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Old June 12, 2024, 08:25 AM   #1
Savvy_Jack
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The 45 Colt, 45 Schofield and the 45 Colt Gov't Cartridges...

...the long vs the short...why all the confusion.

I was finally able to gather up some data (hopefully enough) and information that may interest a few folks about the differences in the cartridge available at the time.

Since it is not that easy to post photos here, I have this information in a google doc here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...O9ZCk5Y38/edit

This should explain the differences between the following cartridges manufactured by;

Military long and short case
  • 1. (45 Colt) Frankford Arsenal - Colt's Revolver, Cal: .45
  • 2. (45 Colt Gov't) Frankford Arsenal - Revolver Ball Cartridges, Cal, .45
  • 3. (45 Colt) Frankford Arsenal - Caliber .45 Ball Cartridges, Model of 1909 (wide-rim cartridge)
Civilian long and short case
  • 1a. 45 Colt - Winchester, U.M.C., U.S.C.Co.
  • 2a. 45 Colt Gov't - Winchester, U.M.C., Peters and maybe U.S.C.Co.
  • 3a. ( did not manufacture the wide-rim cartridge)

The above manufactured cartridges were used for the following arms;

Colt's Single Action Army and Model 1909 Revolver, long and short case:
  • 45 Colt - 250gr lead bullet
  • 45 Colt Gov't - 230gr lead bullet

Smith & Wesson's Schofield, short case
  • 45 Colt Gov't - 230gr lead bullet
  • 45 Schofield - 250gr lead bullet

Briefly in 1921 and 1922, the 45 Colt Gov't cartridge was manufactured by Peters with a 250gr lead bullet and smokeless powder.
Dissected 45 Colt and Colt Gov't cartridge samples can be seen here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...#gid=648299983

For further details and photos, visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...O9ZCk5Y38/edit
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Last edited by Savvy_Jack; June 12, 2024 at 08:32 AM.
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Old June 16, 2024, 01:41 PM   #2
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So it seems that the cartridge's original name was likely just ".45 Colt" the "Long" began being used later to distinguish it not only from .45 Schofield, but also ".45 Colt Gov't" cartridges which were basically .45 Schofield length but with .45 Colt Rim diameter to make them useable in both SAA and Schofield revolvers as, contrary to popular belief, .45 Schofield ammunition isn't completely useable in a SAA (you can only load every other chamber due to the wider rim diameter).

Honestly, I always kind of thought that the heartburn some people get over calling it ".45 Long Colt" was kind of silly. While the semantics police like to scream at people for calling a magazine a clip, those two are at least two very different things. Calling it ".45 Long Colt" instead of ".45 Colt" isn't going to confuse anyone into thinking you're talking about something else, though someone who isn't particularly knowledgeable might get confused about the differences between ".45 Colt", ".45 Colt Government" and ".45 Automatic Colt Pistol."

To my mind, calling the cartridge ".45 Long Colt" instead of ".45 Colt" is no more a sin than Marlin calling it ".30-30" instead of ".30 Winchester Centerfire," Colt calling it ".32 Colt New Police" instead of ".32 S&W Long," or nearly every U.S. ammo maker calling it "9mm Luger" instead of "9mm Parabellum." Lots of cartridges have multiple accepted names and I don't understand why some think this can't be the case with .45 Colt/Long Colt. Even Colt themselves once listed the caliber of the SAA revolver on their website as ".45 Long Colt."
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Old June 16, 2024, 03:06 PM   #3
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Starline sells brass for the .45 S&W Schofield -- using the larger head diameter:
https://www.starlinebrass.com/45-sw-schofield-brass

I thought I remembered that the also make a version of the .45 Schofield with the smaller .45 Colt rim, but that's not the case (no pun intended). What they make is a .45 "Cowboy Special" case that's even shorter than .45 S&W Schofield -- it's essentially a .45 ACP case with a .45 Colt rim:
https://www.starlinebrass.com/45-cowboy-special
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Old June 16, 2024, 10:06 PM   #4
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Here's a link with some more discussion of the topic.

https://levergunscommunity.org/viewtopic.php?t=80502

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimT from levergunscommunity.org
Speaking of "short" .45 Colts Elmer Keith wrote "...Some newcomers to the game claim there is no such animal, but if they had shot the short variety that Remington turned out in such profusion before, during and after World War I they would see there was some basis in referring to the .45 Colt as the .45 Long..." (Sixguns, page 285)

As far as I know there have never been any .45 Colt cartridges headstamped "Long" and though I have reports of old cartridge boxes marked "45 Long" I have never personally seen any. Mr. Keith referred to them from time to time as "long" Colt's (with a small "L"). If you have ever seen the short Colt .45's you can understand why.

