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Thread: Handloading and the 45 Colt

  1. #11
    Over the years, I've owned all 4 .45 Colt levels - from SAA clones, to a couple S&W 25's, to lots of full size Ruger Blackhawks and Bisleys, to a Ruger .454 Casull Redhawk and a FA 83 with both .454 and .45 Colt cylinders. I've shot cowboy action loads all the way up to 300 grain JHPs at 1400+fps in the Redhawk and FA. The full power loads are way more fun than I want to shoot anymore and I've probably still got several hundred of them loaded in the garage that will never get fired.

    These days at 50+ years old, I'm down to a single 5 1/2'' Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt and I load one load for it. That load is a 255 grain cast SWC over 10 grains of Unique that chrono's right at 1000fps from a 5 1/2'' barrel. Nothing I've shot with them in the Southeast has even slowed one down. When I hit 60, I might slow that load down to 900fps or finally get the extra .45 acp cylinder I bought for it fitted. I doubt on game performance will suffer much.

    Top 2 pics are my keeper .45 Colt and everything below was shot with a 255 @ 1000fps.










  2. #12
    Site Supporter 03RN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    I reckon a USP .45 Expert could get there with Super loads.
    I get 950fps with a 255gr swc over 6gr unique in my Springfield loaded

    They function ok I guess
    Last edited by 03RN; 09-22-2022 at 04:07 PM.

  3. #13
    Site Supporter CSW's Avatar
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    The Mountain Gun absolutely rocks with 265 Keiths.
    Crazy accurate, and more power than I'd need in the NH hardwood.
    Barely mediocre with every platform.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by okie john View Post
    Pulling from this thread: https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....Duty-Revolvers



    I'm pretty sure that all N-Frames got those upgrades, not just the 44s, but I'm also unconvinced that there's much point in loading the 45 Colt much past Tier II (as described below).

    Any discussion of the 45 Colt should start with a reading from John Linebaugh’s epistle to the faithful (https://www.johnlinebaughcustomsixguns.com/writings):

    “I have personally taken about 10 antelope and 1 mule deer with a .45 Colt. My boys have taken around 6 antelope and 5 mule deer with their .45 Colts. They use a 4 3/4" Colt SA and the handload is a 260 Keith cast at 900 fps. This load will shoot lengthwise of antelope and mule deer at 100 yards. In my estimation it kills as well as the .270, 30-06 class rifles if the shots are placed properly. If I were hunting heavier game I'd step up the velocity to 1200 fps and in extreme circumstances, (elk, hogs, bear) go to the 310 gr cast slug. This load, 310 at 1200 will go through elk like so much air.”

    I’m not sure what’s heavier than mule deer and lighter than elk, hogs, or bear, but those are the words of the master.

    The 45 Colt is good ballistically, but there are wrinkles on the logistical side. 45 Colt revolvers and ammo are classed in four tiers:

    Tier I = Colt SAA and clones, which top out at 14,000 psi. It’s easy to handload a 250-grain SWC or LFN to 1,000 fps, which will meet 99% of your needs. Factory ammo is another story—you might find something like that handload, or you might only find a load with a pointy 180-grain bullet at 600 fps that will barely stay on a pie plate at 25 yards. Test and make careful notes if you have to rely on factory ammo.

    Tier II = S&W Model 25 and Ruger Flat Tops, which top out around 23,000 psi. This is a 250-grain jacketed bullet at 1,100 fps, a 280-grain cast bullet at 1,150 fps, or a 318-grain cast bullet at 1,070 fps. Brian Pearce has written excellent articles about handloading to this level in Handloader magazine, most notably in April, 2007. You’ll need those articles, though, because no factory loads this ammo and loading manuals don’t cover it. Here's one of them: http://buffalobore.net/HandloaderDecJan2012.pdf

    Tier III = Ruger New Model Blackhawks (NOT Flat Tops or New Vaqueros), Redhawks, Freedom Arms 97, and similar guns. These top out around 32,000 psi. You can buy this ammo over the counter. It’s expensive and recoil is fierce, but they match the hottest 44 Magnum loads with slightly less pressure. Most sources of loading data call this “45 Colt +P” or “Ruger/TC only.” These loads can destroy a Tier I or Tier II revolver, so many—but not all—of them are intentionally built too long to fit into the cylinder of an SAA or clone.

    Tier IV = custom five-shot guns with longer than standard cylinders, which top out around 50,000 psi. These are a handload-only proposition. I had a couple of these guns built by David Clements, and they’ll move a 325-grain bullet an honest 1,400 fps.

