What's it like to shoot a 45 Long Colt?


April 2, 2010, 08:15 PM
I know this is a completely subjective question but what is it like to shoot a .45LC. I've never fired one before and I am tempted to buy one.

What's the recoil like?

How does the recoil compare to a target load .38 special?

How does the recoil compare to a .327 federal Mag?

How does the recoil compare to .357?

Why should I buy the .45 Long colt over a .357?

If I purchase the gun it would be for SASS.

I'm not entirely sold on SASS so I guess this is a two part question. Are there reasons for or against SASS.

Boy that sure was a rambling question. Who wrote that junk anyway?

PS I'm not just tempted to get the gun for SASS I'm also tempted because it's pretty. Ooooh bright shiny revolver.

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April 2, 2010, 08:18 PM
Um...You might give some thought to going to a gun shop with a range and rentals to try some out before buying in to the whole thing.

Perhaps get some training...and they can also help with the many questions new shooters face.

April 2, 2010, 08:22 PM
The recoil really depends on the revolver your looking at. I have cheap .45's that are hell in your hands, but then I've got a couple premium Colt's & Smith's that are really smooth, and don't feel like a .45.

In general, .357 will be less recoil in almost anything. Both are great calibers, but I have to favor the .45 more because I own more and the cartridge has a deeper history.

April 2, 2010, 08:24 PM
Sorry for the confusion.

I'm not a new shooter. Its just I have no experience with .45LC.

April 2, 2010, 08:25 PM
To me, a .45 colt out of a SA revolver is about the same as a .357 from the same revolver. The difference is that the .357 has a sharp snap, and the .45 has a nicer, softer, push.

That's just my impression.

April 2, 2010, 08:25 PM
Recoil compared to 357 is very variable with the 45 long colt. Especially for handloading, the 45LC can be loaded with very light hitting cowboy action shooting loads, but also with heavy fast loads that exceed the capabilities of factory 44 magnum ammunition. 45 Long Colt is very versatile if you want to make it that way. There are lever rifles and revolvers to shoot it with, just like 357 and 44mags. I'd say its closer to 44 mag than 357 in terms of power, but it really depends on the ammo. 45 colt can go from rabbit gun to buffalo gun with the switch of a bullet.

April 2, 2010, 08:28 PM
To me, a .45 colt out of a SA revolver is about the same as a .357 from the same revolver. The difference is that the .357 has a sharp snap, and the .45 has a nicer, softer, push.

That's just my impression.
Similar then to the difference in the felt recoil of a 9mm vs .40 SW?

April 2, 2010, 08:37 PM
45 Colt loaded to factory specs is very similar in recoil and ballistics to 45acp.

Yes it CAN be handloaded to 44 mag power but I don't think that is what he's asking.

April 2, 2010, 08:38 PM
I've never fired a 9mm and .40 out of the same platform. I've fired 9mm out of my Beretta 92fs, and .40 out of my Glock, and between the two, there's really no comparison (obviously more perceived recoil from the .40). If I could fire my G22, then a G17, or my Beretta 92 and a 96, I might be able to comment on that.

April 2, 2010, 08:46 PM
Like everything else it depends on the gun. My 4 5/8" Ruger Blackhawk shoots regular .45 Colt loads like a pussy cat. I enjoy it as much or more than a .38 special with wad cutters.
Most of my shooting these days are with "Ruger" loads. 270 grain Lead Head Keith style SWC's over 10.5 grains of Unique. This gives me 1100 FPS and a respectable big bore thump. The hard cast bullet does not give the leading problems associated with soft lead bullets and is suitable for both target and hunting.

However, I did own a S&W Mountain gun in .45 Colt. The same load was borderline too much in that gun and had a ".357 Mag in an airweight" feel to it.

My son has a Ruger Blackhawk 7.5" in .45 Colt. My "Ruger" loads in it feel soft and easy to shoot.

So it is a function of the load and the gun. Overall the .45 Colt is my favorite cartridge for both target and hunting and none of the loads I shoot are abusive.

