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Old March 24, 2012, 11:54 AM   #1
tomrkba
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45 Colt versus 44 Magnum

The purpose of this thread is to examine the performance differences between 45 Colt and 44 Magnum. This is not an advocacy thread; I like both cartridges and have guns chambered in both cartridges.

I have seen some folks stating that 45 Colt outperforms the 44 Magnum cartridge. I always thought 44 Magnum was more powerful, but clearly some folks disagree. What are the numbers? How does it behave that is different than 44 Magnum? Why are they saying that?
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:02 PM   #2
UtopiaTexasG19
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Just looking quickly at the Hodgdon charts for 300 grain bullets using the same three powders the 45 Colt runs pressures between 12,900-13,700 cup where as the 44 Magnum runs pressures between 37,900 to 38,400 cup.
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:08 PM   #3
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I believe the .45 Colt will always run at lower pressures due to the larger bore.

Anyway, it's apples and oranges as concerns factory fodder. But I know a strong framed- 5-shot .45 Colt can be loaded to blow the .44 Magnum off the map.
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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A large-framed Ruger .45 (and a few others) can be overloaded to exceed the energy of factory .44 Magnum, and the .45 will do it from a shorter barrel. But if you have a large-framed Ruger .44, I'm sure you can safely overload it too -- but I'm not sure how much.

Do not try to load .45 Colt to .44 Mag pressures! You don't need to. .45 at about 25000 psi is equivalent to a .44 at about 35000.

.44's tend to be more accurate too unless you have a custom .45, because the chambers are reamed tighter. I was going to say the .45's have sloppier tolerances, but I think the proper term is "clearances"
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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Look up Ruger/Contender only loads for the .45LC. It outperforms the .44 in guns such as Redhawks, Blackhawks, and Contenders.
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Old March 24, 2012, 01:57 PM   #6
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2 questions

Tomrkba,

I wonder what research you have already done and what criteria you are using to define "powerful".

One controversy in the (long-running) controversy over the 44 Mag vs 45 Colt question is, are we talking about the CARTRIDGE alone or the cartridge/gun combination or the bullet?

The 45 Colt cartridge is necessarily loaded to SAAMI specifications because it could be fired out of any gun. There are some VERY strong guns chambered in 45 Colt (Colt Anaconda, Thompon-Center Contender, Ruger Blackhawk, Ruger Redhawk/Super Redhawk). There are some guns out there that will NOT take the heavier load known as "Ruger Only" (Ruger New Vaquero, most all replica firearms, Taurus Judge).

SAAMI spec 45 Colt does NOT come close to SAAMI spec 44 Mag. in energy levels. There can be no debate over that. However, performance may tell a different story. Terminal ballistics depends a lot on frontal area and bullet momentum (as well as energy). The .45 has a 12% advantage in frontal area and 18.5% advantage in potential maximum bullet weight.

For the handloader with ultra-strong guns and modern brass, the question will remain forever arguable. In other words, you will never get a definitive answer to your question.

So, we come back to my first line. How much research have you done already? So we can know if we are hashing over stuff you already know or can we break some new ground?

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Old March 24, 2012, 02:04 PM   #7
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THE biggest difference right off the bat is the 45COLT is an honest to GOD fourtyfive caliber bullet. The 44MAg is a fourtythree caliber bullet and that is one hell of a difference in frontal mass. High school math with show you the precentage difference.
I always pick the 45COLT as a sidearm in the high lonesome as it does with mediocre pressures what the 44MAG can only do when loaded to the screaming gills. As a matter of fact I defy you to find a NA animal the 45COLT will not send a 250GR SWC bullet at 1075FPS straight though from any angle. A 45COLT loaded with 300GR bullets can do all that at 1000-1050FPS from a COLT SAA 45 sixgun.
And the 45COLT can do this at 1/3 less pressure than the 44MAG needs.
The 44MAG is NOT even close.
And so it goes...
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Old March 24, 2012, 04:23 PM   #8
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The 45 Colt is a fine old cartage but if you need a Magnum get the 44. Don't make the 45 into some thing it was not intend to be. Yes you can load the 45 hot to equal or exceed the 44 mag but the beauty of the 45 colt is that it is a very capable round even at it's standard loading. I have a custom Ruger 45 Colt (three screw) that I load hot, + P not Ruger only, when picking huckleberries but am happy with standard loads the rest of the time.
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Old March 24, 2012, 04:30 PM   #9
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I really like loading .45 Colt to the middle ground between SAAMI and "Ruger Only". Stuff that would be abusive to shoot in an old Colt SAA, but wouldn't blow it up either. The fun wears off after just a couple of shots with 255 grain bullets at 1400 fps from a handgun. But the same bullet at 1050 to 1100 is a *lot* easier to shoot and should still be enough to kill a buffalo.
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Old March 24, 2012, 04:34 PM   #10
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Dont kid yourself.... My family and I kill, butcher and smoke our own meats and from personal experience I can tell you my wifes XD 40 Compact with Corbon DPX brought the end to a much quicker end then my friends Taurus Judge loaded with some silvertip crap of some kind or another...

