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Thread: 45 Colt: Is This Normal?

  1. #1

    Default 45 Colt: Is This Normal?

    Gun: Ruger SRH, 454 Casull, 7.5" bbl

    45 Colt loading:

    W-W brass, new
    CCI 300 "standard" pistol primer
    8.5 grs Unique powder (2009 manufacture)
    Bullet is Lyman 454190, 250gr cast, plain base, sized/lubed to .454"


    I chrono'd some of these loads today, and was kind of surprised at the ES (extreme spread). This is the result of 5 rounds @ 15':

    813
    883
    877
    863
    818

    I thought the ES of 70fps was kind of high, but maybe this is normal for this round fired in the longer chamber? (454 Casull). They say this bullet is the old classic design for the Colt, so I went with it. All charges were carefully & individually weighed out one at a time on a scale, then bullets seated immediately with a light roll crimp. The powder manufacturer (Alliant) suggests 9.5grs for a 250gr lead bullet for a velocity of 941fps, but some of this will be fired in a much smaller, lighter, 45 Colt-only chambered gun (Taurus "Judge"), which doesn't have near the strength of the 454 Ruger, so I dropped down a grain to "err on the safe side". Do you think I need to bump the charge up a little to get the ES to "settle down"? Or maybe use less powder? (the case is only about half full, as it is, with this charge weight) Should I change to a "magnum" primer?

    I'd consider switching to a different powder, but I have a 8 lb canister full of this and would like to use it, not just have it taking up space and gathering dust on a shelf. I have a .452" sizer die also, but have not tried that. Although the bullets were cast from regular wheelweights, I found leading to be almost non-existant. It was so windy during the testing that I made no effort to check accuracy. I have not encountered any of the problems others have sometimes mentioned about firing Colt rounds in a 454, then having problems later on chambering the longer 454 Casull round, even after some 200 or so Colt rounds fired thus far. Tips, ideas, suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Marshall/Ak

  2. #2

    Default

    Light charges of powder in large cases tend to do this. Powder position is a big variable.
    Try this:
    Load 10 more rounds identical to these. Load the cylinder with 5 rounds and raise the muzzle toward the sky, slowly lower it to your target and fire each one. With the other 5 do the opposite; point the muzzle at the ground and slowly raise it to your target. Let us know the avg. velocity and how much your ES shrinks.

  3. #3
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    You're both on the right track.

    The position of a low-density powder charge in the case affects how the charge ignites. There were many stories circulating about light loads in the 45 Colt, 44 Mag and 44 Special that talk about the gun blowing up during firing. While I've never seen any studies or tests that confirm it as true, I've never seen it scientifically ruled out either. This is where the practice of pointing the muzzle to the sky before each shot came from. It positions most of the powder charge as close to the primer as possible, allowing for the most uniform ignition possible.

    What I've done in my guns is either find a bulkier powder that fills the case better, or go to a larger charge. The larger charge tends to reduce ES as the ignition is more uniform. Not only that, but every thrown charge, even hand-weighed, is going to be slightly different. When you load to higher pressures, the pressure variance from these small weight deviations aren't as significant.

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    Could it just be slightly varying case lengths, resulting in varying crimp strength?

    Mike

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    Yeah, all the above and a couple other things you might try.

    First I'm surprised the .454" sized bullets go into the cylinder of the gun.....oh, its a 454 Casull. Those over sized bullets lie in the chamber not the cylinder throats. Ok, also that charge of Unique is pretty light and I do find magnum primers better for that powder. I think my Speer book calls for them. I also don't use Unique in any hand gun loads anymore since I discovered Blue Dot but you've got the Unique. The standard load for me with Unique in the 45 Colt for everything except pre war Colt peace makers was 10 grains of Unique with a 250 grain cast. The Judge will take that load also. Try 9 grains and read again then 9.5 and watch the numbers get better. I don't think there has ever been a damaged gun from too light of load with this powder in a revolver so I wouldn't be concerned about that except to say don't double charge as there is enough room for it.

