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Old May 12, 2002, 02:15 PM   #1
RugerSAfan
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45 (Long) Colt - Explaination of why.

Per recent posting. the .45 Colt is sometimes called the .45 Long Colt. I was looking through my .45 colt edition of Loadbooks (Version 2000), and on page 12, it states (not overly long):

"...the .45 Colt was one of at least two .45 caliber cartidges then in use with the U.S. military. In early 1874, the U.S. Army began testing a break-top Smith & Wesson revolver, known as the S&W Model 3 Schofied First Model. The Schofied was changered foir a shorter cartridge known as the .45 S&W. Loaded with 28 grains of black powder and a 230 grain lead bullet, the .45 S&W delivered about 750 fps at the muzzle. With its longer cylinder, the Colt revolver could use the shorter S&W cartride in exactly the same manner as a .38 special being fired in a .357 Magnum chamber. Naturally, the Schofield revolver could not use the longer .45 Colt ammunition. Inevitably, there were instances of units armed with the Schofield revolvers being issued .45 Colt ammunition, which was unsuable in their guns. To avoid such confusion, Army Ordnance began to issue the shorter cartridge to all units until the Schofield was removed from service in the mid 1880s. Because it was so widely used in military sidearms, the .45 S&W became commonly known as the .45 Colt Government cartridge. It is not surprising, that the original .45 Colt began to be referred to as the .45 "Long" Colt, in order to differentiate it from the shorter cartridge. It is interesting to note that all the early Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers purchased by the military had their fixed sights regulated for a 50 yard "zero" with the S&W cartridge, explaining why so many old Colt SAA-revolvers don't quite shoot to point of aim with modern .45 colt ammunition".

This is the best explaination I've read of WHY the .45 Colt has been referred by some as the .45 Long Colt.
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Old May 12, 2002, 10:33 PM   #2
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I still hold to the concept that it was because Colt DID work on development of a .45 Short Colt.

There was a recent thread that addressed this.

Quite frankly, I've never seen why the two rounds would need more differentiation -- they could simply have been called (and were, from what I can tell) the .45 S&W and the .45 Colt.

The only logical explanation, at least to me, is that Colt had both a Short and a Long round. It certainly fits with their cartridge line up of the time.
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Old May 12, 2002, 11:00 PM   #3
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RugerSA Fan,

That was exactly the way it was 'splained to me...

Plus, I've seen old - early 1900's - cartridge boxes labeled as ".45 Long Colt".

I call it that to differentiate it from the .45ACP, especially when talking to non-gun folks.

Also to irritate the bejesus out of some constipated types...

Tom
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Old May 13, 2002, 01:53 AM   #4
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The irritation factor makes it all worth while.

There have been several .45 rimed cartridges of long ago. Longest of which is the Colt (Long).
450 revolver
45 Webley
450 Adams
45 S&W
45 Colt
45 M.P.
+?

Sooo, I find the term ".45 Long Colt" usefully descriptive.

Sam
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Old May 13, 2002, 07:01 AM   #5
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This is just a guess, but, I would say that the word "Colt" was a generic term for handgun in those days just like "Kleenex" is for facial tissue today - much to the irritation of their competitors, I might add.

Thus, anything that fit a revolver was obviously a Colt cartridge. Somebody in the army noticed they started making the cartridges shorter. It was obviously a "Short Colt" while the older round was dubbed the "Long Colt."
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Old May 13, 2002, 09:57 AM   #6
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Well, if you watch TV you'd be led to believe that the Colt Peacemaker was the ONLY handgun in the American West, that no other handguns existed, and that if you said Colt everyone would immediately know you're talking about a Colt Single Action Army with a 7.5" barrel, .45 caliber, notches in the grip, and wielded by some ugly mug named Plug Eye Ugly, who's standing on the street facing down (hand over your heart when you say this) MATT DILLON (you can take you hand off your heart now), who is also armed with the only handgun every to be seen in the old west, the Colt Single Action Army...

Bull****.

