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New Service 455 Eley

Learning about guns. I inherited this Colt New Service 455 Eley, Serial Number 121364, from my Father in-law. Doing a little google research it was probably manufactured between 1916 -1917, but more likely 1917. I am having difficulty in determining the ammo that I can use. It is in good shape. My son remembers his Grandfather using half-moon clips, but I simply can not remember. I have attached photos, but in doing my research someone suggested that if one could insert the width of a quarter that it may have been modified to use half moon clips. So .... any help on what kind of ammo I can safely use? Do I need Half Moon Clips? Will it shoot Fiocchi 455 262 grain without clips?

Appreciate any insight!

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
Hunter S. Thompson
 

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welcome to the forum, you are correct in that you gun was made around 1917, all those little stamps are british proofmarks, meaning it was sent to england then came back. the 1917 army was made to use 1/2 moon clips, the gap is more than the width of a quarter, like a quarter and a half, the gap on a reg cylinder is a quarter, so i'll say your cylinder has not been altered. so it will need .455 ammo. like the fiocchi you found.
 

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What has been said above. I know the modern Fiochhi ammo is not that great in this calibre. Been a number of old guns damaged using this stuff in Australia. Would suggest you reload for this old timer. Taking it very easy as you go.Around 6g of Unique will give you approx 700+fps with a 260g lead pill. Factory ball was about 610/620fps.Its a fine looking old revolver, congrats.
 

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I'm not so sure...that cylinder looks shaved to me.

Here are some great pics of a .455 New Service....compare the that distance between the cylinder notches and the rear edge of the cylinder to yours.

Colt** New Service
 

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The Cylinder does have the look of one which has been 'shaved'...or, more and better lit images would be good.

If it has been 'converted' ( as so many were ) then just because it CAN chamber .45 ACP with Moon Clips, does not really mean that firing same would be the best thing for it.

.45 ACP runs a lot higher pressure than the .455 Webley of the day did, ( and in addition, the .45 ACP is usually a .452 Bullet, which is too small for the Bore, so, the .45 ACP Hardball Bullet may not acquire much for a Rifeling impress, and accuracy may suffer ) and, some scholars/researchers/afficionados maintain that one should not do it, since the Cylinders for the .455 New Services were supposedly not made to the same specs as those intended for the use of the .45 ACP and Moonclips.

Anyway, please post some more images, closer views of the Cylinder Gap and so on, and the rear of the Cylinder.


I myself have become fond of the old .455 Cartridge and I feel sorry that so many of the WWI era Webleys, Colt New Services, and S&W 2nd Model Hand Ejectors originally chambering it, ended up being later 'converted' to chamber .45 ACP with Moon Clips, in order to make them more sell-able to the Public after WWII.

.455 really is a charming old Cartridge, and, delivers enough whallop to be plenty Okay-enough for what it was intended to do.
 

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Headspace (cylinder rear to recoil shield) is about 0.060"-0.065" for .455, and about 0.100" for moon-clipped .45ACP. A quick measurement with a caliper will tell you what you have.

In any event, the gun is a commercial New Service, not a M1917, whatever year it was manufactured. .455 was its original caliber.

Buck
 

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A good many of the S&W triple-locks (known as the .455 Mark II Hand Ejector 1st Model) went to Great Britain during early WWI. Later, many of those found their way back to the USA where they were insulted by having their chambers re-bored for the .45 Colt. I don't know if any of the Colt New Service revolvers originally made in .455 were similarly re-chambered, but it's possible. Some of the converted S&Ws are easy to spot, as there is usually (but not always) a recess for the cartridge rim cut in each chamber, as the .45 Colt rim is a bit thicker than the .455 rim. I don't know what a New Service converted to .45 Colt would look like, as I have not seen one. In any event, if you can chamber a .45 Colt casing completely, and close the cylinder, it has probably been converted from .455 to .45 Colt.
 

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Some of the converted S&Ws are easy to spot, as there is usually (but not always) a recess for the cartridge rim cut in each chamber, as the .45 Colt rim is a bit thicker than the .455 rim. I don't know what a New Service converted to .45 Colt would look like, as I have not seen one.
A .455 New Service converted to .45 Colt looks the same, with the countersunk recess for the .45 Colt rim in each chamber mouth. I have one, had it for years. That conversion method allows it to use either .455 or .45 Colt.
 

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Good to know. I have seen S&W .455-to-.45 Colt conversions without the chamber recesses, but they had the rear of the window (at the recoil shield) shaved slightly to allow adequate headspace for the .45 Colt rim. You are correct, the .455 cartridge will work OK in a .45 Colt chamber. A conversion from .455 to .45 ACP would require more noticeable machining of the rear of the cylinder to accommodate either the thick-rimmed .45 AR or .45 ACP in moon (full, half, or third) clips. I have never knowingly seen such a conversion to .45 ACP from a Colt or S&W .455 revolver, but I can see how they could exist. I would think that conversion unusual to find in comparison to a .455-to-.45 Colt conversion, the latter being simpler to perform.
 

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A conversion of a .455 cylinder could be done a few different ways if you think about it.

1. A .455 cylinder can be countersunk (and have the chambers lengthened), as we discussed here, and would then allow
proper headspace with both .455 and .45 Colt, or

2. A .455 cylinder could have the rear machined or faced off flat (and have chambers lengthened) enough to work with .45 Colt only or

3. A .455 clyinder could have the rear machined or faced off even more and would work with .45ACP in clips/.45 Auto Rim.
 

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Or you could get a replacement cylinder in .45 Colt or one from a M1917 Colt. That would probably take a little gunsmithing to get the timing and lockup right.
 

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Or you could get a replacement cylinder in .45 Colt or one from a M1917 Colt. That would probably take a little gunsmithing to get the timing and lockup right.
That option would work, too. I had one set up like that, once, as well.

I think the majority that were brought back to the US by importers for re-sale went through one of the three methods that used the original .455 cylinder, re-worked to a caliber that was easier to obtain in the US at the time. This eliminated the cost of buying additional parts, and only relatively simple machining had to be done, as the .455 cylinders were already fitted and timed to the revolvers.
 
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