View Full Version : Extremely light charges in Cowboy loads

February 13, 2001, 11:53 AM
I don't seem to understand the reason behind the extremely light charges in cowboy loads. Most factory ammo is loaded alot hotter than those loads. My concern would be the sights on my gun. I think that you would have to make some radical changes in the sights to shoot the light cowboy loads accurately. Is the only reason for the light loads accuracy? Tooltime

Angel Diamond
February 13, 2001, 01:19 PM
One reason for lighter loads than factory ammo is to reduce recoil. Some people physically cannot handle heavy recoil, at least not at 10 shots in a row. Others want to reduce recoil for speed. Less recoil means getting the sights back on target faster and as Cowboy Action Shooting is a timed event, those who have the need for winning scores reduce recoil. My loads are lighter than factory but not near as light as a lot of folks out there. (I'm not as fast either) but my guns do shoot where ya aim with the load I use.

SASS# 16562

February 13, 2001, 01:59 PM
Cowboy Action Shooting loads are supposed to approximate the loads in use in 1898. Anything lighter than that would be contrary to SASS dictates and "The Spirit of the Game".

February 13, 2001, 02:10 PM
I guess since someone brought it up I will ask. Is there a floor limit on loads like in idpa and such? Not intending to violate the spirit of the games as you put it, but curious none the less. There was talk of using 230 grain bullets for rifles and 200 grain for pistols, and I figured why not light load the 230 grain and use it for both, but that got me to wonder if there was some sort of rule against that.

Angel Diamond
February 13, 2001, 03:19 PM
The SASS rules state that the Revolvers must have a velocity less than 1000 fps and rifles at less than 1400 fps. There is no minimum but any one loading too low runs the chance of blowing up a gun.

SASS does not have to approximate the 1898 loads. SASS is a fantasy sport ...and as long as your bullet gets down range safely and it doesn't exceed the limits you are well within "The Spirit of the Game" You can portray as historical as you want to or as "B" movie as you want.

Loading the same bullet for pistol and rifle and just downloading the pistol can effect the accuracy of your shots.


February 13, 2001, 04:14 PM
The bottom line in loading for SASS is the doctrine of "The Spirit of the Game" which says that you "fully participate in what the competition asks" (quote from the SASS shooters handbook). Loading absolute minimum loads would defeat the "Spirit". Loads are supposed to be equal to the original factory loads. Quantrill SASS#3384

February 13, 2001, 04:52 PM
Thanks for the info. As the the downloading, I meant downloading in general. That is use the light load in both the pistol and the rifle. Not just one or the other. That would defeat the purpose for me. I wanted all the same ammo for both. I find it difficult to tell what grain round I am using just by looking at it, and accidents will happen even if you mark boxes. So I thought I would load light for the pistol and use it in the rifle too. And I understand you run the risk of a bullet stuck in the barrel. I didn't mean to imply sever light loading, just say .5 a grain light or so. It still will be a lot less powder then I am used to since it will be lead instead of fmj.

Ned Roundtree
February 15, 2001, 07:42 AM
I buy cowboy ammo from National Bullet in 38 special. I use 125 grain for pistol at about 700-750fps. My rifle loads are 158 grain bullet at 800-850 fps. According to Keith Cochran's Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia the original 45 Colt blackpowder load was about 730 fps. Another practical reason for less than 1000 fps is the close proximity of steel targets used. You want the lead to splatter somewhat and bounce down to the ground. Higher velocity causes the lead to bounce back more.

February 20, 2001, 09:59 AM
Howdy Ned.

You mentioned using the 38 loads, are you using them in a .357 ?

Even if you're not, I guess I'll ask the question. Is there a problem using the 38's in a .357 ?


Angel Diamond
February 20, 2001, 01:04 PM

A lot of folks shoot .38 special in their .357's. Make sure you clean the cylinders good or you'll eventually get a burn ring where the .38 case stops and you won't be able to use .357's in them again. It may take a while for that to happen but I have seen quiet a few guns that won't take the .357 any more due to the owners not cleaning them after shooting a lot of .38 cases.

Angel Diamond

Ned Roundtree
February 20, 2001, 11:43 PM
Yep, mine is .357s. Shooting 38 specials though. No problem with 38s.

Dave T
February 27, 2001, 10:35 PM
I just had to jump in here guys because I shot Cowboy Action for 9 years using black powder cartridges exclusively. I did a lot of research on the original loads for the 45 Colt and duplicated them (verified by chronograph).
The original 45 Colt loading was 40g of FFg behind a 255g bullet of 1-20 alloy. It produced 910 fps from a 7 1/2" barrel; 885 fps from a 5 1/2" barrel; and 860 fps from a 4 3/4" barrel. These were all first generation Colts just to keep things honest.
Cowboy loads are weak so the macho cowboys can win trophys and ribbons. Factory ammo is weak because most people don't like recoil.
The original 45 Colt was a serious weapon, with substantial kick on both ends, hense the nickname "Peacemaker".

PS: One of the several reasons I got out of Cowboy shooting was all the complaints about my loads being too heavy, too smoky, and too hard on the targets. And so it goes.

February 28, 2001, 08:50 AM
Angel / Ned

Thanks for the info.