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Old March 26, 2013, 06:35 AM   #1
roberg
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the "high-velocity" .38 Long Colt.

I could not believe my eyes, in 1975, when I saw Jeff Cooper actually say this, in print! It's in his COOPER ON HANDGUNS, I think it's in the chapter about stopping power. The reference is something like " the modern concept of "small bullet, high velocity, was tried and found wanting, in the form of the .38 Long Colt". The reference also quoted some rifle rd, maybe the 6mm Lee? I don't recall it exactly. So now 780 fps is "hi-v" guys. :-) After all, El Jefe has spoken on this subject!
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:17 AM   #2
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At the time the 38 long colt was introduced it was indeed small bullet
hi velocity----compared to what it was replacing. Which was the
45 colt. And yes, the 6mm Lee Navy rifle was the rifle part of that theory.
6mm Lee was a smallbore screamer compared to 45-70.

Times change, and sometimes history repeats itself, although sometimes
not for the same reasons. US replaced the 1911 45 ACP with the 9mm
M9, and replaced 7.62x51 with 5.56x45 almost 100 years after the
38 LC/6mm Lee experiment.
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Old March 26, 2013, 09:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
At the time the 38 long colt was introduced it was indeed small bullet
hi velocity----compared to what it was replacing. Which was the
45 colt.
How is that? The .45Colt was originally adopted by the Army in 1872 and ran 900fps. The .38Colt was made available in 1874 and ran at less than 800fps. The .38Colt did not replace the SAA .45 until years later.
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Old March 26, 2013, 09:54 AM   #4
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Cooper had is strong opinions, that's for sure...

But he definitely had some great comments worth reading...

http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/rkba/Cooper_Quotes.htm
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Old March 26, 2013, 01:31 PM   #5
BillM
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Quote:
Quote:
At the time the 38 long colt was introduced it was indeed small bullet
hi velocity----compared to what it was replacing. Which was the
45 colt.

How is that? The .45Colt was originally adopted by the Army in 1872 and ran 900fps. The .38Colt was made available in 1874 and ran at less than 800fps. The .38Colt did not replace the SAA .45 until years later.

Yup--you are right on this one! My mistake, I didn't realize the old BP
45 load was that fast.

I wonder if Cooper was getting his 38's mixed up and thinking of 38 super?
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:40 PM   #6
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The comments on the mv of the .45 Colt were correct for commercial loads in that caliber. But the Army, after 1875, never issued the .45 Colt. It issued the .45 Army (aka .45 Schofield) which was loaded with 28 grains of black powder and had a mv of only 730 fps.

So the cartridge that preceded the .38 LC in the military was not the .45 Colt, and the cartridge that followed it was not the .45 ACP.

That doesn't make the .38 Long Colt "high velocity". Cooper was "stretching a point" to boost his exaggerated claims about the power of the .45 ACP and the 10mm.

Jim
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:52 PM   #7
newfrontier45
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No, they issued the .45Gov't, which was a new cartridge designed to work in both the Colt SAA and S&W revolvers. It was the length of the .45S&W but had the smaller rim of the .45Colt. It was not the same as the .45S&W (Schofield).
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Old March 26, 2013, 03:11 PM   #8
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Hmmm. I guess I am ignorant this week, but what exactly is the difference between .45 Government/.45 Army and .45 S&W/.45 Schofield?

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Old March 26, 2013, 03:28 PM   #9
Bob Wright
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I do not recall a cartridge called the ".45 Army" nor a ".45 Schofield."

Here's a few .45s:



Samwe cartridges, headstamps:



And a few from Frankford Arsenal:



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Old March 26, 2013, 04:02 PM   #10
newfrontier45
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Quote:
...what exactly is the difference between .45 Government/.45 Army and .45 S&W/.45 Schofield?
It was in my post.....rim diameter. The .45S&W needed a larger rim to ensure positive ejection in their guns. The .45Colt did not and there was rim interference when loading .45S&W's in Colt SAA's. The .45Gov't combined the length of the S&W with the smaller diameter rim of the Colt so they could have one load for both guns.
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Old March 26, 2013, 04:08 PM   #11
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That cartridge has a lot of names. Probably due to the rather limited civilian production, commercial companies seem to have often just used their ".45 COLT" headstamp bunter, resulting in both .45 Colt and the shorter .45 having the same marking. (And this led to the designation ".45 Long Colt" vs .45 Short Colt?)

