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Too many apples and oranges in one conversation for me.

First? BP dating and what is safe? Typically, BP guns were considered pre 192K for a serial number on a SAA. No one seems to actually know where that number came from however or has proof the metallurgy changed at 192K. For my own use I prefer a gun with Colt's VP stamp. They were "verified proofed" by Colt for a reason. The VP stamp is more typically 1906. Victorio has posted the VP transitional serial numbers many times. The VP stamp certainly was not a production stamp much earlier THAN 1906/1907 by the examples we actually see.
(15) Colt SAA "VP" proof mark? | Colt Forum
Reality and actual use?

As most of us know already the early BP Colt SAA doesn't generally just "blow up" in use with smokeless.

But if there is going to be a problem it is generally with a 45 caliber gun. Cylinder walls are thinner, lock notch is scary thin, and the bullets are heavier (255 gr) in a 45 Colt.

Every other caliber has more metal at the cylinder lock slot and cylinder walls and is shooting a lighter bullet. Stronger cylinders and less pressure because of it. The smaller caliber guns have lower pressures compared to a 45 Colt.

Bottom line? I don't shoot early, pre 1907 45 cylinders with smokeless. I don't have the same worries with a 200gr bullet in a 44-40 or a 180gr bullet in a 38-40 or any worry at all with a 115gr bullet in a 32-20. Easy enough to replace an old cylinder with a new one from a 2nd Gen gun if you just have to shoot an earlier gun. A lot more going on to make an antique Colt "unsafe" than just the BP/smokeless conversation. Caliber and condition, are a bigger concern to me. Better yet, if you really want to shoot and antique Colt, save the Colt, buy a Pietta.

Educate yourself as to what is safe and what isn't for your own use, and most importantly, why. Or just stick to BP.

The easy answer to this conversation IMO? If you own a Long flute and what to shoot it? All the long flute guns were made up around 1915. We know all the SAA guns were VP proofed by Colt prior to 1915. I would not be in any hurry to shoot an original long flute SAA in 45 Colt. I'd be way less concerned about the other caliber Long Flute guns. But for good measure, in any caliber, I'd simply have a new long flute cylinder cut and line bored. Then you can shoot the gun with smokeless and no worries. I've done that with three long flute guns myself. One in 45, and two more in 38-40.

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I may be completely wrong but I can't remember any factual proof of what Colt changed when it went to smokeless proofed guns. Are there any historical notes on the steel being upgraded?
No Colt factory notes that I have seen. In a world of opinions, the VP stamp and "smokeless OK" or "BP only" is still just our opinions. Not a lot of LF guns built. Just like the older BP framed guns that eventually received a VP stamp much earlier than would be normal @ a factory rebuild, why risk them today?

What mrcvs is really pointing out is just a cautionary tale based on an educated opinion.
 

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This sheriff's model was made in about 1892, but not actually sold until 1905. At the time of sale, the Triangle VP was added to the trigger guard.
Neat gun.

Vic, not sure if your comment is meant to imply the older guns are safe with smokeless, when we now know, Colt often as not, VP stamped older guns being refinished when the serial number would clearly indicate today, that they were not Smokeless safe.

I own 3 long flutes, all in 45. Nothing special about the cylinders other than the short bushing which isn't adding any strength to the lock slots.

the LF cylinders were "upgraded" for smokeless powder.
That is a bold statement.
 

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This Colt M1878 was not returned for re-work.
Got that. A VP stamp doesn't make a 1892 gun a smokeless gun.

all cylinders were upgraded
As I said.."bold statement". I'd give you the benefit of the doubt. At the moment I simply don't believe it however.

If proven, (and you aren't offering any proof) then all long flutes must be upgraded and safe, and mrcvs and myself simply wrong assuming the 1878 cylinders were "upgraded" to be safe by 1915.

I like learning about these guns. A well-kept secret is no help to anyone.
 

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Funny how you typically go to insults when someone disagrees or questions your opinion Vic.
You claim to know that Colt "upgraded all cylinders". Couple of ways to actually do that but you offer no proof.
Thanks for adding to the base knowledge of Colt's manufacturing history :rolleyes:
 

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This feels like an un-winnable argument that goes on forever.
The Colt M1878 is a double-action revolver that was manufactured by Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1878 to 1907.
Actual production stopped around 1905. Just 10K of the guns built between 1899 and 1905. 51K +/-guns total.
But 10K cylinders is a lot of cylinders :)

Funny, I guess, if you think you must win a discussion.
We know that Colt first started using the VP stamp just prior to the 1878 being discontinued in 1907. If all the LF cylinders that went into the LF SAA guns were made in 1905 I'd have little worry about shooting smokeless in a LF SAA. On the other hand, if they were all the surplus LF cylinders were made prior to say 1899 I'd have 2nd thoughts on what ammo would be appropriate for those guns.

