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.45Colt ammo to gun fit questions

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by BCRider, Sep 13, 2012.

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  1. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    OK, the story is that my CAS shooting buddy has a pair of old model Vaqueros. He's been reloading for some time now over at my place using my press and a set of RCBS dies he bought. But his casings are coming out with a LOT of fouling soot on them. The load he's settled on for the last while is a 200gn LRNFP atop 5 grains of Tightgroup. And yeah, I know that this isn't even their minimum load, which is 6.5 gns. But it's what a lot of the local CAS shooters are using in their .45Colt guns. The others we shoot with that are using this same loading recipe are not getting any or near as much sooting on the outside of the cases.

    So here's the numbers on the guns and ammo;

    • The chambers all measure at .482 plus or minus a needle's width on my dial caliper. And realistically the perhaps quarter thou of difference could well be me.
    • The sizing/decapping die sizes the cases down to 0.469 except for the last 1/4 inch above the rim which is .476.
    • Inserting and crimping the cast bullet swells out the brass in the area of the bullet to 0.474.
    • The bullets are very nicely and consistently sized to .452 and come from a commercial source.
    • Fired brass ranges over a narrow range from the 5 cases I checked at .474 to .476 at the waist to mouth. The last 1/4 inch wide band just above the rim is left at .476.

    So the favour I'm asking is if some of you with the tools to do so can measure the items I've listed above and let me know what you are getting with your own brass and dies for these measurements. Also if you are getting significant sooting of the outside of the brass or little to none. Also if the loads you are shooting and measuring are soft CAS like loads or full pop near max loads.
     
  2. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    It's a Titegroup thing (especially with lead bullets), made worse by the loose .45 Colt chamber fit dictated by SAAMI. Try using Red Dot powder instead of TG, or maybe even Clays.

    Try only sizing about 1/2" to 3/4" of the case instead of full-length resizing; just enough for decent bullet pull. They will look a little like .44-40 cartridges.
     
  3. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Hmmmm... You may be onto something.

    We're loading on a progressive which won't easily let me only resize the first little bit. But we COULD look at switching the sizing die for a universal decapping die and leave the as fired brass the size it comes out of the gun which seems to be at or darn close to what I'm looking to achieve.

    I know that the drawing in my Lyman manual and one I found online, presumably both from SAMMI, show .480 as the max outside case diameter. If we were up to that size this would certainly not be an issue.

    And then again only a couple of other folks shooting .45Colt are getting this crazy amount of sooting. The rest, some of them using the same 5gns of Tightgroup, are not getting any major outside sooting of the cases.
     
  4. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Punch the caps out on a single-stage press or by hand, then you can raise your sizing die about an inch. If you don't at least "neck size" the brass, the bullets will be loose.

    Try some Red Dot powder. (or Promo, which is the same thing but cheaper)
     
  5. Snag

    Snag Member

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    What brand of cast bullets are you using? Only reason I ask is because I find bullet lube is the major contributor to dirty cases/guns. When I switched from Laser-Cast to Dardas the increase in cleanliness was shocking.
     
  6. VA27

    VA27 Member

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    There's your answer. Light charges, light cast bullets/lube, straight wall cases. Up your powder charge or increase your bullet weight and try some different powders.

    I use the same trick. I have a carbide 45ACP die set up to just size the neck of the case the length of the bullet I'm using.
     
  7. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I have seen this with titegroup in about any caliber you can load it in. In my experience it also has to do with brass. Harder brass wont expand to seal as well and will soot up and scorch worse than softer brass.
     
  8. murf

    murf Member

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    do you crimp these rounds? if so, how heavy is the crimp?

    murf

    just reread your post. ignore the first question.

    what is the diameter of your expander plug?
     
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I did some related work with very light loads in .45 ACP, a 200 gr bullet at 650 fps or thereabouts. Almost any flake powder worked better than any ball process powder I had.
    I ended up with sooty old Bullseye because it metered better than things like Clays and Solo 1000 and gave more consistent velocity than TG, 231, or WST.

