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Old August 5, 2012, 03:24 PM   #26
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By 1910, the army had been using double-action Colt revolvers in .38 Colt, so I doubt they, the army, had bought any for the previous 20 years. I also have my doubts about "bring backs," then or now. Any such firearm brought back with you from the army would have been stolen government property. However, the army was selling them by then, to be sure. I have no information on how many the army acquired. Some were brought back into service during the Philipine Insurrection.

The British actually purchased a few in 1940 from Colt. Also, I recall an article that was published in Military Classics magazine around ten years ago that stated the British even acquired some .44-40 lever actions. Unfortunately, that issue is somewhere in hiding at the moment and I can't relate any more details.

Elmer Keith's first six shooter was a .32-20, I believe.

I also ran across an additional tidbit about another .44, the .44 Russian. S&W produced about 250,000 revolvers for the Russians in the 1870s. One sometimes reads stories of someone capturing one of those revolvers in the Pacific during WWII that the Japanese had captured from the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war 40 years earlier. The .44 Special was not introduced until 1907.
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Old August 5, 2012, 04:19 PM   #27
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Blue,

That would have been 32-20.

The 32-40 was a rifle round.

The Japanese also purchased about 20000 No 3s from S&W in the 1880s.
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Old August 5, 2012, 06:38 PM   #28
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You are correct. I meant .32-20. We even had a .32-40 Winchester single shot at home, which I never saw anyone shoot.
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Old August 5, 2012, 09:11 PM   #29
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The Turkish contracts, and I believe the Japanese contracts, were chambered for the .44 Henry rimfire.

Remember the first No.3 Models submitted for Army consideration were .44 Henry rimfire.

According to Roy Jinks, the first No.3 was .44 Henry rimfire. The Army returned it saying they wanted a centerfire. S&W changed the gun from rimfire to centerfire, "without changing chamber dimensions." Comparing a .44 Henry Flat with a .44 S&W American would bear this out. I have seen unmarked specimens of .44 S&W American sold as .44 Henry Centerfire and .44 Adams.

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Old August 5, 2012, 09:26 PM   #30
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" and I believe the Japanese contracts, were chambered for the .44 Henry rimfire."

Nope.

All Japanese Smith & Wesson No. 3s delivered as part of the contract with the Japanese military were in .44 Russian.

Other than the guns made for Turkey, very few New Model No. 3s were chambered in .44 rimfire.

In the first, or American series, only about 200 were chambered for the .44 rimfire. In the second model Americans it is thought that fewer than 100 were chambered in .44 rimfire.

An American in .44 rimfire brings a substantial premium.
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Old August 6, 2012, 05:27 AM   #31
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As you probably all know, Elmer Keith replaced his .32-20 with a .45 Colt (before switching to .44 Special). He also mentioned somewhere in one of his books something about carrying a small revolver in a pocket on his chaps. I didn't search for it and I don't remember what it was.
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Old August 6, 2012, 11:54 AM   #32
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From about 1871 to 73 the U.S. Army did use the .44 S&W American in the S&W #3 revolver. It was also used in the Merwin & Hubert Army revolver. This was an outside lubricated black powder round that was later also loaded and sold commercially till about 1940. A 205 or so grain bullet at around 700 fps.

The Army also used the 44 Colt at the same time frame, 1870-73, in the cartridge conversion of the Colt 1860 percussion revolvers and the Remington Model 1875 Army revolver. This was also an outside lubed bullet. Used by only a few years by the Army it hung around on the commercial market till about 1940. It held about the same weight bullet as the 44 American at about the same velocity.

Seems (meaning I'm not sure) that the military wanted to standardize on a heavier bullet and higher velocity of modern design and the 45 Colt (and the Schofield round) fit the bill better than the available 44s.

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Old August 6, 2012, 12:55 PM   #33
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The Merwin-Hulbert revolver was not chambered for the .44 S&W but for the .44 MH cartridge, it was only incicnetal that the S&W round would chamber and fire in the M&H guns. Though called "Army" it was never purchased by the Government for military acceptance. It was used by the US Post Office, though. The P.O. guns were .44-40 caliber though.

