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Thread: 45 Colt Requirements Document

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    45 Colt Requirements Document

    I’ve heard the 45 Colt cartridge was adopted because; 1) it could kill a horse and Indian while the hostile was clinging to its neck on the back side of the horse, 2) it could kill the horse, 3) just kill an Indian, and 4) a trooper could use it to dispatch his runaway mount while hung up on his stirrup. Does anyone have a reference, other than anecdotal on what the original Army requirement was for the eventual cartridge that was adopted?
    Last edited by Castaway; 04-03-2019 at 06:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Last edited by M-Tecs; 04-03-2019 at 07:14 PM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    The .45 Colt probably a product of evolution that started with the Texas Rangers use of the huge .44 cal (.454) 1847 Colt Walker percussion which in turn grew into the 1848 Dragoon and 1860 Army models. That is not to say there was no requirements document but the requirements document would have probably mirrored the power level of the earlier percussion revolvers. The expiration of the Rollin White patents permitted the use of bored through cylinders and self contained cartridges.
    EDG

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    EDG, I suspect you’re on the right track. With the successful 1860 revolver, to me, it only made sense to use the same tooling set-up, so the caliber was a given. It was just how much powder to get nearly the same velocity; albeit, with a heavier conical bullet. Until I see something other than opinion, based on what someone saw on the internet, I buy into a fortunate evolution starting with the Walker and ending up with what we still have today, an effective round that works.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    For a little more history you might read about John Coffee Hays.
    He was also called Captain Jack. I think he was the nephew of Andrew Jackson. As a surveyor he came to Texas right after the revolution. He knew there would be a lot of land to survey. However the Comanches knew why the surveyors were in the field so Hays wound up leading a company of Texas Rangers. I have read at least one account attributing to him the tactic used to fight and kill Comanches. They could not really fight an opponent in hot pursuit since their bows and lances did not permit much of. A defense against a revolver. Hays used good horses to ride the brave down and shoot them from behind at close range.
    His ranger company typically all carried one or more Colts so even if out numbered and ambushed they were able to respond with a high volume of fire.

    I think you will find that Hays had significant influence in the use of Colt revolvers on the frontier.

    "Me and Red Wing not afraid to go to hell together.
    Captain Jack heap brave; not afraid to go to hell by himself."
    —Chief Flacco, Lipan Apache guide

    More about John Coffee Hays
    http://www.texfiles.com/enchantedroc.../part_five.htm
    Last edited by EDG; 04-05-2019 at 11:14 AM.
    EDG

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub
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    Interesting read for sure. I posed the question about the original requirement because I finally got tired of folks stating with presumptive authority the Army wanted a cartridge to kill horses at 100 yards or shoot through the body of a horse to kill a clinging Comanche on the far side. Until I see something definitive, I’ll accept those anecdotal tales much like I do claims of small, two inch, off-hand groups at 25 yards. I maintain Colt had a successful pistol of a proven design that just so happened the cylinder was of adequate size to propel a bullet with more than adequate velocity. After removing the nipples from the back of the cylinder and adjusting the frame to accommodate the new design, the cartridge was a product of default given the existence of its predecessors caliber. My opinion, and my opinion only, the Colt model 1873 in 45 Colt was adopted based on Colt’s reputation gained from earlier revolvers and no formal Requirements document was issued
    Last edited by Castaway; 04-06-2019 at 07:27 AM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I agree with your comments.
    I have heard the same horse killer tale about the .45-70.
    I think the Colt 1873 was just a solid frame cartridge version of the percussion and open top designs.

    If there had been an iron clad requirements document the Army must have abandoned it when they changed to the .38 Long Colt which turned out to be an inadequate dud. The Army went back to another 45 cal and stayed with it 75 years. Even today some Army units still use the .45 ACP after more than 100 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Castaway View Post
    Interesting read for sure. I posed the question about the original requirement because I finally got tired of folks stating with presumptive authority the Army wanted a cartridge to kill horses at 100 yards or shoot through the body of a horse to kill a clinging Comanche on the far side. Until I see something definitive, I’ll accept those anecdotal tales much like I do claims of small, two inch, off-hand groups at 25 yards. I maintain Colt had a successful pistol of a proven design that just so happened the cylinder was of adequate size to propel a bullet with more than adequate velocity. After removing the nipples from the back of the cylinder and adjusting the frame to accommodate the new design, the cartridge was a product of default given the existence of its predecessors caliber. My opinion, and my opinion only, the Colt model 1873 in 45 Colt was adopted based on Colt’s reputation gained from earlier revolvers and no formal Requirements document was issued
    EDG

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Good morning
    I think another impulse was the simple fact the 44 American and 44 Russian lacked in the penetration of a horse. Just not a reliable anti-horse cartridge. The understanding I have was the desire to un-horse the "hostiles" as then they were easier to run down and deal with.

