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Got a couple of new revolvers that I hope you guys can give me some insight on.  The first one (bottom) is a webley Mark VI that I was told had been converted to shoot 45 ACP or 45 AR.  The second is a a smith and wesson marked 455 webley that I was also told had been converted to shoot 45 ACP or 45 AR.  I was told the S&W was a hand ejector second model, but I don't see that written on it anywhere and I haven't verified it yet.  Both came with clips.  The Webley came with full moon clips, while the S&W came with both full and half moon clips. 

 

1686230049_455sflash.thumb.jpg.8d7fd8d2dbfc08deb81f84a33ad60225.jpg 

 

Here's my questions

1.  How can I know if they were really converted?  My thought is that I'd see what fit.  If I understand the process correctly; when converted, 455 webley ammo will no longer fit flush with the cylinder face, and if it wasn't converted, then 45 ACP in a clip won't fit because the cylinder won't close.  The only ammo I have right now is 45 ACP and it fits in the Webley in the clips.  The cylinder on the S&W won't close with full moon clips, but it will close with the half moon clips. 

 

2.  If they were converted, can I still shoot 455 webley?  The internet has told me both yes and no.  Another post said you can do it if you put them into half moon clips, but the clips have to be just the right thickness.  I'd like to be able to shoot 455 webley but that sounds sketchy. 

 

3.  What ammo can I shoot?  I've been told that both guns should be safe with standard pressure 45 ACP, but people sometimes hem and haw before saying that about the Webley.  I figure the best bet would be 45 acp cowboy loads, but I'm coming up dry in my search for those.  I ordered some 45 AR ammo from Load-X but I don't know if I'm going to get it.  He's swamped.  If anyone knows where I can pick up a couple boxes, I'd appreciate it. 

 

4.  I don't reload yet, but I do have a couple of manuals, and I cannot find load data for the 455 webley.  I see the 45 AR max pressures are in the 14k CUP, is that about where the 455 webley was?  The revolver is marked for 6 tons which would be 13,440 pounds.  But i assume that's PSI which doesn't translate directly to CUP. 

 

5.  What's the best place to get a new hammer for the S&W?  I don't like that bobbed hammer. 

 

Funny story.  I bought the webley and went to the gun show looking for ammo.  Couldn't find any ammo, but I found the S&W and figured, why the heck not.  Isn't it better to have 2 guns you can't find ammo for than 1? 

 

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Okay, sounds like both have been converted. The Smith is  a 2nd model, [commonly called a 1917, but yours is not one] If it has British Proof marks it was probably made between 1915 and 1917 for the Brits in WW1. It is safe to shoot .45 ACP in it as these are very strong guns. The Webley is not strong enough to stand up to normal power .45ACP or .45 AR ammo. It will stretch the frame. For the Webley you will need to load the ACP or AR rounds to a lower pressure. .455 Webley will not usually work after shaving the cylinder.

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Oh, check to see if the ejector rod is slightly loose, that can cause the cylinder to sit slightly back. The other possibility is a slightly bent full moon clip. More common with full clips than half/

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Just some thoughts...

 

S&W Revolver

You may want to check the cylinder on your S&W to see what / how the conversion was done.

If there are no stampings on the rear, then yes, it was cut.  (should see serial # digits & inspection marks)

Then did they bore it for ACP length?

If so. you should be able to test fit an empty case & see if it closes & has good headspace. (without using clips)

 

 

I have one of the S&W's & a Colt 1917  in .455 that were converted to also shoot .45 Colt.

They bored it deep enough to chamber the .45 Colt while countersinking the chamber approx. 1/2 the thickness of the Colt rim (until properly headspaced.)

This allowed the larger .455 Webley to still work as it has a larger rim to rest on the chamber mouth. (won't work with Auto-Rim)

 

Webley Revolver

There was a guy on E-Bay selling "re-conversion rings" , basically a shim to put on a .45 acp shaved cylinder to bring it back up to be able to shoot .455 Webley.

I haven't tried one.

 

Yes, .455 Webley pressure is much less than .45 acp. 

There are forums talking about loads & pressures that would be good to look at before loading any .45 acp for a Webley.

There is a lot of info out there on .455 Webley reloading, lots of variables. 

 

Happy researching & shooting

 

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yours [webley] was converted - i have both non and converted , you can get moon clips or better yet load your own 45 AR , but in both cases download to cowboy loads , these are not designed for much more than our loads and pressures 

Edited by watab kid
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Is the serial number stamped into the face of the cylinder? Somewhere I remember reading that it was, and if that is so that would be a simple way to tell if the cylinder had been shaved or not. Serial number - not shaved. Smooth face - shaved.

