Author Topic: How did we get these "Calibers"?  (Read 2319 times)

Offline Mako

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How did we get these "Calibers"?
« on: April 08, 2024, 01:23:22 PM »
    Ever wonder how we got:
    • .38 Special, .38 Short Colt, .38 Long Colt .38 S&W?  The designations that is.  Yet, when we make the .38 spl 1/10 of an inch longer it becomes a .357 Magnum (not to mention the other longer .357 cartridges) 
    • How did we get  the .44 Russian, .44 Special and .44 Magnum?  Aren't those actually .43 caliber? 
    • Why is a .45 Colt (not Long Colt, no such beast) really a .45 caliber? 
    • People were definitely confused in the 19th century, some were calling the .44 Henry Flat  Rimfire a .42 caliber. The shiiping records from Colt's as reported by McDowell shows these mistakes.

There is a particular tie in for those of us familiar with the Colt's and Remington Percussion revolvers.  Even more so when considering the Conversion Revolvers and the newly minted cartridge guns that were coming out during this transition in the late 1860s and early 1870s.

What say you all?  Why are these calibers like .38 special and .44 magnum called that today?  What was the path to get there?

~Mako
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Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2024, 11:51:12 AM »
Really? No interest?

Just trying to get some discussions going..  Man, this place was/is dead...  I looked at the number of topics I have started and my replies and it looks like I am carrying most of the water here.

Maybe I should get some more aliases and I could carry on conversations with myself.  The voices in my head would like that.

~Mako
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Offline Galen

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2024, 04:16:50 PM »
Mr Mako you are a man amongst men. I added some comments a while back questioning 45 long Colt. Personally I never heard of until a few years back. It is and will always be .45 Colt as made since 1872. I'm glad to there are still perfectionist

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #3 on: Today at 04:10:33 PM »

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2024, 06:43:47 PM »
Galen,
I'm not a total perfectionist and I usually forgive people when they say .45 Long Colt or things like "clip" for a magazine.  In most cases it doesn't matter and I am not always esoteric.  I do understand how that people in the 19th century might have called the .45 Colt (a Long Colt) because the Army started buying all of their ammunition in the .45 Schofield length to eliminate logistic and supply issues where the .45 Colt ammo would be delivered to locations where they needed the shorter cartridge.

However the Army S&W cartridge was different than the original .45 used in the #3 Schofields.  The new shorter cartridge worked in both the SAAs and the S&W revolvers the Army purchased.

The thing is I don't think anyone outside of people like the ones here generally know that.  They have just been incorrectly saying .45 Long Colt because pundits and others keep saying it.  I was at a show Saturday and even had a guy selling ammunition argue with me when the guy I was with noticed the .45 "Long Colt" sign and mentioned "hey they have Long Colt again".  I laughed and told him what I told you.  The vendor over heard me and "corrected me".  I laughed and pointed to the boxes from several different manufactures and told him, "well tell the ammo companies because they have no idea it is "Long Colt".  He then proceeded to tell me that it was on SOME of the boxes he sold, and I replied, "well obviously not the ones on your table".

There are  "Long" and "Short" cartridges like all of the many permutations of the .38 in both S&W and Colt.  I actually think this was where the misnomer ".45 Long Colt" started .  The Army adopted the .38 Long Colt as their pistol cartridge in 1892.  It was the subject of derision and consternation through the Spanish American War and until it was "retired" in 1909.  So people were used to hearing about the .38 Long Colt, it makes sense they would later call the .45 Colt the .45 Long Colt especially after the .45 ACP came out and it was also a "Colt's Pistol".

But since we deal with a lot of obsolete or obsolescent cartridges it is important we are specific. 

Case in point:
My father was an Air Force Fighter Pilot and was not a hunter or shooter.  He owned one revolver, a Smith and Wesson .38/44 Heavy duty.  That is a large N frame revolver now identified as a model 20 by some S&W enthusiasts.  In fact he was in Korea flying Sabres with the 39th and he decided he didn't like the 1911s  they were issued (once again he was listening to his fellow airmen that said it was "inaccurate and kicked like a mule").  So he wrote my Grandmother and asked her to buy him a .38 revolver, she went to the hardware store and bought him one and a holster and cleaning kit.  Put it in the U.S. Mail and sent it to him at K-13 (Suwon).  Amazing what we could do before 1968 and much worse the Patriot Act.

