Handloading the .45 Colt


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Arkansas Paul
March 2, 2010, 04:32 PM
Hey guys. I'm about to start loading for my .45 Colt I just got. The bulk of my experience is with rifle loads. Is there anything I need to know about the .45 Colt?
I've got new Winchester brass, Trail Boss, and 250 grain Nosler jacketed hollow points. I'll be getting some lead bullets as soon as I can get to the store. It's a ways away, so I'll start with these. I did notice messing around with them the other day that the bullets go in the cases very easy. They're .451 and say .45 Colt on the box. I'm assuming that the seating die will take care of that.
I've got a pound of H110 but I'm going to crawl before I walk and get used to loading for it before I step up to the full throttle loads. Right now it'll be Trail Boss and target loads.
I know this is basic stuff for most of ya'll, but I'd appreciate your input and advice. Thanks.

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rcmodel
March 2, 2010, 04:42 PM
After sizing, the bullets should not fit in the case by hand at all, period.

After neck expanding and belling, they should only just start in far enough to center them straight.

The seating/crimping die will not fix loose neck tension, so you need to sort that out.

I'm not seeing any Trail Boss data at Hodgdon for jacketed bullets in .45 Colt either.

A Nosler 250 JHP will have a lot of friction in the bore, so don't mess around with really light loads of Trail Boss intended for lead grease lubed bullets.

You could shoot your eye out with a stuck bullet!

rc

Arkansas Paul
March 2, 2010, 05:22 PM
It's new brass. I'll run them through the sizing die before I try to load anything. I'm sure that'll fix that. I will make sure everything is lined out before I start doing it. I will also search for load data on jacketed bullets and will not load any if I don't find it.

ljnowell
March 2, 2010, 05:38 PM
Glad to see you making this step. I followed you picking out your .45 colt all the way through now. Good choices so far. Trailboss probably isnt the best choice with the bullets you are using. You should definately check out Missouri Bullet for some lead bullets in your 45 colt.

I am currently using the Missouri Bullet 255gr LSWC at a brinnel 12, this is the "Cowboy" bullet for action shooting. I load it over 5.9 gr IMR 700x. I also have used bullseye from time to time for those.

I think that you should try some Alliant 2400 too. I have experimented with a couple powders now, but I think that 2400 has been my best full throttle powder for .45 colt. ***Warning! The following load data is in excess of SAAMI specs and is dangerous to use in any firearms other than mine, as is proven***. I am using Missouri Bullets 300 LTC or Silhoutte bullet at a BHN of 18. This bullet is loaded in Starline Cases with a Win LPP over 18.5gr of Alliant 2400. This is actually not in excess of some published data for Ruger/Contender loads. Its a hoot to shoot, and will really wake you up, or anyone near you when you let er rip.

Arkansas Paul
March 2, 2010, 06:11 PM
ljnowell, you have been a regular fixture in my quest, and I appreciate your informed input. Too many times you get a lot of people who know absolutely nothing trying to give advice. It's good to have people like you and rcmodel, who know what they're talking about and are willing to help. Thanks a lot.
I am currently looking at some lead bullets. I just got off Missouri Bullet's website. Will be making an order soon. I will definately try the 2400 as well, as you are not the first I've heard talk good about it.
Any other advice or recipies would be appreciated.

Nomad
March 2, 2010, 06:26 PM
I may have missed it but I didn't see what type gun (platform) you bought the 45 Colt in. If it is not a strong Ruger (there are a few others too) don't get the wrong load data with the wrong type gun. To my recollection H110 is for the heavy bullets such as the 300 gr and for the really strong platforms. Sorry if you already know this but I just don't want to see you post you blew the thing up on its maiden voyage.:)

Arkansas Paul
March 2, 2010, 06:31 PM
Nomad, it is a Ruger New Model Blackhawk. 7.5"
No problem. Thanks for the concern.

Leaky Waders
March 2, 2010, 06:56 PM
Hi,

I've only reloaded about 600 45 long colt rounds so far. I've learned alot from these forums and the speer manuals 13 and 14. In the front of the manual there is a section on cowboy action shooting (I'm not a SASS player but am a cowboy at heart). The cowboy section has some good information concerning bullet and gun measurements as well as powder choices.

For recipes I'm using the speer manuals, hodgdon cowboy action data 5th edition (a free pamphlet from our local gun store), and hodgdon 2009 annual manual (it looks like a magazine and i'm always questing for it because my wife throws it in a pile with other magazines...) as well as data from the hodgdon site.

