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Picture Page

December 2005

A .44-40 with a little extra punch.......

I believe this unheadstamped cartridge to be the often discussed but seldom seen .44-40 Extra Long. Several of the standard references over the years pictured this cartridge, but none provided much information on what firearm it was intended for. Robert Buttweiller sold quite a few of these in his auctions, and usually mentioned in his catalog descriptions the lack of definitive information on the firearm and the maker. However, in his Collector's Ammunition volume XI, number 2 (November 30, 1996) he lists a cartridge that matches the one pictured here, and mentions in the description a recently unearthed UMC journal, in which there is an entry dated May 1888 for a .44-50 centerfire Spencer. It was described as a .44 Winchester with a case 1/3" longer than standard, 50 grains of FF powder, and a regular 44 Winchester 200 grain bullet seated and crimped the same as for the Winchester. This cartridge seems to fit the description of the UMC .44 Spencer CF, with a case that measures about .26" longer than the .44-40 case and a .44-40 style bullet. The dimensions are as follows:

bullet - .434"

neck - .441"

base - .466"

rim - 1.573"

case - 1.573

overall - 1.842"




A few British Auto Pistol cartridges.....

These cartridges with their blunt nose nickel or tin plated full jacketed bullets, looking a little like stubby .45 ACP rounds, are easy to identify by their headstamps (obviously) or, lacking that help, their characteristic appearance. They are .455 Webley Automatic cartridges for a variety of  Webley self-loading pistols. The identification of the one on the left can be further refined to the .455 Webley Automatic 1910, based on its thin rim and the headstamp, which was only used on this cartridge. It was produced only for a couple of years, being replaced in 1912 by the .455  Webley Automatic Mark I, as represented by the remaining three cartridges, made by Kynoch, Eley (1912), and the Royal Laboratory in Woolwich, UK (1934). It was in the form of the MarkI that this cartridge, and the pistols that chambered it, saw military service with the air, land and naval forces of Great Britain. A number of Colt Model 1911 automatic pistols chambered for this cartridge were made in 1915 for the British military. The cartridge was obsolete by the mid-1930s.



An uncommon box of .45 Colt Cartridges....

.This full box of .45 Colt's gallery cartridges is an interesting find, and while it is not in the best of condition, it is certainly uncommon enough to overlook its shortcomings. These cartridges have a round ball seated so deeply down in the case that it appears there would be room for only a minimal powder charge. I have been advised that UMC's 1890 catalog shows this cartridge was loaded with 7 grains of black powder and a 138 grain ball; their 1905 catalog shows the same load. As can be seen in the picture, a couple of strips of red paper have been pasted over portions of the top label, a short piece to the right of the cartridge and a long piece under the cartridge. The side-sealing label shows the remnants of the Colt Patent F. A. Mfg. Co. signature; the other side also has a strip of red paper pasted over the original printing.

The picture below shows the labels with the red strips removed. This was done by steaming them, and peeling back the strips. Relabeled boxes are not too uncommon, and when I encounter one, I usually check under the top label to see what's hidden underneath. If done carefully, this can be accomplished without damaging either of the labels, and enough of the original paste will usually remain on the overlabel to allow it to be put back in place.



.It would appear this box may have been an overrun of an order for Colt, as the label originally indicated in very large, eye catching letters that the cartridges were adapted to Colt's Army Revolver. In addition, the portion of the side label that was covered up states "These cartridges are made by The Union Metallic Cartridge Co. expressly for gallery practice according to our specific instructions and especially adapted  to our .45 Cal. Army Revolver. We unhesitatingly and strongly recommend them for use in that arm", with the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manuf. Co. signature. It is also possible that the cartridges or the labeling may not have been up to Colt's expectations when delivered; regardless of the reason, the strips were added by UMC as a less costly alternative to repackaging the cartridges.