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Subject Topic: .45 Colt Loads over 30k psi. Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 10:43pm | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

The hottest loads I'm finding for .45 Colt crowd the 30,000 psi mark (which, frankly, is hot enough), while the industry spec for .44 Magnum is ~38,500 psi. I was just musing what a .45 Colt, loaded to ~38,500 psi might be capable of, ballistically. I'm ALSO wondering why the cut-off for the .45 Colt loads is 30k psi, and not closer to the 38.5k psi for the .44 Mag. Any hot .45 Colt loads I shoot go through a 7.5" RedHawk, so we're not talking about a wimpy design, here.

The notion of the .45 Colt case head not being up to the task of containing 30k psi + pressures doesn't make sense to me, now that the balloon-head cases are a thing of the past. Could the difference in cylinder wall thicknesses between a RedHawk bored for .44 Mag vs. one bored for .45 Colt have THAT much to do with it? In a design that was originally built in hopes of housing the .454 Casull, I'm thinking not. I also dismiss the notion of the 30k psi limit being observed in deference to pre-war Peacemakers and Uberti copies, since a 30k psi load in one of these will convert the pistol to a grenade just as efficiently as a 38.5k psi load would.

I know it would take a lab equipped like SAAMI, UL, or C.I.P. to accurately measure the chamber pressure of loads intended to develop 38.5k psi in a pistol chambered for .45 Colt. But IF such resources were available, and IF such loads were developed (I have no plans to try), I wonder what the increase in velocity might be.

Hodgdon lists a max load of H4227 with a 250gr. jacketed projectile as developing 1343 f/s with a chamber pressure just over 30k psi. Using my own "S.W.A.G." estimation paradigm, I'm GUESSING that a velocity between 1450 and 1500 f/s might be obtained from loads developing 38.5k psi.

What are your thoughts?

Edited by Kosh75287 on February 07 2018 at 10:49pm
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Buffalogun
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 6:41am | IP Logged Quote Buffalogun

Kosh,

I would have to go back and find the article but...

Brian Pearce addressed the issue of revolver strength and loads for the .45 Colt a while back.

A few years ago H. P. White Laboratories wanted to find out the strengths of modern revolvers. Two of the revolvers tested were a Blackhawk in .44 Remag and a Blackhawk in .45 Colt.

The .44 Blackhawk gave up at approx. 80,000 psi and the .45 Colt Blackhawk lasted until a little more than 60,000 psi. Cylinder wall thickness is the difference.

From those tests it was judged the Blackhawk .45 Colt cylinder was approx. 80% as strong as the Blackhawk .44 Remag cylinder. This is probably why loads for modern revolvers in .45 Colt are held to approx. 30,000 psi. in the load manuals.

Modern .45 Colt brass has been shown to be fully as strong if not stronger than brass for the .44 Remag.

I don't know where you got your "map" for the .44 Remag. but SAAMI's website shows the "map" at 36,000 psi using the transducer method and 40,000 cup using the crusher method.



Mike

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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 9:23am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

I will not express my true thoughts on the matter as my
mother taught me to be polite. Even to people that are
not being rational. But I will only say this; is your
insurance paid up so your family will have something to
go on?

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nhblaze
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 11:25am | IP Logged Quote nhblaze

Just get a .454 Casull and be safe.



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Dana R
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 11:27am | IP Logged Quote Dana R

Handloader # 292, Brian Pearce article on .45colt in the Ruger Redhawk.
Pressures were up to 50,000 psi.
Cast Performance 335 gr were tested up to 1,511 fps.
Interesting reading. Don't try it in any lesser gun. Fine for .454 Casull guns.

Dana
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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 3:35pm | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

Quote:
I will not express my true thoughts on the matter as my mother taught me to be polite. Even to people that are not being rational. But I will only say this; is your
insurance paid up so your family will have something to
go on?


Oh, STOP IT, already... I didn't say I was GOING to venture beyond max recommended loads. I was wondering aloud what performance MIGHT be obtained by going to 38.5k PSI. While I tip my hat to your sainted mom's excellent child-raising skills, I'm not sure I see anything in my inquiry over which to get huffy.


