.45Colt ammo to gun fit questions


September 13, 2012, 10:57 PM
OK, the story is that my CAS shooting buddy has a pair of old model Vaqueros. He's been reloading for some time now over at my place using my press and a set of RCBS dies he bought. But his casings are coming out with a LOT of fouling soot on them. The load he's settled on for the last while is a 200gn LRNFP atop 5 grains of Tightgroup. And yeah, I know that this isn't even their minimum load, which is 6.5 gns. But it's what a lot of the local CAS shooters are using in their .45Colt guns. The others we shoot with that are using this same loading recipe are not getting any or near as much sooting on the outside of the cases.

So here's the numbers on the guns and ammo;

The chambers all measure at .482 plus or minus a needle's width on my dial caliper. And realistically the perhaps quarter thou of difference could well be me.
The sizing/decapping die sizes the cases down to 0.469 except for the last 1/4 inch above the rim which is .476.
Inserting and crimping the cast bullet swells out the brass in the area of the bullet to 0.474.
The bullets are very nicely and consistently sized to .452 and come from a commercial source.
Fired brass ranges over a narrow range from the 5 cases I checked at .474 to .476 at the waist to mouth. The last 1/4 inch wide band just above the rim is left at .476.

So the favour I'm asking is if some of you with the tools to do so can measure the items I've listed above and let me know what you are getting with your own brass and dies for these measurements. Also if you are getting significant sooting of the outside of the brass or little to none. Also if the loads you are shooting and measuring are soft CAS like loads or full pop near max loads.

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September 13, 2012, 11:00 PM
It's a Titegroup thing (especially with lead bullets), made worse by the loose .45 Colt chamber fit dictated by SAAMI. Try using Red Dot powder instead of TG, or maybe even Clays.

Try only sizing about 1/2" to 3/4" of the case instead of full-length resizing; just enough for decent bullet pull. They will look a little like .44-40 cartridges.

September 13, 2012, 11:15 PM
Hmmmm... You may be onto something.

We're loading on a progressive which won't easily let me only resize the first little bit. But we COULD look at switching the sizing die for a universal decapping die and leave the as fired brass the size it comes out of the gun which seems to be at or darn close to what I'm looking to achieve.

I know that the drawing in my Lyman manual and one I found online, presumably both from SAMMI, show .480 as the max outside case diameter. If we were up to that size this would certainly not be an issue.

And then again only a couple of other folks shooting .45Colt are getting this crazy amount of sooting. The rest, some of them using the same 5gns of Tightgroup, are not getting any major outside sooting of the cases.

September 13, 2012, 11:48 PM
Punch the caps out on a single-stage press or by hand, then you can raise your sizing die about an inch. If you don't at least "neck size" the brass, the bullets will be loose.

Try some Red Dot powder. (or Promo, which is the same thing but cheaper)

September 14, 2012, 12:23 AM
What brand of cast bullets are you using? Only reason I ask is because I find bullet lube is the major contributor to dirty cases/guns. When I switched from Laser-Cast to Dardas the increase in cleanliness was shocking.

September 14, 2012, 01:01 AM
It's a Titegroup thing (especially with lead bullets), made worse by the loose .45 Colt chamber fit dictated by SAAMI. Try using Red Dot powder instead of TG, or maybe even Clays.

Try only sizing about 1/2" to 3/4" of the case instead of full-length resizing; just enough for decent bullet pull. They will look a little like .44-40 cartridges.

There's your answer. Light charges, light cast bullets/lube, straight wall cases. Up your powder charge or increase your bullet weight and try some different powders.

I use the same trick. I have a carbide 45ACP die set up to just size the neck of the case the length of the bullet I'm using.

September 14, 2012, 01:54 AM
I have seen this with titegroup in about any caliber you can load it in. In my experience it also has to do with brass. Harder brass wont expand to seal as well and will soot up and scorch worse than softer brass.

September 14, 2012, 01:54 AM
do you crimp these rounds? if so, how heavy is the crimp?


just reread your post. ignore the first question.

what is the diameter of your expander plug?

Jim Watson
September 14, 2012, 02:29 AM
I did some related work with very light loads in .45 ACP, a 200 gr bullet at 650 fps or thereabouts. Almost any flake powder worked better than any ball process powder I had.
I ended up with sooty old Bullseye because it metered better than things like Clays and Solo 1000 and gave more consistent velocity than TG, 231, or WST.

