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Old September 25, 2012, 09:25 AM   #51
Mike Irwin
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"The Mummy films did have many cool firearms & weapons of the era."

It was actually one of the most accurate, from a firearms standpoing, movies I've ever seen.

There was only one glaring error that I saw, and that was forgiveable...

The Mahdi or whatever they were called troops fighting the French Legionairs at the beginning of the movie seemed to be armed with Mauser rifles that weren't introduced until the early 1930s.

What REALLY impressed the hell out of me, though, was the fact that the Legion troops were armed with Mle 1886 Lebel rifles and O'Connell is shown single feeding his rifle (period correct tactics).

One of the characters in The Mummy (Burns) even carried a Mark V Webley.
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Old September 26, 2012, 10:52 AM   #52
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Just to cover another reason why there are no modern breaktops. The extraction system used with most breaktops has a short throw cam, meaning the extractor will not work with long cartridges. The S&W Schofield worked OK with the short .45 Government round, but would not have worked with the .45 Colt even if the cylinder had been lengthened. The extractor of the Webley Mk IV works fine with .38 S&W; it would not work with .38 Special or .357 Magnum. A manual extractor would work, but one of the main advantages of the break top would be sacrificed.

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Old September 26, 2012, 11:06 AM   #53
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IIRC, didn't the Russians order huge numbers, but then renege on most of the order - after they had received, and reverse engineered, the first batch? After which, they rolled their own.

Seems to me I reaad that somewhere, and that it nearly crushed S&W for a short period.
I believe you're confusing the No. 3 with the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891, and S&W with Remington.

More here:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...83&postcount=6
I'm pretty sure that first poster was right. I'm not sure if S&W made more on their own than was needed or the Russians changed their order. I remember reading that there were many never delivered (for whatever reason) and they were sold off domestically.

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What killed the top break revolver as a serious use gun? A number of things, including cost and complexity, but mostly it was the in ability to use a powerful cartridge. There are no top breaks in magnum calibers, and even the original .45 Colt loading was not useable in the original S&W N0.3/Schoefield guns, as the cylinder & frame were too short to take the length of the round.
I forgot to reply to this earlier: The thing that killed the top break was simply the swing out cylinder technology. Before that, the top break was very popular despite it not being in 45 colt. A revolver didn't need to be in 45 colt for it to be useful in combat or for general purpose. SAAs at the time were NOT often seen esp in 45 colt. They of course were not rare, but they were the latest and greatest and so many people could not attain and/or afford one. S&W chose not to adapt their design to 45 colt BUT the design itself was fine for 45 colt. It was just a technicality. The reason why it was not in magnum cals was because the first magnum came out in 1935, after the swing out cylinder had been around since 1889 (Colt).

Quote:
"S&W refused to chamber their revolvers in 45 colt. They easily could have."

Actually, they really couldn't.

Doing so would have required a re-engineering of the entire gun, lengthening the frame and the cylinder, with a corresponding need to change most of the tooling to produce them.

At the same time, S&W was deeply into its contracts with the Russians. In fact, at the time, virtually all of S&W's production capabilities were being tied up making guns for the Russians, they were ordering so many.

So, in order to make the change to the gun to chamber it in .45 Long Colt, they would have seriously impacted their contracts with the Russians.
That's correct but on the other hand, the frame would have been the only part that had to be remade. If they wanted to lengthen it to get another contract (remember that the longer frame would have worked for all of the other cals) they would have. They also didn't want to do it. S&Ws in 45 colt were fairly rare until the 1950s and then finally the model 25-5 around 1980 made the S&W revolver in 45 colt an easy to get item. S&W to my knowledge never made a 38 colt revolver nor a 41 colt revolver. They also didn't bother with a 45 acp semi design (or even revolvers other than government contract) of their own until decades after Colt started making the 1911. It was a little more than production issues. They wanted people to shoot their guns AND their ammo. They didn't want a great design to be married to a competition's ctg. Colt was similar but the S&W ctg designs were so successful they couldn't afford to ignore the S&W cals. S&W invented far more excellent ctgs than Colt did.

