Testing the Obsolete .41 Long Colt

This is a discussion on Testing the Obsolete .41 Long Colt within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This one won't generate wide interest but might be interesting to a few old codgers who appreciate obsolete self defense cartridges of bygone times. We're ...

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Thread: testing the Obsolete .41 Long Colt

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    testing the Obsolete .41 Long Colt

    This one won't generate wide interest but might be interesting to a few old codgers who appreciate obsolete self defense cartridges of bygone times.

    We're going to resurrect this thread:http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...cartridge.html in order to provide a followup and give a report on the velocity performance of the good ol' .41 Long Colt.

    I had a day out with the .38 Special on Tuesday of last week and shot different loads through revolvers of different barrel lengths.

    While out with all the .38 Specials, I thought to take along the Colt New Navy .41 with 4 1/2-inch barrel. It was fired over the chronograph with 10 rounds from each of two boxes of Winchester Western ammunition.

    Both boxes were of Winchester Western manufacture. One is the "white box" ammunition from the production run made for L. M. Burney in the mid-1970s (as I understand it to be). The other box is a typical yellow Western box as was commonly sold in the late 50s/early 60s.

    Both boxes of ammunition feature the 200 grain copper-plated lead "Lubaloy" round nose bullet. Cases are headstamped: WESTERN .41 LONG COLT. The cartridges look absolutely identical as they come from the boxes.

    They didn't share common shooting characteristics except for very similar velocities.

    Ten rounds of Winchester Western "white box" ammunition performed as follows:

    Muzzle velocity 709 fps
    Muzzle Energy 223 ft./lbs.
    Extreme Spread 107 fps
    Standard Deviation 46 fps

    Ten rounds of Western ammunition in the yellow box performed as follows:

    Muzzle Velocity: 720 fps
    Muzzle Energy: 230 ft./lbs.
    Extreme Spread: 16 fps
    Standard Deviation: 6 fps

    It is curious that the ammunition yielded such different results though it looks exactly the same. The Winchester Western in the white box gave very inconsistent velocities and was all over the place. The yellow box Western ammunition gave outstandingly consistent velocities; even better than a good performance from some factory .38 Special Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter target ammunition fired later in the same afternoon.

    The revolver has a good bore and was squeaky clean before the test. I didn't fire a series of shots to "foul the cylinder" before beginning the test as I didn't want to waste precious ammunition. Most revolvers don't display much difference in velocities between a fouling shot and subsequent shots. The white box ammunition was fired first. Either the old revolver had to get "leaded up good" before it would shoot with consistent velocities or else the white box Winchester Western was not up to the standards of previous years.




    Through the kindness of "muddyboots" from another forum, I took delivery just yesterday of some bright, clean, post World War II Remington .41 Long Colt. This full box of ammo features a 195 grain lead round nose bullet. Velocity and consistency testing will continue on this new ammo acquisition soon in order that we will have more .41 Long Colt data than we thought we ever wanted to know.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Member Array ASHTXSNIPER's Avatar
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    Man talk about anemic. Makes the .40 S&W look really good.
    Proud houlder of a Texas Open Carry License.

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    Thanks again bmcgilvray for another great report on a great old cartridge. The .41 Long Colt along with the ..44 S&W Russian, and .38 WCF are by far my favorite black powder cartridges. The .41 Long Colt has always held my interest more due to the lack of information that exists on it compared to the other two. I find it very odd that Colt thought it was a good idea to use heel type bullets initially and to bore the chambers for this cartridge straight through.

    One would think that when Colt updateded the cartridge with a inside lubricated bullet thus changing the bullet diameter that they would correct this. One would also think that they would have also used the proper bore dimensions at this point as well. I feel that it if Colt had done this the .38 S&W SPL may never have been and possibly the .41 Long Colt would still be with us.

    The lack of real ballistic data from a real .41 Long Colt gun for this cartridge has always bothered me, until now that is thank you. Until I read your post I've only read about what the ballistics was supposed to be as no one was able to provide bonafide info.

    Another interesting bit of info (to me anyway) is that the .41 Long Colt is some what responsible for the 200gr .38 SPL loading. I'm not sure how true it is or how much truth there is to it though. But at some point various LEO agencies wanted to improve the terminal performance of the abysmal and infamous 158gr LRN .38 SPL loading. It is said that they were trying for performance equal to the .41 Long Colt as the Colt cartridge was a good man stopper in it's day.

    I'm not sure if that loading met their expectations but bullet diameter aside it sure did match the ballistics of the Colt cartridge. So for us mere mortals I guess if we want .41 Colt performance we will just have to play with 200gr bullets in our .38 Specials. I've always considered the .38 SPL to be the modern version of the .41 Long Colt when using 200gr bullets. Your ballistics info sure nuff shows that to be the case.

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    Bet you don't find that on the local GS's shelf every day! Would have been nice if you'd laid out a few rounds when you took the picture to get an idea of the cartridge size. (Next to a .38 Spec?)

    Good article on the .41 Mag in a late gun magazine. Seems Remington introduced it in two loads, one hot for hunting, one milder for LEO's. The LEO load didn't offer much more than the .357 Mags in use and wasn't worth the expense of dept. converting. So the .41 Mag fell into limbo. I had a .41 Blackhawk and loved it.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    Bet you don't find that on the local GS's shelf every day! Would have been nice if you'd laid out a few rounds when you took the picture to get an idea of the cartridge size. (Next to a .38 Spec?)
    Ask and ye shall receive.



    Actually this photo appears in the linked thread mentioned in the first post.

    Thanks for the heads up on the .41 Magnum article. That is a horse of a completely different color from the old .41 Long Colt.

    When I was a young teen I used to dream of owning a 6 1/2-inch Smith & Wesson Model 57 .41 Magnum in nickel. Later when I had the money in my pocket to purchase a .41 Magnum I could only find .44 Magnums so went down that road.

    Have owned a few nickel handguns through the years but came to view nickel as gaudy. For a long time I wanted no part of nickel guns. Now I'm beginning to like them again.

    I've been pricing good used Model 57s lately...in nickel.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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