    You can tinker with the case processing as described or you can try another powder. I hear well of American Select, although I haven't tried it myself.

    Redding makes a double ring carbide die that sizes the body no more than necessary and the neck enough to hold the bullet. Expensive, though. I think RCBS has made a steel die like that which would be less expensive but would require case lube.

    FFg is better, though.
     
  10. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    I'll bet the majority of the carbon fouling is along what would be the edge case length that was up when the cartridge went off. The chamber ID is still loose (big) because of the blackpowder heritage of the cartridge, so it drops down in the chamber, leaving some clearance 'on top'. A good crimp and a bit more powder might cause the case mouth to obturate enough to seal it, but a bit more case cleaning will rid the case of most of the dark line. I once upon a time, during my anal 'shiney case period', would soak the dirty cases in real high VOC lacquer thinner stored in a qt glass mayonaise jar, draining the dirty thinner into another jar. I'd next set the cases on paper towels to dry - then toss them in the tumbler. Nowadays - just the tumbler.

    Titegroup seemed a definite improvement over HP-38, etc.

    Stainz
     
  11. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    All of the above are true.

    The huge, cavernous case of the 45 Colt was meant to hold 40 or so grains of Black Powder. If the load does not develop enough pressure to obdurate the case enough to seal the chamber, then there will be blow by. If the load does not even meet the minimum spec for the powder, what do you expect?

    Your buddy is trying to duplicate a light 38 Special load in the old 45 Colt case. It just does not work. That is why so many cowboy shooters who just have to have the grand old 45 Colt cartridge eventually wind up trading them in for 38s.

    Upping the powder charge and/or upping the weight of the bullet will increase pressure enough to seal the case better in the chamber. But the tradeoff will be increased recoil, which is exactly what your buddy is trying to avoid. Only neck sizing is another solution. This keeps the body of the case at the expanded size, so there will be less blowby. The downside of this trick is, the cases may fit better in one gun than another. I'm betting your buddy has two pistols and a rifle all chambered for 45 Colt. By the way, is this happening in the revolvers or the rifle? Rifles tend to have even more generous chambers than revolvers, so cases will run through the action better.

    A firm crimp will also help in this situation, raising pressure slightly before the bullet exits the case. But it will also increase recoil.

    You pays your money, you takes your choice.
     
  12. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Another solution to your "problem" would be shorter cases. The 45 S&W and the 45 Special come to mind.

    45 S&W is not hard to find, 45 Special is available from

    http://www.cowboy45special.com/

    The shoerter case will allow pressure to build faster than the old long Colt casing.

    I use the S&W and long Colt casings but I load them both with full charges of black powder. I get some discoloration but not enough to worry me. Never have been that much of a fashion plate to care about how my brass looks.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    You can't just back the sizing die out so it just sizes the mouth?

    Or use a .45 ACP sizing die adjusted to just neck size enough for some neck tension?

    rc
     
  14. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    Switch over to Unique, Universal or even TrailBoss. Might give better results, too.

    Q
     
  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    I just reread your post. I also looked up the Titegroup data. For Pete's sake, for a 200 grain bullet Titegroup recommends a starting load of 6.5 grains. And your friend is only loading 5 grains. Yeah, I know you already said that.

    Ask your pal why in the world he is loading that much lower than the recommended starting data published by the powder manufacturer, and why he expects it will work well. The fact that lots of other CAS shooters are using that load is meaningless. I shoot CAS, and I know lots of CAS reloaders. And I know plenty of them that are trying to get the grand old 45 Cot to behave like a lightly loaded 38. Almost without exception, there is always a lot of soot, for exactly the reasons I stated earlier. As a matter of fact, many CAS shooters are fairly new reloaders, and they often stray from the published data in a misguided attempt to get 45 Colt to do things it was never intended to do. So relying on data from other Cowboy shooters is a dubious endeavor at best.