It is interesting to note that the Merwin Hulbert guns were marked for the ".44-73" cartridge, referring to the .44 W.C.F. Model 1873.

Here's some .44s from Frankford Arsenal:



As a matter of note, the .44 Remington and .44 Colt cartridges are not readily interchangable. There is the mistaken belief that the M1875 Remington could take either cartridge, since Army packets were marked "For Colt and Remington Revolvers." This alluded to the cartridge conversions of the Remington Model 1858 cap-and-ball revolvers. The .44 Remington cartridge was not introduced until 1875 or so.

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Old August 6, 2012, 04:40 PM   #34
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Thanks for the clarifications Bob. Though M&H did, as I said, make guns for the 44 S&W American (at least according to Barnes) in addition to 44 M&H. I did not mean to imply that the M&H was adopted by the military.

Now is the ops question answered? Why the 45 Colt rather than a 44 caliber for the militaries sidearm?

It's clear why they were not interested in the 44-40 in a long gun.

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Old August 6, 2012, 04:44 PM   #35
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Oh yeah, it's perfectly clear as mud, lol. Seriously, this thread has been such an inteesting read- I hate to see it come to an end. There has certainly been some great and fascinating information traded here!
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I'm going to use the words "clip" and "Long Colt" every chance I get. It grinds my gears to see new members attacked when we all know dang good and well what's being refered to.
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Old August 6, 2012, 06:18 PM   #36
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To answer the question that keep cropping up, why did the military want the .45?

From what I have read, Colt made the Single Action Army revolver and UMC developed the cartridge for it. This was submitted to the Army Ordnance Board who liked it and bought it.

In short, it was the combination of the Colt and the .45 Colt round. I've found no better explanation.

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Old August 6, 2012, 11:55 PM   #37
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According to Alexander Rose in his very useful book "American Rifle" In the 1870 U.S. Army military trials for a new rifle of the 41 entrants into the trials only one was a repeater, that was the Spencer rifle. Winchester, knowing that Army Ordnance disapproved of repeating rifles did not submit any for trial. The army did not believe repeating rifles (rifles that could be reloaded by working a bolt or a lever) were fit for combat. It chose the single shot Springfield rifle which had been used as a muzzle loader during the Civil War and had been converted into a breech loader. It was pitted against the Remington Rolling Block single shot rifle and the Springfield won.

The Armies chosen round was the 45-70 a round too big and strong for the action of any Winchester, Henry, or Spencer of the time. The army considered none of the rounds that could be used in a repeater to be satisfactory. Even a few years later when the 44-40 was introduced in 1873 it was considered too light weight of a round for the Army and the Winchester rifle unreliable for combat. (The debate around these perspectives of the Die-Hards vs. the Progressives was a deep and long one in the military, Rose in his book covers it well I think, a very readable book.)

At any rate the 44-40 as a rifle round was never considered so when the round was introduced in a companion sidearm, the Colt SAA in 1878, the 45 Colt SAA had already been adopted for use in 1875.

The Army favored large heavy bullets. The 45 Colt was a modern cartridge and was heavier and faster than any available 44 I believe. In a gun that was tougher than most others at the time. It was the official round until 1892 when it was replaced by the 38 Long Colt.

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Old August 7, 2012, 06:29 AM   #38
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All of that is correct, particularly the part about the die-hards versus the progressives. I suspect that conflict plays out in all armies at one time or another. I also suspect that one generation's progressives are the next generation's die-hards.

Generally the same thing played out in European armies, particularly those that actually went to war.

Winchester repeating rifles, their lever actions, did see some military use and they did market a so-called musket version that came full stocked. I believe some Winchester lever actions were used in the Russo-Turkish war by the Turks. Mostly, however, it was the day of the single shot rifle and they continued to be used into the First World War in some of African campaigns. There were even new designs introduced and manufactured after repeating bolt actions had become the standard.
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Old August 7, 2012, 12:41 PM   #39
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I, for one, can see one BIG disanvantage to a military lever action.