I'v recently ordered 3000 bullets from missouri bullet company and another 1000 pieces of starline brass.

Some internet threads that I found useful:

http://rugerforum.net/reloading/18174-reloading-45-long-colt.html

http://www.reloadammo.com/45cload.htm

http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

In one of the reloading guides discussing trail boss it states "Trail boss was designed specifically for low velocity lead bullets..."

Hope this helps!

ljnowell
March 2, 2010, 08:25 PM
Nomad, it is a Ruger New Model Blackhawk. 7.5"
No problem. Thanks for the concern.

My favorite
http://i334.photobucket.com/albums/m417/ljnowell/009.jpg

FROGO207
March 2, 2010, 08:46 PM
Yaay to the 45 Colt. I have been doing the same thing for about a year. I started with a set of 45 ACP dies and 230 gr FMJ bullets but now use the proper dies and mostly lead bullets as they are more accurate in my pistol. I will put in my vote for the Trail Boss when using lead bullets. My favorite pastime is shooting at a target with the sun to my back and low in the sky. When the bullet is fired you can see it travel to the target and hit it most times with the slow speed of TB.:D I like the slowness of it and don't need that full house load for the practice I do but do load some in the upper area for hunting rounds. As mentioned above the TB is made for lead bullets so that's what I use it for. Also use it in my 45-70, and that's a hoot let me tell you.:D

Nomad
March 2, 2010, 09:30 PM
Glad to hear you have a Ruger. When the time comes to try other powders I have had good success with Unique and 2400. It is an awesome round. Enjoy!

Uncle Chan
March 2, 2010, 11:28 PM
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c9/Uncle_Chan/Guns/Vaqueros.jpg

Great choice. I've loaded 10 of thousands of 45LC. My favorite round. I usually load a 250 or 200 Oregon Trail LRNFP over some Clays or Titegroup.

These are my babies....

Arkansas Paul
March 3, 2010, 12:40 AM
Test run on this pic. She's a carbon copy of ljnowell's.
http://i902.photobucket.com/albums/ac223/prgann/newgun014.jpg

ljnowell
March 3, 2010, 12:52 AM
She sure is purty! Always been a sucker for a SA.

Arkansas Paul
March 3, 2010, 01:03 AM
I'm thinking some stag grips would really set her off.

zxcvbob
March 3, 2010, 01:11 AM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

16.5 grains of Blue Dot is a good "Ruger" load in .45 Colt with 250 or 255 grain cast bullets. It should be just as good with j-bullets of the same weight. And I don't normally like Blue Dot because I never found a good load for it in .357 Magnum.

Red Dot and Herco are also good powders for this cartridge -- and Unique, of course.

ljnowell
March 3, 2010, 01:12 AM
You know I came across some pewter grips one time that had some really beautiful pattern on them. I thought they would just really set off the looks of that big blued SA. They are discontinued now I think, unfortunately.

Edit: Actually, I see they are in stock here ==> http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/sid=852/pid=25397/sku/Silver_Ruger_Pewter_Grips?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&mc_id=10000&cvsfa=2345&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=3034373130353030302d3034373130353030302d31393434

RugerBob
March 3, 2010, 08:37 AM
+1 to Unique powder. I have a 7 1/2" BH and 2- 7 1/2" Vaqueros. 1- 5 1/2". I have tried trail boss at 5.2 and lower and was ok for both models. (Vaquero and New model Black Hawk). Grain for grain and dollar for dollar there is no difference. Maybe 50 cents over all. I cast my own 255gr RNFP. Tried others at lower weight, but like 255. Sized brass gives me shavings of lead sized at .452. Belled they just slightly accept. A OK there. I don't over bell as it'll weaken neck. I am sure you now this...and I do not mean to say that you don't. 8 grains Unique is nice for the Blackhawk w/250/255gr. For my Vaqueros to. But I usually use 7.0 Unique for SASS shoots. They work both for rifle and hg for that purpose. Some will say Unique is dirtier. I believe it is, but since I clean after every range trip, whats it matter. Just my 2 cents. Bob

RugerBob
March 3, 2010, 08:41 AM
Seen some pics. Nice. Thought I would try. Both rugers. BH and Vaquero. 7 1/2"
http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii260/rrmaynard/sixshoot003.jpg

CoastiesDad
March 3, 2010, 09:36 AM
8.0 Unique, Winchester brass and LP primers, Missouri Bullet's Cowboy no 1's, works nicely in my Vaquero (old style).

ljnowell
March 3, 2010, 10:03 AM
RugerBob, thats a nice pair of SA's you have there. Gotta love them.