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1 hour ago, Major Crimes said:

This article has some interesting info on the Webley and different ammo natures you can use.

 

https://revivaler.com/reloading-455-webley-revolvers/

 

I just got done watching those videos.  It had been linked in an older thread I found on the wire.  Mike (who's SASS name I can't remember right now) and @Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 had some informative posts on these guns in the past. 

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Thanks everyone for the responses. 

 

 

On 9/16/2020 at 4:47 PM, DeaconKC said:

 If it has British Proof marks it was probably made between 1915 and 1917 for the Brits in WW1. It is safe to shoot .45 ACP in it as these are very strong guns.

 

It's got some proof marks, but I don't know what they are.  The marks on the back look like kanji to me, but I suppose one of those could be a crown. 

 

 

662725012_swheproof1.thumb.jpg.9116b08277e35e661fd401a19e34917e.jpg561034764_swheproof2.thumb.jpg.8ddcc51c8e15b07eb141f95a2b0660f2.jpg

 

On 9/16/2020 at 4:50 PM, DeaconKC said:

Oh, check to see if the ejector rod is slightly loose, that can cause the cylinder to sit slightly back. The other possibility is a slightly bent full moon clip. More common with full clips than half/

 

 

I actually learned that trick before I even bought it.  The ejector was loose and I couldn't close the cylinder.  I can gaurantee the moon clip was bent because I bent it getting the 45acp rounds in.  Bent it even more getting them out.  But I bought some plastic full moon clips too and they don't work either. 

 

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My ACPs like the clips by Ranch.

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Okay, did a little searching and those are British Proof marks, I would take some better pictures and post them for the guys at Smith & Wesson Forum.

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On 9/16/2020 at 7:43 PM, Earl Brasse, SASS #3562 said:

Just some thoughts...

 

S&W Revolver

You may want to check the cylinder on your S&W to see what / how the conversion was done.

If there are no stampings on the rear, then yes, it was cut.  (should see serial # digits & inspection marks)

Then did they bore it for ACP length?

If so. you should be able to test fit an empty case & see if it closes & has good headspace. (without using clips)

 

 

I have one of the S&W's & a Colt 1917  in .455 that were converted to also shoot .45 Colt.

They bored it deep enough to chamber the .45 Colt while countersinking the chamber approx. 1/2 the thickness of the Colt rim (until properly headspaced.)

This allowed the larger .455 Webley to still work as it has a larger rim to rest on the chamber mouth. (won't work with Auto-Rim)

 

Webley Revolver

There was a guy on E-Bay selling "re-conversion rings" , basically a shim to put on a .45 acp shaved cylinder to bring it back up to be able to shoot .455 Webley.

I haven't tried one.

 

Yes, .455 Webley pressure is much less than .45 acp. 

There are forums talking about loads & pressures that would be good to look at before loading any .45 acp for a Webley.

There is a lot of info out there on .455 Webley reloading, lots of variables. 

 

Happy researching & shooting

 

 

In this picture, I inserted a 45 colt and a 45 ACP.  It obviously wasn't cut for 45 colt (dangit, now that I know that's an option I was hoping for it).  It looks like the 45 ACP sits too deep for the firing pin to strike it.  This is what makes me think 455 webley might still work.  Didn't it need a longer chamber? 

 

2113837459_swhebullets.thumb.jpg.f41be90be474f6697bf0081ed360546f.jpg

 

I may look for reconversion rings.  In the clip above, Mike Bellevue said all you needed was to shave some clips.  Does the base of the cartridge need support from the clips or is headspace all that matters?  Because I don't like my chances of making pretty clips like he had. 

 

On 9/16/2020 at 10:17 PM, Alpo said:

Is the serial number stamped into the face of the cylinder? Somewhere I remember reading that it was, and if that is so that would be a simple way to tell if the cylinder had been shaved or not. Serial number - not shaved. Smooth face - shaved.

 

The face of the cylinder has no marks on either gun.  I noticed in the first picture I posted you can see where the SN has been cut in half on the webley. 

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On 9/16/2020 at 2:58 PM, Ramblin Gambler said:

Got a couple of new revolvers that I hope you guys can give me some insight on.  The first one (bottom) is a webley Mark VI that I was told had been converted to shoot 45 ACP or 45 AR.  The second is a a smith and wesson marked 455 webley that I was also told had been converted to shoot 45 ACP or 45 AR.  I was told the S&W was a hand ejector second model, but I don't see that written on it anywhere and I haven't verified it yet.  Both came with clips.  The Webley came with full moon clips, while the S&W came with both full and half moon clips. 

