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Don't know, but you might want to check Wikipedia. At least you'll get some general information and you can explore their resources further. Let us know what you find out.
 

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I think the 45 had to do with converting cap& ball revolvers to cartridges.
The 44 because of the 1873 Winchester being a 44 & people wanting their pistol to use same ammo.
to add to that: I would seem to remember some sort of desire to NOT use or support the other guy's ammo or products.
 

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I've read a lot about this subject and there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer. Both TMB and Spike12 are correct but there may have been more reasons.

Back in the day, cartridges were developed by a gun manufacturer and patented so only the actual gun manufacturer could chamber guns in the designated cartridge and only the patent holder could manufacture ammunition or license another company to make ammo. Of course each cartridge had to have a "name" so the customers would know what cartridge to buy at their local store. When cartridges were converted from black powder to smokeless powder and many new cartridge designs started showing up, the patent issues became quite a problem. This went on for many years until a law suit was filed that involved several companies. It actually started over a patent dispute between Winchester and Savage because both made identical cartridges with different names (30 WCF and 30-30). The courts made a landmark decision that allowed any company to make ammunition for any manufactured gun and further, it allowed any gun manufacturer to chamber their guns in a previously patented cartridge. In other words, cartridge patents and chamber patents no longer applied.

Meantime, Colt and Winchester made agreements (as did other companies) ... Colt would not make rifles and Winchester would not make revolvers. Both companies agreed to share their cartridge patents where a Colt revolver could be chambered in a Winchester rifle cartridge or a Winchester rifle could be chambered in a Colt revolver cartridge. (TMBs answer)

At the time of the above court decision in 1926, there weren't any established standards for chamber dimensions, bore diameters, bullet diameters, case dimensions, chamber pressure, etc, so at the direction of the courts, in 1927 a group of gun and ammunition manufacturers got together and formed an organization that was officially named "Small Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer Institute" (AKA SAAMI). When this non-government organization was formed, members represented the major gun and ammunition companies and started setting standards for each different cartridge. Today, SAAMI is one of the very few non-Government organizations that self regulates their own industry. Active members now include most of the US gun and ammunition manufacturers to include Ruger.

Back to 44s and 45s .... both bullet diameters were used in several different black powder cartridges and had comparable ballistics. Typically, Colt 45 cal revolvers had .453" bores and used .454" lead bullets whereas John Browning's model 1911 pistol had a .451" bore and used .451" jacketed bullets. Just after the Korean War, 45 cal SA revolvers were all but dead so just before Smith & Wesson introduced their Model 1955 DA revolver (now known as a Model 25) they petitioned SAAMI to make .451" the standard bore size for all 45 cal revolvers and pistols and make bullet diameters uniform at .452" for lead and .451" for jacketed. This would allow the S&W 1955 to shoot either a 45 ACP or a 45 Colt cartridge (different cylinders). To this day, all US made 45 cal revolvers and pistols manufactured since 1955 have a .451" bore.

44 Cal revolvers had a different history. Because the 44-40 rifle and revolver were so popular, it became the industry standard at the time. Most 44 cal muzzle loaders used a true 44 cal bullet but because 44-40 was the first popular cartridge to use a brass case, the outside diameter at the mouth was 44 cal, so the lead bullet diameter had to shrink to .430", making the bore .429".

Each cartridge has its own history ... some of which are very interesting. The 45 Colt being the most interesting of all. As mentioned above, the original 45 Colt started out as a black powder cartridge, as did most straight wall revolver cartridges. It went through several transitions. The original brass cases were "balloon head" and looked much like a 22 rim fire case except it was much larger and had a centerfire primer. Much later, the cases were changed to modern solid head brass. Primers were originally made of corrosive material and during the transition from black powder to smokeless powder, "domed" primers were marked with a "U" or a "W" to indicate smokeless powder. By the late-20's, all black powder loads were discontinued so primers were no longer marked. By the beginning of WWII, non-corrosive primers were used. By the end of the Korean War, bullet diameters were changed from .454" to .452". Every component of the 45 Colt cartridge has changed ... powder, primers, case, and bullets. however the strange thing is ... SAAMI has maintained the same chamber specifications since 1927, which goes back to 1873 when Colt first introduced the 45 Colt in their Single Action Army revolver. Go figure???

Another interesting cartridge history is the 38 Special. It's heritage came from the 36 cal Colt Navy revolver that had a .357" bore. When the first 38 Specials were made with black powder, the "38 name" came from the case diameter, not the bullet diameter, much like the 44s. Modern 38 Special cartridges still use .358" lead bullets (or .357" jacketed bullets) and the guns still maintain a .357" bore with a .38" case.

So today, we have a 44 cal, which is really a 43 cal, a 38 Cal, which is really a 36 cal, and a 45 cal, which is still a true 45 cal. As other cartridges were invented, the bullet diameters followed the same SAAMI bore and bullet specs. As an example, a 44 Magnum uses the same .429" bore diameter as a 44 Special, a 454 Casull uses the same .451" bore diameter as a 45 Colt or 45 ACP, and a 357 Mag uses the same .357 bore diameter as a 38 Special.
 

