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Thread: 45 Short Colt

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master

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    45 Short Colt

    After many years of looking and wondering I had a fellow bring me a box of ammo marked 45 SHORT Colt. I have yet to dissect one but they have the same rim as the OLD 45 Colt and are 1,142 OAL with a ,735 case length and a ,454 diameter bullet. Shorter case than a 45 and W. I will be weighing the powder and firing for velocity soon.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Castaway's Avatar
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    Before i fired any, I’d post this on the Vintage Ammo forum and see if there’s a collector interest

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    This is a different size from the 45 Auto Rim. I have never heard of a 45 Short Colt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KCSO View Post
    After many years of looking and wondering I had a fellow bring me a box of ammo marked 45 SHORT Colt. I have yet to dissect one but they have the same rim as the OLD 45 Colt and are 1,142 OAL with a ,735 case length and a ,454 diameter bullet. Shorter case than a 45 and W. I will be weighing the powder and firing for velocity soon.
    http://www.lasc.us/TaylorLongShort45Colt.htm

    These are not S&W or Schofield cartridges. The rim diameter is the same as the long .45 Colts, which is smaller than the Schofield rim diameter. These are true .45 Short Colts. The cartridge is listed in Cartridges of the World on page 306 as ".45 Colt - .45 Colt Government".

    https://www.leverguns.com/articles/t...short_colt.htm

    I pulled one of the .45 shorts apart and weighed and measured it. The case is 1.1" long. The powder charge was black powder, approximately 28 grains. The bullet weighed right at 230 gr. and was lubed with a white chalky-looking substance. I fired one from my Ruger 7 1/2" barreled .45 and it went through the chronograph at near 750 fps

    https://www.thefirearmsforum.com/thr...t-colt.221215/

    Back in 1871 Colt started working on a .45 caliber revolver, in 1872 they submitted it to the Army and it was accepted for purchase in 1873. It of course fired .45 Colt ammo.
    Meanwhile Major George Schofield made suggestions to Smith & Wesson on their Model 3 to make it easier to reload by cavalrymen. The .45 Schofield was accepted for purchase in I think, 1875. The Schofield had a shorter cylinder than the Colt and it required a shorter cartridge. The .45 Schofield cartridge would chamber and fire in the Colt SAA though. Frankford Arsenal stopped making the long Colt round and started making only the shorter .45 caliber round as it fit both revolvers. So that's why people call it the .45 the long Colt, there used to be two versions of military ammo for it, the original length or ".45 Long Colt" and the shorter version of it that chambered in both the .45 SAA and the .45 Schofield revolvers.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 08-09-2022 at 05:40 PM.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Castaway's Avatar
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    The ammo mentioned isn’t 45 Schofield. Case and OAL isn’t right

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting - learn something new every day. I have some experience with the 45 Schofield but never saw a 45 Short Colt. Everyone in my immediate family who owned Colt revolvers had .44-40 or .38-40 calibers - I was the first person to buy and use a .45 "anything"...

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Take a look at the .45 Colt Government cartridge - similar to the .45 Schofield with the rim of the .45 Long Colt.

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  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    To make things even more confusing is Starline's .45 cowboy special

    Product Information

    The Cowboy .45 Special is a case that is optimized for use with light loads in .45 Colt caliber revolvers for Cowboy Action Shooting. Light loads with excessive airspace are a recipe for case splits and erratic function. By using the Cowboy .45 Special case, with its .45 Colt rim and .45 Auto length, the problem no longer exists. While many claim that .45 Auto load data can be used in this caliber, it is important to realize the limitations of the firearm it is chambered in and only use loads that fall within the pressure range of that firearm. Generally these can be loaded using .45 Colt dies and a modified (shortened) crimp die, or .45 Auto Rim roll crimp die.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Screenshot 2022-08-09 at 15-54-13 Starline Brass 45 Cowboy Special Unprimed Bag of 100 - Graf & .png 
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    Boolit Grand Master Harter66's Avatar
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    M Tecs description is the way I understood the progression to the short .
    With a .735 case length that doesn't work with the Colts rim on the 1.1" Schofield S&W cartridge. W/o looking it up that sounds even shorter than the GAP .
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master Castaway's Avatar
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    Over on Graybeard a few years ago there was a fellow trying to get shortened brass made in 45 for Cowboy action shooting. I asked why and his response was for full cases and light loads so targets could be engaged more quickly.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Interesting thread and read!

