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reloading for a SAA clone

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Bezoar, Sep 20, 2008.

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  1. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    Most people say that the modern non ruger/freedom arms clones are not safe for anything above 15,900 when using 45 colt. YET at the same time ive been given the impression that the design itself of hte saa precludes it from being a truly effective hunting gun.
    yet the modern clone can take repeated factory 357 magnum ammo and be fine. while the same gun in 45 colt cant take more then CAS power level ammo.

    whats the real deal here? im wondering on how you can load up a 45 colt, 44 spcl, maybe a 44-40 to be able to drop deer at 50 yards. i know its down with a 260gr SWC in 45 colt, but what of ht others. anyhelp would be great.
     
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I think I know what you're asking and I'll give it a try. The original Colt SAA wasn't very strong so the loads can't be "hot". The current clones like Uberti, Cimarron and others are made to the original specs and are also "weak" like the originals. The older Ruger revolver can take hotter loads because like all Rugers, they are overbuilt. The older revolver and the replicas just can't take the pressures of hot .45 Colt rounds. Comparing current post war revolvers that were designed for higher pressure cartridges like the .357 Magnum isn't justified. The metallurgy of 1899 can't compare to that of 1999.
     
  3. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Bezoar, I think these photos might help. You can see the difference between the cylinder wall thicknesses of a Ruger Redhawk in .45 Colt compared to a USFA Rodeo in .45 Colt. The quality of the steels used in both cylinders is probably very high but it's the wall thicknesses that most likely control the maximum safe pressures of each. The Ruger can supposedly handle up to 40,000 CUP whereas the USFA can only handle up to 15,000 CUP. A number of SAA clones such as the USFA are dimensionally accurate when compared to the original 1873 Colt, so as a result, smaller = weaker.

    As for the capabilities of a .45 Colt SAA for hunting, a 250 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 900 fps (about 13,800 CUP) has a muzzle energy of about 450 lbf-ft.

    From John Linebaugh's web page ...

    "My wife has taken around 6 antelope and 5 mule deer with her .45 Colt. She uses a 4 3/4" Seville and the handload is a 260 Keith cast at 900 fps. This load will shoot lengthwise of antelope and mule deer at 100 yards. In my estimation it kills as well as the .270, 30-06 class rifles if the shots are placed properly."

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  4. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Member

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    Bezoar ,
    Like mentioned above, it's frame size and cylinder wall thickness. Larger diameter cartridge takes away from the cylinder wall steel. The modern copies and new SAA's made by Colt are stronger then the 19th century originals because of modern steels, but the diameters are the same if they are a true copy of a Colt SAA. There are some copies out there that have slightly bigger frame/cylinder diamters, and you'd have to hold
    them side by side to tell.
    A 357 has less rearward thrust then a 45 caliber, that stresses the frame. So I'd stay away from the open tops with the wedge holding it together except for light target loads.
    The newest RUGER SA are smaller frame now, handier to carry. you mentioned in another post weight and size. Also Ruger placed the cylinder notches offset, not directly over the thinest part of the cylinder chambers.
    A 44spl size case is about perfect for I think it was Elmer Keith who wrote that the 44spl. cartridge was just right for a COLT SAA size frame. Skeeter Skelton wrote about the same.

    7gr of Unique is a standard load that works well for accuracy and power in 44spl. 44-40, 45 COLT. You can adjust down or up from there depending on bullet weight. Always cross reference and double check data with reloading manuals.

    With SAA style fixed sights you'll have trouble with glare and remembering your holds at longer ranges. If you don't mind altering the front sight, making it a squared 90 degrees at the top of it. There are companies who will do that and add inlayed gold lines for a reasonable fee.
    No windage adjustment either so that will come into play with the gun being set up right. Cimmaron doesn't gaurantee there SAA's to shoot to POA. I don't know about EMF, USFA or others. I told Colt what I do and expected, and it worked out well.
    Read up on Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, Mike Venturino, Geo Nonte, as well as having Lyman manuals old and new ones. Old copies of Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times also had good stuff in them.
     
  5. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    1. The cylinder notches in the Colt and Colt clones are offset too...

    2. The steel and heat treating used in .357 Magnum cylinders (at least at Colt) is different - and stronger - then that used in other cylinders, Knowledgeable individuals sometime buy .357 Magnum cylinders and have them rechambered to fit larger cartridges to take advantage of this, although it is generally unnecessary.

    3. The 1873 Colt configuration is not weak - at least for the intended purpose, but Ruger Blackhawk's are stronger so far as the topstrap is concerned, and this can be important.

    4. Most Ruger center-fire/single action revolvers are made using that company's larger .44 frame and cylinder, and as a consequence they will stand up to loads that other won't. But they are heavier to carry and shoot.

    5. During the 1800's and later, uncounted game in all sizes were downed by cartridges loaded with black powder. If the shooter is a competent marksman, loads that are safe and reasonable to use in modern day Colt Single Action revolvers, and clones thereof, will do the job.
     