The Winchester .45 Colt's that Paco and I have came from Shootist Keith Owlett who gave them to us a short time before he passed on. The cartridge box is deteriorated and I have it put away - at least what's left of it. But it is plainly marked ".45 Colt Government". The headstamp on the cartridges is ".45 Colt" ...BUT these are SHORT .45 Colts! The headstamp is the same as the longer .45 Colts, even down to the "W" on the primers.

These are NOT S&W or Schofield cartridges. The rim diameter is the same as the long .45 Colts, which is smaller than the Schofield rim diameter. These are true .45 Short Colts. The cartridge is listed in Cartridges of the World on page 306 as ".45 Colt - .45 Colt Government".

I can visualize someone walking into a hardware store around the turn of the last century and asking for a box of .45 Colt's. As the clerk pulls down a box the customer says, "Not the short ones. I want the Long Colts!" and the name ".45 Long Colt" came down to us as a "user-applied" name, not a factory name.

The case is 1.1" long. The powder charge was black powder, approximately 28 grains. The bullet weighed right at 230 gr. and was lubed with a white chalky-looking substance. I fired one from my Ruger 7 1/2" barreled .45 and it went through the chronograph at near 750 fps.
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Old June 17, 2024, 07:29 AM   #5
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When I asked the guy at the counter for a box of "45 Colt" and was handed a box of 45 ACP, I started referring to it as "Long".
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Old June 17, 2024, 04:12 PM   #6
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I always say, I did not ask for "45 AC" cartridges...I asked for "45 Colt" cartridges....
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Old June 20, 2024, 04:30 PM   #7
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My Pet Peeve ... when the 45 Colt ... is called ... the 45 Long Colt ... No It Is Not !

It has always been and always will be the 45 Colt ... I don't care how stoopid the sales clerk is ... he needs to learn ... we don't need to get stoopid like him ...

Rant Over ... thanks for letting me vent !
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Old June 20, 2024, 04:59 PM   #8
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Does anyone have any 1880's 45 S&W Schofield cartridges and boxes from commercial manfactures?? For that matter, does anyone have any boxes for the any of the aforementioned cartridges?
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Old June 21, 2024, 10:22 AM   #9
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"It has always been and always will be the 45 Colt ... I don't care how stoopid the sales clerk is ... he needs to learn ... we don't need to get stoopid like him ..."

So, how do you feel about the 9mm Luger?

The .30-30?

The .357 Magnum?

The .38 Special?


Get the same amount of rage building up when some stoopid (person) uses those horrifically incorrect cartridge names?
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Old June 21, 2024, 11:44 AM   #10
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9mm Luger IS a correct cartridge name, for rounds made and sold in the US. I've got lots of brass marked that, by the manufacturer.

Other nations use the other names, none of them are "wrong".

Back after WWI, the DWM guy in the US, in charge of sales and marketing (I forget his name, but you can find it if you search) felt that Americans wouldn't take to the foreign sounding (Latin) name "Parabellum" so he changed it to "Luger", and got the US legal rights to do that.

Later, Stoeger bought those legal rights and holds them, to this day.

As to the "Long Colt", I always figured it was simply popular usage, more than anything else. Perhaps technically incorrect, but we do that lot, with a lot of things in casual conversation.

I have seen pictures of ammo boxes (govt, I think) marked ".45 Long Colt". they are rare, but did exist.

One of the old Marlin catalogues (half century ago, or so) listed their magazines as "clips". I believe this was done to aid in sales, but if you make something, you can call it anything you want (provided you're not infringing on someone else's patent or copyright).
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Old June 22, 2024, 11:35 AM   #11
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So I ran across this early 1877-1878 Winchester 45 S&W box with big red Schofield letter stamped across the top. Unfortunately the cartridges inside appear to be headstamped, not available until about 1885.

Now why in the world did they have to stamp those big ugly red letters across the top of the label? If a person can't read 45 S&W, certainly they can't read the big red SCHOFIELD?
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Old June 22, 2024, 12:49 PM   #12
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Perhaps not, but even if you can't read what it says, you can see the big red letters.

