Acceptable pressures for the Replica 1873 Winchester?


February 11, 2010, 04:31 PM
I have been searching for some advice or answers for the toggle link actions. Everywhere I look I get the same response "Do not exceed SAAMI specs". However there are two different loads listed for the SAAMI specs for a 45 Long Colt. One of them range from around 12000 cup to around 15000 cup. The second is stated for lever action and modern arms that range from around 20000 to 30000 cup. This is double the first. Any guidance would be appreciated.

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February 11, 2010, 04:52 PM
The only SAAMI spec for the .45 Colt is 14,000 PSI.
That is the only pressure suitable for use in any rifle with a toggle-link action.

The "for lever-action and modern arms" loads are not a SAAMI spec load, and are for strong lever-actions like 92/94 Winchesters and Marlin 1894's only.

Some of the toggle-link replicas are chambered for .38 Special, and they run 17,000 PSI.
But, the case head is much smaller then a .45 Colt, they use a much lighter bullet, and they produce much less back thrust against the bolt & toggles at that pressure.


February 11, 2010, 05:01 PM
A good friend of mine owns a company who specializes in the Model 66 and Model 73 Winchester replicas. He's had rifles come into his shop with the toggle links bent from shooting hot .38's. He also shoots 73's in Cowboy Action Shooting, and says they should be limited to fairly light loads.

Do not exceed the 14,000 psi/13,800 CUP range of loads for these rifles in .45 Colt. If you need more power, then you'll have to use another caliber in either a Winchester Model 92, 94 or Marlin 1894.

Hope this helps.


February 11, 2010, 06:54 PM
All my manuals say Ruger Blackhawk or TC loads specificly. The 1873 is neither of the above so it's in the low CUP group. Another cartridge they do the same thing for is the .44-40. It has a 13K CUP section and a hotter 19K CUP section. Your model 1873 is in the 13K CUP section. I'd recommend sticking with the standard "light" loads for the .45 Colt.

February 11, 2010, 09:45 PM
Well that is what I had thought. With the better materials I had hoped that this would allow for a little less give.

February 11, 2010, 10:16 PM
Don't have a toggle link to handle but I have seen the pictures. Looks to me like the thrust going through the link is carried by a link pin. Does not look very solid.

I read in a gun magazine that the frame has stretched on brass framed lever actions.

There has to be good reasons why Winchester replaced these with the M1892. That was a short action but stronger mechanism that fired the same cartridges.

February 13, 2010, 09:13 AM
MichaelK, I realize that the reloading manual states this however on the Hodgen website in there reloading data they do not even list the 45 long colt in the rifle section only in the pistol section. With this in mind I am lead to believe that they are refering to the wall thickness of the cylinder. Many small frames do not have enough wall thickness on the outside of the chamber thus causing them to explode with the hotter loads. My Lee Manual does not specify if it is for pistol or rifle loads so there lies the question.
Take for instance the 45/70 loads they specify the type of rifle that you can use for the different levels of pressure ranges. But no rifle data on the hodgen sight for the 45 long colt.
Thanks for all the input from everyone. If anyone has some info that specifies the rifle loads please direct me. I guess to clarify I planned on using this in a case hardened frame from Uberti. I have tried to limit the problems with the types of materials that the frame is made of however that dang toggle link is something that I can not change, while using this particular action. I is a shame too it is a very nice looking rifle.

February 14, 2010, 10:21 AM
The 76 actions I think are made in the same way but have some very large calibers such as 45/60. What is so different about this action than its earlier versions?

February 14, 2010, 10:40 AM
I'm not so sure the clones have 'better materials', they are Italian and most all Italian clones..I own some...have softer metal than their US made couterparts.
ir: my Colt clone pistols have WAY more wear on the insides than do my 30 year old Rugers with 10 times the round count thru them.

February 14, 2010, 01:51 PM
The 76 actions I think are made in the same way but have some very large calibers such as 45/60. What is so different about this action than its earlier versions?For one thing, they are about a 1/3 again bigger action then an 1873.
But even then, they were down-rated to handle a maximum of 20,000 PSI.
The 1873 was rated at 22,000 PSI

For another, all of them were only loaded with black powder at the time.
And actual black powder pressure was probably way less then either 20,000 or 22,000 PSI.

Italy proof-tests their modern reproductions with a Proof Test pressure 30% stronger than the maximum pressure of a commercial cartridge.

Proof Testing only insures the gun will not blow up with a 30% over-load. It does not insure the action won't stretch or wear out much sooner.

They Proof Test .45 Colt at 15,945.
SAAMI max pressure for .45 Colt is 14,000.