    The 36 Patterson just was not sufficient. So the big step up to the "carbine powered" Walker model.
    The Walker and following Dragoon Models would do the job. Horses were "thwapped" with authority. But the rapid reload needed to be addressed.

    SW had a great idea with the #3 model but restricted their use with under powered 44 cartridges. Had SW made their revolver a bit more robust to handle a larger charged 40 grain BP load straight wall 44 case with a 240-250 grain slug they would have been 3 years ahead of the sales curve with the Army. But they had a contract with Russia (paid in Gold) to produce the #3 models and not enough factory or trained workers to be upgrading with a new more powerful model.

    The original 45 caliber case needed a larger/ stronger rim to extract reliably from the SW #3. That was years down the road. Soft copper rimmed cases were not strong enough to get jerked out of cylinders 6 at a time. The 45 Schofield was an attempt with a lesser powered cartridge but was discarded over time for the far superior ejection, though slower, of the 73 Colt Revolver. Reliability far overshadows speed. Not that the SW #3 was not well used and liked... In the end it came down to money. One revolver and one cartridge won out. Logistics is one of the basic truths all militarys must deal with.
    Mike in Peru
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Male Guanaco out in dry lakebed at 10,800 feet south of Arequipa.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    EDG,

    Those small 2" groups are possible.

    1) Shoot 2-300 rds a week.
    2) Shoot the same Gun/Load Combination every week.
    3) Shoot at least twice a week, preferably three times.
    4) Have a CLEAN, CRISP TRIGGER 2-3 lbs.
    5) Strong Hands/Arms.
    6) Really Good Eyesight.
    7) Be under 40yrs old
    8) Have a Handgun Accurized by Old PACHMAYR of 1220 So. GRAND Ave. Los Angeles, Ca.
    9) Shoot really good ammo. Cull then weigh every bullet, cast from 100lb lots of clean good alloy.
    10) Primers- Sleeves of 10,000- same lot.
    11) Powder- 8lb cans
    12) Cartridge cases, same lot, same number of loadings. Treat like each one was your child.
    13) Maintain a CLEAN Handgun.
    14) Don't let ANYBODY else shoot it.
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master
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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.45_Colt
    Read the history portion ...
    Regards
    John

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    There is little to read.
    Colt was not in the ammo business so they had to work with UMC to design the cartridge.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.45_Colt
    Read the history portion ...
    EDG

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    What are you talking about? Where did I mention anything about groups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    EDG,

    Those small 2" groups are possible.

    1) Shoot 2-300 rds a week.
    2) Shoot the same Gun/Load Combination every week.
    3) Shoot at least twice a week, preferably three times.
    4) Have a CLEAN, CRISP TRIGGER 2-3 lbs.
    5) Strong Hands/Arms.
    6) Really Good Eyesight.
    7) Be under 40yrs old
    8) Have a Handgun Accurized by Old PACHMAYR of 1220 So. GRAND Ave. Los Angeles, Ca.
    9) Shoot really good ammo. Cull then weigh every bullet, cast from 100lb lots of clean good alloy.
    10) Primers- Sleeves of 10,000- same lot.
    11) Powder- 8lb cans
    12) Cartridge cases, same lot, same number of loadings. Treat like each one was your child.
    13) Maintain a CLEAN Handgun.
    14) Don't let ANYBODY else shoot it.
    EDG

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    You would have to provide a reference for the horse killing tales because I don't think it is real.
    You apparently have never read of the original users of revolvers against the Indians. He was John Coffee Hays of the Texas Rangers when they were more of an irregular militia type organization.
    He did not shoot horses. He shot the Indians.
    He started with the .36 caliber Patterson and progressed to the Walker. There were NO cartridge pistols then that lacked power because there were no cartridge pistols.
    The last white man killed by the Indians in Palo Pinto County, Texas was killed in 1875. That is only 2 years after the Colt .45 made it to the market. Palo Pinto County was notable because the Comanches pretty much took over the county during the Civil War and ran most of the white folks out. As a result the federal census of 1870 had so few people in the country that the census totals were combined with Parker County one county to the east. Custer was massacred in 1876 which again shows that most of the Indian fighting had passed long before the Colt .45 ever made it out west.