Lie flat on the ground, hugging as close as possible to the ground. Fire your rifle, then try to work the lever.

Incidentally I found one Winchester Model 95 in Korea, in 7.62 Russian. As I recall, it did not have the clip slots.

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Old August 7, 2012, 01:11 PM   #40
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I should clarify that both Henrys and Spencers were used during the Civil War. Over the objections of the chief or military Ordnance. The Army did purchase 12,471 Spensers and 1,731 Henrys. Many more of the repeaters were bought by individual soldiers and units.

Both were very popular with troops. The Henry held 16 rounds of 44 rimfire. Confederate soldiers referred to it as "the damned Yankee rifle that you could load on Sunday and shoot all week". The Spenser shot a 56-56 rimfire round and carried 7 rounds in a tube in the butt stock.

Both were underpowered compared to the 45-70 and the numbers in service were a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Springfields used.

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Old August 7, 2012, 06:31 PM   #41
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Just to really stir the pot. The U.S. Chief of Ordnance at the beginning of the Civil War was a man named Ripley, who has taken a lot of heat (then and now) for not adopting every cockamamie repeating rifle that came along. Most of that criticism is based, of course, on 20-20 hindsight. In fact, guns like the Henry were fragile and difficult to maintain in the field; the Spencer was better, but both required proprietary cartridges that would turn out to be difficult to supply. Not to mention the dozen or so other special cartridges used in the hodgepodge of carbines and rifles thrown into combat without a proper supply system.

Ripley was not against new ideas; but his view was that muskets of the standard caliber, for which cartridges could be provided, were better than "super guns" with no ammunition. And one point is often overlooked; Ripley, and other U.S. officers, knew the capabilities of southern industry and knew well that the C.S. would have nothng better. And they were right; the South had an adequate supply of rifles, mainly of the Enfield which was their standard rifle, but they never had anything better. They never were able to produce fixed ammunition; captured Spencers and Henrys were discarded when captured ammunition was used up. Other carbines were closed or welded up and used as muzzle loaders.

Once the war was over, and a new rifle was in the works, the view was that a powerful rifle, capable of use at long range, would be superior to short range carbines. It is basically the same argument heard in WWII and today. Which would be better in combat - an M1/M14 or a Thompson SMG?

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Old August 7, 2012, 11:02 PM   #42
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Very good points.

Yep and early in WWII the Marine Corps refused the Garand and held onto the bolt action Springfield, arguing that the Garand degraded accurate, disciplined fire at distance and encouraged a "spray and pray" mentality.

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Old August 8, 2012, 06:40 AM   #43
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Mr. James K makes a good point about the large number of different weapons, mostly carbines, using proprietary cartridges during the Civil War. One thing is that none of those different cartridges were considered standard in any sense of the word. But if any of them had been used in large enough numbers (that is, because there were large numbers of weapons that used them), it may have been different. As it was, virtually all small arms used in the Civil War had a useful life of little more than twenty years. They were produced in huge numbers but quickly became obsolete as breechloaders using metallic cartridge came along, just as they themselves had made flintlocks a thing of the past.

There were lots of new cartridges introduced after the Civil War, some still with us, if not exactly in wide use, others almost forgotten. The same is true of a lot of other cartridges, which in spite of being used a great deal around the world, are on the road to obscurity, though it will take a long time for some just because of the sheer numbers. But when no new firearms are made for them, that will happen. But who can tell what Ruger will make next year? How about a No. 1 in 6.5 Japanese? An SP-101 in .38 S&W. You laugh! I've seen a Security Six in .38 S&W and Ruger made something in .303 British, which by the way is the same as a certain 7.7 Japanese.

The day of the proprierty cartridge is not over, either. Apparently gun makers felt no reason to make their new guns to chamber someone else's cartridge, even for military use. So the only gun, I think, to chamber a .30 Luger was a Luger, except of course, for Ruger.

