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Old January 7, 2022, 06:08 PM   #1
The 45 Dude
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Colt SAA 357 Longevity

What would the longevity of a new production Colt SAA in 357 magnum be? I hear that the cylinders of 357 magnums are a lot beefier than 45 colts. I guess the only thing I'm worried about is the frame and its capability to withstand 357 loads. I intend on using standard 357 loads and occasionally hot ones.
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Old January 7, 2022, 08:22 PM   #2
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With standard pressure 357, I don't think there would be a problem. I have to ask what you consider a "heavy load"
The main thing is it is a fixed sighted, original lock work revolver. It is only going to be sighted with what the factory shoots, and adjustments are not easy.
I love Colt SAA, but realize their limitations.
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Old January 7, 2022, 09:01 PM   #3
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Are you hunting with the gun or just shooting it? If not for hunting. Why the need to shoot heavy loads out of it? If you want to shoot heavier than standard pressure loads, I would look into a Ruger Vaquero
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Old January 7, 2022, 09:02 PM   #4
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105kw I think my definition of a heavy load would be stuff like buffalo bore or maybe Xtreme penetrator ammo.

Last edited by The 45 Dude; January 7, 2022 at 09:11 PM.
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Old January 7, 2022, 09:10 PM   #5
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mk70ss really I have no good reason to. I'm pretty book smart with guns but haven't shot a lot of them so if I were to shoot hot loads it would either be for the experience or for self-defense in the wild which is quite rare since I live in the city. I know I shouldn't abuse the Colt 1873 and have the option for much stronger newer designs but I just wanted to know if a Colt can handle "heavy loads."
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Old January 8, 2022, 11:35 AM   #6
105kw
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I believe that there would not be a problem with Buffalo Bore or similar factory ammo.
While I really like the Colt SAA, I am more connected to the historical aspect of it.
It would not be my first, second, or third choice for a woods defense gun. Due to design, it is limited to 5rds for safe carry. Secondary is that the SAA is only going to be sighted for one bullet weight at a specific velocity.
For woods defense, I would use a Model 28 S&W. This is just my opinion.
If you want a really cool historic/movie gun, the SAA is it.
Have fun if you get one.
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Old January 8, 2022, 11:52 AM   #7
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If you want to know if a certain gun, in this case a Colt SAA, will be safe with heavy loads, the people to ask are the people who make the heavy loads, and the people who made the gun.

IF Buffalo Bore says their ammo is ok in a Colt Peacemaker, then it is. If they haven't tested it, then its NOT!

IF COLT says its not, then its not.

If they don't know, they don't know, and if you want to test it yourself, then you're on your own.

The .357 cylinders are "beefier" because the SAA cylinders are all the same size and the .357 chambers are smaller than 44s and 45s, leaving more metal around the hole.

The biggest "problem" with the Colt SAA is the lack of versatility of the fixed sights. This wasn't much of an issue back in the 1880s when there was only one bullet and one load, and that load was a case full of black powder,

Today, and with .357 particularly, all the different bullet wieghts and velocities, from light .38 Special up through "heavy" .357 you may find fixed sights to be ....suboptimal
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Old January 8, 2022, 05:05 PM   #8
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Shoot .38 specials in it if you really have an urge to shoot it that often.
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Old January 8, 2022, 07:04 PM   #9
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I wouldn't even consider shooting heavy loads out of it. If you want to shoot heavy loads get a Ruger Blackhawk. The new Ruger Vaquero won't handle heavy loads either. The old Vaquero will.
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Old January 8, 2022, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
The new Ruger Vaquero won't handle heavy loads either. The old Vaquero will.
This isn't true in .357, in ,45 Colt, it is, but both the New Vaquero and the Colt SAA will safely handle any SAAMI spec ,357 load. The new model Blackhawk and the original Vaquero will handle loads seriously above SAAMI spec.

Shoot loads within industry specs and you'll spend many times the cost of the gun in ammo before the gun is worn out.
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Old January 8, 2022, 07:54 PM   #11
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Colt did not lose much time adding .357 Magnum to SAA (and New Service) after S&W introduced the caliber. I don't understand the reluctance.
The flat springs are relative weak points but no different from one caliber to another.
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Old January 9, 2022, 03:08 PM   #12
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Admittedly ,not 357.',but some have been shooting since 1873.

Don't do the Hollywood stuff.(fanning). If you are going to dry fire it,I suggest snap caps.

Its that last increment of velocity that runs up the strain. A 90% or even 95% of full max load is easier on the gun.

What are you shooting at? No tin can or watermelon will know the difference.

If you need every bit of power for some toothy critter... Few folks will shoot enough hogs or bears in one mortal lifetime to make a difference.

That boutique hot rod ammo is darn expensive. More than $ 1 a shot. $5 a wheel.

If you want to shoot a lot, get a Lee lead pot,a mold, some lead and cast bullets.
You can work up to 90% of book max and the gun will last a long time.
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Old January 9, 2022, 04:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The 45 Dude View Post
105kw I think my definition of a heavy load would be stuff like buffalo bore or maybe Xtreme penetrator ammo.
How many of those $2 per shot rounds do you shoot per year? I'm guessing the gun will out last your wallet. At the point where you've spent $20,000 on ammo the cost of a new gun is a minor consideration.
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Old January 9, 2022, 05:34 PM   #14
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Howdy

This question gets asked a lot.

First, let's be clear on one thing. It is the cylinder of a revolver that is the pressure vessel, not the frame. If anything is going to let go with an over pressure event, it will be the cylinder, not the frame.

