View Full Version : Reloading black powder 45 colt

February 27, 2011, 12:56 AM
I've reloaded many rounds of 45 colt with smokeless powder, but lately I've got the itch to reload some of my 45 colt brass with black powder. Anyways, my question is where can I find some BP load data/info to get me safely started?


February 27, 2011, 06:21 AM
Fill case to within 1/16 of mouth with powder. Seat bullet. If you must have a lighter load use a filler like cornmeal. Do not load bp with an air space.

February 27, 2011, 09:38 AM
1/16 from the mouth of the case seems like that would allow for too much compression of the powder once the bullet is seated??

I have some FFFg at the house I can use. Also, I've heard that you should use magnum primers with BP loads for a better ignition. Any thoughts on that? What about bullet type/weight?

February 27, 2011, 10:21 AM
Black must be compressed. As long as you can seat a bullet it will be fine. I use standard primers in my 44-40's with Pyrodex. 250 grain RN is traditional weight and style for a .45 Colt but use whatever weight/style you want. I use a 200 gr. RNFP in my 44's. Just don't use smokeless lubes on your bullets.

February 27, 2011, 10:45 AM
45 Colt is a very versatile round with black powder. There are many combinations of powder charges and bullet weights. Some folks go with 25 grains and use fillers such as grits or Cream-of-Wheat to take up space. Others, like myself, like to load with 35 grains upto the max of 40 grains FFFg. For real BP most folks I know use FFFg in 45 Colt but there are some who use FFg. Either one is appropriate. You be the judge.

As far as bullets go the choices are considerably more than powder charges. Since you already do 45 Colt reloading you know that with a "newer" firearm you'll probably want a 0.452 bullet whereas the "older" firearms typically chamber a 0.454 bullet.

With BP reloading lubrication is key. Use a BP compatible lube or buy bullets that have a BP compatible lube. Leave the hard crayon type lube for your smokeless powder loads. The soft BP lube will help out greatly in keeping BP fouling at a minimum whereas with smokeless lube you may end up with messy goo.

The picture below shows some great choices for BP 45 Colt reloading. From left to right you are looking at: 0.454 RB, 150gr Biglube, 200gr Biglube, 250gr Biglube, then a 250gr RNFP for contrast. The 3 bullets in the middle are called Biglube bullets for a reason. You can see the huge lube groove filled with BP compatible lube. The RNFP on the right has a rather small groove filled with hard crayon type lube that is great for smokeless but not so much for BP. If you already have a bunch of smokeless bulllets with the crayon lube you could melt it out and replace it with BP lube. I've done that in the past. However, BP generally likes much more lube than the little groove will hold. BTW, you can reload 45 Colt with a round ball if you like. Lots of folks like to create "gallery loads" that typically have a small powder charge (18-20gr or so) and top it off with a round ball. They do this just for grins to do a little plinking.

As for primers, standard large pistol primers work great. BP has a rather low ignition point compared to some BP substitute powders.


February 27, 2011, 05:02 PM
Thanks Clem.

So it is okay to weigh FFFg using a powder scale? I always heard you measured it only by volume. Sorry for my ignorance. I'm new to the whole BP thing.

February 27, 2011, 05:15 PM
Yes, absolutely you can weigh your FFFg charges. No two lots of black powder are going to be exactly the same. They are close enough for guberment work. Theoretically, 30 grain of FFg by volume (using a black powder volumetric measure) will weigh 30 grains on a scale. That's FFg I'm talking about. FFFg is close enough in this regard where you'd expect 30 grains volumetrically to be about 30 grains in weight. That's the theory anyway....

In reality there are a considerable number of fellas who don't measure the powder either volumetrically or by weight. They just dump the powder in the casing and make sure they have enough to allow for compression of the powder. 1/8" to 3/8" of compression is a reasonable range for most folks. Just never ever leave an air gap and ALWAYS have some compression. If you have to use a filler on top of the BP to make sure you get compression.

You can feel free to fill 45 Colt up to the top of the casing then compress that down with either a compression plug or the bullet. Generally, that gets you around 38 grains or so. 40 grains is generally the maximum. I find I need to use a drop tube to get 40 grains to fit into the casing.

February 27, 2011, 06:35 PM
Thanks for the help!

Foto Joe
February 28, 2011, 10:35 AM
I might have missed it, but you didn't state that you were thinking of weighing "Real" Black Powder. Substitutes like Pyrodex are lighter than BP so you probably couldn't stuff 40gr of Pyrodex into a 45 Colt brass without a ballpeen hammer, but I just thought I'd make the point of real versus substitute.

Also, as ClemBert stated you will need to get all the airspace out via compression. Be gentle if you are trying to do this with a soft lead bullet or you will QUICKLY deform the bullet.

You should also check your brass to see if it chambers "Before" you resize it. If it chambers easily, skip the resize and just de-cap and prime.

I'm one of those guys who ClemBert referenced for Gallery Loads, there's more way to load 45 Colt than you can shake a stick at and they're a lot of fun!!

Mike Irwin
February 28, 2011, 10:42 AM
One word of caution...

If you decide to use a powder thrower, you MUST use one made specifically for black powder with all brass (non sparking) parts.

Foto Joe
February 28, 2011, 10:50 AM
If you decide to use a powder thrower, you MUST use one made specifically for black powder with all brass (non sparking) parts.

I'm going to respectfully dis-agree with that statement. I'd be more inclined to make sure that your powder dispenser states that it can be used for "All Powders". You certainly don't want to use a dispenser with a steel or iron gate in it, but you'd be nuts to use one of those for smokeless as well. I and others here use a Lee Perfect Powder Measure and the data sheet does state that it is safe for "All Powders". There are some dispensers out there which specifically say NOT to use them for Black Powder though.

Mike Irwin
February 28, 2011, 11:02 AM
Of course, you are correct, Joe.

But this is the Blackpowder forum, and those new fangled plasticky thingies haven't been invented yet!

Smokeless powder? What the hell is that? :)

"You certainly don't want to use a dispenser with a steel or iron gate in it, but you'd be nuts to use one of those for smokeless as well."

On that I'm going to have to disagree.

Many current measures designed for use with smokeless powder, including the RCBS Uniflow, Midway's units, etc., use iron and/or steel rotors, slides, etc. without issue.

I've used my Uniflow on and off for over 25 years without an issue.

I do use a Lee Pro Disk for my general handgun loading, though.

Foto Joe
February 28, 2011, 11:08 AM
Modern technology, where would we be without it??