Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Colt single-action go boom!

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by MosinT53Hunter, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. MosinT53Hunter

    MosinT53Hunter Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2016
    Messages:
    55
    I thought I'd share something pretty interesting. On Gun broker tonight, I was looking through gun parts, and saw this. Apparently this single action Colt had been converted to 44. Magnum and it didn't last too long from the looks of it.
     

    Attached Files:

    chicharrones likes this.
  2. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,592
    Location:
    MN
    Barrel is nicely marked .44 magnum. Did Colt ever catalog a .44 mag. in their SA ? They make them now in .357 mag and in .45 L Colt so yes, it appears it would be a conversion if made from a current production gun. Who could do so nice of work on the barrel markings and yet be dumb enough to chamber it for .44 Magnum ? I'm a little confused over this one as I am not all that familiar with the Colt SA's
     
  3. MosinT53Hunter

    MosinT53Hunter Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2016
    Messages:
    55
    The description read that it had been converted. From what, I don't know. But it didn't hold up. Its for sale as parts on Gun Broker. Not mine, just wanted to share the pictures. Must have been one hell of a range day for that guy...
     
  4. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    14,386
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Someone went to a lot of trouble to build that Colt.

    We can only assume what caused the damage. Could've easily been handloader error.
     
  5. model 649

    model 649 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Messages:
    540
    Those big, old-time cases are easy to make mistakes with, too. Was the bullet still in the barrel?
     
  6. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,053
    What blew the Colt might have blown other stuff factory chambered for .44 mag.
    I too guess a reloading oops.
    Have seen folks double charge or wrong powder..........top strap arched or missing, cylinder missing major amount.
     
  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    No.

    If you look carefully, the standard COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY marking on the barrel is not stamped as deeply as the 44 MAGNUM marking. So somebody probably took a 44 Special gun and remarked the caliber on the barrel, and bored the chambers a little bit deeper to accept the slightly longer 44 Magnum case.

    And the result was entirely predictable.
     
    200Apples likes this.
  8. Dog Soldier
    • Contributing Member

    Dog Soldier Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2016
    Messages:
    2,075
    Location:
    S.W. Wyoming
    There were 2 .44 Mag. New Frontier Colts prototypes sold in 2010 from the Colt archives at auction for $5,000 dollars. It seems that Colt sold 2 prototypes in 2009? There must have been a few more prototype .44 Mags out there?
    http://singleactions.proboards.com/thread/4711
     
  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    No, the Single Action Army simply is not strong enough for the 44 Magnum cartridge. End of story.
     
    200Apples likes this.
  10. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    14,386
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Well, USFA successfully rechambered two of their .44Spl's to .44Mag for Brian Pearce. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that the gun survived a while with standard loads but was blown by a faulty handload. Very narrow to non-existent margin for error.
     
  11. MosinT53Hunter

    MosinT53Hunter Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2016
    Messages:
    55
    The description said barrel was clear, kinda worn on the rifling.
     
  12. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,053
    Heavy loads may crack frames, split forcing cones etc, but a blown in half cylinder with the top strap bowed.............that says a reloading oops to me.
     
    CraigC likes this.
  13. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    22,082
    USFA cylinder is a bit larger than Colt.
     
  14. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    14,386
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Not enough to make that dramatic of a difference.
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    22,082
    Enough difference that they were willing to set it up for 2 1/2 times the pressure.
     
  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    No.

    The oops was done by the idiot who chambered a Single Action Army for the 44 Magnum cartridge.

    Aside from a couple of prototype New Frontiers, Colt never chambered the Single Action Army for 44 Magnum. Never, and for good reason.

    SAAMI Max pressure for the 44 Special is 15,500 PSI. SAAMI Max pressure for the 44 Magnum is 36,000 PSI. SAAMI Max pressure for 45 Colt is 14,000 PSI. I know there are folks who believe the SAA is good to 45 ACP pressure of 21,000 PSI, but that is beside the point. The bolt cuts on a SAA cylinder will not tolerate 36,000 PSI. It would not have taken too many standard 44 Mag loads up over 30,000 PSI to result in the catastrophic failure evident with this cylinder. It is a classic example of a cylinder letting go. First the thin bit of metal between the bolt cuts and the underlying chamber lets go, then the fracture propagates lengthwise along the chamber, splitting the chamber down the middle. Next, the the chamber walls of the two adjoining chambers fold, and finally two chunks of steel are blasted off the cylinder, either taking the top strap with them, or distending it exactly as you see here. Even with a 44 Special cylinder with slightly more metal between the bottom of the bolt cuts and the underlying chamber than a 45 Colt, the cylinder just could not take pressures up to 44 Magnum levels.