    I might ask the question now, just what is wrong with a lot of soot on his fired cases? That's what tumblers are for, to polish cases after they have been fired. As a side note, I shoot nothing but Black Powder in CAS, and your pard ain't seen nothing like soot on his cases until he shoots Black Powder. A little bit of smokeless soot ain't going to hurt anything. If he insists on mousefart loads in 45 Colt, that is what he is going to get.

    Yes, he can try 45 Schofield and even 45 Cowboy Special. But he must not use the same data for 45 Colt in either of those two cartridges. Smaller internal volume will raise pressure an unpredictable amount. Loads must always be tailored to the actual cartridge being loaded. And the shorter cases may or may not feed through his rifle.

    Bottom line is, if you want to shoot mousefarts, sell the 45 Colts and buy 38s. Otherwise, accept a little bit of soot and clean it off in the tumbler.
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I have two questions:

    How does his load shoot?

    Are you having problems chambering or ejecting these hand loads?

    If it shoots well and there are no problems chambering or ejecting, then why worry?

    Now if I were carrying a .45 in the woods (which I do), I would definitely want a different load -- say about 10.5 grains of HS 6 and a 255 grain bullet. But your friend is using his for CAS, and a light-recoiling load that shoots well is what he wants.
     
  17. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I appreciate the help and suggestions so far. But something to consider is that since these guns are used solely for CAS shooting I'd rather we look at a case of adapting to the situation instead of upping the load or switching powders. Especially since he just stoked up on 4 lbs of Tightgroup.

    The rifle he's using is in the same caliber. It apparently shares the "sloppy chamber" issue and his rifle brass has the same large amounts of blowby sooting on the brass.

    The reason we're looking to deal with this is two fold. First off if we reform the brass less it'll last longer. Second is that the sooting tends to make the chambers a bit sticky over time. The stains on the brass aren't a concern other than as an indicator of the fouling condition that generates the stain.

    What I'm going to try with him is to keep his pistol and rifle brass separate for a couple of stages or during a practice session and measure the fire formed case sizes between pistol and rifle. If it should turn out that the brass is within a thou of being the same size with consistency then we'll look at the idea of simply decapping instead of sizing at all. Or if that makes the bullets fit too loosely I'll see if I can shift the dies on their threads to move the flaring/powder and seating dies down a little so the sizing die can move up.... Oops, I just realized that won't work since then the decapping pin won't reach the head of the case at all... Looks like we would need to move to a four hole style press to make room for an additional operation.

    Oh, by the way, he's running a half and half mix of Starline and Winchester brass if that matters. But all the brass is doing the same thing regardless of brand.

    I'd still appreciate if some of you could let me know the waist and bullet diameters of your reloads or factory ammo. I still can't help but think that the sizing die in this set is swaging the brass down to a hair too tight a diameter.
     
  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    What kind of dies are you using that you can't adjust the decapping rod? I partially resize .45 Colt and have no problem -- just screw the decapping rod in as many turns as you screw the die body out.
     
  19. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    DJ and Vern, you posted while I was typing out the last comments just above this reply.

    Yes, he's using a .38Spl like load in the cases. But then so are most of the rest of the local shooters. And yes, I fully realize it's a mousefart load and that this is the sole reason we've got this "problem". But low power loads seems to be the nature of the game for cowboy action events. And since a lot of the other folks locally using this same load don't get the same degree of blowby on their brass the question comes up about what is different for us compared to them. And certainly the amount of slop in the loaded cases would appear to be one likely cause in trying to get these mousefart loads to work for him.

    As I mentioned just above the concern is over both the fouling that stiffens up the loading and ejecting over time as well as the life span of the brass.

    Switching to .38's for revolvers and rifle simply ain't gonna happen. The money that would cost would ensure the wife would use one of the sloppy and sooty loads on HIM..... :D

    So we're going to tackle the issue on the basis of first off trying to cure the sloppy fit by either not resizing the fired brass or minimally resizing just the mouth area as a first step and see what happens. Beyond that I may look at trying to lap out the sizing die or at getting a custom made sizing die. I know this isn't the proper way but then CAS shooting isn't proper shooting such as the guns are made for anyway.
     