You know, now and then my wife will ask me some gun related question and one she asked was about Ruger and Luger.
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Old August 8, 2012, 07:54 AM   #44
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At some points during the war it's said that the Quartermaster's Corps had close to 200 separate types of ammunition to supply to the troops.

I'm not sure if that is just small arms ammunition, or if it is small arms and artillery.

But, anyway you look at it, it's a ton of stuff to get out.

That said, and I've said this several times over the past few weeks, is that the Union armies did a phenomonal job of getting the correct ammo to the troops in sufficient quantities, and when they needed it.

The Quartermaster's Corps, the military railroads, and the military telegraph authorities all quickly put into place some amazingly novel and innovative logistical processes to streamline supply and to make sure that those troops who had non-standard weapons got the ammunition they needed.

Sometimes it was simply by brute force -- Ok, you've got 20,000 Springfield .58-cal rifled muskets. Here's ammo for those. And just in case, here's ammo for the .69 caliber smoothbore, some Burnsides ammo, and what the hell, take some Smith carbine ammo, too.

Other times calvary units would telegraph that they would be at a certain rail head in X days, and that they needed X, X, and X, and their supplies would be waiting for them when they got there.

Yes, the Civil War weapons and ammunition situation was an interesting one. But it wasn't quite as catastrophic as it would appear that it should have been.
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Old August 8, 2012, 11:01 AM   #45
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All of those experiences were eventually forgotten but they basically did the same thing all over again in 1917, although there was none of that incredible variety of small arms ammunition to deal with. But they virtually created a huge army overnight and sent it overseas. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the war effort, rather more so than in 1941, I'm led to believe.
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Old August 8, 2012, 02:26 PM   #46
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The Quartermaster's Corps, the military railroads, and the military telegraph authorities all quickly put into place some amazingly novel and innovative logistical processes to streamline supply and to make sure that those troops who had non-standard weapons got the ammunition they needed.
True, the methods employed, the experience of widespread standardized production and rapid distribution, also played a critical role in revolutionizing industrial production and distribution in a country not yet a century old. The effect of which lasted long after the war. The slavocracy could not come close to matching the industrial output of the U.S. nor was it able to wage the fight for standardization that the Ordnance Dept. did.

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Old August 8, 2012, 03:44 PM   #47
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Standardized parts that (supposedly) required little or no hand fitting and very good machine manufacturing was in place well before the Civil War. Even Hall rifles and carbines were made that way. It was only a question of scale brought on by wartime requirements. In fact, if you examine a Civil War era weapon that is still in good shape, you would be impressed by the level of workmanship evident, all done with machines. The equipment used to manufacture rifles at the Harper's Ferry government factory in Harper's Ferry, Virginia (which it was at the time), was from Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool Company.
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Old August 8, 2012, 04:14 PM   #48
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By the time the Civil War rolled around the United States was in, or just barely past, its infancy as an industrial powerhouse.

Much of the industrial techniques that we consider to be part and parcel to the industrial revolution, including standardized, interchangeable parts, were far more unique than they were commonplace in 1861.

One of the major issues that the US government had when it began letting contracts to private businesses for war supplies was standardization, both of parts for the machinery to make items, and for the items themselves.

It was not an easy conversion, and in many instances manufacturer's simply failed to meet those standards.
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Old August 9, 2012, 01:27 PM   #49
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.303 British, which by the way is the same as a certain 7.7 Japanese
That is partially correct. They used the same caliber bullets.

But the British round is very rimmed and the Japanese round is rimless.

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Old August 9, 2012, 01:32 PM   #50
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So the only gun, I think, to chamber a .30 Luger was a Luger
I know of another handgun that was available in .30 Luger. That was the Browning Hi-Power. I found a magazine for one in a gunshop "junk box" and bought it for $5. Gave it to a friend so he could sell it on Gun Broker and keep the profit. I'll have to ask him if he did....

http://www.gunsamerica.com/964218322...n_30_Luger.htm

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