S&W 45 Colt


I have a primary source reference that talks about using S&W ammo in a Colt .45 LC. Problem is, this is dated 1874. I know the Schofield round can be used in the Colt 45, but the Schofield did not come out till 1875. So was the Schofield ammo available and on the market a year before the weapon was?


I don’t see how the Schofield would fit in a .45 Colt, M-73 as the rim is larger. Or is the rim not a factor in the M-73.


To the best of my knowledge which is limited, the rim is larger in the Schofield, especially early in manufacturing, but the rim size was reduce so it would fit in the M73, but still work in the lifting star for the S&W. I am trying to determine of the Schofield ammunition was even being made for the military in 1874. Thanks for the reply.


I believe that the .45 S&W (Schofield) cartridge was always intended to be compatible with revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt. H,W&S says the first orders for it were made to Frankford Arsenal in August 1874. There is no mention made that the early .45 S&W cartridges had large rim diameters to the extent that they could not be used in Colt SAA revolvers. The early rim diameter is given as 0.524". It was reduced to 0.513" in June 1887, the reason given being “…to prevent possible overlap of rims when the cartridges were chambered in the revolver cylinder.” Which revolver cylinder is being referred to is unstated, but at that time it would necessarily have been the Colt SAA. The standard .45 Colt rim diameter is listed as .512". However, other cartridges chambered in the Colt SAA (notably the .38-40 and .44-40) also have larger rim diameters (0.425"), equivalent to that of the early .45 S&W cartridge and apparently they caused no rim overlap problems in the SAA revolver. And the .41 Long Colt’s rim diameter was 0.535", even larger than the early .45 S&W rim. So it is difficult to understand how there could have been rim overlapping problems with the early .45 S&W loads in the SAA revolver. Unless dimensional quality control at Frankford Arsenal was extremely poor.

The later .45 M1909 cartridge (for the .45 M1909 Colt DA revolver) is stated as having a rim diameter of 0.536"-0.54" diameter, Otherwise it was a .45 Colt cartridge. Apparently, there was a definite rim overlap condition when it was used in the Colt SAA. Therefore, the 0.435" diameter rim of the .41 Long Colt cartridge must have been at the absolute upper limit to allow its chambering in the SAA without rim overlap.


There was a more or less ongoing problem with rim diameter between the Scofield and the Colt cartridges in U.S. service. There was a creep in rim diameter in the Scofield round (standard for both pistols) in the late 1870s and early 1880s until there were field complaints by the mid 1880s, at which point Frankford Arsenal standardized a rim size that would work with the Smith extractor and still be small enough to avoid rim to rim problems in the Colt. Jack


Thanks for the information… what is “H,W&S”…


So you are confirming my assessment that QC at Frankford Arsenal had considerable room for improvement.


"Thanks for the information… what is “H,W&S”"

Hackley, Woodin and Scranton, “History of Modern U. S. Military Small Arms Ammunition” Volume 1


Thanks DennisK