You can tinker with the case processing as described or you can try another powder. I hear well of American Select, although I haven't tried it myself.

Redding makes a double ring carbide die that sizes the body no more than necessary and the neck enough to hold the bullet. Expensive, though. I think RCBS has made a steel die like that which would be less expensive but would require case lube.

FFg is better, though.

September 14, 2012, 08:15 AM
I'll bet the majority of the carbon fouling is along what would be the edge case length that was up when the cartridge went off. The chamber ID is still loose (big) because of the blackpowder heritage of the cartridge, so it drops down in the chamber, leaving some clearance 'on top'. A good crimp and a bit more powder might cause the case mouth to obturate enough to seal it, but a bit more case cleaning will rid the case of most of the dark line. I once upon a time, during my anal 'shiney case period', would soak the dirty cases in real high VOC lacquer thinner stored in a qt glass mayonaise jar, draining the dirty thinner into another jar. I'd next set the cases on paper towels to dry - then toss them in the tumbler. Nowadays - just the tumbler.

Titegroup seemed a definite improvement over HP-38, etc.


Driftwood Johnson
September 14, 2012, 08:37 AM

All of the above are true.

The huge, cavernous case of the 45 Colt was meant to hold 40 or so grains of Black Powder. If the load does not develop enough pressure to obdurate the case enough to seal the chamber, then there will be blow by. If the load does not even meet the minimum spec for the powder, what do you expect?

Your buddy is trying to duplicate a light 38 Special load in the old 45 Colt case. It just does not work. That is why so many cowboy shooters who just have to have the grand old 45 Colt cartridge eventually wind up trading them in for 38s.

Upping the powder charge and/or upping the weight of the bullet will increase pressure enough to seal the case better in the chamber. But the tradeoff will be increased recoil, which is exactly what your buddy is trying to avoid. Only neck sizing is another solution. This keeps the body of the case at the expanded size, so there will be less blowby. The downside of this trick is, the cases may fit better in one gun than another. I'm betting your buddy has two pistols and a rifle all chambered for 45 Colt. By the way, is this happening in the revolvers or the rifle? Rifles tend to have even more generous chambers than revolvers, so cases will run through the action better.

A firm crimp will also help in this situation, raising pressure slightly before the bullet exits the case. But it will also increase recoil.

You pays your money, you takes your choice.

September 14, 2012, 10:10 AM
Another solution to your "problem" would be shorter cases. The 45 S&W and the 45 Special come to mind.

45 S&W is not hard to find, 45 Special is available from


The shoerter case will allow pressure to build faster than the old long Colt casing.

I use the S&W and long Colt casings but I load them both with full charges of black powder. I get some discoloration but not enough to worry me. Never have been that much of a fashion plate to care about how my brass looks.

September 14, 2012, 10:38 AM
We're loading on a progressive which won't easily let me only resize the first little bit.You can't just back the sizing die out so it just sizes the mouth?

Or use a .45 ACP sizing die adjusted to just neck size enough for some neck tension?


September 14, 2012, 10:57 AM
Switch over to Unique, Universal or even TrailBoss. Might give better results, too.


Driftwood Johnson
September 14, 2012, 12:07 PM
Howdy Again

I just reread your post. I also looked up the Titegroup data. For Pete's sake, for a 200 grain bullet Titegroup recommends a starting load of 6.5 grains. And your friend is only loading 5 grains. Yeah, I know you already said that.

Ask your pal why in the world he is loading that much lower than the recommended starting data published by the powder manufacturer, and why he expects it will work well. The fact that lots of other CAS shooters are using that load is meaningless. I shoot CAS, and I know lots of CAS reloaders. And I know plenty of them that are trying to get the grand old 45 Cot to behave like a lightly loaded 38. Almost without exception, there is always a lot of soot, for exactly the reasons I stated earlier. As a matter of fact, many CAS shooters are fairly new reloaders, and they often stray from the published data in a misguided attempt to get 45 Colt to do things it was never intended to do. So relying on data from other Cowboy shooters is a dubious endeavor at best.

I might ask the question now, just what is wrong with a lot of soot on his fired cases? That's what tumblers are for, to polish cases after they have been fired. As a side note, I shoot nothing but Black Powder in CAS, and your pard ain't seen nothing like soot on his cases until he shoots Black Powder. A little bit of smokeless soot ain't going to hurt anything. If he insists on mousefart loads in 45 Colt, that is what he is going to get.

