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Thread: Hand Loading for the 454 Casull - Wow, what a minefield

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    Default Hand Loading for the 454 Casull - Wow, what a minefield

    Well, I've been a member for over a decade and although I have read a lot here and learned a lot, this is my first post. I'm sorry it is a long one.

    I have been reloading for decades. I am now delving into reloading for pistols for the first time. I am having a difficult time finding consistent information with respect to reloading for the 454 Casull. Heck, I've even come up with sources where, for the same bullet, the starting load is a higher power charge than another sources maximum charge. One printed source lists H110 @ 28.5 max for a specific bullet while another lists 31.5 as starting and 36.5 as max. That's a heck of a difference and keep in mind H110 often carries the "do not start below minimum" admonition. I see similar variations with Winchester 296, which is the same as H110. But, I also see some loads of H110 that are much different than WW296. They should be similar/identical, with the same bullets.

    I'm going to be using H110, at least to start with, and I know it has a narrow operating weight range. So, I'm not happy when I come across such discrepancies. As of now I intend to only use cast/hard cast bullets. I will be using 340 grain Beartooth to start. Most of my standard manuals for rifles, which also contain handgun bullets are all about jacketed bullets. I will continue my online search. I'm just hoping some other 454 guys can provide their best or favorite resources, whether that be manufacturer sites, other websites or printed manuals. As with everything else reloading, I like multiple resources.

    For additional information, I will be loading for a Ruger Toklat and plan to shoot 340 grain and 360 grain hard cast bullets. This is for grizzlies, mountain lions and wolves, all of which I have had nervous encounters with in the past here in Montana.

    It's just interesting there is a larger amount of conflicting information for the 454 than there is for any other round for which I have ever loaded. I like the Lyman 4th edition, even though it is now a decade old. I do like powder manufacturers' websites; but, I am amazed at the limited number of bullets for which they have load information. I guess one needs to weed through it and just make determinations of "similar bullets" and then be cautious. In addition to hand loading for the 454 being new to me, loading cast bullets is also new to me. It's a good thing I like being educated.

    I will also tell you that through my reading here and on other similar sites, I am convinced that, for my intended purposes, these bullet weights (340 and 360) are best driven a speeds around 1200 fps +/- 50 or so fps.

    Oh, before anybody goes there, yes, I have searched this forum (and others), quite thoroughly, regarding this topic. Direct input regarding my articulated questions and concerns is what I seek. I, unlike many other ignorant people, acknowledge and recognize my ignorance. Thanks in advance for any and all input and guidance you can provide when it comes to loading for the 454 Casull.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSky! View Post
    I will also tell you that through my reading here and on other similar sites, I am convinced that, for my intended purposes, these bullet weights (340 and 360) are best driven a speeds around 1200 fps +/- 50 or so fps.
    I believe you're spot on there. And there are lots of folks doing exactly that in .45 Colt brass. I'm not a .454 Casull fan, so can't help in that regard, but would happily share my Colt data notes if you were interested.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSky! View Post
    This is for grizzlies, mountain lions and wolves, all of which I have had nervous encounters with in the past here in Montana.
    Sorry to hijack as I've got nothing for ya about the 454. I shoot the 45 colt. But if you have the time I, as well as I'm sure others would, like to hear about the wolf encounters that had you concerned. Grizz and mt. lions I can understand, but it's very rare to hear about wolf encounters that make people worried. I've had them all around me before a few times, but never felt the need to actually make me feel nervous. Maybe I was being a little too naÔve?
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Default Hand Loading for the 454 Casull - Wow, what a minefield

    454 Casull




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    45 Colt Ruger Only




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    Default Hand Loading for the 454 Casull - Wow, what a minefield

    I have loaded the 335gr WFNGC loads in my Blackhawk Bisley and also my Rossi R92 rifle. 45 Colt. Honestly, for me, thatís plenty enough recoil. I donít think the Casull load would be very pleasant and a quick follow up would be a thing of dreams.