Paper box, pasted on label?? Says Winchester, says .45 S&W Maybe it got marked "Schofield" so that people who didn't know .45 S&W but did know Schofield could identify it??
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Old June 22, 2024, 02:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Now why in the world did they have to stamp those big ugly red letters across the top of the label? If a person can't read 45 S&W, certainly they can't read the big red SCHOFIELD?
My guess is that they got enough irate customers who bought the wrong ammo that they felt that they needed to make a very obvious point of the ammo type.
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Old June 22, 2024, 03:58 PM   #14
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Exactly!

The 45 S&W revolver being introduced in 1875, this box (if dated correctly)...was introduced just two years into the making, offered for commercial use.

Cartridge...Arm

45 Colt - generally 250gr...Colt's Single Action Army revolver (S.A.A.)
45 S&W - 250gr...Colt's S.A.A. and S&W's Schofield revolvers
45 Colt Gov't - generally 230gr...Colt's and S&W's revolvers
45 Auto - 230gr...Colt's Automatic Pistol (ACP)

The box example has been added to the to the doc here:
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Old June 22, 2024, 04:15 PM   #15
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"It has always been and always will be the 45 Colt ... I don't care how stoopid the sales clerk is ... he needs to learn ... we don't need to get stoopid like him."

I'm included to disagree with you. My maternal Grandmother's brother, an old timer who packed a sixgun for a living as a deputy sheriff and later a railroad cop packed a Colt Single Action in what he called a .45 Long Colt. I only met him a few time and I guess I was maybe 10 years old the last time. He continued to carry that gun even after the railroad insisted he go to a more modern firearm. He chose an S&W Triple Lock in .44 Spl. and had custom loads made up by an old cowboy in Montana. Elmer Keith??? That I don't know but my Grandmother told me he'd put an end to several bad guys during his career.
I believe the term "long Colt" was probably used to differentiate between the .45 Colt, .45 Schofield and a shorter version of the round to be used in either thee Cold revolver and S&W Schofields. BTW, that meeting took play close to 75 years ago. My great Uncle passed about 6 months afterward and I never got to hear more about his life from him.
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Old June 22, 2024, 05:43 PM   #16
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The term Long Colt (right or wrong) was not seen/can not be found in any publications until the 1950's. The first publication I could find [of all places] is from Lexis New Hampshire Revised Status Annotated,...referencing deer hunting regulations with revolvers.

Some earlier references were about the long barreled revolvers. There is one unconfirmed 1939 mention from Wyoming Wildlife, page 11...[unable to confirm]...references "45 Long Colt" order of 10,000 to Egypt...again most mentions back then described the long barrel models....but I can not confirm what was shipped.

The next main description was from Cartridges for collectors – January 1, 1956
by Fred A Datig

Over 100 years after it's introduction.

Rather than get hung up on the name calling, I'd sure rather collect more 1870's 1880's cartridges and photos from years gone by.

So in my opinion, any "stories" after WWI are a bit moot without documented descriptions.

What I have come to find is that there is very little data and information on the 45 S&W cartridges prior to the 1920's or so.
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Old June 23, 2024, 07:27 AM   #17
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"9mm Luger IS a correct cartridge name, for rounds made and sold in the US. I've got lots of brass marked that, by the manufacturer."

No, actually it's not. Just because it's made in another country, you can't willy nilly pick and choose a new name for a cartridge! That's WRONG! It was originally named the 9mm Parabellum so it MUST ALWAYS remain 9mm Parabellum! Anything else is wrong wrong wrong because it never existed!

That's the logic going on with all of this angst about .45 Colt/.45 Long Colt (AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! THE INHUMANITY!!!).

And the name 9mm Luger wasn't trademarked for the cartridge, it was trademarked for the gun.
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Old June 23, 2024, 07:39 AM   #18
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"I have seen pictures of ammo boxes (govt, I think) marked ".45 Long Colt". they are rare, but did exist."


We discussed this subject in this thread...

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...ight=long+colt


There are claims that the term "Long" was introduced by the Army Quartermaster's Corps as a quick way of differentiating between the .45 Colt and .45 S&W rounds in service.

True or not, I don't know, I've never taken the time to start searching QM records from that era.