Yes, he can try 45 Schofield and even 45 Cowboy Special. But he must not use the same data for 45 Colt in either of those two cartridges. Smaller internal volume will raise pressure an unpredictable amount. Loads must always be tailored to the actual cartridge being loaded. And the shorter cases may or may not feed through his rifle.

Bottom line is, if you want to shoot mousefarts, sell the 45 Colts and buy 38s. Otherwise, accept a little bit of soot and clean it off in the tumbler.

Vern Humphrey
September 14, 2012, 12:18 PM
I have two questions:

How does his load shoot?

Are you having problems chambering or ejecting these hand loads?

If it shoots well and there are no problems chambering or ejecting, then why worry?

Now if I were carrying a .45 in the woods (which I do), I would definitely want a different load -- say about 10.5 grains of HS 6 and a 255 grain bullet. But your friend is using his for CAS, and a light-recoiling load that shoots well is what he wants.

September 14, 2012, 12:22 PM
I appreciate the help and suggestions so far. But something to consider is that since these guns are used solely for CAS shooting I'd rather we look at a case of adapting to the situation instead of upping the load or switching powders. Especially since he just stoked up on 4 lbs of Tightgroup.

The rifle he's using is in the same caliber. It apparently shares the "sloppy chamber" issue and his rifle brass has the same large amounts of blowby sooting on the brass.

The reason we're looking to deal with this is two fold. First off if we reform the brass less it'll last longer. Second is that the sooting tends to make the chambers a bit sticky over time. The stains on the brass aren't a concern other than as an indicator of the fouling condition that generates the stain.

What I'm going to try with him is to keep his pistol and rifle brass separate for a couple of stages or during a practice session and measure the fire formed case sizes between pistol and rifle. If it should turn out that the brass is within a thou of being the same size with consistency then we'll look at the idea of simply decapping instead of sizing at all. Or if that makes the bullets fit too loosely I'll see if I can shift the dies on their threads to move the flaring/powder and seating dies down a little so the sizing die can move up.... Oops, I just realized that won't work since then the decapping pin won't reach the head of the case at all... Looks like we would need to move to a four hole style press to make room for an additional operation.

Oh, by the way, he's running a half and half mix of Starline and Winchester brass if that matters. But all the brass is doing the same thing regardless of brand.

I'd still appreciate if some of you could let me know the waist and bullet diameters of your reloads or factory ammo. I still can't help but think that the sizing die in this set is swaging the brass down to a hair too tight a diameter.

Vern Humphrey
September 14, 2012, 12:33 PM
Oops, I just realized that won't work since then the decapping pin won't reach the head of the case at all.
What kind of dies are you using that you can't adjust the decapping rod? I partially resize .45 Colt and have no problem -- just screw the decapping rod in as many turns as you screw the die body out.

September 14, 2012, 12:37 PM
DJ and Vern, you posted while I was typing out the last comments just above this reply.

Yes, he's using a .38Spl like load in the cases. But then so are most of the rest of the local shooters. And yes, I fully realize it's a mousefart load and that this is the sole reason we've got this "problem". But low power loads seems to be the nature of the game for cowboy action events. And since a lot of the other folks locally using this same load don't get the same degree of blowby on their brass the question comes up about what is different for us compared to them. And certainly the amount of slop in the loaded cases would appear to be one likely cause in trying to get these mousefart loads to work for him.

As I mentioned just above the concern is over both the fouling that stiffens up the loading and ejecting over time as well as the life span of the brass.

Switching to .38's for revolvers and rifle simply ain't gonna happen. The money that would cost would ensure the wife would use one of the sloppy and sooty loads on HIM..... :D

So we're going to tackle the issue on the basis of first off trying to cure the sloppy fit by either not resizing the fired brass or minimally resizing just the mouth area as a first step and see what happens. Beyond that I may look at trying to lap out the sizing die or at getting a custom made sizing die. I know this isn't the proper way but then CAS shooting isn't proper shooting such as the guns are made for anyway.