 

1686230049_455sflash.thumb.jpg.8d7fd8d2dbfc08deb81f84a33ad60225.jpg 

 

Here's my questions

1.  The cylinder on the S&W won't close with full moon clips, but it will close with the half moon clips. 

 

 

 

 

I had a S&W 1917 chambered in .45 ACP and full moon clips almost never fit. I never had a problem with the half moon clips, so I'm inclined to think that the not closing with full moon clips is inherent to the design of the S&W 1917

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Does anyone know what the trigger pulls on these guns are measured in?  My scale only goes up to 8 lbs and even in single action, they felt like they were at least 16 lbs.  Do I need something that measures tonnes, or kips?

 

 

 

 

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Never had a Webley apart, but the first thing I would check is for on the S&W is for old grease that has hardened in the action. When you open the side plate do NOT pry it open, tap on the other side with a mallet or hardwood stick. Also, Wolff makes replacement main springs for the S&Ws that can lighten the pull. Webleys are notorious for heavy trigger pulls.

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First, a story:D

Some years ago I went into Cabelas. On my way to the Gun Library, I walked through the ammo stacks looking for some of Hornady's which at the time, they were making runs of nearly obsolete ammunition like 6.5 Carcano, 7.7 jap, 455 Eley. They had four boxes of the 455 and haveng several revolvers in that caliber took two, not wanting to be greedy, LOL.

 

In the G-L, my attention was eventually drawn to a S&W Hand Ejector exactly like the one the OP posted. For $199. (even back then those were going for upwards of $400. I asked the guy why it was so cheap, thinking it surely had some internal issues. He says nothing, except its in a caliber you can't get. Uh-huh. On the way out to cash out, I grabbed those other two boxes of 455, LOL.

 

The correct caliber for both of these revolvers is .455 Eley or .455 Webley. Same thing, different names. Bullet diameter was .454. The S&W isn't a 1917, it's a Hand Ejector. Many had the cylinder or breechface shaved to accept the thicker rimmed 45 S&W (Schofield) The original load was a 200 grain bullet @ 700fps.  Some also had the cylinders reamed for 45LC and for 45ACP with moon clips. These were also issued in Canada and the OP's has the proper proof on the frame next to the barrel. Nice pistols!

 

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It looks to me the reason your S&W will close with 1/2 but not full moon clips is in the way it was converted.

 

Looking at the rear of the cylinder it looks like they did not mill off the star face far enough to accept full moons.

I believe full moons were a much later & at the outset more expensive idea than 1/2 moons.

You should be able to (or have) it trimmed until the full moon will fit.

They most likely thought it would leave the star stronger than milling all the way to the ratchet teeth circle.

 

Yes, 1/2 moon clips are less sturdy than full moons.

They can try up a gun if they aren't kept "tight" & in shape so they hold the ammo & still allow the cylinder to rotate.

If they spread open too far they can go out part the edge of the cylinder blocking rotation.

In the 1st World War, they may have been an "expendable" item.

 

You can make a "de-mooning" tool from a piece of copper pipe to aid in removing fired brass.

They make & sell tools from low to high prices to both load & unload moon clips. 

 

Webley .455 came in Mk I (older & longer brass now long gone) & Mk.II shorter & newly made. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Earl Brasse, SASS #3562 said:

In the 1st World War, they may have been an "expendable" item.

No "may have been" to it.

 

Like a stripper clip for a 1903, or an en bloc clip for an M1, they came pre-loaded, and you threw them on the ground when they were fired and loaded new ones. It was never considered that they would be reloaded.

 

45 ACP, REM-UMC, Half Moon Clips, unopened.jpg

45 ACP, REM-UMC, Half Moon Clips, 1918, 24 rds.jpg

45 ACP, RP, Half Moon Clips, WW1, 24 rds.jpeg

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On 9/18/2020 at 10:09 PM, Dubious Don #56333 said:

The correct caliber for both of these revolvers is .455 Eley or .455 Webley. Same thing, different names. Bullet diameter was .454. The S&W isn't a 1917, it's a Hand Ejector. Many had the cylinder or breechface shaved to accept the thicker rimmed 45 S&W (Schofield) The original load was a 200 grain bullet @ 700fps.  Some also had the cylinders reamed for 45LC and for 45ACP with moon clips. These were also issued in Canada and the OP's has the proper proof on the frame next to the barrel. Nice pistols!

