Author Topic: .45 Cowboy Special  (Read 1649 times)

Offline LonesomePigeon

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.45 Cowboy Special
« on: April 13, 2024, 09:27:08 AM »
Yesterday I went to the range and one of my range buddies was there with a Uberti 1875 Remington single action revolver chambered in .45 Colt. It also had an extra cylinder chambered in .45 ACP. He said he said the .45 Cowboy Special fits perfectly in the .45 ACP cylinder and he was using it to fire the .45 CS. I did not know this was possible. Is it possible? Can you fire .45 CS from a .45 ACP cylinder? I keep thinking maybe I misunderstood my friend.

Online Coffinmaker

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2024, 06:24:57 PM »

 :) Lonely Pigeon  ;)

Nope.  You did not Miss-Understand.  Actual case length of the Cowboy 45 Special and the 45 ACP are the same.  45 ACP head spaces on the case mouth to give the same cylinder/frame head space as a standard rimmed case (NOT 45 AR) and the Cowboy 45 Special head spaces on the rim with the same same chamber depth as the 45 ACP.  Should be able to run them interchangeably.  I DO!!

Offline LonesomePigeon

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2024, 07:58:58 PM »
That's way cool. Gives me a reason to get a .45 ACP cylinder.

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #3 on: Today at 08:04:39 AM »

Offline King Medallion

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2024, 09:52:49 PM »
You don't need an ACP cylinder, 45 Cowboy special works perfectly in a regular 45 Colt cylinder.
King Medallion

Offline Baltimore Ed

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2024, 11:47:55 AM »
Non swingout cylinder revolvers that are built to allow single loading of 45acp cartridges will fire either 45acp or 45cs however double action revolvers, the 1917 colt /smith and the Model 25 /625 smiths. They are cut for 45acp in moon clips or 45Autorim but will not fire loose 45acp/45cs as there is too much space between the case and firing pin. Just to clarify. I have a confused NWMP Colt NS that will fire loose 45acp or 45cs but the barrel says .45Colt. Bubba’s Canadian brother.
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Offline LonesomePigeon

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2024, 04:26:39 PM »
Does anybody know what the throats would be on a .45 ACP cylinder?

The reason I ask is because my 3rd Gen Colt's regular .45 Colt cylinder has .455 - .456" diameter throats.  If the .45 ACP has .451 - .452" throats I bet the Cowboy Special could be a tack driver.

Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2024, 09:27:59 PM »
Lonesome,
I can give you two sets of dimensions for S&W .45 ACP revolvers.
  • I have had only one newer Model 25s with tight Ø.453 throat openings at the front of the cylinder, but most were Ø.454 
  • I had fixed sight 1950 Model 22s with Ø.454 throat openings at the front of the cylinder.
  • I have had Model 1955 S&Ws (later called Mod 25) with Ø.453 throats   (corrected per mister QUALITY CONTROL...AAAARGGGH)
  • I currently have two unmounted spare cylinders for M1950, M1955 or Mod 25s (basically Model 22s or 25s) with Ø.454 openings   (corrected per mister QUALITY CONTROL...AAAARGGGH).  I have those spares because I used to fit an extra cylinder in .45 Colt to Model 25s, 1950s or 1955s, I have those two left, I may have cranes for them as well.  I would have to look.
  • Most if not all of the .45ACP cylinders started out with a Ø.482 chamber opening at the rear
  • The .45 Colt chamber is Ø.487 to Ø.489 at the rear depending upon the reamer and the Ø.454 throat is perfect for them.

In the S&W the .45 ACP chamber has the headspace step the case mouth butts up against, the .45 Colt chamber has the typical revolver leade and throat which is a gradual transition.

So there is no short answer for a S&W.  But all actually shot very well, I really couldn't tell much difference between the Ø454 and Ø.453 throats, especially with lead bullets.  Out of a Ransom Rest with match 185gr or 230gr jacketed bullets (if you squinted real hard) the accuracy might have been 1/2" better at 25 yards and at 50 it was a wash again.  The previous was probably a fluke, but the older 1950 barrels were reputed to be more accurate, I never proved it with a Ransom Rest.