EDIT - corrected a few typos
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Old September 26, 2012, 11:06 AM   #54
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actually...

not all top breaks were auto extraction, & rumor I heard, is "real gunmen" prefered the manual extraction guns for more positive extraction...

...

... he's digging for a pic...

yup... I have a couple... this is one of mine, an early 38 S&W chambered H&R hand ejector...

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Old September 26, 2012, 11:34 AM   #55
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And then there was this: http://world.guns.ru/handguns/double...-mp-412-e.html
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Old September 26, 2012, 12:23 PM   #56
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"Thats correct but on the other hand, the frame would have been the only part that had to be remade."

Sorry, but that's incorrect.

The grip frame, the barrel extension, and the cylinder all would have had to have been reworked to ensure proper cartridge clearance had the gun been rechambered in .45 Long Colt.


OK, I've just found a reference to S&W's interaction with the Russians in the write up on Wikipedia, which claims that it comes from this: http://www.sam-hane.com/sass/schofield/history.htm

However, in reading that article, I can't see where it says what Wikipedia says it says.

To be perfectly honest I do NOT recall reading anything of the sort in either Roy Jink's history of the company or Supica and Nahaus' books.

Even so, I seriously question the "almost went bankrupt" given the company very strong sales of both smaller frame revolvers as well as their other military contracts at the same time, plus the strong sales of their No. 3s on the US market.


"If they wanted to lengthen it to get another contract"

As I already indicated, S&W REFUSED an 1878 request by the Army for an additional several thousand revolvers because they didn't want to stop production of orders that they already had in order to retool the production lines.

IIRC the Army wanted no more than 8,000 revolvers, a drop in the bucket really compared to the orders that the company already had.

It doesn't make much sense to tick off the customers that you already have to comply with the request from a customer who may, but very likely would not, order a significant number of additional guns.


"S&W to my knowledge never made a 38 colt revolver nor a 41 colt revolver."

No, they didn't, and there are some pretty solid reasons why, really...

If you look at the different cartridges offered by the two companies, with the exception of the .45 Long, virtually ALL of Colt's cartridge offerings were heavily outsold by Smith & Wesson's cartridges to the point where Colt was forced to drop their offerings and chamber the S&W rounds.

Given that kind of success and acceptance, why would S&W want to adopt a whole series of cartridges that were largely inferior to their own?

Oh, and regarding the .38 Colt revolver... Yes, Smith & Wesson did make at least several hundred, chambered in .38 Long Colt, but they marked the guns .38 US Service Cartridge.

Those were the original run of Model of 1899 Hand Ejectors, which S&W was rushing to get to market, and did so before they could put the finishing touches on what, for all intents and purposes, would become THE universal American revolver cartridge, the .38 Smith & Wesson Special.


"They also didn't bother with a 45 acp design of their own until decades after Colt started making the 1911."

Well, if you ignore the 1917 revolver, and its post WW I counterparts, I suppose... but, given that Smith & Wesson didn't even seriously enter the semi-automatic handgun market until AFTER World War II (largely because they didn't have to their revolvers were selling so well), I'm not sure what your point is.

Also, one could turn that statement around this way...

Colt never entered the double-action handgun market (which Smith & Wesson entered in the 1950s) until decades after Smith & Wesson, and by the time they did the company was already so far behind the curve that they couldn't hope to catch up.... Not to mention that, pretty universally, their double action designs were largely flops both mechanically and in the market place...
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Old September 26, 2012, 02:02 PM   #57
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The grip frame, the barrel extension, and the cylinder all would have had to have been reworked to ensure proper cartridge clearance had the gun been rechambered in .45 Long Colt.
The frame obviously, and they could have just designed a new cylinder for 45 colt if it was too short BUT why a new barrel extension?

Quote:
"They also didn't bother with a 45 acp design of their own until decades after Colt started making the 1911."

