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Old October 28, 2018, 11:15 PM   #1
Pathfinder45
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45 Colt and Blue Dot

More than a decade ago, someone gifted me a partial bottle of Blue Dot, so I experimented a little with it in 45 Colt. My impressions were that it was one of the dirtiest powders I have ever run through my Vaquero, and that I would never buy more.
Fast forward to the present time; I have just received a gift of a full pound of Blue Dot. Wouldn't have bought it, but it's getting a second chance. I'm thinking it needs to run at higher pressures than I loaded in the past, just to give it a fair chance. Not to worry, my Vaquero is an original, as in, strong like a Blackhawk, suitable for "Ruger Only", ammo.
Still, I am done with the really hot loads. I don't intend to go beyond 1,200 fps, if even that. I mostly use 255 grain, home-cast, Lee RNFP bullets and that's what I will use here. I'm thinking to start at 13.0 grains and continue to increase the charge, if necessary, until I get a reasonably clean burn with decent accuracy, hoping not to need more than 15 grains to get there.
From those of you who have used Blue Dot in the 45 Colt; what say ye?
I have plenty of other powders and have been reloading for this caliber since 1976. This particular Vaquero has consumed a whole lot of powder in the last twenty years, but only tasted perhaps a quarter pound or less of Blue Dot.
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Old October 29, 2018, 02:05 AM   #2
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Alliant's site lists a 260-grain bullet, but that's close enough to a 255. It puts 13 grains as maximum, but they aren't allowing for a stronger-than-average gun. I would say your assumption is correct that dirtiness is due to lack of adequate temperature and pressure. However, I also note Alliant has published some warnings about Blue Dot in recent years and that one result is they no longer list pistol loads for it; only shotgun loads. So, why not get the powder of your dreams and see if you have a neighbor loading for shotgun who will let you try or at least trade for a night's patrol.
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Old October 29, 2018, 07:16 AM   #3
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I read an article many years ago that issued cautions about use of Blue Dot in the cold, so I've always stayed away from it. But Alliant included handgun loads with Blue Dot in it's 2018 Reloading Guide and still shows some on their website as well.
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Old October 29, 2018, 08:54 AM   #4
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Old vs New. I dropped BlueDot for the very same reasons... but I now understand that I was using it improperly. BlueDot is knocking on the door of 2400 and other slow powders, it will be dirty unless loaded in the upper ranges with fairly heavy bullets. You can't put lipstick on a pig...
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:07 AM   #5
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Now you know why it's being "gifted" to you. There are plenty of much better powders for the .45 Colt.

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Old October 29, 2018, 10:08 AM   #6
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I'm with Unclenick on this one. Trade it for something else you can use; Herco is a wonderful powder in the 45 Colt at all pressures, and with no worries.
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Old October 29, 2018, 12:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies, and keep them coming, especially anyone that has had favorable experiences with this combination. I can hold off for a while as I have no lack of alternatives. My favorite powders for the 45 Colt start with Unique and include Titegroup, HS-7, AA-9, and IMR-4227. Currently loading Green Dot and have been experimenting with AA-7 as a potential replacement for the excellent-but-discontinued HS-7.
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Old October 29, 2018, 06:08 PM   #8
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You mentioned IMR4227... that has become one of my favorite powders in the .41. Initially, I didn't like it, but once I realized how to load it, I prefer it over W296 in my full-house .41 loads. If I was loading more for the .45 Colt, particularly in a carbine (my brother has a Winchester Trapper in .45 that I load for...) I would be using it almost exclusively... even over Unique.
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Old October 30, 2018, 07:32 AM   #9
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Once the Blue Dot is gone, try Universal. I've been using it in my .45 Colt for years and really like it.

It's doesn't give the highest velocities, but it is clean and accurate.
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Old October 30, 2018, 09:19 AM   #10
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FWIW, I use everything from Bullseye to IMR4227 in .45 Colt, depending upon what I want out of a load. So, why put up with the idiosyncrasies of Blue Dot?

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Old October 30, 2018, 09:34 AM   #11
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Herco is a great .45 Colt powder. The best I've found. And I like how bulky it is.

But I bought a pound of Blue Dot to try in .357 Magnum and .30 Carbine years ago and I never found a load I liked. (I did manage to blow the heads off of both .357 and .30 cases) Just to use up the rest of this disgusting powder, I loaded some "Ruger" .45 Colt cartridges, mainly because each one used a bunch of powder. IIRC it was 16.5 grains and 250 (or 255) grain cast bullets. This was a very hot load and I don't recommend it. It might not be safe in your gun. It might not have really been safe in mine, but it burned clean and was powerful and accurate.
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Old October 30, 2018, 09:36 AM   #12
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I think blue dot would shine with 250 gr deep seated wadcutters.
I had a load of 10.5 gr that shot well with a deep seated wadcutter, and was not that dirty.
Really i dont care about the "dirtiness" as long as its accurate.
I am going to try some different loads with BD later on
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Old October 31, 2018, 12:30 AM   #13
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Just for COMPARISON ONLY I grabbed a couple of old books. 1970s manuals, expecting to find Blue Dot in them.