Simple fact of the matter is that the Colt was not the only game in town and would have likely not been a "standard/generic name" for a handgun any more or less than would Remington, Smith & Wesson, Merwin & Hulbert, etc.

All were popular handguns in the west at the time.

What's funny, though, is that the large-frame revolvers constituted only a drop in the bucket of all gun sales in the West, or of those guns that were intended for use in the West.

Small guns, pocket guns, etc., far outsold the big boys.

Why? Because most people in the West weren't concerned with facing an opponent on Main Street outside the Rotten Cat Saloon (named for Miss Kitty, she never bathed) every day at 10, 11, 12:15, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:45 (special expanded gunfight hours on Saturdays, hanging days, and National Holidays).

Just about everything we know about the culture of the gun as it pertains to the Old West we've learned from television, and just about every bit of it's wrong.
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Old May 13, 2002, 10:38 AM   #7
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Manufacturers HATE to advertise for other manufacturers...

Well, Mike, you have a point, but, if you consider the role of public perceptions you may see my view. For instance, the 44/40 we all know and love... its actual name is the .44 W.C.F. - you can look on any old Winchester 73 or 92 and see that. Also, the venerable Mod 94's officially named 30 W.C.F. is what most folks swear is the 30/30.

Now if popular names mean anything, even a late model 94 is marked 30/30, rather than the original 30 W.C.F - which is a bow to public demand imho.

Similarly, how many know the .30 US Army by the more popular name 30/40 Krag?

So, maybe common language usage has something to do with it?

I know that there were other handguns available at the time but the Colt was the king of the revolvers then (and perhaps now?).

Another point we failed to adress was the common practice of using the old percussion revolvers long after the cartridge models were perfected.
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o "In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain

o "They have gun control in Cuba. They have universal health care in Cuba. So why do they want to come here?" Paul Harvey

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Old May 13, 2002, 11:07 AM   #8
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Hmm... so Smith&Wesson has done their short&weak trick before?

First the 45 Colt, and after that, the 10mm.

A pox on whoever made these decisions!!!

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Old May 13, 2002, 12:09 PM   #9
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No, it is not to differentiate it from the Schofield.

It is because the first model in 1872 used the 44 rimfire, which was actually .452 caliber, and which was differentiated in jobber sales literature as the 45 Short Colt vs the 45 long Colt. It was about the same size as the schofield, but a rimfire version.
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Old May 13, 2002, 02:09 PM   #10
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Short&Weak could also apply to the .44 Smith and Wesson American. Shorter than the .44 Russion which is in turn shorter than the .44 special.....to .44mag etc.
(ignoring diameter differences tween Russian and American.)

Sam
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Old May 14, 2002, 01:56 AM   #11
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Pigshooter,

I'm not so certain that you're correct about the .44 Colt being a rimfire.

I'm finding no references saying that it was ever a rim-fire, but was designed as a centerfire. Original rounds are often inside primed centerfire (Benet type) giving the impression that they are rimfire.

It was originally chambered in Colt and Remington percussion conversions in 1871, which was the standard military handgun until the Single Action Army was adopted in 1873.

Colt did chamber some revolvers (S&W did, too) for the .44 Henry Rimfire round.

Cartridges of the World lists this cartridge as being a centerfire from origin.
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Old May 14, 2002, 02:22 AM   #12
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.45 Colt or .45 Long Colt what difference does it make anyhow? The term has become so generic it's a moot point.

Stuff like this happens.
The .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum becomes the .22WRM becomes the .22Magnum becomes the .22Mag.
The .44 Smith and Wesson Special becomes the .44 S&W Special becomes the .44 Special.
The .44 Remington Magnum becomes the .44Rem. Mag becomes the .44 Magnum becomes the .44Mag beomes the Dirty Harry thingie
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Old May 14, 2002, 05:51 AM   #13
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Let me complicate the subject.

There are five distinct cartridges in this family.

