Marlin 1894 .45 Colt: How hot can it handle?


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my762buzz
October 18, 2011, 03:36 PM
For a reference weight, i will set it at 225 grains.

What is the pressure or velocity limit with this weight of bullet?

Buffalo bore claims their .45 Colt +p 225 gr @ 1855fps is safe in a 1894
but a Marlin Factory Tech said no +p so who is right?

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rcmodel
October 18, 2011, 03:50 PM
I can't tell you what is the pressure or velocity limit with this weight of that bullet.

But Marlin chambers the 1894 in .44 Magnum, so I would say +P .45 Colt would be fine.

Anyway, Buffalo Bore isn't going to say that and then get sued out of business when it proves to be wrong.

rc

ldhulk
October 18, 2011, 03:55 PM
SAAMI specs for the .44 magnum is 36000 psi, the Marlin handles that ok. Specs for the .45 Colt (Ruger) is 26000 cup, but I don't know if that is exactly an official "+P" number. I would think the guys at Buffalobore know what they are doing. Factory reps are always going to err on the side of caution. Do not shoot a bunch of soft lead loads that coat the barrel with lead and then go to hot loads without a thorough cleaning first.

Paladin7
October 18, 2011, 04:25 PM
Check out the latest Speer Reloading Manual, as it has some very good advice for loading for Marlin lever action rifles.

Some things to keep in mind...

1. Tubular Magazines require firm crimps for reliable function and stay away of course from pointed bullets

2. All Lever Action Rifles in pistol calibers have bolts which lock at the rear. This allows the bolt to spring slightly during firing, stretching the case. Use only new or once-fired cases for maximum loads.

Hope this helps...

45crittergitter
November 5, 2011, 06:18 PM
.45 Colt rifle loads:

"Remington or Winchester brass are perfectly satisfactory up to 20,000 psi or thereabouts. Federal and Starline brass might offer a bit more flexibility in a rifle. Problems begin when loads reach beyond 30,000 psi, when the case head/extractor groove begin to expand. Restrict souped-up .45 Colt loads to those listed by Hodgdon for the Ruger Blackhawk (30,000 CUP), whether they might be used in a Ruger or a Winchester." - Dave Scovill

oldpink
June 1, 2013, 03:09 AM
I can say with confidence that the same loading data used in the Ruger Blackhawk/Colt Anaconda/Freedom Arms/Thompson Contender are safe to use in the Marlin 1894.
The data for these handguns and this rifle top out right at 30K PSI, significantly above the rather sedate SAAMI standard maximum of 14K PSI for standard loads for the same cartridge.
The reason for the surprisingly low SAAMI maximum is out of deference for all the Colt Single Action Army (and all clones, including the Ruger New Vaquero), which are built on frames originally intended for black powder pressures.

Since the Ruger, Freedom Arms, Colt Anaconda, and Thompson/Center handguns and Marlin 1894 are of modern construction intended for high intensity cartridges, all of them can safely withstand significantly higher intensity loads.
Keep in mind, however, that the .45 Colt case still imposes a practical limit, even in its "+P" loads significantly below the .44 Remington Magnum's brisk 36K PSI.
The case walls of the .45 Colt are thinner, and the case head is likewise thinner, thus the limit.
You can still realize very impressive muzzle energy levels out of the .45 Colt that are about 80%-90% of .44 Magnum levels, but it's impossible to safely match or outdo the .44 Magnum with it.
If you want REAL power out of a .452 diameter handgun cartridge, you should skip the .45 Colt altogether and step up to the .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, or .460 S&W Magnum, in progressive order of power potential.

This all means you can also use Buffalo Bore .45 Colt and other stiff factory loads in the Marlin and these handguns.
Just make certain that your bore is clean, that the gun is in strong working order, and realize that extensive shooting of the heavy loads in these guns will wear them out much faster than shooting the more sedate SAAMI standard loads will do.
I routinely use my own medium warm handloads that propel the excellent Hornady FTX 225 grain bullet (yes, the soft elastomer spitzer bullet safe to use in tubular magazines such as that of the Marlin 1894), and I'm propelling the bullet (using W296 powder aka H110) at a respectable 1666 feet per second out of the 20" barrel of my Marlin 1894 .45 Colt.
I took my first ever deer with this very handload last November, and the doe literally fell in her tracks, stone dead before she even hit the ground!
I've recently unearthed updated loading data for that specific bullet that indicates this same bullet can be propelled at an amazing 1800+ feet per second.
The old .45 Colt is a remarkably capable cartridge, already well on its way into its second century of existence.