  6. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Member

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    Howdy Old Fuff,
    I defer to you on almost everything but the cylinder stop notches are in a stronger location on a Ruger, are they not? At this moment I don't have a Ruger to look at, going by memory.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    This is not the case.

    The Colt SAA and exact clones can easily handle loads that duplicate the orginial .45 Colt power level.

    That translates to a 250 -255 grain bullet at 900 - 950+ FPS depending on barrel length.

    A 250 - 255 cast SWC bullet over 8.5 grains Unique is a very powerful load that will shoot through most big game animals, and kill them deader then Jimmy Hoffa.

    It is a far cry from modern "Cowboy" loads, and is in fact very close to the old black powder load that the reputation of the .45 Colt was built on.

    rcmodel
     
  8. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    I have a Ruger Bisley, and I limit the cartridge pressures to about 25000 psi. Some people push them to 30000 or more. The cylinder is a lot larger than a SAA, so the cylinder walls are thicker (but they are still awfully thin)

    The 14000 psi SAAMI spec is to accommodate ancient Colt SAA's and early cheaply-made clones. If I had a Ruger New Vaquero, I might load it to about 18000 or 20000 psi. A modern Colt or clone, 16000 to 18000. But even limiting the cartridge to 14000, it's a real killer. (maybe not enough for moose, grizzley bear, or bison, but should be enough for anything smaller than that if you can hit it)
     
  9. scrat

    scrat Member

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    I have a Walker. Now a Walker was origianlly build to shoot up to 60 grains of black powder behind a .454 round ball. When switching to my R&D conversion cylinder it shoots 35 grains of black behind a .452 bullet. i have played around with the loads a bit on this one. The conversion cylinder is pretty big and massive with a thick webbing between the cylinders. Compared to other SAA clones the Walker can shoot some pretty big loads. However this is not like most other clones the gun is 15 3/4 inches long and weighs in at 4 1/2 lbs.
     
  10. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    I have said it before, and I will say it again:

    If you can't kill it with a 250 gr. .452 lead slug moving at ~900 fps, then you probably shouldn't be shooting at it in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    No, they are about in the same place, becaue in both guns the trigger and cylinder bolt are side-by-side. But the bolt head (the part that sticks up through the frame) is thicker on the Colt then the Ruger, so the notch is wider. The Ruger cylinder notches are more narrow, but slightly deeper; something they get away with because the cylinder diameter is larger.
     
  12. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    how does the energy differ between a 250 grain bullet out of a true SAA clone at 13,000 cup compare to the rugers 18-20,000 cup?
     
  13. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    [strike]A little over twice the energy. (multiply the velocity by 1.4 with the same bullet, weight doesn't matter, and the energy doubles.)[/strike]

    Just remember that once you shoot all the way through a critter, any energy remaining in the bullet is a liability not an asset.

    Edit: I wasn't paying attention. Increase in velocity isn't proportional to the increase in pressure.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  14. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    So is the 44-40 still a usable deer getter in a long barrelled handgun, and not just a paper puncher as some would have you believe?
     
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It would seem so, as long as the deer (or whatever) aren’t wearing body armor…

    Firearms may have changed, but deer haven’t, and some people get hung up on power, simply for the sake of it.

    However .44 Special or .45 Colt cartridges can be handloaded to duplicate .44-40 performance, and both are easier to work with.
     
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Energy has nothing much to do with anything when it comes to handgun power. Especially when it comes to guns like the .45 Colt, and other big-bores of a century ago.

    If you only start out with 450 ft/lb of energy, but the bullet shoots a hole clear through a deer, you have a 1/2" hole on both sides of the deer letting blood out and air in.

    You also have a hole through both lungs, and possibly a broken shoulder or two as well.

    That is what kills the deer.
    Not the small amount of energy transfer from the big slow bullet.

    rcmodel
     
  17. grendelbane

    grendelbane Member

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    Uberti makes single actions with .45ACP cylinders as well, which produces higher pressures than the .45 Colt.

    I recently bought an Uberti in .45 Colt, and I wish I had the .45 ACP cylinder, as I have much more ACP brass than I do .45 Colt brass.

    In no way do I consider this gun "weak", it is just that the Ruger is stronger. There is plenty of data out there from good reliable sources for assembling safe loads that will do the job just fine at a reasonable pressure.

    I had a lot of fun shooting mine this afternoon. I do wish it had better sights, though.
     
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Which is one reason I always liked the first generation Ruger Blackhawks. They were the same size as the older Colt's, worked the same way, and had improved lockwork. But in addition they also had easy-to-see adjustable sights. A hard combination to beat for a classic outdoorsman's revolver.
     
  19. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Member

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    It is possible to have better sights by improving, square up the back side of the front sight. Or it can be changed out completey but that will mar the bluing/finish. On my first 44spl I filed on the front sight to make it 90 degrees and added brass to the top corner of it.
    A rounded front sight is only good for close shooting.
    There are gunsmiths who can do the work for you and inlay gold line(s) or some other metal for elevation references.
    Still not as good as adjustable sights but 80% better then stock SAA.
     
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