Colt Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 1909 New Service, serial number indicates 1913 vintage. I sent the gun off to have a tune up, timing issue, and the gunsmith(knowlegable about old colts) said that the cylinder was 45 ACP. As I understand, and all the info I could find indicates that the 1909 army (which mine is) were all 45 long colt. The gunsmith says that the cylinder does not match the serial which strongly suggests that someone along the way changed it. I missed the cylinder number when evaluating the gun, but too late now. The cylinder finish is not different than the rest of the gun, which suggests to me that the change was done early in the life of the gun. So, I guess my questions are, was the 1909 army new service ever made in 45 acp or was there an order made by the Army to convert them to 45 acp after WWI or did some bozo decide that ACP was better for that gun than long colt. And finally how will the accuracy be with ACP using a .452 bullet be in a .454 barrell?

Sorry for the long post but this inquiring mind is clueless and needs some help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
Look for markings of a U.S. Govt. arsenal rebuild. The 1909 was still a fairly new gun in 1917,when those Colt 1917s came out for .45 auto. Some were converted to use the now standard .45 auto.(yet some Navy 1909s,that were locked away as part of a ships small arms locker,still had .45 Colt ammo in W.W. Two).

By the way,the cylinder is NOT numbered on the Colt double actions,so other than seeing the larger gap between cylinder rear and frame,and the shorter chambers,you didn't miss seeing it;S&Ws had the serial# on the rear of cylinder,however. Bud
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
Sounds to me like an interesting Colt. I'd shoot it and enjoy it. I'd also not be concerned about a .002 difference in bullet diameter - bores from the same manufacturer can vary that much.
On the technical side, there is no such cartridge as .45 Long Colt; it's .45 Colt, as lonewolf wrote.
The great benefit of the conversion is cost, if you don't handload.
JT
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
909 Posts
FWIW, the original cylinder should be stamped on the rear face with the same inspector's initials as on the frame (R.A.C.). The inside of each chamber is stepped down about 7/8ths of the way towards the front of the cylinder (not bored staight through). There are also some assembly numbers stamped under the extractor, but they don't relate to the serial number, so not of much help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the great information. What and or where would the marks be indicating a rebuild? It looks like that is probably what happened to this one. I guess the gunsmith was confusing the assembly numbers for serial numbers, that makes me feel better that I did not miss that. I was with a friend that is very knowledgable about prewar colts when I bought it, and we were thorough when looking it over. You're right, a 0.015 difference in the ACP vs 45 colt cylinder length was not perceptible to me. ACP is cheaper to shoot but I was thinking that 45 auto rim would be easier to deal with, ie no moon clips. I did buy some 45 colt dies but now I guess this gives me an excuse to find another gun. Because you just can't have dies laying around being unused! Thanks again
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
909 Posts
Maybe it would be easiest for you to post exactly what markings are on the gun when you get it back. If a gun was reworked at an arsenal, it was supposed to be stamped on the left side of the frame, above the trigger. Common codes were:
AA - Augusta Arsenal
BA - Benicia "
MR - Mt. Ranier Ordnance Depot
RA - Raritan Arsenal
RRA - Red River "
RIA - Rock Island "
SA - Springfield "
SAA - San Antonio "
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
I suppose it might be a conversion by either the military or done later privately. If the gun will indeed shoot .45 ACP and you don't want to use moon clips, I completely agree, .45 Auto-Rim is the way to go. In a single stage reloading set up all you will need is a different shell holder and you can use .45 ACP dies to load .45 Auto-Rim. The other thing that you can do is use heavy 250-255 grain bullets meant for .45 Colt in the .45 Auto-Rim case. These are easily loaded to 800-900 fps duplicating .45 Colt ballistics without the excess recoil and wasted powder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
This seems to come up every so often. The 1909 New Service was NOT intended for the 45 Colt cartridge. It was intended for the 1909 Colt 45 cartridge wich differs from the 45 Colt in having a wider rim, typically a slightly longer case, and is loaded with smokeless to a velocity of 750 fps with a bullet weight of either 250 gr, 300 gr or both. (I have to get that last point cleared up.) It will accept the 45 Colt as a secondary cartridge but the sights are set for the 1909 Colt 45.

Up until now I have not heard of one being re-cylindered for 45 ACP. There were not enough of them in the first place to make arsenal re-cylindering a paying proposition. While they were first line issue, they were also intended as a stop gap until a self loader was adopted. Hence the low production numbers. I doubt Colt would have accepted such a small contract if it had involved any more extensive changes to the civilian 45 Colt New Service than fiddling with the front sight, boring the chamber a smidgeon deeper and adding a lanyard ring.