CraigC
June 1, 2013, 09:20 AM
The Marlin 1894 in .45Colt is stronger than a six-shot Blackhawk and is good to 40,000psi. The modern 1892 is 10,000psi stronger than that. The Marlins routinely get converted to .475Linebaugh and .500JRH.


The reason for the surprisingly low SAAMI maximum is out of deference for all the Colt Single Action Army (and all clones, including the Ruger New Vaquero), which are built on frames originally intended for black powder pressures.
Actually the reason is for all the original blackpowder guns still in circulation that may have iron or soft steel parts. New guns can take quite a bit more pressure, 20-21,000psi for Colt's, USFA's and Rugers.

firesky101
June 1, 2013, 12:52 PM
For a reference weight, i will set it at 225 grains.

What is the pressure or velocity limit with this weight of bullet?

Buffalo bore claims their .45 Colt +p 225 gr @ 1855fps is safe in a 1894
but a Marlin Factory Tech said no +p so who is right?

Marlin is correct in a way... There is no spec for +p .45 colt, so any high pressure .45 colt you buy is +p+ (above all certified limits). So Marlin has no way of knowing if you are talking about sticking a 30000psi ruger load in it, or someone found a way to make 70000psi in that little case. Big difference.

dprice3844444
June 1, 2013, 01:16 PM
if you intend to carry a 45 colt pistol with this rifle,it would be safe to say load for the safety of the pistol so as not to confuse the 2 loads which might be detrimental to the pistol.

CraigC
June 1, 2013, 01:36 PM
There is no spec for +p .45 colt...
Which is why I'm VERY uncomfortable with vague terminology like "+P" or "hot" loads. Everybody knows about "Ruger only" loads but even there, there is a range of published pressures from 25,000-32,000psi. There are essentially three tiers of .45Colt loading data that are above SAAMI pressure standards with a wee bit in between and it's a good idea to be specific. With the Marlin falling somewhere between 2 and 3. It's a lot to keep up with and I don't even remember where Dan Wesson .45's fit in.

20-22,000psi for post-war S&W's, Colt SAA's, USFA's and mid-frame Rugers. Brian Pearce even suggests that Uberti 1873's fit into this category.

32,000psi for large frame Blackhawks, Contenders, Colt Anaconda, etc..

45-55,000psi for custom five-shot Rugers (upper), modern 1892's and Redhawks (lower).


if you intend to carry a 45 colt pistol with this rifle,it would be safe to say load for the safety of the pistol so as not to confuse the 2 loads which might be detrimental to the pistol.
I agree this is a wise practice.

Badlander
June 1, 2013, 03:29 PM
Short answer is yes. Here is what john Linebaugh says about the .45 colt.

http://www.customsixguns.com/writings/dissolving_the_myth.htm

1858
June 1, 2013, 03:50 PM
With the Marlin falling somewhere between 2 and 3. It's a lot to keep up with

I have USFA Rodeos, Ruger Blackhawks, a Redhawk and a Super Redhawk in addition to a Marlin 1894 all capable of shooting .45 Colt. I'd like to buy a FA in .454 Casull at some point. My head hurts just thinking about it!!

CraigC
June 1, 2013, 04:35 PM
Kinda like Ruger's goofy nomenclature and grip frames. It'll make your brain hurt!

1858
June 1, 2013, 04:36 PM
CraigC, perhaps you need to add a tier for the Ruger Redhawk Alaskan. SAAMI shows the .454 Casull with a MAP of 65,000 psi. :)

CraigC
June 1, 2013, 05:20 PM
Ah, but they're not .45Colt's! Those heifers are all by themselves anyway. I wouldn't run one at 65,000psi because the Carpenter Custom 465 stainless they make the cylinders from is elastic and cases start sticking but they're strong enough to handle it. Most factory loads are in the 50-55,000psi range.

Paladin7
June 3, 2013, 12:05 PM
Not trying to get anyone upset, but this is the kind of thing that really makes me wonder... why?

Agreed on the fact that the 45 Colt is loaded to lower pressures in deference to older firearms and that the potential exists to do some interesting things, but why do it when there are other options available? If you want considerably more performance out of a .45 caliber handgun cartridge, then why not move up to the 454 Casull vs hot-rodding the .45 Colt? Or better yet, move to a real rifle cartridge...?

I understand why Elmer Keith did his work with the 44 Special.... today there are other options available.

Not trying to start a flame war, just offering some food for thought... Maybe the answer is, because we can...who knows...