    I found the ad on Gun Broker. The SN of the gun indicates it was made in 1960. Well into 2nd Gen production. Standard calibers for the 2nd Gen were 357 Magnum, 38 Special, 44 Special, and 45 Colt. So it is logical to assume that a 44 Special SAA was modified to accept the 44 Mag cartridge by lengthening the chambers slightly to accept the longer 44 Mag cartridge. The 44 Special barrel could have been used as is. The MAGNUM marking on the barrel was obviously done at a later time. Even if the conversion had been done to a 357 Mag or 38 Special SAA, the result would have been the same.

    Years ago I used to buy my bullets from a local bullet caster. He had an exploded cylinder from a SAA he was using as a pencil holder. It was exactly as I described, with three chambers daylighted. I asked him the story. It seems that one of his customers bragged he was going to experiment hot loading 45 Colt ammo to 44 Mag pressures. The bullet caster made the guy promise that when he blew up the gun, he would give the cylinder to the caster as a memento. That is exactly what happened. Obviously, a 45 Colt SAA cylinder cannot take 44 Mag pressures. Neither can a 44 Special cylinder that has been modified to accept 44 Magnum rounds.

    There is a good reason why the 44 Magnum case is about 1/10" longer than the 44 Special case. So bonehead disasters like this do not happen.
     
  17. jrmiddleton425

    jrmiddleton425 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    258
    I have (not intentionally) fired a single round of .44 Magnum ammunition out of a .45 Colt-chambered SAA. It survived undamaged. It's not an experience I care to repeat. The recoil, holding the gun one-handed, was about like a .30-06.

    Having seen this happen, I would think if you did chamber an SAA in .44 Magnum, you should shoot it with .44 Special, and you could get away with a round or two of LIGHT magnums. But in the long run, it's going to beat up the gun to the point where the result isn't worth the effort...as in the OP.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    22,082
    It would hold more black powder.
     
  19. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,053
    How do you know it was a normal .44 magnum round that caused that failure (single or cumulative)?
    Could there have been a stress condition well before a normal .44 mag was fired?
    How can you say it was not reloading error in .44 mag?
    Maybe their were reloading errors in .44 special before?
    It'd be nice to check the failure, do some grain structure analysis/SEM work.

    A blown up gun in a questionable chambering does NOT tell you what happened. Might offer clues............but the pics alone don't give a definitive answer.
     
    CraigC likes this.
  20. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,053
    I have seen three revolvers blown in similar fashion.
    In every instance it was reloading error (wrong powder killed 2 guns, the other was a double charge).
    Owners nice guys, but not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
    Some folks need to stick to factory loads.
     
  21. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,053
    Maybe the failure is as described.........by Drift.
    But could there not be other reasons?
    I don't like it when folks say something happened and they weren't there or know the exact history of the event.
    "might" and "did" are two different things.
     
  22. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    17,574
    It is a good bet that the next post will be to the effect that "you couldn't do that with a Ruger" or "you can't possibly blow a Ruger."

    Wrong. I have seen a couple of .44 Magnum Rugers blown up exactly that way. One was fired by a fellow who had read about duplex loads and decided to go it one better with a triplex load (I don't know the "secret formula" but it wrecked the gun). The other was apparently the wrong powder, but I don't know the details,

    Jim
     
  23. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Because it is the most logical answer.

    Colt never chambered the Single Action Army for 44 Magnum because it could not take the pressure.

    Somebody modified the chambers so they would accept a cartridge that Colt knew was too powerful for the design.

    The gun blew up.

    Why look for a complicated answer when the simple answer is so obvious?
     
    Armybrat likes this.
  24. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    14,386
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    I don't think the answer is obvious, except to say that we don't know and can only speculate.

    Fact is, we know the Colt SAA will withstand a good many 26,000psi .44Spl loads without detonating. The gun may eventually shoot loose but it does not grenade. I see no reason to assume that the gun would blow at 36,000psi. I think it would shoot itself loose fairly quickly but not fail like that. If I'm going to speculate, I speculate it was handloader error and that the load was well over standard pressures.
     
  25. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    17,574
    What we do know is that the SAA Colt is not at all a strong pistol; it is a relic of the black powder era and rechambering one for .44 Magnum is simply asking for what happened. As to the pressures involved, the only way to be sure what any given gun might stand would be to instrument the gun, then keep increasing pressures until it blows. I don't plan to do that, so I will "assume" that a weak gun will blow at some point and that that point may be well below the nominal 36k of the ..44 Magnum. (Of course, we have no way of knowing what pressure someone's .44 Magnum handloads might generate.)

    BTW, the SAAMI standard pressure (MAP) for the .44 Special is 15,500 psi, not 26,000 psi.

    Jim
     

Share This Page