April 2, 2010, 08:47 PM
I've never fired a 9mm and .40 out of the same platform. I've fired 9mm out of my Beretta 92fs, and .40 out of my Glock, and between the two, there's really no comparison (obviously more perceived recoil from the .40). If I could fire my G22, then a G17, or my Beretta 92 and a 96, I might be able to comment on that.
I understand. I just trying to get wrap my head around what you are saying. I have shot a 9mm out of tanfolgio and a .40 out of a 3" XD. On the whole I like the recoil on the XD better.

But I guess you really can't compare different platforms in any meaningful way.

April 2, 2010, 09:01 PM
Shooting the 45 colt is a divine experience as is shooting the 44 special.

April 2, 2010, 09:04 PM
A friend of mine told me years ago; Once you shoot a big bore revolver everything else is just a handgun.

At that time I was shooting .40 S&W's, 9mm's, .38's, .357 Mags, and .22's in revolvers. My first experience with a big bore was a .41 Magnum in a S&W. Then I bought a .44 Mag in a 629 Classic.

Later I moved to single actions in .45 Colt and I have never looked back.

April 2, 2010, 09:04 PM
Shooting the 45 colt is a divine experience as is shooting the 44 special. Hard to argue with that.

April 2, 2010, 09:05 PM
No problem, The two revolvers I had experience with were both New Model Vaqueros with 5.5" barrels. What I mean is that the .357 has a noticeable "smack" on the webbing of my hand, while the .45 doesn't. To me, it seemed muzzle rise was equal, it was just the recoil against my hand that was noticeable.

April 2, 2010, 09:24 PM
Yes, from my experience when shooting revolver calibers that begin with a "4" it gets the ole testosterone flowing.

April 2, 2010, 09:26 PM
It is a euphoric, sensual, and mystical experience. You MUST try it!

April 2, 2010, 09:36 PM
It's not bad, in similar guns, it's not as sharp (recoil) as a .357.

April 2, 2010, 09:38 PM
Obsession leads to confusion. I have several 45 LC revolvers. single and double action. The nice thing about a 45LC is that in a weapon like the Ruger Redhawk 4" You can shoot cowboy loads for practice and then load it up with the 45 LC buffalo Bore ammo that will push a 260 grain bullet at 1750 fps. thats enough to take down a charging bus. As has been stated the 45 LC is more of a push against your arm rather than the snap of the 357 mag. You recieved the best advice early on. Find a range and rent one. don't know where you live but if you are in Central Fl. catch up with me and I'll let you try all of mine and see which style you prefer. If I could have only one pistol the 45LC is what I would want. Good luck

Leaky Waders
April 2, 2010, 10:05 PM
45 Long Colt is very pleasant to shoot in CAS like loads - which, by the way are good enough for self defense loads without shaking your teeth loose.

45 Long Colt is very easy to reload too.

I don't SASS, but I do shoot 45 Long Colt. Here's what I have chambered in it...


April 2, 2010, 10:12 PM
I had a Taurus 5.5" SAA type in which I used 250gr slugs running 950ish or so. Recoil on the gun was far from unpleasant, much easier to deal with than a friend's 686 4", and much more fun to shoot. It's a slower push rather than a snap, and the gun just rolls up in your hand rather than straight back. There's something entirely wonderful about loading those big .45 colt rounds in through a loading gate. If you get an SAA type, try to get one with the half-cock loading, it's almost too much fun.

Crap, now I miss mine.

PS, if you want HD/SD loads, take a look at buffalo bore's offerings. They're not Ruger/TC only, but they pack a hell of a punch.

Elm Creek Smith
April 2, 2010, 10:48 PM
The .45 Colt was made for black powder. Shooting 250 grain bullets with compressed 40 grain loads of black powder is nearly a religious experience.

The .45 goes "boom" more than "bang" or "crack." Recoil is substantial, but "soft" more than "sharp."



April 2, 2010, 10:59 PM
Hey Leaky, nice setup! What rifle is that?

April 2, 2010, 11:05 PM
As much as the cartridge, you also need to keep in mind the gun design. A single action revolve recoils quite differently than a DA revolver. I did not have great success with my Blackhawk in .41, but I shoot my GP100 in .357 quite well.

+1 to try before you buy.


