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Powders for short Barrel .45 Colt Revolver

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Oyeboten, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Well-Known Member

    I have a 3-1/4 Inch Barrel, older, "S & W" DA Revolver, made approx 1916 ( was originally .455 ) presently chambered in .45 Colt.

    Wondering what Powders might be good for medium weight ( 230 - 250 Grain ) Lead Bullets, in this Barrel Length?
  2. Gryffydd

    Gryffydd Well-Known Member

    I've never loaded for a short barreled .45 Colt, but it seems Unique would be hard to beat. Not too fast, not too slow. Not terribly exotic or exciting though!
  3. loadedround

    loadedround Well-Known Member

    There are about a half dozen powders that will work well with cast bullets in that weight range according to my Speer #14 manual. One of my favorite powders for the 45 Colt is is WW 231 for medium loads, and Unique is the old standby for heavier 45 Colt loads.
  4. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Your pistol is a very early pistol and there are a couple of things to keep in mind for it. Perhaps the first is to understand that these early firearms were typically made from plain carbon steels, and often unheated carbon steels. It is not unusual to find cylinders, frames, barrels that are dead soft. While good condition revolvers are safe with period pressure loads, you should not attempt in any way to use hot loads in the things. Modern revolvers made of modern materials, even if they are replicas of these period pieces, will have a 25% to 50% higher yield strength just due to modern alloy steels.

    Attempting to load hot rounds will beat these older revolvers up.

    The period load for a M1909 Colt New Service was a 250-255 grain bullet at 755 fps in a five inch barrel. That is my recollection of data from Hatcher’s Textbook of Revolvers.

    I have not found a better powder in the 45LC than Unique. I have tried a couple of others and Unique shoots best.

    My data below, you might want to start with 8.0 grains Unique with a 250/255 Lead bullet. The 8.5 grain load is an excellent load, but I would consider it a max in period pistols.

    The Bullseye load is right at period velocities.

    Another thing, in older WW1 era 45 revolvers, I got leading with .452” lead bullets. You should seek to find .454” lead. I can measure chamber mouths, yours ought to be .455 or larger, and it is my belief that period barrels are .454” but I have not tried to slug one.

    5" M25-7

    255 LRN (.452") 8.5 grain Unique thrown R-P cases WLP (nickle) primers
    26-May-97 T ≈ 75-80 ° F

    Ave Vel = 869
    Std Dev = 10
    ES = 31
    Low = 858
    High = 889
    N = 6

    255 LRN (.452") 6.3 grs Bullseye thrown R-P cases WLP (nickle) primers
    26-May-97 T ≈ 75-80 ° F

    Ave Vel = 776
    Std Dev = 11
    ES = 28
    Low = 765
    High = 793
    N = 6

  5. squarles67

    squarles67 Well-Known Member

    I've had good luck with Bullseye and Red Dot with 250g LRNFP. Both of these powders meter better for me than Unique.

    250g Missouri Bullet LRNFP
    6.5g Bullseye
    Avg 831.1
    ES 22.2
    SD 9.38

    250g Missouri Bullet LRNFP
    6g Red Dot
    Avg 781.1
    ES 28.07
    SD 11.00

    Edit to add these were out of a Ruger Blackhawk with a 4 5/8" barrel
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    AA #2.......
  7. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Well-Known Member

    Thanks you guys!

    I will not be seeking 'Hot' Loadings, but, I would like to see if I can arrive at a couple Smokeless Loadings, which would allow me just a little more FPS than 3F Black Powder does.

    I have 'UNIQUE'...and have been brooding on what other Powder to try.

    Black Powder works very well, and, I now have some Bullets cast up which are of an appropriate diameter ( as the Revolver does have larger than usual Cylinder Bores and Barrel between-the-Lands).

    For Plinking, 'UNIQUE' does not seem to like too much Air Space in the Shell.

    For full ( Standard ) powder Cartridges, 'UNIQUE' does seem to be very good.
  8. Gryffydd

    Gryffydd Well-Known Member

    Titegroup might be a good one to try. I use a lot of it in .45 Colt, but mostly in Ruger Only loads.
  9. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Well-Known Member

    I've used Bullseye, but it's a little on the fast side for the .45 Colt. I must admit, it was fairly accurate though. I like Unique for mid range stuff. 8 grains of Unique and a 255 SWC is mild and accurate out of my Blackhawk.
  10. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Well-Known Member

    My Cylinder Bores seem to be a consistent .456

    Between-the-Lands in the Barrel, likewise, .456-ish, far as I can tell.

    I am getting 800 FPS with 30 Grains 3F BP, and a 230 Grain 'SAECO' Wadcutter, but it is .452, and of course not a good fit.

    I cast up some various Boolits last night, which are .455-ish, and am looking forward to trying those.

    I have to use a .45-70 Expanding Die for my Cartridges for these Boolits to fit.

    BP of course is it's own thing...and no slouch, either!

    For 'Unique' I will pour through the Loading Books I have to try and match up the Boolits I cast, or at least their weights and seating depth ( as implied anyway ) to the ones specific to each Loading the Table has to offer for 'UNIQUE'.

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