.45 Cowboy Special

I came across some of this ammo today online and had never heard of it. Granted I don’t get into the cowboy action shooting scene much, but I also found no mention of it in the IAA journal index, and only a couple scant mentions in the forum, with no photos. Apparently the cartridge began sometime around 2005 and was a proprietary load marketed by “Adirondack Jack” (Gloversville, NY) mostly via his website of the time 45cowboyspecial.com. Jack had the brass made & headstamped by Starline, and in a farewell letter in Dec '12 when he closed shop, Jack explained that he had over 500,000 cases made & sold to that point. He sold his operation to Ken & Carolyn Rucker (of Speedbump Stockworks - San Antonio, TX), who carried on production orders & sales until January, 2015 when the caliber was sold to American Cowboy Ammo http://www.acammo.com/index.php/new1/93-rugged-precise-reliable

The cartridge is basically just a .45 Colt short, meant to have lighter recoil for frequent C.A.S. enthusiasts. It looks similar to a .45 Auto-Rim or a .45 Webley, but the rim is the exact same as a .45 Colt. So any gun which can fire .45 Colt can also fire these, as well as modified short-stroke 1894 Marlin lever-actions.

I have ordered some today and will have a good headstamp scan next week, but I did find some images online:

The new box from American Cowboy Ammo:

Entry at Municion.org:

Here is a Wiley Clapp article from American Rifleman in Dec, 2013:

Both Centerfiresystems & The Armory sell 50rd boxes:

The caliber has made enough noise to be used successfully by the 2015 SASS European champion Ray Heartless (Swedish) earlier this year when he won in Slovakia.

Very interesting. The entire 45 Colt/45 S&W/45 Schofield/Long Colt/Short Colt/45 Govt discussion had gotten a little boring and this should revive it.


Side-note: This makes one more caliber that the S&W Governor revolver can chamber.

I think the primary reason for the short-case was not the reduction of recoil due to a shorter case, which alone would not necessarily have that effect, but rather the safer and more efficient use of the modern smokeless powders, used in very light loads, from that of the normal .45 Colt Case which has a powder chamber originally intended for a pretty stout load of black powder.

As a avid Cowboy Action Shooter, although temporarily out of action, I can tell you that since speed is the name of the game, for better or for worse, some shooters use incredibly light loads in their guns, the effect of which IS certainly to reduce recoil allowing fast successive shots.

Some powders used in loads to small for efficient burning in a large powder-capacity case can experience detonation. While hard to duplicate in tests, it is a know factor with some rifle loads of modern caliber, and also is either known or highly suspected in some pistol blow-ups. The smaller powder chamber probably adds to accuracy as well, with many powders, although with the large targets at close ranges that are now favored in the sport by most, and the “either a hit or a miss” scoring (if it hits steel, it is a “hit” no matter where on the target), most any safe load and bullet weight is accurate enough.

A good point John. I wonder if the cartridge was more about the notion of a short-stroke 1894 being beneficial for the rapid fire stuff?

DK - It might have been part of the idea, but no too-well founded, the idea I mean. Most of the guys that want short stroke actions (which I would not allo0w if I was “The Boss” because the guns are no longer pre-1898 design) use replica 66 or 73 Winchesters. They seem to work very well. I have never seen a short-stroke Marlin 94, although I have a .45 Colt-caliber Marlin I used for the few times I opted to shoot my Colt SAA .45s instead of my Colt .44-40s, just for a change. Don’t like mixing cartridges. I normally shoot the Japanese .44-40 Model 92 Winchesters, which are great guns - better finished and smoother out of the box than original Winchesters of the same model (of which I have several). I love the .44-40 cartridge and the “problems” with it are myths, as far as I am concerned.

Regardless, the .45 Cowboy is kind of a nifty little cartridge,and a nice item for revolver cartridge collections.