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Old January 30, 2021, 01:19 PM   #1
H.W. French
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Colt New Service. Mutt or Whut?

Colt New Service .455 Eley. Serial number on frame and crane indicates DOM of 1914. Cylinder appears to have been reamed to 45 Colt with the chambers slightly countersunk. 45 Colt drops in easily and cycles fine. Extraction is iffy with some loaded rounds slipping free of the star. The only number on the cylinder is the number 2 stamped on the rear face. There is an "E" stamped on the grip frame underneath the (replacement?) grips. Some of the other stamps I recognize and others I do not. Anyone have any ideas about where its been? Would the stamps be different on a revolver sent to Canada versus one sent to England?
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Old January 30, 2021, 02:40 PM   #2
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The .455 Eley was a cartridge of British use (go figure) dating from 1897 and within bore diameter tolerances of the U. S. dimensions of .45 Colt. (Close enough to function well.) It has been in the past nearly impossible to obtain in the U. S. It is more available now, but not on every gun shop shelf (in normal times) and not made to my knowledge in the U. S.

The revolver was issued to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP or 'Mounties') after WW 1. The Colt New Service was the same revolver that was the Colt version of the U. S. M1917 revolver in .45 ACP. It is remembered as a robustly build gun, fairly reliable except for the timing wear issues and hideous double action trigger pull endemic to Colt revolvers.

I've seen and heard of a number of these (RCMP) revolvers with the same altered chambering. I surmise any number were imported to the U. S. when phased out by RCMP. Then converted to .45 Colt as a matter of convenience.

Not sure of the collector value. I would expect a New Service collector would be more interested than a rifle collector.

The .455 was a revolver cartridge and had a fairly healthy rim. The .45 Colt has a rather small rim and could be expected to slip past the extractor star on occasion.

Acceptance stamps. I'm sure the Canadian govt and RCMP had their own marks and protocol. In addition to any stamps affixed by the British govt and Army.
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Old January 30, 2021, 05:17 PM   #3
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Cool old gun, and it's in very nice condition. I owned a couple New Service revolvers years ago (a commercial 44-40 and a M1917). The guns were used by the USMC as the M1909, and by the US Army and Navy as the US M1917. Canadian RCMP used it as well.

The 455 Eley chambering was fairly common in surplus guns, and many people wanted a 45 Colt, so all you had to do was ream the Eley chamber to 45 Colt. Some New Service revolvers were through bored and didn't even require reaming, just plunk a 45 Colt in and start shooting (you see this on early Colt M1917s as well).

If the rim size becomes an issue, you can try some 45 Cowboy loads, the rim is slightly bigger to allow better extraction in double actions like the 45 Schofield guns.
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Old January 31, 2021, 09:28 AM   #4
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Thanks. It needs a little clean up but the bore is pretty and it locks up solid. I've been dabbling with Colts and clones for quite a while but this is my first "Large" frame DA Colt and definitely my first mil-surp handgun. If anyone has a lead on some source material for Acceptance and Proof stamps please let me know.
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Old January 31, 2021, 11:14 AM   #5
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Neat gun. I have a couple NS revolvers, one in .45 Colt and the other a US M1917. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but I think that yours may have been reblued at some point. I also have a S&W .455 MkII that is still chambered in .455 Ely. I believe it may have come through Canada but that is just speculation on my part.

I would love to have an unaltered RCMP NS one day.
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Old January 31, 2021, 11:18 AM   #6
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I have been reading about those "bored through" 1917s for a long long time but have not seen a gun or picture of an actual example. Did they have a cylinder replacement/upgrade program?

I never heard of a .45 Colt being "bored through."

