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Thread: .454 Casull

  1. #1
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    Default .454 Casull

    Greetings fellow forum folks,
    I'm going to start hand-loading the .454 Casull. I have hand-loaded the .44mag for years, but I am new to this cartridge. I've ordered the Lee carbide pistol die set and some brass, but I want to get some ideas before purchasing bullets. I've heard conflicting information. I've heard you can load either the .451 or .452 diameter bullets, and I've also seen where some bullet manufacturers' designate the .452 for the Casull. Being a cautious hand-loader I'd appreciate hearing your experience. This is one high pressure pistol cartridge, and I don't want to screw it up...or myself!
    Thanks in advance for your ideas and comments,
    Doc

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    I don't have reloading experience with the .454 Casull, but I do shoot factory ammo from a Freedom Arms .454 Casull that belongs to a friend. It's true that bullet manufacturers produce .451" and .452' bullets for the Casull, and that reloaders must be careful and properly crimp them. There is some reloading data at the Freedom Arms web site, and maybe you can ask Freedom Arms about reloading for your gun:
    http://www.freedomarms.com/

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    One thing to be careful of on the 454 is using bullets that are suitable for it. Due to it's high pressure, if you use softer bullets designed for the 45 colt, they will upset enough on the way from the cylinder to the forcing cone in the barrel to really hammer the barrel which leads to cracking.

    As far as 0.451" or 0.452", it depends on the dimensions of your gun, if you have larger throats in your cyliner, the larger bullets may improve accuracy.

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    I have discovered the bullets hold better with the crimp if you seat the bullets in one step and then go back and adjust your die to crimp them in another step.
    This is for full power loads.
    Tennessee

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    Default loading the 454....

    Doc,

    These guys are steering you in the right direction. The Freedom Arms bullets are all .452". Those expensive jacketed bullets are also hardened and are the only recommended jacket bullets for the 454. Part of this has to do with the close dimensions of the FA revolvers. The throats of my FA guns are .452" and the .452" bullets are the right size. I also have used them in the Ruger SRH and that is the right size there also.

    The barrels are .451-.452 and my guns shoot the .452 hard cast bullets best.
    What Paul is saying about the forcing cone and softer bullets is true. Most of my loads are with hard cast so that isn't a consideration. I still have some of the 260 and 300 grain FA jacketed bullets and they are .452" and a label on the box says "engineered for the 454". Maybe so.

    You'll like this beast, it is one serious machine. I've been loading for it since Freedom Arms started making the revolvers. I have serial number 80 in a 6" field grade, and a couple others. Yeah, I have a few loads you can try. Get your self a Lee factory crimp die or a Redding Profile crimp, you'll need it to hold the bullets in the cylinder.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Forgot to mention that when you go to the Freedom Arms web site (link posted above), scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link "454 Casull Loading Data." There is quite a lot of information there, including bullet diameters and such, plus loading data.

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    Thumbs up Thanks...

    Lots of good information as I head into this new project. Your time taken to educate me is appreciated, and I learned some new stuff about this powerful monster, thanks guys. Also, some of your good points are useful confirmations of my current practices, e.g., my long standing preference for hard cast bullets in the big pistols (...I have some 360 gn hard cast bullets on the way), and always seating and crimping as two separate stages (...I neglected to mention in my original post that I had already ordered Lee's factory crimping die...good to know you recommended it as well).

    My pistol is a Ruger SRH that I recently bought "used" (it looks to me like it was hardly fired). I'll tell you what I did to it, but there are some disclaimers that I need to mention. First, I am not a pistol hunter...I am a rifle hunter, and this pistol will not be used for hunting. Second, I plan to carry this pistol for back-up protection in the field to be used when I can't reach my rifle, replacing my 5.5" .44 mag...I will practice with it at the range to build my skills, know my limits, and get comfortable with it, but I will not discharge it in the field unless necessary (...and I'm hoping that never happens because my ears will ring for the rest of my life). Lastly, hand-gun officionados should read no further as the following may cause a serious health risk....you've been warned....as we speak my long time gun smith is cutting the 7.5" barrel to just under 5" and porting it, and I have replaced the front sight with a high visibility fiber optic one. When it is done, I'm hoping to have something significantly more powerful than my .44 (I know I'm losing power with the barrel reduction), yet shootable and more useful than the two and a half inch "Alaskan Model"...for about the price of a new one.