Quote:
I don't know where you got your "map" for the .44 Remag. but SAAMI's website shows the "map" at 36,000 psi using the transducer method and 40,000 cup using the crusher method.


I got by MISreading the pressure units on Hodgdon's website. 36,000 psi, IT IS!

Thanks also for the info concerning the tests on the blackhawks. I guess cylinder wall thickness is more of a factor than I'd surmised. I only have one life and one RedHawk. I'm not inclined to dispose of either, lightly.

Thanks, though, for expressing concern for my safety. That doesn't suck!
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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 4:33pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

It's not easy to express off color humor in written form
due to the total lack of the very needed tonal
inflections. Obviously it really does get lost in the
translation.
Of course I read that you weren't going to load up and
shoot an overloaded round of outrageous proportions.
In short I was "messin' wit-cha" as the hip kids say
these days. Cop humor is markedly different from others
in that it's somewhat dry, I think is the word.....

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STCM(SW)
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 5:31pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

Wade, you do have a way of getting under someone's skin!
LOL!
And BTW, I use to hot rod a Blackhawk 45 Colt back in the '70's.....
No damage but reconsidered it and went to a S&W 44Magnum for hunting.

Edited by STCM(SW) on February 08 2018 at 5:37pm


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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 6:49pm | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

Even if I restricted my reloads to the ones developing no more than 25k psi (Speer Reloading Manual #11), they develop plenty of horsepower for my needs. I'd wager that they'd do anything a full-house .44 Magnum revolver load would do, though perhaps with a more curvy trajectory. I suspect that most of my hotter loads would be between those two pressure limits, if THAT high.

A 250gr. RNFP at 1200 f/s is probably all I'll ever need. I'll stick to that.

I have access to some polymer-coated cast 215gr. SWCs of the SAECO #058 profile that I'd like to load to warmer velocities, but data is a little scarce, so that'll be my next project.
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 9:59pm | IP Logged Quote doghawg

Kosh75287

I've tinkered a bit with my Ruger Bisley 5 1/2" and my "hot" load is a 300 gr. RCBS GC over enough 2400 to clock 1120fps which is probably about at the 25k mark. I crossbow hunt in an area with a lot of black bear including a belligerent old boar that had raided enough bird feeders to lose some fear of humans. I carry the Ruger under the camo and feel well armed with that load.
To take a WAG at your original post....I'd guess you could approach 1300FPs with a 300gr. loaded to .44 mag pressures but it sure wouldn't be fun to shoot. I don't even load my FA .454 that warm anymore. Gettin' old.     



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richhodg66
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 4:49am | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

I love the .45 Colt, favorite handgun cartridge and have loaded a lot of it over the years. The heaviest gun I have in it is a Blackhawk, and the top end loads that are safe in the old Colts according to my manuals get uncomfortable to shoot quick.

The beauty of rounds like the .45 Colt and .45-70 is that even their original loadings are pretty formidable. There are certainly guns out there than can take it. I was looking at a Taurus Raging Bull the other day in .454 Cassull. Massive thing, should be fun, but weighs almost as much as a rifle.

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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 10:00am | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

Quote:
Massive thing, should be fun, but weighs almost as much as a rifle.


That's REALLY my main problem with the X-Frame revolvers and all calibers for which they are chambered. They ARE powerful enough to drop well nigh anything on the planet. But they're also well nigh as heavy, little more portable, and more difficult to shoot quickly than a rifle of similar power.

Many revolvers chambered for the .454 Casull round crowd the same limits of portability & weight that the X-Frames clearly exceed, The few models that don't, seem to be no fun to shoot for extended sessions.

[BOLD]DOGHAWG,[/BOLD] thank you for the input on your 300 gr. .45 Colt load! That's approximately what MY favorite .45 Colt load does, though with a 250gr. RNFP, rather than a 300gr. projectile. I'M thinking that the extra 20% of "payload" that YOUR reload involves might take it out of the "fun to shoot" class for me, though I'll admit that shooting ANY round would be more fun than tangling with a grumpy bear!

I think part of my interest in this whole line of inquiry harkens back to the early days of handgun silhouette shooting, where heavy rounds like the .44 Magnum, .44 AutoMag, .357 Maximum & others dominated the scene. It once took a great deal of ballistic "horsepower" for a projectile to regularly topple the 200 yard ram target, and heavier caliber pistols were the order of the day, before everyone started modifying XP-100s and other single shots to fire _ x .223 wildcats (fill in metric bore diameter of choice) and others.