September 14, 2012, 12:41 PM

the amount of swaging from the sizing die is not that important. what is more important is the amount of swaging your expander plug (on the belling die) does. measure the diameter of the plug. this will determine the amount of case neck tension on your bullet.

this and the amount of crimp applied (hopefully in a separate operation) will have a large effect on how well your powder is burning.

regardless, the low pressure loads you are shooting are not going to seal the chamber. the case needs a bit over 8,000 psi to expand out to seal the chamber. with that load, the chamber pressure is not much higher.

if your friend can't load at least the minimum charge of powder, you are going to have to live with the soot on the case. fwiw


Vern Humphrey
September 14, 2012, 12:45 PM
Beyond that I may look at trying to lap out the sizing die or at getting a custom made sizing die.
One problem with lapping out dies is that if not done with care and skill, the dies can wind up being out of round -- and that causes real problems.

September 14, 2012, 12:53 PM
Have you tried using wax bullets instead of lead? You'll have to drill out the primer flash holes (like blanks brass) -- there will not be enough recoil to reseat the primers and they will tie-up the gun.

Driftwood Johnson
September 14, 2012, 01:00 PM
Howdy Again

As I stated earlier, rifle chambers are often even more generous than revolver chambers. It is the nature of the a lever rifle, chambers are often maxed out to SAAMI max specs. This allows rounds to chamber more reliably than if the chambers were tighter. It also allows soot to escape past the case mouth, sooting up cases.

Your pal will probably not like this idea either, but some CAS shooters actually shoot a heavier load in their rifles than their pistols, to avoid excess sooting in the rifles. A heavier load in the rifle really does not matter as much as a heavier load in the pistol because the rifle is heavier and will absorb more recoil. The heavier load is less noticed.

You mention ejection problems. Is your pal one of those guys who shows up at the unloading table and expects his brass to fall out of the chambers without using the ejector rod? I run into a lot of those guys at the unloading tables. I have never seen sooting so bad that the ejector rod, you know that thing that hangs under the barrel, won't pop a stubborn case out. Remember, I shoot Black Powder and my sooty empties pop out when I smack them smartly with the ejector rod, the way it was designed to be used.

As I say, your friend is only rediscovering problems that have been well known in Cowboy shooting for a long time. If you want to shoot mousefarts, you have to deal with the sooting. It may be that his chambers are just a little bit oversized of everybody else's.

There is also a lesson to be learned about not buying a large quantity of powder before one has really wrung out all the problems with a particular load.

September 14, 2012, 01:29 PM
How about (I stole this idea from Clark) putting a thick-walled brass sleeve in the cases to take up most of the volume? Just leave a 1/8" hollow core down the center so 2 or 3 grains of powder will fill the case?

September 14, 2012, 02:36 PM
Most of what has been posted above is true, except for the silly blaming of your powder choice. It's not a Titegroup thing, it's a pressure thing, compounded by a loose chambers thing.

No offense intended but if you're gonna run silly mousefart loads in the cavernous .45Colt case, sooty cases are an unavoidable fact of life. The solution is cheap and easy but I'll save it for last.

1. You can up your powder charge and get the pressure to a respectable level. Enough so that the case expands to seal the chamber and thus, preventing sooty cases and dirty chambers. This may take a substantial increase, I get serious sooting at 8.0gr Unique with a 200gr RNFP. Maybe running authentic loads is more in the spirit of the game???

2. Use a shorter case, same reason.

3. Use a heavier bullet, same reason.

4. Use a larger diameter bullet, .454's may or may not help.

5. Have a set of custom guns built with tight chambers, to the tune of a couple thousand dollars.

6. Switch to the .38 or .44WCF. The thin necks expand more quickly to seal the chamber walls. This won't be cheap either. This will also mean all new guns, dies, components and shorter case life, which you were trying to avoid in the first place.

7. Switch to a .38Spl, .32H&R/S&W or .22LR. The King of mousefarts.

8. Clean your chambers between rounds and not worry about it.

The rest, some of them using the same 5gns of Tightgroup, are not getting any major outside sooting of the cases.
I would be majorly shocked to find this to be true.

September 14, 2012, 05:40 PM
Guys, I agree with all you've posted. And he HAS shot some heavier loads and actually does like these. They are snappy enough that the guns don't feel like .22's but they shoot softly enough that he's having a great time at the meets.

So upping the charge and the pressure more than a slight amount at most simply isn't going to happen. And let's face it, he's far from the only one out there that wants to shoot such loads.

So that leaves me/us with working out something to suit the CAS role for the ammo and guns that he has chosen. If it helps consider this as something half way between prep and loading of blanks and regular defensive or hunting loads. It simply is what it is. The fact that it's based around some variation of mousefart loads doesn't make this style of shooting any less valid than loading up .44Mags to take down defenseless bowling pins or distant steel rams. It's simply a different aspect of the sport of shooting.

