I'm not a collector, nor even very conversant with collectible Colts. I do like the study and evolution of handguns, but there are most here who have forgotten more than I'll ever know about Colts. And here is something that has piqued my curiosity.
I have read that during World War I many Colt M-1909 revolvers were converted to M-1917 revolvers, going from the .45 Colt to the .45 ACP cartridge. Supposedly these guns were re-marked to indicate M-1917 configuration. So, from what I've studied, Smith & Wesson devised the method of using the ACP cartridge in a revolver, i.e.via the half moon clips.
Now, from an article in the November 2011 American Rifleman there is an article "M1911 at the NFM" there is a statement "On November 10, 1910, a Board of Officers conducted shooting tests comparing the Colt Model 1910 pistol, the Savage Model M1910 pistol, and a Colt M1909 revolver, all in .45 ACP.
Is this really true? That is, a .45 ACP Colt revolver in 1910? The first Colt M1917 revolvers were bored straight through and depended on half moon clips for proper firing of the rimless cases. Because of the array of cartridges for which test model pistol were chambered, Springfield Arsenal finalized two cartridges of .45 caliber that any future submissions had to fire. These were the .45 M1906 cartridges, identical except that one was rimless for auto pistols and one was rimmed for use in revolvers. Was this maybe the cartridge intended for use in the M1909 revolver?
Who may be able to shed some light on this?
I've never seen (note the qualifier) a 1909 that was converted to .45ACP and remarked.
HOW it would have been remarked is a question.... was the caliber stamped on the barrel or was the bottom of the butt ground down and full Model 1917 marks stamped.
If this was the case, it'd be almost impossible to determine it was originally a Model 1909.
One indication might be the barrel, which on the 1909 didn't have the shoulder at the rear like the M1917.
I'm not clear about the 1909 serial numbers. Where they stamped just on the butt or also on the frame and crane like the Model 1917?
I'd assume the government tests of the automatics used the M1906 .45 ACP and the revolvers used the rimmed version .45 cartridge that had been developed.
Had the revolver been chosen, I'm sure that it would have used the rimmed M1906 cartridge, since the .45 Colt cartridge was considered to be obsolete compared to the new FMJ shorter .45ACP cartridge.
One possible source of information on all this might be to send a S.A.S.E. letter to the American Rifleman Dope Bag and ask the experts.
An NRA member is allowed to send these questions and the American Rifleman Tech staff will answer ONE question per letter.
Since they have the experts, like Canfield on staff, they will likely have some data.
I have my doubts about the story of the Model 1909 Revolvers being reworked to a Model 1917. It would not have been done by Colt, and not aware of any military armory or arsenal capable of doing this, especially for just a few revolvers. Likewise, I have never seen one.
The Model 1909 Colt in the 1910 test used a cartridge produced by Frankford Arsenal that looked like a rimmed .45 ACP. For the tests the Frankford Arsenal revolver ammunition was loaded with a 230 grain lead bullet. As noted above I believe it was called a Model 1906 cartridge.
I have been studying other sources and come up with some (maybe) information on this subject. In his book, US Cartridges and Their Handguns, the late Charles Suydam indicates that any handgun submitted for trials in 1906-1907 had to chamber either one of the .45 M1906 cartridges, the rimless version, or the rimmed version. These tests were conducted in 1905-1906, prior to the M1909 revolver. However, he states that ".........a few Colt double action revolvers chambered for this round were purchased, issued for trial and use in the Phillippines." In view of that, it would seem these were simple commercial Colt New Service revolvers chambered for this round.
Addendum: White and Munhall ( Pistol and Revolver Cartridges, Vol. I ) " The revolver portion of these tests (of 1905-1906) resulted in a number of Colt Revolvers (in caliber .45 M1906 rimmed) being purchased and placed in the hands of selected troops for further experimentation." So these were not M1909Colt revolvers.
Last edited by BobWright; 06-08-2019 at 05:33 PM.
All M1906 cartridges were loaded with a 234 gr. full metal cased bullet. All ammunition used in testing from 1905 on had to handle either of the two Frankford cartridges. The pistol and revolver rounds were loaded to as near identical performance as possible.
Originally Posted by JohnnyP
I went back to my references and it was White and Munhall's work that raised the question of M1909 revolvers being converted to .45 ACP during WW I.