As I said 30 or 40 years ago adding a .45 Colt cylinder was a common "conversion" or cylinder addition.  Finally S&W started making the 25 in .45 Colt, I don't know if you could get one with two cylinders except from the Performance Center and those were special order.

I don't know if you personally could tell the difference between the larger and smaller throats especially with Lead Cowboy loads, either way, enjoy them.

I can send pictures with gauge pins if you wish, but I'm not home for a few more days now.  I just have files on my drive I carry with me.

~Mako
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Offline Abilene

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2024, 09:38:07 PM »
... (later called Mod 25) with Ø.253 throats [/li]
[li]I currently have two unmounted spare cylinders for M1950, M1955 or Mod 25s (basically Model 22s or 25s) with Ø.254 openings.  ...

Is this what they call the new math?  ;)

Sorry, I can't help it, I was in quality control for 25 years.

Offline Baltimore Ed

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2024, 08:22:34 PM »
My 625 smith [.452 boolits] is very accurate. When I bought a beautiful used 45colt Anaconda I found that it patterned instead of grouped. Why I got a deal. After much experimenting I eventually discovered that .454 boolits would group, any other diameter would pattern.
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Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2024, 10:08:32 AM »
My 625 smith [.452 boolits] is very accurate. When I bought a beautiful used 45colt Anaconda I found that it patterned instead of grouped. Why I got a deal. After much experimenting I eventually discovered that .454 boolits would group, any other diameter would pattern.

Ed,
Five questions:
  • Have you measured the diameter of the exit throats on the 625?  I'm curious as to the size.
  • And, do you know what general date the revolver was produced/purchased?
  • What diameter bullets were you trying in the Colt before you settled on Ø.454?
  • I'm assuming those were lead bullets at the Ø.454 diameter, what weight and bullet shape?
  • Have you measured the diameter of the Anaconda's chamber throats?

I am not a SAA expert, but I do have one 1st Generation .45 Colt made in 1896.  The only other SAA pattern pistolas I have are a pair of USFAs in .38 spl the kids used.  Too bad they are out of business now.

This I do know:
  • The Gen 1 SAA  used Ø.454 bullets (Lead of course)
  • Gen 1 ran through 1940 
  • Gen 1 rifling groove diameter was Ø.454
  • In 1956 with the advent of the Gen 2 the groove diameter was changed to Ø.452 (some say Ø.451) 
  • There have been discussions and arguments by both collector and shooters over whether or not all Gen 2 cylinders have smaller throat diameters to accommodate the new smaller diameter bores.
  • Gen 3 models began in the late '70s, again I don't know the groove diameter.  (Ø.451 groove diameters?)  Main difference was in the barrel threads and the cylinder bushing.
  • There really isn't a 4th Gen of SAA, though some people will call it that because they went back to the removable cylinder bushing, Colt's doesn't differentiate and the collectors usually don't.
Now to the Anaconda, I beg your patience, but I have a short story:
I suspect they were/are still using some of the same (old) tooling and equipment to drill and ream the cylinders for both the SAA and the Anaconda.  In 1998 during a tour of the revolver line they were using a multiple station (at least 3 to my memory) vertical boring/reaming machine (probably custom built for Colt's) with 6 spindles per station. They were using it as a vertical drilling and reaming machine.  It was ancient, it still had the pulleys on it to allow it to be run from overhead shafts.  But, I was told by the accompanying engineer  the machine had been "modernized" after WW2 to have it's own electric motor.  I remember it well because they were using it to only drill one hole at a time, and after the 6 chambers were drilled it was passed to another worker to the right and then he reamed the chambers one at a time.  It was set up for the Anaconda, but I was told they also did SAAs on it.  I remember because of the inefficiency and I mentioned that they could use "DREAMERS" if they were only roughing the chamber and reaming the throat.  I was told by the worker on the machine very forcefully, "I DRILL, he reams".  I was waved off by the engineer I was with and the union steward who was with us began protesting me being there.

