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This thread is being created with the question of are they safe to fire with smokeless powder or not?

The reason why this thread was created now is because of the revelation—yes, revelation—that perhaps all Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1899, or maybe even 1898, but shipped until 1905. A reputable poster to this forum suggested that all Colt 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1899 or maybe even prior to 1898, meaning ALL Colt 1878 revolvers should be considered ANTIQUE. I cannot recall which thread this was in so I cannot recall if pre 1899 or pre 1898 was stated. Folks sometimes use the term pre 1898 to suggest a revolver is an antique, but they really mean pre 1899 as that is the cutoff as to whether or not a firearm is antique or not.

As I became more knowledgeable about Colt Single Action Army revolvers—and other early Colt revolvers, both percussion and metallic cartridge—I’m the one that stated emphatically for the first time that, in the context of a thread discussing the topic of “is my Colt Single Action Army safe to fire with smokeless powder or not?”, that ALL Long Flute Single Action Army revolvers should be fired ONLY with black powder! Others have since quoted this verbatim, but it’s not in the literature anywhere. I came to this conclusion after studying Colt revolvers for some time. The reason why I mention that is not to put a feather in my cap, but just to state where this idea originated, and after I am long and gone, if just one person heeds these words—mine, or paraphrased from someone else—and a Long Flute revolver and someone’s fingers, are spared from destruction, then a job well done!

And here’s the basis behind my thought process: It has been debated in various threads as to when a Colt Single Action Army revolver is safe to fire based on date of manufacture. Most, unarguably, agree that such revolvers manufactured prior to 1900 should not be fired with smokeless powder. Some use the date of 1905, which I agree with, which neatly corresponds to a date associated with the Colt Model 1878. I had always assumed 1905 was the date the last Colt Model 1878 revolver was manufactured, but this revelation suggests that’s only the date of last shipment.

Given that 1905 is generally, at the very least, been suggested as the last date of manufacture of the Model 1878 and that coincides with the date as to when I would, personally use black powder in a revolver—by 1905/06, smokeless powder is probably safe to use, although I generally fire only black powder in a 1909 Bisley I own these days. I’m any event, I created this hypothesis relative to Colt Long Flute revolvers with my personal comfort level in mind. HOWEVER, the exception to this is the basis for the sound statement that ALL Long Flute revolvers should be fired with black powder only, simply because one does not know for sure when the stockpile of Colt 1878 cylinders was manufactured, and as Colt squirreled away parts for a very long period of time, it cannot be proven that the cylinders used in Colt Long Flute Single Action Army revolvers were among the last manufactured, or date from a much earlier time frame. My guess is the latter.

But, with the claim that all Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1898/99, it then unquestionably supports my theory that smokeless powder should NEVER be used in a Long Flute revolver! (Of course the date of manufacture of a firearm is the date of manufacture of its frame, so it is possible, of course, that all frames of Colt 1878 revolvers were manufactured pre 1898/99 but component parts were manufactured/assembled up until 1905.

Additionally, a corollary to this is that ALL Colt Model 1878 revolvers should be fired with black powder only as the same theory applicable to the Colt Long Flute Model applies to the Colt Model 1878 revolver.

Is there any definitive proof in the literature that ALL Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1898/99, and, less importantly, do all components predate 1898/99?

Then, of course, if this is the case, how is the status of the Model 1878 revolver changed so that the ATF considers ALL Colt Model 1878 to be antiques? This is already the case with the number one competitor to Colt Model 1878s and the Single Action Army revolver: The Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 revolver. Dr Roy Jinks informed the ATF back in 1968 (presumably) that all New Model No 3 revolvers are pre 1899 and considered to be antiques, as all frames were forged prior to 1899 and are thus antiques.

This thread crosses multiple sections of the forum, but I think it is best suited to the Single Action Army section of the forum.

Now, some eye candy. I don’t have photographs available of my Long Flute Model but here’s a few photographs of a Model 1878 and a New Model No 3 revolver in my possession:

View attachment 826272 View attachment 826273 View attachment 826274 View attachment 826275
This feels like an un-winnable argument that goes on forever. But maybe this one gun will carry some weight in this discussion.

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.

I also know something about the long flute cylinders that will not be published here, for reason of detecting fakes. But the LF cylinders were "upgraded" for smokeless powder.

This is not being said to encourage anyone to go out and shoot the heck out of your long fluted Colt SAA's. The 2nd and 3rd gens were made for such shooting.
 

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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.



That is a bold statement.
This Colt M1878 was not returned for re-work. I have owned 9 long flute SAA's, with most being 45's, and all cylinders were upgraded in a manner not to be described here. Only one was a re-work that was originally shipped to Stauffer Eshelman in New Orleans on Aug 2, 1915.
 

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Got that. A VP stamp doesn't make a 1892 gun a smokeless gun.



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.

That is a well kept secret then I guess.
No surprise here, coming from you!
 

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This thread is being created with the question of are they safe to fire with smokeless powder or not?

The reason why this thread was created now is because of the revelation—yes, revelation—that perhaps all Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1899, or maybe even 1898, but shipped until 1905. A reputable poster to this forum suggested that all Colt 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1899 or maybe even prior to 1898, meaning ALL Colt 1878 revolvers should be considered ANTIQUE. I cannot recall which thread this was in so I cannot recall if pre 1899 or pre 1898 was stated. Folks sometimes use the term pre 1898 to suggest a revolver is an antique, but they really mean pre 1899 as that is the cutoff as to whether or not a firearm is antique or not.

