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Old April 16, 2008, 10:57 AM   #1
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Colt New Service .455 Eley/.45 ACP

I'll be brutally honest: When it comes to wheelguns I'm a S&W kinda guy. So, do I keep this Colt or not?

Picked up a .455 Eley Colt New Service cheap a year or so ago. I'd guess the finish at about 60-70%, and the the mechanical condition is very good. British proof marks on frame and barrel, and plain wood military stocks. Flat cylinder latch, and a lanyard ring in the butt. The gun was only $250, and I figured I'd play with it a while and then trade it.

The gun had been converted to .45ACP, as many were, and the machining to accomplish this was well done. It groups poorly with the .452 200-grain LSWC bullets that have worked well for me in 1911s and in my S&W 1917 and M25-2. (Jeez! Is it possible I have a thing for .45s?) When I feed it RNHB 230s groups tighten right up, so I'm guessing that the bore is every bit of .454-.455, and the LSWCs are just too small. (I have other projects going and so far have been too lazy to slug it).

I have obtained an original .455 Eley cylinder with finish that matches that on the gun quite well, and left it with the gunsmith today to have the .455 cylinder fitted, essentially restoring the gun to original configuration. I figured this would make the gun more attractive in a trade or outright sale to get what I really want, which is more Smiths.

But the gun is kinda neat, in a lumpish, Colt New Service sorta way. (Did I mention that I'm a S&W type?) and I have wondered about keeping it. My questions are:

1. Is anybody shooting the effete, wimpy, British .455 Eley? Is it worth the hassle of reloading? ("Really Mrs. Pedicaras! A red Bordeaux with lunch?")

2. I have read that some .455 Eley/.455 Webley New Service revolvers will take .45 Colt cartridges when the chambers are deepened, without further modification, but I'm not sure how this would work, since the case rims on the British stuff are thinner than the .45 Colt cases. Has anybody got experience with this?

3. How did these guys conquer the world with such puny handgun cartridges as .380/.38 S&W and the various .455 rounds?
The United States Marine Corps: Providing the enemies of America the opportunity to die for their countries since 1775. Semper fi.

Last edited by Murdock; April 16, 2008 at 06:06 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old April 16, 2008, 11:36 AM   #2
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I have a Smith Hand Ejector Mk. II, converted from .455 to ACP via a M1917 cylinder. The groove diameter is .457", so you can imagine how it "groups" with hardball. I found that I can load .454" lead bullets in ACP or Auto Rim brass, and it still fits in the cylinder. That cut groups from Minute of Pie Plate at 25 feet, to MPP at 25 yards. Where do you find hollow-base 230s? I can't see why you'd want to start shooting or loading .455, if you can get the thing to group using ACP brass. Maybe a hollow-based bullet, sized .454", as loaded in factory .45 Colt, would be the way to go.
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Old April 16, 2008, 05:29 PM   #3
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1) Some folks do, but I don't. I do appreciate my WWI veteran being 45 Long Colt, makes loading for it and shooting it easier. .45 LC was .454 until about WWII, then it went down to .452 (.451 in jacketed) to syncronize with the .45acp. the .455 Eley was/is a .454 bullet, so that's what the barrel is designed for, and it will shoot .454 old-style LC's better than .45acp.

2) Here's how the talented guys dealt with the case rim difference of .455 Eley vs. 45 Long Colt. The individual cylinders were each rebated about 0.015" to give the proper headspace. This is a S&W .455 HE 2nd Model that was converted by lengthening the cylinder bore and rebating the ends.

A less elegant method was to machine down the face of the cylinder and star the same amount, then reblue it (some were left in the white).

3) Brown Bess muskets and a really big, well trained navy, my friend. It wasn't with the .455 Eley or .38/200, I assure you.

My vote is to sell the puppy and get a S&W .455 HE 1st Model, either in .455 Eley or .45LC. After all, it's a Colt wheelgun - not my cup of tea, either.
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Old April 16, 2008, 06:13 PM   #4
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I like it!

Thanks, Kamerer. The rebating looks nice and neat. Clearly the way to go if .45 Colt is desired. A big, ugly gun like a New Service out to have a big, mean cartridge to fit it.
The United States Marine Corps: Providing the enemies of America the opportunity to die for their countries since 1775. Semper fi.
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