 

Now you got me wondering.  I need to get my hands on a 45 schofield to see if it fits.  Looks like the pressures are low enough to be safe.  Then you got the 45 CS to think about which has the same case length as a 45 ACP.  Makes me wonder how it's different from a 45 AR.  Neither of my reloading manuals mentions 45 CS. 

 

45 Colt Case length = 1.285" ; OAL = 1.6" ; max pressure 14000 PSI

45 Schofield case length = 1.1" ; OAL = 1.430" ; max pressure 13500 PSI

45 CS is supposedly the same as 45 ACP.  so case length = .898" ; OAL = 1.275" ; Max Pressure Unknown (surely it's not the same as a 45 ACP)

455 Webley case length = .886" ; OAL = 1.460" ; Max Pressure 13000 PSI

 

What did you mean by the proper proof marks?  Are those Canadian proof marks or S&W marks? 

 

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On 9/18/2020 at 10:09 PM, Dubious Don #56333 said:

The S&W isn't a 1917, it's a Hand Ejector. Many had the cylinder or breechface shaved to accept the thicker rimmed 45 S&W (Schofield) The original load was a 200 grain bullet @ 700fps.  Some also had the cylinders reamed for 45LC and for 45ACP with moon clips. These were also issued in Canada and the OP's has the proper proof on the frame next to the barrel. Nice pistols!

 

Yup, it’s a .455 Mark II Hand Ejector 2nd Model. Made between 1915-1917. 

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7 hours ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

Makes me wonder how it's different from a 45 AR. 

It's different in two ways.

 

First, it's different in dimension. The cowboy short is simply a 45 Colt that has been shortened. The rim thickness is the same on both cartridges. I don't have a schematic of a cowboy short but I do of a 45 Colt.

1878524662_45Colt.jpg.5ac44a19e7b85b52bf0c3206acf29be9.jpg

Rim thickness 0.060 inches.

 

The 45 AR has an extra thick rim, designed to replicate the thickness of a 45 ACP extractor groove.

1423231599_45AutoRim.jpg.5edb10c73f8ab4aff115397c06401cb3.jpg

Rim thickness 0.090 inches.

 

The second difference is power. The Cowboy Special was designed from the get-go to be a mouse fart load. The 45 AR is a rimmed version of the 45 ACP, and the 45 ACP was designed from the get-go to be a 45 Colt that would work in an automatic pistol.

 

The 45 AR is standard with a 230 grain bullet at about 850, while the Cowboy Special has a 200(?) grain bullet at about 650(?).

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On 9/20/2020 at 9:25 PM, Ramblin Gambler said:

 

Now you got me wondering.  I need to get my hands on a 45 schofield to see if it fits.  Looks like the pressures are low enough to be safe.  Then you got the 45 CS to think about which has the same case length as a 45 ACP.  Makes me wonder how it's different from a 45 AR.  Neither of my reloading manuals mentions 45 CS. 

 

45 Colt Case length = 1.285" ; OAL = 1.6" ; max pressure 14000 PSI

45 Schofield case length = 1.1" ; OAL = 1.430" ; max pressure 13500 PSI

45 CS is supposedly the same as 45 ACP.  so case length = .898" ; OAL = 1.275" ; Max Pressure Unknown (surely it's not the same as a 45 ACP)

455 Webley case length = .886" ; OAL = 1.460" ; Max Pressure 13000 PSI

 

What did you mean by the proper proof marks?  Are those Canadian proof marks or S&W marks? 

 

 The rim thickness on the 455 is a bit thinner than the schofield or the LC which are almost but not quite the same. The schofield will probably work. The 45 AR is about double the rim thickness. ACP cases with moon clips are quite a bit bulkier than those others. The 45AR cases were specifically designed for the 1917.

 

On the frame, left side by barrel is a british military proof. Left side gripframe rear, the top one is a british broad arrow, also a british military mark. . The other proofs below the broad arrow look to be standard British nitro proofs but I can't tell, too small LOL. Canadian marks were C or DC, Dominion of Canada sometimes with a crown. If it was RCMP it would have that or just MP.

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Howdy

 

I don't know anything about Webleys.

 

I know a little bit about Smith and Wessons.

 

Most of the early S&W revolvers with side swinging cylinders were called Hand Ejectors. This is because the earlier Top Break designs such as the Schofield automatically ejected the spent cartridges when the barrel was swung down to reload.