So that story was just to let you know I wouldn't be surprised if the tooling is shared between those two revolvers still and further more it wouldn't surprise me if the cylinder throats were Ø.454 or actually larger, which is why your revolver was more accurate with that size bullet.

So, the problem with not knowing the actual groove diameter or the throat diameters really crop up with jacketed bullets.  I don't know of any Ø.454 Jacketed bullets readily available for retail purchase, so you will be limited to Ø.452 max pistol bullets (not .45 Rifle bullets).  The pressures can spike when forcing a jacketed bullet through a small bore or even a small throat.  I don't think you will have any problem with Ø.454 bullets in a pistol with a .452 rifling groove and if that is what it likes then that is what you should shoot.  However I suspect your cylinder throats are probably Ø.454 or larger.

The S&W M1950 was a target pistol used by even the Army shooting team for the ".45 Caliber Pistol" portion of the Bullseye matches and Colts in .38 Special were commonly used in the '50s and '60s for the "Centerfire" Portion.  And, as I reported in a post above, many 1950 and 1955 (25s) had/have Ø.454 throats and they are very accurate.  However those match pistols were required at the time to shoot ball ammo and it was Ø.451 and they are very accurate.  There are a lot of factors and some weapons just like a certain weight or diameter.

I hope I didn't muddle too much or bore you.  Good shooting to you and if you have those measurements it would help me as a student of all things that go "bang".

~Mako

PS  All content is subject to Quality Control checking and proofing by Abilene...
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Online Coffinmaker

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2024, 11:22:47 AM »

 :)Hey !!  ;)

As has been alluded to above, there can be/are certain relationships that have to be consider when one is selecting one's particular projectile.  Principle of course, the the relationship of the Cylinder Chamber Throat to Bore (groove diameter).  This comes especially to the forefront when considering lead projectiles.  With out knowing the specific bore diameter, bullet selection becomes a "crap shoot"

Also of huge importance are the chamber Throats.  Primary purpose of the throat is to maintain bullet alignment from the cartridge to the bore.  The problem enters when the throat is sub bullet/bore diameter.  After one determines Bore, then a projectile, half a thou or a full thou over groove diameter is recommended.  Then the Throat should be the diameter of the projectile perhaps plus half a thou.  If the throat is sub-size, it will first act as a tiny "bore obstruction" boosting chamber pressure and increasing "felt recoil."  Then the Throat swages the bullet to that sub size and the bullet just kind of rattles down the bore, increasing leading and contributing to inaccuracy.  Usually.

So how is it then, when we swage a Round Ball down in the Chamber, well sub bore diameter, the stupid thing will group just fine.  Shooting just as accurate as most suppository shooters.  Atz Oxymoron.  Really.  So, why don't we just skip ALL of this super technical fecal matter and just load Roun Ball in our Suppository Shooters???

Harrumpff

Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2024, 02:37:15 PM »
:)Hey !!  ;)

So how is it then, when we swage a Round Ball down in the Chamber, well sub bore diameter, the stupid thing will group just fine.  Shooting just as accurate as most suppository shooters.  Atz Oxymoron.  Really.  So, why don't we just skip ALL of this super technical fecal matter and just load Roun Ball in our Suppository Shooters???

Harrumpff

Spoken like a true Moss Back... a Curmudgeon extraordinaire... Our Coffin Maker.

When you only get a contact patch like this on these two Ø.454 (or Ø.457, I can't remember now)  Balls driven down the barrel of a a Gen 1 SAA  you can get away with almost anything.  I'll look up the diameters when I get home.  That was 12 or 13 years ago.



The only man I know who uses iron Banded wheels on his truck instead of a pneumatic tires.

And you are correct, there are a few variables.  The Throat probably being number one and the groove diameter being number two in importance.

"There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?"

~Mako
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Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2024, 04:16:19 PM »
Does anybody know what the throats would be on a .45 ACP cylinder?

The reason I ask is because my 3rd Gen Colt's regular .45 Colt cylinder has .455 - .456" diameter throats.  If the .45 ACP has .451 - .452" throats I bet the Cowboy Special could be a tack driver.