So moving forward to about 1977.  I was over at my parents house and Dad was in the garage (he had a collection of Volkswagons), he asked me to go to his sock drawer in his bedroom and get the key to his '63 Beetle.  When I opened the drawer I noticed a handful of .38 WCF cartridges.  I took one with me back to the garage and asked him why he had those shells.  He told me my Grandfather (who was an outdoorsman) gave them to him because he needed some ammo for his revolver (I don't know why, he never had any the 18 years I lived with him).

I went back to his room and retrieved his pistol taking it back to the garage and asked him to try and load it.  Trying to put a 40 caliber cartridge in a .38 special is a bit tough.  So we had two individuals who thought they knew what they needed.  My dad who knew he had a .38 and Grandfather who was the best rifleman I have ever known except for one MSgt at Quantico.  He shot  a .30-30, a Rem Model 24 in .22 short, and an old Belgian double in 12 gauge like every sporting goods and dry goods store in the U.S. had sold.  He had the family Model '73 in .44 WCF but rarely shot it.  He had two pistols, a SAA made in 1896 (.45 Colt) left to him by a man he help nurse while he had cancer, and a Colt's 1860 given to my Great Grandfather by the man who carried it in the War between the States made in 1861.  I only ever saw him shoot each of those  on one occasion each.  He didn't know anything about a .38 special, he had a box full of old cartridges, those .38 WCF (.38-40) being some of them.  My Grandfather was a rifleman (didn't know 'nuthin about no handguns) and the adage "beware the man with only one gun" applied to him, he knew his rifles and carried them almost daily when out on the job.

I have been told dad was an aggressive and excellent pilot by the men he flew with, he flew Sabres in Korea and Phantoms in Vietnam and retired with Sr. Command Pilot Wings.  He had 1 and 1/2 kills to his credit in Korea, and was the lead gun with a wingman,  but once he was on the ground he actually considered his job done.  A tiger in the sky and a pussy cat on the ground.

Yep, correct identification is important.  I still laugh thinking what would have happened if Dad had ever heard someone breaking  into the house one night.  He would be like Barney Fife trying to load his one bullet.  After that I bought him a speed loader and a box of 158gr Jacketed Hollow Points.  I still have the full box of ammo ,the speed loader (still loaded), the revolver, the original S&W "Gold and Blue" box it came in, the holster and the Hoppes cleaning kit.  Everything is immaculate.  So I always try to be precise when describing ammunition.  I have more stories about others not realizing the differences as well.

Oh, and you may have noticed I move between Pistol and Revolver (when describing revolvers) as fits my fancy, so I'm not a perfectionist.

~Mako

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Offline Dave T

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2024, 12:51:24 PM »
Some of the odd caliber descriptions come from early self contained rounds loaded with outside lubed projectiles. Most famous of those would be the 44 American by S&W and the 44 Russian. The American round was closer to 44 caliber with it's outside lubed bullet measuring about .438" according to one reference I found. That number rounds up easily to "44" and that designation rolls off the tongue much easier than "four thirty-eight". When Russia decided to by a bunch of S&W #3 top breaks they specified the bullet and its lubricant be inside the case to avoid contamination in the field. Smith & Wesson stayed with the same basic case diameter but shrunk the bullet down to a "43 caliber" to fit inside the "44" case, but the easy to remember "44" designation stayed. The rest is history: 44 Russian became the 44 Special, which became the 44 Magnum.

And to add a little spice to the 45 Colt vs 45 Long Colt debate, some of the earliest writings I've found refer to the new military "strap pistol" as being chambered for the "45 Colt's" cartridge.  (smiley face goes here)

Dave

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2024, 01:00:49 PM »
Dave,
Very true, and then the marketing departments did NOT want to make the new style "Central Fire" cartridges seem less manly than the previous conversion cartridges with bored through chambers.

.36 Navys became .38s with a heeled bullet the same diameter as the case.  The .44 Army became a .44 with the heeled bullet.  Those all make a lot of sense marketing wise.

But there is one that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE! care to guess which cartridge that is?

Step up and supply your guess to that one folks.

~Mako
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Offline U.S.M.R.

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2024, 01:52:03 PM »
Actually the early Russian cartridge used a 472 gr. outside lubricated bullet.
I’ve read that the 32 special, .38 special, and the .44 special cartridges were made to be loaded with either black or smokeless powder for people that didn’t believe smokeless was here to stay.

