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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Full Power 45 Colt Loads 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Full Power 45 Colt Loads  (Read 19459 times)
Dave T
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« on: May 23, 2016, 02:55:41 pm »


I've always been attracted by the idea of shooting original performance ammo from guns of the black powder cartridge era and I put a lot of effort into accomplishing that years ago.

Research indicated the original load was with FFg but I couldn't get enough of that granulation in modern, solid head cases to duplicate the oft quoted original performance of 910 fps. What I came up with was a very compressed FFFg load of 36g behind a 255g RNFP. From a 7-1/2" 1st Gen Colt I got average velocities ranging from 907 fps to 914 fps, depending on the time of the year (outside temp).

Since this time around I'm starting from stretch with different guns, different bullets, even different brass (brand-new Starline cases) so before I re-invent the wheel (LOL) I thought I'd ask what folks here do for full power 45 Colt ammunition. I'd be grateful for any and all info you're willing to pass on.

Thanks in advance,
Dave

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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2016, 03:39:13 pm »

Dave, any amount of powder(FF or FFF) above about 35 grs. in moderm cases is going to require some degree of compression. Some have actually managed to get 40 grs in a modern case, but I bet they really leaned into the compression die. It sounds like you want to stick with a bullet in the 250/255 range of the original loading. Depending on which bullet you select, some sit a little deeper in the case than others. This will affect your powder charge as well if you are sticking to the maximum cartridge OAL of 1.600. Some revolver cylinders will enable you to exceed that measurement, thus creating a little more case capacity. If you want to duplicate the original velocities ( it sounds like you did in your first attempts), stick with the hotter powders like Swiss or Olde Eynsford. Good luck with your experiments and let us know how you make out.
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 04:13:31 pm »

All my research has pointed to these cartridges being loaded with what we now would consider 3f powder.  I have broke down several original Frankford Arsenal loadings, and all had the finer granulation.

 F's are a modern designation.  Both the .45-70 and the Colt round were loaded with "Rifle" grade powder, which appears to be what we consider a "3"f granulation.  "Musket" grade seems to correspond to "2" f, with "Pistol" grade being close to 4f as seen in original Percussion "Skin" cartridges.  I believe this to be one reason velocity's seem lower with "Modern" powder, because we are consistently using the wrong granulation.

My Trapdoor 45-70s, loaded with 3f, will shoot to the sights, with 2f loads shooting high. 
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2016, 04:48:16 pm »

Drydock,

That's interesting information - first time I've seen it.  Thanks for the enlightenment.
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2016, 05:15:07 pm »

That's news to me. I'll need to load up a 3F round or two to feed to my Trapdoor, see how it does. Thanks for sharing the info!
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2016, 05:40:43 pm »

Drydock,

Great info! In all the years I delved into this subject in the past, and all the reading I've done lately trying to catch up, I've never heard that and it is obviously very important to know. Thanks a bunch for passing that gem of historical knowledge on. I will remain in your debt…

Dave
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2016, 06:48:20 pm »

If you go back into the old documentation, ie pre ww1, you will find references to the various granulations in terms of "Musket" "Rifle" "Pistol" .  There are others, but I tried to determine what those meant, and how they correspond to the modern "F" designations.  I believe the modern ideas of "2F in 40 caliber and above" et al, came about in the 1950s from early ML reinactors, and it somehow became entrenched as "Old Knowledge"  But like so much BP info from that era, (Cleaning, fouling, lubricant, use of water) it's wrong.