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If you look in the book "Cartridges of the World", you will see just about every caliber from 22 to 60 was made in the US back before the patent laws were dropped in 1926. Most of these patented cartridges were designed for a specific gun. Some were pin fire, some were rim fire, and some were center fire. In a marketing world where only the strong survive, the old cartridges such as a 45 Colt, 45 ACP, 44 Special, 38 Special, 9mm and the most popular of all .... the 22 Long Rifle, must have something going for them because 100+ years later, they are still with us ... selling stronger than ever.

CASS shooters and history buffs have brought back many of the old black powder revolver cartridges that had pretty much died like the 44-40 and 38-40. With rifles, cartridges like the 30-'06, 30-30, 45-70, 7x57 Mauser, and 6.5x55 Swede, are all well over 100 years old and are still available in modern rifles. The same goes for shotguns where all the current gauges were invented well over 100 years ago. Yes, we have modernized ammo with better powders, bullets, shotgun wads, etc and have stretched some conventional cartridges into magnums, but many of the basic cartridges are still much the same as they were 100 years ago.

It makes you wonder ... if men like John Moses Browning or Peter Paul Mauser were still alive today, what kind of guns and cartridges do you think we would be shooting?
 

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Didn't the .44 Special evolve from the .44 Russian? Then the .44 Magnum evolved from Elmer Keith overloading .44 Special, and convincing Smith & Wesson and Remington to make the .44 Magnum. (Basically he ran a con, he got Remington to agree to make .44 Magnums if Smith & Wesson agreed, so he went to Smith & Wesson and said if he can get Remington to make the ammo they'd build a revolver for it...smart guy!)

The .357 Magnum evolved because of the automobile. Police only had .38 Specials back in the day. They needed something to shoot into the heavy gauge steel of the cars that bank robbers were driving. And it was a response to Colt's .38 Super. Once again Elmer Keith did experimenting to help develop the .357 Magnum.
 

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leftofcentre67, Yes, S&W designed a revolver for the Russian military in 1870. It was the building block to the 44 S&W Special, which didn't get patented and released until 31 years later. The 44 Remington Magnum was officially released in 1956, chambered in a S&W DA revolver now known as a Model 29. Elmer was indeed the catalyst for both the 44 Mag and the 357 Mag, which was officially released in 1935 by Remington for a S&W DA N-frame revolver simply named a "357 Magnum". In 1957, the gun got a model number ... S&W Model 27.

Actually, the 44-40 had .428" bullet that was a .002" smaller than other 44 cal bullets but close enough to call it a "44", which really measured .430".

The 45 Schofield (patented by S&W) pre-dated the 45 Colt by 2 years. Colt did a wise move in their 1873 cartridge design ... making the bullet diameter and case diameter the same but the case was about .2" longer, with a heavier bullet, and higher velocity than a Schofield. This allowed Government issue 45 Schofield ammo to be safely fired in a 45 Colt chamber, much like shooting today's 38 Specials in a 357 Mag revolver. Colt ended up selling a lot of SAAs to the Army due to ammo compatibility. It was during this time (about 1875) when the US Army coined the name "45 Long Colt" to describe the longer cartridge that would not fit in a S&W Schofield revolver. As the story goes ... during the Red River Indian War in Texas and Oklahoma, a front line officer sent a private back for 45 cal ammo. When the private returned with the wrong ammo, the officer screamed at him "I wanted 45 Schofield shorts not 45 Long Colts". The name "45 Long Colt" stuck and was used by the Army for years to come ... especially after 45 Automatic Colt Pistol (45 ACP) ammo became popular and even more confusing. Although the official cartridge name is "45 Colt", using the name "45 Long Colt" was more descriptive and is still appropriately used by many people today. Some people beat this correctness issue to death but if you stop and think about it ... it's like calling a vehicle a "Ford" versus calling it a "Ford F-150", which is much more descript.
 

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More good stuff Iowegan. I was corrected too many time for calling it "45 Long Colt." Now I will return to calling it as I see it. ;)
I used to love reading about Elmer Keith, and especially his technique's for long range pistol shooting. I think it was one of his articles were I first learned about walking the shots onto the target. Usually took three shots at 100 yards. :)
-Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
lowegan- thanks for the enlightening and entertaining essay on caliber development. I understand now that a lot had to do with the various manufacturers simply trying to differentiate themselves from each other and avoid legal issues.

Thanks again,
M.R.
 

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MRad, I guess I never did directly answer your question but yes, patents on cartridges were the major reason why both the 44 and 45 became popular. Back before the court decision on patents ... if a company wanted to manufacture a gun, they had to develop a cartridge for it. Although guns were patented (and still are today) it was really the metallic cartridge patents that forced the development of all cartridges and guns to fire them.
 
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