Caliber advice for a SAA. Help me decide.


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Magno
December 18, 2012, 09:42 PM
I'm getting ready to purchase a Uberti '73 SAA. I intend to use it for some CAS, but mostly just as a personal gun. CAS is definitely second priority.
I've narrowed it down to two choices: .357 mag and .45 Colt. I'm having trouble deciding which one I want, since I love both calibers. Here's some insight as to why I am so confused:

- I have an 1892 carbine that is chambered in .357. If I had a revolver in the same caliber, I could share ammo between the two guns. Also, it makes stocking up on surplus/reloading rounds easier.

- At the same time, I feel like having a rifle and pistol in the same caliber doesn't seem very progressive.

- I intend in the future to buy my stepfather's Colt 1917 New Service, which shoots .45ACP. I would then have two .45 revolvers, albeit in different configurations.

- I like the prospect of shooting .38 specials as an alternative.

- I like the added firepower of the .45. I enjoy shooting .45 more than .357.

- For the record, the .45 is about $50 cheaper.

Just looking for some additional thoughts. Thanks.

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MedWheeler
December 18, 2012, 09:46 PM
I'd personally like the "trail duo" aspect of having a rifle/carbine and a SAA revolver in the same caliber. For me, the .357 Magnum would be an excellent choice due to a wide and readily-available selection in both that caliber and in .38 Special.

Crunchy Frog
December 18, 2012, 10:11 PM
Not sure I understand the "progressive" part.

The .357 will be much cheaper to feed. I can get .38 Special brass very reasonably. Hard to scrounge .45 Colt cases.

Keep in mind how versatile a .357 revolver is. You can load light .38s that will have little more recoil than a .22, all the way up to full power .357s.

I understand that cowboy action is not your first priority but the smaller caliber is easier to shoot quickly. I'm betting your resale value would be better as well. I see a lot of cowboy shooters with .45 revolvers for sale because they migrate to the smaller caliber. Not as many folks going the other way.

That said, there is something "just right" about a Colt or Colt-styled single action revolver in a big bore chambering. If the .45 Colt is more fun for you, go for it.

Magno
December 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Progressive was a bad description. What I was getting at was that it seems a little pointless to have a pistol and rifle int he same caliber. I was thinking maybe it would be a little more practical to have different calibers to serve different purposes.

Thanks for the replies!

Driftwood Johnson
December 18, 2012, 10:29 PM
Howdy

First off, please allow me to correct you if I may. SAA stands for Single Action Army, which is a registered trademark owned by Colt. Only Colt makes the Single Action Army. Uberti makes very nice replicas of the SAA, but they are not really a SAA, nor does Uberti claim they are. They are very conscious of trademark infringements, which Colt takes very seriously. That is why Uberti uses names like Cattleman for their single action revolvers

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/colts/ColtBarrelLegend.jpg

For the record, these days in CAS more shooters are shooting 38s in their colt replicas than 45 Colt. Many new shooters buy 45 pistols, because they love the myth of the old cartridge. But in competition most find that they cannot shoot standard 45 Colt loads as quickly as they would like, because of the recoil. So many then try downloading the 45 Colt cartridge to ridiculous levels, to approximate the recoil of a lightly loaded 38 Special. 45 Colt does not perform very well in that situration.

But that aside, if you want a 45, by all means get one. Be aware though that 45s are considerably more expensive to shoot than 38s. Whether you buy factory ammo or load your own, in each situation 38s are cheaper, because you use less lead, less powder, and there is less brass in the case. Yes, you can shoot full powered 357 Magnums as well as 38 Specials from any single action revolver chambered for 357 Magnum.

Most of my CAS revolvers are chambered for 45 Colt, but I am not interested in shooting light loads. I only shoot them with Black Powder, a full case of FFg under a 250 grain bullet. Real boomers. But full power loads and Black Powder ain't for everyone. You can also shoot 45 Schofields and the new 45 Cowboy Special from any revolver chambered for 45 Colt if you want to cut down a bit on powder consumption and recoil. Kind of like shooting 38s in a 357 Magnum.

