45 Colt Black Powder Loads


Ed Gallop
September 10, 2007, 12:07 PM
A 45 Colt casings will hold 40 gr. of black powder with proper compression. It may be the authentic load but it is a bit heavy for my preference. I shoot 40 gr. in my Walker but the Peacemaker is not nearly as tough as the Walker and over time it may take its toll. I'd like to try 25 to 30 gr. loads but need a filler. The 44 cal Wonder Wads are a perfect diameter but the grease is a problem. Even if I could degrease them I'd have to use 3 or 4 of them and they are made of felt. I don't know but I suspect felt would hold too much air. Anyone here know of a filler fiber or wad that would be safe? Ed.

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September 10, 2007, 01:00 PM
When I was making some low power loads, I used either Cream of Wheat or Corn meal. The stuff compresses just fine.


Sharps Shooter
September 10, 2007, 04:20 PM
Sorry - I haven't any advice. In fact, I have a question - what do you concider "proper compression" of black powder in a .45 Colt case?
Just out of curiosity, after reading your post I went downstairs and put 40 grains of "cartridge" granulation black powder in a .45 Colt case. The powder filled the case to about 1/4" from the top.
When you seat your bullets on top of the black powder charge in your .45 Colt cases, how much in inches do you compress the powder? I'm asking because I myself have been thinking about building some .45 Colt black powder loads.
I like to compress REAL black powder for my .45/110 loads no more than 1/16" to 3/32". However, I've read Pyrodex needs more compression. I don't know that for sure - I've haven't used Pyrodex a heck of a lot in black powder cartridge loads. Of course the actual weight of the powder charge, in order to get what I concider to be "proper compression," depends on how far I push whatever bullets I'm using into the cases.

September 10, 2007, 04:39 PM
I use oatmeal. But am thinking of the new Puff Lon stuff.

Jim Watson
September 10, 2007, 06:35 PM
How much powder does a .45 Colt case hold up to the base of the bullet plus a sixteenth for compression? I'd call that the basic load and would never put crap other than gunpowder in my cartridges. If that kicks, get some Fg which will tone things down a good bit.

Original .45 Colt loads were 40 grains of black but they soon reduced the charge because too many guns were failing proof test. I have an 1884 catalog cut that shows 30 grains. They were back up to 35 when the New Service came out.

I have loaded .38-55 with everything from .030" to .300" compression of Real Black.

Bad Flynch
September 10, 2007, 10:17 PM
I will chime in here, since I regularly load and shoot .45 Colt BP loads. It's a hoot and darned easy, too!

First is the case capacity. Different brands of cases have different capacities: Starline holds more than Winchester. I prefer Winchester cases for that reason, although someone shooting reduced loads might do well with the Starline.

When I first loaded the cartridge that way, I tried 40 grains of 3Fg and it, sure enuff, was a very stout load. Modern guns will not have any trouble with it. The original problems were twofold: the cast iron frame guns that Colt first put out would not stand the load and the mounted troops could not control the load on horseback. Hence, the drop to 30 grains.

With the 40 grain load, I tried seating the soft (1:20 T:L) bullets by themselves to produce the compression, but it deformed the bullets too much. Then I went to a separate compression die and used it, compressing enough to get the bullet seated properly with no air space. That worked well enough and allowed me to shoot different bullets.

It became apparent that 3Fg powder would foul my guns very quickly, so I tried 2Fg and the fouling settled down. I read where the Frankford Arsenal loaded the cartridge, 'way back when, with what was the equivalent of 2.5Fg. I tried a mix of equal parts of 3Fg and 2Fg to make it and sure enuff, it was a decent compromise between velocity and fouling. Now Goex makes the "Cartridge" grade powder, which is essentially the same.

Do not waste your money on hard bullets with hard lube. Be sure to shoot soft bullets, sized to fit the cylinder throats, that have a soft, gooey lube. That combination gives the best results.

Use a hot, regular primer like Winchester.

You don't really need much compression to get good results and anything that does not absorb moisture is fine for use as a filler. I use grits and they work fine, what with their large granules and so on.

Lately, I have been using hollow-based bullets cast 1:20 on top of about 30 grains of 2,5Fg powder. It is a decent load: it does not lead, it really goes boom, and it gives enough recoil to be convincing. Do try bullets from www.cowboybullets.com . They have soft bullets with soft lube and they shoot well. Hollow based bullets, like the originals, are a do-it-yourself proposition.

Ed Gallop
September 11, 2007, 09:01 PM
I was directed to Cabelas where I found "Vegetable Fiber Wads" that are perfect. 1,000 for @17.99 is about 10 per penny. It isn't worth making wads or using grits. As for compression... As long as there is no air gap the compression really isn't important but I think 40 gr compressed between 5% to 10%. Ed.

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