View Full Version : 45.Schofield question???

SAA GunSlinger
January 23, 2011, 12:51 PM
Im getting a schofield chambered in 45 long colt. Can i still shoot 45.Schofield out of it because its the same diameter but a shorter cartridge? I wanted to ask the experts first before i tried anything.

Hawg Haggen
January 23, 2011, 02:10 PM
It should work. The only difference besides the length is the Schofield has a slightly larger rim.

Mike Irwin
January 23, 2011, 02:13 PM
Yes, it should work just fine.

The only possible kicker MIGHT be differences in rim diameter. The .45 Long Colt has virtually no rim. Standard is .512, while the standard for the Schofield cartridge was .522.

This caused some issues in years past trying to load the Schofield cartridge in to Colt cylinders.

January 23, 2011, 09:49 PM
The issue was extraction. Star extractors had trouble with .45 Colt rims. I don't know if or how the reproductions have solved that problem in their .45 Colt chamberings. Anyway, you should be just fine, like shooting .38s in a .357, or .22 shorts in a .22LR, and extraction should be better too.

SAA GunSlinger
January 23, 2011, 10:33 PM
Awsome that is great news, thanks for all your help. :D

Ideal Tool
January 24, 2011, 09:53 PM
Hello, SAA Gunslinger. When the U.S. army adopted the Model P in 1873..it was chambered for the .45 Colt. (They didn,t have to call it a "Long Colt"..because there were no short ones yet!). Then a Major Schofield began working on the side with Smith & Wesson, & they came up with a new top-break single action revolver...S&W named it the Schofield. The army did extensive field tests, and although it was faster to eject & load on horseback than the Colt, the army finally decided it was too complicated and dropped it.
However..as usual:confused: when the Gov. gets involved in something there is a big screwup...Some units decided to keep their S&W's. The army had by now supplies of both cartridges scatered in various posts around the west...The S&W round would chamber in the Colt, but not vice-versa...BIG BIG problem if in a firefight & you are sent wrong ammo! What to do? They dropped the .45 Colt ctg. & adopted the shorter less powerful round!

January 25, 2011, 11:17 AM
IIRC, as the cartridges were loaded by the Frankfort Arsenal for the Army, there really wasn't a great deal of difference, powerwise. Military specs for .45 Colt ammo called for a 250 gr. slug over 30 gr. of powder and a 230 gr. bullet over 27-28 gr. in the .45 S&W (Schofield). Due to the mentioned logistics concerns, Frankfort began producing only the .45 S&W cartridges for issue in February of 1876.

IMHO, as loaded by the military suppliers relative performance between the two was pretty much a "wash" for most practical purposes. Also just MO, but not only is it more "authentic" to shoot .45 S&W ammo in your repro Schofield, it should actually function a bit more reliably and hold up longer without needing to be "tightened-up" at the hinge and latch, too.

January 25, 2011, 12:11 PM
To add to Ideal Tool's post, rustling around in the back of my brain is the thought that there was some sort of patent protection that did not allow S&W to chamber their revolver in .45 Colt, thus the new .45 S&W caliber.

January 25, 2011, 12:12 PM
A few corrections are in order:

>The Secretary of War adopted the Schofield Smith & Wesson on July 3, 1874, and did not "drop" it until 1898.
> Individuals and units do not dictate policy to the Army.
>The Frankford Arsenal stopped making .45 Colt service cartridges in August of 1874, one month after the Schofield was adopted.
>The Frankford Arsenal began producing Schofield cartridges starting in 1875.

January 25, 2011, 01:59 PM
Thanks for giving the correct dates. My memory sometimes seems to be not as reliable as it once was of late.

As I've read it, until the Rollin White patent on bored-through cylinders held by S&W had expired NOBODY could produce a metallic cartridge revolver using that feature without paying S&W for the rights, and they weren't selling.

Their .44 cal. No.3 revolver was the first truly practical cartridge big bore produced and it had that market to itself for at least a couple of years. When the patent did expire, Colt began making the Richards 1860 Army conversions first in .44 Henry Flat RF, and then in .44 Colt. These were followed by the 1872 "Open Top" model.

At first, a relatively small number of the Colt conversions in .44 Henry were acquired and tested by the Army. They liked the revolver well enough, but not the cartridge. They also purchased and tested the S&W No.3, with much the same conclusion.

When the Army outlined the requirements for a new service revolver contract, they specified that it must use a centerfire cartridge with a bullet of at least 0.45" dia.