As Jim Watson said, Colt chambered the Single Action Army for 357 Magnum the same year Smith and Wesson introduced the cartridge, 1935. That is a long, long time the SAA has been chambered for 357 Mag, despite what you may have heard.

"I hear that the cylinders of 357 magnums are a lot beefier than 45 colts."

ALL Colt Single Action Army revolvers have cylinders the same outside diameter, no matter what cartridge they are chambered for.

So with smaller chambers, a 357 Magnum Colt is going to have thicker cylinder walls than a SAA chambered for 45 Colt. So if anything, although the outside diameter of a 357 Magnum Colt is the same as the outside diameter of a 45 Colt SAA, the amount of steel between chambers is greater.

This photo should help illustrate the point. On the left is a 2nd Gen Colt Single Action Army cylinder chambered for 45 Colt. I don't own a Colt chambered for 357 Mag, so the cylinder from a 357 Magnum New Vaquero will have to stand in for a 357 Mag Colt.

Some dimensions: The Colt cylinder has an OD of 1.651. The Ruger Cylinder has an OD of 1.673, so it is a little bit larger in diameter than the Colt cylinder. Now look at how much meat is between the chambers at their thinnest points. .045 for the 45 caliber Colt. .140 for the Ruger. By the way, since 1935 Colt cylinders have been made from fine grian, high tensile strength, ordnance quality steel, so they are fully proofed for modern ammunition loaded with Smokeless powder, no matter what cartridge they are chambered for.






Actually, the weakest part of a large caliber cylinder is the bolt slot that locks the cylinder in place when the revolver is at battery. With a 45 Colt cylinder, there is very little steel between the bottom of the slot and the chamber. This is of course not the same with a 357 Magnum cylinder because there is much more metal between the bottom of the slot and a chamber.


Regarding ammunition, SAAMI max pressure for the 357 Magnum cartridge is 35,000psi. Any Colt chambered for 357 Magnum will have been proofed with a cartridge a little bit more powerful than that, so any modern 357 Magnum revolver, no matter who made it, has been proofed for 357 Magnum. If you want to shoot Buffalo Bore ammo, you have to be careful which one you select. Some of their ammo is made to SAAMI Max pressure, some is not. You have to read the fine print, it is on their website, as to which ammo is suitable for which guns.


Regarding the frame and how much battering it will take, I suspect that your hands will get beat up long before the frame when firing 357 Mag ammo from a Colt. Don't forget, a 357 Magnum Colt will actually be heavier than a 45 Colt Colt of the same barrel length, because of the smaller holes in the 357. This will affect felt recoil.

"I intend on using standard 357 loads and occasionally hot ones."

As long as you stay with standard, SAAMI spec 357 Magnum ammunition, you will have no problems. I think you will find that ammo like that packs plenty of punch. Hotter hand loads and you are on your own.

Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; January 9, 2022 at 05:40 PM.
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Old January 9, 2022, 05:42 PM   #15
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"I wouldn't even consider shooting heavy loads out of it. If you want to shoot heavy loads get a Ruger Blackhawk. The new Ruger Vaquero won't handle heavy loads either. The old Vaquero will. "

Nope, a 357 New Vaquero will handle standard, SAAMI Spec 357 ammo just fine. Trust me on this.
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Old January 14, 2022, 03:55 PM   #16
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There are absolutely no shortcomings in a .357 Colt SAA. In fact, it is a much stronger gun than any medium frame DA. You'd have to try really hard to hurt one.

There are zero 357 loads from Buffalo Bore that are not standard pressure. Everyone seems to assume all their stuff is over pressure but most is not.
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Old January 14, 2022, 06:55 PM   #17
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There is a certain certainty concerning the "longevity" of any firearm when shooting hotter loads than "normal". Though some otherwise equivalents are better suited in terms of "strength" (due to greater frame/cylinder size or better metallurgy, etc.), more powerful loads will always exact a negative "wear and tear" toll; it just takes more rounds spent to realize the consequence.

And welcome to the Firing Line, The 45 Dude!
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Old January 14, 2022, 07:42 PM   #18
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One of the problems here is the confusion in terms, particularly "strength".

Strength is not longevity. What people are talking about when saying strength meaning longevity isn't strength, its durability.

And, durability isn't just strength alone, its a combination of factors and parts that allow more cycles before failure, of something.

Also durability means a couple of different, but related things to each speaker, depending on their standards.

round count (number of cycles) is common between both but one version of durability is how many rounds before something fails, and the other is how many rounds before a major component (slide, barrel, frame, cylinder, etc) fails.

The most common and well known weak point of the Colt SA is the flat springs. Break the mainspring and the gun will not function though the major, and all other parts are intact and functional.

Coil springs are more durable, but not stronger.

Quite literally the only part on a firearm that cannot be replaced when worn out or broken is the frame /action and even that can be "replaced" legally by the manufacturer. You can count durability by rounds between failures of any parts or by rounds between failure of enough parts to require major rebuild, OR you can count it by how long the frame itself lasts.

I would epect a Colt SAA in .357 Magnum to be as durable as any handgun of its type and design. Some designs have features that should make them even more durable, but so what? By the time you actually wear one out, you'll have spent enough on ammo to have bought several guns, or possibly even a car,,,
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Old January 17, 2022, 09:49 PM   #19
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I think you could actually wear out a 357 Magnum barrel using 110 grain jacketed hollow points with a near maximum load of 2400 in a short period of time. That would be abuse in my opinion. The brand of the firearm wouldn't matter.
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Old January 20, 2022, 07:47 AM   #20
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Interestingly, the OP has started multiple threads asking about the strength or durability of different guns in different chamberings ... then seems to disappear and let the thread run on and on and on ....
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