THESE DAYS, I don't even know if there IS a class in which rounds like the .44 Mag/AutoMag & .357 Max are competitive, anymore. Now, it all seems to be "super-whamodyne-GEEWHIZ-TurboRotaryDiesel-afterburner" type single shots which have about as much relation to an actual pistol as a top-fuel dragster has to a 4-Door Sedan. <sigh> I AM old...

Okay, sorry for whining, but I guess it's STILL better than WHEEZING...
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fltbed
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 1:02pm | IP Logged Quote fltbed

I believe this will answer most of your questions.
https://www.johnlinebaughcustomsixguns.com/writings

Personally, I'm looking at working with Alliant's new MP-300 powder to see if it will achieve the velocity goals while staying within the 30K pressure limits.

Jeff

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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 11 2018 at 2:50pm | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

Do you have a way to accurately measure chamber pressures?
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 12 2018 at 1:22pm | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Kosh75287

There are some real issues here.. Since Ruger started chambering the .357 frame guns in .45Colt. Those guns should not be loaded to pressures much over 20K. The large frame .44mag/Superblackhawk frame guns chambered in .45 Colt will work just fine with 30K loads, the Rule of thumb, that some one came up with is that the .45 Blackhawk, because of chamber wall thickness was only good for 80% of what the same gun in .44 magnum would tolerate.

If you scroll up to the links above the quick reply pane and click on the articles link, then scroll down that page to Heavy bullets in the .45 Colt, or you can just try this link.. http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=5

I found an old article by Paco Kelly, and he wanted to get a bit more from the .45 Colt, the platform he was using was on of the Uberti .45 Colt clones. He listed some loads in that gun, that were pushing a 255 gr, bullet at 1200fps+ and 20,700cup.

The 30K loads in the large frame Ruger .45 Colt, are still within a considerable safety margin, and will not shake the gun apart any sooner than standard .44 mag., loads in the same size gun.

I spent a lot of time trying these different loads in my old .45 Blackhawk. The real advantage over the .44 mag., is that there is a good selection of bullets in 45 caliber over the 300 gr., mark.

I have shot quite a few large animals, and had an acquaintance in Alaska, he was retired from the Army, he used to cross country ski out until he found moose yarded up, pick out the one he wanted and shoot it with his old 1911A1 Colt. He pulled one of those old fiber glass sleds along with him, he would cut the moose up and pull it out of the woods. those Alaskan moose are big and it took more than one trip.

A close friend of mine from my days back in NY, killed his first Alaskan moose with the standard 246 gr., round nose .44 spl, factory load.

At the end of the day, how much gun do you need. I killed several moose, that had been hit on the highway with my service revolver, a mod 19 S&W.

Shooting high pressure loads in the .45 Colt, more than anything else is an exercise in "because I can".. Pretty much anything you run into south of the Canadian border, can be dealt with efficiently with the factory equivalent
.45Colt loading. 255 gr. bullet at around 900 fps., about 14K psi, any you will never wear a gun out with those loads.

John Linebaugh, the originator of the .454 Casull, has a pretty similar opinion of the .45 Colt.

Now if you are really looking for something that will push a bulled down range, sprain your wrist and perhaps singe the eye brows, then you are in the market for the .460 S&W..     



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Paul B.
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Posted: February 13 2018 at 3:50pm | IP Logged Quote Paul B.

Well, a couple of comments to add a little fat to the fire.
First, fltbed beat me to the draw on recommending loads from John
Linebaugh. Note, if you read his stuff, his hot .45 Colts have been
tested by the H.P. White laboratory and pronounce safe in proper
firearms. The guns on Ruger's Super Blackhawk frame, the Redhawk
and Super Redhawk also qualify.

Ross Seyfreid did an article on he one Rugder he felt was the best
choice for those who could not afford one of the customs from people
like Linebaugh. His choice was the 5.5" Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley
and it's safe for Linebaugh load use. I have one and I concur.

