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Old June 3, 2007, 04:05 PM   #1
SeeThirty
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What kind of bullet weights for .45 Colt?

I'm new to BP, and I'm considering an eventual R&D converter cylinder for the 1858 Remington replica I'm purchasing.

What I'm wondering, even seeing all the factory "cowboy action" ammo, things seem to vary in grains from 200, 250, 235...

What are the general minimum and maximum weights for a .45 Colt cartridge using my 1858 Remmie? Not for cowboy action matches, but for hunting purposes, and just to see what I might squeeze out.

I see alot of mention of people bringing down a deer with .45 Colt, but alot of the "hunting loads" can be as large as a 350 grain bullet or more, and discussion seems to center such big loads on the T/C Contender or Ruger models. What kinds of bullets might I be safe to try?
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Old June 6, 2007, 08:14 AM   #2
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I would think the minimum would be 141 gr (round ball) and the maximum would be 250 gr. This is the range of bullet weights for standard loads for the .45 Colt in my Speer Handloading manual.

The heavier hunting bullets are usually jacketed and loaded for Blackhawks and Contenders, and should not be used in guns desgined for BP pressures.

I have a converted Ruger Old Army and I use round ball or 220 gr RN, for small game hunting. If I was to hunt black tail deer on the westside, I would go with a 250 gr SWC.
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Old June 6, 2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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Re:

Thanks.

I definitely wouldn't be putting anything "hot" in my gun. Just curious what my options are. I don't expect to be putting any round balls in cartridges, but it's good to know min/max figures.
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Old June 6, 2007, 01:49 PM   #4
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Wrong thread, sorry!
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Old June 6, 2007, 10:43 PM   #5
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I did a little searching, and all I was able to find is 200 and 250 grains in .45 Colt cowboy ammo, with the 250 much more common. Wouldn't surprise me to find somebody offers other weights (especially 255 grains, which seems more or less interchangeable with 250 grains) but if so it's not common enough to be instantly obvious.

Handloading, my Lee reloading manual says you could go down as far as 160 grains, and their heaviest lead bullet is 255 grains. They list heavier jacketed bullets, but cowboy shooters don't use jacketed bullets- and if the conversion cylinders are for "black powder or cowboy ammo only," as I understand they are, I wouldn't advise jacketed bullets in any case.

However, you CAN get factory ammo that pushes those same 250 grain (or so) lead bullets at near 1000 fps, which is a lot faster than cowboy loads. Cowboy loads tend to run what, 700 to 800 or so? Just a safety hint; be sure it's a COWBOY loading you're buying. I wouldn't be surprised if you could get away with something more powerful... once... but I wouldn't count on it.
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Old June 7, 2007, 07:30 AM   #6
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Re:

Thanks.

Yeah I was figuring with 250gr being "safe", I might at most be able to do 255 or 260 once in a blue moon. Thanks for the heads up.

I have heard that the R&D cylinders are made TOUGH, but the problem is there's more than just a cylinder to a gun. Blaring hotter than usual loads through them will put strain on the rest of the action. You're probably right, once may work, but I'd rather not do something like that.

Yeah, 700 to maybe 850 fps is about all you can generally expect, although with other powders you can push abit past that. My main interest is in seeing if it was possible for hunting purposes (not sanctioned SASS stuff ) to find a way of getting a slightly larger bullet to similar performance as the standard loads. Maybe alittle more of this powder, or a different slightly faster powder, etc..

Nothing incredibly strange, just maybe a 255gr bullet instead of a 250gr with similar velocities. Not expecting to take down a kodiak with a sixgun.
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Old June 7, 2007, 01:32 PM   #7
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A 250 or255 grain .45 cal lead bullet @ 850-900 fps should do a real good job on anything <150 lbs.

The R&D cylinders are very well made with high quality 4140 steel. I think the weak link would be the frame of the revolver. Your 58 Rem'y has a much stronger frame that say a open top Army Colt or Dragoon, and should give you lots of service with a converter.
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Old June 7, 2007, 06:51 PM   #8
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Yeah, well, I wouldn't want to be the one to step in front of a .45 slug going even 700 fps, y'understand. The Colt has a long reputation as a mean old cartridge, and it has that reputation for a REASON. A .44 Mag it ain't, but it's still a hefty old thumper.

