Powders for warm 45 Colt loads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Joe Texas, May 9, 2021.

  1. Joe Texas

    Joe Texas Member

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    A few years ago, my father gave me an older Ruger Vaquero chambered in 45 Colt with a 5.5” barrel and a box of factory 255 grain lrnfp. I fell in love with the gun and the caliber. I already loaded for .38/.357 at the time so I bought a set of 45 Colt dies and you know the rest of the story - I was hooked!

    I soon bought a companion for that Vaquero - a 20” Henry Big Boy. It’s been fun trying to find the best loads for each of them. My goal has always been to find the one magic combo of components that would make the magic round that is perfect for all situations in both guns. Sadly, I’ve become convinced it doesn’t exist. Still, I’ve developed some great rounds that get pretty close.

    * The loads mentioned below are all above SAMMI pressure limits and are not appropriate for Colt SAAs and replicas. They have proven safe in MY GUNS and may cause injury or property damage in yours.

    I’ve tested a few powders with .452 250-260 lrnfp, 250 XTP, and some with 225 FTX bullets. 250 grain Noslers are .451 and my Henry doesn’t like them.

    • CFE Pistol - needs at least 9.0 grains to burn relatively clean and be accurate. I’ve settled on 9.2 - 9.5. Gives around 900 pistol/1100 rifle.

    • W-231 - Around 8.2 grains has proven accurate, clean, and gives better velocity than CFE Pistol.

    • VV 3N37 - 12.1-12.3 grains gives 1100 from revolver with 225 FTX. 1000 fps with 250 XTP. Cleanest burning powder. Zero residue on hands. Very accurate at precise charge weight. Disappointing across broader charge spectrum. A typical 5 charge ladder has four giant groups and one that magically tightens to one ragged hole.

    • VV 3N38 - just about as clean as 3N37. Same “picky” accuracy. When it’s right though, it’s right. 14.7 w/225 FTX gives 1275/1400. 15.0 with 250 XTP gives 1190 pistol/1300 rifle. 3N38 may be as close to “magic” as I’ve found outside of AA#9.

    • 2400 - 18 grains or so with lead and 20 or so with jacketed gives acceptable accuracy. 1200 fps pistol, 1400 rifle.

    • VV N110 - Essentially a super clean 2400 with better accuracy in my tests. 21.3 - 22.2 gives 1400-1500 from rifle but less velocity than 2400 out of revolver.

    • AA#9 - Best all-around powder for both guns. 21-22 grains gives 1300+ from 5.5” barrel and 1500+ from rifle .

    • W-296 - Unpleasant from revolver. Just nope. 26.0 under 250 XTP gives 1663 from my rifle and groups around 1.5” @ 100 yards. Keeps 800 ft. lbs. of energy to 125 yards.

    * No, I’ve never owned even a grain of Unique so I can’t possibly know anything about .45 Colt. Just ignore everything I’ve written.

    Ultimately, the best of the bunch have been these:

    Plinking: 8.2 W-231 under coated MBC 250 grain lrnfp. 9.2 CFE Pistol under 255 Lee mold lrnfp (weighs 260 grains for me).

    Tier 2+ : 15.0 grains VV 3N38, 250 XTP. Magic.

    Pretty warm: 21.3 grains AA#9, 250 XTP. Best all around.

    Kaboom: 26.0 W-296/H110, 250 XTP. Deer/hog slayer.

    Honorable mention: Starline “Cowboy Special” brass (.45 Colt rim, .45 ACP length) 230 grain anything, 6.0 CFE Pistol. Soft and fun.
     
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  2. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

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    Nice post and good info!

    Your experiences with 45 colt are pretty similar to mine. My light load is 200gr cast RNFP with CFE Pistol, my medium load is 255gr cast Kieth with HS-6 and my heavy loads are 300 and 330gr cast WFN with 2400 or H110/296.

