.45 Special/,45 Frankford?

Can anyone cast any light on a cartridge called the .45 Special and/or the .45 Frankford which may have been a prototype of the Model 1909 cartridge adopted by the Army for use in the Colt New Service revolver? I’ve seen references to both names, but I don’t know if an actual cartridge (or cartridges) existed, or if they refer to the same thing or not. It was possibly used in a S&W Triple Lock revolver during the 1907 Army pistol trials.

Dennis, I have a Frankford Arsenal model 1906 .45 Colt sold to me as an experimental. It has a HS of F A 4 06 and a case length of 23.19 mm. This may be the one you are asking about. I don’t have any more information about it, but I don’t believe it is rare. Bill

I’m only aware of auto pistol rounds M05, 06, 07, & 08 plus the M06 Revolver Bill mentions. Which is found in three variations 2 with the headstamp [three punch-crimps at the mouth & without crimps) and an unheadstamped with a slightly different bullet profile.

Perhaps it was one of the auto variations used with half-moon clips? Or perhaps the one with the three punch-crimps?

Sorry to not be of more help.

Nothing in HWS?

There’s a 45 Special that is a shortened 45 Colt. Don’t know if it is related to the old 45 experimentals. I have a sample headstamped " COWBOY 45 SPL" , developed for “Western” shooting ( I think developed to offer a underpowered 45 cartridge)

The only information I have found is in Bady’s book, “Colt Automatic Pistols.” In regard to the 1907 Army pistol tests, it is stated that the Army was to provide “experimental” .45 cartridges for both autopistols and revolvers to be submitted for the trials, and that 10,000 rounds of each type were to be manufactured at Frankford Arsenal. Both Colt and Smith & Wesson submitted .45 revolvers. Unfortunately, no information is provided about exactly what the .45 revolver “experimental” cartridges made by FA for the trial actually were. FA was directed to ship 500 rounds of each type to Colt’s in mid-April 1906. Whether FA had actually produced such trial ammunition at this time is not specified. It is stated that the pistol trials were repeatedly delayed until early 1907 because of FA’s ammunition production problems. Therefore, .45 revolver ammunition headstamped “FA 4 06” could have been part of the FA “experimental” run of trial revolver ammunition for Colt, or possibly not. I don’t know if FA was making the old .45 S&W (Government) round (originally made for the Schofield revolver, but used in both it and the SAA) as late as 1906. But they would have possessed the tooling to do so. What are the dimensions of the FA 4 06 round’s case and rim diameter - just like the Schofield round or something different? The .45 Schofield round has a slightly larger rim diameter (about 0.522") than the .45 Colt’s (0.505"). And smaller than the M1909s (0.536"-0.540"). Maybe the “experimental” part of this 4 06 round involved only that it was loaded with smokeless powder. What’s the bullet type - lead or jacketed?

DennisK Do you have Vol. one (& two) of Hackley, Woodin & Scranton? If not you need to obtain it, as it would be a great help.

F A 4 06 & with punch crimps = CN jacketed bullet, .528" rim, .472" head, .918" case length, .451" bullet at mouth, 1.299" OAL & 350.0 grains total weight

plain= within one or two hundred thou. but for .922" CL & weight the same at 349.8 grains

Based upon that information, I’d be strongly tempted to believe that the FA .45 “Experimental” (or whatever name has been attached to it) revolver round as made for the 1907 Army pistol trials is this round. The difference from the original .45 S&W/Schofield/Government cartridge is probably the use of a jacketed bullet instead of lead and (almost certainly as of 1906) the use of smokeless powder. The case is also somewhat shorter, which would be consistent for greater efficiency with smokeless powder. My guess is that there may have been extraction problems experienced with the Colt and S&W DA revolvers during the 1907 trials (the Webley-Fosberry didn’t make the cut) which could have led directly to adoption of the Model 1909 .45 cartridge having a longer case and wider rim. The 1907 Army trials resulted in a recommendation to adopt the Colt New Service revolver in .45 (which happened shortly thereafter) as a stopgap for Philippine use until the performance bugs associated with autopistols discovered during the trials could be worked out.

I did find some information that suggests the S&W Model 1 Triple Lock revolvers submitted for the 1907 Army pistol trials were chambered for the FA 1906-headstamped .45 Experimental round, and that those revolvers will not chamber either the .45 Colt or the .45 S&W/Schofield/Model 1877 cartridges, due to a shoulder in the chambers. Apparently, S&W, in expectation that this 1906 FA .45 experimental revolver cartridge would become a commercial item (which it did not), manufactured a small number of so-chambered Triple Lock revolvers, and on their shipping box labels indicated the chambering as being in “.45 Special.” Can anyone confirm or refute this? Is there a .45 headstamp known that includes the legend “.45 Special”? Allegedly, UMC loaded 5,000 rounds of the Army .45 revolver cartridge design to Army specs for S&W prior to the 1907 pistol trials, probably for revolver development or evaluation use at their factory. Does anyone have an example of this UMC load? Or is this story without foundation?