Failure of .45 Colt to extract is why the FA 1909 ammo for the New Service had larger rim diameter. It is commonly said that it will not work in a SAA except by loading every other chamber. If that is so, How did they ever make a SAA in .455? I read an account in The Handgunner, Ltd. but it sure sounded odd.
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Old January 31, 2021, 02:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
I have been reading about those "bored through" 1917s for a long long time but have not seen a gun or picture of an actual example. Did they have a cylinder replacement/upgrade program?
the best info I have indicates that the initial batch of Colt 1917s had "bored through" cylinders, and would not work without half moon clips, while the S&W 1917s had the ACP headspace "ledge" or "step" in the chamber, and would work without clips

All subsequent Colt guns were made with headspace steps like S&W. And the initial batch of bored through guns was reworked in the 20s when replacement cylinders with headspace steps were fitted.

Its not impossible some of the first guns "escaped" rework, I have no idea, but if a few did, those are the only Colt .45acp you'll find with bored through cylinders and they'd be uber rare.

Always possible you can find a gun that was reworked/bored out by a previous owner, NOT the factory. Friend of mine got a S&W 1917 that had been nickeled, and "bored out" as he found out when a .45acp round would fall completely through the cylinder and out the front.
The gun would chamber .45 Colt, and likely would also fire ACP in clips, though my friend declined firing it, and passed it on to another collector, with full disclosure of what he found had been done to it.
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Old February 1, 2021, 09:32 AM   #8
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If it would chamber .45 ACP in clips, it probably wouldn't reliably shoot .45 Colt, even if they'd fit in the chambers, as the firing pin wouldn't reach.
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Old February 1, 2021, 02:00 PM   #9
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London proof marks, and refinished over the top of them.
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Old February 1, 2021, 02:38 PM   #10
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I am the guy that bought the, what turned out to be the modified 1917 44AMP referred to.
Somebody simply reamed the 45ACP cylinder out to 45 Colt. A factory 250grain load barely fit.
ACP in a clip would work, but I didn't want to fire it that way, it seemed to be horribly over size for ACP.
It did however shoot 12rds of 250gr Cowboy loads fine. Hammer strike was a little light, but it did ignite.
I just didn't trust it, I wanted a knock around 1917. I passed it on with full disclosure to the new owner about its condition.
Lesson learned, check everything before buying.
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Old February 1, 2021, 07:44 PM   #11
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I own a 1915 Colt new service in .455 eley un molested, if you can shoot it double action often you have strong hands.. single action is crisp.. tons of history.

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Old February 3, 2021, 11:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
it seemed to be horribly over size for ACP.
When I've shot my S&W Hand Ejector Mk. II/M1917 cylinder combo with .45 ACP hardball, it will just stay on a paper plate at ten yards.
Changing to handloaded .45 Colt bullets, the pointed, hollow-based projectiles used in factory loads, it will easily shoot 2"-3" at fifteen yards.
I was sort of surprised that the .456" bullets, loaded in ACP cases, would fit in the chambers, but they seem a decent match for the barrel.
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Old February 4, 2021, 11:13 AM   #13
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I call the DA trigger pull on old Colt revolvers, 2 men and a boy. Later Colt's can be very nice, and am reading good things here on the new models too.

My old DA Colt's shooting days are pretty well over, it's for looking now.
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Old February 5, 2021, 09:53 AM   #14
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Just in case anyone may not know, .455 Eley is another name for the .455 Webley cartridge.
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Old February 5, 2021, 10:57 AM   #15
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Kind of.
There are three main .455s, according to Ken Waters.
The original Mk I black powder round in a .88" case, the Mk II smokeless in a .76" case.

But US and Canadian .455 put smokeless in the long case and ".455 Eley" Colts are chambered for it.
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Old February 5, 2021, 11:29 AM   #16
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"But US and Canadian .455 put smokeless in the long case and ".455 Eley" Colts are chambered for it."

Yes, but they're all still .455 Webley. Later Mks of .455 military ammo will all chamber and fire in a .455 Eley marked (and unmodified) revolver without problem, as will .450 Adams.

.476 Enfield cartridges may also chamber in Colt & S&W revolvers, but may not if they have tight dimensions.

The point is, however, that if someone has .455 Webley ammunition, no matter which Mk standard its loaded to, it will chamber and fire in revolvers marked .455 Eley.

