Author Topic: .45 Colt Reloading Tricks!  (Read 17705 times)

Griff

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.45 Colt Reloading Tricks!
« on: May 20, 2011, 10:35:23 AM »
1st there ain't any "trick" to it.  You just need to know and heed the basics.  There aren't any shortcuts.  What I'm going to give you here is the only shortcut I'm aware of; you should be able to load quality ammo without all the experimenting I've had to do.

My bonefides:  I've been shooting a 45Colt 1873 rifle in CAS for 24 years and some 13 years before that in a Colt SAA, I've experimented a lot and like to think I've learned a thing or two.

As Pecos Cylde has said in other threads on this same subject, the 45 Colt likes a nice crimp.  After reading of a number of folks troubles in doing a roll crimp and some of those folks extolling about how the Lee FCD is the only way to get a decent crimp (which is about as far from a truth as you'll ever find), I posted this tutorial on another forum.  Proper Rollcrimp Adjustment.  While I personally believe one doesn't NEED a LEE FCD, if you don't have either the patience or manual dexterity to adjust a roll crimp die properly, it might be your only option.

A few words about dies:  If you're using a press without interchangeable toolheads, save some aggravationand use dies with a locking position ring.  IMO the Lee dies with their O-ring "lock" just isn't lock enough.  Sure, they're easily adjusted, but that's just the problem; when you're doin' a rollcrimp, even the smallest of movements is enough to thru the depth and position off.  When I started reloading, it was mostly to make better ammo than I could get from a factory... tailor it to my gun so to speak.  One of the problems with factory ammo, was their inconsistent crimps... which the Lee FCD replicates.  Additionally, it put four score lines in the mouth of your brass.  With enough repeating, guess where your brass will split?  If you use a press with a removeable toolhead and still insist on using only one for all your dies... you're wasting time over a few dollars...

Once you select your bullet (weight, feeding or other considerations), make up a dummy round that has the bullet seated and crimped properly.  Set that bullet aside and label it.  That cartridge then becomes your guide for all subject installations or adjustments of that seating/crimp die.  I have 3 sets of 45 Colt dies, 1 set in my Dillon 550B with a carbide sizer, 1 set for my RCBS Jr single stage with regular sizer, and another set of carbide dies for an old Lyman press I used to carry to the range when I was developing loads.  (I like the ability to make very slight adjustments to get the most out of a range session.  Loading up 50 rounds with preset 5 grain increments or different powders every 5th round is the most productive way to determine the best load for your ultimate need.  But... that's just me.

Next powders, don't get stuck on a particular brand or specific powder.  I've used somewhere near 20 or 25 different powders in my 45Colts over the years... Some cans are still nearly full... I'll find a use for 'em sooner or later, while others get bought in 8 or 5 lb jugs.  For the rifles I like faster burnin' powders... these expand the case quickly, before the gases can escape and flow back between the case and chamber.  In BP, I prefer loading with 3F over 2F for just this reason... have used 4F on occasion... but for all around cartridge loading, GOEX's "Cartridge" was just about perfect.  Too bad they've discontinued it.  When speaking smokeless powders, take a look at the Powder Burn Rate chart on ReloadBench.com for a idea on where various powders sit on the scale of fastest to slowest.  The slowest powder I've used in the 45 Colt is 5744, with Bullseye being the fastest.  Another factor is how clean buring the powder is.  One of the cleanest I've found is PB (IMR).  I've used it extensively in the 38Spl, just not the 45 Colt.  I also don't know where it falls in that burn chart.  Although I'm pretty sure it's on the faster side of 700X... don't quote me on that.

For my last cowboy match I loaded up some 200 grain RN (same bullet in the link provided above) with Clays and shot them thru my 1860 Henry.  These were significantly lighter than my normal loads... probably in the 675fps range.  Shot fine, no noticeable (to me) gases back in my face, (ain't this one of the good reasons we have shooting glasses?).  At the end of the 60 rounds, there was just a light grey coating on the lifter... some of which is from the extraction of the cartridge and the trace amounts of smoke pulled from the barrel.  Possibly most of which. ;)  The rifle is stock, haven't finished quite setting it up for BP, and have only trimmed the lifter (carrier) about .005" per side... still need to take it down a little more for some more clearance for BP, but it hasn't ever gummed up or gotten sticky with smokeless.

As you get into running faster burning powders in a large case such as the .45 Colt you have to pay VERY close attention that you're getting uniform amounts of powder in each case.  Because you're using such small amounts of powder any deviation can have effects from an overcharge (excessive pressure) situation to a squib.  Using either RedDot or Clays, I sit where I can see into the case after the powder drops as I start to set my bullet in place... I have a known place where the powder is visible, and deviations from that depth indicate a problem.  You can't afford to NOT look in any case.  You have to KNOW each and every one is loaded with the same powder charge.  Otherwise, you're pullin' bullets on EVERY loaded cartridge, as the powder charge is smaller than what your bullets could deviate from.  IOW, you can't weigh a loaded case and tell if it contains powder or not...

Another trick is annealing the case mouths.  Take a cookie pan (at least a " deep), stand your cases up and pour water around them,, then... using a plumber's torch heat the mouths up to a slight reddish color.  Remove heat and allow to air cool. 

Lastly, modify a sizer die so it'll still maintain neck tension on .454" bullets without that "bulge" and only use .454 bullets in the rifle.

One or more of the above will work in any instance I've heard as long as your chamber is in SAAMI Specs:
 

Be careful and have some fun experimenting.  The 45Colt is a fun cartridge to load and shoot.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 04:37:31 PM by Griff »
No, I ain't ready, but let's do it anyway!
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Garrison Joe

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Re: .45 Colt Reloading Tricks!
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 04:25:25 PM »


Next powders, ... When speaking smokeless powders, take a look at the Powder Burn Rate chart on ReloadBench.com for a idea on where various powders sit on the scale of fastest to slowest.  The slowest powder I've used in the 45 Colt is 5744, with Bullseye being the fastest.  Another factor is how clean buring the powder is.  One of the cleanest I've found is PB (IMR).  I've used it extensively in the 38Spl, just not the 45 Colt.  I also don't know where it falls in that burn chart.  Although I'm pretty sure it's on the faster side of 700X... don't quote me on that.


Actually, most burn rate charts put PB down in the moderate rate of shotgun powders, with International Clays and Accurate #2.  Here's Hodgdon's latest:

http://www.hodgdon.com/burn-rate.html

700X is actually a fast powder - neck-n-neck with Bullseye.  

And, yep, a FCD is mostly good for fixing up sloppy crimp settings, not something I like to use all the time.

Thanks for the great tips!

GJ
Good luck, GJ

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Griff

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Re: .45 Colt Reloading Tricks!
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 04:56:16 PM »
Joe thanks for that info..  I only mentioned PB because it shot so clean in my .38Spls.  I know I tried it in my .45 Colts, but this was about the same time I started shooting BP exclusively... ('87); a long time to try to remember results from an abbreviated test)
No, I ain't ready, but let's do it anyway!
__________________________________
There's a fine line between hobby & insanity!