View Full Version : Odd old S&W Triple Lock .455

Timber Wolf
July 12, 2010, 11:44
Picked up a fair condition old S&W Triple Lock at the gun show Saturday. 6 ˝” barrel marked .455 but supposedly converted to .45 Colt but able to accept “thin” half-moon clips with .45 A.C.P. He even had four “thin” half-moons he threw in. I got him down $45 off his asking price and took a chance. It does in fact chamber .45 Colt cartridges but there is definitely excess headspace in that the rim will move front to back a fair bit (I have not gauged it yet) against the recoil shield. .45 A.C.P. will chamber with the “thin” half-moons (looks like they have been planed down in a surface grinder) but the cylinder will not close on loaded regular half or full-moon clips. I would say the back of the cylinder has been faced off but there are stamps on the back, like serial numbers & proofs and stuff. I have not tried it with .45 Auto Rim ammo yet. I hope it accepts .45 Auto Rim as considering the slop with .45 Colt I think that is the way to go.

I have another one of these .455 converted to .45 Colt Triple Locks my Gunsmith buddy has that I need a hammer for. He has had it so long he cannot find it. I don’t think it is gone, we just have not seen it in a long time. Probably buried in the back of one of his safes. I may have to get serious about finding that one to compare. Does anybody have any experience with this? Any idea what is going on? I don’t think the cylinder could be unaltered as .455 ammo has a really thin rim and really slops back and forth in the current chambers. Anyway, it is an interesting old S&W and I can launch bullets out of it as-is so it's not all bad! May have to get my machinist bud to thin me a few full-moons for some quick .45 A.C.P. action though. ;)

Edit: It appears I actually have a Hand Ejector 2nd Model.
Edit again: I paid $280 private sale.

July 12, 2010, 14:55
Pics? I wonder if someone changed out the cylinder? if the cylinder had been faced off how could it have proof marks>? Interesting if you didnt pay too much!

July 12, 2010, 16:30
The Second Model has no ejector rod shroud on the barrel. Most of the S&W .455's made were Second Models.

S&W stamped the serial number for the gun on the rear face of the cylinder. It was very neatly done. Perhaps, if the original numbers are still there, the gun has just had the chambers deepened for the .45 Colt cartridge case and has excessive headspace just from wear and handling. Measure the barrel/cylinder gap with the cylinder pushed forward and again with it pushed back towards the rear/towards the breech face. How much variance is there? There shouldn't be much at all.

Try Jack First Guns in South Dakota for a hammer.

Retired Bum
July 12, 2010, 17:19
In 1914 the British Gov't gave S&W a contract to produce the Triple Lock chambered for the .455 Webley round. S&W produced 5000 of the ".455 Hand Ejector Mark One English Service" revolvers and shipped them to the UK.

The British soon found that mud and crud would get into the yoke lock and ejector rod shroud and render the revolver inoperable. So S&W modified the design by eliminating the shroud and yoke lock. They produced about 75,000 of the ".455 Hand Ejector Mark Two English Service" models for the British before the contract was cancelled. Webley and Scott had introduced the new Mark VI model and was able to produce enough of them to meet the demand for revolvers. After the war, the S&W's were declared obsolete and withdrawn from service.

I own a .455 Triple Lock #123X. It was brought back to the US after the war and rechambered for the .45 Colt round. But modern .45 Colt cartridges will not correctly headspace. The old pre M1909 .45 Colt with its smaller diameter rim will chamber in the recessed chambers. This is not a problem for me as I have a supply of the Fiocchi .455 262 grain RNL factory loads and a quantity of fired cases. I handload the round using a set of Lee .455 Mk2 dies and the RCBS #45255 SWC that I cast. It comes out of the mold at .453+ diameter and weights 262 grains. I push it through a .454" lubriser die and load it over 4.0 grains of Bullseye.

The Fiocchi factory load chrono's at 632 fps from the 6.5 inch barrel. My handload does 638 fps.

The correct bullet diameter for the .455 family of cartridges is .454". Same as the original .45 Colt and .45 S&W.

And so it goes.

The Retired One

Timber Wolf
July 13, 2010, 08:35
Upon further inspection of this fine old example of the gun maker’s art from days gone by, I have decided the cylinder has not been shaved. Chambers deepened yes, but the back has not been significantly altered. The number on the back of the cylinder matches the serial number on the inside of the frame and the number under the barrel so I believe the gun is relatively unmolested. It is amazing a gun would leave the factory with that much gap at the rear especially considering how thin the rims are in the original .455 chambering. I think somebody just happened to discover somewhere during the 80+ years since it left Springfield that .45 A.C.P. would work with thinned moon clips.

I guess that is a happy thing as .45 A.C.P. is cheaper and more plentiful then .45 Colt and has all the pressure I want to put on the old gun anyway. Of course I reload both so other then not having a large quantity of .45 Colt brass (or carbide .45 Colt dies) I could shoot all I want of either one. Not like I am going to shoot the old warhorse a great deal anyway. Just trying to give a sweet old blaster some exercise in its’ golden years! I did also discover that .45 Auto Rim will not quite fit. In some chambers it will work but a cylinder full is too tight and although you can get it closed there is too much drag for it to rotate and getting it back open is a real chore. Close, but not quite there for the Auto Rim. So, looks like I will be calling my machinist bud and asking (begging) him to thin me a couple of full-moons after all.

All in all it was a good day at the show. I left with a nice big old S&W N-frame revolver in each front pocket. The Hand Ejector is older then my Dad (gun born around 1916, Dad in 1918) and a “Pre-27” 5” .357 older then me (the magnum was born in 1957, me in 1960) in the other. Life is good!

Buff, the cylinder will move significantly front to back within the frame window. And thanks for the heads up on the hammer, I will check it out.

Retired Bum, thanks for the loads, I have an unaltered C.M.P. (Canadian Mountied Police) .455 New Service I am going to load for as soon as I shoot up enough of my limited supply (two boxes) of Fiocchi factory ammo. So many old guns, so little time.

July 13, 2010, 10:00
Try some 54 auto rim brass - it has a thicker rim than the Long Colt brass.

July 13, 2010, 11:07
Originally posted by denny
Try some 54 auto rim brass - it has a thicker rim than the Long Colt brass.

If the .45 Auto Rim brass he tried didn't fit, I doubt the 54 Auto Rim brass will work any better!

July 13, 2010, 19:42
Hey Timber Wolf, I recently picked up a pre -27 Smith. I think it dates to 1957 as well. I was curious to know what your serial number is. How neat would it be that we would have consecutive serial numbers? Anyway, the local gun shop has several estate guns from a friend of mine that passed recently. One of them is a large frame Smith just like you mention. It has been extensively filed on though, and reworked to fire the .45 ACP round. I considered purchasing it--$425.00 out the door, but due to it's "filed" condition, I think I will pass. It does, however, have pretty nice N frame diamond grips! There is also a darn nice (fired only a few times) Model 25-2 in .45 ACP with the matching grips and blue box for $600.00 as well.

Give me a PM if you want.

Leland :whiskey: