45 "long" colt


Ok here we go again. I tried to go through archives but it was a little overwhelming. What I am trying to find out is the oldest use of the word “Long” on either a cartridge box or case head or firearm chambered for the 45 Colt. Also years ago there was a 45 Short Colt that I was always under the assuption was actually a .455 Colt. If so, is it safe to fire in a 45 Colt. I know this horse has been ridden before but my memory aint what it used to be, (and it used to be terrible). Thanks


remchester–There is no such thing as a “.45 Long Colt”. Until recent years, spurred on by the Cowboy shooting craze, NO factory EVER used the term on a headstamp or box that I have ever seen. I have collected .45 Colt for over 40 years and have over 300 varieties, and until the last 10 years, NEVER saw a “.45 Long Colt”. What is erroneously called the “.45 Short Colt” is the .45 S&W Schofield (which can be fired in any .45 Colt chambered gun). Although the term “.45 Long Colt” has been in the common parlance, probably since the 1880’s, it has NEVER been a Factory recognized term.


I agree with Ron, no such thing as a “Long Colt.” The only difference I have is that many shooters refer to their .45 Auto’s as “.45 Colts.” And they speak of the .45 Colt pistol as a ".45 Long Colt to indicate the difference. Since it isn’t a correct term, it’s different things to different people.




While it was for the “Cowboy” thing, one use of the “Long Colt” moniker dates back to the “fast draw” days likely 40+ years ago. Colt marketed wax bullet loads headstamped “COLT .45 WAX” loaded in red plastic cases that came in a red box clearly marked “45 CALIBER LONG COLT”.

Just because it isn’t right doesn’t mean folks aren’t gonna do it! Colt themselves, no less…!

Keep up the good fight, Ron. I’m with you!


Never thought of the .455 Colt as the “Short” version. They are similar in base dimension. Can the .455 Colt be safely used in a .45 Colt revolver?



DaveE–Yes, I have that box. I keep forgetting that one every time this discussion comes up. As for the .455 in a .45 Colt, it might fit. I have never tried it. But, I would not do it if it was me.


As far as the cartridge .455 Colt/.455 Eley fitting in the .45 Colt, it should and MIGHT fire. The rim of the .455 is about 2/3 or half the thickness of the .45 Colt and you might not get a good strike. The brass that I’ve gotten from Buffalo Brass to fit my .455 Colt/Eley is made from .45 Colt with the rim thinned out and the length cut down to OAL of, if I remember right, around .890". FWIW, Bruce.


Since the .45 Colt is considered by many to be the .45 Long Colt, then the .45 S&W Schofield should logically be the .45 Short Colt.


I am aware there is no such thing as a “long” Colt, but I became aware of some new ammo supposedly printed with Long on the end flap. I have heard their was a firearm also so marked. I witness a few years ago a box from Colt that had LONG printed on it. I am also aware of the Scofield loading. I thought I remember a box of Dominion ammo with 45 Colt Short writing, and the picture on the box appeared to be a 455. My memory can easily be flawed. I do have an individual factory cartridge that is headstamped 45 Colt REM-UMC that has an approximately 5/16" shorter case than standard cases.


The “Long and Short” of it may be that evolving popular descriptions may drive “Factory” descriptions to follow suit. Fun topic every time it comes up. No doubt the variety of .45 cal. revolver variations has led to some confusion in the past and present for those looking to match ammo to gun, but fun stuff for collectors…

Another variable seen in this lineup is the rim diameter.

Early .45 Colt Ball, Long Case, .504" rim.
Early .45 S&W Ball, Short Case, .521" rim.
REM-UMC .45 Colt, Long Case, .504" rim.
REM-UMC .45 S&W, Short Case, .519" rim.
.45 Revolver, Ball, M1909, Long Case, .538" rim.
PETERS “.45 C GOV’T” (my favorite), Short Case.511" rim.
REM-UMC Proof .45 Colt, Short Case, .505" rim.
The only item I have referred to (by Colt) as “.45 Long Colt”

Modern .45 Colt brass runs around .508" rim dia. I don’t have a new .45 S&W to measure.