    Thanks again guys for the useful information, and I'll check out the FA site. Professor Murphy, your generosity is always appreciated and I'd welcome some of that load data...if you want to share it with someone who would ruin a fine hunting pistol!

    Doc

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    You doing an excellent job with the mods. I'm planning on getting another SRH to have one cut down to 5" for packability. I'm still debating front sights. Honestly the shooter sight radius isn't that much of a sacrifice in accuracy, it's only the snubbies that you really notice the loss.

    Another mod you might consider is full moon clips. The cylinder is machined to take a full moon clip, and all cases are clipped together which makes for super fast re-loads. You can still load w/o the clips as the outside radius of the cylinder isn't machined and still provides headspace for non-clipped rounds.

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    Thanks for the encouragement Paul, and I'll look into the clips.
    Doc

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    Thumbs up .452 for 454

    The Sierra 300gr FN is a excellent bullet with W296 powder in WW cases with CCI BR-4 primers.
    Alaska

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    Default Load Data for the 454

    Doc,

    Some time back you told us of your new acquisition and handloading challenge. I think you asked for data and though I'm a little late I have some for a short barreled 454 Casull.

    All of this is in Starline brass which has small primer pockets for small rifle magnum primers. Though small primer pockets are all the same, load data for this one requires the hotter spark of the magnum rifle and also needs the stronger cup of the rifle primer.

    I have used the Remington #7 1/2 primer and CCI-450 magnum small rifle primer, as noted.

    I don't use H-110 or W-296 powder because I don't like the performance of ball powders over temperature range and also dislike its lack of versatility.

    I use H4227 and Vihta N-110 and both will work from moderate to heavy loads. They are very clean burning and give very low standard deviation in tight guns.

    I am a strong proponent of heavy for caliber cast bullets in any big bore hand gun and am satisfied that they are the best way to go for any hunting or bear protection application, especially with shorter barrels in packable revolvers.

    Here is a sample of data for the Beartooth 340 grain LFNGC bullet. This bullet is sized to .452" and actually weighs 345 grains. It is extremely accurate in my FA guns and I have shot it into 3" at 100 yards with my 2X Leupold.

    This is chronographed with my Oehler model 35-P, from my 5 1/2" barrel M83 with the average of five shots at 15' feet from the muzzle.

    H4227 and Rem #7 1/2 primer.
    Charge, Velocity, Ex. Spread, S.D.
    24.0 1237 32 15
    25.0 1288 28 14
    26.0 1318 31 15
    27.0 1378 35 12
    28.0 1414 15 08

    H4227 and CCI-450 primer.
    26.0 1343 23 12
    27.0 1398 21 09
    28.0 1445 18 08

    N-110 and Rem. #7 1/2 primer.
    25.0 1443 24 08
    26.0 1487 37 14

    N-110 and CCI-450 primer.
    25.0 1452 33 12
    26.0 1491 28 10

    These bullets were alos sized .452".

    With the Cast Performance 335 grain WLNGC bullet.
    N-110 powder and CCI-450 primer.
    26.0 1495 21 05
    27.0 1537 25 08

    With the Beartooth 355 grain WLNGC.
    H4227 powder and CCI-450 primers.
    22.0 1147 39 21
    24.0 1237 35 19 (2 gr. increase)
    25.0 1268 27 17
    26.0 1316 28 13
    27.0 1362 24 11

