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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why did .41 Colt fall by the wayside?


Am I correct in assuming that the Colt 'Official Police', as successor in name to the famed 'Army Special', did not continue with offering the .41 Colt Chambering?


Did the Colt 'SAA', and the Colt 'New Service' continue to offer the .41 Colt Chambering, after the 'Army Special' had given way to the 'Official Police'?
 

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I think the Official Police chambered in .41 Colt was cataloged for about the first three years of OP production. Whether any OPs were ever actually chambered for this venerable old round is questionable. If they actually exist they are very rare. I'm don't know when the SAA stopped being chambered in the .41 Colt.
 

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The .38 special could do nearly everything .41 could do, at least on paper, and the .38-44 and .357 Magnum far outpaced it. The .41 is a great cartridge and I love it, but it is an awkward thing was a bit of a dead end. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

It is rumored that the Official Police was offered in .41 but they were very uncommon. I would say that the .41 could be ordered in an SAA until 1941 but I don't know how often Colt was sending them out the door.
 

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I don't know why it had to fade away. Probably because it couldn't be seen to do much of anything that couldn't be accomplished with the 200 grain .38 Special load, one variant of a cartridge whose popularity had far eclipsed the old .41. It's said to be one of the less accurate revolver cartridges though I've had pretty good luck with it out to 25 yards.

With the larger diameter 200 grain bullet, at a velocity of 700-750 fps, it's just as capable a performer as any of several other handgun cartridges, both some that shared the era of the .41 Long Colt and some that have been developed since. Terminal ballistics are bound to be as good or better than most any .38 Special loading, and I love the .38 Special. I like the .41 because it's something different and I'm able to indulge the cartridge a place in the ammo locker. Wouldn't it be grand to have a 5-shot Detective Special snub in .41 Long Colt? The E-Frame and it's variant I-Frame have been referred to in print as the ".41 frame." Wouldn't it be grand to have an original Colt Python chambered for the .41 Long Colt and suitably marked. Or, am I the only person in the world who dreams up such weirdness?

I feel badly toward Muddyboot, the true .41 "King of the World." He bestowed me with a spare set of dandy .41 Long Colt dies at a real deal earlier in the summer. I've got 100 rounds of .41 Long Colt brass primed and flared, sitting on the bench where it's been since just before August 1st when first a funeral, then a descent into the working world from the lofty heights of retirement interrupted completing the loads. Got three different loadings in mind and will be posting test results as soon as possible.

I've read various reference sources that claim the .41 Long Colt was offered in the Official Police up through 1930, 1937, and the eve of World War II. Wonder if any Official Poice revolvers chambered for .41 Long Colt were assembled at the factory from supplies of left over Army Special cylinders and barrels? I've long watched for an original Official Police in .41 Long Colt, both here on the Forum and at gun shows and internet auctions but have never seen an example.

Don't know when the last .41 Long Colt SAA was shipped but would love to find that out.
 

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The Official Police was never cataloged in .41 Colt. TBOCF does not show .41 Colt as a chambering of the Official Police. Both of those facts convince me that the Official Police as never chambered in .41 Colt. The Army Special is scarce in .41 Colt.

The .41 Colt chambering was introduced in the Single Action Army in 1885, and there were 16,402 Single Action Army revolvers chambered in .41 Colt, about 5% of production. I do not know when the chambering was discontinued.

The .41 Colt was never popular in its day, but it sure is now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Interesting!


I gather .41 Colt was also a chambering which the 'New Service' could be had in, though I doubt many of them were Ordered or sold.


So...when the .41 Colt first came out, was it an 'Outside Lube' Bullet? And the Cylinders bored 'Straight Through'?


Which, like the .38 Long Colt, was later on changed to be a smaller Bullet, and, inside lube Cartridge? at which time, the Barrel Bore would have been made smaller, also, to oblige the new Bullet Diameter?

And, if so, about when did this change take place? 1895 or so maybe? Or..?
 

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I've never uncovered any other brand of revolver that chambered the .41 Long Colt. Has anyone else seen evidence of one?

