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Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

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Old 10-20-2006, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: NOVA
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Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

Got a good used Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt last month to take on my antelope hunt in case I got a shot under 100yds. Put a 2.5x scope on it, read the manuals, and made up some loads that shot into 1.5" at 25yds. Should group about 6" at 100yds, right? Nope. Couldn't stay on a 12x12" target sheet off bags with no wind. Didn't have time to play load development, so the Ruger stayed home.

I get the feeling that big fat pistol bullets may not stabilize as well as rifle rounds, but I expected better performance than "side of the barn" accuracy at 100 yds.

I was shooting a 7.5" barrel, 1:16" rifling, Starline cases, 20.5gr of 296, CCI large pistol magnum primers, and 225gr Speer JHPs. No chrono available, but guesstimating from the books at about 1300 fps. No pressure signs.

Any suggestions?
There is no "overkill". There is only "open fire" and "I need to reload."
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Old 10-20-2006, 02:29 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: East TX
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Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

Dump the jacketed bullets and go with some 310gr LWFNGC. I am pretty sure you can even find some 325s if you look around. Load them as hot as you can hold onto, and I bet you will see marked improvement.
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Old 10-20-2006, 02:56 PM
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Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?


Get rid of the lightweight bullets. If you want jacketed bullets, get some of the 300 gr Speer Uni core SP or 300 gr Hornady XTP. I prefer the Speer unicores personally as they will not shed their jacket.

If you want a heavier bullet yet, I prefer 360 gr Cast Performance WFNGC bullets with a heavy dose of H-LilGun. They are a handful to shoot but in the Blackhawk you can approach 454 performance with this combo. I load mine to 1150 fps. Not max but nothing on this side of the world will stop that load!!!

For a lower recoiling round, I would recommend a Keith style Hard cast 255 gr and get some Blue Dot and load them to 1100-1200 fps for a good practice load. They are more then enough for any deer on the planet as well.

Handguns at longer range is nothing like rifle shooting, especially tradition wheel guns. I have taken alot of game with revolvers out to 125 yards and it can take some serious load development to get consistant groups at that range. Cases need to be trimmed all to the same length and crimps need to be consistant as well. Powder charges need to be exact and of course you have to shoot alot.

TO get really good with a handgun you really need to shoot weekly. And they are not like rifles, you can not take three months off and pick them up and shoot them well, its a year round thing to stay proficent with a revolver.

Great challange and very rewarding to hunt with though.
At 25 yards with a scoped revolver and a good load off a rest you should be looking to get a load that will produce a tight ragged hole for a group if you want long range performance.

Open sighted off a rest, 1.5" is the min you should be looking for. 296 is pretty slow for that bullet weight you are using unless you really jump up the pressure. A heavier bullet and Lilgun will help you out alot consistancy wise.

Kirby Allen(50)
Kirby Allen(50)

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Old 10-20-2006, 06:39 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

I second what Kirby said......I use the 325 gr Cast Performance with a charge of H110. This load is good for about 1200 fps. Not max, but it shoots pretty much one hole at 25 yds. The pistol is a Super Blackhawk Hunter that I reworked and put a bisley grip frame on. Like Kirby said, 125 yds is a long ways with these guns. I have shot milk jugs at 200 yds, but I would not want to shoot at an animal that far. Usually what we have found with the Ruger's is that they need a trigger job, the cylinder bushed, oversized center pin, and the barrel set back for optimal accuracy. Although, a spring kit will help the factory trigger and probably shrink your groups.
Travis Redell
R Bros Rifles
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Old 10-21-2006, 05:16 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?


As the other have mentioned this sort of shooting and development is a different ball game. The bullets mentioned will work out great, but you definately will need quite a bit of practice for the longer ranges.

One thing I noted several years back was the difference that the crimp can make on a load. I was working up loads for my 41 and 44 Redhawks for an upcomming hunt. The 41 had the sights switched out to target set and the 44 is scoped with a Leupold 4x. Well I was getting around 2" groups with the 41, and about 4" with the 44, which has in the past been scary accurate. I could not figure what the deal was until during one cease fire, I was looking at the side by side cases. THe 44 had a major crimp, where the 41 only had enough to roll into the groove. I backed the die up a smidge, and the next five shots went into a nice clover leaf at 100. Try adjusting your crimps a little and it might just give you what your looking for. Also remember, that the sight radius is so much shorter, that a tiny bit here means a whole lot there. Don't be afraid to try different primers as well, they also make a big difference sometimes.

On the practice, what Kirby said on the groups is right on. You should only be cutting a ragged hole at 25 - 50 yds with a good load from a rest. If you want to shoot the jacketed, I also recommend the Speer 250gr Gold Dot bullets. They have an awesome open tip which definately will promoite some expansion. I have hunted with them in different calibers since they came out and they have always done a great job, even on tough hogs I get great penetration and the consistant shroom on the ones I have recovered.

Good luck on your hunting,
Mike / Tx

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Old 10-21-2006, 09:41 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: NOVA
Posts: 96
Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

Thanks for the advice, guys. Looks like heavier cast bullets is the way to go. Time to crank up the internet and find some baseline load data for the bigger pills.

I've been handgun shooting and reloading for quite a while, but always for short range stuff like IPSC and PPC, or more recently just informal paper punching as my ability to focus on the front sight blade has gone away. Seems I'll have the opportunity to develop a whole new skillset if I want to make the Ruger a gamegetter.
There is no "overkill". There is only "open fire" and "I need to reload."
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Old 10-21-2006, 09:08 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Armagh, PA
Posts: 290
Re: Long range (relatively) load in .45 Colt?

I'm right on with Kirby...shoot that thing hot and heavy! Mine is spitting a 340gr Penn Bullet w/ a heavy dose of Lil'Gun. Cuts sub-2" groups at 50yds w/ a 4X Weaver scope. The fps is just under 1350 from a Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter.
Dan B.
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