45 long colt - cowboy action loads vs home defense loads vs the original load?


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Leaky Waders
December 13, 2009, 08:24 AM
Hi,

I've built my work bench, will not be moving again (if ever) for quite sometime, and am really enjoying the reloading aspect of shooting/hunting.

Right now, I'm only set-up to reload 2 things - 28 gauge shotgun shells and 45 long colt. I have mastered neither, but am feeling much more confident after shooting several hundred reloads without squibs or blowing anything up.

For the long colt I have universal powder, and hornady 230 gr lrn & 200 gr swc with whatever large pistol primers I can get (right now I have remington large 2 1/2 pistol primers).

When I look at the reloading data, I'm wondering...

1) What was the original velocity from the 45 colt in 1873? I mean, the manstopping game getting round that won the west.

2) I don't cowboy action shoot (but I pretend I'm a cowboy when I'm plinking with my ruger ;) ) but there is a lot of reloading data out there for 45 colt loads. A quick look at the tables and it seems to me that they tend to average about 800 fps. In other words, not much difference between them and the standard loads. So...would the CAS loads be a good self-defense load?

3) If the cowboy action loads aren't good for self-defense...then what would be a good moderate load to strive for in a model 25-15 revolver with 6 1/2 barrel. Like what velocity should I strive for so my wife can shoot the gun if needed.

Thanks,

LW

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Randy1911
December 13, 2009, 09:52 AM
1. The original load was a 250 gr. LRNFP at about 825 fps.

2. If you are going to shoot your Ruger, there is load data specifically for Ruger that would not be safe in other 45 LC revolvers. A good Cowboy load that I use to shoot when I shot Cowboy was a 200 LRNFP with 5.8 grs of W231 for 650 fps.

3. Any good load for the 45 LC with a jacketed 250 gr. bullet would make a good self-defense load.

The load makers have to keep teh load a little on the lite side because there are orginal black powder guns out there still in use. Modern guns can take a little more.

loadedround
December 13, 2009, 10:40 AM
Leaky: All your questions regarding various loads for your 45 Colt can be answered by purchasing the current Speer #14 Loading Manual. It lists starting and max loads for normal 45 Colt loads and a separate section for cowboy loads. You are going to need a good reloading manual(s), so buy yourself an early Christmas present. :)

zxcvbob
December 13, 2009, 10:53 AM
Any good self-defense bullet for .45ACP can be used in .45 Colt, but the Colt will push it faster (that's usually a good thing.)

The original loads were 250 or 255 grain lead bullets at about 950 fps, loaded with black powder. That's still a good load; you probably want to use a RNFP or SWC bullet, and smokeless powder. "Cowboy" loads generally use lighter bullets and/or less velocity so the CASS players can fire followup shots faster.

What Ruger do you have? Is it a large frame (Blackhawk, etc) or a medium frame (New Vaquero, etc)? You don't want to shoot "Ruger only" high pressure loads in a New Vaq, the cylinder walls are too thin -- but you can probably push the envelope a little bit because it's a Ruger with modern heat-treated steel.

Leaky Waders
December 13, 2009, 11:49 AM
Hi,

Yes I have an old vaquero but also a new Smith and Wesson model 25 as well. I want to shoot the same rounds in both guns. I don't want 44 magnum like rounds. I want something pleasant to shoot.

I have speer reloading manual #13...I guess it's time to upgrade, hodgdon's 2009 manual and the Hodgdon Cowboy Action Loading Data pamphlet 5th edition.

I'm confused because all of the loads seem to average out at like 800 fps. I guess, I want to know if CAS loads can be used for self defense.

Like, if I leave my revolver loaded for my wife while I'm away...and she has to use it...will it bounce off something or thump it good?