    45 colt guns I shoot are Ruger Blackhawk, Smith&Wesson M25 and Chiappa M92 takedown.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
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  3. AgPilot

    AgPilot Member

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    Thanks for the post!
    Just bought a 45 Colt and fixing to start loading up some different powders and bullets Myself.
     
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  4. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I have that very same pistol, as a matter of fact... it's my workhorse pistol. Truthfully, I load two different cartridges for rifle and pistol... to take advantage of the barrel length of the rifle...

    It doesn't... sort of.

    If you are looking for a target velocity load, any of the midrange powders will do... like Unique.... or Universal, AA#5, even RedDot. Those powders will NOT take advantage of the longer barrel of the rifle very much... a few hundred FPS is all. Once you move to a slower powder... 2400, IMR4227, AA#9, W296/H110... then you will take advantage of the longer barrel, but produce a load not so fun to shoot for the pistol. I have the same problem with my Vaquero and H&R single-shot in .45 Colt, and my .41MAG pistols and Marlin 1894 rifle.

    My solution is 2 different cartridges... one for the pistol, one for the rifle. The pistol load works in the rifle, but I don't shoot the rifle load in the pistol. That's just the way it is.

    As far as the .45 Colt goes... I think I load 8 or 9grn Unique under a 250-260grn cast bullet for the Vaquero. For the rifle, my favorite for this purpose is IMR4227, or on the outside, 2400.
     
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  5. dh1633pm
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    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    I have only rifles. 4 of them. 250 grain jacketed or lead. Use AA5744 for lead, and H110 for copper. Don't load them too hot. Use the 45-70 when I need more juice. The 1892 doesn’t like 200 grainers. AA5744 not good for pistols. Needs time to burn.
     
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  6. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    When I got my Redhawk in 45 Colt I did some research on loads. One of the first pages I found was by John Linebaugh. Shortly after there was an article by Brian Pearce with data for low, medium, and high pressure for modern firearms.

    My preference was found with HS-6 and 250 thru 280gr bullets. I do however have loads using AA5 and 7, as well as Unique. I have only shot my own cast bullets and use them for hunting.

    I have since purchased a rifle and another revolver. Both like the HS-6 load that is listed in the Linebaugh article.
     
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  7. Joe Texas

    Joe Texas Member

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    Yeah, same here. I thought the midrange VV powders would be the secret. I haven’t tried N105 yet though so hope abounds, lol.
     
  8. Joe Texas

    Joe Texas Member

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    Like you, I’ve probably read most every online article available on the subject. I’m starting to believe that if all we had were Western Powders + W-296, we’d all be just fine although I haven’t tried Unique or HS-6. It’s fun seeing what each is capable of.
     
  9. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    I have found the HS 6 load of Linebaugh to be the most accurate out of my 7 1/2” Bisley.
     
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  10. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I know they have data for AA5744 in cartridges like the .45 Colt... but I would no more use 5744 or IMR4198 for a pistol than anything. For that matter, I think IMR4227 is too slow for shorter barreled pistols. It was terrible in the .45 Colt test loads I worked up... but that was very likely because I didn't push them to Magnum levels, even though it was a Ruger.

    I read the same article... and he championed IMR4227 in the .45 Colt. Yea, not so much... but to each his own.
     
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  11. dh1633pm
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    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    Good points. I have also used No 5, and 7. I will check my log book for other powders I have tried.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
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  12. black mamba

    black mamba Member

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    20 grains of 4227 under any bullet heavier than 250 gr. is almost magic, always accurate. Before the pandemic I tried Missouri Bullets' 325 gr Hi-Tek coated bullet over 13.7 gr. of #7 and took a nice whitetail. Very accurate and hard hitting.
    4L9Zgmk.jpg
    fmrfiHC.jpg

    Bayou makes a 255 gr SWC with a long nose to seat at 1.695 inches, which gives exceptional accuracy over 16.7 gr of 3N38 in my Raging Bull.

    20 gr of 4100 is very accurate with a truncated cone 300 gr coated bullet at 1.65" OAL, for 1125 fps.