BCRider
December 18, 2012, 10:33 PM
WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM! ? ! ? ! ? Everyone else from THIS one sees having a rifle and handgun in the same caliber as a PLUS! ! ! ! I'm yankin' yer chain a little on this but at the core it's the truth.

Having a handgun and rifle in the same caliber makes extreme sense. As you say you can cut down on the inventory by having one caliber, in different loadings to suit each case, from mild to wild and you cut down on the need to buy different size bullets and casings and primers.


When I jumped into CAS events it was a total "no brainer" to go with .357/.38 guns as I was already heavy into K frame S&W's. In the two and a half years since this decision has never caused me even a moment worth of doubt. It was and still is the best option for me as it cuts down on the ammo inventory needs and my loading time by being able to load ammo which I can use in CAS, IDPA revolver category, club level Speed Steel with revolver and general target plinking. I keep a healthy stock of strong to max .357 around as well for end of the day giggles and some longer distance target plinking with my CAS lever gun. The rest of the time I feed the array of guns with .38Spl loaded to a nice stout but less than max general load that is fun to shoot and fits within the CAS rules easily.

A pistol and rifle in the same caliber is only an issue if you're hunting with one or the other. And then only if your state or other local rules or laws have caliber restrictions. Other than that I can't think of a single reason NOT to have a handgun and rifle in the same caliber for many more reasons than simply doubting yourself.

In the end it's obvioiusly YOUR decision. And there's really no "wrong" way to go. But don't cut your nose off to spite your face over some oddly placed doubt over suitable calibers for rifle vs handgun.

horsemen61
December 18, 2012, 10:34 PM
Id go with the 357 reasons are 1 cheaper to shoot 2 already have a rifle in that caliber/can share reloading components 3 do you have 45 colt dies/components 4 the versatility comes in handy shooting 38's is nice:D

Magno
December 18, 2012, 11:00 PM
Alright alright, you guys got me thinking straight. I'll stick with the .357.

Thanks for the fast and good replies. I appreciate the input.

Off to the store tomorrow! :D

35 Whelen
December 19, 2012, 12:19 AM
The wife and I just got into CAS. In order to get something to shoot quick and relatively inexpensively, I bought a pair of consecutively numbered 4 3/4" Uberti Hombre's in .357 and a Rossi .357's. These rigs are great for starting out and they're fun toys.

After scrimping and saving, I had to decide what I wanted. I liked the 45 Colt because I feel bigger is better, but I'd owned and loaded for the cartridge before and wasn't greatly impressed.

I finally settled on a pair of Uberti single actions on 44 Special; a 4 3/4" and a 5 1/2". To complement them I picked up a Uberti 1873 20" carbine also in .44 Special. Where the 357's are "toys", the .44's are TOOLS. It's my first exposure to the cartridge and I love it. For CAS I had a mould built that drops a 170 gr. RNFP bullet, but for general use, I cast a 250 gr. SWC. I haven't begun to wring the loads out, but easily obtained 900 fps out of the 5 1/2" barrel and 1400 fps out of the carbine with the 250 gr. bullet.

I guess my point is, if you want something to play with, by all means go the 38/357 route. But if you want something to play with that would also work for "business" get a larger caliber.

35W

StrawHat
December 19, 2012, 07:07 AM
Magno, one more option for you to consider. You can get the SAA, or clone, chambered for the 45 ACP cartridge. Or get a second cylinder to be able to shoot 45 long Colt and 45 ACP. This would open up a lot of possibilities for you.

Except for competition, I do not see the advantage of a pistol cartridge in a rifle. I much prefer a decent revolver cartridge in a revolver and a good rifle cartridge in a rifle.

35 Whelen
December 19, 2012, 07:40 AM
Magno, one more option for you to consider. You can get the SAA, or clone, chambered for the 45 ACP cartridge. Or get a second cylinder to be able to shoot 45 long Colt and 45 ACP. This would open up a lot of possibilities for you.