Lonesome and the rest,
I have been cooling my heels and perusing files on my computer and posts from over a decade on this site, I found my information on the Gen 1 Colt I have.




I don't remember the topic anymore it might have been a discussion about Conversion Cylinder dimensions, but I was measuring bores and cylinders.  That cylinder will pass a Ø.455+ gauge pin but not a .456.  The grove diameter is definitely Ø.454 as measured on those two balls, the land diameter would accept a Ø.442- pin all of the way through, but the Ø.442+ pin was tight and stuck after about 1 inch.

That's my revolver, it is a "family gun".  It was made in 1896 and is not marked as a Smokeless "approved" frame.  1896 was the "transition" year. However, it does have the push button cylinder pin release.  I have heard arguments and read a couple of books considered to be the authority on SSAs that the buttons started to replace the screws as early as 1892 and was phased in as Colt's had their frames already set up one way or another.

So, I guess my point is that the older Colts used to be relatively tight in the throats considering they used Ø.454 bullets.  It seems the modern revolvers S&W and Colt's actually often have looser throats compared to the original revolver it was chambered in when you considering the bullets were Ø.454 back then.    A Ø.455 throat to a Ø.454 bore is about as perfect as you could ask for.

~Mako
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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2024, 04:39:15 PM »

 :)  WHAT??  Curmudgeon??  Extraordinaire??  Why Sir, I'll have you know I strongly RESEMBLE that.  8)  So There.  And I prefer STONE wheels  ::)  And Coffinmaker is ONE WURD!!  Take That  :o 

Which brings about one of my Buggaboos and annoyances whilst practicing the Dark Art of Gun Plumbing.  RUGER.  Purportedly the most superb of superb of Single Action tools.  Hornswagel.  I never met a Ruger I liked.  Ruger be famous, or infamous for delivering their marvelously magical Vaqueros with grossly undersize throats.  In any caliber.  What crap.  They ALL needed the throats reamed.

Hummmmm.  Plastics.  Really??  Plastics.  I Am Reviewing The Situation (Stoled famous movie line).  Burma Shave

Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2024, 09:26:45 PM »
And Coffinmaker is ONE WURD!!  Take That  :o 

Oh wow!! Mako is one wurd too, we must be related.

~Mako
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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2024, 11:04:38 AM »

Brotherhood of Long Lost Cousins perhaps??  Could it Be??  Zounds!!

Offline DeaconKC

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2024, 06:57:09 PM »
Just one note on actual S&W 1917 revolvers. Their barrels have rifling set up for FMJ bullets. Unless you use a very hard cast bullet, it will not play well with non-jacketed bullets.
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Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2024, 11:56:54 PM »
Just one note on actual S&W 1917 revolvers. Their barrels have rifling set up for FMJ bullets. Unless you use a very hard cast bullet, it will not play well with non-jacketed bullets.

Deacon,
Who told you that?

~Mako
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Offline Mako

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2024, 11:45:07 AM »
Deacon,
The reason I ask about the statement "Their barrels have rifling set up for FMJ bullets. Unless you use a very hard cast bullet, it will not play well with non-jacketed bullets" is because there is a lot of “common knowledge” floating around the internet and it even pervades the S&W collectors community.  Once it is said it gets repeated without evidence or even measurement.

The M1917 started out as an “Americanized” version of the S&W the British bought chambered in the .455 Mark II Webley cartridge, it was basically a S&W Hand Ejector (First Model).  Now go look up the dimensions for a .455 Webley, they are larger than the .45 ACP.  Some of the early M1917 revolvers in .45 ACP even used that original .455 Webley barrel, you have to know the vintage of a M1917 to even guess what the rifling dimensions might be.

BUT, then they started producing barrels specifically for the .45 ACP and it will surprise you to know what the land and groove dimensions were.  The ones I have measured have the Lands at Ø.443 or Ø.444 and the Grove diameters were Ø.454 or Ø.455.  They can argue all they want, I have actual measurable barrels and the tools to measure them.