    Another factor to effect ES numbers is bullet crimp plus Unique isn't particularly easy to ignite and greater bullet pull helps. But further it is not too uncommon for ES numbers to be 100 fps from some revolvers and the list of factors include barrel length, (too short to get a good burn), cylinder throat diameters (not all the same) though with the .454" size you've eliminated that, the cylinder gap being larger than necessary, the crimp, powder load density, powder ignition characteristics, primer efficiency, etc. Some powders work better in short barrels and some powders work better with mag primers. The slow powders such as H110 and Lil'Gun need about 5 1/2" of barrel to give low ES numbers.

    We don't want those variations and that is the game of the handloader to get ES numbers as low as possible, that does, in spite of so much that is said to the contrary, a big factor in accuracy. Your loads will be fine for plinkers and should stay in a four inch group at 25 yards and that may be good enough but just offering things to try. I have loads with 44 special, mag and 45 Colt that give 25 fps ES from 3" barrels and are 250 grain bullets at about 900 fps. Accuracy is not throughly tested in these guns as I can't group them less than 3" with my eyes and this sight radius but they do what I want.
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  6. #6

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    I agree on the need for a little more crimp with my old friend, Unique. And it sounds kinda backwards, but with lighter loads I get more consistency from mag primers, which I don't feel the need for with heavier charges.

    One factor not mentioned is that new brass. Sad to say, in recent years I've seen a loss of QC in the winchester I've been buying, especially in length. Right out of the box, brand new, there is so much variability in both rifle and pistol cases that I feel the need to trim it---- especially cases that will be crimped.

    Drag a micrometer across those cases and compare length. If I've been unlucky in getting so much length variation, yours should be within spec. If my experience is more normal, you may need to trim to uniform length to really settle down the ES, along with more crimp and maybe mag primers.

  7. #7

    Default More Testing Results...

    Thanks guys for all the tips and ideas...it helps. I only had time to do a short test this evening, with CCI 350 mag primers, and upping the charge of Unique to 9.5grs (what Alliant suggests). Here's the chrono results:

    921
    925
    962
    925
    936

    This looks better: 41fps spread is quite an improvement over the 70fps. Not bad...I can live with this. Besides, the ammo has a little more punch with this loading. I noticed all the cases have quite a bit of sooty black smudge on them near the case mouth after firing...pretty dirty. (not just with this loading, but with ALL of them) I hear this is a chronic problem with the 45LC. Could it just be that Unique powder burns dirty? Or does this happen with all powders in the 45LC? What powder would burn cleaner? I don't get this problem when shooting 454 Casull, in the same gun, but then for those loads I use H110, or W296...and the pressure level is way different...

    Marshall/Ak

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall/Ak View Post
    Thanks guys for all the tips and ideas...it helps. I only had time to do a short test this evening, with CCI 350 mag primers, and upping the charge of Unique to 9.5grs (what Alliant suggests). Here's the chrono results:

    921
    925
    962
    925
    936

    This looks better: 41fps spread is quite an improvement over the 70fps. Not bad...I can live with this. Besides, the ammo has a little more punch with this loading. I noticed all the cases have quite a bit of sooty black smudge on them near the case mouth after firing...pretty dirty. (not just with this loading, but with ALL of them) I hear this is a chronic problem with the 45LC. Could it just be that Unique powder burns dirty? Or does this happen with all powders in the 45LC? What powder would burn cleaner? I don't get this problem when shooting 454 Casull, in the same gun, but then for those loads I use H110, or W296...and the pressure level is way different...

    Marshall/Ak
    Unique is dirty, Bulseye is better and goes about as far as Unique. Try some 2400 if you can find it but it wonít load near as many rounds. I find H110/W296 very dirty in my 454 and 460 loads and Iím going to Lil-Gun for my hot loads.
    Andy
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    I find Unique to be very sooty at the lower end of it's pressure range, but that it cleans up significantly at the upper end. You might try Universal or maybe go a little faster and try 231.