As for the decapping pin I was thinking of my Lee dies where they don't have the length to allow sizing only the mouth. His RCBS die actually has almost an inch of thread on the decapping rod. So it looks like we can play with sizing only the mouth. But I'm going to also try just decapping and reloading the fire formed brass as well if the bullet has enough pressure in the case.

The flaring tool doesn't open the case mouth from the sizing die at all. There's some resistance but it is minor and there's no noticable opening up of the case mouth other than for the flare at the top edge to avoid the lead being shaved. It's only when the bullet seats that it bulges the cases out as noted in my first post.

Unfortunetly he just finished loading up all the cases and took them away. So Chapter Two of this saga will have to wait until he's out shooting again. I'm going to make sure we set aside 50 or so for experiments.

zxcvbob, he can't shoot wax because it's not the quick draw event. It's the three gun CAS/SASS style. So lead only.

And while the bushings to pack out the case sounds like it might be an option we simply are not going to load up 800 cases with such bushings. Also unless they were fixed in place they would fall out in the rifle action or out of the cylinder after being shot. Or, and I don't even want to think about this, they could be blown out into the bore and sit there waiting for the next bullet to come along. So all in all that option is simply a non starter.

September 14, 2012, 05:58 PM
The fact that it's based around some variation of mousefart loads doesn't make this style of shooting any less valid than loading up .44Mags to take down defenseless bowling pins or distant steel rams.
No, it doesn't but the guns and loads don't care what they're used for. Meaning, good intentions doesn't trump physics. You can expect the impossible all day long and it won't change the facts. And those facts are that .45Colt chambers are usually oversized and the pressure is too low for the case to expand and seal the chamber. Mousefart loads just aren't going to seal the chamber like a 32,000psi Ruger-only load. You can try neck sizing only but you may run into problems chambering, so you traded one cause for another. Personally, it's really not enough of an issue to even worry about. I just accept it as a fact of life and move on.

September 14, 2012, 11:17 PM
Craig, I'm not looking for the impossible. Merely to tune what he's using to get the best out of it that we can.

I've gotten some good avenues to explore both from a few folks in this thread as well as the jogging that the rest of the posts produced in my own noggin.

This will likely be a longer term project as I have to wait until next month if we don't do a practice day sooner to find out what the brass is like that comes out of the rifle vs the handguns. Then there's trying some batches of two or three options to figure out what works best for these obviously low pressure loads.

Part of this will be to try upping some of the loads to 5.5 gns along with the other options.

If anyone is interested in this Mousefart Load Saga I'll report back on what we find out.

September 15, 2012, 06:21 AM

I somehow missed that he was using the rounds in a rifle and a revolver. My suggestion of the shorter cases may not be of much help without some gunsmithing and it sounds as if he is determined to use what he has and not spend any money to get what he needs to make what he has work.

Light loads are not my balliwick so I'm out of suggestions.

Driftwood Johnson
September 15, 2012, 09:07 AM
Howdy Again

There is one more thing you should be aware of with mousefart loads in 45 Colt. There is a safety issue.

Ask your pal if he is noticing inconsistent reports from round to round. If he gets a good bang most of the time, but every once in a while gets a weak pop, there is a problem. If he gets pops, he is right at the edge of the envelope where he can expect to get squibs.

Most Smokeless powders need to achieve a threshold of 5000 PSI before they start burning consistently. After 5000 psi is achieved, the powder starts burning progressively as it is supposed to. But if 5000 psi is not achieved, the powder can burn inconsistently. It may not achieve the pressure curve that it is supposed to. It can burn in fits and starts, it can fizzle, it can even go out. It is even possible for the initial burn of the powder to shove the bullet out of the case, but then the pressure can drop below 5000 psi because of the increased length of the combustion chamber. All of these can contribute to a bullet getting stuck in the barrel. In Cowboy circles we call that a squib.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have used my brass rods to knock a squib out of the barrel of a novice reloader who ignores the published data available from the powder manufacturers and thinks he can put four flakes of Whiz Bang into the 45 Colt because he will be able to finish a course of fire 1/10 of a second quicker. At every cowboy stage there are usually three spotters who keep track of hits and misses. We also keep our ears open for squibs, because if the shooter does not realize he has a bullet stuck in the barrel, and fires another one behind it, there is a good chance he will blow up the gun. When I suspect a squib, I holler STOP!!! real loud. Any spotter is supposed to do the same. But sometimes a shooter is so darn fast that he has already fired the next shot before anybody can holler. This is a safety hazard not only to the shooter but also to anybody nearby, if the cylinder should happen to burst. In fact, at most CAS events I attend, if a shooter has more than two squibs we politely tell him to either use somebody else's ammo, or he is done for the day.

