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45 Long Colt vs 44 mag

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by ExAgoradzo, Mar 6, 2011.

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  1. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    I've had two different answers from men I think 'ought to know'.

    "44 mag is much more powerful than a 45 colt"

    "45 colt is better than the mag'.

    Since I have a LC and don't have a 44mag, I'm just curious.

    I suppose I could look up the ballistics, but your answers are much more fun (and often amusing!).


    Yes, if anyone is watching: I ask a lot of questions...
     
  2. John Wayne

    John Wayne Member

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    The .45 LC was originally a black powder cartridge. With original loadings, its ballistics are nowhere near the .44 Magnum. Modern DA revolvers can handle higher pressures than the old SAA Colts for which the .45 round was designed. These guns can safely shoot .45 LC +P ammo, which offers improved ballistics over the original .45 LC round, but still nowhere close to the .44 Mag; the reason being that the .44 Magnum is closer to a .43 caliber, while the .45 is an actual .45 caliber (.454" or thereabouts, IIRC)--the smaller diameter bullet used by the .44 Magnum allows the cylinder walls to be thicker and stronger, and able to withstand higher pressures. Also, the .44 Mag was designed for use in modern revolvers, without the danger and liability of the cartridges making their way into grampa's rusty old Colt and blowing it apart.

    The exception is that some modern guns, notably Ruger and Thompson Center, manufacture their .45 LC guns sturdily enough to allow handloaders to exceed .44 magnum ballistics with the .45 LC, and at lower pressures. This, coupled with the fact that the LC makes bigger holes, is why some say it is the superior round of the two--and while that is an accurate assessment, it only applies to the two aforementioned platforms, and even then only if the user hand loads ammunition.
     
  3. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Absolutely correct!
    I love the .45 Colt but the only way to realize it's full potential is in a modern gun like a Ruger or Freedom Arms revolver. And not just any Ruger. The newer Vaqueros can't handle them safely either.
    Also, handloading is important as well. You can get some .45 Colt +P stuff from Magtech and Buffalo Bore, but it's not that easy to find, and it's very expensive.
    In short, if you don't handload, stick to the .44 mag. If you do, you will love the .45 Colt.
     
  4. evan price

    evan price Member

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    To be totally honest, the 45 Colt top-end loads are really only safe in certain guns- Ruger Supers, T/Cs, etc kind of like loading a 38 Special up to 357 Mag velocities required the S&W 38-44 Heavy Duty...whereas the true 45 Colt "Magnum" would the 454 Casull. The 45 Colt had a lot of potential left to be developed but only in guns that could safely handle the pressures developed. There are too many weak framed 45 LCs out there to have a "real" high pressure cartridge in circulation.

    44 Magnum is a great caliber but it is pretty much maxed out. There's not a lot that more velocity is going to get you in .430".

    That's why we have S&W "X"-frames.
     
  5. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    If you are a hand loader and you have a stout gun, then 45LC is theoretically the way to go. But your options are pretty slim for a stout 45...unless you buy something rated for 454 casul...in which case you would just shoot 454 and then your comparison becomes moot.

    My opinion is anything more powerful than a 44mag is too powerful for a handgun. However I would really really like to own a freedom arms 5 shot single action 454.
     
  6. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    Not only is the original 45colt inferior to the 44mag, but its my understanding it is also inferior to the 44 special and the old 44-40. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  7. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    So my LC is a Ruger Blackhawk.
    What I hear you all saying is that I should just stick with the fact loads, the hollow point, and borrow a buddies 44 mag when I want to hear/feel a bigger bang.

    Would that LC be good in a pistol deer season? I'm guessing yes.
     
  8. John Wayne

    John Wayne Member

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    Well, not quite. I'm sure it can get a bit confusing. The simple answer is that your Blackhawk can safely shoot any factory .45 Colt factory ammo, is suitable for deer season, and if (and only if) handloaded will exceed the .44 Magnum. Read on for more :)

    Basically, Ruger is known for over-building their guns. The Blackhawk platform is the one most well-known for being strong enough to handle the high-pressure .45 Long Colt loads--it's built almost as strong as a .454 Casull, so people load almost to .454 levels, in .45 cases. Ruger of course does not advise this as this is a liability for them.