Years back a friend who was forced to give up his guns gave me two
Ruger old model Blackhawks, one a .44 Mag. and the other in Colt 45.
He also gave me his handloads for both handguns and they were stout
to say the least. The Colt 45 load was right up there with the .44 Mag.
and recoil to say the least was vicious. I don't recall the exact charge
but it was around 24.0 to 26.0 gr. of H2400. That's Hercules 2400, NOT
Alliant 2400. DO NOT USE! Bullet was 255 gr. Keith style SWC. The
gun kicked, knuckles got sore and jackrabbits flat out destroyed.

I shoot several Colt single action army's in .45 Colt and I keep the
loads in the 900/950 FPS range in the newer guns. One of my Colt's is
circa 1908 and I reserve loads for that one to be on the light side. Too
much corrosion from black powder loads and improper cleaning don't
help the gun's condition.

The only other thing I can add about that Colt .45 Ruger Bisley is that
cannon is surely hell for stout. Frankly, I like the Bisley grip for a hard
kicking gun much better than the old Colt style plow handle. Recoil
recovery is a bit faster it seems to me. I had the same feeling when
comparing a Super Black .44 Mag. vs the Super Blackhawk Bisley.
Naturally, YMMV.
Paul B.
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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 13 2018 at 5:47pm | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

Quote:
I have shot quite a few large animals, and had an acquaintance in Alaska, he was retired from the Army, he used to cross country ski out until he found moose yarded up, pick out the one he wanted and shoot it with his old 1911A1 Colt. He pulled one of those old fiber glass sleds along with him, he would cut the moose up and pull it out of the woods. those Alaskan moose are big and it took more than one trip.
A close friend of mine from my days back in NY, killed his first Alaskan moose with the standard 246 gr., round nose .44 spl, factory load.

Moose have been killed with a .22 LR, a .17 Remington, and all manner of firearms NOT suited to the task. The .45 ACP &.44 Special are SUPERB cartridges for defensive sidearms. They are NOT moose cartridges. MY loads, in MY revolver are intended for Texas Whitetail and Oklahoma Hogs, nothing larger.

Quote:
At the end of the day, how much gun do you need. I killed several moose, that had been hit on the highway with my service revolver, a mod 19 S&W.

Apparently, not very much, if your intended target's already been hit by an automobile. This HARDLY supports your point.

My point of this inquiry was to see if there was any upside to exploring .45 Colt loads in the 36kpsi range. There's A LITTLE, but the downside of possibly destroying a revolver and myself is far larger and makes the whole notion NOT worth the effort.

How much power do I NEED? For handgun hunting, the following lower limits were suggested to me by someone who absolutely knew what she was doing:
1.) No smaller than .40 caliber.
2.) No slower than 1000 f/s from the muzzle
3.) No lighter than 200gr.

Judicious loading will yield this performance in .45 ACP and .45 Colt, without exceeding their respective SAAMI pressure specs. Except with respect to bore diameter, however, these loads are still in the "marginal" category of power for deer hunting. What happens if something intercedes to make the marginal loads inadequate? Bad shot angle, sudden movement of the game animal, or just blind-assed bad luck?

Since these things have been known to happen and to ruin otherwise perfect shots, I'D like some insurance, in the form of heavier bullet weight and higher velocities to help me keep from botching the shot & leaving a wounded animal, suffering in the woods. How much power do I need? I believe I need 25% more bullet weight, and 15 to 20% more velocity than the minimae that I listed earlier. If I can't drop a whitetail with such a load from a pistol, I probably cannot drop a whitetail with any load from any pistol.

How much power do I need?
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 14 2018 at 7:43am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

There is no way to prepare for all eventualities. The best advice is to get close and make the best shot you can with what ever you have, a basic tenant of handgun hunting. The handgun by nature is a short range weapon.

"How much power do I NEED? For handgun hunting, the following lower limits were suggested to me by someone who absolutely knew what she was doing:"
1.) No smaller than .40 caliber.
2.) No slower than 1000 f/s from the muzzle
3.) No lighter than 200gr.

Not sure who gave you this advice but it is a direct quote by Jeff Cooper about his thoughts on a defensive handgun, that eventually lead to the development of the 10mm.

A .45 bullet 240-255 at 900 fps will shoot completely through a deer at reasonable handgun distances.