SOOOOO… What does shallow groove mean? Shallow as compared to what?  The Nominal dimension for the Lands on a National Match 1911 .45 ACP barrel are Ø.4410 +.0015/-.0000 for the lands and Ø.4505 +.0015/-.0000 for the groove.  That means the nominal groove depth is .00475”.  Sounds pretty shallow when you look at it that way.  You can take a DEAD  SOFT H&G 68 200gr SWC and almost stack the holes (a bit of an exaggeration) at 25 yards using a Ransom Rest.  The Jacketed 230 Match and 185 Jacketed Match ammo really don’t do any better.

Look at this illustration:  This is what Kimber was using 29 years ago when Jerico first started making the 1911s.



Does anyone say the 1911 barrel with a .00475” groove cannot shoot anything except Jacketed or HARD lead bullets?

I have rebarreled a  S&W 1917 and have the M1917 barrel around somewhere in my mountain of boxes from storage.  I have owned a couple as well, I mainly shot either lead 230gr bullets or H&G 68 SWCs through them.  Based on the one I put a shortened 1950 barrel on and my experience with shooting a lot of S&W .45 ACP revolvers I can tell you the barrel rifling is pretty much the same as you find on a S&W 1950, a S&W 1955 and the current Model 25s which are just the new numbering for the 1955 (the 1950 became the Model 26).  The major differences are the barrel profile and rib changed from the M1950 and remains the same today on the Mod 25.  The other difference is that the newer M25 and M625 no longer have the pin through the threads on the top of the barrel extension locking it to the frame.

Look at these pictures:
 

Both barrels are M1950, I no longer have any loose 1955 barrels.  Both of those barrels have a Land diameter that will pass a Ø.443+ gauge pin and the groove diameter is Ø.453-  That is a groove depth of .0050” (sounds awfully close to .00475”, but then again, what is 250 millionths among friends?)  Those cylinders will pass a Ø.454+ gauge pin.

A tuned M1950 or M1955 will also shoot incredibly tight groups with almost anything you stuff in them.  They even shoot well (but not as good as .45ACP) when .45 Colt cylinders are added to them.  That is with the same bullets too.  The advantage of the .45 Colt is that you can shoot those 250gr bullets and even heavier if you have a mind to.  I even have box of .45ACP loaded with 250gr bullets around here somewhere.  They don't feed reliably in a 1911 but shoot "okay" in a revolver, they were loaded decades ago and I ran across them during a move.

Deacon, this is no reflection on you, you're just repeating what the "experts" say it is...  It's too bad they are not diligent students or good at collecting data.  I’m sorry, but I get a bit tired of reading things I know there is no basis for.  I know I don’t know everything (not even a trillionth of a fraction of everything) but there are some things I do know.  I also know there is a LOT of bad advice, conventional wisdom and “that’s the way it was done back then” for Black Powder.  Most of it is WRONG.

I think I will start a topic of "Things we all know, but are wrong about Real Powder".  But not now, I would get pissy about it.

I'm sorry,  but I've been cooped up in a convention center, got home late yesterday and just finished "doctoring" 2 one week old chicks who had "Pasty Butt", replaced 3 Guinea Keets that didn't make it from last week and it seems to have made me grumpy.

I almost swallowed my tongue at the Farm Store early this morning when I was getting replacements (they guarantee them  within reason), and the guy at the register asked if I wanted to "exchange" the Keets for new ones.  The woman next to him just rolled her eyes.  I told him, "I don't think you would have wanted me to bring those in and slap them on your counter..."  Well I do get some simple pleasure from people's obtuse reasoning...

~Mako
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Offline DeaconKC

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Re: .45 Cowboy Special
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2024, 09:17:30 PM »
I have 3 of the beasts and had at least three more S&W 1917s over the years. I too, thought it was hogwash, but... I have seen that the 1917s with US marked barrels all needed 454 lead bullets OR hard cast 452s or FMJs to group decently. The 2 Colt 1917s I have had did not exhibit this behavior. I have not had any commercial built S&Ws in .45ACP, so I cannot speak for them.
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