Leaky Waders
April 2, 2010, 11:51 PM
Heya - it's a beretta/uberti 1873.

captain awesome
April 3, 2010, 12:18 AM
wonderful. nothing else quite like it. try it in an old saa style .45 and I guarantee you'll fall in love.

April 3, 2010, 01:02 AM
I have a large frame S&W, a Ruger Black Hawk with the 4 5/8" barrel and a Taurus SA clone. Also the Rossi 20" 1892 lever gun. The S&W shoots well out to 50 yards. The Rossi shoots fine out to 100 yards. I spend most of my time with mild loads 25 yards and closer. 200 gr swc and 250 gr rnfp are the bullets I'm using most of the time. I have some buffalo rounds of 340 gr going 1,200+ fps. Not for the faint hearted, the S&W or the clone.

I'm fooling around with .357 and .38 special as well. The .45 is more satisfying.

April 3, 2010, 02:15 AM
As a general matter very pleasant to shoot standard SAAMI loads. Depending on how heavy the gun is even "hot" "Ruger Only" loads can be manageable - like in a Ruger Redhawk. It operates at lower pressure, so the "impulse" is less and shooting exact same "power" loads such as in a .44 mag there is less felt recoil. The .45 Colt aka
11.5mm is the finest all around caliber and has a history like no other.

April 3, 2010, 05:54 AM
I've been shooting .45 Colt for well over half a century. Let me try to address your questions.

First, .45 Colt is a lovely chambering. It can recoil as little as you wish or as much as you can stand. However, it is a round that needs to be hand loaded in order to get the full spectrum of its versatility. The disadvantage of the .45 Colt is that ammo is expensive if you don't roll your own, and factory offerings are limited and often hard to find.

I've been shooting cowboy action for over fifteen years. Whether SASS will be your cup of tea will depend largely upon what you're looking for and what sort of person you are. For me cowboy shooters are sort of an extended family and going to a match is similar to going to a family reunion. Nearly all of my close friends are cowboy shooters. Over the years I've competed in most of the shooting games and I enjoyed them all. Two things sets cowboy shooting apart from the other games. First, nobody much cares who the top shooter is. A shooter is judged more on his character than his ability. *********s are not suffered gladly. As a consequence, you won't run into many of them. Another nice touch is that who you are in the real world makes not a whit of difference. Millionaires are held in no higher esteem than the guy drawing unemployment checks. A second thing that sets the game apart from others is that you can, for the most part, play it any way you want to. The top competitors are extremely talented. They work hard to develop their skills. They shoot light loads because recoil from heavy loads slow them down. They "game" the course of fire and seek an advantage wherever they can find it. They have to if their objective is to win. But there is a greater number who play their own game. They shoot guns that interest them even if their choices cost them time, others like to shoot heavy loads, some love to shoot black powder. There is something for everybody.

A great disadvantage of SASS shooting is that the start up cost is high. You need two revolvers, a rifle in pistol caliber, and a shotgun. That's a pretty big investment for a person who isn't sure whether or not he/she will like the game. You should attend two or three matches as an observer, talk to several shooters, pitch in and help with the chores. Try to determine up front whether you want to make the investment and whether it is your kind of activity.

Some shooters are put off by the fact that costumes are required. I started off like that. It took me about six months to figure out that I was cheating myself of a big piece of the fun factor. Same with the use of an alias. There is a reason for it. It is part of the equality factor plus a chance to indulge your alter ego.

I have a range in my backyard, I can burn all the powder I want to anytime I want to. So I don't go to matches just to shoot. I go to shoot with people that I like and value. I am far too old to be a top shooter although I am probably a better shot than the top shooter, I'm just no longer fast enough to win. I don't care. I have a highly competitive nature, but I'm also a realists. So I take what the game has to offer me, and I am content with that. If you go into the game with a similar attitude, you will love it. If you have a compelling need to win, get ready to work hard and often, because there are a multitude of men and women out there who are veritable wizards with a six gun, rifle, and shotgun. I have one buddy who can put ten shot from a pair of thumb-busters on a target in under two seconds and that counts reaction and draw time...and he rarely wins a match.

dagger dog
April 3, 2010, 09:34 AM
I have a 4 5/8" Blackhawk .45 Colt caliber, with CASS 250-255gr hand loads the single action ROCKS, literally the grip frame on the single actions let the revolver muzzle rock up on recoil, then the weight of the gun lets it settle back down into your one hand grip, very easy to pick up the sight picture again. If you load it stiff you have to hang on to the grip tighter which makes you kind of stiff armed and the whole arm along with the gun to rise and twist to the left.