    Mike

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall/Ak View Post
    I hear this is a chronic problem with the 45LC. Could it just be that Unique powder burns dirty? Or does this happen with all powders in the 45LC? What powder would burn cleaner?

    Marshall/Ak
    As noted, it goes away a little as the pressures rise. I found 700x to be comparable to Unique in a lot of ways, but cleaner burning. Cleaner burning isn't enough of an issue to make me run out and buy 700x in your shoes, but it's enough better that you might want to give a try if you happen to have some on hand.

  11. #11

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    The comments about Unique burning cleaner as pressure increases are spot on. This evening I loaded up 5 rounds of 45/70 with 14.5grs of Unique, and a 335 gr cast bullet. (no gas check) The Lyman manual says this develops about 25,500 psi, which is about double what my 45 Colt loads were. I got about 1220fps out of my Marlin 1895, and noted that it was VERY pleasant to shoot...negligable recoil (less than my 30-30)...and the report was considerably milder than I expected...not at all hard on the ears. And I was very surprised the brass was so clean (after seeing the black soot on those 45's the other night). If anybody needs a "plinker" load for their 45/70, or one that their kid can start out with, I'd whole-heartedly recommend this one...

    How can I go to the range 3 evenings in a row? Easy...my wife is out of town...


    Marshall/Ak

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    Unique is not only dirty with the low pressure loads it really doesn't burn well at pressures below about 24,000 psi. This is the case with many powders. They are designed to burn cleanly at certain pressures. Pistol powders are designed to burn at pistol pressures rifle powders at rifle pressures. This is the ideal anyway, and H110/296 needs about 35,000 psi to burn cleanly. The shotgun powders are idealized at shotgun pressures about 12,000 to 18,000 psi and this makes them suitable for moderate pistol loads. Powders such as 700X, BlueDot, etc will burn cleaner in a handgun than Unique. You'll note these powders are of similar appearance, light fluffy flakes. They are generally easy to ignite and burn at low pressure. Unique is heavilly coated and contains graphite which makes for some soot. Unique and Herco are both very old formula and harder to ignite. Blue Dot is an ideal propellant for these mid range loads in large capacity cases, 44 mag, 45, Colt, 44 Special, etc because it burns very clean at about 16,000 psi. Unique will always leave a residue but does clean up when pressure is up a ways.

    Vihta Vouri has made some modern powders for handguns to fill this niche, N340, N350 as examples. Also Alliant has Power Pistol (more like Bulls Eye in burn rate) and the newer Olin shotgun powders, Super Field, and a couple others. It does pay to study the new powders to find something better especially when you want cleaner burning. Also the most popular powders are gone quickly off the shelf in stores today and the newer untried powders may be all that's left. Time for a change and some experimentation. There is data for all the new stuff if we just look around.
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    Powders such as 700X, BlueDot, etc will burn cleaner in a handgun than Unique
    Actually, Unique burns a bit cleaner than Blue Dot in the loads I do but its a specialty load not generally encountered, also seems to burn more completely.

    There is data for all the new stuff if we just look around.
    .455 webley?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Also Alliant has Power Pistol (more like Bulls Eye in burn rate)
    Actually Bullseye has a much faster burn rate than Power Pistol. PP is a little slower than Unique, and I think close to Herco although perhaps just a touch faster. PP is by far my favorite midrange revolver load powder so I go through a fair amount of it.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeT View Post
    Actually Bullseye has a much faster burn rate than Power Pistol. PP is a little slower than Unique, and I think close to Herco although perhaps just a touch faster. PP is by far my favorite midrange revolver load powder so I go through a fair amount of it.