All of this has been well documented on the Cowboy forums for years. Extra light loads in 45 Colt are trouble. I strongly suggest you guys up the load to the published minimum and stop worrying about shooting 1/10 of a second faster than anybody else. Most of the really fast shooters in CAS have switched over to 38 Special for these reasons.

By the way, this is exactly why the 45 Cowboy Special was invented, for extra light loads in 45 Colt. The 45 CS has the same overall length and case capacity as the 45 ACP. The 45 CS is perfect for light CAS revolver loads because the much smaller case does not have the large amount of empty space in it that the 45 Colt has. So light loads will burn more consistently. 45 ACP data is what is used with 45 CS. If your pard tries 45 CS cases, his light load problems will vanish. No, he will not be able to run the much shorter cases through his rifle unless he modifies it. But as I said earlier, plenty of CAS shooters have a separate load for their pistols and their rifles. That is certainly not the end of the world, just requires a little bit of organization.


D Rudd
September 15, 2012, 11:06 AM
In all fairness the 5.0 grain load is published as the starting load by Hodgdon in their Cowboy Action Section. So it is established data.

http://www.hodgdon.com/PDF/Hodgdon%20Basic%20Manual.pdf page 32.

highlander 5
September 15, 2012, 11:47 AM
I fire 45 scofield loads out of my standard Blackhawks and find the recoil to be very pleasent. I use a 225 gr RNFP and Universal Clays (don't remember the weight but got it from a Speer manual). The cases are a little sooty but that's easily cleaned in the tumbler.
I use standard 45 Colt die set to reload with. As someone said your friend is taking a serious chance with a squib load and I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to have a barrel replaced in the least or worse a blown up gun.

Driftwood Johnson
September 15, 2012, 12:50 PM
In all fairness the 5.0 grain load is published as the starting load by Hodgdon in their Cowboy Action Section. So it is established data.

Howdy Again

Look at the pressure data for the 5.0 grain cowboy load. That load only develops 4700 CUP. The 6.5 grain minimum load in the online data for Titegroup develops 9300 CUP. Remember what I said about needing 5000 PSI before the powder begins to burn reliably? I know there is not a direct correlation between PSI and CUP, but the difference between a starting pressure of 4700 CUP and 9300 CUP must mean something. It means the lighter load is just about guaranteed to not develop enough pressure to seal the case in the chamber, just about guaranteeing lots of blowby.

I stand beside everything I have said so far.

For the record, no I have no experience with Titegroup, I should probably have made that clear. But I have lots of experience with 45 Colt, both with Unique and with Black Powder. I have always found that a 200 grain bullet and a light load of Unique always gave me plenty of blowby. Upping the bullet weight to 250 grains and at least 7.5 grains of Unique substantially reduced blowby.

September 15, 2012, 01:05 PM
If the 6.5gr load is only 9300CUP (which is probably VERY close to 9300psi), the 5.0gr load is probably very low.

Of course, all you have to do is load some with 6.5-7.0gr and see how much improvement there is.

September 15, 2012, 01:50 PM
I used Titegroup for a short while, and didn't particularly like it. I used a 7gr. load with a 205gr RN lead from Bear Creek.

The shells always came out sooty, and also discolored on one side. Additionally, because there is so little powder in that huge case, it was position sensitive, so I go in the habit of pointing the gun up and tapping it, before gently lowering it and firing, just so I can get consistent shots.

I then tried Trail Boss, and I did like the idea of that powder filling most of the case, and no having to worry about double charges. It shoots really well, and the reduced load, has very manageable recoil.

But it too was dirty, not as bad as Titegroup, but still dirty. I then tried Clays. I'm still using reduced loads (4.2gr.), but it appears to be cleaner, and not as position sensitive.

However, as long as you will use reduced loads, the thick walls of a .45LC case, will not get a chance to expand fully and seal the chamber, so you will get some dirt on the case. I suppose you can try to find a case with thinner walls, but then they will not last many repeated reloadings either.