    The 45 Colt has a lot of romance but most of its advantages are theoretical and only pan out if you handload to Tier III or IV levels.


    Okie John
    My fascination with the .45 Colt doesn't lies within the prospect of launching a big .452" heavy lead slug at relatively tame velocities and low pressure that also hits like a freight train, all with reasonably mild recoil. My territory would lay well within Tier I and Tier II. If I need to go to Tier III (such as in brown bear country), the Super Redhawk/Super Redhawk Alaskan certainly has advantages, along with the fact that they'd probably shoot like .38 target loads with mild .45 Colt loadings. I'd consider the .45 Colt Redhawk in this category of advantage as well, although I've read over the years that the Redhawks in .45 Colt have had some issues and I'm not sure they're resolved.

  5. #15
    I wonder how this Barnes all-copper JHP would perform in a self defense use against humans? It's 200 grains going 1025fps.

    @Chuck Haggard have you happened to test this before?

    https://www.luckygunner.com/45-long-...rnes-20-rounds

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by SwampDweller View Post
    I wonder how this Barnes all-copper JHP would perform in a self defense use against humans? It's 200 grains going 1025fps.
    Probably pretty well based on their similar offerings

    http://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Bal...0gr_TAC-XP.pdf

    http://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Bal...5gr_TAC-XP.pdf

  7. #17
    Old man yelling at cloud OlongJohnson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwampDweller View Post
    I wonder how this Barnes all-copper JHP would perform in a self defense use against humans? It's 200 grains going 1025fps.

    @Chuck Haggard have you happened to test this before?

    https://www.luckygunner.com/45-long-...rnes-20-rounds
    I don't reckon there's much wondering to do there.
    .
    -----------------------------------------
    Not another dime.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by OlongJohnson View Post
    I reckon a USP .45 Expert could get there with Super loads.
    BUFFALO BORE 45 SUPER OUTDOORSMAN
    255 gr. Hard Cast FN @ 1,075 fps/M.E. 654 ft-lbs

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=397

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by okie john View Post
    Back in the 90s, I hot-loaded factory guns and tried out a couple of custom 5-shot guns. I went through enough H110 to burn the throat out of a factory Bisley barrel and create a world-class flinch that wrecked years of careful coaching, training, and practice in about six months. The guns held up and delivered as promised but I realized that my life didn't require that kind of power.

    Since then, I've been OK with +P 45 ACP ballistics in Smith N-Frames and various Rugers. Then, a couple of years ago, I put a dozen of these https://grizzlycartridge.com/shop/gr...p-265gr-wfngc/
    through a standard Blackhawk. Recoil was fast and sharp, but certainly tolerable without going to a Bisley.

    If you use bullets heavier than about 300 grains or shoot long strings of heavy loads, then yeah, get a Bisley. Otherwise, a Blackhawk is probably fine.


    Okie John
    I had similar experiences with one of the first 45 Colt Redhawks to leave the factory. 340 gr cast with an obscene amount of H110 or Lil' Gun. Recoil was the stuff memes are made of. I later realized that my loads were essentially 5 shot cylinder loads and stopped before I did something stupid. The fired cases pretty much dropped from the cylinder, so I thought I was okay. Nowdays 280 gr LFN from a 44 Redhawk is about all the fun I want, and it only takes a couple of cylinders full to start my hands shaking.
    Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem
    I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude
    -Thomas Jefferson
    I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwampDweller View Post
    I wonder how this Barnes all-copper JHP would perform in a self defense use against humans? It's 200 grains going 1025fps.

    @Chuck Haggard have you happened to test this before?

    https://www.luckygunner.com/45-long-...rnes-20-rounds
    That's what I use when I carry my 625 mountain gun. Haven't had a reason to test it on anything other than paper yet, carried it a lot on a remote project site hoping for one of the pigs we were seeing on game cameras but no such luck. But I'm pretty sure it would do well and one nice thing is that it bridges town and backcountry use.

    I've also loaded up and tested a few 200gr Cutting Edge solids in 45 Colt and in 45 Super and accuracy has been good. Non lead is a thing here in California especially with recent condor re-introductions not far from here. There are 200gr and 300gr reloading options, is anyone aware of anything non-lead in between those weights? I used to use one of the 255gr Keith loads from Linebaugh before the non-lead regs kicked in a few years ago.

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