Offline DeaconKC

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2024, 02:19:48 PM »
Dave,
Very true, and then the marketing departments did NOT want to make the new style "Central Fire" cartridges seem less manly than the previous conversion cartridges with bored through chambers.

.36 Navys became .38s with a heeled bullet the same diameter as the case.  The .44 Army became a .44 with the heeled bullet.  Those all make a lot of sense marketing wise.

But there is one that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE! care to guess which cartridge that is?

Step up and supply your guess to that one folks.

~Mako
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Offline Hair Trigger Jim

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2024, 02:35:47 PM »
.38 WCF

I once saw a thread where someone suggested the "38-40" was actually correct but just written with the powder first, 40 grains of powder and a .38 caliber bullet.  It was a forum that I wasn't a member of, and the conversation had long since ended, but I wanted so badly to explain how incorrect that was on several levels, starting with the fact that it wasn't originally a "38-40" but just a .38!

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2024, 03:42:27 PM »
Well, there are two on the right track.

But to Hair Trigger I think that may have been someone trying to force logic into why Winchester would call it a .38.  I have heard that argument before because someone found there were some later boxes marked noting they had 38 gr of powder with a 180gr bullet.  Every box I have seen offered as evidence listed the cartridges as being suitable for 1873 and 1892 rifles which date them at least to 1892.  The earliest boxes had no such statement, see below as an example.

Remember it was not .38-40 to begin with, it was exactly what DeaconKC called it, .38 WCF no mention of the 40. 

A lot of people will tell you that you can't get 40 grains of black powder in a .44 WCF or .45 COLT with modern solid head cases.  You can. you can also cram 40 grains into a .38 WCF case.

But, Hair Trigger brings something to the table.

I wish the person who could tell us what he disassembled was around. I didn't ever see John's final matrix of his measured commercial ammunition charges.  Did anyone on this forum ever see one?  We can try the "way back machine" to retrieve the information if he did.

~Mako
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Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2024, 04:14:57 PM »
Actually the early Russian cartridge used a 472 gr. outside lubricated bullet.
I’ve read that the 32 special, .38 special, and the .44 special cartridges were made to be loaded with either black or smokeless powder for people that didn’t believe smokeless was here to stay.

Hey USMR,
( I keep thinking that alias is USMCR, which throws me)

Actually they were loaded with three types of powder; Black Powder, Semi-Smokeless and Smokeless.  It wasn't that they didn't think Smokeless was here to stay, it was the firearms themselves.  I have a Colt's SAA made in 1896, that was the year they started adding the triangle P to revolvers that had been proofed or certified to smokeless pressures.  Mine is not, I wouldn't shoot it with a modern .45 Colt load even though it is probably no different than the marked revolvers.  I could shoot a moderate smokeless in it (but that is WRONG), but why bother when I can use the stuff it was intended for.

The Semi-Smokeless is a whole different story.  It has three qualities, bulk (like Trail Boss), lower pressures, and the possibility of higer velocities.  Most firearms still around at the turn of the century were originally built when only real powder was available but the siren call of "cleaner", lower smoke and more importantly higher velocity lead people to use Semi-Smokeless. 

It used to be you crammed as much as you could into the cartridge and you maxed out your velocity.  Semi-Smokless gave you more head room while still keeping the pressures in the range you wouldn't "gunny bag" your prized firearm.  It was also very important for Shotgunners who were used to "square loads", the bulk filled more of the hull and there was new loading data developed for it.

There were even rifles in calibers that catered to Black Powder with different twist rates and rifling depth into the 20th century.  I actually believe it was all a mistake and total deviltry.  Those that were lured down the path of Smokiless Powder have been blinded to the true calling of the one and only...

~Mako
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2024, 07:47:55 PM »

 :) Well Shucks  ;)

I'm actually one of those "Arm Chair" sticklers.  I never paid any real attention to where our "calibers" and designations actually came from.  Except .45 Colt.  It's my Opine the .45 Government confused lots of folks, even though it was never extensively marketed for civilian consumption.  Again, I tend to blame those "All Knowing" ignorant Pundits who just have to see their Opine in print, even when totally wrong.