Well, if you ignore the 1917 revolver, and its post WW I counterparts, I suppose... but, given that Smith & Wesson didn't even seriously enter the semi-automatic handgun market until AFTER World War II (largely because they didn't have to their revolvers were selling so well), I'm not sure what your point is.
The point is that they were resistant to chambering Colt ctgs. Aside from all of the "Russian contract first" stuff - S&W definitely did not want to make revolvers in colt cals. I was thinking about a semi auto design in my "no 45 acp statement", but in reality, they didn't make 45 acp revolvers in great numbers except for the 1917. I think its fairly obvious that they wanted to chamber their guns in their cals until much later, where they were they pulled much farther ahead as a company.

Quote:
Colt never entered the double-action handgun market (which Smith & Wesson entered in the 1950s) until decades after Smith & Wesson, and by the time they did the company was already so far behind the curve that they couldn't hope to catch up.... Not to mention that, pretty universally, their double action designs were largely flops both mechanically and in the market place...
I'm guessing you have a typo here. S&W entered the DA handgun market in 1880 approx and the DA swing out hand ejector marked in 1896. Colt had a 1877 DA model followed by the 1889 Army / Navy DA hand ejector revolver. The 1889 was not a flop. Production wise, I don't know if you could even call the 1877 lightning and thunderer or the 1878 45 a "flop" from a sales perspective. From a design perspective, perhaps, but they were pretty early, and so, one must allow for short comings. Can you explain your post
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Old September 26, 2012, 03:18 PM   #58
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"The frame obviously, and they could have just designed a new cylinder for 45 colt if it was too short BUT why a new barrel extension?"

OK...

Take a good look at a No. 3. If you fit a longer cylinder, you have to lengthen the what we now call the bottom strap, on which the barrel assembly pivots.

The barrel and top strap are all one forging. If you lengthen the bottom strap, you MUST lengthen the top strap, or it's going to be too short to engage the latch.

"The point is that they were resistant to chambering Colt ctgs."

As I noted, they didn't need to. Domestically, the .44 American and .44 Russian cartridges were very popular and sold very well commercially. Why add another cartridge when you're already having problems meeting all of the orders for guns for cartridges that you already produce? It doesn't make good business sense.

And, lastly, not really a typo, but an imprecision. Colt didn't enter the double-action semi-automatic market until well after World War II.




Finally, I've just finished re-reading the entire section on the Number 3 Model in Roy Jinks "History of Smith & Wesson."

He goes into pretty extensive detail about the variety of contracts that the Russians signed with Smith & Wesson, but makes absolutely no mention of contract defaults, undelivered guns, or looming bankruptcy.

He does say, however, that the Number 3's popularity, and in particular the various military contracts it signed for these guns, put the company on a secure financial footing and helped give it the capital necessary to move forward once those contracts did end.

And, I just reminded myself as to why the Schofield modifications were never incorporated into the No. 3 model generally...

Schofield was getting a nice, big royalty for use of his designs, and S&W didn't want to pay it when the existing design was more than adequate.

I also can't see where anything like that is mentioned in my second edition Jinks and Nahaus, either.

If that actually happened, one would expect that one or the other, especially Jinks, would have mentioned it as he does other down periods during the company's history.
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:24 PM   #59
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Don't know near as much S&W history as you folks do, although I have been a S&W fan for a long time. I just wanted to mention in reference to the 45 colt round in a top break, that starting about 1886? the DA frontier revolver came out in .44-40 cal. That is the same length as a 45 colt. I think it would've been easier to make a 45 colt than you may think. Would like to know your thoughts.
Here's my DA 44-40 frontier.
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:29 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by MJN77
Here's my DA 44-40 frontier.
Oh my...

That is pretty...

Thanks for the look...
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:34 PM   #61
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Thank you. I also have a first model DA in 44 russian. The nickel finish is pretty worn though. But they both shoot quite well.
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Old September 26, 2012, 08:38 PM   #62
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Every one needs to remember Smiths primary concern about chambering the 45 Long in the Number 3 -- they felt the rim was too small to reliably work with the ejector.