The double action frame with its HUMPBACK sets in the hand different and usually has more of a push back motion with older factory grip designs, I can't relate to the .45 Colt loading, but in .357 Magnum the heavier 158, 160 grain loads the feel is a lot sharper recoil, but still very manageable, with special grips made to tame recoil I would imagine .45Colt +P loadings in a revolver such as the Ruger Redhawk would be no problem, factory loads would be like shooting 148 gr wad cutters through a .38 Special.

April 3, 2010, 10:27 AM
I love shooting mine.



April 3, 2010, 10:45 AM
Depends on the load. I shoot two loads in my stainless Ruger Blackhawk, a 40 ounce gun or there abouts. My light load is 8.3 grains Bullseye and a cast 255 flat point. It rolls in the hand, but it isn't as sharp a recoil as a hot .357 in my other Blackhawk. With the hot load, a large dose of 2400 behind a 300 grain Hornady XTP, it's more akin to a full power .44 magnum. I don't load a "cowboy load", which are light round nose bullets at low velocity for speed shooting. That's PROBABLY going to be your .38 equivalent far as recoil goes. I cast and shoot a lot of those 255 flat points. They tell me I'm shooting a real .45 without the hand pounding and, truth be told, a 255 grain flat point at 950 fps will do about anything I need to get done.

Arkansas Paul
April 3, 2010, 01:31 PM
I'll echo a few things. I just bought my first .45 Colt and LOVE it so far. It's a Ruger Blackhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel. I bought mine for deer hunting, so our uses for the caliber are a little different.
So far all I've shot through it have been pretty light target loads. Recoil is very mild with these, comparable to my .40 S&W Sigma. It is VERY accurate, and very versatile. If you decide to do something else down the road like hunting, handloading is where it's at. If you handload it's the cat's meow. Even if you don't, for what you want, it's great.

April 3, 2010, 10:07 PM
There is another dimension to this question that the original poster asked: the SASS experience.

Having done SASS twice, for many years each time, I can hopefully ffer some perspective on it.

First, the fun parts:

- You get to dress up and "act the part"

- You HAVE to shoot using an Old West alias name!

- You get to shoot THREE weapons at each and every stage of a match, and there are generally quite a number of stages. A match will take hours at least, and many take a day - or two.

- You will get LOTS of practice, with at least 3 different types of firearms, and at least 4 weapons per match

- In some states, where open carry is allowed, it's fun having munch at a local restaurant and having all the Asian tourists snap photos

- It's a history lesson every time

- There is a rule called "spirit of the game" which penalizes or disqualifies anyone who tries to "game" a stage

- Humor is usually built into the stages. Example: at one national match in Wyoming years ago, one stage began with you sitting on an electric horse, holding a lever action rifle. When the start whistle blew, you had to throw a quarter into the electric horse to get it rocking, say "Take this you varmints", and start shooting at 6 different targets, while the horse is rocking! When my turn came to shoot, it started to RAIN. That made activating the horse a hard chocie question: Do I want to forfeit the stage by not shooting, or risk getting electrocuted? :)

Now the not so much fun parts:

- You go through a LOT of ammo each match. At today's prices, this is an expensive sport

- You have to clean FOUR weapons at the end of each day, when you are tired from being in the sun all day

- You need a GUN CART to haul around the FOUR weapons plus ammo plus accouterments all day (No joke - you physically cannot carry it all)

- The full "costume" can get pretty costly. For a man: Old West trousers. suspenders (no belts), boots (no running shoes allowed - seriously), old west shirt, western hat, bandana, holster rig, shotgun shell belt or slide, etc

The sheer volume and weight of stuff to be carried, the number of weapons to clean every night, and the sheer cost of ammo (even handloading) kind of wore on me, and violated my desire for "simplicity".

But, when participating, I can't think of any other shooting sport, or ANY other activity, that was more sheer fun!

