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Thread: 44mag vs 45 colt

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    Default 44mag vs 45 colt

    I was flipping through an issue of handloader and it was stated that a 45 colt could be loaded to equal or surpass 44mag power levels in a modern firearm of appropriate strength. A look through my reloading manuals shows no such loads. Anyone have any experience? Could someone definitively state where the difference or not between colt and "long colt"

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35gibber View Post
    I was flipping through an issue of handloader and it was stated that a 45 colt could be loaded to equal or surpass 44mag power levels in a modern firearm of appropriate strength. A look through my reloading manuals shows no such loads. Anyone have any experience? Could someone definitively state where the difference or not between colt and "long colt"

    Cheers
    I guess the difference between the .45 acp and the .45 COLT came about due to confusion by the public. The newer ctg being the .45 acp (automatic Colt pistol) is the rimless version for the auto loader and can be used with half moon clips in swing out cylinder revolvers, or break open top loaders. Even in revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt.

    There is no such Ctg as the .45 long Colt. No manufacturer I know of has ever designated .45 Colt ammo in this way.

    Now that we have got by that piece of trivia we can proceed to your question.

    The .45 Colt in a well made heavy frame revolver is a much more powerful ctg than the .44 magnum.

    I feel it was the gun writers of the last century that started us down the slippery slope of poor designation of the .45 colt and burden Man kind with this confusion. What is so hard about calling the ctg what it is the .45 auto rim, the .45acp sound different enough to me that I know the difference.

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    I guess I'm an old fuddy duddy. Or is that duddy fuddy? How about plain old crusty.

    I lump the 45 LC right in there with the 44 Special and 38 Special. Lots to recommend each of them in their standard loadings and power ranges. If I want more geewhiz, I'm going to use a longer case. If I feel the need for more whoop from a 45 LC I'm going to move up to the 454, the gun for which also allows me to shoot moderate 45 LC rounds. Just as I shoot 44 specials from my 44 mags and 38 specials from my 357's.

    I've whacked enough deer with both the 45 LC and 44 Spec in conventional loadings (around 800 fps) to prove them to myself. I even whacked a couple with a 38 Special. Though it worked, it reaffirmed my belief that it was a poor round for police use.

    I'd only hotrod 45 LC, 44 Special or 38 Specials if I didn't have and couldn't get the magnum cases. I've got lots of each, so why bother?

    Brand me a codger, but I'm sure having fun at it.

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    Default .44 Mag vs. .45 Colt

    Hot loads in the .45 Colt are based on the assumption that the pistols are made of the same material (carbon or stainless steel) with the same heat treating etc. and the brass is identical.

    I've never seen any information to verify or deny that Ruger or other manufacturers use the same material for all their pistols. Likewise for the cases; there are a lot of things the manufactures don't tell you for liability and marketing reasons. Quality control and inspection is another unknown. I do know that Ruger had to use speciality alloys for their stainless magnum pistols like the .454s etc.

    The .45 Colt cylinders are also thinner due to the larger round; all the revolvers I've seen blown up were a result of the cylinders rupturing. All other things being equal a .45 Colt cylinder with be damaged at a lower pressure than a .44 magnum pistol.

    Note the the .460 S&W operatures at a higher pressure than the .500 S&W round; if the .44 Mag. vs .45 Colt argument is valid than the .500 S&W should be significantly more powerfull than the .460 S&W. In reality the .460 S&W can safely operate at significantly higher pressures than the .500. due to the thicker cylinder wall of the .460.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Hot loads in the .45 Colt are based on the assumption that the pistols are made of the same material (carbon or stainless steel) with the same heat treating etc. and the brass is identical.

    I've never seen any information to verify or deny that Ruger or other manufacturers use the same material for all their pistols. Likewise for the cases; there are a lot of things the manufactures don't tell you for liability and marketing reasons. Quality control and inspection is another unknown. I do know that Ruger had to use speciality alloys for their stainless magnum pistols like the .454s etc.