Also, worth noting is that most if not all lever action rifles have bolts which lock at the rear. This allows the bolt to spring slightly during firing, stretching the case. For max-loads the best bet is to use only new or once-fired brass...

CraigC
June 3, 2013, 12:17 PM
That's an easy thing to say until you realize there is only ONE .454 levergun on the planet and its production has been sporadic. The REAL question is "why not?" and there are really no valid reasons.

Why not a rifle cartridge? Noise, recoil, range, capacity, expense, bulk, weight, etc.. There are lots of reasons to use a pistol cartridge carbine. Not everybody needs 400yds of effective range or the recoil and blast associated with them. If all you need to cover is 100-150yds, then why do you need a rifle cartridge?

1858
June 3, 2013, 04:13 PM
If you want considerably more performance out of a .45 caliber handgun cartridge, then why not move up to the 454 Casull vs hot-rodding the .45 Colt?

Why can't we do both? As metallurgy and powders have advanced so has the potential of the .45 Colt. Why limit it to its anemic past? If you've never shot a 250gr 35 ksi load (or thereabouts) in a Marlin 1894 perhaps you should try it ... it's quite something. I don't own a .44 Mag lever action but I imagine a 240gr at 36 ksi is very similar. I have an 1894 chambered in .357 Mag and you really feel the power of that little rifle when you shoot 125gr JHPs at 2,100 fps.

Ed Ames
June 3, 2013, 05:01 PM
Question on the ability of the brass to withstand high pressures: Can you trim down .454 casull brass for your hot loads? It should be good into the 60k range. Of course you should stay well south of that but still, it should eliminate the brass problem.

As for why...look at it this way....I have a 6lb rifle that will lob 300gr bullets at faster than 2000 fps. It will hold 10+1cartridges, and I can push reloads in the side between shots if I want. It can fire the exact same rounds as a snub nosed revolver I own. The revolver is about the same size as a 1911 but can hit about as hard as a non-snub .44 mag, which means it isn't an ideal concealed carry gun but it can do the job in a pinch. With two guns and one box of ammo I can reasonably shoot at targets from 3 to 150 yards...to me, that makes this combo far more "real" than having a .38-55 and a .44 magnum. I can totally sympathize with someone trying to find an equally effective setup...more than I can with someone trying to imply that 300gr bullets going 2000+ fps aren't "real" because the cartridge is a "handgun" cartridge.

Paladin7
June 4, 2013, 12:40 PM
I think it's a reasonable effort to improve the performance of a pistol caliber, esp in a carbine, to achieve what you want the round to do in the field or at the range, and that is the key. I handload, so I do this routinely. What I'm thinking about is the point where you are in another caliber's territory of pressure that the gun was not designed for...for example, why push the 45 Colt to 44 Magnum velocities/pressure...why not just buy a 44 Magnum? I wouldn't want one of those high end 45 Colt loads ending up in a firearm that is not capable of handling it... and Murphy's Law does take effect from time to time.

In the example of the 357 Magnum in the Marlin 1894, that performance you mention of a 125 gr slug at 2,100 FPS is entirely within spec, all be it high end of spec, for the cartridge/gun combination. Why go to 357 Maximum territory with that gun and round?

Just food for thought...

I guess what I'm most concerned about is a regular or steady diet of high power loads in a gun that was not designed for those pressures and what might happen to the user or innocent bystander(s) if the action let's go. Agreed that Loads like that in small doses are an acceptable risk...

Ed Ames
June 4, 2013, 12:57 PM
As far as I can tell this thread started with someone wanting to shoot .45 colt out of a .45 colt. Hot .45 colt, but still .45 colt. Why describe that as trying to move into another caliber's range?

I agree that if you want really hot .45 colt you should get a .454. That's exactly what I did. Other only lever gun that has ever interested me enough to search for one - or pay for it - is the .454 1892. It works for me. Marlin doesn't make one though.

Barring that, knowing you can load .45 colt in your .45 colt gun seems like a good idea.

CraigC
June 4, 2013, 02:15 PM
why push the 45 Colt to 44 Magnum velocities/pressure...why not just buy a 44 Magnum?
Again, why not? The guns are capable. The cartridge is capable. The data is there. Why do people like yourself adhere so strongly to SAAMI standards? It really doesn't matter what the guns are "designed for", whatever that means. What matters is their capability.


I guess what I'm most concerned about is a regular or steady diet of high power loads in a gun that was not designed for those pressures and what might happen to the user or innocent bystander(s) if the action let's go.
And what you apparently fail to understand is that this is all very well proven. This ain't fumbling around blindly or in the dark.


