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Pre-Magnum Outdoors Cartridge

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Mr. Mosin, Nov 23, 2022.

  1. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Before the advent of the .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, etc... when an individual needed a sidearm for The Great Out-of-doors, what was their preferred cartridge ? I know both we and the Brits had our respective love affairs with large bore, low pressure cartridges; but what of "Average Joe" who wanted an outdoors gun ? I know S&W has sold a slue of the 32/22 Kit Gun, among others; but I'd love to know what the preferred woods handgun cartridge was back in say, 1920 or 1930. Probably something along the lines of a .44 Spl or similar. Grandpappy's Colt Single Action, or what have you.
     
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  2. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    Before my time, but I'd bet a lot of revolvers were used with cartridges from .38 short and long Colt, .32-20, .32 Long, 44 Russian, .44-40, .45Colt, or maybe a 1917 revolver in .45ACP.
     
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  3. jstert

    jstert Member

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    38sp or 22lr back then and now too.
     
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  4. Kookla

    Kookla Member

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    38/44
     
  5. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    .45 Colt, .44 Special, .44/40, and .38/40 are all 100+ year old cartridges that saw common use in the role.
     
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  6. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Guesswork here -- I'm a third-generation civil servant.

    Colt's Woodsman or a .22 revolver. My understanding is the .22 LR was usual coup-de-grace choice for a trapper on a tight ammo budget, or a big game hunter who might encounter something smaller for the pot.

    I working cowboy would probably choose something able to put an injured horse or cow out of its misery with one shot.

    Elmer Keith liked making the .44 Special more special, but I think he was an outlier. I would imagine using a handgun in place of a rifle was atypical back in the day.
     
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  7. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    For early outdoorsmen, a .44/40, .38/40 or a .45 Colt SA revolver for most applications, a .22 LR for trap line duties. A bit later on in the early 1900’s, the triple lock DA in the above calibers, plus .44 Spl., would be my choice. :thumbup:

    Stay safe.
     
  8. Gordon

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    .38 Special, .32-20, .38-40,.44 special, 44-40 and .45 Colt . The big S&W N frames pre war were called " Outdoorsman" and could take the .38/.44 load. 45 Colt was considered the " big medicine " for trouble.
     
  9. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    A minor point but S&W never chambered one of their N-frames for the 45 Colt cartridge until the advent of the Model 25-5 as a regular production gun. And true to S&Ws business model that one was dropped about the time it became popular.

    If you wanted a 45 Colt before or after the turn of the 20th Century you bought a Colt: Single action Army; or a New Service.

    Dave
     
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  10. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Hmmm, these articles say the triple lock was factory chambered in .45 Colt.

    https://www.handgunsmag.com/editorial/smith-wessons-famous-triple-lock/138257

    https://www.americanrifleman.org/content/smith-wesson-s-triple-lock-a-look-back/

    Not many were so chambered from what I have read. Due due to this rarity, most .45 Colt triple locks seen today would probably be converted .455 guns originally sent to England and Crown countries.

    Stay safe.
     
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  11. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    And I believe the S&W heavy barrel target in 1955 was a .45 Colt, and the .45 Colt 25-3 which followed it predates the 25-5. I think the 25-5 version was not produced until the 1970’s, but I could be wrong on the exact 25-5 dates.

    Stay safe.
     
  12. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I think the 44-40 and .45 colt were the standard.
    Before that it was the .36 and .44 cap n ball.
     
  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    In "Roughing It" Mark Twain writes about the firearms he and others carried in their trip to Nevada by stage in 1861. His brother, Orien, carried a "small Colt revolver" -- probably an 1848 9r '49 in .31 caliber. "Mister Beemis" carried an Allen "pepperbox" which would have been .34 or .36 caliber, and Mark carried "a pitiful little 7-shooter Smith and Wesson that shot a ball the size of a homeopathic pill. It took all 7 to make a dose for an adult."

    He also writes about their attempt to start a fire with a revolver during a snowstorm. They didn't know how to do it, and all they managed to do was blow apart their carefully laid fire with each attempt.
     