OK edited...right now I have the gun loaded in factory winchester:

WINCHESTER AMMUNITION SUPER-X CENTERFIRE PISTOL AMMO
Winchester 45 Long Colt 255 Grain Lead Round Nose

Offers a unique combination of power, precision, reliable functioning, and on target performance. Delivers optimum penetration and rapid energy release with virtually no weight loss or bullet fragmentation.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Mfg Item Num: X45CP2
Category: AMMO CENTERFIRE
Caliber :45 Long Colt
Bullet Type :Lead Round Nose
Bullet Weight :255 GR
Muzzle Energy :420 ft lbs
Muzzle Velocity :860 fps
Rounds/box :20 Round Per Box

It says target/ranger on the box. It is pleasant to shoot. I'm wondering how well it would do for self defense if needed.

Remo-99
December 13, 2009, 12:01 PM
250-255gr bullets at standard 45colt velocities will still thump something pretty good.

Floppy_D
December 13, 2009, 12:01 PM
I want something pleasant to shoot.
That it is; it's my favorite revolver cartridge. I personally would move away from a LRN for defense, only because LSWCs tear a better hole. You're certainly not undergunned with that round.

Leaky Waders
December 13, 2009, 12:16 PM
Thanks for the advice! I'll keep her loaded with factory ammo while I'm away on this trip and then reload some in LSWC so we can go out and practice some.

rcmodel
December 13, 2009, 03:30 PM
As zxcvbob said:
The original loads were 250 or 255 grain lead bullets at about 950 fps, loaded with black powder.That was in a 7 1/2" Colt SAA.

A modern & traditional equlivent load is 8.5 to 9.0 grains unique over a 250 grain SWC Keith style lead bullet.

That load is pefectly safe in Colts, Colt clones, and of course any Ruger.

If it won't Get-R-Done, you should have took a 12 ga shotgun to the dance.

rc

nulfisin
December 13, 2009, 10:48 PM
Remember that this was the most powerful cartridge in common use for many years. It is a man stopper in any reasonable load and very accurate to boot. Along with the 44 special, it's my favorite round. Plenty of power and accuracy, but not too hard on the hand. In a wheelgun!

Guy de Loimbard
December 14, 2009, 01:48 AM
As far as Ruger-Only loads go, 14.5gr. of AA#7 with a 255gr. SWC would make a good SD load. A bit more oomph than a cowboy load, but not yet into .44 magnum like territory. I find it fantastically accurate.

7.8gr. of Universal with the same 255gr. SWC is another one I liked for accuracy. This would be safe to fire through both of your guns.

PT1911
December 14, 2009, 02:08 AM
What would you say the effectiveness the cowboy loads (255 gr lead cast bullet loaded to around 800 fps) would have in say a self defense/hunting application through a long gun chambered in 45 colt? Would you hesitate to take a shot on a deer using that round?

ArchAngelCD
December 14, 2009, 05:07 AM
Any 255gr LSWC pushed to ~950 fps will work very well for SD duty. If you're looking for a JHP bullet instead Hornady sells a 250gr XTP bullet for the .45 Colt. Push it to the same velocities and you will stop most predatory animals in North America, both 2 and 4 legged, with either load. (I personally prefer the LSWC bullet)

Sport45
December 14, 2009, 05:52 AM
255gr SWC are great for hunting but for myself I'd stick with an expanding bullet for defense. Hardly anyone suggests ball for defense loads in a .45acp and the .45Colt with a non-expanding bullet will not drill a much larger hole. The flat nose will help some but I don't see it replacing an expanding bullet for this purpose.

If your defending yourself against 4-legged critters it's hard to go wrong with a 250-255gr SWC. For defense against an armed adversary I suggest getting premium SD ammo from a reputable manufacturer.