At my advanced degree of maturity I just can't get wrapped around too many axels.  So I stick with my only foible "45 Colt" even if a 38-40 is actually a .401 and a 44-40 is actually a .43 whilst the .45 Colt is actually a honest .45.  Burma Shave

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2024, 08:13:46 PM »
:) Well Shucks  ;)

I'm actually one of those "Arm Chair" sticklers.  I never paid any real attention to where our "calibers" and designations actually came from.  Except .45 Colt.  It's my Opine the .45 Government confused lots of folks, even though it was never extensively marketed for civilian consumption.  Again, I tend to blame those "All Knowing" ignorant Pundits who just have to see their Opine in print, even when totally wrong.

At my advanced degree of maturity I just can't get wrapped around too many axels.  So I stick with my only foible "45 Colt" even if a 38-40 is actually a .401 and a 44-40 is actually a .43 whilst the .45 Colt is actually a honest .45.  Burma Shave

I'm trying to be mature and I thought I had reached puberty but I'm still waiting for my foibles to drop,

~Mako
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Offline FriscoCounty

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2024, 10:19:12 PM »
Let's start with the 1851 Colt.  It was a .36 caliber pistol because the convention was to use the bore size of .36".  The groove was about .375" and the cylinder bore diameter was .380" (this is for originals not modern copies). So far so good?  Now, when cartridge conversions came about, the rear of the cylinder was milled off and than was it.  The cartridges used heeled bullets so the case diameter, the bullet, and the cylinder bore were all .38". 

The first cartridge was the .38 Colt for use in 1851 and 1861 conversions.  The name was based on the diameter of the bullet.  It was later renamed the .38 Short Colt. 

The next cartridge in the series was the .38 Long from UMC.  It was a .38" heeled bullet cartridge with the case lengthened to allow more powder capacity and was developed by UMC for Colt's Newline revolvers and centerfire conversions of the 1851 and 1861 Colt revolvers requested by the US Navy.  Because it was developed for this contract was also known as the .38 Navy.

The came the .38 Long Colt. It was used in the Colt M1892 revolver.  This black powder cartridge was internally lubed.  As such the diameter of the bullet was now the same as the inside diameter of the case and not the outside.  Its bullet diameter was now .357".  The case of the .38LC was 0.14" longer than the .38L to allow the case to cover the lube grooves and still have the same overall length and powder capacity.  This was also known as the .38 Army.

After the .38 Long Colt came the S&W .38 Special.  The case was again lengthened to 1.15" and reduced in diameter to .379".  It was transitional in that it was introduced just before smokeless became common and was loaded with smokeless soon after it introduction.

Next came the Remington .357 Magnum.  The case was lengthened again and was a true smokeless cartridge.
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Offline Hair Trigger Jim

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2024, 11:12:24 PM »

The next cartridge in the series was the .38 Long from UMC.  It was a .38" heeled bullet cartridge...

The came the .38 Long Colt. It was used in the Colt M1892 revolver.  This black powder cartridge was internally lubed...

While this sequence of development is correct, historically, the names ".38 Long" vs ".38 Long Colt" (as you probably know) didn't necessarily distinguish between the heeled and inside-lubricated cartridges.  For example, I have a 3/4 full box by Winchester (still sealed on one side) labeled "38 Cal. Long Center Fire" with headstamps reading "W.R.A.Co. .38 LONG", but loaded with inside-lubricated, not heeled, bullets.  Of course, if you look at the end of the box, not the top, you'd think the cartridge is called "38 Cal. Colts. C. F."  And if anybody can explain the period after "Colts", please let me know!

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2024, 07:00:45 PM »
The first cartridge was the .38 Colt for use in 1851 and 1861 conversions.  The name was based on the diameter of the bullet.  It was later renamed the .38 Short Colt.

The next cartridge in the series was the .38 Long from UMC.  It was a .38" heeled bullet cartridge with the case lengthened to allow more powder capacity and was developed by UMC for Colt's Newline revolvers and centerfire conversions of the 1851 and 1861 Colt revolvers requested by the US Navy.  Because it was developed for this contract was also known as the .38 Navy.

The came the .38 Long Colt. It was used in the Colt M1892 revolver.  This black powder cartridge was internally lubed.  As such the diameter of the bullet was now the same as the inside diameter of the case and not the outside.  Its bullet diameter was now .357".  The case of the .38LC was 0.14" longer than the .38L to allow the case to cover the lube grooves and still have the same overall length and powder capacity.  This was also known as the .38 Army.