    The .45 Colt cylinders are also thinner due to the larger round; all the revolvers I've seen blown up were a result of the cylinders rupturing. All other things being equal a .45 Colt cylinder with be damaged at a lower pressure than a .44 magnum pistol.

    Note the the .460 S&W operatures at a higher pressure than the .500 S&W round; if the .44 Mag. vs .45 Colt argument is valid than the .500 S&W should be significantly more powerfull than the .460 S&W. In reality the .460 S&W can safely operate at significantly higher pressures than the .500. due to the thicker cylinder wall of the .460.
    Good points. The metallurgy is the same for all Ruger revolvers given in S/S or C/M, but the thickness of the cylinders is an important point. The fact remains that we can EQUAL 44 mag ballistics (same bullet weight at same velocity) with the 45 Colt at lower pressures. This due to the larger diameter of the bore and greater expansion ratio. Internal ballistics. The 44 mag operates at 36-40,000 psi the 454 operates at 60-65,000 psi. The stainless steel that Ruger uses now is the same for all calibers in their revolvers. Just as the steel in the No. 1 is the same for the 300 Wby as it is for the 405 WCF. It would make no sense to have a special steel for each caliber so they make one to with stand the pressures of the highest pressure cartridge.

    I will say that Ruger is making much stronger steel now than when they first made the Blackhawk revolvers. The are now state of the art in their metal development.

    I am not advocating hot rodding the 45 Colt, but it can be stepped up a little and will be just as effective in the field as the 44 mag. Neither can ever be the equal of the 454 and we shouldn't try to make it so. Any of these loads, though "safe" in the 44 or the 45 Colt will eventually take their toll on the revolvers and shake many things loose and will accelerate wear. All magnum loads should be used sparingly.
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    You can find data for Ruger, Freedom Arms t/c contender 45 colt on Hodgdon's website. Also Ross Seyfried had an excellent article on strong gun 45 colt loads. Basically, a 44 mag framed revolver chambered in 45 colt can be 10% more gun than the 44 mag. The 45 colt will push a 330 gr bullet as fast as the 44 pushes a 300 gr bullet, and the 45 has 10% more frontal area.

    There are some important caveats. It is highly recomended to use a bullet with a long nose, ie 0.40" from the canalure to the meplat. This prevents the rounds from being loaded into older guns with shorter cylinders. It's also recomended to use an ogival wadcutter, ie LBT LFN or WFN style. These bullets maximize case capacity, and hence reduce pressure.

    If you have a 5 shot oversized cylinder gun, it can be loaded to 454 levels. You won't find any published data for these loads, and they will blow a six shot 45 colt, so it's really advized if you want 454 power level, just get a 454 and you won't have to worry about the wrong loads in the wrong gun.

  7. #7

    Default .44 Vs .45

    I agree with the many theories put out on this thread, but, that being said, I still believe in the concept that if a cartridge/firearm is set up for magnum levels, then that is what they should be loaded for, while making a cartridge that was never meant for magnum capability exceed its usual pressure levels is not in the best interest of gun or shooter. You know, better to download a .458 Win Mag to .45-70 levels then tother way around. I know, no .44 mag or .357 if loads weren't worked up from .38 spl and .44 special. But there are always exceptions and no other choice at the time, and also a few blown guns, as I recall. Just my 2 sense.

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    My .02 is just get a Ruger 454 and down load the rounds to that of a hot loaded 45 Colt, using 454 brass. Ive done it with mine (not in many years though) and it worked great.
    That was one of the reasons that i bought the 454... i wanted a pistol that could take all the power that i would ever need and then i could play with the loads to make it more shooter friendly (and cheaper).

