.45 Colt/Schofield Question


#1

Hello,

Brand new here. I hope my questions can be answered.

I have some empty cartridge cases that are head-stamped: REM-UMC .45 Colt, WRA .45 Colt, and WESTERN .45 Colt.

These cases are the length of the .45 Schofield cases.

The REM-UMC cases are balloon-head with a rim of narrow dimensions.

The WRA and WESTERN cases are with an extractor groove ahead of the rim and the rim is larger than the REM-UMC.

I have read that the REM-UMC was designed to be used in the Colt SAA (hence the narrow rim). I am told the others are intended for standard Schofield and other S&W topbreak revolvers.

My question: When was the last time all three of these cartridges were manufactered?

Thank you in advance.


#2

Semperfi71–I can only speak for Remington, but the last catalog to list the .45 S&W (Schofield length) was in 1937. Here is the catalog entry.


#3

I am in no way that knowledgeable on this topic, but I note the top 1937 listing shows a .45 S&W headstamp. Likewise the caption for the lower .45 Colt cartridge does not mention its use in S&W revolvers. Wouldn’t it be logical that if the cases were headstamped .45 Colt, then the case length would always be that of the longer .45 Colt as shipped from the factory, and not the shorter length of the .45 S&W? Could the Colt cases mentioned, all of which are stated to be HS’d as .45 Colt, have been cut back later by someone for use in the Schofield? That makes more sense to me.

I’ve done an analogous thing by trimming back many.38 Special cases to .38 Long Colt length, and they appear identical to the factory .38 LC case except for the .38 Special headstamp.

It would probably have been common knowledge back then that the .45 S&W cartridge would work in both the Colt and S&W revolvers, as it’s essentially a .45 Colt short, but not vice-versa for the .45 Colt, and of course the army used .45 S&W-length cartridges for both revolvers for a long time to simplify ammunition supply.


#4

Dennis-- The “REM-UMC .45 COLT” headstamp was used on both the .45 S&W cases and the .45 Colt cases at the same time. Both are factory loads with that headstamp. This headstamping practice was used in the 1920’s I’m not sure why, as it was confusing, but they did it. I have seen full boxes marked on the outside “For S&W Army Revolver, Schofield Pattern” showing a picture of the cartridge headtamp with .45 COLT.

My previous answer was meant to show when the Schofield length case was last loaded, not when the “REM-UMC .45 COLT” headstamp was used.


#5

DennisK,

As Ron said, they used the .45 Colt headstamp on both case lengths. I have REM-UMC cartridges in the short length headstamped both “45 S&W” and “45 COLT” although the rim diameter on the .45 S&W is larger than the Colt. Here are some pics from an earlier thread on .45 varieties. While it doesn’t show well as it is a blackened proof round, the item second from the right is short cased and marked “REM-UMC 45 COLT”.


Dave


#6

Only the REM-UMC HS was discussed. Was that dual-use length also true for WRA and Western .45 Colt headstamps? I have literally a coffee can full of assorted grungy .45 Colt cartridges of indeterminate age, and none of them are of the S&W case length, so maybe that short case length with a .45 Colt HS was not particularly common (after all, there weren’t all that many Schofields produced). And then there was the .45 Colt cartridge made for the M1909 Colt revolver having a larger rim diameter, as pictured, 4th from the right, with the FA headstamp. I believe FA was the only source of this cartridge. Weren’t they?


#7

Dennis,

I don’t know about short cased “Colt” headstamped by WRA or Western. The only other similar item I have is that Peters item shown which has a “C” that I assume stands for “Colt”. The items that semperfi71 asks about may well be original long cases shortened for S&W use, but we do know that at least those by REM-UMC may have been born that way.

Perhaps semperfi can tell if there has been obvious work done to shorten those cases (perhaps like a case cannelure oddly close to the case mouth)?

As a general note in brief, the .45 S&W will function in both the S&W top break and Colt SAA though the rim is generally larger in diameter to insure proper extraction with the S&W’s star ejector. The Cal. 45 M1909 is a bit of a different animal and has a larger rim diameter yet to aid extraction and to prevent convenient use in the Colt SAA as it is a smokeless loading. I do believe FA was the only manufacturer of the M1909 cartridge.

It would seem that if you had to choose one version to cover all applications, it would be the .45 S&W!

Dave


#8

Dennis–I have over 300 .45 Colt and .45 S&W in my collection and the only company besides Remington that I have using “.45 COLT” on Schofield length cases was Winchester with the headstamp “W.R.A.Co. .45 COLT” I have it with “W” and “W” on the primer.

Peters used “PETERS .45 C. GOVT.” on their Schofield length cases.


#9

"The Cal. 45 M1909 is a bit of a different animal and has a larger rim diameter yet to aid extraction and to prevent convenient use in the Colt SAA as it is a smokeless loading"

The key word is convenient. The M1909 cartridge could be used in the SAA, but only in every other chamber due to overlapping of the rims. But if you needed only three shots, they would be OK. The alleged reason for the larger rim was to facilitate extraction with the M1909 revolver. Conventional .45 Colt or S&W rounds would work in the M1909 revolver, but at the risk of extraction problems if you find yourself in a tight spot and rapid reloading is necessary. I have an unfired M1909, so I can’t verify if the extraction problem exists.


#10

Dennis–You are correct that 3 M1909 rounds can be put in a standard .45 Colt SAA, but you better not need those 3 shots quickly as the cylinder will index on an empty chamber every other time you cock the gun.


