View Full Version : Colt New Service .455 Eley info?

February 9, 2001, 08:20 AM
The reson for my venturing into this former unknown part of thefiringline.com is that I've inherited an old military revolver from my late uncle. The revolver is a Colt New Service .455 Eley.

The revolver has probably seen use in the Norwegian Armed Forces, as it has been stamped with the Norwegian Lion, and the serialnumber has been stamped on the "backstrap" (prob wrong word on a revolver) as to be easier to identify in storage I presume. My unlce was a retired officer, and was active in the Norwegian resistance during WWII. This makes me believe that the revolver may have come from England during WWII, but maybe prior to that as well.

The Colt horse has spears between both teeth and front legs. The serialnumber is of 999xx-series.

Cna anyone help me with info on this gun? Year of manufacture, place of origin? Anything? :)

Also, any info on the calibre would be most welcome, as it is rather unfamilar to me. I assume both .455 Colt and .455 Webley may be used?

Thanks in advance,


Harley Nolden
February 9, 2001, 12:01 PM
Artic Boy
Here is what I have on the ammo. Hope this will help in your quest.

Introduced: 1892
Other Names: 455 Colt
455 MkI
455 MkII
British MkI
Dimensional Data:
Bullet: .454
Neck: .476
Base: .480
Rim: .512
Case Length: 1.29
Ctge Length: 1.60
Twist: 16-20
Factory Ballistics:
Bullet: MV: ME:
265gn 700 289
265gn 600 212
265gn 757 337

The 455 Revolvere MkI was adopted by the British army to replace the 476 MkIII and the 455 Enfield MkI ammunition. Despite the different caliber designation, these two cartridges actually have the same case dimension. They differ only in bullet diameter, type and construction. The 476 was a black powder cartridge and so was the 455 MkI at its inception. However, in 1894 the propellant was changed to the then new Cordite, and after a few years, it was found the
smokeless powder burned more efficiently in a shorter case. Consequently a shorter case was adopted in 1897 and this altered round was designated the 455 Revolver MkII.

The MarkII British revolver cartridge adopted in 1897 and designated the 455 Revolver MkII. It is a modification of an earlier round originally designed for black powder (455 Revolver MkI) Modern revolvers will chamber and fire either the old or new cartridge. The 455 Webley was used officially in both WWI and II, although it was partly replaced by the 380/200 (38S&W) adopted in the mid 30's. In addition to the Webley revolver, both Colt and S&W chambered arms for this cartridge.

476 ELEY
Introduced: 1881
Other Names: 476 Enfield MkIII
British military cartridge used from late 1881 to mid 1891, when the 455 Webely revolver cartridge, MkI was introduced. This round has the same case and bullet dimensions as the 455
MkI except the latter is .05mm shorter in case length. Unlike the 476 MkII the MkIII has aclay plug in the hollow base. The charge was 18 grains of black-powder. also known as the 476 Eley and 476 Revolver, the MkIII can be used in any British service 455, but the bullet may be a bit large for use in 455 Colts of S&W's of late manufacture.


Mike Irwin
February 9, 2001, 12:01 PM

During World War I both Smith & Wesson and Colt supplied revolvers to Britain and Canada. S&W made around 80,000; I don't know how many Colt made, but it was probably a similar number.

There are actually a couple of different ".455 Webley" rounds.

I just went though this with a Canadian friend who found a very nice S&W in .455 that had been sent to Canada... When he picked it up, the seller threw in .455 casings of TWO lengths. Here's a exercpt from my message to him regarding the ammo.

The longer cases were the "Original" .455 Webley rounds, known in British service as the .455 Revolver Mk I. The cases should be about 0.9" long. It was adopted in 1892 as a blackpowder round.

Apparently in 1897 a modified round burning smokeless powder (cordite, probably) was adopted as the .455 Revolver Mk II. This round was 1/10th of an inch shorter than the Mk I round.

Both rounds were used extensively in Canada, and Dominion in fact apparently manufactured the Mk I round up until around 1930.

The longer round was also know as the .455 Colt Revolver, because Colt Peacemakers and Colt New Service revolvers were frequently chambered
for this round.

So, to make the above even clearer, the .455 Colt round is actually the longer, Mk I round, while what is commonly know as the .455 Webley (at least in the US) is the shorter Mk II round.

Your New Service MAY be chambered for the longer round, or it may have shouldered chambers (meaning that there is a lip towards the front of the cylinder to prevent longer cases from being inserted).

James K
February 9, 2001, 04:27 PM
Fiocchi makes .455 ammo. Old Western Scrounger (www.ows-ammo.com) has it at $38 for 50. I believe that ammo is reloadable, and dies are available. Cases can also be made from .45 Colt cases by trimming down the front of the rim and trimming the case to length.

If that revolver is original do NOT modify it to fire some other ammunition.


February 10, 2001, 11:46 AM
I have reloaded the Fiocchi brass- it uses a small pistol primer- for a number of years. This is the shorter .455 Webley version. Converted brass from .45 Colt Long with a thinner rim is also excellent for use. I have used Smiths, Webleys and Colts in this calibre and find the greatest problem exists in the bore diameter- usually .456. At ranges within 25 yards the .454 diameter does work fine. Try 4.6 grains of Unique. The Colt 455 Eley is a fun gun to shoot although the triggers are usually excessively heavy. As mentioned earlier- do not modify this gun to another calibre. You can order .455 Webley Lee carbide dies from http://www.midwayusa.com for $21.99 us. Judging by the tables found in "COLT- an American Legend" RL Wilson- your gun was made between 1916-1917, which is consistant with the calibre and the production of firearms for the Canadian and British market. You have interesting marking on yours- I've never seen that before on a Colt. Hope this helps, Ken DROVER Burlington, Ontario Canada

February 11, 2001, 09:33 AM
Thanks for all your help! It has been most helpful. I'll try the Norwegian importer of Fiocci and see if they can help me.

Yes the trigger is rather heavy, but surprisingly smooth. A long, _hard_ but smooth trigger pull.

Btw, I wouldn't dream of modifying it! As mentioned it belonged to my late uncle, and it is my aunt's specific wish that I inherit it. In Norway, all guns must be registered, and I am the only family member with a handgun license (all his long guns have been taken care of by my cousins). My uncle was a resistance fighter and a military officer and a tough old man. He shot, walked mountain trails and worked out well into his late seventies. I feel like I'm remembering him and carrying on in his footsteps by shooting and taking good care of his revolver. It will stay the way it is.

Thanks again!