In order to submit their No.3 for the contract tests, S&W designed a new .45 cartridge that would fit into their existing revolver, as did Colt in the 1872 model they were to submit. The Army liked Colt's cartridge best, but found both of the revolvers' designs to be lacking in some respects. Colt went to a top-strap design and resubmitted. It won the contract and was adopted as the Model of 1873.

It wasn't any patent that kept S&W from chambering their revolvers for the Colt cartridge: The revolver simply could not be made to accept it without a major redesign, which would've also entailed the complete revamping of their manufacturing operations.

Cavalry officer Major George Schofield liked most of the S&W design, but (on his own, not in direct conjunction with S&W) redesigned and patented an "improved" latching system to allow for one-handed manipulation by a mounted cavalryman. As he had a brother who, I believe, was a Honcho on the Ordnance Board it came to pass that the S&W No.3 using the Schofield latch became approved for issue as a Secondary Standard.

For the use of his patent, S&W agreed to pay Maj. Schofield a whopping $0.50 per revolver sold, which netted him perhaps $3,000 all told. Ironically, he died, broke and bitter, by one of them in his own hand.

January 25, 2011, 02:06 PM
Thanks, Claddagh!

January 25, 2011, 02:31 PM
Great run down, Claddagh. Thankyou.

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2011, 09:28 AM
"is the thought that there was some sort of patent protection that did not allow S&W to chamber their revolver in .45 Colt, thus the new .45 S&W caliber."

No, not really.

The simple explanation is that the S&W No. 3 frame was too small to accept the full length .45 Colt round, and Smith & Wesson had neither the time, inclination, or production facilities to redesign the gun with a larger frame.

Even had the frame been of a suitable length, the design of the .45 Colt cartridge itself wasn't suitable for use in S&W's auto-ejecting revolvers -- the rim on the .45 Colt cartridge was simply too small and would slip under the ejector star, tying up the revolver and making it hard to nearly impossible for someone on horseback to clear the jam.

In order to get their foot into the door, S&W simply designed a new, but very similar, cartridge more suitable to use in its revolver. The case was shorter, and thus held a bit less powder, and the rim was bigger, making the auto-ejection feature work.

The development of the Schofield is kind of an odd duck for S&W.

They had huge ongoing contracts with Russia and other nations at the time, and didn't have much spare production capacity to devote to large US orders (which never came).

In fact, in the late 1870s, the US Government asked for, IIRC, another 20,000 Schofield revolvers, and S&W turned the contract down because they were literally out of production capacity.

Jim Watson
January 26, 2011, 10:00 AM
S&W eventually found the capability to lengthen their cylinder and topstrap.
There were some No 3 New Models and First Model Double Actions made in .44-40 and a very few in .38-40. The combination did not sell well, there are also some long cylinder .44 Russians, apparently built to use parts on hand for the more popular (in S&W guns) caliber.

January 26, 2011, 10:19 AM
Jim: Always wondered about how well the New Model No.3 actually held up under the stresses that those comparatively ( to .45 S&W, .44 Russian, etc.) powerful cartridges would've placed on them, especially at the latch. Anywhere I could find some contemporary data?

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2011, 10:28 AM
"S&W eventually found the capability to lengthen their cylinder and topstrap."

Yep, after it became clear that the US Government was never going to adopt the No. 3 in preference over the Single Action Army, and after S&W had finally fulfilled its contracts for No. 3s with Russia, Japan, Turkey, and other nations, which freed up a lot of production space.

Ideal Tool
January 27, 2011, 12:59 AM
It's good to know you can turn to the experts on this site for hard to find details. Now I have a question: A few years ago, I read the Romanovs. Eye witness acounts of the execution of the royal family in Ekaterinburg, said the officers used "heavy caliber revolvers". Now the 1895 7.62 Nagant was hardly a heavy caliber revolver. Could it be that some Russian officers were still using the old S&W .44?

Mike Irwin
January 27, 2011, 01:23 AM
"Could it be that some Russian officers were still using the old S&W .44?"

Without a doubt.

The Russians bought something like 150,000 S&W revolvers. There are some accounts of their being used to arm partisans during World War II.

January 27, 2011, 10:21 AM
Without a doubt.

The Russians bought something like 150,000 S&W revolvers. There are some accounts of their being used to arm partisans during World War II.

As a participant at the end of the Cold War, I can verify that they never threw anything away if it still had some life in it. Honestly, some of the ships and subs that they kept in service would have embarrassed the crew of a tramp steamer. In the pre-CD and DVD era, the amount of documentation that we carried on all of the different Soviet naval vessels could have choked a large herd of horses.