    N105 is the most accurate powder I've ever used, and gives all but that last 75 fps with heavy bullets. 13.5 gr under a 340 gr RFN GC from Gardner's gives 1075 fps from my 5" BFR shown above.
     
  13. Joe Texas

    Joe Texas Member

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    I’ve been thinking about N105. Thanks for the report.
     
  14. magyars4

    magyars4 Member

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    Not necessarily a hot load but my standard is 11.2 gr of AA#5 and a 250/255 gr LSWC. Taken my fair share of game with that recipe.
     
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  15. Joe Texas

    Joe Texas Member

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    In my search/extrapolation of data for 3N37, AA#5 kept showing up as a parallel choice. I’ve had it in my hand 3 times to buy and keep putting it back. Since #9 seems to be better than N110 in .45 Colt, maybe #5 would have been similarly a better medium burn rate choice also.

    * Side note on VV powders: N110 has proven to be the best all-around powder in .357 Magnum. 3N37 produces superior velocity with less felt recoil in 9mm in my guns. 3N38 promises similar results in .40 and .45 auto. I’m considering it for reduced .357 loads with 125 grain jhps as well.. N135 has produced superior accuracy to all others for me in .223 w/69 grain SMK. All have burned cleanest in their class. The more I consider it, the more I’m thinking that N105 might be the ticket for Tier 2 45 Colt. Having said that, maybe #7 would be just as good or better. Anybody wanna speak to #7 vs N105 further? Black Mamba?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  16. black mamba

    black mamba Member

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    N105 is both a little slower and more bulky, so fills the big Colt case a little better. Both work well, but I prefer N105 to ALL others. For slightly more moderate loads I want to try N350, but can't find any right now.
     
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  17. myg30

    myg30 Member

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    Morning all. I’m following this because I got a RBH in 45 colt and have not loaded nor fired it yet. I did pin gauge the cyl and it’s .454, I have not checked the throat or bbl yet.
    I will cast for this and will not load hot or my arthritis will keep me from shooting it again.
    So Joe, no one asked about the kaboom ? Can you elaborate some which firearm and extent of damage ? Glad your not hurt I presume.

    “Kaboom: 26.0 W-296/H110, 250 XTP. Deer/hog slayer.”

    Mike
     
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  18. bigpower491
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    bigpower491 Contributing Member

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    Hot enough.
    #5 works quite well in this cartridge with those weights, in my experience.
    110/296 or Ramshot Enforcer for the heavy loads
     
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  19. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    2400, 4227, and Unique are my go-to powders for .45Colt, revolver or rifle. SR-7625 is no more (what a shame) but if you can find some still sealed try it. If your don't mind going old-school, use FFg. One load for all.
     
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  20. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    When I had my Super Blackhawk I tested AA#9, 2400 and IMR-4227. My gun liked 2400 the best, but all three would work.
     
  21. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    i shot alot of win 296 and H-110 in a older three screw 7.5" ruger with a heavy crimp that gave ex accurecy, 2-3" groups at 50 yards. the loads i shot were very heavy, so if you use them start lower and work up.
     
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  22. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    A friend wore out a Blackhawk with top loads of 2400 and 250 Keiths. Accurate, though.
     
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  23. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Not to put words in the OP's mouth, but I just think he was referring to the report of that load... which very likely sounded like a kaboom out of a 5.5" pistol. 26grn H110 is in the middle of Hodgdon's data for Ruger-only loads, so unless the pistol was unserviceable, it's unlikely it actually came apart.
     
  24. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I had the same thought.

    It's kind of interesting he tested all of those powders but skipped the one with the longest and most respected history for the round: Unique. Probably because it's been done before and anybody who can type can find reams published on loading .45Colt with Unique. Still, it's got a proven track record in both handgun and rifle.
     
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  25. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Kind of like me and AA powders... for some reason I just have a mental block on trying Accurate powders, even though there is/are a lot of recommendations for them, including some people I greatly admire. Mebbe some day....
     
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