Dave-- The “.45 Revolver, Ball, M1909” should not really be part of this discussion. It is a completely different animal. You can not use it in a .45 Colt unless you only load every other chamber in a .45 Colt Revolver because the rims will overlap.



Would not a .45 Colt or S&W function perfectly well in the revolver that the M1909 cartridge was designed for? A one way relationship perhaps…But a .45 Colt wouldn’t work in a S&W Schofield either!

I added the rim diameter issue (and the M1909 as another example) to point out that there was more to the difference between the “Short” and “Long” variations than just case length. Gotta love the varieties!

While on the subject…what I would really like to know is what was the thinking behind the short cased REM-UMC proof load with a .45 Colt rim dia. was. Were there any revolvers being made with the short case chamber that would require proofing in the time frame that cartridge (with blackened case) was being produced? I suppose if there was, a short case, small rimmed configuration would be a “one size fits all” compromise. Would love to see boxes for some of these “hybrids” that might state what applications they were intended for.



The Webley No5 Express revolvers made to use the .455" and 45 Colt ctgs interchangeably were stamped 455 CF and 45 LONG.
At least one major manufacturer considered the 45 Colt to be long.


Let us go back to the M1909 45 colt for a moment. This cartridge was made by the Frankford Arsenal for the newly introduced Colt Double Action Revolver, Caliber .45, Model 1909. It is correct that the rim on this cartridge is bigger and thicker, this was done to improve extract. This M1909 pistol did not use half-moon-clips. But, and I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure the pistol had six cylinders and all could be loaded.


George–Yes, you are correct. All six cylinders can be loaded in the Model 1909 Revolver with Model 1909 cartridges. The cylinder is larger in diameter and the spacing between each cartridge is wider. What you can’t do is load six Model 1909 cartridges into a standard .45 Colt revolver. The rims will overlap and you can not rotate the cylinder.

I want to correct something I posted earlier on this thread. I referred to the .45 S&W as the .45 S&W Schofield. This is just as incorrect as saying .45 Long Colt. Again, it is commonly referred to as the .45 Schofield or .45 S&W Schofield, but the Schofield was only one revolver it chambered in. The correct name is just .45 S&W.


Just to clarify and correct my earlier post:

I had posted the picture of .45 caliber cartridges in a lineup to point out the variations in rim diameter as well as case length. Ron suggested that the M1909 really didn’t belong with the group as it is a different cartridge than the .45 Colt or .45 S&W. On the most part, I agree with Ron on that but I noted some level of interchangeability amongst the group and also suggested that the Colt or S&W would function well in the M1909 revolver. I should correct that to say fire well as the whole reason for the M1909 cartridge with its larger rim diameter, as George points out, was to provide positive extraction (and ejection). Having the extractor slip past a case head can be an awkward jam for sure. While I believe the M1909 revolver was intended to be chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, as I understand it, combined manufacturing tolerances of cases and revolver parts led to Frankford Arsenal’s development of the modified cartridge with the larger rim diameter. I don’t believe the rim’s thickness was increased, however.

I have seen suggestions that the large rim was specifically intended to prevent its use in the older SAA revolvers, but the ballistics of the M1909 cartridge (250 gr. bullet @ 738 fps) would not seem to be a real concern.




Most of the Army-issue Colt SAA revolvers were of the black-powder frame type, I believe, and the Model 1909 was a smokeless powder cartridge, was it not? That might be part of the reason, although I would think the question of extraction with a DA Revolver “Star-Type” extractor would have been the main reason for the changes.



Yes, the M1909 was a smokeless loading. Excellent point you make that the performance of a particular load in no way equates directly to the peak pressure it operates at. Don’t have any reference at hand but thought the original black powder Colt loads by FA used the 250 gr. w/ 40 gr. charge for something like 810 fps and figured that would have been more stressful on the SAA than the M1909 load. But as you note, perhaps black powder/smokeless = apples/oranges in this case!