    remember with firearms you can always load down more than you can over load a round... and you wont have to worry about the gun blowing up in your hand.
    Josh
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    Lots of good info Murphy. Thanks.
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    interesting stuff, I had just assumed that a 45 colt was an old blackpowder slowpoke (no-offense) It is clearly not and if you have a firearm capable of producing the performance why not? I don't always load my .270 to the max but I don't load it to 30-30 levels either. On that note, I see Murphy recomending using mag loads sparingly. Any parameters to that? Ie: load to 80% for the majority of the time and to max just enough to become competent. I have no experience with revolvers. What is their life expectancy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35gibber View Post
    I have no experience with revolvers. What is their life expectancy?
    Iím no Guru with them and I only have one, but the research I did before I got mine told me that a quality revolver will last longer than an Automatic. Fewer parts to break... now having said that, you have to take care of it and not abuse it by running Hot Loads through it ALL the time. Iíve shot the hell out of my Ruger 454 and there are no problems, other than the occasional case sticking. (I donít polish my brass when I reload so it gets sticky now and then; I havenít used a reload in about 4 years and havenít seen one stick since)
    Josh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    The fact remains that we can EQUAL 44 mag ballistics (same bullet weight at same velocity) with the 45 Colt at lower pressures. This due to the larger diameter of the bore and greater expansion ratio. Internal ballistics.
    Just to add my two cents, barrel length is also a consderation. According to John Linebaugh:

    "Whatever the .44 Magnum will do, the .45 Colt will do with roughly 1/2 the barrel length, pressures being nearly identical. From the limited pressure testing we have done, we have found that whatever the .44 Magnum will do, the .45 Colt will duplicate with about 5,000 psi less pressure. This is with standard bullet weights. As the slugs get heavier the gap widens."

    http://www.foxwebdesigns.com/Area51/JLSixGun/articles/gunnotes.html

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    I believe the .45 Colt designation came about to avoid confusion between the two .45 caliber weapons of the day, not the .45 ACP which was not introduced until around the same time as the 1911 pistol. The other .45 cartridge, if memory serves, was the .45 Schofield which had a bit shorter case, thus the term "long" Colt became commonly used to describe the .45 Colt cartridge which was used in the Single Action Army revolver vs the .45 Schofield which was used in the Smith & Wesson top breaks. A .45 Auto Rim is actually a rimmed cartridge, not a rebated rim like the .45 ACP, and will fire in revolvers chambered for .45 ACP without the need for moon clips.

    Most reloading manuals list heavy loads for the .45 Colt in a seperate section, often with the heading "For Ruger and TC Contender only."

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    All depends on what gun their talking about? S&W or Ruger?
    Steve

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    Colt marked their pistols 45 cal or 45 Colt on S/A guns.Ammo makers came up with 45LC and I'm glad many still just mark their box 45Colt the true name

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    Colt marked their pistols 45 cal or 45 Colt on S/A guns.Ammo makers came up with 45LC and I'm glad many still just mark their box 45Colt the true name
    Very true Amigo. My 1899 SSA is only marked 45 Colt for the caliber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnfphd View Post
    Just to add my two cents, barrel length is also a consderation. According to John Linebaugh:

    "Whatever the .44 Magnum will do, the .45 Colt will do with roughly 1/2 the barrel length, pressures being nearly identical. From the limited pressure testing we have done, we have found that whatever the .44 Magnum will do, the .45 Colt will duplicate with about 5,000 psi less pressure. This is with standard bullet weights. As the slugs get heavier the gap widens."

    http://www.foxwebdesigns.com/Area51/JLSixGun/articles/gunnotes.html
    John Linebaugh wrote a more important and I think more informative article specifically about the .45 Colt that should be read along with the two you reference.

    http://www.customsixguns.com/writing...g_the_myth.htm
    Now what ?

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    Default Thanks

    The article by Linebaugh is very informative- thanks for the link!

    To comapare the .44 to the .45 objectively one needs to establish an acceptable margin of safety and then load both guns to that same minimum margin. Most comparisons I've seen compare an overloaded .45 to a maximum load in a .44 - hardly a fair comparison since the .44 can be loaded to a higher pressure with the same margin of safety.

    In reality if either cartridge is so marginal for the use that need to sacrific safety for 10% more power you need a more powerfull pistol. While choices were limited years ago we now have the .454, 460, and .500 that eclipse both of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by stevelyn View Post
    John Linebaugh wrote a more important and I think more informative article specifically about the .45 Colt that should be read along with the two you reference.

    http://www.customsixguns.com/writing...g_the_myth.htm
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    The article by Linebaugh is very informative- thanks for the link!