I wouldn't want one of those high end 45 Colt loads ending up in a firearm that is not capable of handling it...
There are ways of avoiding that and I've never heard of this happening.


Just food for thought...
And do you really think we haven't all heard this a thousand times before??? Same statements, same closed-minded people, same answer. Basically, what you don't know, is a lot.

Don McDowell
June 4, 2013, 02:39 PM
The answer to the OP question might be more , why bother?
Just simply using slower powders from various dependable sources of data will yield up to 300 fps over the handgun velocity, due to the lack of a cylinder gap and the longer barrel.
All one needs is a little powder selection and a chronograph.
With Alliants bludot data for the 45 colt saami spec turning out 1000 fps from a handgun that's going to turn up somewhere between 12-1300 out of a rifle. If either load won't take care of the problem, you picked the wrong cartridge/gun combo in the first place.

CraigC
June 4, 2013, 03:27 PM
The answer to the OP question might be more , why bother?
Well for one thing you'll gain another 50yds or so with the flatter trajectory.

Even medium burning rate powders like Unique will still yield 300-400fps higher velocities.

1858
June 4, 2013, 03:33 PM
In the example of the 357 Magnum in the Marlin 1894, that performance you mention of a 125 gr slug at 2,100 FPS is entirely within spec, all be it high end of spec, for the cartridge/gun combination. Why go to 357 Maximum territory with that gun and round?

I wouldn't ... but I think this is where you're missing the point. Let's say you own three Marlin 1894s chambered in .357 Mag, .44 Mag and .45 Colt. If you shoot factory ammunition in the .357 Mag and .44 Mag you could be up around 35 and 36 ksi respectively. So by loading .45 Colt to somewhere around the 32 to 36 ksi mark, you're simply getting as much out of the .45 Colt Marlin as you are out of the other two. In short, you're using all three Marlins to their full potential.

Don McDowell
June 4, 2013, 05:07 PM
Even medium burning rate powders like Unique will still yield 300-400fps higher velocities.



Your chronograph must see better than mine, the best I ever came up with when using the same powder charge and bullet weight with unique in the 45 colt was 150 fps gain from the rifle.
Bludot and 2400 showed up closer to 250 and h110 jumped 300 fps.

oldpink
June 9, 2013, 04:02 AM
In reply to Paladin7's questions about why anyone would want to boost velocities using the extra power loads in the "Ruger/TC" section of the handloading manual:

1) Because you only own modern guns capable of handling these enhanced loads, with no danger of accidentally firing them in the weaker Colt SAA or similar. This is personally true in my case.

2) Because you already have a modern (Ruger Blackhawk) handgun chambered in .45 Colt, so it makes more sense to get a rifle in the same caliber than it does to get one in another caliber and having to deal with getting a new set of dies, shell holder, cases, and bullets.

3) Because you want to greatly extend your range and energy on target for hunting purposes.

4) You could get a lever gun in a much more capable caliber the likes of the .450 Marlin or .45-70, but your state only allows handgun cartridges out of rifle length barrels, as my state of Indiana does.

5) I would point out that your claim that the Marlin 1894 is not designed for the extra power loads is fallacious, thus the mention in loading manuals explaining that all Ruger/TC/Anaconda/Redhawk/Freedom Arms data up to 30K PSI is also safe in the Marlin. Further reinforcing this, Marlin also makes the 1894 in .44 Magnum, so it only follows that it would be cheaper to make the .45 Colt version just as strong without having to go to the extra expense of having a two-tiered manufacturing process for the same model rifle predicated entirely upon which caliber it is.

6) Because you can!

What it comes down to is that I would have saved the big bucks and purchased a Colt SAA, or spent much less and picked up a Ruger New Vaquero or the like if I wanted to be limited to SAAMI loads only.
I didn't though.
Instead, I have a standard Ruger Blackhawk and Marlin 1894 in .45 Colt.
I've only had the Marlin for a year and a half, but I've already shot close to 300 rounds through it, all of them handloads well into the extra power range, and I've seen no signs of danger or excessive pressure.
I've had the Blackhawk since 1988, and I've shot north of 1000 extra power loads out of it, again with no signs of danger or excessive pressure.
So much for it not being designed for higher pressures.
:neener:

Arizona_Mike
June 10, 2013, 12:17 PM
I think the balloon-head brass is going to be your limiter in any case.