 

That type of automation was not possible with the side swinging cylinders, ejection had to be done manually (and still does) by pushing the front of the ejector rod in. So since the empties had to be ejected manually, or by hand, all the early side swinging S&W revolvers were called Hand Ejectors.

 

S&W typically named their early Hand Ejectors after the cartridge they were chambered for.

 

The first large frame Hand Ejector was the 44 Hand Ejector, 1st Model. It was also known as the New Century. This model was first cataloged in 1908 and it was the first revolver to be chambered for the then new 44 Special cartridge. Collectors like to call this model the Triple Lock, because unlike any other S&W model the cylinder was secured in three places.  At the rear, at the front of the ejector rod, and a third latch, or lock was installed in the yoke and engaged by a plunger installed in the under barrel lug. This very worn Triple lock is a very early one, it actually shipped in 1907, not 1908. Notice the caliber marking on the barrel says 44 S&W CTG. CTG simply means cartridge. Later, this model was marked 44 S&W SPECIAL CTG, because S&W invented the cartridge and they always marked their name on the barrel of any revolver chambered for a cartridge they invented. For instance, S&W always, and still stamps their 38 Special revolvers 38 S&W Special, because they invented the cartridge.

 

pmKfgwaLj

 

 

 

 

 

This is a view of the third latch. This hardened piece of steel was mounted in the yoke.

 

pnYssOVVj

 

 

 

 

The spring loaded plunger protruding from the under barrel lug is what engaged the latch in the yoke. When the cylinder was closed the ramp on the latch would engage the plunger, pushing it in, until the cylinder closed and the plunger popped out into the hole. The plunger for the front of the ejector rod can also be seen in this photo. Actually, both plungers are one 'U' shaped part, held in place and guided by the two pins that are visible. When the thumb piece on the frame was pushed forward, it shoved the front of the ejector rod forward, which then pushed the upper plunger back so the cylinder could be released. Since both plungers are the same piece, the lower plunger retracted at the same time.

 

plN5jkNhj

 

 

 

 

The 44 Hand Ejector, 1st Model (Triple Lock) was made from 1908 until 1915. Some Triple Locks had been sent to Britain during WWI, and they were chambered for the British 455 Mark II cartridge. These were known as the 455 Hand Ejectors. Anyway, the British did not like the under barrel lug, they felt the hollow would easily collect mud in the field, possibly disabling the gun. So in 1915 S&W produced the 44 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. This model lacked the 3rd latch. This is a typical 44 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. It is chambered for the 44 Special cartridge. Notice the big under barrel lug is missing, replaced by a small under barrel latch that engaged the front of the ejector rod, no different than most other S&W revolvers with a side swinging cylinder. The price of a 44 Hand Ejector 1st Model in 1908 was $21. The price of a 44 Hand Ejector 2nd Model was $19. The $2 difference, a not insignificant sum in those days, was due to it being more expensive to machine the 3rd latch.

 

poCA8LPJj

 

 

 

 

The 45 ACP Model 1917 was a variation of the 44 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. WWI broke out in Europe in 1914, and S&W was pretty sure Colt would have its hands full producing enough Model 1911 45 ACP Semi-Automatic pistols. So S&W went to the US government and suggested it would be simple to create a 45ACP version of their 44 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model, chambered for 45 ACP. All they had to do was open up the chambers and the bore a little bit. The rear of the cylinder had about .030 more clearance behind it so cartridges mounted in half moon clips could be used. This is a typical S&W Model 1917. Barrel length was standard at 5 1/2".  When the US declared war on Germany in 1917, S&W was already producing this model. Pictured with it is a typical box of 45ACP ammunition that came with the revolver. Notice their are three rounds mounted on the clip. The grips on this Model 1917 are not typical, but I like them so I have left them on. If you look carefully you will see an inspector's mark on the frame next to the hammer. This is one of the early ones with the GHS inspection stamp, for Major Gilbert H Stewart, who was the government designated inspector. Later versions had the 'flying bomb' stamp on that spot.

 

(P.S. this revolver closes and functions fine with these old cartridges mounted on these old half moon clips. No, I am not going to fire them, but everything locks up and functions fine.)

