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Marlin 1894 .45 Colt: How hot can it handle?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by my762buzz, Oct 18, 2011.

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  1. my762buzz

    my762buzz Member

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    For a reference weight, i will set it at 225 grains.

    What is the pressure or velocity limit with this weight of bullet?

    Buffalo bore claims their .45 Colt +p 225 gr @ 1855fps is safe in a 1894
    but a Marlin Factory Tech said no +p so who is right?
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I can't tell you what is the pressure or velocity limit with this weight of that bullet.

    But Marlin chambers the 1894 in .44 Magnum, so I would say +P .45 Colt would be fine.

    Anyway, Buffalo Bore isn't going to say that and then get sued out of business when it proves to be wrong.

    rc
     
  3. ldhulk

    ldhulk Member

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    SAAMI specs for the .44 magnum is 36000 psi, the Marlin handles that ok. Specs for the .45 Colt (Ruger) is 26000 cup, but I don't know if that is exactly an official "+P" number. I would think the guys at Buffalobore know what they are doing. Factory reps are always going to err on the side of caution. Do not shoot a bunch of soft lead loads that coat the barrel with lead and then go to hot loads without a thorough cleaning first.
     
  4. Paladin7

    Paladin7 Member

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    Check out the latest Speer Reloading Manual, as it has some very good advice for loading for Marlin lever action rifles.

    Some things to keep in mind...

    1. Tubular Magazines require firm crimps for reliable function and stay away of course from pointed bullets

    2. All Lever Action Rifles in pistol calibers have bolts which lock at the rear. This allows the bolt to spring slightly during firing, stretching the case. Use only new or once-fired cases for maximum loads.

    Hope this helps...
     
  5. 45crittergitter

    45crittergitter Member

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    .45 Colt rifle loads:

    "Remington or Winchester brass are perfectly satisfactory up to 20,000 psi or thereabouts. Federal and Starline brass might offer a bit more flexibility in a rifle. Problems begin when loads reach beyond 30,000 psi, when the case head/extractor groove begin to expand. Restrict souped-up .45 Colt loads to those listed by Hodgdon for the Ruger Blackhawk (30,000 CUP), whether they might be used in a Ruger or a Winchester." - Dave Scovill
     
  6. oldpink

    oldpink Member

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    I can say with confidence that the same loading data used in the Ruger Blackhawk/Colt Anaconda/Freedom Arms/Thompson Contender are safe to use in the Marlin 1894.
    The data for these handguns and this rifle top out right at 30K PSI, significantly above the rather sedate SAAMI standard maximum of 14K PSI for standard loads for the same cartridge.
    The reason for the surprisingly low SAAMI maximum is out of deference for all the Colt Single Action Army (and all clones, including the Ruger New Vaquero), which are built on frames originally intended for black powder pressures.

    Since the Ruger, Freedom Arms, Colt Anaconda, and Thompson/Center handguns and Marlin 1894 are of modern construction intended for high intensity cartridges, all of them can safely withstand significantly higher intensity loads.
    Keep in mind, however, that the .45 Colt case still imposes a practical limit, even in its "+P" loads significantly below the .44 Remington Magnum's brisk 36K PSI.
    The case walls of the .45 Colt are thinner, and the case head is likewise thinner, thus the limit.
    You can still realize very impressive muzzle energy levels out of the .45 Colt that are about 80%-90% of .44 Magnum levels, but it's impossible to safely match or outdo the .44 Magnum with it.
    If you want REAL power out of a .452 diameter handgun cartridge, you should skip the .45 Colt altogether and step up to the .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, or .460 S&W Magnum, in progressive order of power potential.

    This all means you can also use Buffalo Bore .45 Colt and other stiff factory loads in the Marlin and these handguns.
    Just make certain that your bore is clean, that the gun is in strong working order, and realize that extensive shooting of the heavy loads in these guns will wear them out much faster than shooting the more sedate SAAMI standard loads will do.
    I routinely use my own medium warm handloads that propel the excellent Hornady FTX 225 grain bullet (yes, the soft elastomer spitzer bullet safe to use in tubular magazines such as that of the Marlin 1894), and I'm propelling the bullet (using W296 powder aka H110) at a respectable 1666 feet per second out of the 20" barrel of my Marlin 1894 .45 Colt.
    I took my first ever deer with this very handload last November, and the doe literally fell in her tracks, stone dead before she even hit the ground!
    I've recently unearthed updated loading data for that specific bullet that indicates this same bullet can be propelled at an amazing 1800+ feet per second.
    The old .45 Colt is a remarkably capable cartridge, already well on its way into its second century of existence.
     