I cannot prove it, but a theory of mine is that someone back in the 50s decided to call 4f "Priming" powder for his flintlock.  This is apocryphal,  as Flintlocks were primed with whatever powder was in the paper cartridge or powder horn of the user.  Few if any Flintlock users, and certainly NO military, ever carried a separate priming powder.  But this somehow got accepted as "Truth".  Well then, what is this "Pistol" grade stuff?  Well that must  have been 3f.  And so on.  Then the johnny come lately cartridge guys accepted that the old frontstuffers must know what they're talking about . . .
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2016, 07:21:45 pm »

just to prove the point:  The original Frankford Arsenal military .45 Colt loading was 35 grains "Rifle" grade powder under a 255 conical for 910 fps.  Your 3f load matched that perfectly.  Your 2f load did not.  Those original loads were in Benet inside primed cases, which because of the extra priming cup in the base of the cartridge, had a capacity very close to that of modern "Solid" head cases.  35 Grains was the standard Colt commercial load as well.  The 40 grain loads were a much later offering by UMC and Winchester.
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2016, 11:31:20 pm »

Holy Crap My Good Drydock!

I had read of the older definitions, but did not realize that "pistol" grade was closer to 4F!

Have you ever tried loading 4F into pistol cartridges,  or do you have knowledge of anyone beside Elemr Kieth who did?

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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2016, 12:00:23 am »

Oh yes, I especialy like 4f in my 38 S&W Iver Johnsons.  I also use 4f in .45 acp cases in the extra 45 acp cylinder of my Cimmarron 7th Cav.   I  have shot 4f in a Nagant revolver, great fun, and in my .36 Navys.  It also works well in a Bodeo.  I tend to reserve its use for applications of 20 grains or less.  That seems to be its historical usage as well.
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2016, 07:08:45 am »

Darned interesting.  I'll have to order some FFFFG the next time around and try in my 32-20's. and 38S&W.  And also my 45 ACP for Wild Bunch!
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2016, 07:48:10 am »

I have some ffffg downstairs, I'll be trying it in my National Match Gold Cup for Wild Bunch as well.

No one seems to use it in the 45 Colt, is that right.
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2016, 09:17:52 am »

Not that I've seen.  There is the legend of Elmer Kieth, who blew off the topstrap of a .45 SAA with a full case of 4f.  But it was an iron framed gun, and he'd loaded a 405 grain 458 bullet!  I suspect the bullet more than the powder was the primary cause.
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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2016, 09:32:06 am »

Oh yes, I especialy like 4f in my 38 S&W Iver Johnsons.  I also use 4f in .45 acp cases in the extra 45 acp cylinder of my Cimmarron 7th Cav.   I  have shot 4f in a Nagant revolver, great fun, and in my .36 Navys.  It also works well in a Bodeo.  I tend to reserve its use for applications of 20 grains or less.  That seems to be its historical usage as well.
I have a 1911 I'm setting up to shoot BP in. How many gs of 4f do you use in your 45 acp?
Thanks
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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2016, 09:42:43 am »

20, under a Lee 230 LRN, WLP primer.  This is out of a revolver, I've never shot BP loads in my 1911s, though I do not see that there would be any problem with it.  I like to use these for faster reloading.  The short case with no rim really pops out of the SAA.
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« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2016, 09:47:30 am »

Thanks much appreciated. wM1
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« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2016, 10:23:54 am »

wildman,

I knew a guy many years ago (late 1970s) who tried black powder in a 1911 45 ACP. This was before the days of SPG or similar lubes and he had just loaded the same 230g cast bullets he used with smokeless. As I recall, and I was there the day he tried it, he only fired 5 rounds…all he had loaded. The BP fouling gummed up the semi-auto sufficiently that he couldn't go on without dousing the gun down with lubricants and cycling the slide half a dozen times. At the time he decided it wasn't worth pursuing but everyone there agreed it was spectacular to watch for the first few shots.

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« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2016, 11:03:36 am »

just to prove the point:  The original Frankford Arsenal military .45 Colt loading was 35 grains "Rifle" grade powder under a 255 conical for 910 fps.  Your 3f load matched that perfectly.  Your 2f load did not.  Those original loads were in Benet inside primed cases, which because of the extra priming cup in the base of the cartridge, had a capacity very close to that of modern "Solid" head cases.  35 Grains was the standard Colt commercial load as well.  The 40 grain loads were a much later offering by UMC and Winchester.