And I agree with SASS #23149.
I have seen no evidence the modern replaca guns from Italy are as precisely fitted, or as well heat treated as the old Winchester & Colt orginials.


February 15, 2010, 10:39 AM
Thanks RCmodel. I am a numbers kinda guy, and you are the only one that has been able to come up with the numbers. I will put the idea to bed now and go with a different action with confidence that I am making a good desision. Also it is good to know about the heat treatment and the fitting of the actions before I spend a load of cash on a product with poor wear ability.

February 16, 2010, 06:12 PM
Please don’t crucify me for the following examples and questions. This information should not be used or interpolated across calibers. However some interesting questions arise.
I realize that different manufactures test velocities with different barrel lengths and the appropriate powder for the application. The data that I see for the 45 long colt is all in the pistol section. With this in mind the loads are using a very fast burning powder to get the max pressure and use up the powder before the bullet gets out of the 4-7inch barrel. This is evident when you compare the ballistics of a 45 long colt and the 45/70. The 45 long colt is using a fast powder like Accur #7 and #9 which are 41 and 45 on the relative burn rate chart (1 being fastest). This powder gives 20300 and 19500 cup respectively with a 300 gr jacketed bullet flying at 830-807 also respectively. Then moving to the same basic 300 gr Jacketed bullet in the rifle load of 45-70 using a slower powder like Varget (81 on the burn rate chart) you push the speed up to 1836 fps with only 16300 cup pressure. That is over 1000fps and 4000 less cup pressure. I know this is going out on a limb and you can not get that much powder into a 45 colt. However my question is are there any slower burning powders that have been tested in a rifle situation with a 24-30 inch barrel for the 45 long colt or is the pistol data all ya get?
Another example is Herc 2400 and Blue dot loads actually should fit in the 1.93 cc case of the 45 lc and this could give a good boost to speed with significantly lower pressures shown in 45/70.

February 16, 2010, 06:43 PM
You need more reloading manuals. The Lyman #49 edition gives both rifle and revolver data for .45 colt and you can get lots of good information out of them. Please though, do NOT make any kind of comparison between the .45 Colt and the .45-70. That would be very much like comparing the .32ACP and the .30-06. One is a tiny little pistol cartridge and the other is a large rifle cartridge. The ONLY thing the two have in common is their bullets are about the same diameter. The same with the Colt and .45-70, the only commonality they share is that .45 diameter.

You can use slower powders like Blue Dot, 2400, and H110 in the .45 Colt, but those typically are for hot Blackhawk or Contender loads. The Speer and Hornady manuals have dual .45 Colt sections for these. You can not shoot those in a model 1873 replica because of it's design limitations. This is spelled out in the Lyman manual. The model 1873 is definately low pressure rounds only. A more modern design, such as Marlin's model 1894 can handle the higher pressure. Please get yourself a Lyman manual to get the correct information. Remember, the burning rate and maximum pressure are not the same thing. You can have a low pressure load with a fast burning powder, and a high pressure load with a slow burning powder.
Good luck,

February 16, 2010, 08:15 PM
Yes I agree I need more manuals. right now I am limited to Lee second edition and the Hodgdon website. I just could not find any rifle data searching on the web either. And yes I know it is a poor example comparing the two calibers for power but case diameter and head is similar.

February 17, 2010, 02:30 PM
A great book that you could get used is Dean Grennell's "Book of the .45". It's full of information on reloading for .45 caliber handguns.

Also, Grennell's copies of "ABC's of Reloading". Tons of valuable information including his techiques for load development.

Here's a website reloading for Puma's new 454 Casull rifle. Please note that this rifle can shoot .45 Colts, but it is a 1892 action that can take more pressure than the 1873. Use the .45 Colt loads for comparison only. Please do not whip any of these up for your 1873! This data does give you a feel though for what stout .45 Colts loads with slow powders can do.

Good luck,

Wil Terry
February 17, 2010, 06:33 PM
The UBERTI '73 rifles and carbines are available in 357MAG and therefore must pass CIP proof in Europa which is higher than SAAMI proof.

And now, here we are in 2010 with UBERTI bringing out new ' 73'S in 44MAG for all of us levergunners to talk about for the next decade or three:


February 18, 2010, 12:50 AM

I seriously doubt it, as do those who make a living working on them on a daily basis.


February 18, 2010, 12:49 PM
Good Lord Michael. LOL I am not wanting to shoot the pressures of the 454 Casull. I am only wanting to shoot in the 20000-25000 cup class and see about 1200-1300 fps out of the 200-250 grain bullet.
The extra barrel length should get me an extra 100-200 fps from the posted speeds so 20000 may be enough.

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