View Full Version : Is .45 Colt Long powerful enough for whitetails?
June 20, 2006, 10:21 AM
I know .357 magnum is generally considered the minimum for deer, and from looing at balistics charts that the .45 colt is more powerful at 100yds, but less powerful at the muzzel, so I'm not sure if it's an ok choice or not?
Thanks in advance!
June 20, 2006, 10:25 AM
The question really is, what gun will you be firing the .45 Colt from? A Cowboy Action rig or a true Ruger Blackhawk?
If you've got a strong framed, durable revo like a BH, then the .45 COLT (not Long Colt please, just COLT) can be loaded quite safely to be adequate for deer out to 75 yards or so. In max loadings the .45 Colt is in the neighborhood of the .44 mag.
To get the most out of your .45 Colt you will either need to handload (recommended) or buy CorBon/Buffalo Bore type ammo. Most factory loaded common .45 colt ammo is loaded to very soft specs to be useable in older firearms or cowboy action only type firearms.
June 20, 2006, 10:28 AM
oooh....it'll be out of a S&W .460 with a 10.5 inch barrel, so it should be able to handle any .45 out there...the kick was soooo nice & soft from the cowboy action ones...
June 22, 2006, 09:52 PM
YES, BUT you must practice.
The max distance is the one were you can group all shots in a picnin plate.
And you must handload your ammo, not to .44Mag or better, but to get the best possible group with velocity to insure a clean kill.
June 24, 2006, 01:45 PM
sure it will as long as your range is handgun range and you are an able shot..
June 24, 2006, 09:29 PM
I was going to use my Ruger Blackhawk with a 7.5" barrel for deer this year and i loaded some special .45colt loads for it but even hot loaded at .50 yds, i wasn't getting the penetration I would have expected through the target and the XTP's i was loading were not mushrooming at all. These loads stung the hand so i know they were pushing legal ft lbs. I suppose i'll have to try a lighter bullet and skip the 300gr XTP's i was using or just switch to corbon.
June 25, 2006, 03:24 AM
yes it will work, but if you have a 460 why not use that.
June 25, 2006, 09:15 AM
The .45 colt was perfectly powerful enough, 100 years ago, with black power loads, to kill almost anything in the US. I don't understand why anyone would question if it would be "powerful" enough to kill a 200 pound whitetail. Would a soft factory load be my first choice? No. Would it do the job? Yes. Would a harder kicking, flatter shooting load be a better choice?
I hunt deer with a 7.5 .44 super blackhawk. I don't hunt them with .44 specials. I'm sure the .44 special would kill them, though, if I did my part. I don't go out and buy the most expensive, highest powered .44 mags, either. It's a whitetail. My deer loads cost around as much as a box of .45 cowboy loads. Less for some brands.
yes it will work, but if you have a 460 why not use that.
Why not, indeed? Pick a lighter loaded one with a SP bullet and go for it.
June 25, 2006, 11:48 AM
I've taken three with various .45 Colt revolvers and loads. My old Ruger BKH load was a 260 gr. LSWC over 10 gr. of Unique, for around 1000 fps. But they fell equally dead with same bullet and 9 gr. for around 900 fps from a Colt Single Action.
If I still had a Ruger in .45 Colt, I'd probably use the 300 gr bullet for hunting. I really like my S&W Mountain Gun but hold my loads to about 900 with a 250 to 276 gr LSWC.
The only way to get reliable expansion from any .45 load on a modest sized white tail is to drive the lighter bullets pretty fast. I choose to go the other direction: Heavier bullets at moderate velocities, and no expansion necessary. They go right through, making a good-sized hole - - lots of air in, lots of blood out. Remember, the .452 bullet starts out the size a .357 HP aspires to attain.
The whole "secret" is what it has always been - - adequate bullet, adequate "power," adequate placement. You can do it with .41, .44, .45. And, yes, I've used the .357, and killed with it - - I quickly came to feel that it's marginal for deer.
And now - - TFL is all about RESPONSIBLE firearms ownership and use.
As ethical handgun hunters, we should always bear in mind that only the very most powerful revolver cartridges begin to reach the power of the "weak sister" .30-30 round. We're not hunting for food on which to survive, so we owe the game animals we hunt the respect of making ONLY what we're pretty certain will be a precisely placed and rapidly lethal shot. This, certainly, varies with the hunter and his gear. An optically-sighted, single shot, rifle caliber hand cannon (a carbine-without-shoulder stock :p ) may be efficient a lot farther out than a short-barrel, iron-sighted holster gun. Always depending upon placement.