Jim G

April 4, 2010, 12:45 AM
I own several .357's and a couple of .45 colts. The report/blast of the .357's is deafening, esp from the ported guns. After following some very long blood trails (with ears ringing) during our handgun deer season , i finally switched to .45colt. Easier on the ears....short blood trails.

April 4, 2010, 12:47 AM
What's it like?

BOOM!!! :D

Colton White
April 4, 2010, 01:29 AM
I have an A. Uberti single action 1873 Cattleman it is a pleasure to shoot if you can afford it you could shoot it all day.

Buck Snort
April 4, 2010, 02:29 AM
Well, lets remember the .45 Colt comes in two varieties. There's the "old west" variety that launches a 255gr. slug anywhere from 750 to 950 fps. Then there's the loads that are appropriate for modern heavy framed guns such as the Ruger (NOT the new Vaqueros) and Freedom Arms wheelguns. They'll launch that same 255 gr. slug up to about 1200 fps and that's a real bunch of WHALLOP! The recoil of the latter is moderated by they fact that they generally are heavier framed guns than say, the US Arms (Colt) SAA. As for myself, either type is just fine and any intruder who shows up at 3:00 AM sans invite had best not be in the way of a bullet from either variety.

Buck Snort
April 4, 2010, 02:34 AM
Shooting the 45 colt is a divine experience as is shooting the 44 special.
Hell, I've had lusty women walk up to me at the range when I was shooting a .45 Colt and make lacivious remarks. Well, I THINK they did, I had my ear protectors on and couldn't tell for sure!

April 4, 2010, 12:08 PM
I've got an old model Vaquero in .45 Colt.


So I can go from factory loads which are basically like .44 special or all the way up to hand pounding .44 magnum handloads.

The OM Vaquero is also a large heavy gun that does a great job of soaking up felt-recoil no matter what load you're using.

April 4, 2010, 12:31 PM
I didn't like the .45LC in a single action revolver... BUT that's because I hadn't learned the trick of only holding the grip with two fingers and letting my pinky curl around under the handle. I'm thinking now that I've picked that up it would be a much more pleasant experience.

April 4, 2010, 02:38 PM
Big hole in target
another big hole in target next to first one
again a big hole in target near the first two

Repeat as necessary.

Results?.......big simile on face!:)

April 4, 2010, 03:20 PM
An incredible cartridge really. From cowboy loads to very near 454 Casull performance with the heaviest slugs when loaded in a custom 5 shot Ruger.


April 5, 2010, 12:38 AM
Oooooh, I gotta try this, anyone know where I can rent one in UT?

April 5, 2010, 03:59 AM
I usually don't pay much attention to recoil, usually taking notice of where the holes are. A good quality revolver with stocks that fit your hands shouldn't bother you much with recoil. I routinely shoot, 357, 44 magnum with Model 27's and Model 29's and can shoot them N-frames all day long.

The 45 Colt is also a fun one to shoot as well and I have two Colts for that one. A Colt New Service and a 1907 1st generation Colt SAA. Recoil is a non issue with these. Just like riding a horse, go with it and don't fight it.




April 5, 2010, 04:29 AM
I have three 5.5" Ruger Vaquero's, two in .357 and one in .45 Colt. I use the .357's for SASS because they are cheaper to shoot and I walk around the match grounds with the .45 Colt because it's just right to have a .45 in your holster. I also use the .45 Colt Vaquero for woods carry.

When shooting .38 Special ammo in the .357 Vaquero it's a very light recoiling handgun. When shooting .357 Magnum ammo it's a stiffer recoil and like said above, it's more snappy than shooting .45 Colt ammo. Since both calibers are being shot from the same platform I can compare the two and still it's hard to really compare both because the 2 calibers are so different. Launching a 125gr or 158gr bullet is just so different than launching a 230gr or 250/255gr bullet. Both caliber revolvers are not hard to shoot and both are a lot of fun.

Also remember, if you are going to shoot SASS matches you will need to buy two revolvers. I couldn't decide if I liked a Blue, Stainless or Color Case finish so I bought all three. The .357 revolvers are 1 of each in Stainless and Blue and the .45 Colt is Color Case Hardened, I just love them all...