I've read that the claim that the New Service was chambered in .41 Long Colt is not true. Don't know about that one either.
 

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Considering that no one here has ever exhibited even a single example here on the Forum, I'd put more faith in JudgeColt's assertion that the Official Police never chambered .41 Long Colt than Wikipedia's claim that it did. They're saying that Official Police revolvers chambered .41 Long Colt until 1938.

Colt Official Police - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


So does "Shooting Times" but one wonders where they got their information.
Colt's Official Police Revolver
 

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Bob Murphy's "Colt New Service Revolvers" does not show that the New Service was chambered in .41 Colt. TBOCF does not show the New Service chambered in .41 Colt. I therefore conclude that the New Service was never chambered in .41 Colt.
 

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Thanks .455Eley! That's entirely neato! I've not seen examples of the actual revolvers that took that .41 Colt Special cartridge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Oh! I was mistaken then in assuming .41 Colt was a 'New Service' Chambering.


So...if I am correct, the Colt Revolvers which had actually been available routinely, which were chambered for .41 Colt, were...


The 1877 'Thunderer'

The Model 1878 Double Action large Frame Revolver

The New Army and New Navy DA Revolvers

The Army Special

The Single Action Army or Bisley Model SA
 

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Interesting!


I gather .41 Colt was also a chambering which the 'New Service' could be had in, though I doubt many of them were Ordered or sold.


So...when the .41 Colt first came out, was it an 'Outside Lube' Bullet? And the Cylinders bored 'Straight Through'?


Which, like the .38 Long Colt, was later on changed to be a smaller Bullet, and, inside lube Cartridge? at which time, the Barrel Bore would have been made smaller, also, to oblige the new Bullet Diameter?

And, if so, about when did this change take place? 1895 or so maybe? Or..?
I stand to be corrected on this but i am prety sure when the .41 cartridge went to inside lube ( bullet diamenter of .386) the barrel diamenter of .410 remained the same. the origional inside lube bullet had a hollow base or heal, and when the bullet left the chamber it exploded out to the skirt diamenter.
i have owned a few .41 single action's and some as late as 1915 all have the same bore diamenter as the black powder barrels.
Maybe not relivent to this thread, but when you pull the unfired bullet from an origional black powder 450 eley round the base of the bullet is helled also, i only discovered this reciently, when i pulled a few reciently to put in the case of my london colt.
Mabe thats why you can shoot with some degree of accuracy a 450 eley in any of the english colt saa's chambered in the .476 eley cal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The .41 Colt New Service: there were two, however they were experimental for testing the .41 Special cartridge and, as Judge Colt says, not official production.

Experimental, New Service Revolver
Thanks for this interesting info 455Eley!


Too bad the ".41 Colt Special" did not end up going into production, Revolver wise and Cartridge wise.

210 Grain 900 FPS sounds very respectable to me, and no doubt would have to just about anybody.

But, I imagine, by then, the S & W .357 Magnum, was pretty much the one to beat...and, the .41 Colt Special was not going to come out ahead with that one in the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I stand to be corrected on this but i am prety sure when the .41 cartridge went to inside lube ( bullet diamenter of .386) the barrel diamenter of .410 remained the same.

Oh eeeesh...I hope not...


That sounds terrible!


I guess I will find out though...I just sent off some dough for two Army Specials in .41 Colt.

Both are said to need Work, and my interest is in seeking Gunsmithing projects to keep learning with, and, in this instance, too, that I have long wanted an Army Special in .41 Colt.

So, I will make measurements of the Bore and examine the Cylinder Bores and so on, and find out what is what on these two anyway, which are circa 1910-1912-ish or so.


the origional inside lube bullet had a hollow base or heal, and when the bullet left the chamber it exploded out to the skirt diamenter.

As so many were back when. Other than the ".44 S & W Russian" anyway....or other than the ".38 S & W" also, I think, as both of those were inside Lube, form the get-go, if I am remembering right.



i have owned a few .41 single action's and some as late as 1915 all have the same bore diamenter as the black powder barrels.
Sorry to hear this!