June 25, 2006, 05:47 PM
I have taken hogs and whitetails with a .45 Colt revolver. They work well, but you have to remember that they are handguns, not rifles. To me, this means taking your shot at ranges you can be certain of a killing hit. I have not shot at a deer or hog at anything past around 30 yards. For longer range shots, I use a rifle.
June 28, 2006, 10:38 PM
Your reply here is one of the best ones I've read on this forum on any sibject. I espically like your reference to the .30-30.
I've always have gotten a kick out of certain gun writers and so called gun experts. They will suggest using handguns on all manners of large game. These same writers then claim that the .30-30 is marginal for small deer, at close range, in the hands of Sergeant York.
Again, I wanted to compliment you on your reply.
June 28, 2006, 10:51 PM
I am a 45 colt fan as well, but i don't much reload for it.
If you're lucky like me, you will find that some of the potent commercial loads for it from Buffalo Bore, or Cor Bon, or Grizzly are accurate for you. That will save a lot of work on your part.
As far as the colt loads, buffalo Bore seems to have the edge in accuracy and power- esp out of a 7.5" ruger SRH using the 325grain Flat Nosed projectile at 1300 fps. The website says its rated for game up to 1000 lbs.
Well... let me say that I myself dont think I could take a 1000lb animal with a handgun. But I am not an expert handgun hunting kind of guy.
Should be ok on a whitetail at 40 or so yards though.
If its accurate for you.
Can a 460 use the 454 Casull loads? if so, you have no worries at all on the power levels available to take a whitetail.
Hope this helps,
June 28, 2006, 11:17 PM
Check your local game laws carefully. The change from time to time. 20 years ago, my state was both caliber AND barrel length specific about what was legal. A 4 5/8" .41 mag was not legal for deer. A 6" was. Today, they have gone to a ft/lb @ 100yds system. One number for deer, and a higher number for elk.
The .45 Colt factory loads are on the light side by today's standards, but there are some specialty loads that are more powerful. Don't bother worrying about expanding bullets, .45cal doesn't need them. A good 250gr (or heavier) SWC at 900fps plus (faster is better) will do the job just fine at any range you can place the shot accurately. 75-100 yds would be about the furthest most people can manage with open sights.
If you can center your shots on a paper plate at a particular distance, you can humanely take deer at that distance. If you can't, practice until you can, or get closer. There is no excuse for shooting game beyond your accurate range.
June 29, 2006, 12:26 PM
I've always figured that the max range for handgun hunting is however far you can always hit the end of a beer can. And I didn't say, "Sometimes."
If you can do that, then any cartridge equal to or more potent than a heavy-bullet load in a .357 will do just fine.
June 29, 2006, 02:06 PM
One thing to check is the legality of the .45 LC from your DNR/or local equivalent. In some states it is banned, in some it is only legal from a carbine. Minnesota only just recently changed the law and allowed those cartridges that were defined as legal handgun rounds, but not listed as legal rifle rounds, to be used in rifles, one of those little legislative catch 22's but it was the law.
Anyway. you have the mighty 460, why not make full use of the gun. If not 460's then at least use 454 casull rounds. The cases are stronger and the recoil in such a heavy handgun is really going to be mild. Yes people kill deer every year with a .45 LC. But moving up to a 454 casull makes a lot of sense in this situation. The beer can analogy is good, for my kids the limits of their shooting range for deer was how far away they could hit the a saucer sized paper plate. (about a 5 inch target) Sitting in their stands, they had to look for and find and judge the distance to, and finally hit a series of paper plates that I had stapled to some lath stakes and spread out around their field of view. I would definitely NOT use HP ammo, instead a good jacket soft point or a hard cast lead. I have had really good luck with the .44 version of the JSP corelokt, from remington. My kids have also used the WFT hard cast out of a trapper carbine that left very impressive wound channels in a couple of hogs that they shot while down on granpa's farm. My daughter had three shots in one hog, (one would have done it but she got excited,) All three hit between the shoulders and more or less at the junction of the neck and body and all three exited out the paunch. maybe three feet of hog was penetrated with a .44 270 grain at about 1400 fps. Change that to a .45 260 or 300 at 1250 or so and you are going to see similar results.
June 29, 2006, 02:28 PM
Thanks everybody! I settled on .454, sighted in with Hornady .454 Casull 240 grns yesterday, was really happy with it, was hitting the center diamond at 50 yds with a benchrest, 1 - 2 inch groups, no problem, and I know I was gettin tired towards the 2 inch groups. And this was just the first time really trying to hit anything specific (instead of just popping off for fun/feel). The .460's will definitely come in to play next time I sight in...
June 29, 2006, 04:39 PM
A related thread which may be of interest to some here:
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