Re: 1911 .45 ACP followup

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Posted by Michaelson from on April 18, 1998 at 13:05:26:

In Reply to: Re: 1911 .45 ACP followup posted by Greg on April 18, 1998 at 01:31:13:

: No problem, sir, I stand corrected. I do, however, remember reading in a gun magazine about the Webley conversion and the .45 caliber being different from your standard .45. Perhaps I had it backwards-is there such an ammo called ".45 Smith and Wesson"? I seem to recall there being such, and if so, it is different from the .45 ACP. Thank you for the clarification. The gun-end of this hobby I have tried to rely upon my brother and father for some of the info, but alas, they are more interested in modern weapons and care little for my interest in obtaining a Webley. Greg

Well, to ramble a little more on the subject, the .40 wasn't introduced until about 8 years ago by S & W for their 3rd generation automatics, so it doesn't figure into this. The .455 gun conversions to .45 ACP occurred shortly after WWI, not WWII, when several lots of British and Canadian revolvers came from military surplus and were released for sell on the open US market. Since the .455 isn't used in the US, the guns, Webley's included, were reamed out to the .45 ACP cal. and used with half moon and full moon clips, because as stated above,.45's were rimless and therefore wouldn't seat in a cylinder without some form of gripping surface at the rim. This also allowed for greater speed in reloading, since the individual could drop load 2 sets of 3, or 1 set of 6 rounds at a time instead of 6 individual rounds in the reload. The current "speed loader" that is used has been patterned after this old, but tried and true developement. The S & W model 1917, a contemporary of the S & W N frame triple lock that Indy carried in Raiders, as well as the Colt New Service were built for issue in WWI as .45 ACP's, specifically for the use of our soldiers that served in WWI, because the US Army was at that time changing over from the weak Colt Navy .38 long revolver of the Cubian War of 1898 to the .45 ACP Colt model 1911 and ammo. When WWI started, there were not enough 1911's available for issuance, and therefore since Smith and Colt already had been producing the large frame .45 cal. long version, the ultimate decision became to ream the rimspace of the .45 longs to accept the half moon clips of the .45 ACP. They had the ammo available, but not the guns. Yes, there was a limited issuance of the .455 in the Colt 1911, but for the same reason, the revolvers were chambered for .455 and shipped back to the Canadian and British allies for issuance to their troops, being the .455 being the British ammo of choice since the late 1800's. .455 was successfully used until the first part of WWII, when the British developed the .38 S & W round that had a 200 grain bullet with the same stopping power of the .455, therefore phasing out the Webley Mark VI for the Mark IV .38 mentioned above. Much lighter gun with comparable stopping power. Sources: National Rifle Association history of the firearm, and exploded views of same, vol. II, 1985. Also several issues of Guns and Ammo covered this subject, as recently as the feb. 1998 issue. The Webley that you have is a .38 S & W revolver, very well made, but very much smaller than the Mark VI. I used to own both. The Mark VI is definately a monster compared to the Mark IV, and the actions are completely different. The cylinder stop at the base of the Mark IV's cylinder is very difficult to find in parts stores, it being the weakess point of the whole thing, so if you still have it, take very good care not to force the cylinder at the closing of the gun, as I did by mistake. You'll play hob finding a decent replacement. Indy would be very correct in Raiders carrying the triple lock and the 1911 as they both came from a period of time he was very familiar with, WWI, they were guns developed for the military of the time, and both used the same ammunition, developed for his time period. In the 30's they were plentiful on the open US market, since the military was divesting itself of all it's surplus munitions, (we're great at the old turning swords back into plowshares , they being shocked when trouble appears, where are all our weapons?!!) and could be purchased for next to nothing during that time period. This is the reason the Webley has and never will really make any sense to me regarding a choise of carry for Indy in the third movie. It's heavy, he really didn't have access to ammo inside of the US, where he was based, and considering it was 1938 in the third movie, why change to this revolver from what was very easy and common in any hardware store in America to find. In reality, since Hollywood only has the two current blank's, those being .38 and .45 cal, this also sort of limits the choise of guns in these large frame revolvers as to what they can use. The history of these weapons are fascinating subjects in themselves, and actually can reflect the mood of a nation in terms of what weapons were available at the time. One final note, a lot of these old Smiths and Colts ended up in the coal mine areas of West Virgina and Virgina during the 30's because of the coal mine strikes and union formations that were occuring at that time. It was amazing how many of these showed up during the late 50's and early 60's in used gun store when these folks decided to trade them in. You could find them in any store, some in mint condition and for next to nothing. Oh to be able to go back in time with a few dollars in your pocket....Regards. Michaelson

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