    Quote Originally Posted by missionary5155 View Post
    Good morning
    I think another impulse was the simple fact the 44 American and 44 Russian lacked in the penetration of a horse. Just not a reliable anti-horse cartridge. The understanding I have was the desire to un-horse the "hostiles" as then they were easier to run down and deal with.

    The 36 Patterson just was not sufficient. So the big step up to the "carbine powered" Walker model.
    The Walker and following Dragoon Models would do the job. Horses were "thwapped" with authority. But the rapid reload needed to be addressed.

    SW had a great idea with the #3 model but restricted their use with under powered 44 cartridges. Had SW made their revolver a bit more robust to handle a larger charged 40 grain BP load straight wall 44 case with a 240-250 grain slug they would have been 3 years ahead of the sales curve with the Army. But they had a contract with Russia (paid in Gold) to produce the #3 models and not enough factory or trained workers to be upgrading with a new more powerful model.

    The original 45 caliber case needed a larger/ stronger rim to extract reliably from the SW #3. That was years down the road. Soft copper rimmed cases were not strong enough to get jerked out of cylinders 6 at a time. The 45 Schofield was an attempt with a lesser powered cartridge but was discarded over time for the far superior ejection, though slower, of the 73 Colt Revolver. Reliability far overshadows speed. Not that the SW #3 was not well used and liked... In the end it came down to money. One revolver and one cartridge won out. Logistics is one of the basic truths all militarys must deal with.
    Mike in Peru
    EDG

  14. #14
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    Probably the most likely reasons for developments in the cartridges came about in the conversions from C&B to cartridge. Colts took a 454 cal round ball. Some claim the conversions gave us case dimensions at first. The 36 C&B was actually a 38 caliber taking a 380 ball. When converted they used a 380 case. There were cartridges made back then similar to a 22 LR with heeled bullets. So the bullets would be 38 cal to match the bores. There probably were similar early developments in the 45. Later on the cartridges were made different and the cases were made larger to take the cartridge. Colt was set up for manufacturing making 454 barrels which were the 45 standard until WWII or there abouts A 38Special uses a 38 cal case. The old 41 Colt used a heeled bullet inside a 41 cal case. There was a stage when they went to using hollow based bullets that fitted like normal bullets. I believe the differences are called inside and outside lubricated. Early 44's used a case similar in dimensions to the 44 C&B chambers which were 454 or so. When Ruger made its "Old Army" C&B revolver it took a 457 ball which was about the same diameter as a 44 mag case. I think most of the issues were ones of manufacturing economies and cartridges were called what they wanted.

    36 Revolvers probably were called that using the land to land nomenclature for calibers as were the 44's. Rifling was deeper back then using pure lead bullets and black powder. 44's were actually 45's. I imagine it is easier to use the current bullet styles and vary the cases than to use the inside? lubricated ones like 22's. AS far as I know the 22LR is the only cartridge left made like that and its probably cheaper to manufacture the rifles because of that. IN revolvers they only need a straight drilled through chamber more or less.

    DEP

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    EDG,

    My Apologies, Sir.

    It was intended as a reply to Castaway's statement about 2" groups at 25yds.

    It's hard for some people to believe that a handgun can be capable of sub 2 inch groups at 25yds.
    I grew up with a Father & Brothers who could shoot that well.
    And 25yrs ago I still could too.

    Hit 6 inch plate 4 out of 5 times with a Ruger Vaquero 7.5" & 250gr SWC over a hot load w/Unique.

    AT 100yds. PRACTICE makes better. Having a fixed sight gun that shoots to Point of Aim is REALLY LUCKY TOO.

    I go to an indoor range where people put their Full-size (B-50?) Silhouettes at 21 FEET, and pepper them with shots that can't even be called a group, or even a pattern.

    I grew up shooting the COLT SAA in all bbl lengths and we regularly hit 1lb coffee cans strung from a wire at 100yrds. Using the COLT "Calvary" Pistol, with a load of 9.0grs of Unique over the Lyman #454190.

    One hand, standing up on your hind legs and shooting like a Man.
    Once you achieved that, you were considered a Grown Up.
    Of course the rear notch was filed square which made it a heck of a lot easier to get a good sight picture.

