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Harry's Lost Caliber

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Dances with AutoMags View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 9:16pm

Harry's Lost Caliber.

 
By Bruce Stark

9 Aug 2017

A alluring title for a tedious technical article about the ".45 ACP Magnum".
 

No .45 ACP Mag ammunition was ever made and there was only one gun made to shoot this virtual cartridge.

I bought a gun from Walt Jones in 1980.  Walt Jones and Larry Grossmann were the two managers who ran the factory for Harry Sanford. 

Ed O'Neil brokered the gun for Walt and billed it as an experimental pistol that was the first .45 Winchester Magnum made by the factory.  Ed O'Neil was an outside contractor who did custom work for Harry.  Ed also worked closely with Larry, Walt and Bob Barbasiewicz. 

I eventually bought a second barrel that was made for the gun.  The two barrels are marked, "AMC AUTO MAG  .45 WIN  MODEL 280  COVINA, CALIF.  PATENTED"  The 10.5" barrel is marked with a "#1" and the 8" barrel is marked with a "#2".

Walt sent Ed a promised letter on the gun that is posted below:

Note:  The letter is hand written in red ink on TDE Marketing Corp. El Monte stationary.

"To whom it may concern.

          This Auto Mag frame was made in Pasadena Calif.  In August and July of 1980, I modified the frame to accept the new style bolt (Carpenter 358 metal).  I then proceeded to make 2 proto type barrels.

1.       10.5" 45 ACP Mag

1.       8" 45 ACP Mag.

          At the time I did this, no one in the company had started production.

          Some time in late July the company made a few 10.5" 45 Mags.  This gun is my own personal weapon (WSJ 001).  I have been with the company aprox 8 years.

Walt Jones

Plant Manager.

9/11/80."

 

Walt Jones test fired his gun with both barrels using Winchester .45 Win Mag ammunition.  The 10.5" barrel length was settled on for the production barrel length because the 8" barrel wouldn't reliably cycle the gun.  The longer barrel was said to develop greater velocities to provide more dependable cycling. 

Ed O'Neil thought the reference to .45 ACP Mag in the letter didn't mean anything as .45 Win Mag was what the factory settled on and that is how each barrel is marked. 

I put a few magazines of new Winchester ammo through the gun when I experienced what is called a "case separation".   I now couldn't chamber a round in the 10.5" barrel so I put on the 8" barrel.  I got about 15 rounds out of the 8" barrel before I had another case separation. 

After I got home and removed the small rings of brass from my chambers, I did some reading.  Chambers that are too long seemed to be the most common reason for this problem.  After inspecting the guns head-spacing, I found that the chambers of both of the barrels are too long for the .45 Win Mag round.  The case was seating on the extractor.  I ran a piece of .44 AMP brass into the chamber and the longer brass was too long to allow the gun to go into battery.  What I learned was that the chambers on both barrels are longer than what is required for the .45 Win Mag (1.198")  and shorter than the .44 AMP (1.298"). 

I thought that maybe someone had cut the chambers depth incorrectly.  If it wasn't a mistake, what were they thinking about ?  Years later, after Harry died I met Walt Jones at the Irwindale factory.  I asked Walt about the barrel's long chambers.  He only remembered that he couldn't find any brass for the .45 ACP Mag project so Harry decided to chamber his new .45 barrels in the off the shelf .45 Win Mag ammunition.  This told me that the .45 ACP Mag was definitely a different round that was to use longer brass and that Harry was directing this project.

Earlier Ed O'Neil had urged Harry to make some barrels in .45 Win Mag but Harry said no.  Ed eventually got Bob Barbasiewicz to make up ten barrels in .45 Win Mag.  They look like his other runs of beautiful unmarked, polished threaded barrels.    

Wikipedia says that .45 Win Mag ammo was introduced in 1979 and that the .45 Win Mag Wildey was available in 1980.  I couldn't figure out what the thinking was for a longer chamber and why the initial reluctance to use the .45 Win Mag.

One evening I thought out the problem, again, and hit upon a theory that I believe to be correct. 

I believe Harry Sanford wanted the new .45 cartridge to have the same overall length (OAL) as the .44 AMP Auto Mag cartridge.  The .45 Win Mag overall length is .025" shorter than the .44 AMP round that the Auto Mag pistol was designed to use. 

Regarding the OAL, chambering would be the first concern and movement of the ammo stacked in the magazine would be another.  It has been reported that the shorter OAL sometimes causes the round to go sideways while chambering. 

The second concern would be, what bullet should he use ?  If Harry was to stay with the Auto Mag's 1.298 case length, he would need a .45 bullet to protrude from the case .30".  The .45 ACP and the .45 Win Mag both have .377" of bullet sticking out of the end of the cartridge case. 

The lack of an acceptable .45 bullet using a .30" of protrusion was a problem.  If you measure from the nose, of a .45 ACP bullet, down .30", the dimension of the bullet there must be .451".  On most .45 ACP bullets, at .30" down the bullet, your case mouth would be sitting on the radius of a round nose bullet or the angle of a tapered bullet.  Apparently it was easier to use a standard .45 ACP bullet and just make the case shorter.  In making the .45 STARK I had to design my own .45 bullet specifically to provide .30" of bullet protrusion. 

If one was to use a standard jacketed 240 gr. .45 ACP bullet, with .377" of bullet protruding from the case, and an overall length of 1.60", the case length must be 1.223".  Simple subtraction.  1.60" - .377" = 1.223".

