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Old June 14, 2013, 12:00 PM   #1
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45lc load for both a new vaquero and 1892 lever gun

Since I was little I always had a thing for western style firearms but did not grow up in a firearm friendly home or community. About 6 months ago I purchased my first firearm, a Miroku made Winchester 1892 case hardened sporter in 45LC. I also (more recently) purchased a new Ruger Vaquero 7.5 inch barrel in 45LC as well. I’ve done some research prior to and after my purchase but since I’m so new to firearm ownership; I’m looking to get opinions on a load I could use for both firearms. I’ve read that people tend to use hand loads as most factory loads can be anemic and/or expensive and I’m definitely open to hand loading although I know I need much more experience using the guns and studying the process. In a load, this is what I’m looking for:

1. I plan to keep the rifle with factory specs (open sights). So I would probably only need accurate rounds out to about 100 yards out of the 24 inch barrel of the rifle

2. No hot loads. I know the 1892 can take them but not the vaquero.

3. Bullets that can cycle through the 1892. I was first thinking a kieth style swc but read they may not cycle through the lever action

4. Killing power. I’ve never hunted (although I would like to get into it) but want the load capable of taking white tailed deer. I don’t need bear killing power, but I would like a load that could be used defensively against dangerous game (just eastern US). Also the minimal muzzle velocity for deer hunting in my state is 1200fps and I would like the load to meet or exceed that.

I’m guessing I’m asking for too much here. If you could please phrase your answers so a novice like me could understand it would be greatly appreciated. Also any advice for getting started with firearms/hand loading/hunting is also greatly appreciated.
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Old June 14, 2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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Then take a peek at the LH side of the Ruger's cylinder frame.

If the frame's stamped "New Vaquero", then your correct in that it cannot take loads as strenuous as the Model 92.

But, if it's just stamped "Vaquero", it's an "Old Vaquero, with the larger frame - and can accept loads that are fully the equal of anything the Model 92 will.

All sharp-shouldered boolits, like Keith-style SWC's, don't usually cycle/feed easily (if at all) in most leverguns.

I used to use (commercial) Cor-Bon loads in my Rossi M92 .45 Colt for hunting, before I sold the rifle.
The Cor-Bons are strenuous loads, and (according to their label) are rated @ 1100fps - but IDK from what bbl length.

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Old June 14, 2013, 12:34 PM   #3
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Look at 250 or 255 grain RNFP bullets, and also Lee's 230 grain truncated cones.

What you probably want are max loads from the "normal" .45 Colt charts (not the "Ruger" loads) using a medium-slow powder like Herco or Blue Dot.

ETA: Then there's always compressed loads of Black Powder. That works really will in .45LC, almost like the cartridge was designed for it
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Last edited by zxcvbob; June 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM.
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Old June 14, 2013, 01:04 PM   #4
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Find a loading manual and look up loads that send a 250gr lrn bullet out of your vaquero at about 900fps.

That should translate into a deer round in your 1892.
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Old June 14, 2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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You've got the right idea about reloading the 45. I've been using 9-10gr of Unique under 255-275gr bullets for a long time. 9 goes 950-1000 and 10 goes 1000-1050. These are safe in the small frame Rugers.
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Old June 14, 2013, 02:19 PM   #6
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The 250gr bullet on top of 10gr Unique does 1000fps+/- depending on pistol barrel length, and it is top end max for a Colt SAA in the old reloading books. That load will be safe (although top end) in a New Vaquero, or your carbine.

No idea what that load will do out of a carbine barrel, but I would expect another 200+ fps or maybe more, at a guess. A load with a slower powder would likely give higher performance from a carbine, but not quite so much from a pistol.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old June 16, 2013, 08:54 PM   #7
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I've been running 8.7 gr of Unique under a 255gr RNFP in my New Vaquero which is pretty fun.
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Old June 18, 2013, 08:13 AM   #8
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what these guys have said... plus... I have a pair of new Vaqueros & a Rossi stainless & brass lever "rifle" ( as opposed to a carbine ) if you are wanting to hunt with your combo, the truncated cone bullet ( or a newer jacked hollow point ) bullets are likely to be your best option... since I do Cowboy shooting, I load mid level loads with Trailboss powder & use truncated cone bullets, with 100% cycling reliability... the round nose can improve feeding if you are having issues, as can adjusting your cartridge over all length a little if needed...

250ish grain bullets with medium loads will likely get you shooting to point of aim with your fixed sights on the revolver
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Old June 18, 2013, 04:03 PM   #9
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SWC bullets might be just fine in your rifle.
Before giving up on them, try some first.
They've worked just fine in Marlins.
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Old June 24, 2013, 04:18 PM   #10
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About powder choices.....