  20. murf

    murf Member

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    bcrider,

    the amount of swaging from the sizing die is not that important. what is more important is the amount of swaging your expander plug (on the belling die) does. measure the diameter of the plug. this will determine the amount of case neck tension on your bullet.

    this and the amount of crimp applied (hopefully in a separate operation) will have a large effect on how well your powder is burning.

    regardless, the low pressure loads you are shooting are not going to seal the chamber. the case needs a bit over 8,000 psi to expand out to seal the chamber. with that load, the chamber pressure is not much higher.

    if your friend can't load at least the minimum charge of powder, you are going to have to live with the soot on the case. fwiw

    murf
     
  21. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    One problem with lapping out dies is that if not done with care and skill, the dies can wind up being out of round -- and that causes real problems.
     
  22. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Have you tried using wax bullets instead of lead? You'll have to drill out the primer flash holes (like blanks brass) -- there will not be enough recoil to reseat the primers and they will tie-up the gun.
     
  23. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    As I stated earlier, rifle chambers are often even more generous than revolver chambers. It is the nature of the a lever rifle, chambers are often maxed out to SAAMI max specs. This allows rounds to chamber more reliably than if the chambers were tighter. It also allows soot to escape past the case mouth, sooting up cases.

    Your pal will probably not like this idea either, but some CAS shooters actually shoot a heavier load in their rifles than their pistols, to avoid excess sooting in the rifles. A heavier load in the rifle really does not matter as much as a heavier load in the pistol because the rifle is heavier and will absorb more recoil. The heavier load is less noticed.

    You mention ejection problems. Is your pal one of those guys who shows up at the unloading table and expects his brass to fall out of the chambers without using the ejector rod? I run into a lot of those guys at the unloading tables. I have never seen sooting so bad that the ejector rod, you know that thing that hangs under the barrel, won't pop a stubborn case out. Remember, I shoot Black Powder and my sooty empties pop out when I smack them smartly with the ejector rod, the way it was designed to be used.

    As I say, your friend is only rediscovering problems that have been well known in Cowboy shooting for a long time. If you want to shoot mousefarts, you have to deal with the sooting. It may be that his chambers are just a little bit oversized of everybody else's.

    There is also a lesson to be learned about not buying a large quantity of powder before one has really wrung out all the problems with a particular load.
     
  24. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    How about (I stole this idea from Clark) putting a thick-walled brass sleeve in the cases to take up most of the volume? Just leave a 1/8" hollow core down the center so 2 or 3 grains of powder will fill the case?
     
  25. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Most of what has been posted above is true, except for the silly blaming of your powder choice. It's not a Titegroup thing, it's a pressure thing, compounded by a loose chambers thing.

    No offense intended but if you're gonna run silly mousefart loads in the cavernous .45Colt case, sooty cases are an unavoidable fact of life. The solution is cheap and easy but I'll save it for last.

    1. You can up your powder charge and get the pressure to a respectable level. Enough so that the case expands to seal the chamber and thus, preventing sooty cases and dirty chambers. This may take a substantial increase, I get serious sooting at 8.0gr Unique with a 200gr RNFP. Maybe running authentic loads is more in the spirit of the game???

    2. Use a shorter case, same reason.

    3. Use a heavier bullet, same reason.

    4. Use a larger diameter bullet, .454's may or may not help.

    5. Have a set of custom guns built with tight chambers, to the tune of a couple thousand dollars.

    6. Switch to the .38 or .44WCF. The thin necks expand more quickly to seal the chamber walls. This won't be cheap either. This will also mean all new guns, dies, components and shorter case life, which you were trying to avoid in the first place.

    7. Switch to a .38Spl, .32H&R/S&W or .22LR. The King of mousefarts.

    8. Clean your chambers between rounds and not worry about it.


    I would be majorly shocked to find this to be true.
     
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