And, finally, there's also .455 Colt ammunition, which was primarily loaded by Dominion in Canada for the .455 Eley-chambered revolvers. It's loaded in the longer case, and will not function in later Colt & S&W revolvers chambered in .455 Webley and made for Canada during World War I.
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Old February 5, 2021, 11:48 AM   #17
Jim Watson
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Ken Waters wrote: "My test gun is a Colt New Service, one of the many contract revolvers supplied to the British government during the First World War. It bears the legend Colt New Service .455 Eley stamped on the barrel. Thus, since I would be working exclusively with the long-cased version, the Colt-Eley handle appeared most appropriate."

So the Canadians bought guns that would not take Canadian ammo but the British did?
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Old February 5, 2021, 01:09 PM   #18
Mike Irwin
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"So the Canadians bought guns that would not take Canadian ammo but the British did?"

Huh?

Guns marked .455 Eley have .455 Webley Mk I chamber dimensions.

That makes them usable with:

.455 Eley or .455 Colt marked commercial ammunition (long case)
.455 Webley Mk I ammunition (long case)
.455 Webley Mk II and later marks (short case)
.450 Adams revolver (obsolete)

and, POSSIBLY, depending on the characteristics of the individual gun

.476 Enfield (obsolete)


Just found this interesting tidbit...

"Technically, as pointed out by Col. Robert D. Whittington III, Ordnance Corps, U.S. Army in Colt .450, .455 and .476 Caliber Revolvers, .455 Eley is not the correct designation but Colt marked the barrels of the New Service as such. According to Whittington, Colt did this because the ammunition Colt acquired for testing New Service revolvers was made by Eley. "

It appears that only Colt marked its revolvers as .455 Eley, and did so from the start of their commercials sales to Canada in the early 1900s prior to World War I.

Smith & Wesson, upon receipt of contracts from Britain and Canada both during World War I, marked its guns with only .455. I'm not 100% sure which chamber length S&W used, but I suspect that it was for the shorter Mk II cartridge.
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Old February 5, 2021, 01:24 PM   #19
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AH. OK, I think I just found the confusion...

"It's loaded in the longer case, and will not function in later Colt & S&W revolvers chambered in .455 Webley and made for Canada during World War I. "

OK...

Colt supplied New Service revolvers to the Canadian government for police use prior to World War I. These were not military purchases.

Those were chambered in .455 Eley (long-case .455 Webley, aka Mk I).

Ammunition for those revolvers was sourced commercially, not through Canadian military contract. Ammunition loaded for military use in Canada was loaded in the shorter Mk II case.

During World War I the Canadian military contracted for the purchase of revolvers from both Smith & Wesson and Colt.

S&W's revolvers were chambered for the short, Mk II and later, .455 Webley cartridges.

I do not know if Colt chambered its Canadian military contract revolvers for the .455 Mk I length cartridge or whether it chambered them for the shorter Mk II length cartridge.

Colt may, as a matter of expediency, simply bored its chambers straight through allowing both the Mk I and Mk II length cartridges to be used. I simply don't know.
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Old February 8, 2021, 07:09 PM   #20
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Here are two more pics of the chambers showing what I believe to be the counterboring for the .45 Colt rim. I haven't function fired it yet with .45 Colt and I do not have any .455 Webley (long or short) to compare it with. I did drop a round of .45 ACP into the chambers and it stopped on the case mouth around where the .45 Colt Case mouth would rest.
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File Type: jpg NS093.jpg (68.6 KB, 17 views)
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Old February 9, 2021, 11:39 AM   #21
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The Eley/Webley round had a rim thickness of .039, while the .45 Colt had a rim thickness of .060.

Additionally, the width of the .45 Colt round as was slightly greater, so some counterboring would generally have been necessary unless it was a sloppy fit to begin with.

What's interesting is that the picture of the chambers appear to show the original chamber shoulder as a very faint line just before the current shoulder.

My guess is that your revolver did originally have shoulder chambers and wasn't bored straight through.
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