1. The 45 Colt.

2. The 45 S&W. The original case had a rim diameter of 0.522- 0.526" If rim diameter is near the top of the tolerance, only three cartridges could be loaded into the M1873 Colt because of rim interference. It was commercially produced in this form by several manufacturers.

3. The 45 Govennment. This is essentially a 45 S&W length case with a rim diameter usually not exceeding 0 .512". In the 1920's & 1930's Remington loaded light bullets over a light charge in what was essentially this case. The Remington cases are headstamped 45 Colt, the FA cases bear typical government markings.

4. The M1906 Government. This is a case shorter than the 45 S&W, ~0.92", it has a rim diameter of over 0.530" , bullet weight was 234 grains. This was an experimental cartridge, though ammunition was fairly widely distributed. FA manufacture. Perhaps others. DuPont RSQ powder was developed for this cartridge.

5. The M1909 Government. This is a 45 Colt length case having a rim diameter of 0.536" (nominal), though samples are often seen with rim diameters up to 0.539". A 255 grain bullet was standard. The rim diameter was enlarged to secure good function with the ejector star of the Colt New Service/M1909 revolver, a feature any shooter using a DA chambered in 45 Colt will appreciate.

Bob

Last edited by bfoster; May 15, 2002 at 04:53 AM.
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Old May 14, 2002, 09:35 AM   #14
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Mike,

Looking at various resources, I see conflicting stories. Some show the 44 Colt as .452, some as .443. One identifies it as a centerfire version of the 44 Henry, one as a rimfire itself.

The original info I was referring to was from a revolver history book I read that went into quite a bit of detail about the development of each cartridge and pistol. When I go back to visit my dad I'll have to dig the thing out.

I remember distinctly the jobber literature as it was pictured in the book.

Nevertheless, I personally feel the 45 Colt has earned the "Long" designation as a mark of distinction. No other cartridge can be mistaken for a "45 Long Colt". It sounds cool and gunfighterish
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Old May 14, 2002, 09:35 AM   #15
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Seems to me…

…that since there are no ".45 Short Colts" around today, or for more than 60 years, for that matter, and since SAAMI has no specification for any ".45 Long Colt," there is no requirement for any such nomenclature. Not to be a language pedant, but .45 Colt 'll do jus' fine.

Fascinating research here, however.
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Old May 14, 2002, 11:36 AM   #16
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Pigshooter,

I neglected to mention that of all of the cartridges in the pistol section of COTW, the .44 Colt is listed in the narratives, but is NOT listed in the dimensions chart at the end of the section.

I was certain that I have a .44 Colt in my cartridge collection, but of course, the second I go looking for it... Maybe I don't have one, and only considered buying one at one of the cartridge shows I was at.
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Old May 14, 2002, 11:41 AM   #17
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And .45 Long Colt does just as fine, too.

It's an academic discussion, based on statements by some members to the effect that "there never was a .45 Short Colt."

Personally, maybe we should go back to a reference I saw for it a LONG time ago, .45 CCF (Colt Center Fire).

That ref. was buried in an old book (probably turn of the last century) and was obviously influenced by the fact that Winchester called some of its cartridges WCF. My best guess is that it was the author's own shorthanded way of referring to the round in the context of the Single Action Army.

But, you know, that wouldn't be nearly as descriptive, as there were a number of .45 CCF rounds...

God help me, but I do so love discussions like this...
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Old May 14, 2002, 02:36 PM   #18
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Hi, Gents:
The .44 Colt in my collection has a W.R.A.Co. headstamp and a large primer.
Case length = 1.1"
Overall length = 1.535"
Neck dia. = .453"
Base dia. = .458"
Bullet dia. = .449"
Rim dia. = .481"
Loaded weight = 301.5 grains.

Great discussion.

Bye
Jack
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Old May 16, 2002, 07:46 PM   #19
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"Pigshooter,

I'm not so certain that you're correct about the .44 Colt being a rimfire. "


Nope, the .44 rimfire cartridge was the .44 Henry not .44 Colt.

