Who Shoots A Colt New Service? What caliber?

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Ed Harris posted this 01 February 2019

I got lucky on another GunBroker auction and picked up a 1914 date of manufacture Colt New Service in .455 Eley.  Looks like it will be a great shooter and I look forward to a range trip when the wind dies down, the snow melts and the temperature is above freeezing.

Who else here has a New Service Colt?  What caliber?  What do you shoot in yours?

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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RicinYakima posted this 01 February 2019

I bought mine as a basket of parts, .455 Webley frame, 38 special cylinder that had been bored to .428" and no barrel. Chambered the cylinder in 44 Special and made a heavy 5 inch barrel from a Green Mountain blank. Good shooter, ugly as sin.

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Ken T posted this 01 February 2019

I have a half dozen.Two .45 Colt,.38-40,.44-40,.45ACP,and .38 Spl.I use cast bullets in all of them.The .45ACP was worked on by somebody who knew what he was doing.The action  is better than the Python and Officers Models I own.It has the old style Micro sights and the barrel is a newer .45 Colt barrel.

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Scearcy posted this 02 February 2019

Now I am not much of a handgun guy but the old horse has serious character. I look forward to the range report.

Jim

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gnoahhh posted this 02 February 2019

Mine is a 1920-vintage commercial model, .45 Colt, 5 1/2" barrel. Superb condition, excellent lock up/timing, nice trigger pull (don't ask me how heavy a pull, I never measured it). Throats are a uniform .454 so I size my 454424"s to that diameter. Cast of WW's+lead, 50/50 lube, 7.0 grains Univ Clays, it is my standard load for defending the backyard from marauding beer cans, clay pigeons, and dirt clods.

I too am not much of a handgun guy and the moment I found this load to shoot well in this gun 15 years ago I stopped right there with experimenting any more.

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Dukem posted this 02 February 2019

Duke, (timidly raising his hand in the back of the class room)," I do Mr. Harris sir." A 1930 38 w.c.f. I am having a bit of a "thing" about that cartridge, so I have a 1910 Model 92 rifle, a 1910 SAA, the New Service, and a Uberti SAA clone. I have a Magma 40-180-rnfp mould and I have loaded 5.5 grains of Trail Boss and I am comfortable shooting that in all of them. I'd like to standardize at 8.0 grains of Unique, but I'm a little uncertain about the 1st Gen SAA. I size to .402". Sadly the New Service shoots 6" low at 20 yards and I'm afraid I'll go to hell if I file the front sight to raise the point of impact.

 

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Ed Harris posted this 02 February 2019

Dukem,

Not sure if Accurate 40-220H or 224H would fit in your Colt cylinder, but if you'd like some samples to try, PM me with your snailmail address and I'll send you a few.

I don't recall anyone writing about the .38-40 for The Fouling Shot.  It would seem your stable is well equipped and that you would be just the fellow to do so.  Please accept my encouragement to proceed on that project when it would please you.

 

 

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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BudHyett posted this 02 February 2019

New Service; .45 Colt, 7 1/2 barrel, standard commercial model. Later production with the flexible firing pin. My father was in the USMC headed for the South Pacific and wanted more security. He  bought it from a retired South Dakota City Marshall living in Rock Island and then bought a full-flap holster in Oceanside. 

The load is 6.5 grains Unique, 200 grain H&G semi-wadcutter, a good load for both the New Service and the Colt SAA. This load was effective enough to kill dogs running the hogs and groundhogs in the yard. 

This revolver has a history:

  • The Marshall was walking down the street one day in the 1930's when four bank robbers ran out of the bank in front of him.
  • In the ensuing gun battle, the score was bank robbers 0, Marshall 4.  
  • The revolver was on Guadalcanal and Guam where Dad was wounded and managed to get the revolver back onboard the hospital ship
  • A Japanese submarine surfaced and stopped the hospital ship to search for weapons
  • The doctors took Dad's revolver and a 1911, that his friend's father hand stolen out of the USMC in WW 1, and hid them
  • They returned the pistols after the Japanese submarine had been gone for 24 hours. 

The Marshall carved an Easter Bunny with Easter Basket in the left hand grip. 

 

Country boy from Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 02 February 2019

great story, Bud !! .... ken

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Dukem posted this 02 February 2019

Dukem,

Not sure if Accurate 40-220H or 224H would fit in your Colt cylinder, but if you'd like some samples to try, PM me with your snailmail address and I'll send you a few.

