The debate over whether there is a .45 "Long"
Colt cartridge is an on-going one that has been active for probably 75
years. Elmer Keith alluded to the arguments many years ago when he wrote
"...Some newcomers to the game claim there is no such animal, but if
they had shot the short variety that Remington turned out in such profusion
before, during and after World War I they would see there was some basis
in referring to the .45 Colt as the .45 Long..." (Sixguns,
As far as I know there have never been any .45 Colt
cartridges headstamped "Long" and though I have reports of old
cartridge boxes marked "45 Long" I have never personally seen
any. Mr. Keith referred to them from time to time as "long"
Colt's (with a small "L"). If you have ever seen the short
Colt .45's you can understand why.
The Winchester .45 Colt's that Paco and I have came from
Shootist Keith Owlett who gave them to us a short time before he passed
on. The cartridge box is deteriorated and I have it put away now - at
least what's left of it. But it is plainly marked ".45 Colt
Government". The headstamp on the cartridges is ".45
Colt" ...BUT these are SHORT .45 Colts! The headstamp is the same
as the longer .45 Colts, even down to the "W" on the primers.
These are not S&W or Schofield cartridges. The
rim diameter is the same as the long .45 Colts, which is smaller than the
Schofield rim diameter. These are true .45 Short Colts. The
cartridge is listed in Cartridges of the World on page 306 as ".45 Colt -
.45 Colt Government".
I can visualize someone walking into a hardware store
around the turn of the last century and asking for a box of .45 Colt's.
As the clerk pulls down a box the customer says, "Not the short
ones. I want the Long Colts!" and the name ".45 Long
Colt" came down to us as a "user-applied" name, not a factory
While I can't prove it, I believe the usage was common
since Colt had factory cartridges like the .32 Short Colt, .32 Long
Colt, .38 Short Colt, .38 Long Colt, .41 Short Colt and the .41 Long Colt.
I pulled one of the .45 shorts apart and weighed and
measured it. The case is 1.1" long. The powder charge was black powder,
approximately 28 grains. The bullet weighed right at 230 gr. and was
lubed with a white chalky-looking substance. I fired one from my Ruger 7
1/2" barreled .45 and it went through the chronograph at near 750 fps.
The following week I went out in the hills and called up
a nice large coyote and shot him with the .45 short. He ran to within 10
feet of me, responding to the call. I pulled the gun up and shot,
hitting him up through the right shoulder and spine, dropping him
instantly. The little pointy bullet did not damage the pelt at all. I
was able to tan the hide and make a nice looking wall hanging from it.
He was probably the last critter on earth ever killed
with a short .45 Colt!