Except for competition, I do not see the advantage of a pistol cartridge in a rifle. I much prefer a decent revolver cartridge in a revolver and a good rifle cartridge in a rifle.
The advantage? Almost 100 yards.

35W

bannockburn
December 19, 2012, 08:13 AM
I went with .45LC when I got my Beretta Stampede mainly because I really like the cartridge and it has a traditional feel to it in a SAA.

CraigC
December 19, 2012, 01:13 PM
I finally settled on a pair of Uberti single actions on 44 Special; a 4 3/4" and a 5 1/2". To complement them I picked up a Uberti 1873 20" carbine also in .44 Special. Where the 357's are "toys", the .44's are TOOLS.
I have to agree with this. The .44Spl is THE perfect cartridge for the Colt SAA and its replicas. Unless you're shooting blackpowder, the .45Colt is a lot of wasted case capacity. Yes, there's a lot of mystical legend surrounding the big .45 but practically speaking, the .44Spl is a better choice.

dhcustomwork
December 19, 2012, 02:04 PM
I have an EMF New Dakota (cattleman) and a Taylor's & Co. Birdshead; both in .357. I chose the .357 for both the cost factor as well as the ability to vary the cartridge with the 38 special. I can't say anything but good things about the Uberti manufactured singles actions and the choice of .357. Plenty of ways to shoot them cheaper than the 45, and plenty of power for sd purposes IMO.

Looks like you've made your choice. Now get you a good one and enjoy the hell out of it!

BBQLS1
December 19, 2012, 03:38 PM
The only correct answer is both.

56hawk
December 19, 2012, 03:39 PM
- I like the added firepower of the .45. I enjoy shooting .45 more than .357.


I think you have already decided to get the 357, but I just wanted to point out that the 357 is actually a lot more powerful than the 45.

CraigC
December 19, 2012, 03:56 PM
I just wanted to point out that the 357 is actually a lot more powerful than the 45.
I don't think so.

BBQLS1
December 19, 2012, 04:53 PM
I think you have already decided to get the 357, but I just wanted to point out that the 357 is actually a lot more powerful than the 45.

I don't think so.

If you go just by energy numbers then the .357 Mag is often 1/3 more powerful than .45 Colt. That being said, a 250 grain Hard Cast bullet at velocities approaching 1000 FPS will go through just about anything in North America... what else are you going to do once you've accomplished that?

35 Whelen
December 19, 2012, 07:23 PM
With regards to energy figures where they relate to bullets, let's not forget: bullet energy is simply a way to compare the power of bullets of similar diameter.

If energy were all that mattered, Elmer Keith would have switched from a 45 Colt to a .357 Mag and never looked back.

As an extreme example, a .243", 100 gr. bullet @ 3000 MV has WAY more energy than a .458", 405 gr. bullet @ 1400 MV at any distance. But guess which one has greater killing potential? The one that penetrates the deepest and makes the largest hole.

35W

Jim K
December 19, 2012, 08:07 PM
I don't know about other planets with a different gravity, but on this planet, an SAA in a small caliber weighs a whole lot more than one in .45 Colt. .38/.357 is about on the edge (to me) but .32 or .22 is just too darned heavy, which is why Ruger was smart to scale down the Single Six.

IMHO, the best rifle/SAA combo is not .45 Colt, but .44-40, like the old days. The .45 Colt is not a good rifle round today for the same reason it was not a good rifle round in 1873 - the rim is too small for really reliable extraction and ejection.

Jim

35 Whelen
December 19, 2012, 08:13 PM
I don't know about other planets with a different gravity, but on this planet, an SAA in a small caliber weighs a whole lot more than one in .45 Colt. .38/.357 is about on the edge (to me) but .32 or .22 is just too darned heavy, which is why Ruger was smart to scale down the Single Six.