I bought some Unique powder as well, as it seems to be very popular with CAS shooters, and even loaded a few rounds, but haven't had a chance to shoot it. It's supposed to be a lot cleaner than some of other powders.

September 15, 2012, 11:41 PM
I understand about the pressure issues. We'll try some test loads of 5.5 gns and if there is not much difference in terms of how he likes the recoil we'll likely go with that in order to up the pressure a little.

DJ, I read you loud and clear about the idea if minimum pressure. But if Hodgdon is willing to publish a 5.0gn load for 200gn bullets then I would suggest that they would be confident that the pressure is sufficient by some safety margin to be able to produce a consistent burn. Besides from looking around at a CUP to PSI conversion it seems that at these lower values there isn't a lot of valid knowledge that I can find from a quick search.

Also he has not said anything about inconsistent recoil at all. And the times I've been there with him as the SO or scorekeeper his guns sounded very consistent.

September 16, 2012, 12:28 AM
I understand about the pressure issues. We'll try some test loads of 5.5 gns and if there is not much difference in terms of how he likes the recoil we'll likely go with that in order to up the pressure a little.

DJ, I read you loud and clear about the idea if minimum pressure. But if Hodgdon is willing to publish a 5.0gn load for 200gn bullets ...

Actually, Hogdon publishes 6.5gr and 7.7 (Min.-Max.) for a 200 grain bullet. The 5.0gr to 6.8gr numbers are for the 250gr bullets. At 5.5gr you're well below the recommended minimum. I don't think you'll achieve any meaningful obturation below the max loads, or close to that.

September 16, 2012, 02:17 AM
Hello, everyone..Very interesting posts! Considering just last Wed. I took a Colt .45 S.A.A. out to range for first time. Gun is a Turnbull black powder frame Colt with 7 1/2" brl. Gun was shipped off to Hamilton Bowen for action/trigger work & sight regulation..but most important..a .44 cyl. was re-chambered to .45 long colt with .452" throats & fitted to gun. Turnbull then did final finishing to replicate an early 1880's Colt with extra finish & Sambar stags.
Now I can't see open sights sharply anymore..so had a gehman adj. appature clipped to shooting lens. Since this was first time out..and due to eyesight..I decided to start close..standing, two hand hold at 15yds.
Start loads were the old Lyman 454190 cast quite soft, over a 5.0gr. charge of Hodgdon Tightgroup.
Taking my time & relaxing between shots when needed..I got a group centered right on top of that knife blade thin front sight that can be covered by a quarter! Now friends..it' ain't supposed to happen that fast & easy!
Switching to another start load..this time Starline .45 Schofield brass using same bullet & 4.5gr. Tightgroup..I got a repeat of first!
Increasing charge weights of Tightgroup opened up groups & started to print higher..this is of no concern, as I am only interested in paper-punching accuracy..and those mild loads were very pleasant shooting.
Now here is the strange part..usually with a very soft alloy as I was using..there would be at least some streak leading in cyl. throats, or in forcing cone...absolutly nothing!
And cases, while covered with the usual slight greasy feel of blown back lube & powder residue..were not black with soot..some had slight burn discoleration..but this came off when tumbling.
I wonder if the cleaner cases with these light start loads were a result of having a custom chambered & close throated cyl. fitted?

Vern Humphrey
September 16, 2012, 09:47 AM
Now here is the strange part..usually with a very soft alloy as I was using..there would be at least some streak leading in cyl. throats, or in forcing cone...absolutly nothing!
That's because your soft lead bullet is upsetting and completely filling the grooves. Most lead streaks come from bullets that are too hard and do not obturate -- it is gas blow-by that causes the leading.

September 16, 2012, 12:21 PM
Dudemeister, check out that link in D Rudd's post #37. On the page 31 it very clearly shows 5.0 grains as a suggested starting load under their special Cowboy Action load data.

The interesting thing is that it also shows the guns producing something around 730 fps even for this low a load. Even if that is the number for the rifle it suggests something around 680 to 700 from the pistol. Which sounds pretty impressive for such low chamber pressure.

September 16, 2012, 02:36 PM
I had never seen that data before. I guess if they publish it it's safe.

My only concern would be with the inconsistency due to the powder location in the case.

