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In 1892, the US military adopted the Colt double action M1892 revolver, taking a modernized version of the .38 Long Colt cartridge. Shortly after, a similar Smith & Wesson revolver was approved for purchase. It was these revolvers, rather their cartridge, that proved so disasterous in the Phillippines. This shortcoming was the cause of the US Army Test Trials of 1900, which resulted in the adoption of the M1911 pistol.

But, in the meantime, the Army needed sidearms. In 1902, Army Ordnance purchased the Colt M1878 Double Action, a rod ejector solid frame revolver. Of .45 caliber, it appears that .45 M1875 ammunition was issued for these guns. This was the military designation of the .45 Smith & Wesson cartridge, currently called the .45 Scholfield in modern usage.

Still failing to fill the need, the Army adopted the Colt M1909 revolver, the civilian model known as the New Service. Frankford arsenal produced the .45 Colt M1909 cartridge. This cartridge had a larger rim that the M1873 round and was loaded with a type of semi-smokeless powder. The rim was of such diameter that it could not be used in older Colts unless alternate chambers were loaded, as the rims would overlap. A similar revolver was purchased by the Navy but with a smaller grip for the Marines' use.

It was this revolver that was replaced by the M1911.

In fact, a number of these were converted to M1917 .45ACP models during WW I.

Bob Wright
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