Speer .45 Colt data didn't list Blue Dot at all. Their test gun was a Colt SAA 5.5" barrel.

Speer did list Blue Dot in the .45Colt for Ruger or Contender Only section. Test gun was a Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5" barrel. They listed a load for their 250gr lead bullet, 14.0gr starting for 1169fps, 14.8gr max, for 1236fps.

Lyman's manual of contemporary vintage doesn't have a Ruger only section, and doesn't list any .45 Colt loads with Blue Dot.

Now, here's a curious thing, both manuals list 250gr lead bullet loads with Unique. Speer's book, using a Colt test gun listed max at 8.5gr, and in the Ruger section max was 10.0gr (for 1036fpr from their 7.5" barrel)

Lyman, ALSO using a Colt SAA with a 5.5" barrel listed max Unique load as 10.0gr with the 250gr lead bullet! (listing 1011fps from the 5.5" barrel)

SO, according to those books, in that long ago day, Lyman said 10.0gr Unique was max in a COLT, and Speer said 8.5gr was max in a COLT, and 10.0 was max in a RUGER Blackhawk.

10.0gr Unique under a hard 250SWC has been my standard .45 Colt load for about the last 35 years, and out of my 7.5" Ruger Blackhawk, clocks 1070fps, average.

Different guns, different results. Looks like Blue Dot shouldn't be expected to burn efficiently until you get velocities in the 1100fps+ range, in .45 Colt.

And while I realize that there are different levels of "dirty" if you're shooting lead, its not going to be "clean" no matter what.
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Old October 31, 2018, 01:04 AM   #14
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Thanks for the input, everyone. As far as dirty powders go, it's all relative to whatever else you choose to compare it to. Some folks say that Unique is a dirty burning powder. But in 45 Colt, for me, I have found it to burn as clean as W-231. Some powders can leave a lot of unburned granules behind, likely indicating the need for greater pressure for that powder. Most of the dirtiest burning smokeless powders we all have used would give us an entirely new perspective after using real black-powder.
I just finished up a batch of plinkers with the Green Dot. Next up will be to load up a box using AA-9 and another box of IMR-4227, loading both to about 1,200 fps from the Vaquero and compare both for accuracy in that gun and also a 24" Marlin. You know, always searching for that elusive load that is excellent in both guns.... Still wondering if Blue Dot could do both well but will wait for more input on the subject.
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Old October 31, 2018, 01:34 AM   #15
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Blue Dot dirty ? When I hand loaded my M29 225 Speer keeping under max,
it burned VERY clean ! After two metallic silhouette rounds I shoed it [ with a big grin ] to those who used 2400. They wouldn't believe me . Then the restrictions but not with the 44 mag. I never had any problems so I kept using it . After I gave up all handloading it was a moot point . Accurate, clean , too bad .
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Old October 31, 2018, 09:13 AM   #16
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Quote:
and another box of IMR-4227, loading both to about 1,200 fps from the Vaquero and compare both for accuracy in that gun and also a 24" Marlin.
And, again, another re-vote for IMR4227. I mentioned I load it in my .41... for use primarily in a Marlin 1894 (20" barrel.) I took it to WY with me this summer and ran about 500rds through it over the weekend... commercial cast 215grn bullets over a reasonable charge of IMR4227... clean as a whistle, and even clean in my 4" Smith, which I found interesting. No, it won't produce velocities like W296/H110, but I'm OK with that... I'm only hunting steel.
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Old October 31, 2018, 01:35 PM   #17
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The thing about W296/H110 is that it needs to be run at higher pressures to work well. In the Blackhawk 45 Colt, you have a gun where that powder can work well, but only at or near maximum safe pressure for that gun. My Vaquero can handle it too, but it hurts my hands and quickly ceases to be fun. It's really a better powder for 44 magnum and 357 magnum than it is for 45 Colt. With IMR-4227, you can load right up close to those loads, yet it's a lot more flexible to down-load it a little into a more comfortable level that's still well above where Unique can take you.

So I'm done with W296/H110.

And then there is AA-9. I consider it to be the spherical analog to 2400; similar data and results but without the fireball-flash effect. It's a really good powder in this role of elevated loads for the 45 Colt. Meters so precisely that trickling is unnecessary.

So then, no, I don't need Blue Dot. But I've got a pound of it; Hercules, in good condition. What's it really good for, and who uses it? Maybe I should take it to the gunshow to trade for something else.
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Old October 31, 2018, 01:56 PM   #18
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I tried 13.0g Blue Dot under 255g SWC but didn't make any notes on whether I liked it or not, but seemed to shoot ok. Following is the only target I have when I shot that load. 982fps out of 5 1/2" revolver. ES was 89fps (29 shot sample) which probably why I moved on...