Mike

Don McDowell
June 10, 2013, 12:39 PM
Limiting factor is case capacity. You can't get any more powder in a 45 colt case destined for a rifle than you can in one destined for a pistol.
So use whatever data you choose from saami spec to +p, and depending on the powder chosen, if you use a chronograph, you will see 150-300 fps gain from the rifle, using the exact same load as the handgun.
Then it becomes a matter of finding a load that will shoot accurately in both the handgun and the rifle, or keeping the two separate and somehow marking them either by different cases or bullets etc, so you know which round to use in which gun for the best accuracy.

USSR
June 10, 2013, 01:41 PM
I think the balloon-head brass is going to be your limiter in any case.


There hasn't been a balloon-headed case made since prior to WW2.

Don

mavracer
June 11, 2013, 12:15 PM
for example, why push the 45 Colt to 44 Magnum velocities/pressure...why not just buy a 44 Magnum?
Well for one thing for some reason Marlin decided to use a very slow 1 in 38 twist for their 1894 in 44mag where as the 45 colt has a much faster 1 in 20" in short most Marlin 44 mags won't stabalize 300gr bullets and the 45 Colts will.

1858
June 11, 2013, 12:56 PM
Well for one thing for some reason Marlin decided to use a very slow 1 in 38 twist for their 1894 in 44mag where as the 45 colt has a much faster 1 in 20"

The Marlin 1894 Cowboy chambered for .45 Colt has a 1:38 twist like the .44 Mag. A few years back Marlin had the twist listed incorrectly on their website.

mavracer
June 11, 2013, 01:04 PM
The Marlin 1894 Cowboy chambered for .45 Colt has a 1:38 twist like the .44 Mag. A few years back Marlin had the twist listed incorrectly on their website.
Glad I bought a Rossi then.:rolleyes:

Capt Quahog
June 13, 2013, 02:07 AM
Have a Marlin 1894 Guide Gun in 45-70 and it appears to be the same rifle as the other calibers. Many people use hot 405 grain rounds while a few mad men actually shoot 500 + grain stuff. Being such a strong weapon, would suppose that a well packed cartridge - 45 LC wouldn't be a problem in a Marlin 1894.

oldpink
June 13, 2013, 08:40 AM
Capt Quahog, you have the model number of that .45-70 wrong.
It's the 1895, which has some fairly important differences from the 1894, mainly a much longer lever throw necessitated by the rifle length cartridges in which it's chambered, and the bolt is round instead of square.

I can tell you that, just as with the 1894, the 1895 can withstand loads considerably more powerful than standard SAAMI spec factory loads of .45-70.
The reason that SAAMI spec .45-70 is so relatively mild, just as with SAAMI spec .45 Colt, is out of deference to all the old guns guns originally designed to fire blackpowder cartridges (Colt SAA and clones for .45 Colt handguns and Springfield 1873 "Trapdoor" for .45-70 rifles) that would be wrecked by loads at the full potential of the respective cartridges.

Loading data for .45 Colt is in two categories: SAAMI spec and "Ruger/TC only" for loads that exploit the full potential of the .45 Colt case.
SAAMI spec .45 Colt loads are limited to an anemic 14K PSI, while the cartridge is stoked all the way up to 30K PSI for more capable guns.
Modern metallurgy, beefier frames, and heat treating allow these .45 Colt handguns to withstand "full potential" .45 Colt loads: Ruger Blackhawk, Blackhawk Bisley, old model Vaquero (but NOT the new Vaquero!), Colt Anaconda, Ruger Redhawk, Dan Wesson, Freedom Arms, and Thompson/Center Contender.
With rifles, the Winchester 1892 (and its clones, including the Rossi version), Winchester 1894 and Marlin 1894 can all handle the same "full potential" .45 Colt loads as the above mentioned handguns.

The story of load capability for the .45-70 is a bit more complicated, since loading data is actually in three categories.
SAAMI spec loads to be used in the Springfield 1873 "Trapdoor," Sharps, rolling blocks, and all replicas are at the lowest level SAAMI spec maximum of 28K PSI.
Moving up in pressure, is your Marlin 1895, Winchester 1886, and 1886 replicas, all of which are capable of handling loads up to a maximum of 40K PSI.
Finally, the strongest rifles include the Ruger No. 1 and No. 3, Winchester/Browning 1885 "High Wall," and the Siamese bolt actions, all of which can handle an impressive 50K PSI.

Naturally, it's perfectly safe to use SAAMI spec .45 Colt and .45-70 in all guns so chambered, but extreme caution must be exercised to ensure that anything loaded beyond that is fired exclusively in guns at least strong enough to safely withstand them.
Doing otherwise will wreck a valuable antique at the best and cause serious bodily harm or a call to the undertaker at the worst.:eek:
You have been warned.

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