True or not I do not know, but I tend to take them at their word as they are the ones who designed it.
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Old September 27, 2012, 05:33 AM   #63
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I think we're guilty sometimes of applying modern day preferences and ideas to the 19th century. Today, most of us have no experience with the .44-40 or .38-40 but the .45 Colt is very well known. We may be imagining that it was like that in the 1870s and 1880s, too, but it wasn't. Moreover, the Colt Single Action Army revolver did not sell in huge numbers before WWII and probably only about half the production was in .45 Colt and most of those going to the army (Sorry, don't carry the numbers around with me). Other, smaller revolvers outsold the larger ones and always had. To an extent, that was also true of the .45-70.

So basically, the .45 Colt chambering was not necessarily something that a gunmaker just had to have because no one wanted anything else.
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Old September 27, 2012, 05:34 AM   #64
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Also forgot to mention that in about 1878 S&W chambered their New model #3 SA in .44-40 too. So I do not buy the excuse that they would've had to retool and redesign to get a .45 colt caliber #3. I do not know if it is true or not, but I read years ago that during development of the schofield revolver Dan Wesson said something to the effect of "I'll be d*#@*d if I chamber one of my guns for a COLT round." Again I do not know if it is true, but it was a competitive business.
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Old September 27, 2012, 06:57 AM   #65
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OK, I may be wrong about the length. It's been a LONG time since I've actually had hands on with period guns and ammo, but I do know that the rim size on the Colt was a concern.

But, of the three cartridges - .45 Colt, .38-40, and .44-40, I believe that the .45 Colt, as loaded by the military, had the greatest overall length at 1.60 inches, which was longer by a bit than the overall length of the .44-40 using the standard bullet of the day.

I also know that when Smith & Wesson re-introduced the Schofield in the 1990s, they lengthened the cylinder.

I'm trying to track down some dimensioned drawings of the No. 3s, but so far no luck.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:15 AM   #66
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The rims could've been a legitimate concern, but I think to say they could make one in .44-40 but a .45 colt was too long is a load of poop, at best. I would bet that there was a bit of not wanting to use the competition's cartridge involved too. That was one reason that Colt didn't chamber their guns in .44-40, .38-40 etc until 1878. When they did, they used the 44-40 nomenclature instead of 44WCF (Winchester center fire). In the 1880s Colt was making lever action rifles to compete with Winchester. Supposedly the heads of Colt and Winchester had a meeting in which the Winchester fellows showed the Colt fellows some prototypes for a new line of Winchester revolvers that would be introduced to the market if Colt continued to produce lever rifles. I think you are too easily dismissing the competitiveness that existed between firearms companies at the time as at least partly responsible for some of their business/manufacturing decisions. I'm not arguing with you about this. Just wanted to raise a few points about the length of the #3 frame and the reasons that none were made in .45 colt.

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Old September 27, 2012, 07:36 AM   #67
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Once again, I believe the .44-40 and the .45 Colt had different standard overall lengths.

It's not just the case length that matters. You have to take into account how much the bullet adds to the overall length.

I have in my personal collection period .45 Long and .44-40 rounds (probably loaded 1890s to just before World War I). I'll have to drag out the micrometer and see what it has to say.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:06 PM   #68
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From everything I can find, original .44-40 cartridge overall length was from 1.585 to 1.595. Not different enough from your stated .45 colt overall length of 1.60 to be a problem if S&W wanted to chamber one of their guns in that caliber. Also, I noticed that side by side, the cylinder from my original S&W DA 44-40 is a slight bit longer than the cylinder of my Uberti Schofield replica in .45 colt. I would say that length wasn't a problem. I imagine the reason that no #3 S&W was chambered in .45 colt was a mix of competitiveness and the small rim of the Colt cartridge. IMHO of course.

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Old September 28, 2012, 08:30 PM   #69
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Fairly long cartridges just don't work too well with the auto ejecting top-breaks. If the action is opened slowly the extractor can snap back down and cause the long case to sort of "cock" askew before it clears the chamber, and binds the cylinder momentarily. This happens even with the shorter .38 S&W cartridges. And loaded rounds will drop back into the chamber causing the extractor to drop onto the top of the head of the case instead of gripping the rim.