No one knows when the LF cylinders used in a LF SAA were produced. Until we do, if we ever do, it is no argument, just more opinions being offered.

I don't see it is an unwinnable argument, but as an ongoing discussion we may never have a definitive answer to.
 

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There IS a difference in these LF cylinders, but I will leave that to your wonderment.
There is a difference. A few in fact. None make the cylinders any stronger. Put up or.......you've heard that saying.

I think that without some kind of real factual documentation this subject is all opinion.
Spot on Mike.
 

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I am sure there is some nefarious individuals out there collecting guns from 1914-1916, machining long flute cylinders for them and then antiquing the new cylinder to match the guns. Millions to be made in one small mind.
 

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are we now on the verge of giving the "all clear" to firing Long Flute SAAs with whatever standard ammunition fits in the chambers?
Your gun, do as you like. An educated decision, when made on what is actually known about the manufacture of these guns, might make one ponder on the rational of shooting smokeless in a 45 Colt LF. Personally, I'd still have some concern on the 44-40 and 38-40 versions as well.

That is not a concern for the more typical, vintage Colt collector, who isn't planning to ever shoot their guns. My impression is a good many owners in these conversations simply don't shoot, they just want to talk about the nuances of Colt ownership. I get that, right up to the point the conversation turns to nonsense.

I took mrcvs' original post as a well meaning, public service announcement, attempting to help LF owners understand the LF guns better. The post was a little confusing for me so I tried to break it down some and point out that it is really the 45 Colt cylinders that would be my first concern, with 44-40 and 38-40 to follow. If you never shoot them (mrcvs does shoot his guns) it should be of no concern to you.

I also shoot mine. I value the history of my own guns. Shooting them and discussing the nuances of manufacturing are both equal parts of my own enjoyment in collecting old Colts. I'd like to keep them all in one piece;) Hopefully the more I learn about these guns the better they will be for the next generation of ownership.

My 1892 Colt in 45.
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Interesting, I have been in a deep dive this morning looking at the US Military's use of smokeless and BP 45 Colt ammo. If I am correct, it turns out that the first smokeless 45 Colt ammo was produced for the M1909 Colt, at the Frankford Arsenal. And interesting enough the 1909 date matches up pretty closely with arbitrary date of 1906/1907 as to when Colt's VP stamp was most commonly first used on the SAA.
 

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the fact that these guns still exist with their original cylinders indicates that they can, and have, been fired with modern smokeless ammunition.
True enough.

And most of them in the weaker 45 Colt version. But they aren't new guns anymore. Most of them likely saw little use after 1940 or so. They are all over 100-year-old guns now. Most of them aren't in the best of condition. Less than 1500 made.

Was everyone who owned them diligent in that they knew of the cylinder's delicate nature and made certain to only use Black Powder ammunition or were most of these fired with whatever ammunition was sold on the gun store counter?
I am obviously guessing here ;) In 1915, just as now, a quality Colt handgun was expensive. I doubt there were many owners that could afford to intentionally misuse their new Colt and just go buy another. That said, dang few, if anyone thought the LF guns were fragile. Most owners were very likely just as uneducated as most (not on Internet forums) today and bought whatever ammo was available without a 2nd thought.

If my family's experience is any example (3 generation prior to me) were shooters tells me anything, it's folks never shot a lot by comparison to what many do today. Shooting more than one (maybe two!) 50 round boxes of pistol ammo a year was unusual. More than a box of 20 rifle ammo? Unlikely. I have the old boxes of brass and loaded ammo for the Bisley to recognize that. On the other hand, common enough for me to shoot several hundred rounds of handgun ammo a week.

I'm now the caretaker of my Grandfather's 1911 Bisley, given to him by his father when new. I have ammo for that gun going back to the '30s. The gun has little finish but no pitting. Original grips. The holster and gun show some wear but not a lot of signs it has been shot. No finish on this gun, which means to me it was cleaned a lot more than it was ever shot. I've not shot in much in 40 years. And very likely I more than doubled its lifetime the round count when I did.

I am unlikely to ever shoot the Bisley again. No real reason not to, unless of course I break something internally. Bisley parts are hard to come by.
 

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I am sure that the 1905 Colts that were issued already would have been given the smokeless rounds to use.
It is likely the military smokeless was loaded down like civilian ammo
Please offer a source for your opinion. Not saying you are wrong, just like to see the documentation of US Military smokeless 45 Colt ammo prior to 1909.

So if Colt was already "walking on eggshells", then why take a graver and add v-notch stress risers to these "frail" cylinders?
Not helping your cause any and one of the most clueless comments made about the strength of a LF cylinder I have seen written. Neat gun however.
 

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Good stuff Mike.
Are you 100% sure that the 1909 smokeless 45 Colt ammo can't be chambered in a SAA? Or can they be chambered in every other SAA cylinder, making the SAA a 3 shooter? I am guessing a three shooter is possible.