 

 I'll make a careful measurement of the cylinder to compare with your diagram of Accurate's bullet. Plus 40 grains should raise the point of impact some.

Duke

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 04 February 2019

I also have a 38-40 my father picked up in late 50's. 5 1/2 " barrel, 1923 vintage in excellent shape, with an old holster by S. D. Myers which is still good.  Lately experimenting w a Ruger NMBH in 38-40 and trying to get to range with latest loads w/401043 6.0 grs HP38 and some 10 year old 401043 with 7.7 gr Unique (which I just noticed is over the new recommendations in 4th Lyman Cast bullet manual - my old one (3rd) went to 10 grs with 401043).  Probably ok in Ruger - powder was from 2009 or before:  anyone aware of powder changes or just more conservative data?

Thanks

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Ed Harris posted this 04 February 2019

My understanding is that Lyman is being very cautious with load data which they are unable to pressure test.  Much of the older data would exceed SAAMI MAP, and was developed using subjective pressure signs which are now deemed unreliable.  The publishers of today's loading manuals are more concerned with ensuring safe loads than seeing how large a velocity number they can get.  They must also tailor the loads for the weakest gun they might be used in.  I think that your 7.7 of Unique is probaby fine in a 1923 New Service, but not in a black powder frame Colt Frontier Six Shooter.

A practice I have used successfully is to measure the velocity of factory loads in the gun, several different batches, including "vintage" ammo when obtainable.  Often I have purchased partial boxes of pre-WW2 ammo just for the purpose of testing them, using that data to benchmark what my handloads should do.  In calibers like the .32-20 and .44-40 I have found this method produces useful results. I would surmise the .38-40 would do likewise. 

If unable to test .38-40 factory ammo, I would shoot for comparison a full-charge black powder load using good quality powder, with light compression and a suitable bullet of correct hardness, weight and diameter.  Hopefully DukeM will chime in here and provide a more learned comment on your load, but I believe my judgement to be correct.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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JeffinNZ posted this 04 February 2019

Ed: Is the .455 Eley the same as the British .455 service ammo?  Who would those revolvers have been made for?

Cheers from New Zealand

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Ed Harris posted this 04 February 2019

The .455 Colt and the .455 Eley were commercial loads assembled with 265-grain lead hollow-based bullet in the longer 0.86" Mk1 type case, versus the shorter 0.76" case used in most British, Cdn. and ANZAC service loads. 

A good reference is:  http://cartridgecollectors.org/?page=introduction-to-455-cartridges

Canadian Army officers, like their British counterparts, purchased sidearms at their own expense.  The only stipulation was that commercial pistols had to be able to use issue service ammunition.  Both the British and Canadian governments  also purchased pistols for issue as needed to other ranks.  Most of the .455 revolvers still available in the US came across from the Canadian surplus market, and unlike most of the .455 revolvers imported into the US before 1968 that were shaved to fire .45 ACP cartridges, the Canadian examples are usualoly still chambered in their original .455 caliber.  

My New Service is one of those.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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JeffinNZ posted this 05 February 2019

 Now THAT is a confusing subject.  BEST quote from the text referring to the .450 Adams cartridge.  "Adams gun/cartridge’s lack of effectiveness where it served more to annoy the natives than to dispatch them."  LOL.

Cheers from New Zealand

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RicinYakima posted this 05 February 2019

Well, a .455" pure lead bullet weighting  225 grains at 650 f/s may not sound like much, I would not want to get hit with one. On the other side, unless you had a body hit above the diaphragm or in the CNS, it was not a stopper. Took them a couple of minutes to realize they were dead.

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Dukem posted this 06 February 2019

Well Ed, indeed I do have a nice stable of 38 w.c.f. firearms, and I have an Oehler chronograph, and I am not intimidated by writing articles, so. It just may be awhile before I dive in because Wisconsin weather can be challenging. Plus in addition to casting, loading, and shooting, I ice fish, open water fish, ride motorcycle, and mess with a hotrod and a 57 Olds Super 88. In about 10 days I'll be ending my second stint as a LEO after 43 years, so that will free up some time. Now, off to the debris field I call a reloading room and measure that New Service cylinder length.

DukeM

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Dukem posted this 06 February 2019

Darn it Ed, the nose of your 220 gr. Accurate 40 caliber bullet is .025" too long, and that would be with the bullet nose perfectly flush with the front of the cylinder.