My chief worry in an 1858 conversion would be the frame. I don't have any evidence that they aren't able to hold up to standard .45 Colt stresses, but nobody really has any evidence that they ARE, either. This is a gun that's made to sell for half the price of a Ruger Blackhawk, and was never designed to stand up to .45 Colt smokeless loads, or any kind of smokeless load, at all. I'd be happier not pushing it.

There are some "conversions" on the market now that come from the factory with a .45 Colt cylinder and a percussion cylinder, both. I don't know whether they're designed for the standard .45 Colt loadings (as opposed to the cowboy loadings) but for liability reasons I'd be kind of surprised if they weren't.

But even if they are, you still have the high pressure, "Blackhawk and Contender Only" loads out there to watch out for. I don't think you're too likely to run into those by accident, but it seems to me they do load some such ammo commercially.

Why people won't just buy a .44 Magnum if they want a .44 Magnum I do not know. (shakes head walks away muttering)

Last edited by Hafoc; June 7, 2007 at 08:00 PM. Reason: grammar!
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Old June 8, 2007, 05:18 PM   #9
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casting

If you would be willing to cast your own bullets, there's an RCBS (I think) mould designed by Dave Scovill (Handloader/Rifle/Successful Hunter mags) that is 270 grains - semi wad cutter design. He designed it as the optimized 45 Colt bullet.

That's what I would suggest as the very best option.

A good 250 grain hard cast lead semi wad cutter bullet loaded to around 950 fps would make a dandy hunting bullet - keep it under 75 yards - if you can hit a 8" pie plate every time, off-hand at that distance - that's my recommendation for your maximum distance (the distance you can do that).

The "cowboy ammo" loads out there are really too mild for a good hunting load - I suggest handloading and if you have no experience but wouldn't mind giving it a whirl, then go with the Lee Loader ($16) from somebody like http://www.midway-usa.com

That would allow you to use a wide variety of compent bullets too.

And yes, you can use jacketed bullets - just clean the barrel thoroughly to remove the jacket fouling after shooting them or it'll negatively effect your cast bullet accuracy.
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Old June 9, 2007, 10:53 AM   #10
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O.S.O.K, I would agree with you except we were talking about R&D conversion cylinders used in an 1858 Remington replica. I haven't been able to track down where R&D themselves say this, but the places that sell them (such as Midway USA, from whom I stole the following) say things like:

"These drop-in cylinders allow you to fire centerfire ammunition in your blackpowder revolver. They will convert your blackpowder revolver to fire "Cowboy" ammunition."

They always say something about using cowboy ammunition, and that the cylinders are for use in steel-framed guns only, not brass.

I ramble. Sorry. My point is that whether or not the steel-framed 1858 replicas really are strong enough to handle standard .45 Colt loads, people who sell R&Ds seem to think they aren't. I'd be reluctant to push it.

Obviously, you COULD make an 1858 Remington strong enough for standard .45 Colt smokeless loads. There's plenty of steel there. It would only be a matter of picking the right steel and treating it properly. It might only be a matter of nobody ever having tested the frames to see whether they are strong enough. However, I for one wouldn't want to be the one to do the testing. I don't have proper laboratory tools, so my only means of testing this would be to load up, go out on the range, and see whether I ended up picking bits of exploded revolver out of my teeth.

Of course, I also don't HAVE to shoot .45 Colt cartridges in a 1858 Remmie, because I also have a .45 Colt cartridge gun-- an Uberti Schofield, to be exact. It sure would be nice to have a conversion that could fire cap and ball AND full-power .45 Colts, for those with only the money or only the safe storage space for one revolver. I hope the conversions that come from the factory with two cylinders-- Taylors and Company sells one-- would work that way. But I don't know.
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Old June 9, 2007, 03:57 PM   #11
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R&D conversion cylinders

From what I understand, these conversion cylinders are fine for standard pressure 45 Colt rounds. They are not fine or safe with any of the plus p loads.

I think R&D is using standard pressure and "cowboy" interchangably - the point being, no plus pressure loads.

