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Old March 26, 2013, 01:06 PM   #1
varifleman
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1918 RAF Colt Government Model .455 Eley Pistol

Here for your viewing pleasure are photos of my WWI RAF British military proofed .455 Eley British RAF contract Colt Government Model pistol. It was one of 400 pistols shipped to Captain Sir Connop Guthrie, Pier 60, North River NY NY on March 12, 1918. Guthrie was the Special Representative for the British Ministry of Shipping in the U.S. and a member of the U.S. Shipping Commission in 1918. It has the view mark for G.W.R. Steadman, British Inspector at the Colt New Haven Factory and the British Broad Arrow and Crossed Pennant military acceptance marks. Serial number is W 100744.
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Old March 26, 2013, 01:13 PM   #2
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additional photos to show the Broad Arrow British military ownership mark, Crossed Pennants proof mark and Crown/G2/A view mark of G.W. R. Steadman, the British government inspector at Colt's Hartford CT plant.
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Old March 26, 2013, 01:15 PM   #3
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one more photo
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File Type: jpg HColtRAFMarkedGvtFactLetter3444FB2.jpg (229.9 KB, 73 views)
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Old March 26, 2013, 01:38 PM   #4
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Wow that is very cool! Thanks for sharing the photos. I always thought of the .455 as revolver round. But I guess if they converted .455 S&W and Colt revolvers to .45 ACP that it would be suited for semi-autos.
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Old March 26, 2013, 01:57 PM   #5
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The .455 Webley was an auto pistol round known in England as the .455 Webley, designed for the .455 Webley Auto pistol. Entirely different cartridge from the revolver round.

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Old March 26, 2013, 02:07 PM   #6
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Great piece, varifleman.

And fitting too, in this month's American Rifleman there is an article about the various chamberings of the Government Model, the .455 Eley being listed.
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:17 PM   #7
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Thank you for sharing. Do you have any additional provenance on the pistol after its initial delivery?

In the pictures the finish appears significantly finer or better preserved than the wear on the grips.

I am not an expert in this area, but a casual observer. It will be interesting to hear the views of others.
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:21 PM   #8
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How does the ballistics of the .455 Eley compare to the .45 ACP?
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:24 PM   #9
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Hi Lamarw: Unfortunately I don't have any other info on the pistol after initial delivery to the British government. Most of these pistols were refinished by the Brits at some time during their RAF service, most like just prior to or during WWII. Most were later converted to fire .45 ACP by replacing barrel and magazine due to ready availability of .45 ACP so I'm fortunate that this pistol is still in original .455 Eley caliber barrel and magazine.
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Old March 26, 2013, 05:59 PM   #10
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I saw one like that in a gun shop in Seattle in 1977. The owner had been showing me his collection of .45's and I still remember the drama and flair as he opened a briefcase to show me his special prize. In my mind, I remember him referring to it as the .455 SL, self loading.
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Old March 26, 2013, 08:06 PM   #11
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Thanks for the response and additional information. Many of the surviving
M1911A1's have also seen depot refurbishment.

The first thing I started doing, while I drooled over your pictures, was counting the number of rows of checkering between the diamonds on the grip. This is how I picked-up on the worn and smooth warm patina of the old grips.

The one thing anyone who picks-up and holds an old M1911 remembers is the great feel of those old worn double diamond grips. Just to imagine the number of hands which have gripped and held onto those old grips is a thing to cherish in my own mind. Many of these old pistols have also seen their share of combat duty and possibly in several theaters of war.
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Old March 27, 2013, 11:25 PM   #12
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The .455 Webley Automatic Pistol cartridge has about the same ballistics as the .45 ACP, but it has a longer case and a rounder bullet than the ACP round, plus is semi-rimmed. Because of the rim, it can be chambered and fired in .455 revolvers, which were designed for a different cartridge of much lower pressure. The British War Office sent out a warning to NOT fire the .455 Webley Auto cartridge in ANY .455 service revolver as the gun could be blown up.

FWIW, the Colt .455 pistol is NOT the same as the .45 ACP gun and there are several significant differences. Because of the semi-rimmed round, the magazine is wider and the magazine well is wider to allow for that. The barrel is made without a sharp shoulder in the chamber since the .455 Auto is supported on its rim (like the .38 Super), not on the case mouth like the .45 ACP. That means the .45 ACP will not fire in the .455 pistol unless the cartridge is held by the extractor. The reverse won't work either, as the .455 Webley Auto won't feed or chamber properly in the .45 ACP pistol.

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Old March 28, 2013, 01:44 AM   #13
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Very, Very, cool. The .455 1911s are always a treat for me to see. A great piece of history!
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:18 AM   #14
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Thanks for the comments. Lamarw, nice WWI 1911, can you post more photos? James K; nice comments re design modifications to the Colt Goivernment Models chambered in .455 Eley. I'm fortunate that this pistol retains the .455 barrel and magazine.
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Old March 28, 2013, 01:18 PM   #15
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Vari- you have a nice collection of old Colt's, hang on to them the price isn't going down.
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Old March 28, 2013, 08:53 PM   #16
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I got an off-line comment asking what the chances are of someone firing .455 Webley Auto in a .45 ACP pistol, since the Webley round is almost unobtainable. Sure, but just in case someone has a couple of cases of it lying around getting in the way, I did think the point should be mentioned.

(I have a half dozen rounds; I think it cost $6 a round several years ago.)

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Old March 29, 2013, 06:39 AM   #17
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The Webley Automatic's ballistics were a step below the .45 ACP's.

The Webley used a 224 or so grain bullet at about 700 fps, for 244 or so ft. lbs of energy.

US military ammo used a 230 gr. bullet at roughly 850 fps, for about 370 ft. lbs of energy.
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Old March 29, 2013, 02:10 PM   #18
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According to the Text Book of Small Arms, that 700 fps figure is taken 30 feet from the muzzle.

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Old March 29, 2013, 03:29 PM   #19
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Which means muzzle velocity would, at best, be in the 750 fps range, if that.
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Old March 30, 2013, 04:38 PM   #20
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Another interesting 1911, thanks for the post.
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Old March 30, 2013, 08:30 PM   #21
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Nice. I learned some thing new tonight. Thanks for posting.
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Old March 30, 2013, 08:52 PM   #22
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That is magnificent.
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Old March 30, 2013, 09:00 PM   #23
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Was this the gun that was listed in the recent Rock Island auction by chance?
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Old March 30, 2013, 09:53 PM   #24
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FWIW, the stampings on the barrel are the British commercial proof marks, put on when the pistol was sold out of government stores, probably c. 1957.

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Old March 31, 2013, 12:06 PM   #25
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SVO: I got the pistol on Gunbroker several months ago.
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