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I collect old Colts...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by EnsignJimmy, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. EnsignJimmy

    EnsignJimmy Well-Known Member

    . . . so how'd this Smith and Wesson end up following me home? :D


    It's a .455 Hand Ejector (First Model,) with a S/N of 328X; putting its DOB somewhere in 1915. Sadly, it's been been converted to fire .45 ACP with moon clips, or .45 Auto Rim (the recoil shield has been milled, but the cylinders remain untouched.) It's also a military model, and all the military markings are still intact.

    Lockup is typical S&W. There is no end-shake, no play in the cylinder, nothing. Double-action pull is good and smooth. Single-action is firm, and the trigger break is very clean.

    Serial number.

    A number of reissue stamps. I wonder at their significance.

    Apparently, proofing one chamber just wasn't enough . . . and look at that mirror finish.

    Good finish, showing quite a bit of honest wear.

    Now time to get some .45 Auto Rim brass (or a couple of moon clips) and work up some .455-equivalent loads. I don't plan to abuse it with standard .45 ACP loads. Though, since someone in the past already decided to negate its collector's value (and stamp that 'CAL. 45 S.W.' on the barrel,) I may just have the cylinder re-chambered for .45 Colt.
  2. dnovo

    dnovo Well-Known Member

    A neat old Brit WW1 survivor. I have one just like it, still in 455. I'd shoot it as is using 45AR rather than rechamber, but that's just my preference Dave
  3. Shear_stress

    Shear_stress Well-Known Member

    Gorgeous gun. A true piece of history.
  4. bflobill_69

    bflobill_69 Well-Known Member

    Love it!
  5. Magno

    Magno Well-Known Member

    Looks like it was used to beat in a German's skull. What a lovely finish. I'm a sucker for that rugged look, although this one may be drawing the line a little too close to "abused" for my taste.

    It sounds weird, but I can't wait until 50 years from now, when all my new guns look like this.

    You're a lucky guy. Use the thing well.

    Makes me want to buy that New Service I've been eyeing for a couple years now...
  6. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    Ah, so that's how the Brits justified importing weapons, with enough 'proof marks' the damn thing will evenually be as ugly as a Webly. ;)

    Seriously, that's a neat old Smith.
  7. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Well-Known Member

    I think Hornady makes .455 loads! Lead 265 gr or so.

  8. EnsignJimmy

    EnsignJimmy Well-Known Member

    The saga continues. If I said anything positive about the conversion of this gun, I take it back. When I tried some .45 ACP rounds in moon clips, they didn't fit. After some fidding with my calipers, I discovered that the minimum headspace is 0.07", with the average being around 0.075"; which (as far as I know) is far too much for the original .455 Webley round to shoot safely, and far too little for a .45 Auto Rim round, or regular moon clips. I took one of my moon clips and milled it down until the loaded cylinder would close and rounds stopped dragging against the frame. The final thickness was 0.02", or just under half the metal it started out with, and getting dummy rounds into the modified moon clip requires more than a little caution, since I can almost perform emergency surgery using the milled moon clip.

    When I try .45 Colt cartridges, the headspacing is good for them, but only very well-crimped loads will actually fit into the chambers. I took a closer look at the cylinders; and while I see the original forcing cones, they look like they've been milled; except it doesn't look like it's been milled enough for all .45 Colt cartridges to reliably fit (my 255 grain Keith LSWC with crimp grooves fit okay, as do Speer Gold Dots. My standby .45 Colt target round, the Federal 225 grain lead load doesn't fit, nor do Winchester PDX rounds. .45 Schofield rounds reliably don fit, but the bullets they're loaded with don't appear to have crimp grooves.) All of this ignores the interesting little side-effect of milling the recoil shield . . . if the rounds aren't fully seated in the cylinder, the hand cuts a tiny little notch into the edge of the cartridge rims.

    So, now I'm leaning towards "this gun was converted to shoot .45 Colt, but the conversion was done as cheaply as possible." Which is a shame, because the gun balances and points very well, and feels like it'd be a very good shooter.

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