A New Cartridge For Me - 45 LC - Any Advice?

3sport

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Greeting gents. I have developed a major Jones for the legendary 45 Colt. Full disclosure, I have owned a Bond Arms Derringer for a few years and I got a barrel for .410 / 45 LC. I shot a bit of 45 Colt and thought I should get into the caliber for reloading, as well as get a true 45 Colt six-shooter. Probably a Ruger stainless, but that's for another thread. I am a horseback rider, I love Westerns, I have a man cave decorated in Western and Horse theme, and my favorite TV shows and Movies are Westerns, so I am actually surprised that I never got into 45 LC sooner than now.

I did order Hornady Titanium Dies for 45 Colt. They should be here next Tuesday or Wednesday. I do single stage. I have a progressive, but I just do not use it. I enjoy going slow, doing everything single stage myself. I approach reloading like an art form. One stage at a time, slow and methodical, with as much precision as I can give the craft. I am not into volume, I am into the art of crafting ammunition.

Any advice on powder/primer/bullet/brass/whatever? Any reloading experience and/or advice on the 45 Colt would be appreciated. Of course I have a full set of reloading manuals, but input from the members here would also be appreciated.

Thank you gentlemen.

-3Sport
 
It's a grand old cartridge; one of my favorites. The only thing to be aware of it is that it has an unusually small rim, which can cause problems if the shell holder is on the large side. Some people will lube before sizing, even with carbide dies, to head off trouble. (I'm not one of them, but I've also thrown away a couple of shell holders that didn't quite fit...)

Otherwise, the cartridge is a pleasure to work with. "Standard" loads can be made up with many different powders - I like Unique, but with that so hard to find these days, I've been using several other powders with similar burn rates. I did luck into a cheap keg of 700x during Covid and have been using quite a bit of it in the cartridge. I'm not confident enough in my memory to quote my load with it, but will go dig it up if you need it. That is a pretty fast powder, and it would be easy to blow yourself straight to hell with it, but loading as you do will allow you plenty of opportunity to double and triple check.

Beyond that, it's just plain hard to put together a bad load. Cast bullets usually are perfect, and there is a wide selection of plated and jacketed should you go that route. Anything from any of the manuals should do a fine job. Just be aware of the "Ruger only" loads - these open up a whole new dimension, and while useful and entertaining, they may not be ideal for your Derringer!
 
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It's a grand old cartridge; one of my favorites.

I hear that. Again, I am surprised I did not get into reloading and shooting 45 Colt sooner. I started reloadeding .38 / .357 in the 90s, but never touched 45 Colt. Well, I guess that's what makes the hobby interesting. A new cartridge for me. And of course, a new revolver.
 
I would stick with the classic load for now, especially since you're not sure of the revolver you'll be getting yet. Don't want to load hot loads if you get a revolver not rated for them. That said, I'm not one to hot-rod the LC as I have other options if I want more power.

I like coated lead for it these days, nothing against cast/lubed (I cast my own) but if buying them I would just go with the coated option.

Good case for "snake shot" loads if you have a need for those.
 
45 Colt is one of my favorite cartridges as well, it's a classic! I also use the Hornady titanium nitride dies, and a single stage press. Check out Ammoseek.com for components, you can find good deals through there.

I load mine up with black powder, for a 100% authentic 'old west' shooting experience. 35gr of 3Fg under a 250gr bullet is my favorite. Lighting off a real black powder 45 Colt round from an 1873 revolver is an extremely satisfying experience!
VideoCapture_20231016-092356.jpg
 
I would stick with the classic load for now, especially since you're not sure of the revolver you'll be getting yet. Don't want to load hot loads if you get a revolver not rated for them. That said, I'm not one to hot-rod the LC as I have other options if I want more power.

I like coated lead for it these days, nothing against cast/lubed (I cast my own) but if buying them I would just go with the coated option.

Good case for "snake shot" loads if you have a need for those.

I would most likely be in the coated lead camp. Hot-rodding an LC cartridge is not something I would attempt. I had my progressive press over-charge a .357 load once, and I missed it on inspection. I did not discover the over-charge until the firing pin hit the primer. Yikes. Once was enough. Another reason I probably enjoy single stage reloading these days. I would certainly play with some snake-shot loads. Many thanks.
 
45 Colt is one of my favorite cartridges as well, it's a classic! I also use the Hornady titanium nitride dies, and a single stage press. Check out Ammoseek.com for components, you can find good deals through there.