Duke

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Ed Harris posted this 06 February 2019

You could order 40-220H with its nose shortened by 0.04, reducing its overall length to .66, which would provide about a 0.315" diameter meplat. 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 06 February 2019

I did some chronograph work yesterday - some results follow straight off the tape.

38-40  401043/WW0.401  7.7 GRS Unique Rem-UMC balloon head cases, CCI 300 loaded in 2009  944 fpsm, Ruger NMBH

            401043/WW/0.401  6.0 grs HP 38  reformed 44-40 range brass  CCI 300 in Ruger NMBH  852 fps mean;  Same loads in Colt New Service 776 fpsm    Ruger must be tighter.

            For Ed's info   United States Cartridge Company Caliber 38 for Winchester 1873 (light blue box marked LESMOK Central Fire Solid Head), cases are Balloon head with a small primer inscribed with US on face.  Box has 2 SC business license tax 5 cent stamps on top.  Fired 6 rds in Ruger NMBH since I figured it would be easier to clean - 849 fpsm with 812 to 884 spread, lots of smoke and all went bang.  Took a while to clean before I did anything else.

            Western 38-40 180 gr SP, yellow box, no zip code, 2 8 cent SC tax stamps, probably from the 60's  1068 fpsm from Ruger.

            Old Rem-UMC JSP Balloon head  only got one reading for 3 rds (one didn't fire), probably operator error   960 fps.

Have readings for misc. 32-20, 45 Colt and 38 SP/357 loads available. if anyone is interested.

I did learn that a Ruger OMBH that has many problems, some fixed, is only going to be accurate using 357 brass, while I have been trying to make it shoot with 38 spl brass - apparently the excess cyl gap and 0.360 throats don't like short brass. 

Thanks for reading.

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Ed Harris posted this 06 February 2019

Alyman#1,

What is barrel length?  5-1/2"?

Would be helpful to measure cylinder gap also, as that is another variable.

If you want some .360" bullets to try in your OMBH I can send you some.

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Dukem posted this 07 February 2019

Does anyone have an idea what factory ammo pressures and velocity was like in 1910. I have a 1910 SAA and a 1910 Model 92, and the 1930 New Service. I would be comfortable replicating 1910 factory ammo in any of those firearms. I believe 180 grain bullets were standard, and since the New Service is not even close to pristine, I could file the front sight with a fairly clear conscience.

Duke

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Ed Harris posted this 07 February 2019

According to Hatcher's Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers (1935) revolver loads for the .38-40 produced 950 fps from a 5-1/2"  barrel at a maximum pressure of 14,000 c.u.p. using 16 grains of Sharpshooter, 14 grains of S.R. No. 80 or 33 grains of King's Semi Smokeless. 

Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th Edition (2010) on p. 261 lists 5.4 grains of Bullseye as an "accuracy load" with RCBS #40-180CM for 898 fps at 12,400 psi.  Velocities in 7-1/2" barrel.

Also listed are are 5.5 grains of TiteGroup for 893 fps at 11,700 psi,

6.0 grains of Trailboss for 794 fps at 10,500 psi,

or 7.2 grains of Unique for 897 fps at 11,100 psi,

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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grumpy429 posted this 07 February 2019

I have my grandfather's New Service made in 1910.  45 Colt.  I shoot it regularly with 250 gr cast bullets.  

Texas will secede and take its place among the nations once more

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SavvyJack posted this 07 February 2019

.45 Colt but my dad took it!!  Okay, it is still his. It was my granddaddy's

 

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SavvyJack posted this 07 February 2019

Slicked it up a little, enough to where my daughter can shoot it.

 

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Ed Harris posted this 08 February 2019

New design for Colt New Service .455

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 08 February 2019

Ed - barrel length is 5 1/2";  cylinder gap is 0.008 pass 0.009 hold if I did your procedure correctly.  According to my old records the bore is 0.394, groove is 0.403-0.405 and chambers are 0.400".  The only load I chronographed from New Service was 6.0 grs HP38 w/401043 bullet.All the rest are with Ruger NMBH since I had never chrono'ed New Service.  NMBH Cylinder gap is 0.004 pass, 0.005 hold - 0.395 bore - 0.4005 groove with 0.398 chambers.  I had not checked dimensions when I posted earlier.

