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Advice on developing load for my new 45 Colt

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by MacLloyd, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. MacLloyd

    MacLloyd New Member

    Mar 23, 2012

    I am getting a new (to me) stainless Ruger Blackhawk with 7 1/2" barrel. This is a full size frame, not the Lipsey's mid-size frame flat top.

    I want to load around 800-1000 rds of 250gr moving around 800-900fps and then 200 rds of 250-300gr moving around 1100-1200fps.

    I have got the brass on the way, but I have questions about the rest.

    Q #1. Do I need to/how do I slug the barrel to find our what size bullets to buy? .451 or .452?

    Q #2. How do I get the least amount of leading problems? Am I worried about this?

    I assume for the lighter loads I will use lead bullets. Do I need gas-checked/copper bottom bullets? I like the semi wad-cutter or wide flat nose. They just seem to knock stuff down pretty well.

    For the hotter loads I will probably use jacketed hollow pts.

    I usually use my brother's loading room/equipment with his help. He is the expert loader, not me. I would like to get a good idea of what I am building so I don't waste a bunch of his time in his loading room.

    Q #3: Basically, am I on the right track? Do you see any major problems I may run into?

    Thanks for your advice.

  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    You want .452" lead bullets.

    For the mild load try the old standard .45 Colt load of a 250 SWC over 8.5 to 9.0 grains Unique.

    A possibly better metering powder would be AA #5 and 10.0 grains will give about the same performance.

    Gas checks are not needed until you get way north of 1,000 FPS, if the bullet alloy is not too hard & lube is correct.
    You can't beat it for accuracy and fun shooting.

    Something like this should work fine at 800 - 950 FPS.

    The heavy load might be 18.0 grains of 2400, 18.5 AA #9, or 20.0 grains H4227 depending on which bullet weight.

    But these are not recommended loads as I don't know what bullet brand or weight jacketed bullets you are talking about.

  3. USSR

    USSR Mentor

    Jul 7, 2005
    You want to measure your cylinder throats first. If they are .452" or larger, then there is no need to measure your barrel, as you want your bullets to fit your throats. If your throats are less than .452", then measure your barrel, and if your throats are smaller than the barrel measurement (not likely), you might want to have your cylinder throats reamed.

    For a mild load, rcmodel's suggestion of 8.5 - 9.0gr of Unique is a good one.

    No, not necessary at all.

  4. MacLloyd

    MacLloyd New Member

    Mar 23, 2012
    Ok, I measured the cylinder throats and they are .448" and the barrel is .448". Should I be shooting .451 or .452" bullets? I've put a couple hundred rounds of .452" factory loads through it and it seems to shoot fine. It is dirtier than I would have expected but it works. The spent cases are black on one side almost the whole length of the brass. The lead builds up to where the cylinder will drag on it between the cylinder and the forcing cone. Is that normal after a couple hundred rounds or do I need to switch to .451's? These loads were 200gr RNFP pretty mild rounds. Will the gun shoot cleaner if I load a little stiffer round?

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  5. Sport45

    Sport45 Senior Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Houston, TX
    How did you measure the throats? You can't just stick your calipers in there... If you can push a bullet through with a little nudge then the bullet is properly sized for the throat. I'd use .452 cast or .451 jacketed bullets and not worry any more about it.

    The bore is measured to the base of the grooves, not the top of the lands. Your's probably measures closer to .451" Again, use .451 jacketed or .452 cast bullets and you'll be fine.

    This is a common thing with the .45 Colt. The chambers are much larger than they need to be.
  6. Notoast

    Notoast New Member

    Mar 29, 2011
    Colorado Springs
    If it's carbon buildup in the barrel-cylinder gap that's normal. If it's lead buildup on the BC gap then I don't think that is normal. I don't know if bullet diameter would cause leading there, but cylinder timing could.
  7. Snag

    Snag Member

    May 27, 2012
    You want .452 lead bullets or .451 jacketed bullets. My favorite load is Oregon Trails 250 gr lead RNFP and 8.0 - 8.5 gr of Unique. Winchester brass and primers. I don't have a chronograph but Oregon Trails own load data says 8.1 gr of Unique with this bullet will be doing 842 fps out of a 4 3/4" Vaquero. Handloader April 05' shows the same bullet with 9.5 gr or Unique doing 1,007 fps, that was with a new model 4 3/4" Vaquero.

    Definitely check over the cylinder throats. My new model flattop Blackhawk had .450 throats and it was causing some leading issues, and surprise surprise some random accuracy issues.

    When I started reloading 45 Colt I wasn't crimping firm enough, bullets would walk a bit more than I was comfortable with. The happy surprise was after I firmed up the crimp I had way cleaner shooting rounds. Cases come out with just a bit of smudge in one area, and it only goes down the case 20-30%.
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    At those velocities I doubt you can produce any leading unless you use bullets which are extremely hard.

    For the velocities you're looking for which are totally normal for that caliber you can use W231/HP-38, Unique, AA#5, HS-6 and a few others with good success. I like a charge of between 7.0 to 7.2gr W231 under a 250gr LSWC bullet. Lately I've been using HS-6 and liking it more and more in the .45 Colt. A charge of 10.4gr HS-6 under the same bullet works very well for me. (use a magnum primer with HS-6 or Winchester LPP like I do)
  9. ljnowell

    ljnowell Mentor

    Jun 21, 2008
    The Peoples Republic of IL
    For your hot loads 2400 is your friend. I have turned several people on to it for hot loaded 45 colt and every one of them has thanked me for it down the road. Give it a try and see what you think. PM me for some specific load data when you decide on bullets. I have data i have worked up for 185gr JHP(45 acp bullet), 230 LRN, 255gr LSWC, 250gr JHP(XTP), and 300 gr LTC(missiouri bullet sihloutte).
  10. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Mentor

    Sep 15, 2007
    S.E. Minnesota
    Herco is great with cast bullets, and it will handle both of those power levels. Or you can use Unique or Red Dot for the lighter load and Blue Dot for the heavy one. 255 grain cast bullets in .45 Colt is the only good use I ever found for Blue Dot, but it worked very well for that.

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