    High pressure handloads in this cartridge are also called "Ruger Only" loads, so you can safely handload using "Ruger Only" data. Sticking to factory loads won't hurt anything though (any factory load, +P or otherwise, should be safe in a Blackhawk). Regarding hollowpoints, bullet selection will depend on your intended purpose. For something like whitetails, yes; for bear, solid lead would be better.

    If you want a bigger bang than .45 LC +P but don't handload, then yes, you'd want to get the .44 Mag.

    For whitetail, the .45 LC is an adequate round. Just be sure of what loading you're using and keep its effective range in mind. It would only be advisable to hunt with standard pressure rounds at very close range.

    *note* Ruger produces/produced several Blackhawk models, so be sure yours is one of the ones that can handle hot loads if you decide to load to that level
     
  9. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    "The simple answer is that your Blackhawk can safely shoot any factory .45 Colt factory ammo, is suitable for deer season, and if (and only if) handloaded will exceed the .44 Magnum."

    This is what I wanted. The 44 mag part I'll do without until I borrow someone else's.
    You also (in your deeper reply) answered another question re: hollow point.

    BTW: my Blackhawk is an OM. But it is my 2nd fav gun next to my 357 BH OM.

    B/c I don't handload, I'll be satisfied that I can bring a deer down or some other varmit if one gets into a place he doesn't belong.

    Thank you all for your help.
     
  10. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    There used to be kits to convert your 6 shot 45LC blackhawk into a 5 shot 454. Havn't seen or heard about them for a several years now.
     
  11. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    .45 Colt standard loads with heavy bullets will shoot all the way thru a buffalo (probably lengthwise) and they make a bigger hole than the .44. I don't know why you'd ever need more than that. The higher velocity of the .44 gets you a flatter trajectory and longer range, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Also .44's tend to have tighter chambers and tolerances, so you have a better chance of getting an accurate one.

    Hot handloads in a Ruger .45 Colt are fun to shoot though :D
     
  12. mes227

    mes227 Member

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    Lighter 45 Colt factory loads produce similar muzzle energies as 44 Special (both in the +/-500 ft-lbs range). Factory 45 Colt +P loads produce similar energies as a 44Mag +P (eg, Buffalo Bores produce circa 1,200 ft-lbs for both). A hot 44-40 load will produce a ME of around 900 ft-lbs.

    Because the 45 Colt bullets are larger diameter (0.453" v. 0.429") and usually heavier, the 45 also delivers higher TKOs than the 44 Mag (for Buffalo Bores +P loads: 26 v 23 at the muzzle), which is one of the best measures of stopping power. For hand loaders, the 45 Colt can be reloaded from lighter than a 44 Special to hotter than a 44 Mag +P+, and always with better TKOs for comparable loads. Which is one of the reasons some of us think it's the most versatile of the big bores.
     
  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Factory Ruger .45's are nowhere near as strong as .454's. Remember that the .454 operates at DOUBLE the pressure that even "Ruger only" loads generate, 32,000psi vs. 65,000psi. So no, .45's are loaded to "near" .454 levels. That is only safe for custom 5-shot Rugers and those loads run 50-55,000psi.

    When Linebaugh first wrote his article on the .45Colt back in the `80's, everything he wrote held true. However, times have changed, bullet selection has vastly improved and the playing field is level. Today, with maximum loads in either chambering, the .44Mag maintains a 50-100fps advantage over the .45Colt. The heaviest practical cast bullets are in the 355-360gr range and the .44 retains a sectional density advantage there as well. So the only real, measurable advantage the .45 has, in factory six-shot Rugers, is the slight increase in diameter. You and your quarry can decide how much that matters. I'm sticking to .44's because they do not suffer from ambiguous 140yr old chamber/bore dimensions that never seem to be right. While .45's often have oversized chambers and need tweaking, .44's typically shoot very well right out of the box.
     