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    I load for a Rossi 92 in 454 Casull with the Lee 300gr (actual 317 with lube and check). I'm using Lil Gun at 30gr and a mag primer for 1968fps from it's 20"barrel. 31 grs and a std primer gives 1933fps. These loads will give about 1600/1650fps in a 6" revolver. If you're only looking for 1200fps you won't be getting anywhere near the 60,000+ psi the 454 is designed for. Also, if you're only going for 1200 fps, I wouldn't use H110 as it doesn't download well. I would pick a powder that can be downloaded without problems such as 2400, 4227 or better yet AA1680. You won't get maximum velocity with these but you can easily get 1200fps without the wild pressures that H110 can give when downloaded. Also I would stay away from Lil Gun in revolvers is it has been blamed for flame cutting the top strap and the forcing cone in revolvers.

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    First, thanks all for the responses so far. They seem to at least validate my extensive research.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Sorry to hijack as I've got nothing for ya about the 454. I shoot the 45 colt. But if you have the time I, as well as I'm sure others would, like to hear about the wolf encounters that had you concerned.
    4merguide, the two wolf encounters were the least hair-raising; but, interesting none the less. One situation, I was paralleled by a wolf for about fifteen minutes while walking the mountains searching for elk during the rifle season. I had no wolf permit; so, we just watched each other, moving the same direction. This was odd behavior for a Montana wolf.

    The second instance was more a surprise than anything else. I was backed up against a pine tree calling for elk. There was about an inch of snow from the previous night's snowfall, a light snow was falling and there was zero wind. It was dead quiet. I had been cow calling off an on. I had just completed a calling sequence when, over my left shoulder, I heard light fast moving and fast approaching foot fall sounds. I turned, bow in hand and arrow knocked expecting to see an elk of some sort. Just as I turned a running wolf swerved away from me at a distance of about 10 feet and continued running without even breaking stride. Obviously, the wolf thought me to be an elk and once I turned, he recognized I was not. He left faster than he came in. Sorry it's not a more interesting or harrowing story. That time I had a wolf tag; but, unfortunately, I had no time to draw and shoot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I believe you're spot on there. And there are lots of folks doing exactly that in .45 Colt brass. I'm not a .454 Casull fan, so can't help in that regard, but would happily share my Colt data notes if you were interested.
    I appreciate and will happily accept your offer lofthetaiga. I also have a Redhawk in 45 Colt and a Redhawk in 44 magnum and will also be moving in to reloading for those also. Your 45 Colt data notes would be greatly appreciated. I will send you a pm.

    I just tried and, apparently, I don't yet have the proper permissions to pm you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSky! View Post
    I appreciate and will happily accept your offer lofthetaiga. I also have a Redhawk in 45 Colt and a Redhawk in 44 magnum and will also be moving in to reloading for those also. Your 45 Colt data notes would be greatly appreciated. I will send you a pm.

    I just tried and, apparently, I don't yet have the proper permissions to pm you.
    I also load Redhawks in .45 and .44. I would have to look up my loads, but I have used them on large game with great results. I mostly shoot jacketed bullets. My favorite .44 load is the Hornady 265 bullet used in the .444 Marlin with 23 grains of WW296. I also use 300 grain XTP's but would have to look that one up.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSky! View Post
    I appreciate and will happily accept your offer lofthetaiga. I also have a Redhawk in 45 Colt and a Redhawk in 44 magnum and will also be moving in to reloading for those also. Your 45 Colt data notes would be greatly appreciated. I will send you a pm.

    I just tried and, apparently, I don't yet have the proper permissions to pm you.
    No worries. Something like another dozen posts and you'll be able to PM. I'll email. You're going to find that you can easily drive the 340 grain cast to 1200 fps with Colt brass, thus no need to mess with Casull brass...unless you really want to for some other reason.
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    Yeah, there's no reason to use 454 brass other than crud build up in the cyl in front of the 45 Colt case. No real issue as it is not that hard to clean out.

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    Following this thread

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    It is interesting that when researching 454 handloading for cast bullets that the lion's share of the information seems to be people who wish to hotrod lighter bullets. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that and it appears that was Mr. Casull's original intent, a powerful and relatively long range, flat shooting, hunting handgun.

    Anyway, my goal, as alluded to above is to be able to shoot heavies (340+ grains) in a potentially defensive situation. Mr. Marshall Stanton of Beartooth Bullets did me the courtesy of a phone call last night in response to my e-mail. I thought I owed it to the forum to at least share his recommended data for the Beartooth 340 grain LFNGC at or around 1200 fps.

