Early .45 Colt cartridge cases, unmarked

I have a couple of unmarked early Colt .45 cartridge cases that were turned up out west, and I’ve tried to discover their manufacturers. They are very similar in appearance, having flat heads and Boxer primers, but one has a small primer and other the large Boxer. Careful examination has not clearly indicated to me that either is of folded head design or “balloon head” solid head type; both weigh about 80 gr.

In examining available source material it seems UMC never made a Colt .45 with the small Boxer primer. They began manufacture of this caliber with the Orcutt primer, and switched to the large (.210) Boxer no later than 1880. WRA did make this caliber with the small Boxer at least periodically. Their earliest production of this caliber (I’m assuming 1874) would have predated the .210 Boxer primer I think, which was introduced by Winchester with the .45-60 and .45-75 rounds used in the 1876 Winchester rifle. I also have a Colt .45 Case with the W.R.A. Co. headstamp which is fitted with the small primer; this latter round dates from some time in the mid 1880s or later.

Most headstamped WRA made rounds in this caliber do have the large primer. So I’m inclined to tentatively assign manufacture of the small primer case to WRA and the large primer specimen to UMC. Any thoughtful comments will be carefully considered. Jack

By cataloging some of my ammo the other day I came across a long colt round 45
with the stamp ELEY WINCHESTER and a copper primer somehow I think
that one must belong to the very early variety

Sherryl: Are you sure the Eley Winchester isn’t a .44-40? They do look a lot alike, and the .44-40 had far more acceptance abroad than the .45 Colt. Colt sold a fair number of its Single Action Armies in Britain, but they were usually in .450 Boxer or .476 caliber. Jack

A good photo of the heads with the shape and any machine or draw marks might be of help in identifying the makers’

The headstamp on Eley made rounds is “ELEY 45 C”

I have Eley made .45 Colt headstamped:
. ELEY . 45.C

The second one is different to Pete,s since it has dots in the headstamp.

Ron I have to confess I didn’t look closely at the headstamp when I wrote the above. We have the same round. Also have the ELEY LONDON headstamped example you note (with and without a case cannelure). But not an Eley Winchester as that is, as Jack notes, a .44 W.C.F headstamp

Iam a little late to reply but I have to eat some crow, I did some checking and yes you are right it is a 44-40
what really confused me on that cartridge was its lenght it is as long as a 45 colt while normally those 44-40
are a little shorter but the stamp is still ELEY WINCHESTER I done it all by looks only but should have
measured things sorry