I like 4227 to. Shot a lot of it. 20g 4227 with a magnum primer under 250/255g bullet was accurate in my Rugers. Taffin I believe had something to say about 4227 in his writings.
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Old October 31, 2018, 02:29 PM   #19
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1,200 fps is way over max for any bullet weight given by Alliant.
"...thinking to start at 13.0 grains..." You should go buy a manual. That 13 grains is the MAX load for a 260 grain jacketed bullet. 12.9 is the Max load for a 250 grain (also close enough to 255) cast bullet.
"Ruger Only" loads are a Hodgdon thing only.
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Old October 31, 2018, 02:37 PM   #20
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As mentioned above and in my experience, almost any powder is "dirty" if loaded below it's optimum pressures and Unique has gotten a bad rap for this. I have used a lot of Blue Dot in my 44 Magnums, mostly under 240 and 265 gr cast bullets. Lighter loads may burn "dirtier", but I haven't noticed any excess debris. And "dirty" is probably just subjective...
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Old October 31, 2018, 03:32 PM   #21
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Just to be clear: Speer #9, dated 1974, lists their 250 grain lead SWC at 1236 fps using Blue Dot in a 7-1/2" Blackhawk; even higher with some other powders. We're not in uncharted waters here, nor are we trying to set new records. We are, however, talking about loads that are beyond the limitations of the Colt Single Action Army revolver, and it's replicas, and should therefore only be used in stronger firearms, like the Ruger Blackhawk and others known to be quite capable of handling them. Since these loads are beyond SAAMI specifications, and furthermore, are not factory loads, there is no guarantee of safety and those who use them do so at their own risk.
But you also ought to know that everytime you fire a standard factory load, you run the risk of blowing the gun to smithereens and yourself into an early grave. If that were not true, there would be no need for ammo recalls. Reloading is not for everyone, but it works well for some of us. We should all try to be careful, especially with guns, ammo, automobiles, chainsaws,....etc.
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Old October 31, 2018, 07:07 PM   #22
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The .45 Colt, being my favorite cartridge, is somewhat strange when it comes to load data; suitable load data is entirely dependent upon the firearm it is to be used in. Since there is no SAAMI recognized +P designation for higher pressure .45 Colt ammo, most factory ammo is loaded to the SAAMI pressure specs of 14,000 psi, which is about 15,900 CUP. However, there are platforms that are perfectly capable of taking on higher pressure .45 Colt loads. Most everyone is familiar with the large frame Rugers and the 30,000 psi loads associated with them. But there are platforms that fall in the middle ground, such as the Smith & Wesson Model 25-5 and the Ruger New Vaquero which is built on a smaller frame size. With the 25-5, which is built on the large N frame, we have only to look at Smith & Wesson's Model 25-2 in .45 ACP to see what pressure level a .45 built on an N frame is capable of. The Model 25-2 is perfectly safe (says S&W) with .45 ACP +P loads. SAAMI lists .45 ACP +P at 23,000 psi, which is about 27,000 CUP. This puts safe loads for these 2 handguns and similar ones right in the middle between the SAAMI loads and the Ruger only loads. Having shot these loads, I will tell you they are no slouch, and will dispatch deer sized game with ease. Below are a couple links that make for good reading about .45 Colt loads at the various pressure levels.

Don

https://www.riflemagazine.com/magazi...246partial.pdf
http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=12
http://www.sixguns.com/tests/tt45lc.htm
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Old November 1, 2018, 06:20 AM   #23
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"As mentioned above and in my experience, almost any powder is "dirty" if loaded below it's optimum pressures and Unique has gotten a bad rap for this."

Very true.

But, Unique has only itself to blame for its reputation as being dirty.

Unique is, by a long shot, the most versatile of all of the powders available to reloaders. And that versatility means that it's going to be used in a huge array of cartridge with very different pressure levels.

I've always said that m biggest complaint with Unique is how poorly it meters.
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Old November 1, 2018, 10:39 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin View Post
I've always said that my biggest complaint with Unique is how poorly it meters.
It's my biggest complaint as well. Unique, like 700X, 800X, Herco, and the "Dot" powders meter rather poorly but deliver very good results in some loads. I still use Red Dot, but have since moved on to other powders that meter much better for my fast and medium speed handgun powder needs.
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Old November 1, 2018, 12:21 PM   #25
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I've always said that m biggest complaint with Unique is how poorly it meters.
In a seasoned rotary drop (Hornady) I don't really have problems with it metering poorly. I did when the drop was new... static... but once I ran a few pounds of rifle powder through it, it settled down and works well. Well enough, anyway, for reasonable charges in handgun cartridges. It does require some additional attention... like hopper fill level and such. Personally, I've had more problems with ball powder, like W296 getting in between the drum and drop body tying things up, than Unique metering poorly.
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