    Mike
    You're right PP is slower than Unique, and I think the Olin WSL is about the same rate as Unique and WST is much faster. The fast Alliant I was thinking of is American Select, some shot gun powder. It was too fast for my particular pistol application. Power Pistol is actually a good high performance powder for the 45 ACP and 40 and I found it to be good in the GAP also. That woudl be a good replacement for Unique for a cleaner burn. Several of these work well in some particular application, It's never good to restrict yourself to just one powder.
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  16. #16
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    Here are the first few from the chart. Number 1 is the fastest....

    Don't confuse WSL with WST and there is a Universal and a Universal Clays


    1.
    R-1 (Norma)
    2.
    N310 (Vihtavuori)
    3.
    Titewad (Hodgdon)
    4.
    AS- 30N (ADI)
    5.
    Nitro 100 (Accurate)
    6.
    Bullseye (Alliant)
    7.
    Solo 1000 (Accurate)
    8.
    Red Diamond (Scot)
    9.
    AS (Vectan)
    10.
    Red Dot (Alliant)
    11.
    Promo (Alliant)
    12.
    Titegroup (Hodgdon)
    13.
    No. 2 (Accurate)
    14.
    American Select (Alliant)
    15.
    AA Plus (Winchester)
    16.
    Clays (Hodgdon)
    17.
    N320 (Vihtavuori)
    18.
    Competition (Ramshot)
    19.
    Royal D (Scot)
    20.
    WST (Winchester)
    21.
    AP- 50N (ADI)
    22.
    HP38 (Hodgdon)
    23.
    AO (Vectan)
    24.
    452AA (Winchester)
    25.
    453 (Scot)
    26.
    231 (Winchester)
    27.
    Zip (Ramshot)
    28.
    700X (IMR)
    29.
    Green Dot (Alliant)
    30.
    AS- 50N (ADI)
    31.
    International Clays (Hodgdon)
    32.
    473AA (Winchester)
    33.
    HS-5 (Hodgdon)
    34.
    WSL (Winchester)
    35.
    Unique (Alliant)
    36.
    Universal Clays (Hodgdon)
    37.
    N330 (Vihtavuori)
    38.
    AP- 70N (ADI)
    39.
    Power Pistol (Alliant)
    40.
    SR-7625 (IMR)
    41.
    HS-6 (Hodgdon)
    42.
    Silhouette (Ramshot)
    43.
    WAP (Winchester)
    44.
    N340 (Vihtavuori)
    45.
    540 (Winchester)
    46.
    Herco (Alliant)
    47.
    WSF (Winchester)
    48.
    SR-4756 (IMR)
    49.
    AP- 100 (ADI)
    50.
    Solo 1250 (Accurate)
    51.
    3N37 (Vihtavuori)
    52.
    800X (IMR)
    53.
    No. 7 (Accurate)
    54.
    Longshot (Hodgdon)
    55.
    Solo 1500 (Scot)
    56.
    True Blue (Ramshot)
    57.
    N350 (Vihtavuori)
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  17. #17
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    Here are a few more pistol powders#58 is Vihta 3n38 I lost it.


    59.
    HS-7 (Hodgdon)
    60.
    Blue Dot (Alliant) An old standby for my 44 Special and 45 ACP Super
    61.
    571 (Winchester)
    62.
    N105 (Vihtavuori)
    63.
    No. 9 (Accurate)
    64.
    Enforcer (Ramshot)
    65.
    4100 (Scot)
    66.
    Steel (Alliant)
    67.
    2400 (Alliant)
    68.
    N110 (Vihtavuori) good stuff
    69.
    Lil Gun (Hodgdon)
    70.
    R123 (Norma)
    71.
    H110 (Hodgdon)
    72.
    296 (Winchester)
    73.
    AR2205 (ADI)
    74.
    SR-4759 (IMR)
    75.
    N120 (Vihtavuori)
    76.
    4227 (IMR)
    77.
    H4227 (Hodgdon)
    78.
    5744 XMR (Accurate)
    79.
    410 (Alliant)
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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