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Old March 7, 2011, 11:02 PM   #1
76r
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S&W .455 Colt

I have an old Smith & Wesson revolver. The barrel is stamped ".455 Colt". I have old casings stamped ".455 Colt". However, I can't find any info on this caliber...just ".455 Webley".
Can you tell me anything about this caliber, history, reloading specs, etc?
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Old March 8, 2011, 12:50 AM   #2
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The .455 Colt is actually the old British .455 Webley Mk I cartridge, which started out as a blackpowder round in 1892.

When the switch was made to Cordite (smokeless) powder in 1897, the case was shortened a bit, a bout .1 inches, to create the .455 Webley Mk II.

Ballistically the two rounds were pretty much the same.

Colt, Smith & Wesson and others chambered the .455 Webley Mk I as the .455 Colt up until about World War I, primarily for sale in Canada. Ammunition was loaded in the United States up through to about 1930.
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Old March 8, 2011, 04:15 AM   #3
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If you get desperate for ammo, you can make .455 ammo from .45 Colt cases by shortening them and thinning the rim.
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Old March 8, 2011, 11:40 AM   #4
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Thanx for the responses.
I can get (when available) loaded .455 Webley cartridges by Fiocchi thru a dealer here in Canada, but I wasn't sure if I was looking at the same dog!
I also wanted to be sure I could follow .455 Webley reloading specs as I have only seen for that cartridge, never .455 Colt. And although it is not a heavy () round, I didn't want to 'just give her a try' sort of thing!
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Old March 8, 2011, 11:50 AM   #5
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I'm not sure of the age of this firearm, but it is apparently an old RCMP service revolver (c/w I.D. stampings just ahead of the cyliinder on the barrel). It has been a 'safe queen' in the family scince 1975 (+-) and is in real nice shape.
Im not really interested in firing it, I just want ammo to complete the arrangement!
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Old March 8, 2011, 12:26 PM   #6
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What's the serial number off the bottom of the grip, and someone here will be able to pin down a year of manufacture for you.
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Old March 8, 2011, 03:20 PM   #7
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Actually, .455 Colt was loaded for years by C.I.L. under the "Dominion" brand if I recall. Since you are in Canada, you should be able to find some of those floating around to compliment your revolver.

In years past, it was either that or corrosive British surplus. I used to grab every box I could find, either on dealers' shelves or at gun shows since the C.I.L. stuff was reloadable.

Edit: Yes, it was "Dominion" (another name used by C.I.L.) and not "Canuck."

Last edited by gyvel; March 12, 2011 at 05:43 AM.
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Old March 8, 2011, 03:47 PM   #8
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I think CIL dropped .455 Colt in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

I'd suspect that the supply is drying up, if it hasn't already.
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Old March 8, 2011, 04:43 PM   #9
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The casings I have are 'Dominion'. (I'd bet that's a 'C.I.L.' label; I seem to remember shotshell cartons of both names bearing the same label/logo; 'Imperial' as well I think; anyway they sound Canadian with the 'Monarchy' reference )
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Old March 12, 2011, 08:21 PM   #10
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Mike,
The serial number is 33-6*7.
Thanx

Last edited by 76r; March 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM.
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Old March 12, 2011, 09:31 PM   #11
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CIL was Canadian Industries Limited.

IIRC the company was organized after World War II and took over operations at the old Dominion Arsenal.

That serial number very likely means that it's a .455 Mark II Second Model, manufactured between 1915-1917. The majority of these guns went to the British, but over 15,000 went to Canada.
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Old March 13, 2011, 11:44 AM   #12
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Thanx for the info.
I appreciate your help.
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Old March 13, 2011, 01:34 PM   #13
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Thinking about this some more...

I don't know why the gun, if made for Canada under a WW I blanket contract, would have been chambered for the .455 Colt, which was the longer case and was obsolete as a military use item...

Tell me, when the cylinder is closed, does the ejector rod fit in a protected shroud (housing), or is it exposed along the bottom of the barrel with the front supported by a lug?
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Old March 15, 2011, 02:24 PM   #14
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Mike,
The ejector rod is just supported at the front when closed; not full length shroud.
There are 2 crossed flags (RCMP symbols)? stamped on the back of the cylinder, visible when open. And another stamp of the same, on the left side of the barrel just ahead of the cylinder. Below this 2nd stamp, on the cylinder mount is a large X with a - thru it.
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Old March 15, 2011, 03:57 PM   #15
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OK, it's definitely a second model.

Don't know what the crossed flags might be, I'm not at all familiar with Canadian markings.
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Old March 15, 2011, 09:15 PM   #16
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I am not sure about Canadian marks either, but crossed pennants is the British military proof/acceptance mark. If the gun was in British service it should also have a broad arrow, the British property mark. A "C" with a broad arrow in it, is the Canadian property mark.

Just FWIW, CIL once turned out a whole batch of that .455 headstamped ".455 CLOT". Some red faces there, I am sure.

Jim
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Old March 15, 2011, 09:44 PM   #17
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Thanx again for the info posts. I appreciate it.
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Old March 16, 2011, 02:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
That serial number very likely means that it's a .455 Mark II Second Model, manufactured between 1915-1917. The majority of these guns went to the British, but over 15,000 went to Canada.
I have one of these, and it is not marked .455 Colt, but merely .455. Mine has been converted to .45 ACP, and the second "5" in .455 has been X-d out and an "AR" (Auto Rim) stamp added. I have WWII-era Canadian military ammo, and it does fit in my Webley Mk. I, which makes sense, since the later cartridge has a shorter case. My S&W has a M1917 cylinder fitted, so I can't make any determination about the original chambering.
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Old April 7, 2011, 11:58 AM   #19
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The markings seem to be military acceptance stamps. The RCMP and its predecessors (RNWMP and NWMP) were never issued the S&W in .455. First calibers issued were .450 Adams, then .476 Enfield. The Colt New Service in .45 Colt was adopted around 1905 and was (so far) the longest-serving issue sidearm, remaining in service for 49 years until 1954.

In 1954 the RCMP adopted the S&W M&P in .38 Special with 5" barrel. It remained in service for some 40 years until replaced as the standard sidearm for uniformed officers by the 9mm S&W 5946 in the 1990s.

The .455 was used in British service revolvers prior to and during WW I. When British gunmakers couldn't begin to meet demand as the military expanded during the war, Britain contracted with S&W and Colt for revolvers, and as a matter of logistics specified they be in .455. Since Canadian troops were fighting alongside British forces from 1914 on it made sense to use the same cartridge.
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Old April 7, 2011, 06:43 PM   #20
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Thanx for the additional info. It sounds like the consensus is it is an ex military sidearm; not RCMP then.
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Old September 15, 2011, 06:27 PM   #21
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hi , can you please post a picture i would really like to see what a 455 S&W looks like , rabbit
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Old September 15, 2011, 08:57 PM   #22
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rabbit, it looks just like a S&W Service Model of 1917. There are no special features
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Old September 15, 2011, 09:35 PM   #23
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The RNWMP/RCMP used .45 Colt, but the Canadian army, as part of the British Empire and Commonwealth forces, used the .455.

Jim
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Old September 16, 2011, 08:38 PM   #24
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Rabbit, if you're thinking that it is similar to Dirty Harry's S&W .44mag, only bigger and badder ...you would be badly mistaken!
It has a very thin barrel due to the low power/velocity. I have bounced bullets back off of wood timbers!
I will post a pic if you still are curious though.
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Old September 19, 2011, 01:52 PM   #25
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great , I luv ond sixguns and auto also.
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