    We even shot BP Loads that filled the case with BP up to a 1/4" of the case mouth and a wad cut from a wax ( Yes a WAX) milk carton with a #454190 Lubed with a Crisco/bees wax blend. Crimped over the OGIVE just like the Original Cartridge Was.

    I don't recall the exact powder charge, but I do remember it was a grain or three short of 40 grains.

    It had a HECK of a lot of Recoil.

    So knock a Man off a Horse at 100 yards, yeah I believe it would.
    Kill a Horse at 100 yards, I think it would.
    But only a Brain and/or high spine shot. Or broadside between the ribs and straight into the heart.
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I have a little experience shooting a .45 Auto Rim Smith and Wesson 1955 Target at 100 yards.
    The owner was a cast bullet shooter and I was much younger with 23 year old eyes.
    Shooting off a rest at 100 yards I shot about a 6" group at a 3" diameter orange day glow stick on target.
    What was impressive to me was I actually hit the 3" target 3 times out of 6 shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    EDG,

    My Apologies, Sir.

    It was intended as a reply to Castaway's statement about 2" groups at 25yds.

    It's hard for some people to believe that a handgun can be capable of sub 2 inch groups at 25yds.
    I grew up with a Father & Brothers who could shoot that well.
    And 25yrs ago I still could too.

    Hit 6 inch plate 4 out of 5 times with a Ruger Vaquero 7.5" & 250gr SWC over a hot load w/Unique.

    AT 100yds. PRACTICE makes better. Having a fixed sight gun that shoots to Point of Aim is REALLY LUCKY TOO.

    I go to an indoor range where people put their Full-size (B-50?) Silhouettes at 21 FEET, and pepper them with shots that can't even be called a group, or even a pattern.

    I grew up shooting the COLT SAA in all bbl lengths and we regularly hit 1lb coffee cans strung from a wire at 100yrds. Using the COLT "Calvary" Pistol, with a load of 9.0grs of Unique over the Lyman #454190.

    One hand, standing up on your hind legs and shooting like a Man.
    Once you achieved that, you were considered a Grown Up.
    Of course the rear notch was filed square which made it a heck of a lot easier to get a good sight picture.

    We even shot BP Loads that filled the case with BP up to a 1/4" of the case mouth and a wad cut from a wax ( Yes a WAX) milk carton with a #454190 Lubed with a Crisco/bees wax blend. Crimped over the OGIVE just like the Original Cartridge Was.

    I don't recall the exact powder charge, but I do remember it was a grain or three short of 40 grains.

    It had a HECK of a lot of Recoil.

    So knock a Man off a Horse at 100 yards, yeah I believe it would.
    Kill a Horse at 100 yards, I think it would.
    But only a Brain and/or high spine shot. Or broadside between the ribs and straight into the heart.
    EDG

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    A little more history apt Colts ad the Army. The first cartridge revolver submitted by Colts for testing was an open topped revolver chambered for the 44 Colt. It was rejected because it was a heeled bulleted cartridge. Colt took the existing cartridge and made the casing large enough for the bullet to set inside it. At some point the Army insisted the revolver had to have a top strap. Colts resisted the revolver and eventually got the Model P accepted.

    I still prefer the open top 44 Colt but have also used the 45 long Colt cartridge. It is a lot more cartridge than the 44.

    Kevin
    Knowledge I take to my grave is wasted.

    I prefer to use cartridges born before I was.

    Success doesn't make me happy, being happy is what allows me to be successful.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master

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    "The Peacemaker and it's Rivals" This has all the spec's and testing of the various candidates and the cartridge specs and how they changed and why the 45 S and Wesson was adopted as limited standard.

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub
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    Never said 2” groups weren’t possible, only I think more folks claim they do than actually do it, and I’m skeptical when I hear it.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Castaway View Post
    Never said 2” groups weren’t possible, only I think more folks claim they do than actually do it, and I’m skeptical when I hear it.
    I’m with you Castaway, I’ve spent years shooting at 25 yards with Colt’s SAA’s at 25 yards trying to get 5 rounds in 2 1/2” without a bench rest. I’ve accumulated lots of data on various powers, bullets, calibers. What I’ve discovered is that although some loads are more accurate than others, it’s the time at the range shooting that really matters.

    I do have a video of me getting 5 out of 5 on a 24” steel plate at 100 yards with a Colt’s SAA with one hand.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check