"Cowboy" load is meaningless - no saami designated pressure limit, etc.
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Old June 15, 2007, 12:35 PM   #12
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Re:

Well, AFAIK the only "standard" applied to Cowboy loads is that SASS officially recognizes such a cartridge as having a muzzle velocity below 1000 fps.

If that's true, there's alot of such cartridges in the world.

I won't be using +P loads at all. If anything, I'll be using smokeless in very small charges only where "needed". I'm no fool that thinks smokeless and BP can be interchanged volume for volume, or anywhere close. I'll do my homework.

My repro Remington is a steel-frame. I do know of atleast one person who loads cartridges in a conversion for his brass-frame, but those are very light loads he puts through.
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Old June 15, 2007, 02:49 PM   #13
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I load Trail Boss Smokeless for Kirst or R & D conversion cylinders and I use it in my Original Remy Conversions, but it is a light load, 4.5-4.75 Grns Trail Boss. I only use smokeless when I shoot at the gunshop indoor range. I shoot 44 Rem C.F. 44 Colt brass, 248 Grn bullet 28 Grns BP(4.5-4.75 Grns TB).
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Old June 17, 2007, 07:24 AM   #14
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I love Trail Boss for the .45 Colt. I use a 6.0 gr charge behind a 230 gr lead bullet in my R&D conversion (ROA). That has proved to be a very good and accurate load.

Trail Boss is certainly a no smoke, no muzzle flash, no unburned powder residue, powder. Clean up takes about 2 minutes with Hoope's #9.
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Old June 30, 2007, 07:04 PM   #15
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W231 powder, 250grn LRN OT bullets is what I have used for quite a while with very good accuracy in my Rem rep steelframe w/R & D conversion cylinder.

W231 is a fast powder and works well with the 250grn LEAD only bullets in my gun.

I load them in the 750-950fps range. I would hunt using the most accurate out of the faster loads.....but would only hunt up close (bow & arrow range) and thats after alot of practice (the fun part).
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Old June 30, 2007, 09:59 PM   #16
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My 1873 Uberti Replica gets the best accuracy in the 250 grain weights. A 250 Lasercast over a 36 grain (by my volume measure) load of Pyrodex P gives me the best accuracy without having to compress the powder load. They load just a tad longer than I like, with the meplat riding almost flush with the front of the cylinder. Still, it shoots very well.

I've tried round ball (.456 balls) loads over the top of a similar load of pyrodex with felt wads to take up the space and to give a light compressing with roll crimp to hold the ball in. These loads seem to be in the 1100-1200 fps range, but I killed the chrono, as they weren't very accurate. Probably the crimp was stripping too much lead off as it was spitting some between the cylinder/barrel gap.

It is very close to Hogdon's published data on the load, pushing out right around 935FPS out of my 4 inch barrel.

Personally when shooting SASS/CAS range loads (700-1000 fps) I'd rather load black than smokeless, because you are looking at such light loads (unless using a bulky powder such as say trail boss) that its rather easy to double/triple charge. Get a really light case/bullet with a triple charge of powder and you might not even catch it when weighing them afterwards just to catch such a thing.
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Old July 1, 2007, 12:26 AM   #17
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I have been shooting 230 grain .45 SW Schofields in my 1858 like the Ultramax and Blackhills. It's a handfull. Afraid to try .45 Colt actually. This ammo runs 750 FPS and to me it feels very much like a max load in the Kirst Konverter.
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Old July 1, 2007, 01:27 AM   #18
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Hunting Loads for Conversion Cylinder...

Hey Y'all. I got a ROA, with Kirst conversion cylinder, I shoot the ultramax bulk cowboy ammo from cabelas for practice, but when I hunt for deer, I use the buffalo bore "standard" pressure 255 grain keith style bullets. Also the remington standard .45 colt loads are good, as well as the Goex Black Dawg ammo. They are all more than sufficient to take down a deer, as long as the shot placement is where it should be. As for the lighter loads, they are considerably lighter than the hunting loads I just mentioned. I wanted to, but was scared to try out the Corbon +P ammo and buffalo bore +p ammo at 1400 fps!! That is magnum territory for real! I don't have a death wish... But, look into the loads I just mentioned.
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