Frisco,
I'm still not sure about the .38 Colt and the .38 Long. My understanding is that the conversions were actually .38 Colt which started out as a .88" long case which was truly a heeled bullet design with a Ø.375 Groove diameter and then morphed into the longer 1.03" case which at some point they called the "Long Colt".  I think part of the problem with identifying the actual cartridge type is that Colt's stamped their revolvers as ".38 Colt".  I believe the .38 Short is only .755" long.  I have read where 1877s were said to use the original .88" cases and then later the 1.03 LC length cases, but I have never researched it.  I really haven't spent much time studying the double action 19th century revolvers like the '77, .78 and '92.

However the 1851 and 1861 Conversions whether actually from Colt's or secondary gunsmiths do interest me and they definitely used heeled bullets of ≈ Ø.375.  and they were truly .38s.  I know the U.S. Navy actually had some 1861s and 1851's converted, (several thousand between both models).  I've actually handled one 1861 Conversion and the chambers appeared shorter than a .38 Long Colt (but I didn't have anything to measure with and probably would have been slapped nekid if I had stuck anything down a chamber.)  I know it is reported that the Colt's conversions for the Navy were chambered in .38 Long Colt, but I tend to take anything concerning .38 Colt, .38 Long and .38 LC as "reported" without some measurements being offered.  Because it was a heeled bullet you could probably stuff an LC into a chamber that was intended for a .88" case.  And you can definitely chamber a non-heeled .38 Long Colt into one which is probably how some people "verified" the chambers they were measuring was a .38 LC chambering  (that's pretty weak...)

SAAMI specs for a .38 LC throat are Ø.3585 +.004/-.0000, I know for fact they couldn't "convert" a true '51 or '61 cylinder to that smaller diameter because it started out as a Ø.375 to Ø.378 chamber mouth.  The cylinder I looked at basically looked like it was opened up slightly to maybe Ø.381 to Ø.383 and there was basically no tapered throat, just the remnant of the original bore for the percussion revolver ball or bullet.  There was a small constriction, but I would love to actually get real dimension from one.

It is an interesting study in marketing psychology as to why they continued to use the ".38" designation on later revolvers when they were truly .36 caliber and .44 caliber for revolvers that were/are .43 caliber.

This is one of the reasons the .38 WCF befuddles me. why would they name the cartridge as a much smaller caliber?  Well, it was a rifle company and my only theory is that they were worried about confusion with the .44WCF.

Any more information about the differences between the .38 Colt, .38 Long and .38 Long Colt would be appreciated.  I'm familiar with the differences between them and the .38 Short Colt, I'm not asking about that.  Do you know any more about the case length change from .88" to 1.03", and were there ever any heeled bullets loaded in the longer case (also revolvers chambered for the LC case but needing a Ø.375 heeled bullet for a Ø.375 groove?  There is

Regards,
Mako
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Offline Dave T

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2024, 08:58:02 AM »
This is one of the reasons the .38 WCF befuddles me. why would they name the cartridge as a much smaller caliber?  Well, it was a rifle company and my only theory is that they were worried about confusion with the .44WCF.

Mako,

If Winchester had been interested in accurately describing their "new" rifle cartridges, rather than primarily just marketing them, we would have ended up with the 43 Winchester Center Fire and then the 40 Winchester Center Fire a few years later. I bet the latter would have failed given it was introduced after the original 1873 cartridge had a strong hold on the market.

Dave

Offline Mako

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2024, 10:35:50 AM »
Mako,

If Winchester had been interested in accurately describing their "new" rifle cartridges, rather than primarily just marketing them, we would have ended up with the 43 Winchester Center Fire and then the 40 Winchester Center Fire a few years later. I bet the latter would have failed given it was introduced after the original 1873 cartridge had a strong hold on the market.

Dave
Dave,
You of course are right, but the .44 WCF  does meet the marketing paradigm, instead of calling it a 43 Winchester.  However the 38 WCF is an enigma.  It doesn't seem to follow any naming convention or a marketing angle.  why make something seem LESS "powerful".

I like things to make sense and there is in fact an answer for everything.  The answer may not be what we expect and sometimes boils down to a clerical error or bad ad copy.  One of the things I learned years ago is that there really is a reason for everything, we just don't always have access to the information.