  7. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    The Marlin 1894 in .45Colt is stronger than a six-shot Blackhawk and is good to 40,000psi. The modern 1892 is 10,000psi stronger than that. The Marlins routinely get converted to .475Linebaugh and .500JRH.


    Actually the reason is for all the original blackpowder guns still in circulation that may have iron or soft steel parts. New guns can take quite a bit more pressure, 20-21,000psi for Colt's, USFA's and Rugers.
     
  8. itsa pain

    itsa pain member

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    I easily pass the 44 magnum in my 45 Blackhawk and the cases are fine and fall out without the ejector
     
  9. firesky101

    firesky101 Member

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    Marlin is correct in a way... There is no spec for +p .45 colt, so any high pressure .45 colt you buy is +p+ (above all certified limits). So Marlin has no way of knowing if you are talking about sticking a 30000psi ruger load in it, or someone found a way to make 70000psi in that little case. Big difference.
     
  10. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

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    if you intend to carry a 45 colt pistol with this rifle,it would be safe to say load for the safety of the pistol so as not to confuse the 2 loads which might be detrimental to the pistol.
     
  11. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Which is why I'm VERY uncomfortable with vague terminology like "+P" or "hot" loads. Everybody knows about "Ruger only" loads but even there, there is a range of published pressures from 25,000-32,000psi. There are essentially three tiers of .45Colt loading data that are above SAAMI pressure standards with a wee bit in between and it's a good idea to be specific. With the Marlin falling somewhere between 2 and 3. It's a lot to keep up with and I don't even remember where Dan Wesson .45's fit in.

    20-22,000psi for post-war S&W's, Colt SAA's, USFA's and mid-frame Rugers. Brian Pearce even suggests that Uberti 1873's fit into this category.

    32,000psi for large frame Blackhawks, Contenders, Colt Anaconda, etc..

    45-55,000psi for custom five-shot Rugers (upper), modern 1892's and Redhawks (lower).


    I agree this is a wise practice.
     
  12. Badlander

    Badlander Member

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  13. itsa pain

    itsa pain member

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    linebaugh proves what I have also done with the 45 colt in a ruger. since you can easily make very powerful loads for the ruger single action why would you make hotter loads for the rifle when the extra length of the barrel with add even more velocity and power. there is no need for separate loads unless you use the overated overpriced Colt SAA
     
  14. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I have USFA Rodeos, Ruger Blackhawks, a Redhawk and a Super Redhawk in addition to a Marlin 1894 all capable of shooting .45 Colt. I'd like to buy a FA in .454 Casull at some point. My head hurts just thinking about it!!
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Kinda like Ruger's goofy nomenclature and grip frames. It'll make your brain hurt!
     
  16. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    CraigC, perhaps you need to add a tier for the Ruger Redhawk Alaskan. SAAMI shows the .454 Casull with a MAP of 65,000 psi. :)
     
  17. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Ah, but they're not .45Colt's! Those heifers are all by themselves anyway. I wouldn't run one at 65,000psi because the Carpenter Custom 465 stainless they make the cylinders from is elastic and cases start sticking but they're strong enough to handle it. Most factory loads are in the 50-55,000psi range.
     
  18. Paladin7

    Paladin7 Member

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    Not trying to get anyone upset, but this is the kind of thing that really makes me wonder... why?

    Agreed on the fact that the 45 Colt is loaded to lower pressures in deference to older firearms and that the potential exists to do some interesting things, but why do it when there are other options available? If you want considerably more performance out of a .45 caliber handgun cartridge, then why not move up to the 454 Casull vs hot-rodding the .45 Colt? Or better yet, move to a real rifle cartridge...?

    I understand why Elmer Keith did his work with the 44 Special.... today there are other options available.

    Not trying to start a flame war, just offering some food for thought... Maybe the answer is, because we can...who knows...

    Also, worth noting is that most if not all lever action rifles have bolts which lock at the rear. This allows the bolt to spring slightly during firing, stretching the case. For max-loads the best bet is to use only new or once-fired brass...
     
