View Full Version : Favorite .45 Colt powder for 225-230 gr cast bullets

July 26, 2012, 12:07 AM

I am looking for input on everyones favorite powder for .45 Colt loads. I am using 225 and 230 gr cast RN bullets.

I just picked up a Ruger BlackHawk and the dies. I had some 231 on hand and loaded 16 rounds tonight. They shot OK, but I bet there is a better powder that fills the case a bit better.

One of my manuals says AA#5 is good. Anyone use it?

July 26, 2012, 12:54 AM
I used to use Unique for all things .45 Colt. Now I'm switching to Universal.

When the 8# of Universal is about half gone I'll decide if I want to switch back to Unique...

For case filling, nothing tops Trail Boss except maybe black powder.

July 26, 2012, 06:11 AM
I've used 231, AA#5, Unique and Trailboss in my Blackhawk and my Tarus rifle. Unique is the standard, more or less, but Trailboss has been very accurate in both. I mostly use Unique.

July 26, 2012, 10:37 AM
Unique. Trail Boss is expensive but I like it.

July 26, 2012, 10:45 AM
I just recently switched to AA#5, It has proven very accurate in my Vaquero and Uberti
My cylinders have been opened up on the Ruger so both guns are pretty equal at this point.
Same load shoots well in my Father In Laws Winchester Loading 255's

July 26, 2012, 10:51 AM
I don't shoot the lighter bullets. The classic 250-255g (RNFP or SWC) is what I like to shoot. I've found good loads with Unique/Universal, Titegroup, TrailBoss, Power Pistol, IMR 4227 (my current favorite), Green Dot, Red Dot, AA#5, W231, and a few other I've not listed. Sorry I can't help with the 'lighter' CAS bullets....

I just picked up a Ruger BlackHawk.... Check your cylinder throat dimensions. Should be be able to push with finger pressure a .452 bullet into each throat. Just a heads up for 'accuracy' concerns. I had to ream all of my .45 Colt cylinders to .4525..... Helps accuracy and leading.

July 26, 2012, 11:11 AM
My favorite powder with 230 grain cast bullets is Alliant Promo. (you can sub Red Dot)

For heavier bullets I generally use Herco, but Blue Dot is good too -- .45 Colt is the only cartridge I've found that likes Blue Dot.

July 26, 2012, 12:31 PM
Trail Boss is ideal for less than full power loads in this calibre. It was specifically designed to be bulky making accidental double charges impossible. I love the stuff and use it in 45 Colt, 44 Special and 38 special. Meters smoothly and accurately through both of my measures and shoots relatively clean.

July 26, 2012, 04:07 PM
Thanks folks. I do have Unique on my bench, as I use it for .44 spl. I will try some TrailBoss as well. I like the idea of getting the case a bit fuller than the 231 did on my maiden .45 colt reloading voyage. Some reason it just seems to easy to double charge a case when it is only 1/4 full! 7.6 grains of 231 only fills the .45 Colt about 1/4.

July 26, 2012, 07:41 PM
8.5 gr of Unique is sort of a standard loading for 45 LC. I loaded some at 8.0 gr Unique (255gr SWC) for my BH (5.5") and they shot very well and very consistent. 8.0 gr gave me 830 fps/ 7 fps avg dev/ 33 fps ext spd/ 11 fps sd.
I havent had a chance to chrony the ones at 8.5 grains, but they shot well also.

WW-231 start loads shot well (717fps/ 18fps avg dev/ 83fps ext spd/ 28fps sd.) They were very light and I need to work it up some more. No groups, but short range plinking shows promise and I intend to work with the 231 more and see how it shoots when I get er up there to 900 fps or better.

I did also load some start loads with Trailboss. 6.2 gr got me 717fps/ 28fps avg dev/ 119fps ext spd. Need more work with this powder too.

