Historically Correct Load for .45 Colt


January 3, 2008, 11:21 PM
Does someone have data for a historically correct load for a .45 Colt revolver load of the Old West?
What bullet weight and shape? What hardness lead was used?
How many grains of Blackpowder and what granulation?
When was the switch to smokeless powder?
When did the first jacketed bullets enter the scene?
What velocites can be expected?
Where to find info on actual gunfights with what ammo and gun combination?
Thanks in advance, like to replicate the original loads and shoot them in a Ruger Blackhawk 4 5/8".

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Jim Watson
January 3, 2008, 11:53 PM
I know a little from my reading. No doubt an expert will be along shortly, but as I understand it...

250 gr roundnose with small flat point. Standard factory loads are still pretty much the original shape. I do not know the period alloy, but it was not real hard.

Originally 40 grains, probably FFg. Reduced to 30 after too many guns failed proof test. Brought back up to 35 as cylinder steel improved.

Colt did not apply the VP smokeless powder proof mark until 1904. They beefed up the guns to handle smokeless sometime before that, but the crosswise basepin latch came into use in 1896 and is no sure sign that the gun is for smokeless.

"Cast jacketed bullets"? I am not sure what you mean. Jacketed bullets were not standard for .45 Colt at any time in the First Generation that I know of.

It is going to be tough to pin down the actual gun and ammo used in shootouts. Even accounts of historically important fights vary in details.

Full power black powder loads will likely do 850+ fps from your short barrel. I have seen reports of 1000 fps from a 7.5" with all the powder that could be gotten into a new drawn brass cartridge, about 38 grains of FFFg.
It will take a rather top load of something like Unique to equal that.
The .45 Colt is almost perfectly proportioned for black and the period loads were not weak by any standard. They were for the cavalry and the idea was, if you couldn't hit the man, kill his horse.

January 4, 2008, 10:47 AM
Thanks Jim,

to follow up - does anyone still sell those 250 gr bullets or any molds?
Also, I meant of course jacketed bullets, not cast.
And one more thing - any info of those early primers?

Thanks again.

January 4, 2008, 03:24 PM
In early days some Cowboys even molded their own bullets while out on the trail. They didn't have the option of buying from a store when there was no store for over 1000 miles!! LOL

Here (http://www.westernbullet.com/cbip/b452664.html) is a link to the Western Bullet Company's 250gr .45 Colt bullet offering. This one is their "Cowboy" bullet so it's made of soft Lead like the original. They also give you the Lyman part number for the mold used. Here (http://www.westernbullet.com/cbip/cbip.html) is the link to all their bullets, there are many. I found them when looking for 200gr bullets for replicating the old WWII 38/200 round used by the British in their Enfield No.2 Mk I revolver.

Have fun....

Jim Watson
January 4, 2008, 03:33 PM
Laser Cast (and many others) have a 250 grain roundnose flat point bullet that is pretty close to the factory style. They are generally rather hard and have hard wax smokeless lube. Which is OK if you want to shoot smokeless or a fake like 777.

A few places sell the swaged Remington 250 used in their factory loads.

Mt Baldy Bullets has a similar 250 RNFP but cast from 20:1 lead:tin and lubricated with SPG for black powder if you want the real thing.

Primers of the day were mercuric and usually chlorate (corrosive) too. Not anything that is available or desirable now.
Quality was not what you see now, and was not for many years. The primer flipper trays that we now use to load our automatic primer feeds on progressive loaders were originally made so you could get your primers upside down to see that they all contained anvils and priming compound. Who has to individually inspect primers now?

January 4, 2008, 04:02 PM
One historically correct bullet still being made is the Remington #22897. It is a soft lead HB-RN-FP weighing 250 grains, and is awful darn close to the same as it was 100 years ago.

The old Gov. black powder load would give right at 1,000 FPS out of the 7 1/2" Colt SAA's issued at the time.

Later, the earliest smokeless powder loads were probably Remington-UMC, and were loaded to about 900 FPS with the same bullet.

Today, you can duplicate that load with 9.0 grains Unique powder and the Remington bullet.

Jacketed bullets in the .45 Colt didn't really appear until the 1980's when attempts were made to load SD ammo with lighter JHP bullets.

There were never any jacketed revolver bullets loaded, with the exception of some .38-44 Hi-Speed and .357 Mag. Metal-Piercing loads beginning back in the 1930's for law enforcement use.

Back then, jacketed bullets were for auto-pistols, and revolvers shot lead bullets.


January 4, 2008, 05:05 PM
I didn't know the original .45 Colt bullets had a hollow base. Western Bullets has the same bullet I listed above but this one (http://www.westernbullet.com/cbip/br457195.html) has the hollow base.

Midway has the Remington #22897 (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=446981) bullet in stock. They do look like the old bullets!! LOL

Bad Flynch
January 4, 2008, 07:59 PM
>I do not know the period alloy, but it was not real hard.<

IIRC, the original FA load was 1:20 and most commercial mfrs followed suit.

highlander 5
January 4, 2008, 08:08 PM
RCBS makes/made a mould 250 gr rnfp as described by Jim Watson. I have and use this mould quite a bit and with a 50/50 mix of ww linotype they weigh in at 250 gr and cast at .455 so it can be used in either .454 or.452 bores

January 4, 2008, 09:23 PM
Origanal .45 Colt loads were 40 grains of black powder. Remember though this was with the balloon cartridges of the time. You won't have room for a bullet using modern cartridges and fourty grains of black powder.

Primers were fumulated mercury carried over from the precussion caps of the muzzle loaders. The mercury accualy tended to cancel out some of the bad things that came from shooting black powder. They were however bad for the brass cartridge. Like firearms, the brass had to be cleaned after fireing black powder loads, more so than your new smokeless powder offerings.

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