The original 44 Colt was a centerfire cartridge with a HEELED bullet, just like a .22LR, were the bullet is the same diameter as the case. And so it was actually .452 or so outside diameter with a heel of .430 or so. It could be outside lubed, hollow base lubed, or have a wad and lube cookie. There were no lube grooves since it was a heeled bullet. There was no throat in the cylinder, it was bored straight though all at the same diameter.
Modern .44 colt cartridges and pistols chambered for them (open tops mostly) are typically NOT historically accurate. They are typically chambered for .429-.431 just like .44 russian and .44 mag. So that you don't have to use a heeled bullet.

And, .44Colt is not .44WCF/.44-40 either. That was another beast entirely.

The reason the .44Colt existed, was that you could simply take a cap and ball revolver, put a new cylinder in it, add a firing pin to the hammer, stir liberally until done, add a dash of salt, and bang, there you go... a cartridge revolver. Reason being is that a .44 cap and ball is actuall .45 caliber! Yup that's right, so the heeled bullet on the .44Colt was actually a .45 caliber. And then there was that other thing ,blah,blah,blah......I'll shut-up now....
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Old May 18, 2002, 10:41 PM   #20
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This is a great thread!
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Old May 19, 2002, 10:42 PM   #21
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.45Colt - Revolver round

.45ACP - 1911 auto round

To use short, medium, or long in conjunction with caliber .45, except for collectors of cartridges, is a moot point in todays world.

dfm
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Old May 21, 2002, 09:06 PM   #22
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There is something comforting about saying ".45 Long Colt". I can't explain why, just like I can't really explain why I like revolvers over semi-autos.

This being a free country (at least it used to be), I'll call it ".45 Long Colt", thank you very much. At the same time, I won't begrudge anyone else calling it whatever they like.
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Old May 21, 2002, 10:32 PM   #23
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From COTW. re .44 Colt.
"....Early ammunition used the inside Benet cup and Martin folded-type primers..."

Later cases took large rifle primers.

That could explain the discrepency tween collections with inside primed and others with outside center primed.

"Long colt" could have well been used to diferentiate between the one we now use and the .455 Colt which was short case rimmed and used in the .455 Webley MKI. The .455 Colt is nothing more than the Colt commercial designation of the 455 Revolver MK I in a somewhat improved loading. This one dates to 1892 so was a contemporary of the "45 Long Colt".

The .45 Medium Colt didn't come out untill about ten years later and was very short lived.

Sam
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Old May 22, 2002, 10:35 AM   #24
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"....Early ammunition used the inside Benet cup and Martin folded-type primers..."

Later cases took large rifle primers.

That could explain the discrepency tween collections with inside primed and others with outside center primed."


That DOES explain the difference, Sam. Both the Benet and the Martin primed rounds look like rimfire rounds.

I've not seen a Martin-primed round in years, as it was generally unsatisfactory and wasn't used long, but Benet-primed rounds were loaded for quite a few years and are commonly found.

Benet-primed ammunition, no matter the caliber, has several common traits:

1. Looks like a rimfire, but is one of the common military calibers of the time (.44 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 S&W, .50-70, .45-70).

2. Casing is make of copper. Brass was apparently tried later, but it was found to be too hard, leading to ignition problems.

3. The round has crimps, usually looking almost like a cannelure but not going completely around the body of the case, just up from the rim, usually 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch, depending on the caliber.

A series of things killed the Benet system, including the greater reliability and ease of manufacture of centerfire ammo, the fact that the primer cups on Benet ammo could slip through prolonged handling (such as being bounced around on a cavalry trooper's horse), rendering the round inert, and the fact that brass was simply more suitable for use in making ammunition.

The Benet and Martin systems are not, by any means though, the only priming systems that were experimented with at this time. The Sprinfield Armory tested dozens of potential priming systems, some workable, some that were absolutely unworkable, between the end of the Civil War and about 1885.
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Old May 22, 2002, 06:08 PM   #25
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He he he he he he.

S
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