The .45 Colt cartridge, an emblematic symbol of the American frontier, is a piece of firearms history that has stood the test of time. Also known as the .45 Long Colt or simply .45 LC, this round was originally developed by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in 1872.
Origins and Invention
The .45 Colt was designed by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, a pioneering company in the firearms industry. This round was initially developed for the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver, often known as the 'Peacemaker' or 'Frontier Six-Shooter'. The creation of this cartridge was intended to meet the US Army's desire for a more potent caliber than the .36 and .44 calibers used during the Civil War.
In 1872, Colt successfully designed the .45 Colt round, combining it with their innovative Single Action Army revolver, which was officially adopted by the U.S. Army in 1873.
Weapons Using the .45 Colt
Over the years, the .45 Colt cartridge has been used in a variety of firearms, primarily revolvers, lever-action rifles, and a few semi-automatic pistols. As mentioned, it was initially designed for use in the Colt Single Action Army revolver, but it was also used in several other models of Colt revolvers, including the Colt Bisley and the Colt New Service.
In addition to Colt, other manufacturers have produced weapons chambered for this cartridge. Some examples include the Smith & Wesson Model 25, the Ruger Blackhawk, and the Ruger Redhawk. Furthermore, lever-action rifles like the Winchester Model 1892 and the Marlin Model 1894 have also been produced in .45 Colt.
Predecessors and Successors
The .45 Colt cartridge was a successor to earlier Colt cartridges, most notably the .36 caliber Colt Navy and the .44 caliber Colt Army used during the Civil War era. These rounds, while effective in their time, lacked the stopping power the Army sought, leading to the development of the .45 Colt.
As for successors, the .45 Colt’s dominance was challenged in 1892 when the U.S. Army replaced it with the .38 Long Colt. However, the .38 Long Colt proved disappointing during the Philippine-American War, leading to the development of the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) in 1904. The .45 ACP was designed for the Colt M1911 semi-automatic pistol and offered improved performance, effectively serving as the .45 Colt’s successor in military service.
However, despite these newer cartridges, the .45 Colt maintained its popularity, especially among civilian shooters and hunters, due to its performance characteristics and historical significance.
The original load of the .45 Colt cartridge consisted of 40 grains of black powder propelling a 255-grain bullet at about 900 feet per second. This provided ample stopping power and was well-suited for its intended roles in military service, law enforcement, and frontier defense.
Modern .45 Colt ammunition, typically loaded with smokeless powder, maintains similar performance characteristics, though there is now a wide range of bullet weights and velocities available depending on the specific load. It remains an effective cartridge for medium-sized game hunting, and modern .45 Colt revolvers are still often used in various shooting sports, particularly Cowboy Action Shooting.
The .45 Colt round is notable for its low pressure, compared to many modern rounds. This makes it a comfortable round to shoot, with moderate recoil.
The .45 Colt cartridge is a timeless icon of the American West and a testament to the innovative spirit of Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. Its substantial power, combined with its use in iconic weapons like the Single Action Army revolver, helped shape the firearms landscape and win the west. Even over a century after its inception, the .45 Colt cartridge continues to serve as a reliable round for shooting, hunting, and sport.
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