    Many years ago (like 60), I became acquainted with an old gunsmith who was in his 80s at that time who ran a small shop. I was very interested in muzzleloaders - used to buy my caps and powder from him. He took me out back of his shop one day and taught me how to shoot cap & ball revolver using his grandfather's Colt 1851 Navy. Afterwards, he showed me a Colt SAA in 45 and some original cartridges - I remember that some of them were "short". Years later, when I finally "discovered" cartridges and got interested in the 45 Colt, I have thought about those cartridges he showed me. I assumed the the shorter cartridges were Schofields, but after reading this thread, I believe that they were actually "Colt Shorts" as described. Now I wish I had paid more attention to what the old gunsmith showed me and asked more questions.

    KCSO - if you do break down one of those Colt Shorts - could you please take some pictures and post them and try to determine the powder charge and bullet weight? I think it would be interesting to trim some brass to the correct length and try to duplicate the load to see how it shoots. Would love to see some good photos of the original box as well to see what info there is on the box.

    Thanks for your post and the responses - interesting stuff.

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    Boolit Master Baltimoreed's Avatar
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    I use the .45CS in my short barreled .45colt cas rifles. They run fine in my Marlin trapper and short 1873 and are as cas target accurate as any other .45. Wonder if your Colt Shorts are balloon head cases. I had some .450 webley brass that were balloon headed. Tried to reload them and they had to be pushed all the way into the 45colt sizing die and driven out from the top to size them all the way down as the bottom would expand too. Used very light loads and bullets.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I would disagree that Frankfort quit making the 45 LONG Colt as i have FA stamped rounds from the 1890's. I of course heard of short colts from Elmers book but had just never been able to find any. It is nice to have some in hand to play with. I will post the rest of the data and chronograph results as soon as I can get to the range.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    When I was young, My Dad had a S&W #3 Schofield model. He also had 2 boxes of .45Gov't ammo. They were shorter then .45Colt. We used them as a guide to cut down .45Colt cases to shoot in the old Smith top-break. The rims on the old ammo were larger then the .45Colt cases. The cut down case rims would often slip under the extractor star unless the revolver was opened upside down.
    Don't know what happened to it. But it was gone, ammo and brass too, when I came home from my time in the Service.
    Seem to remember the load might have been 5.0grs Bullseye under a 230gr bullet from a Saeco mold. Can't say I remember it that well. 50+ years is a LONG time.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KCSO View Post
    with a ,735 case length and a ,454 diameter bullet. Shorter case than a 45 and W. I will be weighing the powder and firing for velocity soon.
    Pics of the headstamp and side view would be helpful. The 0.735" is 0.163" shorter than a 45 ACP (0.898"). The only 45 cal. case that I am aware of that is that short is the British .450 Adams.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 08-11-2022 at 04:19 AM.
    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."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

  17. #17
    Very interesting, another .45.
    Just for the record, not trying to confuse anybody, the Kirst .45 ACP Conversion Cylinder for the 1860 Colt will also work with the .45 Cowboy Specials.
    A cartridge designed for CAS, to allow reduced loads for the .45 Colt without a big air space below the projectile.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    what gun takes the 45 COWBOY SPL.?

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Baltimoreed's Avatar
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    Any gun chambered for .45[long]Colt will shoot them but I don’t know of any firearm that is actually chambered for .45cs. I have a modified cylinder Colt New Service that will chamber and fire .45cs and 45acp [not on moonclips] but not chamber .45colt.
    Last edited by Baltimoreed; 08-15-2022 at 08:46 AM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've purchased a couple of hundred rounds of Cowboy 45 Special (C45S) but I've yet to load the brass. My plan was to use them loaded with a 200-grain bullet and black powder in a pair of 1860 Army revolvers for cowboy action shooting. This hasn't come to fruition yet because I'd like to have an appropriate rifle shooting them, which means I have to buy and modify either a Winchester 1866 or a Henry. I think the load I described will pretty much duplicate the ballistics of both .44 Colt and .44 Henry, albeit that the bullet is slightly larger.
    Mike Venturino had also located true 45 Short Colt and wrote one article about it, but I can't remember what he said was the original source for the cartridge (what is knocking around my aging memory is that it was Canuck branded and made in Canada).

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