IMHO, the best rifle/SAA combo is not .45 Colt, but .44-40, like the old days. The .45 Colt is not a good rifle round today for the same reason it was not a good rifle round in 1873 - the rim is too small for really reliable extraction and ejection.

Jim
From a ballistic standpoint, I agree with your assertion regarding the 44/40. I was tempted to buy 44/40's, but they're a bottleneck case which means reloading them would require lubing the cases prior to sizing them. The .44 Special on the other hand is a straight-walled case so they can be sized with carbide dies. From a standpoint of power, they're pretty much peas in a pod.

35W

56hawk
December 19, 2012, 08:34 PM
So, anyone care to explain how a SAA clone in 45 Colt is more powerful than one in 357 Magnum?

35 Whelen
December 19, 2012, 08:53 PM
So, anyone care to explain how a SAA clone in 45 Colt is more powerful than one in 357 Magnum?
Don't get hung up on energy numbers and re-read post #19. Remember: Energy doesn't kill, holes through vital organs do and .45 caliber projectiles make larger holes than do .35 caliber projectiles.

I'd suggest you read Handloader magazine...specifically articles and columns by Brian Pearce and Dave Scovill. They both are ardent handgun hunters and while Pearce relates he has used the .357 quite a lot, he leans toward larger calibers.

35W

56hawk
December 19, 2012, 09:10 PM
Energy doesn't kill, holes through vital organs do and .45 caliber projectiles make larger holes than do .35 caliber projectiles.

I don't think that's entirely true, especially when talking about expanding bullets. I was hoping to find some quantitative ballistic gel tests, but 45 Colt doesn't seem to be popular enough.

gazpacho
December 19, 2012, 11:49 PM
Find an example of each caliber and shoot them. Buy the one that gives you more giggles. We're not talking about a work weapon. The happy factor is a much more important criteria.

CraigC
December 20, 2012, 12:20 AM
The .357 is a whole lot of noise without quite enough bite for my tastes. If you're looking at energy figures, you're betting on a meaningless number. Analyze the formula, it puts way too much importance on velocity, very little on bullet weight and zero on diameter. It is absolutely dependent upon expansion to be effective. The lowly .45Colt, pushing a 250-260gr cast bullet at 900fps produces a paltry 450ft-lbs but will penetrate any deer that walks end to end. A lightweight 110gr .357 may produce much more energy but which one do you really think is "more powerful"? Which is likely to produce a shallow wound and which one is likely to break a shoulder and completely traverse your average critter? So perhaps energy is not a good indication of effectiveness???


...but 45 Colt doesn't seem to be popular enough.
On what planet???


I don't know about other planets with a different gravity, but on this planet, an SAA in a small caliber weighs a whole lot more than one in .45 Colt.
4" .38Spl - 42oz
4" .44Spl - 39oz
4" .45Colt - 36oz


IMHO, the best rifle/SAA combo is not .45 Colt, but .44-40, like the old days.
The .44WCF is a great cartridge but not without its own set of difficulties. Lack of carbide dies and thin case necks for one. Limited bullet selection and mismatched dimensions for another.


The .45 Colt is not a good rifle round today for the same reason it was not a good rifle round in 1873 - the rim is too small for really reliable extraction and ejection.

A great many cowboy action shooters would probably disagree. It was not a good rifle round originally because cases were made from folded copper or brass and had no extractor groove. Modern solid head cases solve this problem. I've never heard of folks having any issues with them and I've never had an issue with mine. That said, my preferences are different. As one might ascertain, I'm not the biggest .45Colt fan that ever lived, even though I own five of them.

56hawk
December 20, 2012, 09:50 AM
The .357 is a whole lot of noise without quite enough bite for my tastes. If you're looking at energy figures, you're betting on a meaningless number. Analyze the formula, it puts way too much importance on velocity, very little on bullet weight and zero on diameter. It is absolutely dependent upon expansion to be effective.