 

pofx88VEj

 

 

 

 

In 1926 Fort Worth dealer Wolf and Klar requested S&W produce a 44 Hand Ejector with a large under barrel lug, similar to the lug on the Triple Lock, but lacking the 3rd Latch. So S&W obliged by creating the 44 Hand Ejector, 3rd Model, sometimes called the Wolf and Klar Model. This nickel plated 3rd Model was carried by an officer during WWII. Note the trigger and hammer have been nickel plated, indicating it was an after market refinish job, S&W never nickel plated hammers or triggers. Notice too that the grips are very worn. Having been replated like this, and not particularly well, this old revolver does not carry a lot of collector value, but I like it because it is so distinctive. I have the holster that it was carried in all through WWII squirreled away somewhere, and it is very worn too. After S&W reintroduced the large under barrel lug on this model, it became standard on many large frame Smiths, particularly the magnum models.

 

po2SKBSjj

 

 

 

 

This is a 44 Hand Ejector, 4th Model Target. Notice the Patridge front sight and the adjustable rear sight. This one shipped in 1955. In 1957 when S&W went over to a model number system, this model became the Model 24.

 

pnvKem3Ij

 

 

 

 

On 9/16/2020 at 2:58 PM, Ramblin Gambler said:

I was told the S&W was a hand ejector second model, but I don't see that written on it anywhere and I haven't verified it yet.

 

You will not see any identifying model marks on any of these old Hand Ejectors. S&W simply did not mark them that way in those days. Not until 1957, when they went to the model numbering system did S&W start marking actual Model Numbers on their revolvers. They were marked on the frame under the yoke, and still are.

 

What you have there is a 455 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. Take a close look at your front sight and you will see its shape has been modified from what the front sight looked like on all these other fixed sight Smiths. The large rectangular boss at the bottom of the sight is still there, but the blade has been reshaped at some point in time.

 

This is a 455 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. This one shipped to Canada in 1916.

 

pnNEPbkfj

 

 

 

 

 This odd looking marking is the Canadian Broad Arrow inspection stamp. The same as the British Broad Arrow, except it is surrounded by a large C for Canada. This particular 455 HE (HE is short for Hand Ejector) had a 44 Special cylinder and barrel installed at some point. This was very common with these 455 HEs, when they made their way back into the US, where the 455 Mark Mark II cartridge was not always easily available. A lot of these revolvers were converted to 44 Special or 45 Colt when they got back to the US.

 

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S&W revolvers of this era had the Serial Number stamped in 4 places. The SN of record was at the bottom of the grip. The same serial number was also stamped at the rear of the cylinder, on the underside of the barrel, and you have to look hard in good light but it was also stamped on the underside of the extractor star. Checking these places is a good way to know if the revolver in question actually shipped with those parts. If the SN in any of the other three places differs from the SN marked on the butt, the gun did not leave the factory with that part. If the SN is missing from the rear of your cylinder, that is a sign the cylinder has probably been shortened for the 45ACP cartridge. If so, there should be roughly .090 of space between the rear of the cylinder and the frame.

 

That is about all I can tell you, I cannot tell you specifically what the story is with you 455 HE, 2nd Model, as to what it is presently chambered for. I can tell you that a S&W Model 1917 will chamber 45 ACP rounds with or without the clips. Unlike the Colt Model 1917, the chambers are cut so that the cartridges will head space on the case mouth and they will not fall through if they are not loaded onto clips. You can fire 45ACP in a S&W Model 1917 without clips, but you will have to poke the empties out with a stick.

 

P.P.S. These are inspection marks, not proof marks. When a revolver was accepted for military service, a government inspector would inspect each revolver to make sure it met specifications. These government inspectors usually worked in the military armories of the country in question. They were often military officers stationed in the armory. If the revolver was up to snuff, the inspector would use his stamp to mark the revolver. Marks such as the GHS marking on my Model 1917, or a Flying Bomb, or a British Broad Arrow, or a Canadian Broad Arrow were not applied by the manufacturer, they were stamped their by the government inspector after he had decided the gun met the contract criteria.

 

Proof marks were not stamped by the manufacturer either. They were stamped by the proof house after the firearm had been proofed with a 'proof round'. These rounds generally developed about 25% - 30% higher pressure than the standard Maximum pressure of that round. Not the 100% higher pressure you will sometimes hear about. Proof houses were usually run by the governments, not the manufacturers. In the modern era, some manufacturers do proof their firearms, I toured the Remington factory in Ilion NY many years ago and saw the apparatus they used to proof their rifles. As I say, this was not a government run proof house, we don't have any in this country any more. But Italy still has government run proof houses, and every firearm produced in Italy gets proofed in a government run proof house, and stamped accordingly.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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That was a lot of very interesting information Driftwood.