"In 1909, the .45 M1909 round was issued along with the .45 Colt New Service revolver. This round was never loaded commercially, and is almost identical to the original .45 Colt round, except having a larger diameter rim (.540 in (13.7mm)). The rim is large enough that it cannot be loaded in adjacent chambers in the rod-ejector Colt model.[4] "

If so the next question might be, "was all the Frankford Arsenal 45 Colt ammo production prior to 1909, BP only"? And when was BP 45 ammo last stored in the US military inventory?

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A quick look at the 1899 Winchester catalog and the 1905 to 1910 Sears & Roebuck catalog shows that not only was BP ammo still being sold but it was the majority of the sales in the Colt SAA calibers.

That sorta turns my thoughts about went the SAA went smokeless on its head. Makes a number of conversations we've had here recently, and the assumptions made, obviously in error.
 

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Price difference on the ammo would have been an issue in 1899. From the Winchester 1899 catalog.

45 Colt BP ammo 255 ball $22.00 per 2000
45 Colt smokeless ammo 255 ball $24.50 per 1000

1910 Sears & Roebuck catalog lists

45 Colt BP 255 ball @ $14.92 per 1000
45 Colt and 44-40 smokeless ammo is not listed
38/40 and 32-20 smokeless rifle ammo is.
44-40 BP rifle ammo is as well.
 

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Only two members here post, and then call their comments a "trade secret". That answer makes the point. I really don't have to. But nothing wrong with a little cheese to go with the whining 🤣

Good stuff SDave. Thanks for making the effort to check the 1907 .45 ammo in a SAA.

did anyone even consider, in 1913 to 1915, that these cylinders are black powder components?
I have to agree...."probably not".

I'd going as far as to say, "I'd bet they didn't even consider as an issue". Looking back in history to at least the '20s (and much later up to the '40s by the antidotal evidence) 45 Colt smokeless ammo simply wasn't easily available and when it was it was, it was a lot more expensive that BP. More than twice the price if you could find smokeless 45 Colt or 44-40. The world had few liabilities, less Government oversight, fewer lawyers, no seat belts, and an economy fully driven by capitalism. The idea was to make a $, not throw away "good parts" from a gun, that was long dead, 10 years prior to 1915.

There was still a market for the SAA in 1915, and none for the M1878.

Caliber production of the LF guns:

965 produced in .45.
28 in .44 Special.
207 in .38-40
110 in .32-20.

44 Special
38-40
32-20
By 1910 all were all three easily available in smokeless, if I am to believe my vintage catalogs. All of those calibers have stronger cylinders in a SAA that a 45 Colt or a 44-40. I have to wonder if that was an intentional choice by Colt. Again, I'd bet it an intentional choice on their part.

Funny enough smokeless 45 Colt ammo was not easily available as one might have thought in 1915. Twice the price in the Winchester catalog BP verses smokeless. And smokeless 45 Colt ammo simply not listed in the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Of course 45 Colt BP ammo was listed there.

What I found in the two vintage ammo catalogs is telling for anyone willing to look. There were a LOT of changes happening when the US was still using a good deal of BP ammo, while the rest of the world was already fully engaged with smokeless ammo in almost all their common calibers. The takeaway from the research I did was this, "Smokeless ammo came to the newest rifle calibers pretty quickly, after 1895 in the US. The same was not true of pistol calibers. It took new guns, starting with the M1892, then the Colt 1905 Colt Semi Auto pistol with 45acp smokeless ammo (which eventually ended with the Colt 1911 design and ammo) and then the 1907 Colt dbl action revolver using a smokeless "45 Colt cartridge" smokeless, with its limitations. By 1892 (the Colt M1892) if was obvious the SAA was an obsolete design. DBL action revolvers and semi auto handguns would soon dominate the marketplace.

A good bit of my comments are pure conjecture on my part, "an educated guess", nothing more. No secret there.
 

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If the introduction of smokeless powder into the same exact cartridges that were currently in use was causing failure all the time don't you think something would have been done to remedy it?
I might have agreed until it became pretty clear from a little research that smokeless 45 Colt and 44-40 wasn't all that easily obtained at least up to 1910. I sure wasn't around in 1910. Neither was Jim Marin. But we can both tell you that 45 Colt and 44-40 BP ammo was easily available in the rural hardware stores into the '50s. At the same time 38-40 being sold (at least where I was) was almost always smokeless.

But, anyone's guess is fair game.

All three of my LF guns are 45 Colt. All are well worn basket cases. All still function. I have no clue if they were shot with smokeless in the last 100 years. I'd assume so. But then again my 1911 Bisley came through the family with specific orders not to shoot a lot of "modern smokeless" ammo in the gun. So obviously, folks weren't clueless on the issue.

Interesting conversation on the subject for sure.
 
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