^ All these with 255 SWCs @ .452. This should give you an idea where you're at (or will be) with these in the BH. HTH.

black mamba
July 27, 2012, 12:29 AM
I have not tried it yet, but IMR-800X is a bulky powder with a burning rate slower than Unique, and it has a great reputation for accuracy. 9.0 grains is a max loading in standard pressure 45 Colt with a 230 RN, and should give about a 60% fill to the bottom of the bullet, so double charges should not be a problem. It's the next powder on my list to try. So far, 231 (actually HP-38) works well for me. It's clean and accurate.

July 27, 2012, 12:59 AM
In my experience, 800X meters better than cornflakes. A little better...

Mike Irwin
July 27, 2012, 08:03 AM
Not sure if there is loading data for 230-gr. bullets, but I've been using Universal Clays in my .45 LC and have REALLY been liking it.

I'm shooting 255-gr. LSWC hard cast out of a Smith 25-5.

July 27, 2012, 10:19 AM
I did also load some start loads with Trailboss. 6.2 gr got me 717fps/ 28fps avg dev/ 119fps ext spd. Need more work with this powder too. Here some of the tests I ran with TB :

.45 Colt 255g SWC Trail Boss test (http://rugerforum.net/reloading/27860-trail-boss-12.html#post507621)

.45 Colt 250g RNFP Trail Boss Test (http://rugerforum.net/reloading/27860-trail-boss-13.html#post520393)

.44Mag 240g SWC Trail Boss Test (http://rugerforum.net/reloading/27860-trail-boss-13.html#post551339)

July 27, 2012, 10:48 AM

Thanks for those tests. It looks like TB at 7.5gr will give me 900+ fps with the lighter bullets. Did you notice any leading when you got above 7.5gr with the 240 gr load?

I have decided to add TB to my powder collection. Really, what is another $30?


July 27, 2012, 10:56 AM
No significant leading with any of the 240g SWC .44Magnum loads. You will be using the .45 Colt so will be different.

July 27, 2012, 11:14 AM

I purchased a lot at a local estate auction and it had 500+ 225 and 230gr lead rn bullets at 0.452". Thus the reason I am using them to start with on my new BlackHawk! The old fella must have liked them in his 1911!:)

Since this is a new gun, I don't have much brass yet. The 16 rounds I loaded the other night were into Winchester cases that I had scrounged at the range. The 231 at 7.6gr shot well enough, was hitting a 2"x4"x10" lumber scrap at 30' before I finished the 16! Not much recoil, but I still worry about the case only being 1/4 full. It is a bit wierd to hear that powder sloshing around in the ammo!

I like the Trail Boss suggestion, so when I get some cases, I will try it out.

Mike, you mentioned Clays. I have never used this powder either, how did it fill the case? What was your starting load for the 250's?

Thanks to everyone else, all suggestions are being filed. This thread will get a lot of "search" request from me in the comming years!

Mike Irwin
July 27, 2012, 11:30 AM
I'd have to go back and look at my notes for my specific load of Universal Clays in the .45 LC.

Loading density was OK, but you could probably get a triple charge in there without overflowing the case.

Other than Trail Boss and possibly Unique, that's the nature of pistol powders these days. They're not at all bulky so they don't fill the cases well.

I had lots of problems with this in my .44 Special. When Trail Boss came it, it was a godsend for that cartridge as it filled the case well and came very close to matching original balistics. And it was accurate, to boot.

July 27, 2012, 12:05 PM
Mike, I use 7.5g Universal (and Unique) in my .44Spec under 240g and like it. I noticed Universal doesn't like 'light' loads. Just my observation!

As for .45 Colt, I couldn't tell any real difference between using Unique and Universal performance wise in the 8.0g to 9.0g range for 250-255g bullets. I'll recheck my notes as well. I like 4227 as it shoots very well and fills the case. But the downside is that the 20g loads eat the can of powder up pretty quickly (not to economical).

Uncle Buck
July 28, 2012, 10:04 AM
I use the 231 for my .45 ACP, but for all my revolver cartridges I really like 700-X.