ArchAngelCD
December 15, 2009, 03:40 AM
Sport45,
I would normally agree a HP bullet is better for defense but remember, the sharp shoulder of a SWC bullet cuts very well and the bullet starts out at .452". That combination aids in rapid blood loss just like a HP bullet in a smaller caliber.

nelson133
December 15, 2009, 06:40 AM
The standard 45 Colt round in an excellent SD round, the biggest problem is that the heavy round nose or swc bullet is a real penetrator. The performance on various game animals demonstrates this. For that reason it can be a very good short range rifle load. Originally, rifles weren't chambered in .45Colt because the rim was very small, this was changed in the early 20th century so that the cartridge could be used in double action revolvers. Current brass works well in the various Winchester clones.
I have several pistols in this caliber including my first centerfire handgun, a New Model Ruger Blackhawk with a 7&1/2 inch barrel. I have always loaded 8 to 10 grains of Unique, but have recently switched to 6.2 grains of Titegroup. There was a time in my younger days when I had to see how hot I could load the cartridge, but then I grew up. The standard load is plenty powerful and accounted for many pest animals when I was farming.
The recoil is very manageable, my girl friend puts 50 rounds through the Ruger every range session and loves the gun, she especially likes the size of the holes in the center of the target. She asked if I would leave her the gun in my will and I told her I didn't necessarily think that it was a safe thing to do.

Oro
December 15, 2009, 07:24 AM
Any good self-defense bullet for .45ACP can be used in POST WWII .45 Colt,

Keep in mind the standard bore for .45 Colt changed then. Prior, .454 bullets are needed for best accuracy. After that, .452 (lead) and .451 (jacketed) can be used. .451 bullets in a "real" .45 Colt will rattle around a fair bit...

Any .45LC loading over 750 fps and 225 gr. is going to be a heck of good man-stopper. No need to get crazy with it.

ArchAngelCD
December 15, 2009, 03:35 PM
Any .45LC loading over 750 fps and 225 gr. is going to be a heck of good man-stopper. No need to get crazy with it.
Ain't that the truth...

I know looking at all the numbers for "current production ammo" would make you doubt that but the older calibers did a great job without all the fancy new bullets and super high velocities. (pre-FBI) If you're still not sure take a look at the 45-70 Gov't round. It's big and slow and stops almost anything on Earth.

DWFan
December 15, 2009, 04:16 PM
A decent .45 Colt load for a S&W N-frame taken from Handloader magazine #258:
RCBS 45-270-SAA
7.5gr Hodgdon Titegroup
CCI #300 primer
The load develops 900-950 fps and is safe in both a Ruger or S&W, according to Brian Pierce, and should be equally effective in the field. My own opinion is any 270-280gr bullet at that velocity is nothing to sneeze at.

rcmodel
December 15, 2009, 04:19 PM
If you're still not sure take a look at the 45-70 Gov't round.Or look at the .455 Webley revolver used by the British for about 50 years of world conquering.

It fired a 265 grain bullet at a smoking hot 650 FPS!

And by all accounts, it would put a determined man down in the dirt, right now.
As one who has been hit in the foot with a .45 Colt bounce-back, I don't doubt it a bit.

I got hit in the boot heel once with a .45 Colt 250 grain cowboy load that didn't have enough velocity to stick in our railroad tie backstop.
It was probably only going half as fast coming back as it was going, which was likely around 700 FPS when fired.

It tore the leather stack heel off a good pair of boots, and almost knocked me flat on my azz from having my leg taken out from under me.

No doubt in my mind I would have needed medical attention if it had hit me instead of my boot heel.

rc

Sport45
December 15, 2009, 10:07 PM
Sport45,
I would normally agree a HP bullet is better for defense but remember, the sharp shoulder of a SWC bullet cuts very well and the bullet starts out at .452". That combination aids in rapid blood loss just like a HP bullet in a smaller caliber.


How do you rate 200gr SWC at 950fps from a .45acp as a self defense load?

Floppy_D
December 15, 2009, 10:14 PM
How do you rate 200gr SWC at 950fps from a .45acp as a self defense load?

@ 400ft/lbs of energy, it's the same muzzle energy as a 255g at 840fps. I'd say more than good enough. Trick question?