    His suggestions:
    18 grains of 2400 which should be around 1150 fps in my Toklat, to
    20 grains of 2400 which should be around 1250 fps in my Toklat.

    He also suggested, as an alternative, to get to my desired results, to start with 9 grains of Unique and go from there. I post this in hopes that it could help others similarly situated looking for similar loads.

    If anybody can provide load information for bullets and powder combinations which work with 325, 340 and 360 grain bullets at or around the 1100 to 1300 fps mark, I know I and I assume others would appreciate it.

    Every load suggestion I received, including those from bullet manufacturers are checked by me against as close as possible published data out there, including cross referencing multiple online sources such as this forum.

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    2400 is an excellent choice as it is a very forgiving powder that can be downloaded well or pushed to velocities quite a bit higher than you want without over pressure. The 454 is really little different to load for than any other round. If you search load data for any round you will find some manuals with quite different max load data than others. As always start low and work up to what is safe in your gun. In your case, you will be stopping well below max pressures using 2400. H110/W296 is another matter and should not be loaded below recommended starting loads. A very heavy crimp is recommended for revolvers as the heavy bullets and heavy recoil tend to pull bullets out of the case which can cause cyl lockup. Mag primers for good ignition are probably a good plan as well but may require a powder drop of a grain or so. After finding a load you like, test thoroughly for bullet pulling and other issues before betting your life on your defense ammo, even factory ammo.

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    I don't want to embarrass or offend anyone, so I hope nobody takes this the wrong way... That said, I've received some requests and rather than respond to them individually I wanted to state it once, publicly. I've been asked to share .45 Colt load data by persons stating intent to use it in .454 Casull brass. That's a really dangerous idea, and I'm not interested in being a party to it. The OP is looking for a 340 grain cast bullet load at approximately 1200 fps. That can easily be done in .45 Colt Brass, and it can also easily be done in .454 Brass, but the loads are not simply interchangeable. Changing any single component in a given recipe can have a huge effect on pressure and the way a given powder acts, especially powders like H110 which require a certain load density and do not behave well when downloaded.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    2400 is an excellent choice as it is a very forgiving powder that can be downloaded well or pushed to velocities quite a bit higher than you want without over pressure. The 454 is really little different to load for than any other round. If you search load data for any round you will find some manuals with quite different max load data than others. As always start low and work up to what is safe in your gun. In your case, you will be stopping well below max pressures using 2400. H110/W296 is another matter and should not be loaded below recommended starting loads.
    I've discovered this through a lot of research, questions on forums such as this and responses by people such as yourself rbuck351. The big problem as one starts into the 454 arena is actually two-fold. First, the lion's share of information available in manuals is for jacketed bullets. Heck, even the Lyman hard cast bullet manual only has three loads. Second, a very large portion of information out there is for people who wish to drive lighter weight bullets at warp speed.

    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I don't want to embarrass or offend anyone, so I hope nobody takes this the wrong way... That said, I've received some requests and rather than respond to them individually I wanted to state it once, publicly. I've been asked to share .45 Colt load data by persons stating intent to use it in .454 Casull brass. That's a really dangerous idea, and I'm not interested in being a party to it. The OP is looking for a 340 grain cast bullet load at approximately 1200 fps. That can easily be done in .45 Colt Brass, and it can also easily be done in .454 Brass, but the loads are not simply interchangeable. Changing any single component in a given recipe can have a huge effect on pressure and the way a given powder acts, especially powders like H110 which require a certain load density and do not behave well when downloaded.
    Very good point iofthetaiga. I have been specifically trying to avoid that which you address. For me, my preferred platform is the Ruger Toklat and, even though I wish to run loads that could be achieved using 45 Colt, I don't wish to shoot 45 Colt brass/loads in the same pistol in which I shoot 454. I know it is done all of the time. I just don't wish to deal with that. I'll do that in my 45 Colt Redhawk. Boy, talk about duplication, Toklat 454, Redhawk 45 Colt and Redhawk 44 Mag. I have a problem. Good input all.

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    I appreciat the concern for safety regarding the 45/454 loads but would like to understand the dangers of loading 45 loads in 454 brass. If the AOL is the same shouldnt the pressures be the same?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigSky! View Post
    I have a problem.
    They say admitting such is the first step toward recovery!
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    They say admitting such is the first step toward recovery!

    I don't think we are seeking a cure. just a level of control....
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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