 

Unfortunately, on my phone anyway, none of your pictures showed up.

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Driftwood, superb explanation!

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5 hours ago, Alpo said:

That was a lot of very interesting information Driftwood.

 

Unfortunately, on my phone anyway, none of your pictures showed up.

 

I have that problem with Driftwood's posts sometimes.  Changing location always fixes it so I assume he uses an image hosting service that some routers filter out.  I never have a problem at home. 

 

 

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Howdy Again

 

The top most mark on the left side of the frame on the revolver in question is a British Broad Arrow. I cannot see the rest of the marks clearly enough to make them out.

 

Your revolver is clearly not chambered for 45ACP. When seated in the chamber of a Model 1917 or similar S&W revolver, the case head will be sitting about .090 proud of the rear of the cylinder. This is to allow the space required for the half moon clips. The case head will sit proud like that whether or not the rounds are mounted in clips, because as I said earlier, with a S&W, the chambers are cut so the round actually head spaces on the case mouth. Not so with a Colt 1917, many of them were bored straight through, and if not mounted on clips the round would fall all the way through the chamber.

 

You may be able to fire 45 Auto Rim in that revolver. The rim of the 45 AR round is .090 thick. This is so the round can headspace on the rim without being mounted in a clip. No idea if your revolver is strong enough for 45 Auto Rim, but generally speaking 45 AR ammo is loaded to the same specs as 45 ACP.

 

Here is a photo of a bunch of 45 caliber cartridges. Left to right they are 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 45 Cowboy Special, 45 Auto Rim, 45 ACP, 455MKII, and 455 Colt.

 

Dimensions: 45 Colt and 45 Schofield are identical except for length, 45 Colt case length is 1.277 Schofield case length is 1.095. The big difference is the rim of the Schofield round is wider in diameter. 45 Colt rim diameter is nominally .512, 45 Schofield rim diameter is nominally .520. Both rims are nominally .060 thick. The wider rim of the Schofield round was so the extractor of the Schofield revolver had something to grab. 45 Cowboy Special is the same length as a 45 ACP, but has the same case head dimensions as 45 Colt. This round was developed a number of years ago by Adirondack Jack specifically for CAS. The idea was a case with less powder capacity would perform better with the light powder charges that many CAS shooters used in their 45 Colt ammo. So the case was the same length and had the same interior case capacity of the 45 ACP, but the rim configuration was the same as 45 Colt so it could be fired in single action revolvers chambered for 45 Colt. Adirondack Jack gave me a bag of 45CS brass a number of years ago. I measured a few. Case length is .894. the main body diameter is .476. Rim thickness is .060 and rim diameter is .506, just slightly under the max rim diameter of 45 Colt. I loaded up one dummy round with a 250 grain bullet and its over all length is 1.187. 45 Auto Rim dimensions match 45 ACP dimensions, except the rim diameter is .510 and rim thickness is .090. 455MKII (with the black bullet) is the round the 455 Hand Ejector was chambered for. Case diameter of this one is .472, case length is .763, over all cartridge length is 1.233, rim diameter is .524, rim thickness is .036. The dimensions of the 455 Colt are case diameter .474, case length .880, COAL is 1.373, rim diameter is .529, rim thickness is .040

 

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My Model 1917 loaded with some cartridges. The longest one sticking out is a 45 Schofield. Clearly much too long for the 45ACP chambers of this revolver. Going around clockwise, sorry some are out of focus, 45ACP, 45 Auto Rim, 45 Cowboy Special, 455MKII, and 455Colt. The only rounds that seat properly in the 45ACP chambers of this revolver are the 45ACP and the 45Auto Rim. Difficult to see in this photo, but both rounds seat about .090 proud of the rear of the cylinder. This allows space for a half moon clip with the ACP round, or the .090 thick rim of the Auto Rim round that headspaces on its rim. The .060 thick rim of the 45 Cowboy Special (without a primer) is too thin, the round can slop back and forth by about .030. That gets us to the two copper colored rounds. Both seat fine. Both have very thin rims, about .035 or the MKII round, about .039 for the 455 Colt round. In this revolver, these rims are much too thin, they allow the rounds to slop back and forth about .050 to .055.

 

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P.S. I used to use Photobucket to host my photos, but it became too much of a pain. These days I use Image Shack.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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Yeah I closed ghostery, where instead of a picture it would say something like 

poVfgf9Wj

 

Opened chrome, and there they all were.