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  14. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Mr Clemens was talking about something like this. No 1 Tip Up 1st Issue, 5th Type. This one shipped in 1859. These fired what we would call today a 22 Short, however the Black Powder 22 Shorts at that time were even more anemic than modern 22 Shorts. The frame was originally silver plated, but most of the plating has worn off, revealing the underlying brass.

    pmq296eNj.jpg


    poXbjc0lj.jpg
     
  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    According to SCSW 23 Triple Locks were reported to have been chambered for 45 Colt.

    A couple of 44 Special (the most common chambering) Triple Locks. The one at the top of this photo is very early, and quite worn, it shipped in 1907, but it still locks up tight and shoots well. The nickel plated one at the bottom of the photo shipped in 1915, the last year of Triple Lock production.

    pnyvTlRfj.jpg




    Yes, many of the Triple Locks that were shipped to England, chambered for 455 Mark II were rechambered to 45 Colt when they were shipped back to the US.
     
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  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Prior to the development of the 357 Magnum in 1935, S&W built some 38 Special revolvers on the large N frame. These were made to fire a special high velocity 38 Special cartridge, more powerful than standard 38 Special ammo.

    They were known as 38/44 because they were chambered for 38 Special but were built on the large N frame that had previously been mostly used for 44 Special revolvers. The 38/44 Outdoorsman had adjustable sights, the 38/44 Heavy Duty had fixed sights.

    This 38/44 Outdoorsman shipped in 1933.

    poLVKDC8j.jpg




    This 38/44 Heavy Duty shipped in 1931.

    polRVbMxj.jpg




    In 1935 the 357 Magnum cartridge was developed with a case a little bit longer than a 38 Special, so it could not be chambered in a standard 38 Special revolver. The new revolver that chambered the new round was simply known as The 357 Magnum. In 1957 the name was changed to Model 27.
     
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  17. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    .32-20, .38-40, and .44-40 would have all been popular because you could feed your lever gun and wheel gun the same ammo.
     
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  18. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    Make mine colt in 45, and a 75 Remington in 44/40 and give me a 76 Winchester in 45/60.
     
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  19. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    From the days of my early childhood (Dinosaurs already extinct) I heard the term ".38 Police Special." And more than likely when I saw the gun it was a Colt Police Positive Special. And, less frequently, I heard about "Smith & Westons (sic)." But it was always a ".38 Police Special" as they "shot harder than regular .38s."

    Bob Wright
     
  20. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    "...23 Triple Locks were reported to have been chambered for 45 Colt." Twenty three revolvers hardly makes that a standard chambering, more of an experiment. The Model of 1955 was never chambered by the factory in 45 Colt according to all the sources I have in my library. I fully admit I forgot about the M 25-3. My bad as the kids used to say.

    Dave
     
  21. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    My dad wasn't born until 1929, so he wasn't carrying anything in the woods between 1920 and 1930. And I don't know what the "preferred" woods handgun cartridge was in the 1940s and early 1950s, but I do know Dad would have been carrying a "32" of some flavor back then. Dad was a "32 anything" type of guy. ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2022
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  22. Tall

    Tall Member

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    45 Colt was and is the most popular round for revolvers in a big bore. It's a round that can be reloaded far cheaper than any 9mm you can buy at the store. It punches great big holes in paper which is why I have always had a couple of them. 44 Special is very similar, a straight wall case that can easily be reloaded. New Service aug 22 a.jpg Smith 25-3 July 12 2021.jpg
     
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  23. Tall

    Tall Member

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    And my 25-2 with spare cylinder in 45 Colt. I haven't used the 45 ACP cylinder since maybe 15 years ago. Just not a fan of moon clips. M25dash2.jpg
     
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  24. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Is there any additional rearward movement when the ACP cylinder is installed and you go to eject the shells? I ask because the frame lug on a S&W Model 25-2 is different than the frame lug on a S&W Model 25-5.

    Kevin
     
  25. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Dave,

    Probably not even an experiment. More like custom orders. S&W used to do that sort of thing.

    Kevin
     
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