I load mine up with black powder, for a 100% authentic 'old west' shooting experience. 35gr of 3Fg under a 250gr bullet is my favorite. Lighting off a real black powder 45 Colt round from an 1873 revolver is an extremely satisfying experience!
View attachment 1201996

YEEHAW! Great info and a spectacular photo! Thanks.
 
@Ethan Verity beat me to it but it bears repeating: don’t miss an opportunity to load black powder in the Colt. There’s plenty of recipes for the right kind of lube and since you already cast and size it ought to be easy enough to find a good mold.

As for smokeless .45 Colts, I like Unique for basically everything, W231 for everything else, and Accurate 5744 if you want more oomph without more pressure. If you can find it.

I have loaded up the Ruger Only stuff - I have a Ruger and have had more than one - but that’s just not as much fun. It’s totally unnecessary too. The standard pressure loads are plenty hand filling.

Good luck, have fun, look forward to hearing your experiences with the old warhorse.
 
@Ethan Verity beat me to it but it bears repeating: don’t miss an opportunity to load black powder in the Colt. There’s plenty of recipes for the right kind of lube and since you already cast and size it ought to be easy enough to find a good mold.

As for smokeless .45 Colts, I like Unique for basically everything, W231 for everything else, and Accurate 5744 if you want more oomph without more pressure. If you can find it.

I have loaded up the Ruger Only stuff - I have a Ruger and have had more than one - but that’s just not as much fun. It’s totally unnecessary too. The standard pressure loads are plenty hand filling.

Good luck, have fun, look forward to hearing your experiences with the old warhorse.

I thank you and @Ethan Verity for putting the black powder idea out there. Honestly, I had not even though of that. I will absolutely go down that road with my new revolver. Talk about fun and realistic old-west shooting. I should post pics of my man cave with the extreme old-west and horse decor. You guys will say, "You have a man cave like that, and you never owned a 45 Colt revolver?" Well, I am finally going to remedy that oversight.

I happen to have a good supply of W231 and I have Unique. I think Unique was the very first powder I ever purchased in the 90s. And I think W231 was the second. I have stuck with them. I had Accurate but that has been used up and I have not seen it in a while.
 
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It's a grand old cartridge; one of my favorites. The only thing to be aware of it is that it has an unusually small rim, which can cause problems if the shell holder is on the large side. Some people will lube before sizing, even with carbide dies, to head off trouble. (I'm not one of them, but I've also thrown away a couple of shell holders that didn't quite fit...)

Otherwise, the cartridge is a pleasure to work with. "Standard" loads can be made up with many different powders - I like Unique, but with that so hard to find these days, I've been using several other powders with similar burn rates. I did luck into a cheap keg of 700x during Covid and have been using quite a bit of it in the cartridge. I'm not confident enough in my memory to quote my load with it, but will go dig it up if you need it. That is a pretty fast powder, and it would be easy to blow yourself straight to hell with it, but loading as you do will allow you plenty of opportunity to double and triple check.

Beyond that, it's just plain hard to put together a bad load. Cast bullets usually are perfect, and there is a wide selection of plated and jacketed should you go that route. Anything from any of the manuals should do a fine job. Just be aware of the "Ruger only" loads - these open up a whole new dimension, and while useful and entertaining, they may not be ideal for your Derringer!

Unique was what I loaded for my Cobray derringer and a friend's Anaconda, but like you say, hard to find. If I had a keg of 700X, it'd be going into my Trap loads. I do have a lot of Green Dot, I'll have to look up some loads for it in .45 LC.

I don't want "Ruger only" loads, as I'm loading for a Smith 25-5 this time around , and black powder loads shot from a 25-5 just seems odd.

I will definitely be watching this thread for ideas; I have 500 brass and 500 bullets, as well as primers, and a Sinclair priming press I just got today, can't wait to try it out.
 
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I do both black powder and smokeless loads for .45LC. I use the same bullet out of both: a 250gr cast lead bullet. My smokeless loads are with Unique and the BP loads are with 3f. Both are a hoot and I can shoot the smokeless loads at the indoor range in the winter with my Richards-Mason open top. I prefer the RCBS cowboy dies for .45LC as the tolerances are a bit looser. Just remember if doing BP loads that the powder needs to be compressed. Shooting BP loads gives you a real appreciation for those Westerns you love and the real cowboys who shot the real thing back in the day. 35gr of 3f will make a believer out of you!
 
Once I loaded my first 45 Colt, I knew 44 mag would have to go. Gave away my 44 mag 1892 Browning, sold the RedHawk, Blackhawk, and now the Ruger Deerslayer is for sale. Sold the bullets, dies, and still have some brass. Nothing wrong with the 44 ("But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world"). But then there's the 45. Can't reload everything. Favorite load a 255 JHP behind some H110.
 