I have read that the 38 WCF was "introduced" by Winchester in 1874, but according to the Win 1873 production records there wasn't one produced until 1879 and not shipped until 1880.  I have no idea where the 1874 date came from (but it is probably from the most "ACCURATE" source of information there is, Wikipedia)  and that will be repeated over and over along with it being reposted on many sites.  My personal experience with wikipedia in a field I am actually considered to have expertise in, is that it is OFTEN factually wrong and since it is a crowd sourced data base the popular mythos of the day is what will be recorded and blindly defended without supporting facts or data.

I hear the "facts" as reported on various internet site repeated as a holy tautology, "well I read it on _________ fill in the blank".  Wikipedia while having some useful information is treated as a canonized work and must be accepted.

I believe that Colt's was the culprit.  They introduced the "Frontier Six Shooter" in 1877.  They would not use the .44 WCF cartridge designation and thus the .44-40 was "born".  .44-40 is a a type of homophone and could be included as a "confusable" because not only is it a homophone but numerically speaking 40 and 44 are very similar.  Try saying .44-40 three times and then immediately switch to .40-40.  I have a hard time, it would be very easy to get the wrong ammo or mix up the caliber you were talking about.  By the time Winchester produced the first 1873 in 38 WCF (and it was the first firearm sold in this caliber) the Frontier Six Shooter was a hit and probably helping Winchester's sales as well.  I can imagine the engineering/production/marketing meeting where they were trying to determine what they would call the cartridge.  I'm sure they were very aware that the 44 WCF was called .44-40 everywhere.  Isn't it interesting that Colt's followed the convention set by Winchester and called it a .38-40 after Winchester's 38 WCF?

I wonder if the meeting I described above was at a Denny's at 6am like the naming of .40 S&W happened with the S&W engineering team who had just worked all night to produce the first 10mm short pistols.  It was a last ditch effort  to try and assuage the FBI team that was at S&W trying to get out of the S&W 1076 contract and switch to SIG.  The team ran through a list of names, everyone making their arguments (the leader had been the "Centimeter" until reason prevailed and everyone agreed that was already takne by the wildcat and finally settled on the .40 S&W), surprisingly S&W marketing kept it after the FBI rejected their prototypes offered that morning and the S&W 4006 was born.  And, before you jump in, yes I know the tales of Paul Liebenberg and Whit Collins who worked on the original High Power converted to 40 G&A (therein lies the tale of the Jeff Cooper association with Dornaus and Dixon (Bren 10).  But Tommy Campbell would tell you that while the attributions to Whit and Paul need to be made they did not make the original .40 S&Ws.  ALSO, I love how Steve Melvin (president of course) is given the credit, typical...

Wouldn't that be COINCIDENCE?  The .40 S&W name being born at a meeting with most of the name submissions (10mm types) being thrown out as confusing and perhaps the same happened at Winchester?  Oh... to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting.  I know what happened 34 years ago with the .40 S&W, but I long to know what happened with the 38 WCF.

~Mako
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Offline FriscoCounty

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2024, 07:28:59 PM »
I went through some of my old paper references. The .38 Long was introduced in 1875. It was avalable as both a heeled bullet with a 0.879 case (130 gr bullet 15 gr BP 770 fps) and as an internally lubed bullet with a 1.017" case (150 gr bullet 18 grain BP 770 fps) both with the same overall length (1.324"). 

The 1878 UMC catalog lists the 38 Short adapted to Colt's B.L. Police Revolver and the 38 Long adapted to Colt's Navy Revolver.  Both are heeled, C.F. cartridges.  The 38 short had a 0.765" case. 

My guess is that only Colt produced the internally lubed bullet and UMC produced the heeled bullet, hence the differentiation between the .38 Long and .38 Long (Colt's).  This would fit in with Colt and the .41 cartridge used in the Thunderer.  It was rifled for the heeled cartridge, but Colt stopped production of the heeled cartridge and only produced the internally lubed version for it. 
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Offline Dave T

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Re: How did we get these "Calibers"?
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2024, 11:39:22 AM »
Mako,

I had a LEO friend (he was with the PD, I was with the SO) who called the 40 S&W the "38-40 Short, Straight, Rimless, Smokeless". Try stamping that on your duty weapon...lol.

As for the 44-40 designation, I read somewhere that name came from Marlin when they introduced their new short action lever rifle in that chambering. There was no way they were going to stamp "44 WCF" on their rifles/carbines so they came up with the 44-40 name. They even loaded their version with 215g bullets, not the 200g RNFP of the Winchester cartridge. I did in fact read that in a real book, not on the Wicki thing.  (smile)

Dave

 

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