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I was just now thinking of this and did not know the answer. I believe the .41 Colt used in the SAA was what they called a heeled bullet which I believe meant it expanded at the base to form the gas seal with the bore when fired. My wondering was whether the Colt Thunderer, 41c used this same bullet/cartridge or was it designed for a conventional type bullet? Thanks.
 

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No, they are quite different, although they use the same case.
My 1886 Thunderer shoots .387 bullets from an Old West mold (210 gr.). It is hollow based, but not heeled. From what I have read, when the 1877's were first introduced they were .406-.408 heeled, but were later changed to "my" style. I have never found any authoritative information on when, or if, the 1877's were changed from wrought iron to steel, so I shoot BP only in the Thunderer.
My 1901 SAA shoots .409 soft lead bullets that I buy from skhummer. They are heeled. With a rebuilt action by Jim Cornwall, and not a speck of finish remaining, it is my favorite and best shooting SAA. Obviously, the SAA will shoot the Thunderer shells (not accurately), but the SAA shells won't chamber in the Thunderer. I shoot both BP and smokeless in the SAA.
 

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Let me add this: I have a Green Label, Winchester, Picture box with the Colt DA picture on it. They are .41 caliber. On the top, green label info it says: "For Colt's Double Action Pistol". Printed on the brown colored seal around the sides of the box is: "These Cartridges are made expressly for our 41 Caliber Double Action Revolvers, according to our specific directions. We unhesitatingly recommend these for use in this arm". So I wonder if the same boxed ammo received a label with a picture of a SAA with text changed accordingly??
 

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I was just now thinking of this and did not know the answer. I believe the .41 Colt used in the SAA was what they called a heeled bullet which I believe meant it expanded at the base to form the gas seal with the bore when fired. My wondering was whether the Colt Thunderer, 41c used this same bullet/cartridge or was it designed for a conventional type bullet? Thanks.
The Colt M1877 DA's had the same bore size and chamber dimensions as the Colt SAA in 41. So they used the same 41 Colt cartridges. In the beginning the 41 Colt used a healed bullet, externally lubricated. But consumers didn't like the sticky externally lubricated bullets, so the hollow base bullets eventually replaced the healed type.

I never had any problem shooting factory 41 Colt cartridges with smokeless powder in the Colt M1877 DA's. In the early 1960's I shot up the last remaining 41 Colt cartridges from all area hardware stores. They were in green boxes. What wasn't shot in Colt M1877 DA's was used in old Colt SAA's.
 

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I don't know. But to further add to the confusion, both the 1889 Navy (New Navy DA, Model of 1889) and the Model 1892 and 1895 "New Army and New Navy" were produced in .41 Colt, Long and Short. I've never owned either of these, so have no info on which cartridge they used.
Maybe someone will come along to answer the question.
 

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Here are some period .41 C.F. cartridges:



So far as I know, all .41 revolvers had bores of .401 or larger, including the later double action solid frame guns. The later cartridges with inside lubrication had hollow based bullets which supposedly expanded to seal the bore.

At one time it was the thing to do with old .41s was to fit a .38-40 cylinder to solve the ammunition supply problem after the .41 Colt D.A. was discontinued.

The only experience I had with the .41 was with a borrowed old Bisley. Not a great experience, O.K. close up, but no accuracy at any distance.

Bob Wright
 

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No, they are quite different, although they use the same case.
My 1886 Thunderer shoots .387 bullets from an Old West mold (210 gr.). It is hollow based, but not heeled. From what I have read, when the 1877's were first introduced they were .406-.408 heeled, but were later changed to "my" style. I have never found any authoritative information on when, or if, the 1877's were changed from wrought iron to steel, so I shoot BP only in the Thunderer.
My 1901 SAA shoots .409 soft lead bullets that I buy from skhummer. They are heeled. With a rebuilt action by Jim Cornwall, and not a speck of finish remaining, it is my favorite and best shooting SAA. Obviously, the SAA will shoot the Thunderer shells (not accurately), but the SAA shells won't chamber in the Thunderer. I shoot both BP and smokeless in the SAA.
You are talking apples and oranges here.

The outside lubricated heeled bullet and the hollow base inside lubricated bullet are just variations of the very same caliber. Either one can be used in both the revolvers mentioned.
 

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Kurusu is correct, as long as you dont reload using the longest 41 Long Colt case (the 41LC case comes in 3 lengths) with the heeled bullet in the DAs (then the overall loaded cartridge length may be too long for the cylinder in the 1877s). Ive shot heeled 401s as well as hollowbased 386s in my SAA and DA Colts. MUCH prefer using the 386s.

https://www.coltforum.com/forums/single-action-army/293913-41-long-colt-day-range.html
 

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You are talking apples and oranges here.

The outside lubricated heeled bullet and the hollow base inside lubricated bullet are just variations of the very same caliber. Either one can be used in both the revolvers mentioned.
No, I'm not.
As stated, MY Thunderer slugs 386. I shoot .409 in my SAA, and working from memory, it slugs .406. Would you shoot .409 bullets thru a barrel of .386 diameter? Not me!!!!
I refer you to the following link:
Reloading the 41 Long Colt.
Harry states the redesign happened in the mid 1890's. Since my 1877 is an 1886, I question the date. Nevertheless, there are certainly some Thunderers which won't chamber, much less shoot, the larger bullets irrespective of bullet design.
I'm not trying to win an argument here, but rather to point out that as with most old guns, slugging the bore and shooting the correct bullet is critical for safety's sake.
 

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I finally dug out some .41 Colt ammunition and my 1920 vintage Army Special. One box of Winchester-Western with 200 grain Lubaloy bullets, inside lubricated (and presumably hollow base) along with a box of Ultramax with 200 grain heel bullets. So quick and dirty, I took a cartridge and tried to insert the bullet into the muzzle. The inside lubed Winchester bullet went all the way to the brass without ever contacting the bore. The heeled bullet did contact the rifling. The pictures tell the story.

DSCF1992.JPG DSCF1999.JPG DSCF1993.JPG DSCF1994.JPG DSCF1995.JPG
 

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The cylinder of the Army Special is bored straight through, as was typical of guns intended for ammunition using outside lubricated bullet. The Ultramax outside lubricated heel bullet measure .406. By contrast, the Lubaloy bullet is surprisingly undersized at .376.

DSCF1998.JPG DSCF2001.JPG

P.S. Actually, I do know how to use a caliper. They were measured correctly, the pictures are just for illustration.
 

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The way I understand it is .386 is the bore diameter and .401-.406 is the groove diameter. The original 41 Colt cartridge used a heel bullet at appropriate.401 diameter, about the same as the case diameter in order to fill the grooves in the barrel. They were outside lubed. The inside lubed bullets diameter was approximately.386 ( bore diameter) and had a hollow base that would hopefully expand to the groove diameter of the barrel to promote accuracy.

Joe A.
 

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The whole ".41 Long Colt" thing will drive anybody nuts, Lol...

I had two Army Specials I was all excited about, and after measuring Cylinder Bores and Barrel Groove-to-Groove I realized I had some real duds, so I put them on Gunbroker, described them honestly and in detail, and they sold for more than they should have.

Later in brooding on all this, I decided the best thing to do would be to have things re-Bored to accept a slightly shorter .41 Magnum Cartridge, one which would be .44 Special Length, and then one can have some sanity!

and to just make it in to a .41 Special, which is what Colt ought to have done by say, 1910.

A Colt .41 Special would have been very well received by everyone, and would have been a great Chambering for the Army Special..!
 
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