The shorter round has been called .45 S&W, .45 Schofield, .45 Gov't, .45 Army, .45 Short Colt, and .45 Colt Gov't.) Headstamps on commercial ammo were ".45 COLT", .45 S&W", and ".45 C GOV'T"

The Army called it none of those; to them it was just the .45 Revolver, Ball, since it was the only .45 revolver cartridge being issued. The Benet primed rounds had no headstamp; later CF rounds had only the Frankford Arsenal and date stamp. Commercial ammo was made in limited quantities for the few S&W Schofields sold on the commercial market by S&W and those sold as surplus later, but the Army issued ONLY ammo made by Frankford.

So now that clears up everything? Sure.

Jim
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Old March 26, 2013, 04:18 PM   #12
Bob Wright
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Quote:
Newfrontier45:The .45S&W needed a larger rim to ensure positive ejection in their guns. The .45Colt did not and there was rim interference when loading .45S&W's in Colt SAA's.
I think you are confusing the .45 M1909 round which can not be loaded in SAA cylinders. The .45 S&W round is completely compatible with the Colt SAA. In fact, some .45 Colt cartridges actually have larger diameter rims than .45 S&W rounds. Some .45 Colts rounds go as large as .516" dia. and some .45 S&W rounds go as small as .506" dia.

The .45 M1909 round has rims of .536" dia. The Frankford Arsenal .45 M1906 rounds .525"~527" dia.

The .45 M1909 cartridges can be loaded in SAA but only in every other chamber.

Here is a cylinder of mixed .45 Colt and .45 S&W rounds, the cylinder of a New Frontier:



And the same cylinder loaded with .45 M1909 cartridges, notice they do overlap:



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Old March 26, 2013, 05:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
The shorter round has been called .45 S&W, .45 Schofield, .45 Gov't, .45 Army, .45 Short Colt, and .45 Colt Gov't.
The .45S&W and .45Gov't are two distinctly different cartridges, yet you're calling them the same.


Quote:
I think you are confusing the .45 M1909 round which can not be loaded in SAA cylinders. The .45 S&W round is completely compatible with the Colt SAA.
Not according to Cartridges of the World and every other reference I've ever seen on the subject. COTW lists the rim diameter of the .45Colt at .512", the S&W at .522" and the Gov't at .506". If not so, then what was the reason for the .45Gov't in the first place??? This was not an always or every time situation but apparently it happened often enough to warrant the loading of a new cartridge that they KNEW would be compatible with both guns.

Speer #14 states that the cartridge drawing shows European dimensions with a .510" case head but that Starline rims run .520". I've never seen a .45Colt case with a larger head than .45S&W.

Yes I know that modern .45S&W is compatible with most .45Colt revolvers. Our lives also do not typically depend on .45S&W working in our Colt revolvers.
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:33 PM   #14
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I hate to keep batting this around, but the two .45 "S&W" rounds I've pictured are the only types loaded by Frankford Arsenal for the US Army. The only round I know of that is the .45 Colt Gov't. is the one I have shown so headstamped.

The copper cased Benet primed and copper cased Boxer primed round. plus some tinned brass rounds are the only .45 rounds issued after 1874~1875 up through 1895 or so.

Here is the copper cased round and a brass cased round, the brass case dated Jan. 1891.



Quote:
Newfrontier45:Yes I know that modern .45S&W is compatible with most .45Colt revolvers. Our lives also do not typically depend on .45S&W working in our Colt revolvers.
The specimens I have hardly qualify as "modern" as they date from the early 1900s, nd most have the small copper (blackpowder) primers. And again, we're only talking about the SAA and the Model 1878 double action, as later Colt and S&W revolvers have cylinders of larger diameter.

Can you get photos of the headstamp and type of construction of the .45 Army? I can find no references to it in any of my materials.

Bob Wright

Last edited by Bob Wright; March 26, 2013 at 07:56 PM.
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Old March 26, 2013, 09:43 PM   #15
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The 38 Long Colt was found wanting in the Moro Rebellion for a variety of reasons. One version says the Moros used drugs that made them impervious to pain, another says they would whip themselves into a religious frenzy, another said they used bamboo armor. Hence the Army specified that its future handguns would be .45 caliber.
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Old March 27, 2013, 06:51 AM   #16
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Most people know that the .38 Long Colt was found to be very lacking in use in the Philippines, and that .45s were reissued to "deal" with the problem.

