Peters 45 AC Shotshell colors!


These are three 45 AC shotshell (birdshot) cartridges from my collection. All would appear to be
older manufacture, but from different eras. I say that because of the different cannelures on one
and the two that are similar are on a brass and a nickel case. The “bullet” of shotshell portions
appear to be made of formed paper.

My main question is regarding the color of the “bullet” portion of the cartridges: red, blue, and tan.
Does this signify shot size, etc., or just a marketing idea (pretty colors!)

I have other older 45 AC’s, they all have a tan colored “bullet.” The newer birdshot cartridges
“bullets” are made of plastic and are of several different colors.



I also have tan, brown/red, and blue wad shot loads, and I only know for sure that the blue projectile is 163gr and the brown/red one is 174 gr. The photo below shows the same 3 that you show, and one much longer version to the left. A couple different obturating discs are shown also. They all have headstamps of Peters 45 AC

I think another thing with these is that the paper hulls can change color slightly depending on storage conditions or humidty, and some are so close in color, although different, it can be hard to tell what is what.


Joe - I have never been able to discover any difference between the red sabots and the blue sabots. The Blue Sabots seem to be the latest production. I suspect that all the early “tan” sabots were red, and are simply faded, but I could be wrong. That is if we are still talking these Peters-headstamped loads.

As to the cannelures, there are several patterns. The earliest loading seems to be the one with a single, smooth cannelure. What I feel is the next variation has two cannelures, both smooth.
The top cannelure is 4.95 mm below the case mouth, with the second one about 3.45 mm below the first one. These measurements and all others to follow are VERY approximate. My old eyes find it difficult to locate the center of these cannelures for measurements. The next one has the top cannelure about .410 mm from the case mouth and the two cannelures about .315-.320 mm apart. Both cannelures are smooth. Finally, there are a group with the top cannelure about .470 mm below the case mouth with the second cannelure about the same distance below the first cannelure. These have a knurled bottom cannelure and a smooth top cannelure, and are found with red sabot in brass and nickeled cases, and with blue sabot in nickeled cases only.

I have not addressed the Evansville Chrysler rounds or the Remington Arms (R A) rounds here, only the civilian ones. The civilian shot cartridges seem to have been made by Peters until about 1951. I have a 1950 catalog that shows them, and a 1952 catalog that does not. So, that’s as close as I can come. I believe they were introduced in the early 1920s. I have no early Peters catalogs from this era, but the book “Thompson: The American Legend,” by Tracie L. Hill, indicates that the special shot magazine for the Thompson SMG was first patented August 24, 1920. At least prototype cartridges would have had to be available for establishing the internal dimensions of the magazine. Due to Sabot crushing, the capacity of the magazine, initially twenty rounds, was changed to eighteen rounds in very early 1921. The same magazine was used a little later with the long .45 Remington-Thompson ball cartridge. (Pages 346,383-385.)

Edited to correct type of measurements taken - originally and erroneously shown as inch measurements when in truth they were metric.

John Moss



I haven’t enough experience in seeing more of these rounds to make a definitive comment on the color shift red/brown.
Careful examination of the rounds that I have would indicate (to me) that they were originally colored red and tan.
When pulling the sabots, the color appears consistent below the case mouth. Age alone could cause a color change,
but fading from light and environment should not affect the lower portions. Just my thought, but you very well may be
correct on yours!

John, BTW, on your dimensions. I believe you intended to mean (mm) not (“ for inches!) Small matter, but it confused
me for a minute!

DKConfiguration, I don’t know what to make of the grs. weight difference between the two colors. 11 grains could be a
birdshot or two difference. It’s a lot of difference in powder weight, but not in shot weight. I’d feel better if we had
more sample weights, but I don’t think I’d ruin them by checking it!

Perhaps others will have some input, but you’ve given me some food for thought!




thanks for correcting me. I have changed all the measurement markings to reflect “mm” instead of inches. I didn’t realize my digital caliper was set on metric. I usually leave it on inch, and at 7:00 AM in the morning or there abouts the size of the measurements did not visually iimpact me. Sorry about that.

I am going to see if I have some dupes of these rounds - I should have - and if so, take a few apart. I never have done that with them. I am interested to see if the weight difference between the red sabots and the blue ones is consistent. Also, I found the contruction interesting. If so, I will try to do two of each color, so I can strip out the shot charge and weigh those as well.

Regarding color, I have seen every shade of color from a reddish-tan to red with no regard to the other features of the cartridges. It may be that some lots of the sabots were simply poorly colored by the factory before loading. I just can’t accept, without documentation, that they were not all intended to be red. Naturally, I could be wrong. And, naturally, I am not speaking of the blue one.

John Moss


Your one on the left with out any case cannelures looks to be a “brake test” & should weigh much less than the others due to being filled with yellow chalk?