I buy it in 8 pound jugs from powder valley (So far this year just two jugs, to dang hot to shoot as much this year.)

For my .45 Colt, I have used the following powders; Universal, Titegroup, Black powder, Bullseye, Clays, Unique and 700-X. (There are two other cans of powder on the shelf, but I do not remember what I used them for.)

I prefer the 700-X because it gives me the group I want, I can use it in .38 spec. and .357 Mag. and goes a long way.

If you can not find a load in your manual, check out the powder manufacturers website. I also use loaddata.com to find new loads. I do not shoot the bullet weight/type you are using.

August 13, 2012, 09:49 PM
800x has given me the most accurate loads in 45 colt, but those dime sized flakes don't meter well.
All the Ruger single actions I've owned in 45 colt, every one of them, shot very well with 13.0 AA-5 (250 LSWC) for about 1000 fps consistently. They all liked this load, every one.
Your mileage may vary... check the books first!
And it pays to load a good quality hard lead bullet. Cheap swaged slugs or bad castings will slide down the bore for the first 2+ inches, leading it up badly inside 2 cylinders full.

August 14, 2012, 11:12 AM
And it pays to load a good quality hard lead bullet BHN 12 to 15 will work just fine such as the Rimrock bullets. I agree to not use the real soft swagged bullets unless you are shooting low velocity puff loads. Don't use 'hard' bullets either. They won't 'bump up' and seal the bore. You'll again get leading from blow by.

black mamba
August 14, 2012, 11:26 AM
Optimizing bullet hardness for your load pressure can be done mathematically.

Divide your pressure in CUP by 1280 to get the optimum BH number.
Standard 45 Colt load: 14,000 ÷ 1280 = 10.9 BHN
Ruger only 45 Colt load: 28,000 ÷ 1280 = 21.9 BHN

A little too hard is better than a little too soft, especially if your chamber throats are larger than your bore. Just use a bullet .001 to .002 over your bore size.

August 14, 2012, 04:17 PM
Keep 'em comin, fellas. I am still monitoring this thread! Thanks.

August 14, 2012, 04:40 PM
Have you tried the Red Dot yet?

With heavier bullets, Unique (or even Bullseye) is probably better. But RD is tough to beat with light-for-caliber cast bullets.

August 14, 2012, 07:25 PM
I see where someone mentioned hardness. BHN is not nearly as important as many think, 'course I'm not talking about pure lead, but common alloys such as wheel weights. Fit is king, above everything else to prevent gas leakage which is the cause of leading. Always slug your barrel then buy or size your bullets .001-.002" over groove diameter and leading will be the least of your worries. GW

August 15, 2012, 12:37 AM
I like 4227 as it shoots very well and fills the case. But the downside is that the 20g loads eat the can of powder up pretty quickly (not to economical).
I was thinking about using IMR 4227, but couldn't find any data on it. I'll bet it has quite a huge muzzle blast!:eek: Like shooting a 44 Mag! Do you also have any data on using H 4227? I think they are about the same. One of my favorite loads in 45 Colt is 10g Unique under a 255 Hardcast SWC for my Ruger BH 7 1/2" convertible.

August 15, 2012, 09:59 AM
Taffin is the one the mentions 4227 in his books. 20g is actually a 'standard' load in .45 Colt. Not as much muzzle blast as you might think. I get 1030fps out of my tests. It does leave a few 'granules' hanging around, but I don't mind at all.

Here is an on-line reference. Yes, you can use the H4227 data for IMR 4227. Should use a magnum primer with it for consistency.


August 15, 2012, 11:54 AM
Always slug your barrel then buy or size your bullets .001-.002" over groove diameter and leading will be the least of your worries. GW Not going to help if your cylinder throats are to small :) . Barrels (at least from Ruger) seem to be very consistent. It is the throats that give you the most problems. I had to ream all of my .45 Colts to .452 to get the accuracy I wanted (and stop some leading in the process). Older cylinder throats had the opposite problem of being to big.... Then you need bullets that are say .454 to get good accuracy instead of the current standard of .452.... Of course you can have a constriction in your barrel that can give you leading fits too, but that is a different topic.