Sport45
December 15, 2009, 11:36 PM
Trick question?

Kind of.

When folks ask what to load their .45acp with for carry I don't remember anyone ever suggesting SWC.

Of course shot placement trumps bullet design in every case.

ArchAngelCD
December 16, 2009, 02:54 AM
How do you rate 200gr SWC at 950fps from a .45acp as a self defense load?
I'm no expert by any means and I don't usually load 200gr bullets in the .45 auto, I usually load a 225/230gr bullet. BUT, I have no doubt a 200gr SWC @950 fps would work as well or better than a 230gr LRN bullet @800 fps. Like I said, I'm no expert and I don't do a lot with the .45 Auto compared to the .45 Colt.

Leaky Waders
December 24, 2009, 05:11 PM
Thanks guys - I have 100 loaded up right now.

230 grains hornady LRN over 7.3 grains of universal. I'll try them out tomorrow after I have plenty of cardboard boxes for targets.

Hopefully I'll get a chrono for Christmas...if not then I'l buy myself one very soon and see how fast they are flying.

Nicodemus38
December 24, 2009, 08:41 PM
the original load for the 45 "government" that the us army specified was 40 grns black powder and 250 grain bullet. modern testing has shown it can creat 1,000 fps in a 7.5" and longer pistol barrel.
the load was reduced to 35 grains of powder, and then to 30 grains of powder to make shooting easier.

cowboy action loads are just designed to get the bullet out of the barrel and to group consistently. giving htem ammunition that would generate full house energy and recoil levels would have most of them shooting air.

Leaky Waders
December 25, 2009, 08:41 PM
OK, so no chronograph for Christmas...I'll search the threads and see which one to order.

So, of the 100 rounds of 230 grains honrady LRN loaded over 7.3 grains Universal (the weighed amount that fills a lee .7cc dipper) and using large pistol primers (remington no. 2 1/2)...the following was observed.

Out of my S&W model 25 - all of the rounds felt very comfortable to shoot and hit the paper at 7 yards. My oldest son and brother in law liked the low recoil.

In the old style vaquero, 7 rounds dented the primers but did not fire. After placing these rounds in the S&W - 4 fired. Three left the primers deeper dented but no firing.

I'm wondering if I had my primers too far into the case? Or if the primers were just no good? Or something else. I have the bullets saved - I need a bullet puller and will get one tomorrow or soon after and examine the bullets after taking them apart.

I also found some remnants of unburned powder on the S&W. I'm not sure what's up with that. Maybe the primers are not hot enough to ignite the load?

I plan on getting some unique powder to use soley for my 45 colt loads, is there a certain primer manufacturer I should strive for?

Overall it was a fun time and everyone enjoyed the shooting. The stump that the targets were stapled to has quite a hole in it now.

L.W.

Sport45
December 25, 2009, 09:30 PM
I also found some remnants of unburned powder on the S&W. I'm not sure what's up with that. Maybe the primers are not hot enough to ignite the load?

This is not unusual with low pressure rounds like the .45 Colt. If you up the charge a little bit the powder will burn better. When I'm shooting Unique in my Redhawk I'll find the bench littered with powder afterwords.

I'm wondering if I had my primers too far into the case? Or if the primers were just no good? Or something else.

I vote for something else. It's darn near impossible to get primers "too far" into the case as they need to be seated to the bottom of the pocket and crushed in a tiny bit. And that many primers being bad all in the same cylinder is unheard of. When you decap them you can look and see if the anvils are missing but I doubt they are. Even if the cases were empty I'd think the primer would have pushed the bullet out of the case. How heavy was the crimp?

I plan on getting some unique powder to use soley for my 45 colt loads, is there a certain primer manufacturer I should strive for?


I've been using Unique and find it to work very well in the .45 Colt. Any primer should light it off. I've used Federal, Winchester, and now Wolf large pistol primers and them all seem to work fine. So just use whatever you can find until the dealer stocks start improving.

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