In my 45 Colt experiments I found that faster burning powders only gained perhaps 100 or so FPS when fired from the rifle vs the revolver. Medium burning powders would gain perhaps 200 FPS; and the slow burning powders would gain 300+ FPS. Since your revolver is the weakest link, avoid using H-110 or W-296 powders since they aren't suitable to reduced loading to the pressure limitations of your Vaquero. Try to find some AA-9 or IMR-4227. In these days of shortages you may have to make substitutions...... I use the Lee 255 grain hand-cast RNFP bullet and it has a big flat point that cycles reliably in lever-guns. Work up a maximum safe load with either of those two powders or a comparable substitute and you should be able to safely get 1,000 or somewhat better FPS in your revolver, depending on powder. The same load should be clocking around 1,300 -1,400 from the rifle. Remember that you alone are responsible for the outcome of your handloading choices. It can be a safe and rewarding hobby or a dangerous mistake. Also, a lubricated cast bullet will give higher velocity than the same weight jacketed bullet at the same pressures with the same powders. Be safe, have fun, and good luck finding the right stuff.
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Old June 25, 2013, 06:47 AM   #11
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I've been using 8.6 gr unique and a hard cast 250 gr rnfp.
The load is great out of my rifle but my last
go at it I shot just my 7 1/2" Vaquero and
my wrist was sore for a day or two.
I'm gonna have to back off a bit, after all,
it's about the fun.
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Old June 25, 2013, 08:43 AM   #12
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I got a Win 94 45 Colt new for $200 10 years ago at Big5.
I have some Uberti Cattleman revolvers in 45 Colt that I got old and used.

I have been shooting the same 22 kpsi load in both:
250 gr XTP JHP 24 gr H110 roll crimp into the canalure at 1.6" OAL.

Both kick like a mule.
I put a scope and a large grind to fit Limbsaver on the rifle. That works.
I get 1536 fps from the 16.25" rifle barrel, and 1.5" groups at 50y.
I get 1220 fps from the 4.25" revolver barrel.

I have been doing this for 10 years, but I think that I should be loading the rifle for more power and the revolver for less, because of the recoil.
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Old July 1, 2013, 01:54 PM   #13
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A good 250gr at 1000fps from the sixgun is hard to beat and can be easily done in the New Vaquero, or even a bit higher up towards 1150fps. I would suggest finding an accurate load with 2400 around 1100fps maximum or 1000fps with Unique. The rifle will gain 200-300fps over those numbers. Even with Unique, my .38-40 and .44Mag loads run nearly 300fps faster than revolver velocities.

But, if it's just stamped "Vaquero", it's an "Old Vaquero, with the larger frame - and can accept loads that are fully the equal of anything the Model 92 will.
Actually the modern 1892 is about 20,000psi stronger than a large frame Vaquero.
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Old July 1, 2013, 06:54 PM   #14
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I’m guessing I’m asking for too much here
No you’re not, and that’s the great thing about the 45 Colt. For cowboy I use a Penn 200 GR RNFPBB which is a great round in lever actions and will never jam. He has the same bullet in 255 GR. The nice thing about the 200 is that it will also work well in the 45ACP. And there is also a 152 GR bullets which I have never tried. Don’t know how it would work in the two guns you’re talking about but this is just one manufacture.
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Old July 2, 2013, 12:09 AM   #15
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Don't have a 45 Colt anymore, but when I did my favorite load was 9.0 gr of Unique under a 250 gr bullet, either jacketed or lead. Should give you about 1,100 fps out of the rifle and 900 fps out of the revolver. Newer reloading manuals list it as a max load, but back in the 80s it was not.
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Old July 4, 2013, 05:33 AM   #16
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bullet size

To all you guys shooting the 45 colt from a lever action.I've never had any luck with accuracy from my win 94 45 colt. would it be possible that the lead bullets were too small.All the lead heads were sized. 452.I really like the rifle but if I cant get it to shoot at least 3" at 50 yards it will have to go.Right now the best I can do is 8 or 9" at 50 yards and that is even with a scope.
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Old July 4, 2013, 09:40 AM   #17
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It's possible, might want to slug your bore to see.
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Old July 5, 2013, 12:26 PM   #18
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My buddy's 1892 clone feeds SWC's without problem. YMMV.
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Old July 5, 2013, 07:30 PM   #19
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:46 PM   #20
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6.0gr of Tightgroup with a Lee 255gr LRNFP is economical and shoots great out my Henry Big Boy and new Vaquero.
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1892 , 45lc , vaquero

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