The 357 OMBH did quite well for me finally with 357 cases and the same bullets I was working with (Rem bulk 23634 358 dia which run slightly over)  4-5" vs not keeping 38 loads in a SB 100 yard at 25 yards and me fighting the flinches.  Most of my cast bullets don't run large enough as cast, but I haven't run any lately so will try that soon.  What do you have that run that large.  Thanks

Al

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Ed Harris posted this 08 February 2019

Bullets I use in .38 Special which run large are:

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Ed Harris posted this 12 February 2019

New Accurate 45-264D mold arrived today. If anyone here who shoots .455 is willing to shoot test groups, or easure velocities, PLEASE PM me and I will send as-cast, naked bullets for you to size and lube as you like.

Recommended charge is 3.5 grains of Bullseye in 0.76" Starline or Hornady .455 Mk2 brass and 4 grains in Dominion 0.86" .455 Eley cases or in "shaved" revolvers firing .45 ACP or Auto Rim .890" cases.  Also you could use 4.0 grains of 231, WST, 7625 or 452AA in the .76" Mk2 cases or 4.5 grains of Unique or Universal in the 0.86" Mk1 .455 Eley/Colt cases.

I would request photos of targets, chronograph data if able to do so, revolver description, cylinder gap hepful, all for compiing and publication in The Fouling Shot.

Left to right:

WW2-era Kynoch (1942) MkVIz ball cartridge with 265-grain FMJ bullet.

.455 Eley assembled in reworked Starline .45 Schofield case shortened to 0.86" and rim turned.  Bullet is Accurate 45-290H, which I load with 3.5 grains of Bullseye.

Fiocchi 0.76" length .455 Mk2 case, assembled with new Accurate 45-264H bullet.  Note that cylindrical front band above crimp groove approximates height of .455 Eley case mouth, to aid cartridge alignment in Webley chambers which are normally long enough to accept either round.

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Ed Harris posted this 17 February 2019

25-yard sandbagged groups should be self-explanatory

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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RicinYakima posted this 17 February 2019

I think that will solve every "wolf at the door" problem anyone ever has.

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 15 March 2019

In digging through my ammo, I located both a box of Remington and Peters Factory Soft Point 38-40 loads that I believe are from the late 50's early 60's- it is my intention to chronograph these in both New Service and NMBH.  Don't know when it will happen, but will post when done.

Also tried to find out some more info on the US Cartridge Co 38-40 loads chronographed and reported above.  One of the collector sites had  pictorial list of 22 ammo boxes by US Cartridge Co. another site notes that Winchester took over USCCo in 1926 and subsequent boxes were not marked Lowell Mass.  The 22 site noted that the Light blue half boxes with US in a circle were used from approximately 1910 into the 1920's - given that my New Service dates from 1923, it seems logical.  I hope this might help with dating these loads, which were with the revolver when obtained in the late 50's.

I did find a site that showed Remington ammo boxes and the changes over the years with some dating information.  All of these sites are cartridge collector locations.

Al

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 28 March 2019

Some data taken recently follows:

Peters 38-40 180 gr JSP Index 3856 from 1962-68 in New Service (1923)   859 mean, ES 74 for 5 rounds.

Remington 39-40  180 gr JSP Index 8138 from 1961 in NS 822 avg ES 121 for 5 rounds

Reload 180 gr 401043 7.7 gr Unique in Rem-UMC balloon head cases  829 mean 69 ES for 4 rounds.

Reload 180 gr hard cast Ga Arms bullet 7.2 grs Unique in mixed modern brass 883 mean ES 101 for 5 rounds.

Some loads fired in Ruger NMBH

   Reload 180 hard cast 7.2 grs Unique modern brass 1001 mean ES 69 for 4 rds

   Peters 180 JSP 2 rds 886 fps (both)

   Remington 180 JSP 1 round 854 fps

Dating for the Rem/Peters ammo above was from photos from International Ammunition Association reference articles.  Both Remington and Peters headstamps are R_P and the Peters brass appears to have a slight balloon head configuration while the Remington is similar to the modern brass I have.  Advertised velocities listed in several Stoeger's catalogs going back to 1947 show 1310 to 1330 fps for rifle and 975 to 985 for revolver in 1947, to 775 fps in 1966 for both brands   Western velocities for the ammo chronographed earlier are similar.

Am working on getting some photos of boxes and New Service when I learn the ropes.

For Dukem, just know that I filed down the front sight on mine probably 40 or 50 years ago and didn't think a thing about it in my ignorance.

Al

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 29 March 2019

38-40 New Service with original grips and S. D. Myers holster

3840NS

US Cartridge Co probably from 1920's 180? gr lead using LESMOK powder

USC3840

Peters 3840 180 JSP

P3840

Western 180 gr JSP from 60''s

West3840

Rem 3840 180 JSP from 1961

R3840

New service front sight as filed down years ago - works with most of the reloads I have used.