I will try to re post this entry from the forum. I am not sure who posted it, but it is relevant.

A post from Handloads Forum


Here is a little something I put together on the topic last year. Hope it helps....
Let me start out by saying that I’m no ballistics expert. I know there is considerable discussion over which bullet type is best for big game. I’m not going to try to sway anyone either way. I will simply report to you on several head of game I have taken over the past couple of years, tell you what has worked for me and you can decide for yourself.

In the fall of 2001 I shot a medium size whitetail buck with my Freedom Arms 97 .45 Colt. The shot was about 35-40 yards and at a downhill angle. The bullet was an RCBS 266 gr. Keith with 18/2400 cast with ww. Out of the 5.5 inch Freedom this load is around 1100 fps. The hit was in through the center of the ribs on the right side and out the far side just behind the shoulder. A solid hit with no major bones being touched. At the shot the deer made a few jumps to his left, walked a couple of steps and stopped. About two seconds later he fell over and promptly died. Total distance traveled was about 10 yards.

The next night from the same stand I shot a smallish whitetail doe at about 60 yards. The load was the same as above. The shot was at a slight downhill angle. The hit was not that good. The bullet entered just in front of the right leg and came out just in front of the left leg, basically through the biscuit sideways. That little doe took off running. After about 20 minutes I got down from my stand and went to the site of the hit. No blood. I started walking in the direction she ran and spotted her about 40-50 yards from where she was when shot. She was quite dead. I was really surprised to see where my hit had been. The shot felt so good. There was a large amount of blood on the ground around the doe where she had walked in several small circles before falling over. Upon backtracking I found very little blood. No heart or lungs were touched. I did cut a vein about the size of a straw and I guess that was enough. Sure was glad that was a smallish doe.

In the fall of 2002 I shot four deer with the Freedom Arms 97. This time I was shooting the Hornady 250 XTP with 19/2400. This load was 1200 from the 5.5 inch Freedom Arms. The first deer was a large whitetail doe at about 40 yards. The hit was through the center of the ribcage going in and out behind the left shoulder. She ran full out for about 40-45 yards, stopped and fell over. There were a few kicks but nothing noteworthy after that. The exit wound and internal damage showed that there was not a lot of expansion.

The second deer was a good sized doe at about 80 yards. She was in a field and it was starting to get dark. I could clearly see my sights but I wanted to put her down right there as there was heavy cover about 50 yards off. I had shot the little 97 for over a year and was very confident with it. I held to break the spine just behind the shoulder. That’s exactly what happened. She fell like lightning hit her and died very quickly. That bullet did expand! The exit hole was golf ball size.


Next I shot a Colorado mulie doe. She was a good sized doe standing about broadside at 40 yards. The load was the
250 XTP/19/2400. At the shot she swapped ends and took off on a stumbling run. She made an arch around me where I could clearly see her all the time. She fell after about 30 yards but quickly got up and made it another 20-25 yards before she fell again for good. I had to finish her with my knife. The bullet went in just behind the shoulder and came out behind the ribcage on the off side! The shot was taken with her standing dead broadside! The damage done showed there was not a lot, but some expansion. I found it strange that the bullet took such a path. The shot was broadside as I had said. Hummm.
Next was a Colorado mulie buck. This was a big bodied deer. Some may have called him a 3x4 but I’ll call him a forkie. Big body though. The shot was at about 100 yards across a small ravine. He was quartered away and I was shooting the XTP load from the 97. I hit him at the last rib going in and the bullet exited in front of the off leg. He took off running downhill through the open meadow trying to keep up with the other four bucks he was with but I could see him slowing quickly. The fog was very heavy that day and I lost sight of him. I waited where I was and in a few minutes the fog blew out a bit. At the base of the hill I could see him lying on the ground about 150 yards below me. He was lifting his head but was going nowhere. I walked down to him and finished him with a high neck shot, just under the base of the head. The damage from the first bullet was very little. Less than I see from a good flat nosed cast slug. Also, the finishing shot exit hole in the neck showed little expansion. That shot was at about 10 feet.