Scrapperz
March 3, 2010, 10:15 AM
I use WLP, 6.3 gn of Unique under 255gn .454 Lead in a 460 XVR 8" for plinking and they sure are fun.

http://www.benelliusa.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=68&pictureid=324
http://www.benelliusa.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=68&pictureid=288

rcmodel
March 3, 2010, 10:17 AM
8.5 Unique / 250 - 255 grain Keith LSWC is a favorite of mine in Colt SAA's, and Rugers.

It just about duplicates the orginial black powder load in a 7 1/2" barrel.
Real close to 1,000 FPS, mild recoil & blast, and enough power to kill anything that poops in the woods in the lower 48 states.

Never got much into the "Ruger Only" loads, as I have some Colts around that one might take apart if I accidently got one in it.

rc

Arkansas Paul
March 3, 2010, 12:03 PM
Thanks guys. I'll be rolling some up tomorrow. And please, don't worry about telling me something I may already know. I've been at this less than a year, so I'm well aware of how much I have left to learn. I appreciate informed advice. If I'm already aware of it, fine, but you never know. A lot of things bear repeating anyway.

JustsayMo
March 3, 2010, 08:47 PM
With new cases I always trim (45 colt Starline cases rarely need it) and chamfer the case mouth. Makes seating cast bullets easier.

I've not found 45 Colt Rugers and Marlins to be too finicky with powders. For 255 grain bullets Unique is hard to beat. I like SR 4756 too, fills the case nice and gets good velocity even in Colt/Replica load levels.

For lighter bullets, Bullseye, Red Dot and 231 have performed very well.

For the heavy bullets 300+, 2400, 4227 and W296 / H110 have performed very well.

Great cartridge. I shoot everything from 147 grain round balls to 325 grain critter gitters in mine.

Arkansas Paul
March 3, 2010, 08:59 PM
Just left the local gunshop. I'm going to order some of those 255 gr LSWCs from Missouri, but I couldn't wait. I bought a couple hundred Hornady lead 230 gr RN. I found the data and it looks like 6 grains of Trail Boss is going to be the ticket with them. I also have H110 and I'm pretty sure we've got about a half pound of 231 laying around.
I will also be trying Unique and Bullseye for lighter bullets and 2400 for the heavier. All in time. It should be a fun road. If all goes well with the loading, and there's not reason it shouldn't, I'll be going to shoot saturday morning. I'll let ya'll know how it goes. Depending on what the groups look like, I may even post the pics.

ljnowell
March 3, 2010, 09:54 PM
Just left the local gunshop. I'm going to order some of those 255 gr LSWCs from Missouri, but I couldn't wait. I bought a couple hundred Hornady lead 230 gr RN. I found the data and it looks like 6 grains of Trail Boss is going to be the ticket with them. I also have H110 and I'm pretty sure we've got about a half pound of 231 laying around.
I will also be trying Unique and Bullseye for lighter bullets and 2400 for the heavier. All in time. It should be a fun road. If all goes well with the loading, and there's not reason it shouldn't, I'll be going to shoot saturday morning. I'll let ya'll know how it goes. Depending on what the groups look like, I may even post the pics.

Went out and returned some of the lead I borrowed from Mother Earth to her today. The blackhawk performed wonderfully. Today I got my first chance to really shoot for groups with it. With the target loads I was able to get some great groups at 25 yards. The bottom of my soda can covered the group. Not bad for offhand standing. The Ruger only loads were the last ones I shot, after about 200 rounds of mixed 45acp, 357 mag, etc. The groups were less than great. Tomorrow I am going to go back out and try to shoot those first.

Arkansas Paul
March 7, 2010, 11:59 PM
Okay, I've been to the range with the handloads and things went pretty good.
I fired twenty rounds of the 230 grain Hornady cast bullets with 6 grains of Trail Boss.
I also fired twenty rounds of the 250 grain Nosler JHP bullets with 7.1 grains of Bullseye.
I have one question.
The cases that were loaded with the lead bullets and Trail Boss are very dirty. The entire outside of the cases are cloudy with powder residue. Is this normal for Trail Boss?
The ones with the Bullseye were clean as a whistle. Is Trail Boss a dirty powder? If it is it's no big deal. I'll be cleaning after each range session.

ljnowell
March 8, 2010, 12:18 AM
Sounds like you need a little more pressure in the trailboss load, its not sealing well.