But, as far as I know, Frankford Arsenal, the primary producer of small arms ammunition in the Unite States at this time for military service, never printed that on ammo boxes.
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Old June 23, 2024, 07:50 AM   #19
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Again, take the cartridge name calling to the other thread, I'd like to keep this open to actual reliable documented data from original dated items, not something recorded, sold by or manufactured yesterday by the ignorant.
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Old June 23, 2024, 12:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
There are claims that the term "Long" was introduced by the Army Quartermaster's Corps as a quick way of differentiating between the .45 Colt and .45 S&W rounds in service.

True or not, I don't know, I've never taken the time to start searching QM records from that era.
It is quite possible that is where the use originated. Its also possible that a search of the period records will not verify (or disprove) that.

The military has a variety of names they use for different things. Only ONE of them is the official designation, and very often any official report or record will only use that terminology.
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Old June 23, 2024, 02:53 PM   #21
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Quote:
Only ONE of them is the official designation...
Who decides that? SAAMI wasn't even around when the .45 Colt was invented.

Maybe the developer of the cartridge does? In that case we should all (well, those in the know, at least) be complaining any time someone refers to the .38 Special since S&W calls their cartridge the .38 S&W Special. Should we start a letter-writing campaign to SAAMI (who just calls it the .38 Special) and the ammo companies who are also getting it wrong to make them fix it? And, of course, all the people vigorously defending the "official" name for the .45 Colt should also just as vigorously correct anyone who posts the unofficial name .38 Special on the internet.

By the way, Colt has been known to sell products with the designation Long Colt.
https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...8&postcount=38

They've even referred to some of the guns they sold as being chambered in .45 Long Colt although the link I had for that no longer works.

Finally, while one could argue that these days there's not really any need to call it the Long Colt, there certainly was at one time. When you could go into a store and there were two options if you were buying cartridges marked .45 Colt, the long ones and the short ones. (See the pictures in the following link.)

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=497213

This is one of a few topics that I call "initiation" topics that tend to be used as a sort of "hazing" by the gun community.

You just can't be someone until you've been set in your place for calling a magazine a clip or for referring to the .45 Long Colt. I guess it beats some of the other methods of hazing out there...
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Old June 23, 2024, 07:07 PM   #22
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"Again, take the cartridge name calling to the other thread, I'd like to keep this open to actual reliable documented data from original dated items, not something recorded, sold by or manufactured yesterday by the ignorant. "

So, you're firmly in the .32-40 and .38-55 Ballard camp, and woe be unto those ignurunt reches who dare... DARE to wrongly call them .32-40/.38-55 Winchester...
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Old June 23, 2024, 07:09 PM   #23
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"The military has a variety of names they use for different things. Only ONE of them is the official designation, and very often any official report or record will only use that terminology. "

So, you're saying that the military is the be all and end all in this nomenclatural fiasco?

That's.... bold. ish.
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Old June 23, 2024, 09:47 PM   #24
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Quote:
So, you're saying that the military is the be all and end all in this nomenclatural fiasco?

That's.... bold. ish.
Not really, the Army rules only apply to army things, but for those things the Army IS the be all end all authority for their nomenclature.

Civilians get to call things whatever they want, though the inventor generally get to name the item.

Cartridges get a little tricksy, particularly in the very early days. There were "gentleman's agreements" (aka feuds) between the different makers. Colt would not put S&W on any of their guns. They would, instead take the S&W case, load it with a different bullet (usually a flat point instead of a round nose) and rename it a Colt name (often some kind of "Police Positive to match their revolvers) Remington and Winchester, until the 50s and 60s would not chamber the other makers cartridges in their rifles.

Winchester made the .30 WCF. The earliest example of that round being called the .30-30 was apparently in the 20s when Savage chambered it in their rifles but would not put Winchester's name on their guns.

for the last half century or so, that has pretty much gone away, and most makers are happy enough to use other makers cartridges and their proper names because they sell guns.

Remington made and sold a LOT of .308 Winchesters, and Winchester sells bunches of 7mm Rem mags. etc.
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Old June 25, 2024, 11:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by gwpercle
My Pet Peeve ... when the 45 Colt ... is called ... the 45 Long Colt ... No It Is Not !

It has always been and always will be the 45 Colt ... I don't care how stoopid the sales clerk is ... he needs to learn ... we don't need to get stoopid like him ...

Rant Over ... thanks for letting me vent !
Gary
So do you count Colt themselves amongst the "stoopid" or do they get a pass since it is, after all, their cartridge?

https://web.archive.org/web/20050507.../revolvers.asp
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