This year I got a nice mulie buck with a really nice 3 screw Super Blackhawk I picked up. The gun is a real shooter with Elmer’s 250 bullet backed by 21/2400. I shot the big bodied buck at 85 yards in a small open meadow as he fed toward cover. He had a few ladies with him that had me pinned and the shot was from where I sat or not at all. Shooting between my knees I held right on the crease of his shoulder and that is just where the Keith slug landed. It broke the off shoulder going out. The buck made a kick, then a low run for about 15 yards and fell over. He was dead by the time I walked to him. The bullet had taken off the plumbing at the top of the heart. He was on his feet less than three seconds after the hit. Penetration was arrow straight.

I took a cow elk in January this year here in Colorado with the RCBS 250 Keith/21/2400 slug in my nickel .44 29-2 . The range was just over 100 yards…about 110 it was. She was a small cow and I decided to take her as there was a limp from the left rear leg. I lined up the sights when she was clear from the others so I would not hit a second elk with the pass through, and I shot. The hit could be clearly heard as I cocked the Smith for another shot as she took off running. I could hear the second slug land with a loud whack and she slowed way down, almost stopping. At the third shot she folded. The first slug was the killer. Right through the forward boiler room and out. The other two hit and shattered the front high leg bones. The elk was all but dead when I walked to it. No finishing shot needed. Total distance traveled was about 40 yards.

Now, I know what some are thinking “you were pushing the XTP to slow for it to expand well”. To that I say…. you may be correct. Still, they did their job…just not like I thought they should have. I will say this, I am a big fan of good cast slugs in the big bore sixguns. From what I have seen, deer fall over just as fast from a properly placed Keith slug as they do from a jacketed slug. Proper placement…..that’s the key.

So, there are a few recent examples of game I’ve shot with big bore revolvers using cast and jacketed slugs. I know it is a very limited sample but thought it might be interesting to someone. I have nothing against jacketed bullets in sixguns. In fact, if I hunt with my .41 mag M57 P&R Smith next year I just might try the 210 Nosler HP. It’s just that I have had such great luck on game with the same cast loads I shoot all the time through my sixguns, I can’t really see having too many different loads around. I can cover it all with .44 and .45 sixguns and a couple loads.

This year (2004) I shot a 5x5 mulie with my FA 97 .45 colt in a creek bed heavy with brush. The shot was 80 yards and the load was the RCBS 270 SAA with 9.5/Unique. The hit was right behind the shoulder halfway up. Exit was the same place on the other side. That deer was down and dead after a dash of 30-40 yards.
I have come to shoot the RCBS 270 SAA (282gr) with 9.5/ Unique almost exclusively in my Freedom Arms 97. Bullet design is so close to the RCBS 266 gr. Keith that I’m sure performance will be the same with the benefit of a little extra weight. It is a hard hitting load and shoots like a laser from the little 97. At about 1050 fps the 282 grn. slug is no slouch either. I really love that little gun!
For my .44 mags I rely on two loads. 10/Unique and 21/2400, both loads using the fine 250 RCBS Keith slug. I shoot the 21/2400 load rather sparingly in my 29-2’s though. Want them to last ya know.
In my other .45 Colt sixguns I use about everything from a 250 rnfp at 850 to a 340 LBT WFN at 1250. With the loads listed I can cleanly take any game animal I care to hunt with a handgun. Shoot straight and shoot often!


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Posted: February 14 2018 at 7:51am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

The .357 will do the job as well

by Jim Taylor

Enough has been written about the .357 that I have no need to rehash old history. Suffice it to say that the First Magnum impressed people from the beginning and that it still has a place in one's battery today. No collection of handguns is complete without one.

While it was touted as a "car stopper" for Police work, it did duty as a game-getter from it's birth. Major Doug Wesson and Elmer Keith were the first notables to use it on game and write it up. Today it is fashionable to pooh-pooh it as a Big Game gun but these men did not see it that way.

There is some reason, however, to at least (in principle) agree with those who are hesitant about the use of the .357 on Big Game.

First, the factory loadings today are loaded to less pressure than the original loads and consequently have less power. The early .357's were loaded in cartridges that utilized a Large primer and heavy loads developed quite a bit of pressure above the established levels of today's factory offerings.

select an image for a larger view These images did not transfer, but they are comparing the old .357 cases that took a large pistol primer with the more modern ones that use the SSP.
early357_1      early357_2.