What most people don't know is that, while better, the .45s weren't exactly the Hand of GAWK!, either, in dealing with the local tribal warriors, who were also known to shrugh off direct hits from the .30-40 Krag.

The most effective weapon, by far, was the Winchester shotgun and the buckshot loads that the Army sent to the Philippines.
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Old March 27, 2013, 09:38 AM   #17
roberg
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yep, the 6mm lee hits a LOT harder than the .45

ever did. Jeff was definitely known to "strectch" things. Just look at all the bs over the Scout Rifle and the Bren Ten. Jeff banned aerial shooting, which is almost straight up, neaar IPSC matchs, for pistol ammo, and then gave the ok to shooting trap, at low angles, with 308 milsurp, in Scout Rifles, endangering people to 1.5 miles or more. :-) The guys from the Big Bear Lake days have stories about Jeff that would curl your hair (or make you puke, depending).
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Old March 27, 2013, 09:49 AM   #18
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So, James K, if the .45 ACP didn't replace the .38 Long Colt, in U.S. military service, what did?

Was it the .45 Government since the military reissued a few SAAs to the guys in the Phillipines?
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Old March 27, 2013, 10:56 AM   #19
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"if the .45 ACP didn't replace the .38 Long Colt, in U.S. military service, what did?"

Officially, the aforementioned .45 Government round did, in the M1909 service revolver, although it was never intended for the M1909 to be a long-term replacement as the M1911 was getting very close to formal acceptance.

Virtually all of the M1909s were shipped to the Philippines, leaving the M1892 in .38 Long Colt in service as a secondary standard.

Once sufficient stocks of 1911s were available, both the remaining M1892s (and subsequent variants) and the M1909s were withdrawn from service.

The last heyday for the M1892 was in 1917 and 1918 when, due to a shortage of M1911s and M1917s, the M1892s were reissued as a substitute standard, primarily to officers and troops in the United States.

There's some argument as to whether the M1892 ever officialy served in Europe during the war.
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Old March 27, 2013, 10:59 AM   #20
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Mike,

Thanks. I never knew the U.S. military issued a DA revovler in .45 Colt, that is pretty neat.

The M-1909 is pretty cool, in doing a cursory Google search of it.
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Old March 28, 2013, 08:10 AM   #21
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It was the Army's first foray into the New Service revolver. The second, of course, would come in the form of the M1917 revolver.

I'm still trying to find myself a good New Service. I could have my pick of ones in .455 Eley, but I don't really want to set up to reload that cartridge.

If I had a small lathe I'd consider it, because then I could thin the rims on .45 Auto Rim brass to proper Eley dimensions.


And additional aside is that many people may not realize that the Army's problems with the .38 Long Colt in the Philippines led to one of the most popular, and most successful, revolver cartridges of all time -- the .38 Smith & Wesson Special.

S&W wanted to try to get some of the Army's business, and knew that they had a good gun in the newly developed the M&P Hand Ejector, but they also knew that the military was quickly souring on the .38 Long Colt.

So, they lengthened the case so that it would take 21.5 grains of black powder (vs the LC's 18 grains) and increased the bullet weight from 150 to 158 grains.

The bid to attract the Army's attention was pretty much a failure, but given how huge of a success the M&P and .38 Special were in the civilian market, I'm not so sure that they really noticed.
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Old March 28, 2013, 11:28 AM   #22
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Quote:
SPECMak618 said:Thanks. I never knew the U.S. military issued a DA revovler in .45 Colt, that is pretty neat.
Prior to that the Army purchased a lot of Colt Rod Ejector Model 1878 DA revovlers, usually referred to as the M1902. These were chambered for .45 Colt, though ammunition issued was the .45 S&W M1875 cartridge.

Of interest is the so-called "Alaskan Model" with lengthened trigger and enlarged trigger guard. Thought to be made for use with a gloved hand, it was Colt's answer to the Army's request to reduce the double action trigger pull, which was terrible at best. The longer trigger provided better leverage.

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Old March 29, 2013, 10:39 AM   #23
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Bob, the DA trigger pull on the long-trigger model is really awful. The long trigger came about when the Army asked Colt to use a heavier mainspring to ensure primer ignition. Colt found that when they did that, the DA pull was too heavy, so they increased the leverage with a longer trigger.* As a result, a really awful revolver was made worse. They are hard to grip properly and recoil is even nastier than with the regular gun.

*Alaskan gloves and small Philippino hands had nothing to do with it.

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