View Full Version : 45 Colt CAS reloading recipe?

February 23, 2009, 04:17 AM
I am trying to tone down a 45 LC load, for Cowboy Action Shooting. I had loaded some practice rounds utilizing a 200g RNFP lead (lubed) bullet. (This bullet is produced by an outfit called “BulletWorks”). I used Starline brass, CCI 300 primer and charged it with 7.0g of Unique powder. I took these practice rounds down the road to my shooting spot, and they seemed to work fine.

I loaded up about 300 of these, and yesterday headed off to my first CAS, at a range about 60 miles from my home.

The problem? At the shoot I was plagued with inconsistent performance of these rounds. On multiple occasions, the bullet would just barely make it out the barrel (and they had preformed very well in my practice session!)

I am wondering if the light load does not sufficiently fill the case, resulting in an inconsistent powder ignition…? Would the use of a Magnum primer help?

As I loaded these I used a powder measure, checking every 5 to 10 rounds on the scale, and never found ANY to be under charged.

Any help would be appreciated!

February 23, 2009, 05:34 AM
Contaminated powder maybe?

February 23, 2009, 05:52 AM
Without pulling out my manuals,I will give you some general information.

I assume you have a fixed sight pistol,for CAS.The good news is,you can do a lot to bring point of aim to point of impact by varying loads.
By varying bullet weights and burn rates,you can do quite a bit to "sight in"

That may help you decide if you use 200 gr or 250's.,quicker or slower powder,and to some extent,how heavy to load.

45 Colt is a big blackpowder case.Loading little 5 gr charges leaves a lot of room for inconsistency.I like bulky charges.

If temps were extreme,hot melts bullet lube,cold makes powder sleepy

Many good powders for a cartridge do not perform worth a darn if the pressures are too low.Cylinder gap leakage in a wheel gun compounds the problem.Holy squib load,batman.Stuck bullet.
This leads up to,if you want a light recoil game gun,the 45LC is not the best choice.Yeah,the guys with 38's and 32's will have an edge.

Try keeping velocities up a bit,go a little more than minimum start load.750-800 fps,depending on bullet.

Of course,be sure you have a firm crimp

Just to be sure,look at your firing pin strikes.If they move around,off center,could be a bolt index issue in the heat of things.You would want to get that fixed.Not good to go bang with the cylinder a bit out of line.

Have fun

February 23, 2009, 12:09 PM
Hawg Haggen
Contaminated powder maybe?

This was a freshly opened bottle (though it is an older bottle). It had been stored on a shelf, in the downstairs of a split-level house, out of direct sunlight. To give an idea of the age of the powder, I think the price on it was around $16.50 for the one pound bottle.


All very valid points, but here is my dilemma. I intend on moving on to mounted shooting (and at this point two sets of revolvers is out of the question). Thus, my choice to go with my Ruger Vaqueros (one newer model and one older) in 45 LC.

Try keeping velocities up a bit,go a little more than minimum start load.750-800 fps,depending on bullet.

That is exactly what I was attempting to do, though I am beginning to doubt that is going to be possible with the 200 grain bullet. I have two older versions of Hornady reloading manuals and one by Nosler, and info on lead bullets are generally limited to WC and SWC.

As I have about 700 more of these 200g RNFP bullets, I guess I just need to figure out what the minimum, consistent, load for that bullet will be…and if switching to a different powder, and / or primer would help.

Thank you both for your input!

February 23, 2009, 03:23 PM
Try to find a little blue "loadbook" for 45 Colt,it is a compilation,and has Lyman data.Lyman gives a lot of cast loads.Also,www.laser-cast.com has a loading book.The listed powders in lasercast 200 gr are HP-38,Clays,Unique,Bullseye,XMP5744,231,700X,Reddot,titegroup.

I used to load 700X in a sheriff's model with good results.

I prefer to let the loading manuals give you charge weights.Good luck
One other thing,if otherwise good ammo sits in the truck in the sun,the bullet lube can melt and run.It might cause problems

February 23, 2009, 07:10 PM
I use 7.0 grs. of W231 with 200 gr. RNFP's in my 44-40's. Not exactly a mild load but not too hot either. Very consistent and accurate to boot.

February 23, 2009, 11:50 PM
Try Trailboss, it seem's to work perfect for me with most all bullet weights, and is made just for us 45lc fans!

February 24, 2009, 12:07 PM
O.K. Here is another thought… I used a C.O.L. 1.595, and I will admit, not being able to find data on the bullet I was using this was a guess (bases upon the data, for other bullets, from the three aforementioned reloading manuals I have). If this is too long of a C.O.L. could that have caused my problems? Any suggestions on a proper C.O.L. for this round?

February 25, 2009, 02:45 AM
......so you're OK there. Unique is actually one of the very best powders for .45 Colt. I use 9.5 grains of it under a 255 grain cast bullet in my original Vaquero which some manuals show to be slightly over maximum for older guns. Nothing beats this load for accuracy in my gun but some will equal it. For lighter loads I'm sold on 6.2 grains of Titegroup with the same bullet for 840 fps. But, since you're into playing Cowboys-and-Indians, here's a really fun load I will suggest: 255 grain lead bullet, [It's authentic, ya know...], CCI-350 magnum primer, a well-tamped down and lightly compressed charge of fffg black powder, the real stuff. In solid-head cases I can only get about 32 grains of it in there but I have some old UMC balloon head cases that will take more. With real Blackpowder it has to be packed full with no air space left. Run a box of these through your gun and you will gain a fresh perspective of the Little Bighorn and the OK Corral. You may also never shoot wimpy loads again. When the Colt SAA was first offered to the Army for evaluation it was a .44. It was rejected for something bigger. I suppose that the cavalry wanted a revolver that was capable of killing both a horse and its Comanche rider in one shot since they were in the habit of using their horses as a sheild while they fired from beneath the horse's neck as they raced by at a full gallop. If I recall correctly some American officer observed and declared that the Comanche were, "the finest light-cavalry the world has ever seen...".

February 25, 2009, 07:56 PM
smokeless?? :barf::barf:

Once you use black, you never go back.

February 25, 2009, 09:11 PM
First thing that comes to mind is the crimp. With that particular load (I used the same for awhile too) a heavy crimp gave me very consistent results. A light crimp gave inconsistent results.
Regarding the C.O.L. Are you seating the bullet out a ways to get a particular C.O.L.? Past the crimp groove? That could be a problem too. Seat the bullet in the case and crimp the bullet in the groove the bullet has. A heavy roll crimp by the way.
Your primer is a good one. No problems there.

February 28, 2009, 01:35 PM
choice number 1 Black powder
choice number 2 trail boss

other than that nothing else matters. trail boss is an excellent powder it fills the cases up very nicely. Problem you are experiencing is inconsistantcy. the rounds are in consistant with each other. the powder in that large of a case could move forward backwork. just to inconsistant. trailboss on the other hand fills up the case very nicely and gives a more consistant results. only other thing that can give you this constistantcy is black powder or the use of regular powders with wads and fillers.

March 2, 2009, 08:04 AM
I set the bullets in this lot down a little farther and REALLY tightened up the crimp. I had about 175 of them left and I went out and shot them without any glitches (and they seemed to pattern pretty well). After that I loaded 200 more, making sure to get them crimped tightly into the groove, and everyone of them worked great!

Thank you all for your help!