Early 357, note large primer pocket vs.
modern 357 with small primer

Second, it is a .35 caliber pistol and as such the shots must be placed on the game very carefully. A lot of those who take to the field these days are not experts either in hunting or shooting. In the field a person must know when and when not to take a shot... or as the movie line goes, "A man has to know his own limitations." Unfortunately many do not and if they read that so-and-so used "this" or "that" to bag his trophy they figure they can too.

Having said that, I know a number of hunters who would be perfectly at ease using a .357 on the game they hunt. They are both excellent hunters and shooters and would do just as well with a .22 should that be all that they had. They understand the principle that it is "the man, not the machine" as John Linebaugh is fond of saying.

The .357 did duty in the Korean War and proved very effective at penetrating the body armor worn by Chinese Communists. It was also carried during the Vietnam conflict and was used effectively. I have a good friend who is alive today because of his use of a .357 (the gun was given to him by Elmer Keith) on a VC who had homemade armor. The VC shot several men in the compound and was not stopped until my friend got his .357 going. They found later the Viet Cong had metal plates tied in front and on his back. The .45 ACP did not penetrate, but the .357 made holes in and out!

It's use as a Police weapon began to be curtailed in the 1960's. It had proven very effective against criminals.... so much so that the protests said it was too effective! Litigation and political pressure caused many Police agencies to look for a weapon that had a "nicer" public image and little by little the .357 was phased out. Very few Departments today use them.

357 Magnum Testimonials from earlier days

1935
Major Douglas Wesson

    Antelope - 200 yards (2 shots)

    Elk - 130 yards (1 shot)

    Moose - 100 yards (1 shot)

    Grizzly Bear - 135 yards (1 shot)

The Antelope was hit the first time at 125 yards. It ran, stopped and was shot the second time at 200 yards. The second shot killed it.

The Bull Elk was killed with one shot through the lungs.

The Moose was shot in the chest near the base of the neck. It cut the 2nd rib, passed through both lungs, sheared the 8th rib on the off side and stopped just under the hide. No follow-up shot was required.

These animals were taken on a Fall hunt in Wyoming, near the West entrance of Yellowstone Park. The Grizzly was taken later in Canada.

The above game was taken using factory loads which were a 158 gr. bullet at 1515 fps from an 8 3/4" barreled S&W producing 812 ft. lbs of muzzle energy. (S&W later shortened the barrels to 8 3/8" as we have today)

To those who criticized, the Major replied that they "..had not the slightest conception of what we have accomplished in ballistics.." - a statement that still applies today.

1936
Elmer Keith

"When the new .357 cartridge and gun came out I gave it a very thorough tryout ... and found it had more actual knockdown killing power on all game that I shot with it than any other factory loaded, real revolver cartridge on the market.... (It) proved to have much more actual shock effect and killing power ...than any factory loaded revolver or auto pistol cartridge including the .44 Special and the .45 Colt..."

Sixgun Cartridges and Loads pages 29 & 30

1938
Walter Sykes

    Wildebeest - 100 yards - complete penetration, knockdown on the first shot.

His Guide, John Hunter (of "HUNTER" and "AFRICA AS I HAVE FOUND IT") wrote that the .357 was "the one and only hand-arm for African hunting"...

1938
Sasha Siemel - Professional Hunter in South America

    6 Tigres - Amazon Jaguar's - using the S&W .357 Magnum

He wrote, "...It does all the work of a rifle and is light and easy to carry.."

WW II
General George Patton

He referred to his S&W .357 Magnum as his "killing machine"....

1980
Skeeter Skelton

"No automatic cartridge is as powerful as the .357 Magnum........Years ago I stated that if I could have only one gun, it would be a Model 27 S&W."

Skeeter Skelton on Handguns page 16
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Posted: February 14 2018 at 8:30am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Using the below requirements..

1.) No smaller than .40 caliber.
2.) No slower than 1000 f/s from the muzzle
3.) No lighter than 200gr.

A nearly perfect fit in a revolver is the original 1873 load for the SAA Colt .45.. 40 grn of black powder and a 255 grn bullet produced just over 1000 fps in the calvary length barrel 7.5". At pressures in the 14-15K range.
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