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.44 Special in a .45 Long Colt?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by AFDavis11, Feb 25, 2012.

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  1. AFDavis11

    AFDavis11 Member

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

    Would the brass expand too far?

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

    Would the gun explode? Would the brass be ruined? How innacurrate would the gun become?
     
  2. Elm Creek Smith

    Elm Creek Smith Member

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    The round would fire, the case would probably split, and the unstabilized bullet would go somewhere down range like a thrown brick, not fast and not accurate. Not a good idea.

    YMMV

    ECS
     
  3. powell&hyde

    powell&hyde Member

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    Yup, Not a good idea to try!!
     
  4. AFDavis11

    AFDavis11 Member

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    Agreed, and no real value. I appreciate the comment though about low velocity. I didn't expect that.
     
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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

    El Creek Smith answered the results part of the question.
     
  6. Risky buisness

    Risky buisness Member

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

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Yea!
    You should at least wrap some masking tape around it so it fits better! :D

    rc
     
  8. natman

    natman Member

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    Would it be really inaccurate. YES

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

    Would the brass expand too far? YES

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

    Would the brass be ruined? YES

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

    Don't do it.
     
  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I used to have a Lee/Enfield 303 British that keyholed with everything I put through it. Cast bullet handloads or factory Full Metal Jacket stuff, it did not care, I could not get a bullet to leave that bore without tumbling. But the surprising thing was, at 25 yards, even though the bullets went through the targets sideways, they were still on paper, and not very far away from the bullseye. If I had been shooting at a man, I would have hit him every time. So really no surprise that my 44-40 bullets hit the targets when fired from a 45 Colt revolver. Just not enough time and distance for drag to really take effect and send the bullets spinning off into space. Fifty yards would probably have been a different story, but not ten yards.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  10. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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

    For the bullets alone a .44Spl uses a .429 size bullet while the .45Colt uses a .452 bullet. That's a whopping .023 difference in size. If you placed a .44 bullet into the .45 barrel it would drop right through easily. Might even make rattling sounds on the way. This shows that it won't get a gas seal or engage the rifling at all. So the accuracy would be of the sort of a rock thrown at the target. Yeah, it'll go downrange. But it'll be tumbling and rolling and would not even be as accurate as a smoothbore flintlock by a whole lot.
     
  11. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

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

    Jim K Member

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

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

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

    Jim
     
  13. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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

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

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

    same round averaged 930 fps in 6.5" M24
     
  14. Jaymo

    Jaymo Member

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    .44 special pressures are about half that of .45 Colt, so pressure would not be a problem, even discounting the smaller bullet diameter.

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

    willypete Member

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

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

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

    Jaymo Member

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    That's funny, the SAAMI specs for .44 special I'd read were 12,000.

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

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

    Either way, the shorter/smaller OD case and smaller OD bullet in the Colt chamber should drop the pressure to ridiculously low levels.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  17. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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

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

    earplug Member

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

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    No doubt!

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

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

    rc
     
  20. willypete

    willypete Member

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

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

    You'll put your eye out!
     
  21. solvability

    solvability Member

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    You can shoot 243 in a 308 and 270 in 30-06 too if you want.
     
  22. willypete

    willypete Member

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    The difference being that those two smaller cartridges headspace the same as their parent cartridges and gas will only leak around the bullet down the bore, not around the cartridge case.
     
  23. cwl1862

    cwl1862 Member

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    Just because you can doesn't mean you should!:rolleyes: Besides that little experiment could have disasterous results. I wouldn't risk it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

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

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

    The reason for this is:

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

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


    [​IMG]
     
  25. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Ummmm, ummm, can, ummm, a .32 Colt be chambered and fired in a .50 S&W Magnum? Umm, well, ummm, can it? :rolleyes:

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