A New Cartridge?

by
posted on December 18, 2013
wiley-clapp.jpg (1)

I have been advised that the brass manufacturer Star-Line is making a new style of brass for Speedbump Stockworks, which special ordered it after purchasing the rights to the proprietary case from Bruce Young. Intended for the Cowboy Action Game, the brass is a new rimmed .45 case, head-stamped “Cowboy” and “.45 Special.” It is best described as a .45 Colt, shortened to .45 ACP length. The necessity for such a thing seems kind of elusive until you look into the situation more deeply.

The .45 Colt cartridge has been with us since the 1870s, when it was introduced with the new Peacemaker Colt Army revolver. That was the heyday of blackpowder and the new round had room for plenty of it. As a modern round with modern powders, the .45 Colt’s case capacity is excessive. Cowboy Action Shooting demands low velocities and lead bullets, which is no challenge for a competent handloader. Still, it would be make for more efficient reloading if the case was shorter. Understand that the old Long Colt is probably the most popular round in the game, both in replica and Colt SAAs, as well as many lever guns. So what can you find for shorter brass?

The .45 Auto Rim might seem like a good idea. It is a short, rimmed cartridge designed for revolver cylinders chambered for the .45 ACP-like the 300,000 Colt and S&W 1917s of World War I  On this one, the rim is extra-thick to equal the ACP rim thickness, plus the additional thickness of the moon clip for which the guns were designed. The Auto Rim works to perfection in DA/SA revolvers chambered for ACP, but won’t work in SAA revolvers chambered for either the ACP or Long Colt.

How about the short round with a .45 Colt rim? That’s the .45 S&W, which is sometimes called the .45 Schofield or-infrequently-the .45 Short Colt. Built to equal the original performance of the .45 Colt in the shorter-cylindered Schofield revolvers, this cartridge was dormant for decades. The SASS people brought it back to life for their modern shooting sport. I would have bet that this would be the solution, but I was wrong. It turns out the .45 Schofield is a perfect fit in length for what we are seeking, but the rim is shaped to be incompatible with some of the guns guys are using in the Cowboy shoots.

For these reasons, we are about to get a .45 ACP-length, rimmed brass that will run through just about anything chambered for the .45 Colt. For shooters using S&W revolvers chambered for the Colt, this round makes an efficient option for custom loading. It might also be a functional option for use in some of those troublesome .45 Colt lever guns. It’s going to be fun to see how it all shakes out.

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