I probably wouldn't have bought the .357's if I wasn't shooting SASS but like I said, they are cheaper to shoot even though I reload. The lead bullets for the .38 are half the price as those for the .45. I'm probably going to buy a S&W M625 in .45 Colt for a woods gun sometime in the near future if I can find one at a reasonable price.

April 8, 2010, 10:22 PM
go ahead and get yourself a .45colt you know you want it.

A .45 colt Blackhawk 7 1/2" will be what they pry my cold dead fingers off of.

I have lots of other guns...but a single action .45 just has mystical powers.

After all, God loves single actions, why else would He give us two thumbs

April 8, 2010, 11:36 PM
What's it like to shoot a 45 Long Colt?

It's like sunshine on a cloudy day,

When it's cold outside it's like the month of May.

I guess you say what can make me feel this way?

etc., etc....:D

April 9, 2010, 01:29 PM
From my 3" Judge, the 45lc is a very entertaining, fun round to shoot. Recoil is not bad. It's actually very stimulating. I've never shot 45lc from a traditional cowboy type 45 but it should be pretty nice. The loads i've had from commercial sources were pleasant to shoot and rarely exceeded 800-900 fps.

April 9, 2010, 02:08 PM
It;'s going to depend =a lot= on how the particular round you are shooting was loaded.

I have 255gr semi wad cutters moving at 750 - 800 fps that don't kick much more than a 22 .... and I have 250g jacketed hollow points screaming down range at 2000fps+ that makes one grateful for the recoil pad on my Rossi M92.

April 9, 2010, 02:33 PM
Its absolutly great you should go buy a pair of ruger redhawks with the short barrel

then decide you hate them and send them to me :evil:

then buy another because you realised your mistake :D

April 10, 2010, 01:00 AM
.45 Long Colt has always been 'King'...

Princes...Pretenders to the Throne, Presidents, CEOs, Potentates, or other of high station, occur, remain, rise or fall, as they may.

What's it like?

Everything a Revolver, a report, and a recoil...should be...


April 10, 2010, 07:13 PM
It's great! Kind of like dancing with a stout woman.

Arkansas Paul
April 10, 2010, 10:16 PM
It's great! Kind of like dancing with a stout woman.

That's great?

Johnny Guest
April 11, 2010, 03:19 AM
oldgoat46, the Buffalo Bore heavy .45 Colt +P with a 260 JHP is rated at 1450 fps, which is plenty warm, but NOT 1750. BTW: This load is NOT for SAA and clones thereof, Colt New Service, S&W Mountain Guns, nor New Model Vaqueros. It is fine in the Old Vaquero, Ruger Blackhawk and Redhawk, and such.

Regarding the original question, the best .45 Colt comparisons are made to the 250 -- 260 gr loads, at speeds from 800 to 900 fps. This is comprable to the old Remington "medium" .44 magnum load - - Well hotter than the 246 RNL .44 Special but certainly NOT a full .44 mag handful. Cowboy action loads are noticibly lighter - - and possibly even slower with a lighter bullet.

Remember, the original, 1870s .45C load was fully combat worthy. Not only would it strike a heavy blow on man, but was also intended to give the Army a holster gun that would reliably kill a horse and put the rider afoot. The army load was soon reduced, but that original load was offered the civilian market for many years thereafter.

Yes, you can buy some VERY heavy loads, which put the .45C pretty much on a par with .44 Magnum, for hunting use. They would also be pretty comforting in a heavy gun, when/where you might encounter one of the Great Bears or a crazed moose. For anything less, most of us feel adequately armed with a 260 JHP or LSWC at 900 fps. Deer and hogs fall readily to that kind of load. I'd not be nervous packing it where black bears roam.


Jefferson Herb
April 11, 2010, 07:35 PM
35gr fffg .452rb a little lube over the case mouth,plinker loads.335gr fffg,250 gr bullet,boom; smile. I only have bp frame gun.

April 11, 2010, 07:52 PM

If memory serves, in an old fashioned long Barrel, with a full 3F Black Powder charge, the 260 grain Lead Bullet was understood to be travelling at around 1000 fps.

Plenty of whallop indeed...

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