Short report on the .45 Colt


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Vern Humphrey
August 13, 2006, 04:32 PM
I have a Ruger Blackhawk that just won't shoot -- I've even had it throated.

Finally I got to thinking -- the original .45 Colt loads used a hollowbase bullet. I started looking for one and found it -- the Lee 298 grain Modern Minnie Ball.

Ed Harris and I had a long exchange on this -- would the longer minnie ball shoot well in a handgun? Would it take up too much space in the case and raise pressures? Would too light a charge fail to expand the skirts?

I have graphed data from the Hodgdon manuals and site, and found that for almost all powders pressure, velocity and charge tend to be linear functions. It should be possible to interpolate a safe and effective load from that.

I finally settled on 12 grains of Li'l Gun and used liquid Alox as the lube. My graphs predicted about 10,000 CUP and about 975 fps -- from a 7 1/2 inch barrel with a "normal" 300 grain bullet. How would the minnie ball do?

The results are now in -- 2" groups at 25 yards and velocity (from a 5 1/2" barrel) of 875 fps. Recoil was quite manageable.

Of course, it shoots 6" high, compared to the control load of a 255 grain bullet loaded ahead of 16 grains of Li'l Gun, but hey, the Blackhawk has adjustable sights.:D

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John C
August 13, 2006, 05:08 PM
Thanks, Vern, for this report.

I also cast my bullets, and due to a couple of too small of throat issues on a couple of .45 colt revolvers I own, I was looking for a hollowbase .45 bullet. Finding the old lyman molds is all but impossible, and the current RCBS molds are very expensive. The Lee looks like an excellent option.

I see there are two .45 minie molds: The .454 oversize, which would make the most sense in this case, and the .450. Since my throats are .450 and my bore .452, I'm thinking it might be interesting to try the smaller one and see how it slugs up and holds the rifling.

Where did you crimp? The highest groove? How far did the bullet go into the case? Did you calculate the lower chamber volume? (Actually, I guess the chamber volume would be no different than a conventional, flat base 300 grain bullet, just that the skirts would hang down lower than a comparable flat base)

-John

critter
August 13, 2006, 05:15 PM
Doesn't it really feel good to finally get a wayward child back to acting like it should! Guess I may be lucky. My Ruger Bisley Blackhawk in .45 Colt is a real shooter! So is my Ruger Bisley Stainless Blackhawk hunter model (.44 mag). I did put a Belt Mountain base pin in this one though. Really tightened up the slop in the cylinder. Also had to polish the chambers to get the brass to eject.

Vern Humphrey
August 13, 2006, 05:45 PM
I see there are two .45 minie molds: The .454 oversize, which would make the most sense in this case, and the .450. Since my throats are .450 and my bore .452, I'm thinking it might be interesting to try the smaller one and see how it slugs up and holds the rifling.

I'm using the .454 mould, but it would seem with your gun, the .450 might work as well.

What the heck, Lee moulds are cheap!!
Where did you crimp? The highest groove? How far did the bullet go into the case? Did you calculate the lower chamber volume? (Actually, I guess the chamber volume would be no different than a conventional, flat base 300 grain bullet, just that the skirts would hang down lower than a comparable flat base)

I crimp on the highest groove. I made up a dummy round (using a discarded case with a split neck) and adjusted the die to get the crimp in the right spot.

The bullet goes waaay down in the case. For informational purposes, the bullet is 0.850 long, and from the base to the top groove is 0.515. My batch of cases run about 1.11" deep (inside.) So more than half the case is full of bullet. (Note: Crimping on the second groove won't work -- the bullet will stick in the throat before the cartridge is fully chambered.)

I had calculated 14 grains of Li'l Gun would do what I wanted -- but there were too many unknowns -- such as the effects of the hollow base on case volume, rapid obturation of the hollow base, and so on.

So I took a guess and backed off to 12 grains. I may play with this load later, going up a grain or two, but it shoots so well and is so manageable that it would be hard to improve on.

And any white tail that stands in front of that 298 grain minnie ball isn't going to complain it isn't going fast enough.;)

1911Tuner
August 13, 2006, 06:03 PM
Vern...I wouldn't think it would work. The higher pressures of smokeless powder may cause the thin skirt of the Minie' to shear off and stick in the forcing cone or the bore.

Have you slugged the bore?

Vern Humphrey
August 13, 2006, 06:12 PM
Vern...I wouldn't think it would work. The higher pressures of smokeless powder may cause the thin skirt of the Minie' to shear off and stick in the forcing cone or the bore.

So far it's working nicely -- I'm casting these of wheel weights and watching it closely, though.

Have you slugged the bore?

Yep. 0.452 on the money.

MCgunner
August 13, 2006, 06:41 PM
Doesn't it really feel good to finally get a wayward child back to acting like it should! Guess I may be lucky. My Ruger Bisley Blackhawk in .45 Colt is a real shooter!

I have a rather excellent shooter, too, like 1" groups with the Lee 255 flat nose and 8.3 or something like that grains of Unique. Thing's a tack driver just like my .357 Blackhawk. Never thought about shooting a minie ball in a revolver before, though. Very interesting. Hmmm. How long is it going to be before somebody turns that minie upside down for the ultimate hollow point? :rolleyes: Sorta the hollow base wadcutter upside down thing, super-sized. :D

Vern Humphrey
August 13, 2006, 06:48 PM
How long is it going to be before somebody turns that minie upside down for the ultimate hollow point? Sorta the hollow base wadcutter upside down thing, super-sized.

I loaded a bunch of hollow-base wadcutters backwards in .357 and took them to Viet Nam my first tour. They worked, but leaded the barrel something ferocious.

John C
August 13, 2006, 11:42 PM
Tuner;

This is pure speculation, but I think that these .45 minies might have an easier time with skirt separations than their larger, .58 caliber cousins. The .58 cal minies have a larger skirt, due to the rounding of the hollow base (at least in my Lyman 577213OS). Plus, a muzzleloader requires more windage around the minie, so that the slug goes down (during loading) the bore easily. Therefore, more deformation is required to seal the bore, leading to skirt separations. In Vern's case, the projectile is being pushed down a bore that is acually smaller than the nominal size of the bullet. So while the skirt may still expand, the purpose is merely to seat more tightly in the rifling, versus having to expand the .005 inches of windage in a .58 cal AND engage the rifling.

I definitely agree, Tuner, that skirt separation is a real danger in the use of any minie.

Vern, what size did the minies drop from the mold? How big are your throats? Have you measured your barrel for a constriction at the threats to the frame? Had you tried just pure lead bullets, to see if they'll slug up and shoot well in your revolver?

-John

Vern Humphrey
August 14, 2006, 12:34 PM
Vern, what size did the minies drop from the mold?

.454 on the nose.

How big are your throats?

.4525 after throating.

Have you measured your barrel for a constriction at the threats to the frame?

Yep -- no problem there.
Had you tried just pure lead bullets, to see if they'll slug up and shoot well in your revolver?

As close to pure lead as I could get -- I melted some old scuba weights I had that are close to pure. They didn't shoot as well as these minnies.

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