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.41 Long Colt

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									.41 Long Colt
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The .41 Long Colt cartridge was created in 1877 for Colt's double-
                                                                                                   .41 Long Colt
action "Thunderer" revolver.[1] It was a lengthened version of the
                                                                               Type                 Revolver
earlier centerfire .41 Short Colt, which was made to duplicate the
                                                                               Place of origin             United States
dimensions of the even earlier .41 Rimfire.[1] The front of the bullet
was about 0.406"-0.408”OD, the same as the case. The barrel was                                  Production history
about 0.404”-0.406” groove diameter. The bullet lubrication was                Designed             1877
outside of the case. At 0.386”-0.388"OD, The base of the bullet was            Manufacturer         Colt's Manufacturing Company
smaller in diameter to fit inside the case. This is known as a "heel-          Produced             1877 to 1939
base" or heeled bullet. The only modern heeled bullet is the .22                                   Specifications
rimfire.                                                                       Bullet diameter      0.386 in (9.8 mm)
In the mid-1890s, Colt redesigned the cartridge. They reduced the          Case length          1.138 in (28.9 mm)
entire diameter of the bullet to 0.386"OD and lengthened the brass         Case capacity        20 gr H2 O (1.3 cm³)
case in order to put both the bullet and its lubrication inside the case.
The overall length of both loaded cartridges was about the same. The barrel of the revolver was reduced slightly to match the
more popular 38-40 at 0.400"-0.401” groove diameter (this was probably done for manufacturing reasons, not accuracy
reasons). This meant that the outside diameter (OD) of the new bullet was smaller than the barrel’s bore, let alone its groove
diameter. A hollow-base bullet can be dropped down the bore by gravity alone. The newer soft lead bullet was made with a
large hollow base, like Civil War Minié balls. The intent was for the base of the bullet to expand with the pressure of the
burning gunpowder to grip the rifling.

The original 41LC brass cases came in three primary lengths, although they vary quite a bit within a headstamp.[1] The first
ones were the shortest at about 0.932” to 0.937” long. In balloon-head cases, they held about 20gr of compressed black
powder (BP) with a 200gr flat-bottom, heel-base, blunt-nose bullet. The next cases were about 1.130” to 1.138” long with a
200gr hollow-base, blunt-nose bullet and about 21gr of BP (also in balloon-head cases). Although the brass case lengths
were far different, both cartridges were about the same overall length when loaded. The last brass case length was 1.050” to
1.100” long and was created exclusively for hand loaders so that both heel-base and hollow-base bullets could be used
interchangeably (note that cartridges made from the longest brass cases and heel-base bullets are too long to fit most 41LC
revolvers).
The .41 Long Colt worked surprisingly well considering the mismatch of bullet and bore sizes, but by the beginning of WWI it
was in serious decline and it fell from use by the beginning of WWII. [1] The accuracy the 41LC is adequate for what it was
intended; close range self defense, its drawback had more to do with the heavy double-action trigger pull of the Thunderer.[1]
Elmer Keith wrote in his book "Sixguns" that the "41LC was a better fight-stopper than its paper ballistics would indicate" and
it was "better for self-defense than any .38 Special load made".[2]

References
   1. ^ a b c d e Herring, Hal (2008). Famous Firearms of the Old West: From Wild Bill Hickok's Colt Revolvers to Geronimo's Winchester,
      Twelve Guns That Shaped Our History. TwoDot. pp. 224. ISBN 0-7627-4508-8.
   2. ^ Keith, Elmer (1992). Sixguns. reprint: Wolfe. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-879356-09-2.



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