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My Colt NS takes a .452 slug inserted from the front with no problems.

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The standard 45 Colt bullet diameter was 0.454 up to WWII. Following the war the SAAMI standard was set at 0.451 to match the 45 ACP.

Any New Service is pre-WWII so it's no surprise if the chamber mouth will accept a 0.452 bullet.
 

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The throats of the cylinder charge holes for pre-WWII .45 Colt guns is even larger than the bore diameter, usually .456 to .458" because the .45 Colt was originally a black powder cartridge and looser tolerances were needed with the fouling left behind with black powder. The problem was that the gun manufacterers up until the 1990s did not tighten the chambers up for smokeless loads. This resulted in less than stellar accuracy in most cases. However, I have a Colt 1909 that shoots 2" groups at 25 yards with hard cast .452" sized bullets, go figure?

[This message has been edited by The Virginian (edited 01-13-2005).]

[This message has been edited by The Virginian (edited 01-13-2005).]
 

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Virginian; Have you slugged the bore in that 1909? I ask this because an old gunsmith,long gone,told me years ago,that as rifling "drills(?) wore down,the bores became smaller by a couple of thousands or so,until they were replaced. I knda "filed" it away,unti a couple of years ago at my local club range, a guy had a Mark IV Webley that was accurate as hell with .451 FMJs in the .45 Auto it had been converted to. These Webleys usaully run .455 or so,and aren't too good with the undersized bullets. So he consented to let me slug the bore at the range with a swaged Remington .454 sized 255 gr. I miked it when I got home; .451/.452!!! Maybe it was made just before a "rifling machine change of drills"?? Bud
 

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The New Service Model 1909 was not chambered for 45 Colt but rather for a cartridge called the 1909 Colt 45. This cartridge had a wide rim like the 45 Schoefield and a case about 0.010 longer than the 45 Colt. (Won't chamber more than 3 rounds in a SAA.) It was loaded with smokeless behind a 300 grain bullet. The revolver was meant to take the 45 Colt service load circa 1898 to 1911 as a secondary back up cartridge. This is why a New Service Model 1909 will shoot low with 45 Colt factory loads.

Since it was not chamberd for 45 Colt and used a more up to date version of the 45 Colt only as a secondary back up, I wonder if the chambers and barrel may have been tighter than on a standard 45 Colt of the time. I'll have to measure mine.

I have by the way, a full box of 20 rounds of the original 1909 Colt 45 government issue cartridges.
 

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The ".45 Caliber Revolver Ball Cartridges, Model of 1909" in my inventory are headstamped FA 2 11. They are loaded with a 255 grain RNFP of typical Colt geometry, very similar to the familiar Lyman 454190 but with a slightly smaller meplat. The powder charge is 8.4 grains of DuPont RSQ, lot 3 of 1911. The primer body is copper, there is some sort of black material around the edge of the primer, perhaps a tar or pitch intended to seal the carridge. The rim diameter of the cases averages just under 0.530", otherwise the cases are typical of .45 Colt cases of this period.

Nominal velocity, as printed on the box containing the cartridges, is 725 fps ± 25 fps.

This isn't to disagree with unspellable about the possibility of a 300 grain load- anything is possible as many experiments were carried out at FA. For instance both necked down blanks and steel cased gallery loads for the M 1909 revolver are known.

I'd recommend care in accepting a blanket statement regarding ammunition diameters in the early 20th century, particularly insofar as commercial ammunition goes. Remember, hardened alloys were very rarely used in revolver ammunition at the time. Exactly as is the case for handloaders today when using lead-tin alloys the optimum hardness will vary with the bullet geometry and the powder charge used as well as the revolver the loads are tested in. The ammunition industry did not begin to create standards until the early 20's; for many years the prime effort was directed at reducing the number of loads available to the shotgunner from many thousands to a few hundred.

Not all NS Colts in .45 Colt and .45 U.S.G. M 1909 are M 1909's, several commercial variants were produced both before and after the production of the M 1909.

Bob
 

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I was aware that the Colt 1909 used a variant of .45 Colt with a larger rim, but since none have been made in years, we must use .45 Colt ammo and brass with handloads. I have not had any problems with mine, but the tooling wearing down may explain why the bore may be tighter in mine. Interesting, I will have to slug my barrel. Does anyone know what a US Army Ordnance Manual for the Colt 1909 might be worth?
 

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bfoster,

My 1909 Colt 45 cartridges have a 300 grain lead bullet. I have them in the original box. So far as I know, that was supposed to be the standard load. The revolver is supposed to be sighted for the 300 grain bulet. As I recall the velocity is somewhere around 725 fps. That would make your load of a 255 grain bullet at 725 fps a bit on the light side.

I am wondering if the 255 grain load came later than the 300 grain load. As for the possibility of experiments, the army had already decided on a 45 self loader by 1909 but not which self loader. They adopted the 1909 NS as an interim measure.

The intitial specifications for the 45 self laoder cartridge called for it to duplicate the bullet weight and velocity of the 45 Government.

The 45 Government is another obscure cartridge today. It's the 45 Schoefield with the narrow 45 Colt rim so it would be usable in the SAA and was nicknamed the 45 Short Colt, hence the 45 Colt being called the 45 Long Colt. All this well before the notion of a 45 self loader came along, but today we have pretty much forgotten the 45 Government cartridge.

Any way, they may have been tinkering around with 45 revolver loads to try and settle on what they wanted a self loader to do.
 

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The Colt 1909 and the .45 Gov't cartridge according to the manual, only gave 725 fps with the 255 grain bullet, so I can imagine the 300 grain bullet being in the 600 fps range which may have caused tumbling and loss of accuracy in the 1909. I guess in the end they went with what they knew worked. Any idea, anyone what a US Ordnance Colt 1909 manual might be worth?
 
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