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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During WW1, Colt's had a contract with the British Gov't to make 1911 pistols chambered for the .455 Webley Automatic cartridge. The slides were stamped "Calibre 455" on the right side; othewrise they were almost identical to the US .45 ACP pistols, except for a slightly wider magazine & magazine well in the frame.

I'm curious as to the barrel markings used on these guns. I've seen one marked as ".455" with a case length of ".900" and a pressure oif 9 tons psi. Another barrel was marked ".45" with same case length but a pressuire of 7 tons psi. Both barrels had the British proof house stamp. Were any other markings stamped on top of the chambers of these barrels?

Also, I read someplace that some of these pistols were surplused by the uK and converted to use the .45ACP cartridge. The extra "5" on the slide marking was supposedly lined out. Anyone know anything about these?
 

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The markings you are describing on the chamber giving the caliber, case length, and proofing pressure are British commercial proofs applied after 1954. When the pistols were released by the British Government for commercial sale, they had to go through either the London or Birmingham proof house before they could be sold.

This is a Colt 1911A1 Lend-Leased to Canada during WWII, sold by the Canadian government after WWII to a British Arms merchant, and shipped to England where it had to be proofed before it could be sold commercially. This one went through the Birmingham proof house.

 

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This pistol has its orginal .455 barrel with the only marking being a W on the left lug. I believe the books say either a E or W forward of the lugs or on the lug like mine. Colt did not mark the barrels with caliber in this era.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
JohnnyP & mpd1978--thanx for posting the pix. Mike--I know the .455 pistols had a "W" prefix to the s/n; my questions related to barrel stampings and possible conversions of the .455 guns to .45ACP.

The marks in JP's photo are identical to a barrel I have that was in an original .455 slide assembly with the WW1 dark blue high-polish commercial finish. It looks as though that Birmingham proof-marked barrel was for the .45 ACP cartridge. I looked for stamps on the bottom of the barrel & found a "5" just forward of the lug feading from the muzzle, and about 1/8" forward of that is what looks like a "P" reading from the right side of the barre. No stamps on the lug itself. The stamp that might be a "P" could also be a poorly-stamped "E" that I think was used on the .455 barrels made for export to the UK.

This particular barrel has a slight relief cut on the underside of the rear end of the barrel hood that I think might be a rekief cut for the rim of the semi-rimmed .455 Webley Auto cartridge. A USGI .45 ACP cartridge is a rather loose fit in the chamber but headspaces on the case mouth ok; case calipered @ .470" diam and chamber seems about .480" diameter. Do I have a mis-marked .455 barrel? A .45 barrel re-chambered to .455? Or do I justc have an odd .45ACP barrel?

This just gets curiouser & curiouser.

(I've read that .45 Auto ammo will work in the 1911s chambefred for the Webley round, though accuracy might not be as good as with the Webley round. I'm wondering if the bore diameter was that much greater?
 

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Here are a few photos of .455 Webley barrels for WWI British Contract Colt Government Model pistols. Visibily on the barrel on the right are the markings W P; next photo shows the .455 grooves cut into the hoods; and the final photo shows the Crown/T9/E (I think Royal Enfield Arsenal) inspection mark and Crossed Pennants proof mark. I also have a .455 barrel with the .455 Auto S(elf) L(oading) Broad Arrow military property mark .90 inches brass length and 9tons/sq in pressure rating (I'll have to track down photo and post) for my British Contract 1917 Government Model pistol.
 

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