  19. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    That's an easy thing to say until you realize there is only ONE .454 levergun on the planet and its production has been sporadic. The REAL question is "why not?" and there are really no valid reasons.

    Why not a rifle cartridge? Noise, recoil, range, capacity, expense, bulk, weight, etc.. There are lots of reasons to use a pistol cartridge carbine. Not everybody needs 400yds of effective range or the recoil and blast associated with them. If all you need to cover is 100-150yds, then why do you need a rifle cartridge?
     
  20. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Why can't we do both? As metallurgy and powders have advanced so has the potential of the .45 Colt. Why limit it to its anemic past? If you've never shot a 250gr 35 ksi load (or thereabouts) in a Marlin 1894 perhaps you should try it ... it's quite something. I don't own a .44 Mag lever action but I imagine a 240gr at 36 ksi is very similar. I have an 1894 chambered in .357 Mag and you really feel the power of that little rifle when you shoot 125gr JHPs at 2,100 fps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
  21. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Question on the ability of the brass to withstand high pressures: Can you trim down .454 casull brass for your hot loads? It should be good into the 60k range. Of course you should stay well south of that but still, it should eliminate the brass problem.

    As for why...look at it this way....I have a 6lb rifle that will lob 300gr bullets at faster than 2000 fps. It will hold 10+1cartridges, and I can push reloads in the side between shots if I want. It can fire the exact same rounds as a snub nosed revolver I own. The revolver is about the same size as a 1911 but can hit about as hard as a non-snub .44 mag, which means it isn't an ideal concealed carry gun but it can do the job in a pinch. With two guns and one box of ammo I can reasonably shoot at targets from 3 to 150 yards...to me, that makes this combo far more "real" than having a .38-55 and a .44 magnum. I can totally sympathize with someone trying to find an equally effective setup...more than I can with someone trying to imply that 300gr bullets going 2000+ fps aren't "real" because the cartridge is a "handgun" cartridge.
     
  22. Paladin7

    Paladin7 Member

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    I think it's a reasonable effort to improve the performance of a pistol caliber, esp in a carbine, to achieve what you want the round to do in the field or at the range, and that is the key. I handload, so I do this routinely. What I'm thinking about is the point where you are in another caliber's territory of pressure that the gun was not designed for...for example, why push the 45 Colt to 44 Magnum velocities/pressure...why not just buy a 44 Magnum? I wouldn't want one of those high end 45 Colt loads ending up in a firearm that is not capable of handling it... and Murphy's Law does take effect from time to time.

    In the example of the 357 Magnum in the Marlin 1894, that performance you mention of a 125 gr slug at 2,100 FPS is entirely within spec, all be it high end of spec, for the cartridge/gun combination. Why go to 357 Maximum territory with that gun and round?

    Just food for thought...

    I guess what I'm most concerned about is a regular or steady diet of high power loads in a gun that was not designed for those pressures and what might happen to the user or innocent bystander(s) if the action let's go. Agreed that Loads like that in small doses are an acceptable risk...
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
  23. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    As far as I can tell this thread started with someone wanting to shoot .45 colt out of a .45 colt. Hot .45 colt, but still .45 colt. Why describe that as trying to move into another caliber's range?

    I agree that if you want really hot .45 colt you should get a .454. That's exactly what I did. Other only lever gun that has ever interested me enough to search for one - or pay for it - is the .454 1892. It works for me. Marlin doesn't make one though.

    Barring that, knowing you can load .45 colt in your .45 colt gun seems like a good idea.
     
  24. itsa pain

    itsa pain member

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    why if you want a hot 45 colt load should you have to buy a 454 ? the 454 cost a lot more money then a 45 and brass is more and harder to find. you can safely fire hot loads in a ruger a lot cheaper
     
  25. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Again, why not? The guns are capable. The cartridge is capable. The data is there. Why do people like yourself adhere so strongly to SAAMI standards? It really doesn't matter what the guns are "designed for", whatever that means. What matters is their capability.


    And what you apparently fail to understand is that this is all very well proven. This ain't fumbling around blindly or in the dark.


    There are ways of avoiding that and I've never heard of this happening.


    And do you really think we haven't all heard this a thousand times before??? Same statements, same closed-minded people, same answer. Basically, what you don't know, is a lot.
     
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