a 45 ACP cylinder fitted (as badfiddler commented). While it's accuracy would leave some to be desired it would probably have "minute of trench warfare" when in close quarters combat inside the trenches.

However if it was a early wartime wouldn't it have military proof and inspection stamps? Were 1917 revolvers stamped "U.S. Property"?

The golden rule when buying a old gun is to "buy the gun, not the story." However this gun does have a possible interesting background.

Old Fuff
February 15, 2015, 12:36 PM
The Colt model 1909 was nothing more nor less then a commercial New Service revolver chambered in .45 (Long) Colt. The serial number stamped on the frame behind the crane (swing out the cylinder to see it) was Colt's serial number within the regular New Service series.

The number stamped on the butt is an Army number, based on the purchase contract, and started with "1".

During World War One the Army might have considered changing them to .45 ACP, but if so they didn't go forward with the project - and in any case if they did any number on the cylinder would have matched the one on the frame. If the cylinder has a different, unrelated number it's because someone made an aftermarket conversion using a cylinder that was previously fitted to a different gun. During the years between the two World Wars this was not uncommon on .45 Colt chambered New Service revolvers.

Jim Watson
February 15, 2015, 12:43 PM
The 1917 cylinder and crane having a serial number indicates that they came off a working gun which does not support the theory of a factory alteration. And Grandpa sure wasn't carrying a 1911 gun with a 1920 cylinder in 1918.

I think this most likely a case of a surplus cylinder being installed to let the gun be shot with cheaper ammo.

Jim K
February 15, 2015, 11:49 PM
There were no Model 1909's "laying in inventory in the trash" at Colt at any time. Like all military contract firearms, all were delivered to the Army. Colt made the New Service up to WWII and .45 ACP was a standard caliber, made, like the M1917, for the use with clips. There were even a thousand or so actually marked "Model 1917" on the barrel but they were for the civilian market.

Part of the reason was that under NRA rules, the Service Pistol match could be fired with a .45 ACP revolver and there was also a .45 Match that could be fired with the revolver. Many shooters at that time preferred a revolver to the 1911 pistol, so both Colt and S&W accommodated them.

Jim

rcmodel
February 16, 2015, 12:20 AM
There were still a few guys shooting .45 Revolvers in NRA Bullseye Centerfire in 1968-69-70 when I was shooting with army AMU.

Everybody else was shooting 1911 wad guns, or a few K-38's.

But there was one old Army reserve guy who shot a S&W Target .45 ACP that nobody could hardly beat.

rc

BSA1
February 16, 2015, 09:44 AM
Jim K,

You're right. I should have said laying on a shelf or parts bin .

O.P.,

Did you check to see if a 45 Colt cartridge would fit?

Vern Humphrey
February 16, 2015, 10:16 AM
O.P.,

Did you check to see if a 45 Colt cartridge would fit?
In the original post, he said:
And, it has a shoulder inside the cylinder that prevented the 45 ACP from going too far into the cylinder and did not require clips.
That's clearly a .45 ACP chamber, obviously fitted to the revolver after it left the factory.

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