As an aside, there were a couple of other reasons the Army reduced the charge to the 35 gr. charge: First, there were a number of incidents of the iron cylinders of the early Colt's "strap pistol" (Single Action Army) blowing up until Colt's switched to steel cylinders!  Second, the recoil of the 40/250 loading was found to be uncomfortable for the small hands of the average trooper.  IIRC, the Army also reduced the bullet weight to 230 grains.  Commercial ammunition companies did market the 40/250-255 loadings later.  When S&W brought out the Schofield revolver, they probably found that the full charge Army .45 Colt's round was too stiff for their guns, so they shortened the cylinder and brought out the .45 Revolver Ball (aka .45 Schofield) with either a 28 or 30 gr charge behind the 230 gr. bullet. When logistical problems proved troublesome, the Army dropped the Colt's loading, and issued the shorter, lighter round to troops using either pistol (until they finally surplussed off the Schofields).
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« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2016, 01:24:39 pm »

Wow, some great info here.
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« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2016, 06:30:54 pm »

The 45 Schofield must have been close to the 45 Cowboy (or the other way around, lol).
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« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2016, 11:04:38 pm »

Historically speaking, there have been several different .45 Colt b.p. loadings in boxer primed cases over the years.
.........28 grs., 35 grs., 38 grs., 40 grs.

Awhile back I purchased some U.M.C. headstamped .45 Colt b.p. ammunition. I dissected the cartridges and found that three of them contained the 35 gr charge and the rest, 40 grs.  The powder had a polished appearance and screening determined that it was FFG granulation.

I annealed the cases and replaced the primers.  I loaded the powder back into the cases. The 40 gr charges in the SHBP (Solid Head Button Pocket aka balloon head) cases required .20" of compression.  I replaced the dried out lube on the bullets with SPG and reseated them.

Average velocity in a 7 1/2" barrel was 932 f.p.s.  In a 24" barrel .... 1,247 f.p.s.
The three 35 gr. cartridges averaged 877 f.p.s. in the Ruger.

By comparison, velocities with 40 grs of Goex FFG ran about 100 f.p.s. less.

In further testing, only Swiss and Olde Eynsford FFG had the ballistic strength to equal the velocity of the powder used in those pre 1911 U.M.C. cartridges.



Here is a pic of a vintage 28 gr. cartridge box I found on the internet awhile back.


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« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2016, 10:49:21 am »

The more we know the more questions we ask (smile).

According to Drydock's earlier post, the granulation used in the original 45 Colt loadings was closer to our modern day FFFg than FFg.

According to w44wcf's research the powder he found in the rounds he took apart was more like FFg than FFFg. Curiouser and curiouser!

Back in my youth (lol) I loaded 35-36g of FFFg behind a 255g 20-1 RNFP bullet to duplicate the often quoted performance of 910 fps from a 7-1/2" barrel. My thought for this time around was to try the same charge (~35g of FFFg) with a 250g 454190 bullet and see what happens through the chronograph screens.

I will report the results as soon as the components come together and I can make my busted-up self get to the shop and cobble together the ammo. More to follow.

Dave
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« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2016, 07:18:36 pm »

I researched Military loading.  The various commercial manufacturers loaded differently over the years, in response to more power, less recoil, et al.  No different than happens today. 
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« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2016, 07:49:35 am »

The 45 Schofield must have been close to the 45 Cowboy (or the other way around, lol).

Me thinks there is several grains powder difference between the two!
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« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2016, 09:06:25 am »

Howdy

I picked up this box of Frankford Arsenal cartridges a couple of years ago. As you can see, they were made in 1874, and carried a 250 grain bullet over 30 grains of powder. I am not going to dissect any to see what the granulation is or if there is wadding over the powder, however I suspect there is.






Although these look like rimfires, they are not. These cartridges have the old Benet style internal priming. They are copper cased, not brass, and the dents near the bottom hold the internal anvil plate in place. The round all the way on the right is one of my own reloads for comparison.

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