FWIW, I had actually tried to stabilize the location by putting some toilet paper wads in the case, and it seemed to improve the shot somewhat. The TP held the powder up against the back of the case (near the primer). However it didn't improve the sooting, so I eventually switched to Trail Boss and eventually Clays, and a heavier (255 gr) bullet.

Thanks for the heads up on this loading manual, it looks very interesting. :)

September 16, 2012, 02:44 PM
It's interesting to hear that you found there to be inconsistency due to the powder shifting around. I had heard from a lot of my fellow shooters that it's supposed to be a good handgun powder particularly due to it NOT being as position sensitive as some other options.

Mind you, as such things go if you are placing more emphasis on consistent target shooting then I can easily see such things becoming a LOT more important. In his/our case we only need to get consistent enough results to hit the big plates of steel at relatively short distances... :D

September 16, 2012, 03:21 PM
It's interesting to hear that you found there to be inconsistency due to the powder shifting around. I had heard from a lot of my fellow shooters that it's supposed to be a good handgun powder particularly due to it NOT being as position sensitive as some other options.

That is its claim by Hodgdon's, but I haven't found it to be any better than Red Dot. It probably *is* less position sensitive than a very light charge of Blue Dot :rolleyes:

Jim K
September 17, 2012, 12:19 AM
Am I not reading something right or am I the only one who noticed that his die is sizing the cases to .469"? That is way too small. The spec for the OD of a .45 Colt case is .480. That means the loaded case looks like a Coke bottle, overworking the brass and distorting the bullet as it is loaded.


September 17, 2012, 07:43 PM
Jim, thank you for finally addressing the original question.

And yes, it does leave the loads looking Coke bottled.

Which brings us back to one of the original questions where I asked for some feedback on what size you folks are getting out of the re-sizing die and what brand it is.

September 17, 2012, 07:54 PM

the sammi spec is .480" -.004". most new cases measure .476 in diameter. also, the .469" is correct for the .011" thick case wall. i.d. before belling is then .447". that's .004" neck tension for jacketed and .005" tension for lead. that assumes no expansion from the expander plug.

that's why i asked bcrider about the diameter of his expander plug. if it is too large, neck tension is reduced too much. that may contribute to his low pressure problem.


Driftwood Johnson
September 17, 2012, 10:15 PM
Howdy Again

Just put my calipers on my last batch of 45 Colt. Pretty consistent at .469, except up by the bullet. I always use .452 bullets for 45 Colt, and that expands the brass up to about .470 where the bullet is. I reload 45 Colt with a RCBS carbide die set. Unlike many modern reloaders I do not use a Factory Crimp Die, I seat the bullet and crimp in one step. These rounds were loaded with Starline brass, I don't have any rounds loaded with Winchester brass laying around at the moment.

No, my rounds do not look like coke bottles, the bullet barely expands the brass at all. The one on the right is one of my reloads, the other two are 44-40 reloads.


As for fired brass, both Winchester and Starline brass measure right about .476 after firing. This brass has mostly been fired from a pair of 2nd Gen Colts, but sometimes is fired from 1858 Remmies with R&D conversion cylinders, and sometimes from Ruger Vaqueros.

Regarding measuring chamber diameters with a caliper, dial, digital, or vernier, a caliper will not give you a very accurate measurement inside a relatively small hole like a revolver chamber. This is because of the tiny flats on the inside measuring points of most calipers. The flats will bridge the diameter slighltly, giving a reading that may be .001 or .002 or so smaller than the actual diameter. The best way to measure chamber diameters is with pin gauges.

For what it's worth, here is the SAAMI drawing for 45 Colt cartridges and chambers.


Yes, my empties come out very sooty, but that is because they are filled with Black Powder.

September 18, 2012, 01:20 AM
Murf, the expander leaves the "sized" brass the same diameter except up at the mouth where it's flared a little to accept the lead bullets without shaving off any lead. The flaring die is actually a Lee powder through type since his RCBS die does not allow for powder dropping when flaring. And at present I'm stuck with a three hole Lee setup. So I used the powder/flaring die from my .45ACP set. The plunger measures 0.447 inch. So there's LOTS of expanding and pressure on the bullet.

DJ, your numbers closely mimic the ones I listed in the first post. Not unexpectedly when I saw that you're using RCBS dies as well. The only real difference is that with his loads using bullets that are .452 we get .474 on the brass up where the bullet is swelling it out. I wonder if the brass we have is a little thicker walled?

Anyone with other brands that can give us similar measurements? Please and thanks?

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