Malgus, I have both an 1886 (.45-90) and a 1876 (.40-60) sitting not 15′ from me.

Honestly, the 86’s are bloody heavy for daily use, the Marlin 1895 is lighter and easier to deal with and has modern metalurgy.

The 73/76 are cute, I’ll give you that, but practical? I’ve had nearly a dozen originals and repro’s and got rid of them all, just too much chance of a higher pressure round getting into the gun. I just had a .32 WCF ’73 come through the shop, it was beat up so bad, it wasn’t worth fixing. And yes, high velocity rounds were at least partly to blame for the damage.

The advice for the old big bore revolvers is sound, if for no other reason than they’re more omnivorous than anything else out there. Black powder, smokeless, doesn’t matter. Ultra light round ball load, or heavy hunting load, again doesn’t matter. Unlike the modern auto, which requires a certain bullet weight and velocity to function.

Personally I can’t see planning for using black powder post-SHTF, especially when powder and ammo are available today, just put more back, it’s not like it goes bad when stored properly. I have some ’40’s vintage H4831 that’s better than today’s version, performance wise.

The .44-40, a personal favorite fungun caliber, basically a .44 Mag pistol equivalent out of an easier to shoot platform. What’s not to like. I still have a couple thousand cases in the back.

The funny part about the old cartridges like the WCF’s that people so despise, those thin case mouths are also a beneficial point. The thin mouths unlike the modern cases (.44Mag) will actually seal the chamber so you don’t get the smoked cases and dirty chambers that you get with the straight wall cases and thicker brass.

The .45 Long Colt out of a carbine/rifle is not all that. That thin and tiny rim combined with a miniscule extractor groove ( a late addition) make for a only moderately reliable gun. All too often the cases don’t properly extract, especially when the gun is dirty and being run hard. I used to work for a shop that specialized in cowboy action tunes of pistols and carbines and saw more than a few.

As to the Long Colt designation, that’s not so far off reality.

The .45 Schofield (1875) has a case length of 1.100″.

In my collection I have a number of .45 Colt marked cartridges, all factory loaded. One in particular has a 250gr bullet and a case length of 1.100″  but a rim diameter of .509″, unlike the Schofield’s .522″.

It’s a M1877 .45 cartridge for use in both guns. But factory loaded, and marked “.45 Colt”, these were known as the “.45 Short Colt’s” and the full length cases were commonly known as the “Long’s”.

The picture attached is of the commercial .45 1877 “Short”, two factory .45 Long’s (one with extractor groove, one without), a modern nickle Starline .45 Colt and a .454 Casull round. Note the variation in length and extractor grooves and rims.

Ya, the caliper opened up a little when I was moving it around.


Dave Scovill and Mike Venturino both have done interesting articles in Handloader magazine on exactly this subject, just a couple of years back. I’ll see if I can find them.