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Fun Day On The Range With The Venerable 45 Colt

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mr.Revolverguy, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. Mr.Revolverguy

    Mr.Revolverguy Well-Known Member

    Some time ago I reviewed my first Smith and Wesson Performance Center Revolver (S&W 625) chambered in the venerable 45 Colt. It is one of few firearms on this site with a perfect 5 star rating. Since owning this great piece of American craftsmanship I have fallen in love with the 45 Colt cartridge.


    Over the years there have been many arguments and questions surrounding the 45 Colt. Is the proper name 45 Long Colt? What's the purpose of 45Colt since 45ACP can do everything it can do? Today I am not here to review the 45 Colt; nether am I here to try and answer any of the above questions or try and clear up any of the debates surrounding this magnificent cartridge. Today I just want to share my experience with you of shooting 140 year old 45 Colt cartridge over a brand new chronograph for the first time.

    45ColtChronoSmall (1).jpg
    Chronograph Read Outs: S&W 625 45 Colt Performance Center 6in barrel, Target B34 25 yards, Chronograph 8Feet from the muzzle.

    255 LRN (.452") 5.9 grains Alliant Red Dot, Starline cases, Winchester Large Pistol Primers April-13-2013 60°F Roll Crimp .471
    Avg Vel=853
    Std Dev =20
    ES = 87.85
    High = 890.9
    Low = 803
    Number Shots = 18
    Excellent Accuracy
    Very Little Powder Residue
    Very Smoky when fired due to bullet lube

    I also fired this same load over the chronograph from a Ruger Alaskan 454/45 Colt. Visit Fun Day On The Range With The Venerable 45 Colt For the accuracy and velocity results of both pistols.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  2. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    As i understand it, the official name for the cartridge is 45 Colt.

    The 45 Long Colt moniker came about after the US Army changed cartridges from the 45 Colt to the 45 Schofield. The 45 Scholfield was shorter than the 45 Colt so that it would fit in the Smith and Wesson revolvers that the Army ws purchasing at the time. The 45 Schofield would chamber in the Colt Single Action Army revolvers that were still in inventory.

    The Long Colt moniker was to distinguish the older cartridge from the newer one by users. I do not believe manufacturers ever packaged ammunition labeled 45 Long Colt but I could be wrong.

    The 45 Colt cartridge predated the 45 ACP by 20 to 25 years. The 45 Colt was originally a black powder cartridge.

    WWI was probably the first time there was any serious thought of using auto pistol cartridges in revolvers but there was probably still a large market for 45 Colt ammunition.
  3. Mr.Revolverguy

    Mr.Revolverguy Well-Known Member

    As stated my intent was not to debate the name? I was only pointing out much of the mystique surrounding the cartridge. But since you brought it up :)

    The debate over 45Colt vs. 45 Long Colt has been going on for well over 75 years and can often be seen debated even today in 2013 on forums such as thehighroad and thefiringline. Elmer Keith in his book Sixguns wrote of such arguments many years ago when he wrote “Some newcomers to the game claim there is no such animal, but if they had shot the short variety that Remington turned out in such profusion before, during and after World War I they would see there was some basis in referring to the .45 Colt as the .45 Long…” (Elmer Keith, Sixguns, page 285)
  4. GaryL

    GaryL Well-Known Member

    Speaking of venerable, I recall being in a discussion with someone who casually dismissed the old Colt cartridge as being less of a "man stopper" in favor of something more modern, i.e. the 45acp. :) So I said, "how is it that the old Colt, with a heavier bullet going just as fast as the 45 acp bullet is less deadly?"

    Anyway, love that cartridge. It's fun shooting and I always get all my brass back.
  5. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I believe the standard .45 Colt cartridge drives a 255 grain bullet a 950 FPS, while the .45 ACP propels a 230 grain bullet at 850 FPS. For me the .45 ACP is a slight step backwards in ballistics, but a huge step forward in platform. That doesn't stop me from owning 1911's, and shooting that wonderful cartridge also. :D
  6. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Well-Known Member

    The design of the case was also changed at some point. The older cases had no extractor groove, which is why the Model 66 and 73 Winchester rifles, or the Marlins, weren't originally chambered for it. Once the extractor groove was added, then it would reliably extract from the rifles, as the original very small rim was only designed to keep the case headspaced in the SAA revolvers it was designed for.

    My two Marlin 1894CB rifles in .45 Colt are a joy to shoot.

    Hope this helps.

  7. GaryL

    GaryL Well-Known Member

    A very good point, and I knew the Colt was a wee bit faster, but I didn't want to assume the guy was using some standard load. I think some of the +P and Buffalo Bore stuff gets up over 900fps, and a few loads in my manuals top out at 900fps, so I was willing to give up on the velocity side of the equation. If it ever comes up again, it might be interesting to point out that there are handloads in 45 Colt that safely push a heavier bullet over 50% faster than the the best that a 45acp can do (Ruger and T/C only, of course).
  8. velocette

    velocette Well-Known Member

    GaryL is telling the truth. There are many loads for Ruger and TC handguns in .45 Colt that are every bit the equal of a .44 magnum. And can be done with lower pressure. (Larger diameter bullet needs less pressure for equal velocity, more surface area dont'cha know.)

  9. Mr.Revolverguy

    Mr.Revolverguy Well-Known Member

    The loads I used were standard loads. Only Ruger, TC Contender loads can be driven that hard without doing damage to Single Action Army's and S&W 45 Colts. Most standard 45 Colt loads in any reloading manual stop well short of 950fps.
  10. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    The performance level of the .45 Colt is entirely dependent on the platform in which it is being used. Regarding the .45 Colt S&W N frame in the OP, since the same frame in .45 ACP is rated for .45 ACP +P with a 23k pressure level, I tend to restrict myself to that pressure level in my S&W .45 Colt. Such a load in .45 Colt, while not a Ruger-only load, is still a very potent load and an awesome deer load.

  11. Mr.Revolverguy

    Mr.Revolverguy Well-Known Member

    Correct and Agree Don :)

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