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2 hours ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

The top most mark on the left side of the frame on the revolver in question is a British Broad Arrow. I cannot see the rest of the marks clearly enough to make them out.

 

Your revolver is clearly not chambered for 45ACP. When seated in the chamber of a Model 1917 or similar S&W revolver, the case head will be sitting about .090 proud of the rear of the cylinder. This is to allow the space required for the half moon clips. The case head will sit proud like that whether or not the rounds are mounted in clips, because as I said earlier, with a S&W, the chambers are cut so the round actually head spaces on the case mouth. Not so with a Colt 1917, many of them were bored straight through, and if not mounted on clips the round would fall all the way through the chamber.

 

You may be able to fire 45 Auto Rim in that revolver. The rim of the 45 AR round is .090 thick. This is so the round can headspace on the rim without being mounted in a clip. No idea if your revolver is strong enough for 45 Auto Rim, but generally speaking 45 AR ammo is loaded to the same specs as 45 ACP.

 

My loading manuals only load the 45 AR up to 13,000 PSI.  The webley cartridge was rated for up to like 12500.  45 ACP is more like 21,000.  I'm sure you can load 45 AR up to 45 ACP specs, but not in my manuals. 

 

Anyway, here's a better picture of the proof marks.  I never would have picked that out as a broad arrow, but the second one down looks like a crown to me. 

 

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I dug up my feeler gauges to see how much room there was between the cylinder and the recoil shield.  I'm not great with feeler gauges so these might be off a little.  The S&W was somewhere between .085 and .088.  .089 definitely did not fit and I don't think it was dragging on anything.  This is probably why the cylinder won't close when loaded with full moon clips.  The Webley measured .109. 

 

Then I grabbed my mic to see how far the 45 colt was hanging out of the cylinders.  On the S&W it was .282".  On the Webley it was .310". 

 

 

Edited by Ramblin Gambler

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15 hours ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

What you have there is a 455 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model. Take a close look at your front sight and you will see its shape has been modified from what the front sight looked like on all these other fixed sight Smiths. The large rectangular boss at the bottom of the sight is still there, but the blade has been reshaped at some point in time.

 

Take a look at the back sight.  Was this modified too? 

 

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One more update.  I just got some 45 AR and 455 webley ammo.  I'm sure this won't be a surprise, but the S&W will not close on the 45 AR.  It will close on the 455 webley but there's probably too much head space.  It's hard to say.  I guess I can break out the feeler gauges again, but I don't know how much space is acceptable.  One more thing I noticed is that the extractor doesn't work too well.  It gets the cartridges started, but then they slip off under the extractor and back into the chamber if I'm going slow.  Is that normal?  Maybe they were widened for a different cartridge? 

 

45 AR looks fine in the webley revolver.  There's definitely too much headpsace left when I load 455 webley. 

 

 

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Howdy Again

 

This is what the rear sight on all the early Hand Ejectors looked like. This one happens to be on my 455HE. All they did was cut a spherical recess with a ball end mill after the groove had been cut. I can't tell from your photo what the light tan is, but this is the way they left the factory. That is what the hammer should look like too. Good luck finding a replacement hammer for a revolver made over 100 years ago. You might try Numrich.

 

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This is the rear sight on my Model 1917. Notice the grooves on the side of the hammer. This was done to give oil a place to collect. They stopped putting the grooves on the side of the hammer pretty early.

 

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Here is another view of this style rear sight. This one is on a K frame 38, but it is very similar to the rear sights on the bigger, early 44 Hand Ejectors.

 

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After a while (no I don't remember exactly when) the fixed rear sights on all S&W revolvers looked like this. The rear sights on their fixed sight revolvers still pretty much look like this. This one is also on a K frame 38.

 

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I will have to get back to you about the markings. The top one is definitely a British Broad Arrow acceptance mark. Pretty sure the next one is a crown, also probably British, but I will have to get back to you about that and the others.

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4 hours ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

I can't tell from your photo what the light tan is, but this is the way they left the factory.

 

I can't tell and I'm looking at it.  Some kind of paint or enamel.  it's got a crack in the middle that you can't see in the photo. 

 

I can't figure out why someone would bob the hammer.  Surely no one was stuffing this in their pocket.  Was it blocking the sight picture?  Numrich has some that it says are for "32 hand eject (I Frame)".  Is that the same hammer for all calibers?  I'll probably just let my gunsmith figure it out.  I think replacing a hammer is beyond my depth anyway.  Too many small parts involved. 

 

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