Well, if penetration is what you find important. There is a good correlation for momentum divided by meplat diameter (see link below). Just looking at momentum, a 250 grain bullet at 900 fps has less momentum than a 180 at 1400 or a 158 at 1500. Of course this is assuming that big game hunting is your basis for comparison. For self defense 20+ inches of penetration doesn't help a whole lot and a lighter weight expanding bullet is going to be way more effective.

When I was saying that 45 Colt wasn't very popular I was talking about as a self defense round. Not anywhere near as many options for ammo, and not very many people have bothered to do ballistic tests with them.

http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/methods.html

CraigC
December 20, 2012, 10:40 AM
We're talking about Colt SAA's and you're talking about self defense testing???


Just looking at momentum, a 250 grain bullet at 900 fps has less momentum than a 180 at 1400 or a 158 at 1500.
Which makes a bigger hole???

56hawk
December 20, 2012, 12:15 PM
We're talking about Colt SAA's and you're talking about self defense testing???



Which makes a bigger hole???

I guess we should just be talking about cowboy action shooting in which case it really doesn't matter. :D Except of course the 45 Colt will make a bigger hole in paper as long as you are shooting semiwadcutters.

If you are not talking about cowboy action shooting, the hole size is going to depend on the meplat diameter or the expanded diameter of a hollow point. But then you are going to loose the penetration depth you were bragging about.

Driftwood Johnson
December 21, 2012, 02:45 AM
IMHO, the best rifle/SAA combo is not .45 Colt, but .44-40, like the old days. The .45 Colt is not a good rifle round today for the same reason it was not a good rifle round in 1873 - the rim is too small for really reliable extraction and ejection.

Yes, there are a lot of Cowboy Action shooters who would be very surprised to here the 45 Colt is not a good rifle round today. It is a very popular rifle round today. Yes, when first developed 45 Colt had a miniscule rim. Not really a concern since the cartridge was designed to be ejected by a revolver ejector that poked it out from the inside. No need for an extractor claw to grab it. Here is a photo showing some antique 45 Colt rounds from my collection. Some of them have rims as small as .505 in diameter. Not enough for an extractor claw to grab. The round all the way on the left is a modern round, meeting the modern standard of .512 in diameter. Plenty of meat for a rifle extractor to get a grip on.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/45ColtCartridges.jpg

Regarding reloading 44-40, yes lubing the cases is required, as there are no carbide dies available. You can't make an affordable carbide die for a tapered round. But lubing cases is really no problem at all, no need to lube each case on a pad, a quick shot of spray lube with 50 rounds in a loading block lubes them all in seconds.

Yes, the thinness of the neck can cause problems when reloading if one does not set one's dies precisely. Here is one I crumpled on purpose to illustrate what happens when the dies are not properly set up.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/44-40crumpled-1.jpg


Here is what a round looks like when the dies are properly set up.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/cartridges/4440bellandcrimp-1.jpg


I have never had a problem finding 200 grain bullets for 44-40, but yes, the bullet selection is somewhat limited compared to 45 Colt. And yes, there are problems with many revolver manufacturers getting chamber throat diameters to match up properly with rifling groove diameters. That is why I don't own any revolvers chambered for 44-40. But I have five rifles chambered for the round. It is a terrific rifle round. (So is 38-40 by the way, I just picked up an antique Winchester chambered for 38-40.) The real beauty of 44-40 is that same thinness of the neck makes it expand beautifully in a rifle chamber, completely sealing the chamber. The bee's knee's for shooting Black Powder in a rifle. No fouling blows back past the case into the action. The same cannot be said for 45 Colt in a rifle. Lots of blowby with 45 Colt in a rifle because the brass is thicker and does not expand as well under relatively low pressure.

gazpacho
December 21, 2012, 02:49 AM
For self defense in 45 Colt, I like Speer's 200gr "Flying Ashtray".

http://www.chuckhawks.com/45Colt.htm

In an SAA or similar revolver, it's pretty darn accurate, and the recoil is still pretty mild.

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