  14. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    Aha! so the 5 shot conversions DID exist. Glad my memory still works.
     
  15. 451 Detonics

    451 Detonics Member

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    The 45 Colt case was originally a balloon head case and was much weaker than today's brass. And even modern 45 Colt is not as thick at the base as the 44 Mag brass is. Personally I see no reason to try and make a Magnum out of the 45 Colt...if I want that much more velocity I use a Magnum caliber.
     
  16. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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  17. bakert

    bakert Member

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    I love the .45 Colt caliber for use in my Ruger Blackhawks with loads both mild and wild, BUT, finding ammo is pretty hard in most places and what is out there is pretty anemic.. If you're a hand loader it's not a big problem but to be honest, the .44 mag just might be a better choice for most folks who want powerful loads and the ammo is available in most all places. :)
     
  18. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    That's not what all of us are saying. I love heavy loads in my Blackhawk. The only way I would prefer a .44 is if I didn't handload.
     
  19. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Case strength is a non-issue. The case is only a gasket, it's the chamber that contains the pressure. Using good Federal and Starline brass, case life is not a problem unless the chamber is very oversized. Which many are. Point being, there is no reason NOT to load the .45 heavy in proper guns. The difference is just not what most people believe it to be after 30yrs of "more performance, less pressure" propaganda.


    Linebaugh does cover it well, very well. However, his article is nearly 30yrs old and is HEAVILY biased towards the big .45. He made his name building .45's, .475's and .500's, not .44's. Times have changed, bullet selection has improved and the .44 stands in the .45's shadow no longer.

    Maximum loads:
    .44Mag - 330gr (.255) at 1350fps = TKO 27.4
    .44Mag - 355gr (.274) at 1250fps = TKO 27.3
    .45Colt - 335gr (.234) at 1240fps = TKO 26.8
    .45Colt - 360gr (.252) at 1150fps = TKO 26.7

    Also note that at comparable bullet weights, the .44 has a significantly higher sectional density. With only the 355gr .44Mag equalling the sectional density of the mighty 430gr .475.
     
  20. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    Yes, the original 45colt cases were balloon heads, that was a very long time ago. Modern 45colt brass is in no way not strong enough for the Ruger only hot loads. That s a fallacy that was repeated by chuck hawk for long enough that people believed it. The brass is a gasket, the chamber holds the pressure. The head of a 45 colt case will more than take the normal "Ruger Only" 45 colt loads. There is nothing unsafe about that.
     
  21. bubba15301

    bubba15301 Member

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    original .45 colt load-40grs. ffg blackpowder, 255gr lead bullet -950 fps . 44/40- 40grs. blackpowder , 200 gr lead bullet- 1050fps 44 special 246 gr bullet at 750fps
     
  22. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    You'll hear similar nonsense from Wiley Clapp and Charles Petty. Along with other writers who should stick to what they know.

    Conversely, it's also the rare instance where Elmer Keith was wrong. He blamed a weak .45 case for his grenaded 1st generation Colt SAA. Which was loaded with a cutdown .45/70 bullet at 300gr over a caseful of blackpowder. What let go was the old Cot with its thin chamber walls. His life's work taken on a whole though, I think we can forgive him for that. ;)

    We must not forget that Dick Casull developed the .454 in .45Colt brass. Pushing 260's at 2000fps.

    The weak case myth is exactly that, pure myth.
     
  23. redactor

    redactor Member

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    Both Buffalo Bore and CorBon make 45 Colt "Heavy" loads that will run in your BlackHawk, and match or exceed 44 Magnum standards. Bass Pro/Sportsmans Warehouse/Wholesale Sports had the 325 gr @ 1325 fps loads for about $35 per box of 20. I believe you can also order them from Cabelas for a similar price. The CorBon also offers several similar loads.
     
  24. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    I guess you never heard of the 445 super mag., or the .444 Marlin.

    DM
     
  25. Trad Archer

    Trad Archer Member

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    A standard 45 colt load will easily kill a deer.
     
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