As I became more knowledgeable about Colt Single Action Army revolvers—and other early Colt revolvers, both percussion and metallic cartridge—I’m the one that stated emphatically for the first time that, in the context of a thread discussing the topic of “is my Colt Single Action Army safe to fire with smokeless powder or not?”, that ALL Long Flute Single Action Army revolvers should be fired ONLY with black powder! Others have since quoted this verbatim, but it’s not in the literature anywhere. I came to this conclusion after studying Colt revolvers for some time. The reason why I mention that is not to put a feather in my cap, but just to state where this idea originated, and after I am long and gone, if just one person heeds these words—mine, or paraphrased from someone else—and a Long Flute revolver and someone’s fingers, are spared from destruction, then a job well done!

And here’s the basis behind my thought process: It has been debated in various threads as to when a Colt Single Action Army revolver is safe to fire based on date of manufacture. Most, unarguably, agree that such revolvers manufactured prior to 1900 should not be fired with smokeless powder. Some use the date of 1905, which I agree with, which neatly corresponds to a date associated with the Colt Model 1878. I had always assumed 1905 was the date the last Colt Model 1878 revolver was manufactured, but this revelation suggests that’s only the date of last shipment.

Given that 1905 is generally, at the very least, been suggested as the last date of manufacture of the Model 1878 and that coincides with the date as to when I would, personally use black powder in a revolver—by 1905/06, smokeless powder is probably safe to use, although I generally fire only black powder in a 1909 Bisley I own these days. I’m any event, I created this hypothesis relative to Colt Long Flute revolvers with my personal comfort level in mind. HOWEVER, the exception to this is the basis for the sound statement that ALL Long Flute revolvers should be fired with black powder only, simply because one does not know for sure when the stockpile of Colt 1878 cylinders was manufactured, and as Colt squirreled away parts for a very long period of time, it cannot be proven that the cylinders used in Colt Long Flute Single Action Army revolvers were among the last manufactured, or date from a much earlier time frame. My guess is the latter.

But, with the claim that all Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1898/99, it then unquestionably supports my theory that smokeless powder should NEVER be used in a Long Flute revolver! (Of course the date of manufacture of a firearm is the date of manufacture of its frame, so it is possible, of course, that all frames of Colt 1878 revolvers were manufactured pre 1898/99 but component parts were manufactured/assembled up until 1905.

Additionally, a corollary to this is that ALL Colt Model 1878 revolvers should be fired with black powder only as the same theory applicable to the Colt Long Flute Model applies to the Colt Model 1878 revolver.

Is there any definitive proof in the literature that ALL Colt Model 1878 revolvers were manufactured prior to 1898/99, and, less importantly, do all components predate 1898/99?

Then, of course, if this is the case, how is the status of the Model 1878 revolver changed so that the ATF considers ALL Colt Model 1878 to be antiques? This is already the case with the number one competitor to Colt Model 1878s and the Single Action Army revolver: The Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 revolver. Dr Roy Jinks informed the ATF back in 1968 (presumably) that all New Model No 3 revolvers are pre 1899 and considered to be antiques, as all frames were forged prior to 1899 and are thus antiques.

This thread crosses multiple sections of the forum, but I think it is best suited to the Single Action Army section of the forum.

Now, some eye candy. I don’t have photographs available of my Long Flute Model but here’s a few photographs of a Model 1878 and a New Model No 3 revolver in my possession:

View attachment 826272 View attachment 826273 View attachment 826274 View attachment 826275
MY VERY FIRST STATEMENT: "This feels like an un-winnable argument that goes on forever".
Like so many similar topics, this one will rage on without end. No one's mind can ever be changed -- they are locked in stone.
 

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There is a difference. A few in fact. None make the cylinders any stronger. Put up or.......you've heard that saying.



Spot on Mike.
I can identify M1878 DA cylinders that have lock slots added by a clever machinist. There is something they always miss, even after re-shaping the ratchet.

AGAIN, I won't post everything here. Call them "trade secrets", if that feels better.
 

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I definitely fall into the category of the "more typical vintage Colt collector who isn't ever planning to shoot their guns." And I don't own a LF SAA so, for me, this post is entirely academic. I readily admit that you fellas are the experts and I would never want to challenge that. I think my point was that I fail to understand what was being shot in these guns from the period 1915, when they were manufactured, to whenever they were retired to the collector's closet? 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?
In other words, is the answer to mrcvs's question axiomatic: the fact that these guns still exist with their original cylinders indicates that they can, and have, been fired with modern smokeless ammunition.
One other thing to consider -- is that about a dozen factory engraved LF SAA's do exist. So if Colt was already "walking on eggshells", then why take a graver and add v-notch stress risers to these "frail" cylinders?

This one shipped to Praeger Hardware Company, San Antonio, TX on Sept. 23, 1914 in a one gun shipment.
 

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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.



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.
"Not helping your cause any and one of the most clueless comments made about the strength of a LF cylinder I have seen written".
You simply cannot control yourself. I know that you were booted off this forum at least once. Easy to see why.
 
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