Arkansas Paul
March 8, 2010, 01:38 AM
Max load according to IMR's website is 6.5 grains and I'm at 6 now. How can I increase the pressure without going over max load? Or will it not hurt anything in the Ruger? Six grains isn't quite filling the case halfway. That surprised me, since I've heard everybody talk about how Trail Boss fills the case. I double checked the measurements though. I even weighed each round individually, something I don't usually do with handgun ammo. Sorry if this sounds elementary.

1858
March 8, 2010, 03:28 AM
The cases that were loaded with the lead bullets and Trail Boss are very dirty. The entire outside of the cases are cloudy with powder residue. Is this normal for Trail Boss?
The ones with the Bullseye were clean as a whistle. Is Trail Boss a dirty powder? If it is it's no big deal. I'll be cleaning after each range session.

I see this all the time with Trail Boss loads (6.0gr with 200gr Oregon Trail Laser-Cast bullet) and don't worry about it. Cases loaded with hot H110 loads are typically cleaner which as ljnowell suggests is most likely due to the much higher pressures which help to seal the case against the chamber wall. Trail Boss is a smokey powder but it's hard to beat for CAS type loads for SAA revolvers since it combines accuracy with safety.

:)

ljnowell
March 8, 2010, 09:48 AM
Max load according to IMR's website is 6.5 grains and I'm at 6 now. How can I increase the pressure without going over max load? Or will it not hurt anything in the Ruger? Six grains isn't quite filling the case halfway. That surprised me, since I've heard everybody talk about how Trail Boss fills the case. I double checked the measurements though. I even weighed each round individually, something I don't usually do with handgun ammo. Sorry if this sounds elementary.


The max charge for a standard 45 colt isnt anywhere close to what the ruger will handle. I wouldnt want to give an exact number of where to load to with it, but I would guess that it would take a pretty good charge over max.

JustsayMo
March 8, 2010, 10:18 AM
Shooting below the Colt/Replica load level pressures generally do soot up the cases pretty bad, especially with <255 gr bullets. Out of my Marlin the sooting is even worse - big chamber, but it feeds anything, even spent brass...

It is really tough to beat a 255 grain bullet jogging along around 900 fps out of a SA 45 Colt. Accurate, manageable recoil, distinctive report and it'll do pretty much anything that one would need to do with a handgun.

One of the advantages of using powders like Unique and SR4576 for the 45 Colt is they fill the case enough that a double charge is easily spotted. At Colt/Replica max levels they burn well, produce good velocity and are usually very accurate.

http://www.myhostedpics.com/images/Pathfinder/nvwtargets.jpg

Jesse Heywood
March 8, 2010, 11:43 AM
I would try 6.5 gr. of TrailBoss. However, I couldn't find a larger load listed anywhere. I don't know why, but there is probably a good reason. TrailBoss is also not listed for the Ruger loads either. I would guess the pressure skyrockets.

ljnowell
March 8, 2010, 12:00 PM
I would try 6.5 gr. of TrailBoss. However, I couldn't find a larger load listed anywhere. I don't know why, but there is probably a good reason. TrailBoss is also not listed for the Ruger loads either. I would guess the pressure skyrockets.

Not my work, so take it for what its worth (nothing to back it up either):

http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=37

Mike Venturino reported in GUNS magazine that even with a double charge Trail Boss won’t reach proof load pressures. That may well make this the safest powder available. With most other powders, especially spherical powders, double or even triple loads will fit inside the case without spilling over.

Arkansas Paul
March 8, 2010, 12:13 PM
What distance was that from JustsayMo? That's some impressive shooting.
I'm glad you posted that ljnowell. I think I'll start at the 6.5 and work my way up in VERY small incriments just to be safe. That makes me feel a little better about it though.

ljnowell
March 8, 2010, 12:26 PM
What distance was that from JustsayMo? That's some impressive shooting.
I'm glad you posted that ljnowell. I think I'll start at the 6.5 and work my way up in VERY small incriments just to be safe. That makes me feel a little better about it though.

Just be sure to be careful with it. I would definately try to use a chronograph.

JustsayMo
March 8, 2010, 03:29 PM
AP: Those targets were from 25' - Grouse killin practice.

Here's a 25 yard offhand target
http://www.myhostedpics.com/images/Pathfinder/25yd255andrbgroups.jpg

at 100 yards it'll do under 9"
http://www.myhostedpics.com/images/Pathfinder/nv100yardtarget.jpg
If I sat down I think I could tighten it up a bit.

That 255 grain load lets you pretty much hold right on from zero to 50 yards or so.

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