Every hog my wife shot quit kicking in seconds and certainly less than a minute with full expansion and almost full weight retention... My friends 14 dollar a box silvercraps took over two minutes to bring the hogs to an end even though all the hogs were shot in the same way with the same aim point. His bullets seem to tend not to expand reliably and/or fully..

So yes maybe the 45LC can be whatever monster killer you want but like anything else a simple poor choice of cheap, poor performing hollowpoints made it questionable at best....

We dont want animals to suffer for one second more than necessary and in this case under these circumstances the silver stuff did do the job.... poorly...
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Old March 24, 2012, 04:40 PM   #11
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If you don't handload, the 44mag has off the shelf loads that are about all the power 99% of us could ever need. If you do handload, the 44mag is all of the power 99% of us could ever need.

Outdoor Life mag had an aritle where the auther used 310 grain Buffalo Bore 44mag cartidges against a cape buffalo. The bullet penetrated 39" of buffalo killing it cleanly with one shot at 40 yards. I doubt a 500 S&W would have done noticeably better and would have been a pain to pack day in and day out on a stalk.

I second not trying to make the 45LC in to something it's not but either round, properly loaded, are fine for anything you should be shooting with a revolver. It nauseates me to watch some guy at the pistol range shooting his 454 and flinching and just being happy hitting the paper, then quitting after shooting only 20 or so rounds. That's not what good shooting is all about. Yet, if that same guy were to shoot at a deer and not kill it quickly or with one or two shots, he'd be apt to blame the gun and then want a 500 or some other bigger gun when it is not the gun's fault he didn't kill the animal.

Use enough gun but only so much as you can shoot well and consistantly.

Also, if you want a real thumper, get a 50 WE (Wyoming Express). That puts any subcalibers to shame.
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Old March 24, 2012, 04:56 PM   #12
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Simple answer, Here in wyoming, you can hunt big game with the .44 mag.

you CAN NOT with the .45 colt.

Any balistics chart show ft lbs of energy at given yards, and the .44 mag wins that battle.
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Old March 24, 2012, 05:17 PM   #13
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They're really intended for different things. The .45 Colt started out as a Military round for shooting people, a job it still does very well. The .44 Mag was developed to hunt, this it does well. While you can load up some strong .45 guns much hotter, you're getting into areas where the standard .45 load wasn't originally made to go. You can use a .44 Mag as a combat round but it has a longer recovery time and a lot of it's energy is wasted beyond the target. I carried a .44 Mag for years and loaded it down for duty use. I now carry a .45 Colt and it does what I wanted from a .44 Mag all along.
It's like asking which is 'better' a VW Jetta or a Ford F150. Well, depends on how much hay you're hauling I guess?
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Old March 24, 2012, 05:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
The 45 Colt is a fine old cartage but if you need a Magnum get the 44. Don't make the 45 into some thing it was not intend to be. Yes you can load the 45 hot to equal or exceed the 44 mag but the beauty of the 45 colt is that it is a very capable round even at it's standard loading. I have a custom Ruger 45 Colt (three screw) that I load hot, + P not Ruger only, when picking huckleberries but am happy with standard loads the rest of the time.
I understand your opinion, but I do not agree with your opening remark. Yes, in a revolver not built for stout loads, a .45 Colt is what it is. And a .44 Magnum has substantially more power. But saying "don't make it into some thing it was not intended to be" strikes me as odd. At the time, the .45 Colt was the most powerful self-contained cartridge revolver in the world. By today's standards, factory loadings are rather anemic, but at the time, it was state-of-the-art. So if one handloads, and has a revolver chambered in .45 Colt that can handle elevated pressures, you can have a revolver that shoots anything from blackpowder cartridges, to low-pressure Cowboy Action loads, to medium-power rounds, all the way up to heavy, hard-cast bullets capable of taking down almost game on Earth.