    To comapare the .44 to the .45 objectively one needs to establish an acceptable margin of safety and then load both guns to that same minimum margin. Most comparisons I've seen compare an overloaded .45 to a maximum load in a .44 - hardly a fair comparison since the .44 can be loaded to a higher pressure with the same margin of safety.

    In reality if either cartridge is so marginal for the use that need to sacrific safety for 10% more power you need a more powerfull pistol. While choices were limited years ago we now have the .454, 460, and .500 that eclipse both of them.
    It's not about "overloading" the 45 Colt to the point of trying reach the pressure levels of a 454. It's about being able to shoot a heavier bullet at less pressure at the same velocity by just loading it to it's potential in modern brass shooting the loads in modern guns. This concept/reality in one reason guys like the 480 instead of a 454. Bigger bullet at less pressure. Less recoil, safer and easier on the shooter.

    The point is that one can load/shoot a 300-350gr bullet in the 45 Colt at the same velocity with LESS pressure and less recoil in shorter barrels than a 44mag in the same types of guns- Ruger Blackhawks and Redhawks. No problem with safety, cylinder wall thickness is smaller on the 45's but the pressure is less on the 45 Colts as well. So, one is not "overloading the 45 colt" per se, but could overload a specific firearm not made for the "full potential" loads if you don't read the load manuals. Hodgdon "Ruger Only Loads" lists 21gr H110 under a 360gr Cast Performance bullet as max load. It is listed at 28300 CUP and 1151 fps in a 7.5 inch barrel. This load chronies a 6 shot average of 1155fps out of my 4" barreled Redhawk. I haven't shot that load yet in my new 7.5 SBH Hunter. Hodgdon also lists a 325gr 44mag load with 20.8gr H110 at 38,800 CUP and a 355 with a max of 18.8gr H110 at 38,000. But, look at the pressure data. About 10,000 less CUP with the 45. And, unless one is shooting a Redhawk I'm not sure you can fit a 355gr bullet in most 44's. No prob with 360's in a 45 Colt redhawk or blackhawk cylinder. I tend to see the 45 Colt as a safer bet in a Ruger.

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    Default Random trivia

    Quote Originally Posted by 35gibber View Post
    interesting stuff, I had just assumed that a 45 colt was an old blackpowder slowpoke (no-offense) It is clearly not and if you have a firearm capable of producing the performance why not?
    The 45 Colt IS an old blackpowder slowpoke. No offense taken. That big, heavy bullet travelling at 800 fps is plenty good as a manstopper.

    However, that was in blackpowder days and balloon head cases. I have been told no one has manufactured any balloon head cases for well over a half-century, and most guns of modern manufacture will withstand the higher pressures of smokeless powders. But because there are old guns that still might be used, and some replicas are not any stronger than the originals, factory, SAAMI-spec ammunition must be safe in those guns.

    Not so for the handloader, especially the one with a Thompson Contender or Remington Rolling Block pistol, or a Super Blackhawk or a Redhawk in 45 Colt. They can take high-pressure loads (and modern brass with solid web heads can, too). So the 45 Colt can push way past the old limits of power. Because the bullet has over 10% more frontal area and about 15% more mass, it can have better terminal ballistics than even faster and more energetic bullets simply because it has more momentum, aside from sweeping a wider wound path.

    Murphy, I was under the impression that the Super Redhawk in .454 Casull did use a different steel in the cylinder than all other Ruger revolvers (I am not sure about the 480 Rugers).

    Big Al, I have been told that Colt did bow to the popularity of the mis-naming of their 45 Colt as the 45 Long Colt and labelled some boxes of 45 Colt as 45 Long Colt. I cannot attest to the accuracy (or, because of poor memory, the source) of that assertion, but it could be checked out.

    Lost Sheep.

    Doing my part to muddy the waters with potentially irrelevant facts.

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