FSNS

Hope these first efforts are OK - still have several things to work out navigating the process. 

Al

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Ed Harris posted this 29 March 2019

Really great photos and data on the .38-40, thanks for posting!

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Dukem posted this 31 March 2019

Thanks Alyman#1. I appreciate your info.

Duke

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Ed Harris posted this 02 April 2019

Best load so far in the .455 Eley Colt New Service.  Detailed doc'ed on the target. This load is fine in the Colt New Service, but I would NOT try it in a hinged-top Webley!

Accurate 45-264D RCBS LD#8 rotor 4.1 grains 452AA, Starline case, Rem. 2-1/2 primer, 12 shots at 25 yards.

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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RicinYakima posted this 02 April 2019

Ed, that is looking very good!

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M3 Mitch posted this 03 April 2019

Now you guys have gone and done it - I have my eye on one that's for sale in an ad in Gun Digest Magazine.  The .455 Eley caliber are a good bit lower priced than a similar .45 Colt.  Well.  Most guys who don't handload want a gat they can buy "shells" for OTC in most any discount store, but the money saved on the .455 Eley one would easily buy a mold, die set, and a big bag of brass...Starline has brass...I got nothing against .45 Colt, but for a lot less money to get something more different - Lord knows I seem to like "different"..LOL.

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RicinYakima posted this 03 April 2019

The ability to appreciate historic and unique firearms is the sign of a mature individual. Mostly.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 03 April 2019

i see the latest speer loaderbook has dropped 45 colt ....   sigh ...

ken

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Brodie posted this 03 April 2019

Welllll,  She certainly is pretty and shoots fairly well, even if it is only a 99, which I haven't been able to do for quite a while.  I think I had better go practice.

B.E.Brickey

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Ed Harris posted this 03 April 2019

Welllll,  She certainly is pretty and shoots fairly well, even if it is only a 99, which I haven't been able to do for quite a while.  I think I had better go practice.

 

LOL! The sandbags help the grouping, but the 70-year-old eyeballs, even with my new Eye Pals don't hold perfect elevation with iron sights all of the time

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Keith posted this 05 April 2019

 

I have enjoyed reading all the post here.  The New Service I am shooting is a 44-40 made in 1915. I have come to really appreciate this cartridge in rifles and wanted to have a revolver but prefer double action Colts to the single action.  For those that want to know the details the cylinder throats allow and 0.429 bulletin to just pass on two of the chambers and hold on the other four.  Barrel is 0.4275 and the cylinder gap 0.007.  Winter has prevented getting to the range and casting until this month.  I had a box of commercial  225 grain 0.429 cast given to me.  I have shot a few of these with 5.0 grains of Bullseye.  The accuracy was less than I thought the old Colt could do and I suspect the bullets and lube are too hard.  A new Accurate mold casting a 205 grain is here and this has now become the summers project.  Given the age of the Colt and the fixed sights I will stay with the level one loads and bullseye and 231.  Just a not to other shooting the 44-40 I have searched a number of references on loading the 44-40 and find the a number of authors in the main line print list hotter loading for the cartrige that are likely more in line with Lymans level two firearms. 

Again for all those posting on these old cartridges I have enjoy the comments.  I find these much more interesting than any of the newer cartridges.  While I might not be shooting the same cartridge it is always possible to learn from the experiences of others.

Keith DVM

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BudHyett posted this 06 April 2019

I concur about the romance and nostalgia of the old revolvers. Shooting the New Service brings nostalgia to my teen years on the farm a time long ago and a land far away. Although my father killed a full-tilt running Doberman at eighty yards, I do not need loads that powerful. After discussion with Ric Bowman at a Puyallup match, I stick with 6.5 grains Unique and a 200 grain H&G semi-wadcutter or a 235 grain SAECO 954 for the New Service and the Colt SAA, Second Generation.

One aspect of these revolvers is the knife blade and gutter sights. There is a annual match honoring Elmer Keith south of Spokane. The targets are set at 150, 200, 265 and 650 yards. The competition is fierce, but friendly. Guns are restricted to iron sights, 10 1/2 inch barrels or less, and any iron sights. Ten shots at any target, you get a choice, scoring is higher the smaller the target and the farther out. It will be a challenge to shoot this match with the New Service and the SAA. The knife blade and gutter sights would be more in line with the early days of Elmer Keith.

 Elmer Keith Memorial Match

Country boy from Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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