250gr lead, coated or not.
Unique or Trail Boss powders, the latter being unobtanium lately (maybe for ever). TB is amongst the "bulkiest" powders out there. Unique works well.

Now the important stuff: you said you need a new revolver. You need a lever action rifle in 45C too! Gotta complete the cowboy setup.
Now how are you supposed to get, “Enabler of the Year,” giving advice like that? 🤣

No, don’t fall for the lever guns in .45 thing. That’s strictly a modern thing. For real cowboy authenticity your lever gun should be a .44WCF, a.k.a. .44-40Winchester. Better yet, a Trapdoor Springfield .45-70!
👍😁
 
250gr lead, coated or not.
Unique or Trail Boss powders, the latter being unobtanium lately (maybe for ever). TB is amongst the "bulkiest" powders out there. Unique works well.

Now the important stuff: you said you need a new revolver. You need a lever action rifle in 45C too! Gotta complete the cowboy setup.

Great info, thank you. I do have Unique. I will look for Trail Boss, even though it's Unobtainium. I actually have some Royal Scot powder (unopened and stored well) that I bought in the late 90s. Good pistol powder that I also used for reloading 12 ga target loads for Trap. Unfortunately, I shot so much Trap in the late 90s and early 2ks that I have a fairly severe Lumpoma on my right shoulder. I don't shoot Trap nor Skeet any longer because of that. Doc says it is permanent after being there for a few decades now.

I bought a new Lever Action Rossi (stainless) in .357/38 two years ago. In hindsight, it would definitely have been a 45 Colt. But I still like .357/38, and I have reloaded it for decades, so I will most likely keep the rifle for now. I can add a 45 Colt Lever to the arsenal later.

As for a 45 Colt Revolver? Absolutely. I will start a thread on that soon. That's definitely in my sights.
 
Now how are you supposed to get, “Enabler of the Year,” giving advice like that? 🤣

No, don’t fall for the lever guns in .45 thing. That’s strictly a modern thing. For real cowboy authenticity your lever gun should be a .44WCF, a.k.a. .44-40Winchester. Better yet, a Trapdoor Springfield .45-70!
👍😁

I did not know that. I would have thought that 45 Colt would have crossed into Lever for Cowboys. Thanks for the info. It's funny what you "Think" you know, until you find out you didn't know what you thought you knew. ;)
 
Once I loaded my first 45 Colt, I knew 44 mag would have to go. Gave away my 44 mag 1892 Browning, sold the RedHawk, Blackhawk, and now the Ruger Deerslayer is for sale. Sold the bullets, dies, and still have some brass. Nothing wrong with the 44 ("But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world"). But then there's the 45. Can't reload everything. Favorite load a 255 JHP behind some H110.

I hear that. I have dies and a ton of brass/bullets for 9mm Luger and 380. I will probably never reload either again. That's definitely my past. Same with 44/mag. I had a Marlin lever 44/mag for a year that I reloaded for, and that was it. I'm happy with my 38/357.

I also reload 40 S&W for a few of my firearms.

SWMBO had a 357 Taurus, I have the 38/357 Rossi Lever, a Ruger 357 wheel and a barrel for my Bond Arms Derringer in 357. So I will continue reloading 38/357.

I think my reloading bench needs to be culled. The only three carts I will probably reload from now on is 38/357, 40 S&W, and now the 45 LC.

I don't think I'll ever reload 12 ga target again either, because of my shoulder as per my previous post.
 
It's a dern poor cowboy what don't have a 1873 in .45Colt.
It's high time you quit dawdling around and throw a loop around one.
I will have to double check my notes before I disclose my favorite. 45colt load. It's Unique all the way for me.

20231123_104633.jpg
I'm not joking about the Peacemaker. There's a reason why the design is still going g strong 150yrs later.
 
The most important things have been covered.

Poor case fill, so be careful to check charges in each case. Trail Boss is about the only powder with decent case fill, and it's not in production at the moment. The bulky dual-purpose shotgun/handgun powders are the next best choice for case fill.

I've shot cast, jacketed, plated, and coated. All will work. Cast work best when sized for the gun. I shoot mostly plated myself. I recommend a stepped expander like the Lyman M (and other similar ones) for expanding, especially with bullets .452" or larger.

At standard 45 Colt pressures, fired cases with a considerable level of black soot are hard to avoid.

I recommend Hornady dies for the 45 Colt. Some other brands size the brass excessively, especially if using .452" or larger bullets.

Enjoy!
 
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