What is the weakest link on my revolver?


Owen Sparks
April 22, 2009, 09:18 PM
I have a stainless Smith and Wesson .45 acp revolver. I would like to improve the loads a little using Auto Rim brass and a 250 grain bullet. I am NOT trying to make a magnum out of it but would like to explore the posibility of loading to original .45 Colt specs of 900 fps with a 250 grain lead bullet. Can this revolver handle a steady diet of heavier than standard loads? What is the weakest link? It can't be the brass head as .45AR has a thicker rim than any other common pistol case. It can't be the pistols frame as it is built on the same "N"frame used with the model 629 that handles much higher pressure .44 Magnum rounds. Is it the thinner walls of the cylinder? What "gives"? I don't want to overstress my revolver but then I don't want to shoot puny factory equivalant .45AR loads in the 700 fps range either.


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April 22, 2009, 09:35 PM
Weakest link: The booger hook on the trigger! :neener:

If I was going to play with hot loads, I'd try it in a Ruger.

I'll pay attention to this thread.

April 22, 2009, 09:43 PM
I agree with Nugilum it's your finger. Also agree that
if your experimenting with handloads "it is better to error with a Ruger than to blow off your digits".

April 22, 2009, 10:12 PM
ask a moderator to move this thread over to the reloading forum--you can get knowledgeable responses there.

Jim H.

April 22, 2009, 10:23 PM
The 45 acp is a fine SD round as it is, but for other uses check out glocktalk big dawg section for info on the 45 super.

I would think the S&W would be the equal of any golck or 1911 for strength. The 45 acp is a very low pressure round.

This is not to suggest the other replys are not the best advice.

April 22, 2009, 10:48 PM
Pinshooters have been loading 255gr boolits to those velocities for years in regular old ACP cases and still using the same S&W guns. I have not done it personally so I'm not going to get into recipes, but Unique is said to be the powder to use. Be safe.

April 22, 2009, 10:53 PM
I hope I'm spelling it correct. Clarks gunsmiths will ream your cylinder out to take the slightly longer case.
A common misconception is that thicker brass will hold much more pressure. Give this some thought, then compare the strength of steel and brass. The cartridge case is only to provide a gasket like seal. 45 ACP is plenty strong enough to hold reasonable handgun pressure. The base is much the same specs as many centerfire rifle cartridges such as .308, 30/06. The steel surrounding the brass is the strength that matters.
When your start expanding primer pockets, getting sticky extraction and cratering and piercing primers your brass case is gonna die.

Brian Williams
April 23, 2009, 09:19 AM
Go find some pin shooters, they have been doing this for a while, a 45 ACP rimmed with a 255 gr LWC is an awesome round, just keep it around 900 fps and it will be fine.
I would stay away from the 460 Roland in a S&W but it is doable.
Also you might make sure the throats of the cylinder are right along with the proper forcing cone dimensions.
You might also have to resize the .455 cast lead bullets to .451 or .452 to match the throats/barrel of your gun.

April 23, 2009, 09:54 AM
There's no particular reason that the cylinder walls won't handle the standard .45 Colt load. The same gun is available with a .45 Colt cylinder.

There is a reason not to load "Ruger-only" loads in the .45 Colt version, but that's not what you want to do anyway.

Owen Sparks
April 24, 2009, 09:03 PM
As I understand it, S&W revolver in .45 Colt are designed for the modern atenuated loading that operates at lower pressure than the original 255 at 900+ fps.

April 24, 2009, 09:17 PM
The cylinder, it only holds six rounds.

April 24, 2009, 09:20 PM
you can already get great performance out of .45 and .45 +p

I am not quite sure why you would want to load up any more than that other than just an excuse to play...

Personally, if i wanted to play with .45 colt loads or .44 magnum loads, I would dish out the money for the gun then get to experimenting...

April 25, 2009, 12:55 AM
This article is data for Ruger revolvers, don't know if it would be safe in your gun though. http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=41
The Hodgdon manual has data for +P .45 acp loads also. LM

April 25, 2009, 01:24 PM
Forget the Ruger only loads posted above.
They are not suitable for S&W revolvers.

The weakest link in the chain is not the brass, it is the thin cylinder walls in .45 caliber N-Frames.

But, your 625 is safe with any load up to & including +P .45 ACP.
That is 23,000 PSI.

Standard .45 ACP is 21,000 PSI.
.45 AR is only rated 15,000 CUP, not because of the brass, but because of all the old WWI guns still in use.

SO, you can load the .45 AR to .45 ACP +P pressure safely.

Internal case capacity is the same as .45 ACP brass for all practical purposes, so published .45 ACP standard pressure load data is safe to use in the .45 AR case in modern guns like your 625.

Still, getting 900 FPS with a 250 - 255 grain bullet would be pushing the envelop a bit.

It is easy to do in the .45 Colt case, not so much in the much smaller .45 AR case. The long heavy bullet takes up too much space in the short case.


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