No wonder one hears so many asides of the .41 Colt being 'inaccurate'...or no wonder it was failing to find the following it would have had, were the Barrel Bore to have deferred to the newer inside lube Bullet Diameter.

The Poor Bullet may not even be engaging the Rifling with that set up.


Maybe not relivent to this thread, but when you pull the unfired bullet from an origional black powder 450 eley round the base of the bullet is helled also, i only discovered this reciently, when i pulled a few reciently to put in the case of my london colt.
Mabe thats why you can shoot with some degree of accuracy a 450 eley in any of the english colt saa's chambered in the .476 eley cal.
I think the .476 was describing the diameter of the Cartridge Case, or, the diameter of the Bullet, when it had been outside lube, and hence, the same diameter of the Cartridge Case.

While, the .450 is describing the diameter between the Lands of the Barrel Bore...and, the .455 is describing the diameter between the Groves of the Barrel Bore.

Or maybe I am all wet...Lol...but such varied ways of describing, were afoot back then.

At that phase, everyone was only some few steps forward from using 'Gauge' ( or how many Balls to the Pound ) to denote the size of the Projectile or Ball...or when referring in that way, to what we now call Calibre in terms of so many Hundredths or Thousandths of an Inch, let alone, whether Calibre stated for an Arm, is given or taken to mean the diameter between Lands, or the diameter between Grooves...or the diameter of the Bullet, before squishing down, into the constraining effect of the Lands and Grooves.
 

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Two things hampered the .41 Colt in the 20th century: heel based bullets & the fact that the RNL bullet was a loser for stopping people no matter what the caliber. Elmer Keith wrote of this extensively in Sixguns. RNL bullets are great for penetration as he said, but lousy for killing anything right away unless you hit the brainpan or spine. The same principle applied to .38 Spcl. using 158 gr. & 200 gr. RNL. They didn't call them "widowmakers" for nothing.

What seems simple for us today took our forefathers over a hundred years to figure out regarding defensive bullets, albeit the British were onto it in the late 1890's with their short lived "Manstopper" Webley round.
 

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Although i would not do it now but in the past with a couple of smokless .41 sa's i reamed out the cylinder with a 38 40 reamer,hence a 38wcf saa and away we go plinking,the 41 back then was just t much of a drama reloading. still have a 100 or so 41 unfired brass,which ill never use
 

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Oye, your Army Specials should have bores over .40, probably about .406. For that you use .386 hollow base bullets of as close to pure lead as possible. I carry a 1910 made one nearly every day in the woods and get reasonable (5-7" groups) accuracy out to about 15-20 yards, and I'm not that good of a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Oye, your Army Specials should have bores over .40, probably about .406. For that you use .386 hollow base bullets of as close to pure lead as possible. I carry a 1910 made one nearly every day in the woods and get reasonable (5-7" groups) accuracy out to about 15-20 yards, and I'm not that good of a shot.

I can not make up my mind at this moment whether to be depressed or inspired! Lol...

But we shall see...

No way will I be happy with a .406 Bore, and .386 Hollow Base Bullets passing through it.

I can not help it, my general Engineering background is just cringing with all same sensations as one would have if one were chewing Aluminum Foil.


Some of me is already brooding on seeing how .41 S & W Magnum Cases will fit...and or, how they may be made TO fit via some careful minute 'Reaming' of the Cylinder...and shortening of the Cartridge Case.

I just did a couple fast Googles, and what I am finding, is that the .41 Colt Cartridge Case, was ( or is ) 1.138 inches long.

The .41 S & W Magnum Cartridge Case, is 1.290 inches long.

Well, we shall see...


I am open minded!

Which also means ( forgive me! ) that I am open minded to converting a .41 Colt Revolver which suffers these poor Bullet fit woes, by adapting .41 Mag Brass if need be.


.38-40 would be too large a diameter Cartridge Case base, for the Army Special Cylinder to oblige, I think.


I want the Bullets to fit the Cylinder Bores well, and to fit the Barrel well!

I can't help it!!


Lol...


So, I will be brooding on this, definitely, and at length!
 
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