#11

But three shots is better than none in a pinch. Interesting that back during the early development of the Model 1911, the Army’s stated handgun philosophy was that a cavalryman would never have occasion to need more than six rounds, so the SAA met their needs. Maybe that was their experience during the Indian wars. The M1911 was a hard sell to the cavalry.


#12

I have come to wonder if the evolution of the larger rim on the M1909 started as an aid to extraction, yet first still could be used in the SAA as the load was not that stiff. Then concerns came about when it was realized that an inadvertently thrown double charge of the newfangled smokeless powder would be ugly in a BP SAA.

Just speculation. Any thoughts?

Dave


#13

The “windmilling” effect on pistols of the .45 genre was common. the weight of the loaded rounds on one side against empty rounds on the other would pull the cylinder back if cocking was not brisk. I had a Rem75 that was prone to it I put it down to wear/old age but apparantly it was there from new…


#14

I wouldn’t be surprised if that consideration played a role, as many SAAs in (limited) military use then pre-dated smokeless powder. The Colt M1909 revolver was adopted as a stopgap measure pending Army adoption of a semiautomatic pistol, which was inevitable at that date. I have often wondered why the Colt M1909 revolver was procured, as there was no impending conflict on the horizon at the time to justify it, and there were still plenty of SAAs and the various Colt .38 revolvers in inventory to meet the limited needs of the military at this time. Maybe it was because the Army was not really sure how much longer it would take to get a new auto pistol into the pipeline, and the Colt New Service was readily available in any caliber desired, and that it did offer advantages over other older revolvers in military service. The M1909 differed very little from the later M1917 Colt revolver used in WWI, except for caliber, and both are “New Services”. The M1917 (both Colt and S&W versions) in .45 ACP was used extensively during WWI due to inadequate availability of the M1911.

Regarding “Windmilling” I’ve never experienced that effect in any of my .44 and .45 revolvers. I suppose it could happen if cylinder timing was a bit off, as rotational inertia does play a role in cylinder advance, and a sluggish trigger pull in DA or a slow hammer pull in SA might not carry the cylinder to the fully locked position. One of the standard tests for revolver timing problems is to pull the hammer back to cock in SA mode ve-r-r-r-y slowly to see if the cylinder locks up properly at the end of the hammer cock cycle for each chamber.


#15

With regard to the windmilling issue. I have never experienced it in any other revolvers like Webleys but a slow cock would cause a roll back, classically on 3 good and 3 fired which is the maximum inbalance. the “good old boys” that were around at the time but sadly now gone to their reward told me to expect it and always cock briskly which I did and it was OK. It would appear that the rotating cam would wear and not throw the cylinder into the next engage without a degree of momentum. For me its history because my government don’t trust me to own such things and the pistol involved went into the crusher and probably ended up as a number of baked bean cans or a piece of garden furniture.

My sense of loss is still present after all these years, unresolved. When you talk to pistol owner today the feelings of resentment is still there. They shafted us for political gain and it has never gone away. I would never vote for them again, even if the alternative was OBL and the muslim fellowship. It was Tony Blair that did it. You guys think he is great but I think he is a creep.


#16

I did not think of shortened .45 Colt (or Long Colt) cases. Here’s a pic of the cartridges in question and I suspect all three of them are shortened .45 Colt due to the position of the cannelure.

They are from left to right, R-P .45 Colt, Starline .45 Schofield, REM-UMC .45 Colt, WRA .45 Colt, and WESTERN .45 Colt.

The location of the cannelure between the REM-UMC and WRA/WESTERN differs but it appears to still be too close to the neck to have been for a factory .45 Schofield round.

However I defer to the more knowledgeable here because I am not a cratridge collector.

Thanks for the input.


#17

I’d agree the short cases appear to have been trimmed back from full-length .45 Colt cases.

I’m sure this has been addressed in the past, but the question of the proper name of the .45 Colt is worth revisiting in this context. My understanding was that this cartridge was originally termed the .45 Colt (or sometimes .45 Colt’s). I don’t remember seeing any older .45 Colt ammunition having a HS other than .45 Colt, and certainly not .45 Long Colt.

I don’t know about more recent headstamps, such as used for CAS, etc. I do not believe there was ever a .45 Short Colt designation, but of course the .45 S&W was in fact a .45 “short” Colt (or as earlier stated, on Peters cases, the .45 C. Govt). As there was no cartridge I know of “officially” named the “.45 Short Colt,” there logically should not be a .45 Long Colt.

Is this correct? Or was there a .45 Short Colt by name that I don’t know about?


#18

Dennis–You are 100% correct about the name. No factory, until the last few years with the advent of CAS, ever made a .45 Long Colt. This has been discussed here on the Forum several times. Do a search for .45 Long Colt to find the earlier threads. The incorrect use of the name is one of my pet peeves. It is simply the .45 Colt, for the reason you stated that there is no .45 Short Colt.

SemperFi–The new Starline brass is one of the few rounds that use the name Schofield. There are a few others, but all the older rounds were headstamped .45 S&W. I agree your others are cut down .45 Colt cases. For one thing the headstamp WRA dates after the time Remington and W.R.A.Co. were using .45 COLT on both case lengths.


#19

Thanks again for the info. I now have some inexpensive .45 Schofield rounds to shoot in my reproductions.