I wonder if it was a private conversion rather than an arsenal conversion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
In almost every case I have seen, the conversion was done privately. I am almost always against such conversions since they ruin the historical and collector value. I is better to find a spare cylinder and put the original aside and use the spare to shoot a more available cartridge. It is having your cake and eating it too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the continuing information. I had read about the difference in the 1909 new service cartridge vs 45 colt but was not really sure what the implications were, though they did say that the army wanted a cartridge that was easy and quick to unload. Would the rim on the 1909 cartridge be thicker as well as wider? I will post the markings if any when I get it back. I have not recieved an estimate yet so it may be a while before I get it back. One thing I should do when I get it back is measure the cylinder to verify that it is ACP, but I am fairly confident that the gunsmith knows his stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
In his fine book,"Colt New Service Revolvers")(World Wide Gun Report,Aledo,Illinois,1985)Bob Murphy mentions that some 1909s were retained by officers through World War One and were converted either by Colt,or Ordinance Dept to use the .45 acp. This usually involved fitting a new cylinder and sideplate(location of the "ridge" for cylinder travel,when opened is different due to shorter .45 acp cyl.). He says new initials,or "other markings" were stamped on,but doesn't elaborate. Bud
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
909 Posts
I just received a paper called "The Colt 1909 Military Revolvers" by Col. Robt. Whittington. To quote:

"Professional Armory (USA, USN, and USMC) conversions of the 1909 revolvers to use caliber 45 ACP ammunition and half-moon clips are evidence that the 1909 revolvers were in service long after the last 1909 revolver cartridges were manufactured in 1913; and after 45 ACP ammunition in half-moon clips was initially issued in 1917."

He goes on to list some examples by serial number. If you're interested: Brownlee Books, P.O. Box 489, Hooks, TX 75561. $10.00 postpaid.

I have no affiliation, but info on 1909's is hard to come by.

B.W.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Rim thickness on the 45 Colt and on the 1909 Colt 45 is the same. The 1909 New Service was intended to use the 45 Colt cartridge as a secondary load in the event of 1909 cartridges not being at hand.

The primary reason for the 1909 cartrdige was the wider rim making extraction more certain. But the load seems more like the old 45 S&W/Schofield or the 45 Government load than the 45 Colt load. This may be more than coincidence as the original specifications for the 45 ACP while it was still in the developement stage were for it to duplicate the 45 Government ballistics. The military seemed stuck short 45 ballistics. Maybe the 45 Colt recoil was a bit much.

BTW: As is much bandied about, the 38 Colt did a poor job at stopping Moros. What doesn't get bandied about is the the 45 Colt, the 1909 Colt 45, and the 30-40 Krag also did a poor job at stopping Moros.

Bottom line is non-expanding bullets make for poor stoppers.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,043 Posts
... the 38 Colt did a poor job at stopping Moros. What doesn't get bandied about is the the 45 Colt, the 1909 Colt 45, and the 30-40 Krag also did a poor job at stopping Moros.

Not to hijack , but I've read that the Winchester 97 riot guns then in service could be counted on to get the job done . If , the paper shells didn't swell and jam the gun .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
I think all brass shells were circa 1883. I had no idea that Colt 1909s were ever converted to 1917 configuration with a rebuild to fire .45 ACP. I am going to buy the book that was featured in another post as this kind of information is rare indeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
<< Not to hijack , but I've read that the Winchester 97 riot guns then in service could be counted on to get the job done . If , the paper shells didn't swell and jam the gun . >>

I've heard this too. At short enough range I would think a dose of goose shot or buck shot would be discouraging.

But in the famous and only second amendment case to reach the supreme court the court ruled that a sawed off shotgun was not a military weapon, so obviously they didn't have any in the Moro campaign. Of course that ruling also implies our boys had no trench guns in WWI. Guess the Germans didn't know what they were talking about when they complained about them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
Correction, I was thinking brass handgun, not shotgun brass. True brass, not simple copper alloy/branze handgun shells, were standard by 1883 for the US Government. I don't know when brass shotgun brass was used by the US Military at all before or after WWI.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by The Virginian:
I think all brass shells were circa 1883. I had no idea that Colt 1909s were ever converted to 1917 configuration with a rebuild to fire .45 ACP. I am going to buy the book that was featured in another post as this kind of information is rare indeed.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I got my estimate on the 1909 and I should have it back in a couple weeks. The gunsmith is certain that it is ACP. He gave me the serial number, which I never wrote down before, and it is 48493 and he says manufactured in 1911. I forgot to ask if it had any armory marks on it. Bushwacker, does that serial number range match any in Whittington's article?
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top