    Both H4227 and Vihta N-110 can be loaded down to moderate levels. The top load with all bullets and powders were a full case. The 340 LFN has a longer base section and both H4227 and N110 fill the case and is slightly compressed. That is a good thing. I use a Redding Profile crimp die and crimp into a crimp groove. These require a very heavy crimp. Recoil is...how shall I say this....stimulating and the bullets will walk if we don't hold 'em. This is also one of the reasons why we get such low velocity spreads on this one, a heavy bullet and a tight crimp on cases of uniform length. These powders are much better than the ball powders even though the H-110/W-296 may get higher velocity in some guns, velocity variation will be higher. Enjoy your new toy.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Thanks Professor Murphy for the Casull load data, it will give me some direction with this project. Your post is actually very timely, as I just went to the range today to try my first hadloads. I've started in the middle with this bad boy by loading some 300 grn Speer's with CCI small rifle primers and 25 grns of AA#9...just for starters. It is very manageable. My end goal is to load up some 360 grn WLNGC by Cast Performance, which I have already purchased. I was definately headed towards W296 with the hard casts...it has worked very well for me in my 44 with 328grn casts...but you have given me some other ideas. I really like this pistol. How do I post a picture of it?

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    Doc,

    Scroll down to attach files and click on manage files. Click on browse and find picture on your PC files, then when there click on upload. If you attach just one it will be a part of your post. With 2 or more they will have a path.

    I'd like to see that bad boy...what 4 3/4" barrel, not to bad.

    I have some BT 345 grain WLNGC bullets with a wide meplat they look very good but they seat too long for my M83. What is the cylinder length of your SRH? I think the SRH is longer than the 83. These seat, when crimped in the groove, to OAL of 1.805", my cylinder is 1.775" max. If you can use them, I'll bring them down the next time I head your way. I'll sell them to ya for the price of a cup of coffee or some other adult beverage.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  14. #14

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    I've never run into a commercial cast bullet that was too soft to run through a 454. They all seem to be around 18-22BHN which ought to be just about perfect for hot 454 loads. You darned 454 shooters are why I have to try to make hard lead shoot out of my 45 colt. Commercial cast should work really well for you.

    Stay away from swaged bullets (technically not cast). Way too soft.

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    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 454

    Reloaded for many years the 454.......using W296....and CCI Br4 primers

    I favored the 300gr Sierra FN.......or Speer 300 gr GDHP

    Used the 360, 340, LBT years ago, but did not like their performance on game due to no expansion.
    Alaska

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    We have been using the Nosler Partition Pistol bullet with great results. My hunting partner has used it on several caribou and it did a wonderful job. Kills out to 200 yards with a pistol have always astonded me. We also use Lilgun in his 454 and in my 480, wonderful powder and very accurate loads. Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaska bush man View Post
    Reloaded for many years the 454.......using W296....and CCI Br4 primers

    I favored the 300gr Sierra FN.......or Speer 300 gr GDHP

    Used the 360, 340, LBT years ago, but did not like their performance on game due to no expansion.
    Why does a 45 caliber bullet need to expand? Expansion with handguns can be a bad thing on some critters.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by jdb3 View Post
    We have been using the Nosler Partition Pistol bullet with great results. My hunting partner has used it on several caribou and it did a wonderful job. Kills out to 200 yards with a pistol have always astonded me. We also use Lilgun in his 454 and in my 480, wonderful powder and very accurate loads. Jim
    What do you have for data with L'il gun, for the 454? I'd like to try that.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Thanks professor for the attachment tutorial. I have tried to attach several times, but I keep getting the prompt to manually reduce my file size. I'll keep at it until I get it...someday. Also, generous offer for the bullets, but my SRH cylinder length is real close to the same as yours. Thanks anyway.

    You guys are much better pistol shots than me. I'll hold my own with a rifle, but the story of 200 yard pistol shots on game is much better shooting than I can even imagine. 3" groups at a 100 yards? I feel accomplished if I can hit a 12" rock at 50 yards without using a rest...and that may take me a whole cylinder of shots to pull off.

    I've never heard of L'il gun powder. Who makes it?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    I've never heard of L'il gun powder. Who makes it?
    Hodgdon. It's a 410 powder but seems to like my 480. Should work well in 454 as well.

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