I do agree with you that fit is king. If you have that you can shoot a wide range of bullet hardness in your gun. But you still don't want it to soft if shooting high velocity, nor to hard when shooting low velocity. For what I shoot 12-15 BHN works fine for 700-1100fps loads (.357/.44/.45) .

Mike / Tx
August 16, 2012, 04:44 AM
Late last year I acquired my first 45 Colt in a Ruger RH. My first loads through it were using some 200, 230 and 255gr Oregon Trail bullets I purchased years ago for my 45 ACP. I figured why not give them a whirl. I started out working with Unique from 8 thru around 10grs, (THIS WAS IN A REDHAWK) depending on the weight and looking for leading. I found them all to be accurate.

I have since played around with weights up through the Lee 452-300 RF and found nothing which I would hesitate to head to the woods with. Powders have been AA-5,7, and 9, along with 2400 and some limited 296 loads. This said my overall best loads came after running across the following write up by John Linebaugh, Gun Notes by John Linebaugh (http://www.customsixguns.com/writings.htm)

After reading through this and the other listed link by Taffin, went with the latter due to having some HS-6 on hand. Using the 250 - 280'ish grain bullets I have not found any reason to really need anything else. Every load I have shot using his recommendations has dome very to extremely well and like he said hits with ample power, out to further than most have any business shooting.

As for bullets, I have read good reports form many satisfied folks who use Missouri Bullets for their needs. A close friend purchased several weights, styles and hardness, from Montana Bullet Works, and was satisfied with the quality and variety of them as well. Me personally I cast my own using a couple of different molds from Lee, and also from MP Molds. I use pretty much a 9-13BHN for everything in my revolvers up to 1350fps, sized to fit my cylinder bores. With the Colt, even though I have bumped up a few loads simply to test them, I feel no need what so ever to go above the load listed in the above link using HS-6 and the 260gr bullets. If that one don't git-r-done, I can easily bump up to the 454 and get what I am lacking.

August 16, 2012, 05:36 AM
I used 7.3g Universal lit with a CCI350.

August 22, 2012, 08:02 AM
How well does Titegroup meter?

Kevin Rohrer
August 22, 2012, 06:08 PM
Sport45: I would be interested in your comparison of the two powders.

And to answer the question-at-hand: Unique

August 23, 2012, 02:01 AM
From behind the trigger I can't tell any difference between Unique and Universal. They both shoot the same and leave about the same amount of residue on the bench. I hardly ever start with a clean handgun so I can't comment on how the two compare in that regard.

I couldn't get Universal to meter well with my Lyman 55, Redding Model 3, or Lee Perfect powder measure with charges in the 5.5gr range. I picked up a RCBS Quick Change powder measure and can report that it meters charges of Universal as low as 4.5gr very well using the small metering assembly. With the RCBS QC I see +/- 0.05gr variance where the other measures gave me +/- 0.15gr variance.

August 23, 2012, 02:34 PM
As far as data is concerned with Unique and Universal. Here is what I have for .45 Colt to compare....

Ruger BH 5 1/2" barrel

8.0g Unique, 250 RNFP, CCI-300, _922fps, 18 SD, 55 ES, 20 shots
9.0g Unique, 250 RNFP, CCI-300, 1021fps, 19 SD, 62 ES, 20 shots

8.0g Universal, 250 RNFP, CCI-300, _894fps, 13 SD, 44 ES, 13 shots
9.0g Universal, 250 RNFP, CCI-300, 1013fps, 17 SD, 58 ES, 36 shots

I can't any difference accuracy wise between the two and feel the same when fired. Can't say whether one is 'cleaner' than the other. Seem the same to me...

August 24, 2012, 12:06 PM

That is some good data. I need to do the samr with the lighter 230 gr bullets.