It isn't making it out to something it wasn't intended to be. It's using the full capabilities of a great .45-caliber cartridge that will outperform a .44 Magnum any day of the week. I'm positive if Elmer Keith would have had access to a modern revolver with five cylinders rather than six, he would have poured powder in .45 Colt cases topped with 300 grain Keith SWC's and never even sniffed at the .44!
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Old March 24, 2012, 06:29 PM   #15
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get a 454 or 460... obviously.
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Old March 24, 2012, 06:35 PM   #16
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Beside the point, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Budda
Simple answer, Here in wyoming, you can hunt big game with the .44 mag.

you CAN NOT with the .45 colt.

Any balistics chart show ft lbs of energy at given yards, and the .44 mag wins that battle.
That is a result of man's law, not physics, not ballistics.

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Old March 24, 2012, 07:09 PM   #17
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Load it mild to wild in the right revolver ... at a lower pressure than .44Mag....

Dissolving the Myth -- Linebaugh .

Ross Seyfried on .45 Colt

Simply draw your own conclusions, but I prefer the .45 Colt for all my needs... I do reload so that is a factor. No need for a .454 or .460 or .. .480 ... .45 Colt will do the job on any continent ... given the right revolver of course. FA or Ruger come to mind.

Quote:
Any balistics chart show ft lbs of energy at given yards, and the .44 mag wins that battle.
Not if loaded properly ... Factory to factory (well, Buffalo bore is expection) I would agree.
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Old March 24, 2012, 07:35 PM   #18
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I assumed we were talking about common factory loads.....If you are reloading then it is a whole other debate of recipies.

Factory .44mag will out power Factory .45 LC.....FACT

Beyond factory load of .45lc it is going into .454 cas or .460 S&W realm.

then it is NOT a .45LC anymore.

THE OP didn't ask what it could be loaded to.
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:00 PM   #19
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I think it is fair to compare +P 45 Colt loads (Ruger only) to +P 44 mag loads, also fired in a Ruger Redhawk (not a Super Redhawk).
The highest loads I could find published anywhere are as follows:

44 magnum +P in Ruger Redhawk 7-1/2"
310 gr WFN-GC using Lil Gun at 1495 fps

45 Colt +P Ruger Redhawk 7-1/2"
310 gr SWC using H110 at 1330 fps

Over a 160 fps advantage to the 44 magnum, fired with the same weight bullet, from the same revolver. Yes, the magnum gives it's greater velocity and energy because of greater pressure, but the smaller case allows for that pressure in the same gun, because more steel is left in the cylinder and barrel throat areas.

The 44 magnum is the more powerful cartridge.

Last edited by black mamba; March 25, 2012 at 09:06 AM.
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:15 PM   #20
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in a modern gun the 45 long colt and the 44mag are or can be loaded to roughly the same performance......but most standard 45 long colt is only loaded to barely above 45 acp because of the proliferance of old style revolvers on the market/collectors guns.....

there are manufacturers aplenty who make modern loaded 45lc ammo...but these ammo's are not to be used in old guns
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:25 PM   #21
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OP

Quote:
I have seen some folks stating that 45 Colt outperforms the 44 Magnum cartridge.
Outperforms?

Quote:
Beyond factory load of .45lc it is going into .454 cas or .460 S&W realm.

then it is NOT a .45LC anymore.
Hopefully, when people shoot those hot 45 Colts out of inferior guns, it will just hurt the gun. But the same can be said about hot (+P or +P+) 44mags too.

I mean when your talking about these superior 45 Colt ammo. What gun, or gun's can you shoot them with. I think it would be easier to make a list of can do's, than can don't's.

Just like my Buffalo Bore 44mag 340gr +P+ FLHC rated at 1425 (1401 5.5" barrel) fps/1533 lbs. Some 44s are not recommended to be shot with them, including a S&W 29/629.

Same deal, right?

Sounds to me like splitting hair's. I'm certainly not going out to get a 45Colt because it will outperform my 5.5" Redhawk 44mag.

But what do I know, I'm just another Internet expert.
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Sounds to me like splitting hair's. I'm certainly not going out to get a 45Colt because it will outperform my 5.5" Redhawk 44mag.
Also, I'd get a 460/454/45colt.
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Old March 25, 2012, 12:04 AM   #23
JBBYERSRN@VERIZON.NE
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Take a look at factory Buffalo Bore loads for a comparison
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Old March 25, 2012, 12:22 AM   #24
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Question for the non reloaders of these big bore revolvers. How much do you shoot your gun? How many rounds a month on average? What kind of prices do you pay for the ammo.

Was curious to see how cost of shooting compared between the 2
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Old March 25, 2012, 06:33 AM   #25
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IS a Colt Anaconda in .45 Colt strong enough for Buffalo Bore +P?
It seems bank vault strong.
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