After some experience with both top-breaks and hand ejectors (with swing out cylinders) shooters usually eject modern revovler muzzle up and gravity helps clear the cylinder of cartridges. Not so with the top-breaks.

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Old September 28, 2012, 08:34 PM   #70
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As to the relative popularity of .44-40 vs .45 Colt, some years ago The American Rifleman did an article on .44-40 caliber revolvers of the period. The summation was that Colt made more .44-40 revolvers than all other manufacturers combined, and Colt produced far more .45 Colt revovler than .44-40s.

And, remember the .44-40 took a bad hit during the transition from black powder to smokeless.

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Old September 28, 2012, 08:43 PM   #71
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I notice a general assumption that the military issued the ".45 Schofield" only to those carrying that revolver and that when it was phased out the ammunition became obsolete and the Army reverted back to .45 Colt. In fact, once the Schofield was adopted in 1874, even though in limited numbers, Frankford Arsenal made ONLY the shorter cartridge, and FA ammunition was the ONLY revolver ammunition issued to the Army from 1874 to the end of the Single Action era. Even after the S&W was long gone, the cartridge continued to be issued. After 1874, the Army never issued .45 Colt ammunition.

Even when the Army adopted the Colt New Service in .45 Colt as its standard handgun in 1909, they did not issue .45 Colt ammunition because they found that the small rim caused empty cases to jump the extractor, hanging the gun up. Frankford Arsenal made the Model 1909 cartridge with a larger rim and, again, that was the ONLY ammunition issued with the Model 1909 revolver. There was no contract .45 Colt ammunition. (The Model 1909 cartridge, not the .45 Schofield is the one that only three rounds can be loaded in the Model 1873 revolver, a matter of no importance to the Army since the old SAA was long obsolete in 1909.)

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Old September 29, 2012, 12:00 AM   #72
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I thought the majority of 45 Colt revolvers produced were sold to the Government and that in civilian sales the 44-40 was the top dog until well AFTER the turn of the century.
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Old September 29, 2012, 12:11 AM   #73
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I thought the majority of 45 Colt revolvers produced were sold to the Government and that in civilian sales the 44-40 was the top dog until well AFTER the turn of the century.
I don't think the 44-40s sold as great as other cals such as 32-20 or even 41 colt. Do you mean SAAs or in general? I just checked my kopec moore graham book but it didn't break down the caliber production anywhere.
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Old September 29, 2012, 06:05 AM   #74
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Fairly long cartridges just don't work too well with the auto ejecting top-breaks. If the action is opened slowly the extractor can snap back down and cause the long case to sort of "cock" askew before it clears the chamber, and binds the cylinder momentarily.
They weren't meant to be opened slow. If you turn the gun on it's side when you open it you have no problems at all. My DA .44-40 works just fine. So does my .32, .38 and .44 russian S&Ws as well as my Uberti schofield .45 and .44 russian replicas. Ejecting spent shells isn't rocket surgery.

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Old September 29, 2012, 07:26 AM   #75
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"If you turn the gun on it's side when you open it you have no problems at all."

Bingo.

I generally even flip my top breaks completely over before opening the action so that when the ejection cycle is complete the cylinder is pointing straight down at the ground.

Gravity, its' the law, and it's of huge assistance.

I do the same thing with my Hand Ejectors...

Cylinder open, muzzle straight up, palm slaps the ejector rod.

I have never had issues with a case jumping the ejector star and locking the gun up.



"I don't think the 44-40s sold as great as other cals such as 32-20 or even 41 colt."

I have seen, years ago, a chambering breakdown, and I swear I recall seeing the .44-40 either near, or at the top, of the list once the .45s manufactured for the Army were removed.

And you're right, the .32-20 was also right there, and probably the .38-40 was also well in the mix, compliments of the handy union of the Colt revolver and the Winchester 1873.
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