.45 Schofield

.45 Schofield
45 Schofield.JPG
.45 Colt (left) alongside the .45 Schofield cartridge
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1875–1892
Used byUS Army
Production history
DesignerSmith & Wesson
ManufacturerSmith & Wesson
Case typeRimmed, straight
Bullet diameter.454 in (11.5 mm)
Neck diameter.480 in (12.2 mm)
Base diameter.480 in (12.2 mm)
Rim diameter.510 in (13.0 mm)
Rim thickness.060 in (1.5 mm)
Case length1.100 in (27.9 mm)
Overall length1.430 in (36.3 mm)
Rifling twist1 in 24"
Primer typeLarge pistol
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
200 gr (13 g) Lead SWC 859 ft/s (262 m/s) 328 ft⋅lbf (445 J)
230 gr (15 g) Lead (factory load) 730 ft/s (220 m/s) 276 ft⋅lbf (374 J)
250 gr (16 g) Lead 710 ft/s (220 m/s) 283 ft⋅lbf (384 J)
Source(s): "Cartridges of the World"[1] / Accurate Powder[2]
Early .45 Colt cartridges, in the center is the shorter cartridge for the S&W Schofield revolver with Benet primer

The .45 Schofield, also referred to as .45 Smith & Wesson is a revolver cartridge developed by Smith & Wesson for their S&W Model 3 Schofield top-break revolver. It is similar to the .45 Colt round though shorter and with a slightly larger rim, and will generally work in revolvers chambered for that cartridge; the converse is not true, since the .45 Colt case is longer. US government arsenals supplied .45 Schofield cartridges for the Schofield revolver and the Colt Army revolver to simplify their armament needs.[1]


This cartridge was originally designed as a black powder round. The Schofield revolver (a variant of the Smith & Wesson Model 3) was patented in the USA on 20 June 1871 and 22 April 1873 by Smith & Wesson. It was a Smith & Wesson Model 3 that was modified, due to a suggestion by Major George Schofield, to make it easier for a cavalryman to reload while riding. While the Colt 45 had more power, the speed at which a cavalryman could reload a Schofield was less than 30 seconds, half of the time for a Colt 45. By 1879, the U. S. Army had purchased 8,285 of the revolvers. Due to its reduced power and recoil compared to the Colt .45, it was easier to shoot accurately, yet still retained effective stopping power on the battlefield. It became the standard cartridge of the Army, though the Colt 1873 still was the main issue side arm of the Army.

The .45 Schofield cartridge was shorter than the .45 Colt. It could be used in both the Schofield and the Colt 45 Peacemaker, but the .45 Colt was too long to use in the Schofield. As a result, by the late 1880s the army finally standardized on a .45 cartridge designed to fire in both revolvers, the M1887 Military Ball Cartridge. The M1887 was made at Frankford Arsenal, and was issued only to the military. It had the shorter case of the Schofield and the reduced rim of the Colt round; as it was short enough to fit the Schofield, and its rim was not needed for the rod-ejector Single Action Army, the M1887 would fire and eject from both revolvers.[3]

The Schofield was quite a popular handgun in the old west, and may have been used by General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.[1] The effectiveness of the cartridge in battle, and its reputation for shootability and accuracy, led to the duplication of the cartridges' characteristics in the .45 ACP.

In the early 1880s the Benet type (internal) cartridge primer was retired and the modern Boxer type (external) primer was adopted for all future military production of revolver ammunition.


See also[]


  1. ^ a b c Barnes, Frank C. (1997) [1965]. McPherson, M.L. (ed.). Cartridges of the World (8th ed.). DBI Books. pp. 270, 275. ISBN 0-87349-178-5.
  2. ^ ".45 S&W Schofield Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine" data from Accurate Powder.
  3. ^ When the Army began to adopt modern side-loading double-action revolvers, the M1887 round gave occasional ejection trouble, and was replaced in Army use by the M1909 .45 Colt cartridge.

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