Questions on a WW1 era .45 Auto


#1

While working on a project I pulled this cartridge apart. It is a WW1 era .45 Autos and found something that made me curious. I am no expert on WW1 or 45s so maybe this is a common thing. Figured I would post it here and find out.
This was a loaded round that as far as I could tell had not been tampered with. But when I pulled the bullet out I noticed several things. The first that caught my eye was the two tone bullet jacket.
Before I pulled the bullet I would have said it had a normal GM jacket. But as you can see all of the bullet that was inside the casing is CN plated. This line of difference is very clean and sharp. It does not look like the CN plating has just worn off. It looks to have been made this way. Then I noticed that the jacket had the impressions from a 3 dot crimp in it sides. That was funny because I had not noticed a 3 dot crimp on the casing and after rechecking I still can find no signs of a 3 dot crimp on the case. First picture is the headstamp and base of the bullet. Second is the side of the case and bullet. Any ideas?
Thanks
Zac
45


#2

Zac,

Good pictures!

Unfortunately when you look at the cartridge case side wall it is very apparent that someone tried to “beautify” the cartridge a some point in time. They aggressively used a very fine rotary wire brush, perhaps a Dermal tool. In the process the exposed portion of the bullet, which was tinned, was “cleaned” down to the GM jacket. The portion of the bullet that remained inside the case was protected and as such still retains the tinning. Said person did not bother to “clean” the case head.

Tinning of bullets is covered extensively in History of Modern U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition, Vol. 1, 1880 - 1939, H.W.S.

Brian


#3

bdgreen,
thanks. And I do believe you are probably correct about the cleaning. But what about the 3 dot crimp impressions in the bullet but not in the case? Makes me think that this bullet was pulled from one case and then seated into this one. Is there any instances of U.S. manufactures using salvaged components for loading 45 Autos during WW1? I suppose this may have been done by some person later also.
Thanks again,
Zac


#4

Zac,

Look on the inside of the cartridge case and see if you see 3 slight dimples.

Brian


#5

I looked very hard with a flashlight also and nothing. There was what looked like black sealer pretty evenly around the inside of the case mouth down to where the bullet base was seated. So after looking with the flashlight and not finding anything. I took a small copper bore brush and scrubbed the inside of the case mouth and removed most of the black sealer. But I still see no signs of a 3 dot crimp inside the case.
Zac


#6

Zac,

In H.W.S.the “three circular” bullet crimp, 120 deg. apart is described as being started in 1917.

So the only thing I can come up with is that since your cartridge has been messed with, perhaps other things were done to the cartridge besides the aggressive cleaning.

Perhaps John Moss or others will chime in on this.

Brian


#7

Brian - the three stab-type bullet crimps were applied, beginning in 1917 and also
found on some 1918 production rounds from U.S.C.Co., only to cartridges intended
for issue with the Model 1917 Colt and Smith and Wesson Caliber .45 M1911 caliber.
The cartridges were generally issued on half-moon clips, necessary for the extraction
of the rimless fired cases as the design of the extractor was not changed from Colt’s and
Smith & Wesson’s original design for rimmed cartridges. The rounds were packed in
24-round boxes, similar in size and shape to the normal 20-round boxes except longer.

It was found that while the case cannelures were sufficient to preclude set-back of the bullet
during feeding in the M1911 pistol, that in the revolvers, there was nothing to keep the bullets
from moving forward in the case by the inertia created by recoil of the pistol. The three-stab
crimp was the solution to that problem. That crimp was not applied to cartridges intended for
the use in the M1911 pistol, so we find 1917 and 1918-dated .45 auto rounds both with and
without the crimps. It was unnecessary for round used in the M1911, as the front, curved surface
of the magazine was sufficient to prevent bullets moving forward under inertia when the chambered
round was fired. In a revolver, of course, if the bullets moved forward past the face of the cylinder,
they would prevent cylinder rotation and jam the revolver.

I agree with the points said about the cartridge in question. It is not unusual to find the tinning
on the front of the bullet partially or even completely gone from the exposed portion of the
projectile while still in a loaded cartridge. This can happen from wear or from heavy cleaning.
Regarding the point of originality of this bullet to the case it was found in, I suspect it is not
original to that case. It is my understanding that the dots found on the bullets are created when
the crimps are applied to the outside of the case. I don’t know how, with a 120 degree spacing,
they could be pre-indented and properly aligned with the case-crimping fixture on factory-level
production machinery of the day. I have no documentation for that opinion, however. I don’t know
why anyone would have changed the bullet, as the the primer and primer seal look absolutely original
from the excellent photos posted here. You would think that if it was to make the cartridge look nicer,
they would have chosen a bullet with all its finish intact. These rounds are quite common, so there
was certainly no financial motive in changing it.

To my knowledge, the factory did not loaded salvaged bullets, but again, I have no positive documentation
for that statement.

John Moss


#8

John,
thank you. If I remember correctly you are planning on attending SLICS in about a month. If so I will bring this case and bullet with me and give them to you to do what you wish. Maybe I am over looking something you will be able to see and point out to me.
Thanks again and see you soon,
Zac


#9

Zac,

No need to bring me the case and the bullet. The show will be a social trip for me. I cannot bring back anything with me due to new California Laws. Anything I want to obtain there, I will have to arrange to ship to and FFL holder in California for face-to-face transfer to me (with extortionist fees paid to the State, of course). I would not want to bother him with anything not important to my own collection.

I do appreciate the offer though.

John