Recently I have had access to some 1.6" blank brass (no head-stamp).  I have used it to make 8mm AMP brass.  I could use this long brass to determine what case length these chambers were made for.

I trimmed a piece of brass down to 1.225". and using the WSJ-001 frame, neither barrel would go into battery.  I trimmed the case down to 1.222" and both barrels snapped into battery.

 

(OAL = Overall Length.  CL = Case Length.  PRO = Bullet Protrusion.)

 

.45 ACP Magnum

 

OAL = 1.600"

CL    = 1.223"  (Maximum)

PRO  = 0.377"

 

.45 Winchester Magnum

 

OAL = 1.575"

CL    = 1.198"

PRO  = 0.377"

 

.45 STARK  (Same as the .44 AMP)

 

OAL = 1.600"

CL    = 1.298"

PRO  = 0.302"

 

Harry Sanford and Walt Jones were both aware of the existence of the .45 Win Mag cartridge before they started the .45 ACP Mag project.  I believe Harry was just developing his own .45 round specifically for the Auto Mag.  His intention all along was to use the Winchester off the shelf factory loaded ammunition in his new .45's.  Ammunition availability and liability considerations must have played a part in this decision. 

I believe that Harry just wanted to say he had developed his own round for the .45 but settled on the .45 Win Mag.  Harry would certainly be interested in seeing the results of his new cartridge design.  The lack of a "parent" cartridge case to use to fabricate the 1.223" case was the final reason the .45 ACP Mag project was abandoned. 

The reason for the .025" shorter OAL of the .45 Win Mag cartridge has been discussed with several proposed theories.  The first was that Wildey Moor has small hands and needed a shorter round.  An AMT Forum member measured both the Wildey and the Auto Mag's frame length at the grip.  He reported that the Wildey is bigger ! 

I believe that the designer of the .45 Win Mag based it on the Auto Mag cartridge.  He may have said, just make the case .100" shorter and fit it with a jacketed round nose .45 ACP bullet.

Some would deny there is any value to the subtle differences between the three calibers discussed here.  These really are big differences that effect both usability and performance.  My curiosity was spurred by Walt Jones referencing the ".45 ACP Magnum" in his letter on the WSJ-001 gun and the long chambers of the barrels. 

The picture of the ammunition is:

#1 = .45 Winchester Magnum

#2 = .45 ACP Magnum

#3 = .45 STARK

#4 = 8mm AMP

#5 = Blank "parent" cartridge 1.60" (Available from Auto Mag LLC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An armed society is a polite society.
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Gerry View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 1:18am
Very interesting article.
Thanks
Gerry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote XP001 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 3:21am
Thanks so much for sharing this bit of history. I always enjoy learning more about firearms and calibers. I have a few questions, 
1 What is the difference in powder cap between the 3 calibers, 45winmag, 45acp mag and your Stark?
2 What difference does the powder cap have on function and velocities?
3 You made the Stark, was it worth the effort to "design" your own bullet to make it happen, or did you use a current 
   design bullet with making a slight change?
4 You listed the specs for your Stark as
   "Same as the .44AMP",
   Oal=1600, CL=1.298 and Pro=0.302
   Does this mean the only difference between your Stark and the AMP is the bullet Dia.(.44 v .45)
   If the figures are true as listed that means the .44AMP use a Pro 0.302, correct? Are .44 cal bullets 
   normally available to set at this space?
   
Thanks again for sharing!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dances with AutoMags Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 6:07am
Originally posted by XP001 XP001 wrote:

Thanks so much for sharing this bit of history. I always enjoy learning more about firearms and calibers.
Thank you for saying so. 
I have a few questions, 
1 What is the difference in powder cap between the 3 calibers, 45winmag, 45acp mag and your Stark?
I haven't measured the powder capacity of the three different cartridges.
 
2 What difference does the powder cap have on function and velocities?
I have shot the .45 STARK in two different guns.  I have loaded it the same as the .45 Win Mag.  My bullet is a little heavier at 247 gr.  I also have not tested velocities as I can't seem to set up a chronograph on any range here in California. 
 
3 You made the Stark, was it worth the effort to "design" your own bullet to make it happen, or did you use a current design bullet with making a slight change?
I copied the nose of the .45 Rowland bullet, eliminated the lip and have had several shooting sessions without a Failure To Feed, FTF.  I first started using a 250 gr. XTP bullet but it kept getting hung up while chambering.  The angle of the Rowland bullet as it enters the chamber is perfect !  The effort was to get the round to function.  I succeeded so it was worth it. 
 
4 You listed the specs for your Stark as
   "Same as the .44AMP",
   Oal=1600, CL=1.298 and Pro=0.302
   Does this mean the only difference between your Stark and the AMP is the bullet Dia.(.44 v .45)
.44 bullet = .429"   .45 bullet = .451"  Another difference would be that the .44 AMP is a tapered case.  With a .451" bullet there is not any room for a taper, just a taper crimp. 
 
   If the figures are true as listed that means the .44AMP use a Pro 0.302, correct? Are .44 cal bullets 
   normally available to set at this space?
The .44 Remington Magnum uses a bullet with .325" of protrusion from the case.  There has never been a shortage of usable .44 bullets for the Auto Mag. 
 
   
Thanks again for sharing!
You are welcome.....Bruce
An armed society is a polite society.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 2:18am
Bruce
I wish you would publish in some form the second volume of your  Auto mag  series>
Gerry
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