Light loads in .45 revolvers

  • Last Post 02 April 2016
45ACPete posted this 04 February 2016

No doubt I'm not the first to try this, but I can't remember reading about this trick before.  My Colt New Service in .45 ACP shoots almost a foot high and maybe 4” left at 50 ft. with relatively mild loads of 6g Unique behind a 250g bullet.  Chamber mouths are .454. Wanting to try a light bullet I thought of sizing a .50 round ball to .454--it comes out elongated with maybe 3/16” of bearing surface in the middle.  I did some and gave them a wash of LLA,  then did another small batch and skipped the LLA but seated them over the felt grease wads I use in my Ruger Old Army for BP matches.  Powder charge was 4g Bullseye.  Accuracy seems good, and I can now hold at the bottom of the black, but aligned under the right edge of the black.  What I'd like to have though, is a mold that would drop a light WC bullet--maybe hollow based.  I do have an old Ideal 454309 mold that might be a candidate for milling--shortening by one grease groove--but one of the alignment pins is right there--within 1/16” of the sprue plate surface of the mold--and would have to be relocated.  Anybody ever hear of this kind of a modification?   More trouble than it's worth, probably.

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RicinYakima posted this 04 February 2016


Nothing new under the sun, yes round ball loads like your were very popular in the 1930's for “basement” shooting. Even the greased wad trick was used in American Rifleman articles.

I've done the mould mods you are suggesting, works but worth the time? you will have to judge that for yourself. It would take me about 3 hours on the mill to do it, but I'm not a real machinist.

Consider just buying a Lyman mould for the 44 cap and ball revolvers, #45467 or 45468 HB. They show up on Ebay all the time.

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M3 Mitch posted this 04 February 2016

Pete, sell that old Ideal mold to me, and use that to help buy a custom mold, rather than mill down a collectible mold.

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onondaga posted this 04 February 2016>45ACPete,

"a foot high and maybe 4” left at 50 ft."

Don't give up! When you get a load that groups well and you are sure you will stay with the load, you can fix the sight discrepancy. That is far from impossible.

The easiest scenario is to take your best target and your pistol to a smithy and tell him to line it up because you are going to stick with the load and target distance...... Man, they do that all the time. It is bread and butter for them. Draw your sight picture as you see it and on the target. That helps them a lot. They do the math and modify the sight.


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45 2.1 posted this 04 February 2016

Another option is the Lyman 457130, the collar button. Easier to load and basically does the same as the RB. The 450229 casts large enough for you also, that is if you can locate one. I like the 455 Webley HB bullets also.

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mckg posted this 05 February 2016

I would be very careful shooting WC or SWC's in that Colt. Most of them have timing issues and bullets will hit the barrel wall before finding the narrow forcing cone.

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Dale53 posted this 02 April 2016

I have “regulated” a couple of fixed sighted guns with excellent results. As an example, my first Ruger Vaquero had perfect windage but shot low. That just meant that the front sight was a bit too tall.

After I settled on a “standard” load that I wanted the revolver sights regulated for, I carefully filed the front sight down. I spread the correction over three trips to the range. It IS important to be conservative. It's a LOT easier to take metal off than put it back. Further, your eyes might change a bit from day to day. It's just prudent to go slow. However, after I finished, my Vaquero shot center at 25 yards (my chosen range).

One nice bonus - the revolver was regulated for black powder. It also shot to the sights with a comparable velocity with smokeless powder.

I later decided to get a Bisley Vaquero with a longer barrel. I sold my original 4 5/8” Vaquero for premium dollar to a dealer who had seen me shoot it and was impressed with the sight regulation. That allowed me to make the change without losing any money. Understand, some people see the sights differently than other folks, so you must take that into consideration.

When I shot my Bisley Vaquero with the same black powder and smokeless powder loads, it shot to the center at 25 yards without ANY sight change being necessary. I got lucky on that one and I still have that Bisley Vaquero. It won me a number of matches including several at Friendship, IN (black powder, only, of course).

FWIW Dale53

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Ed Harris posted this 02 April 2016

Accurate has several light cowboy bullets from 150 to 200 grains which work well in the .45 ACP, Auto Rim, Cowboy Special or .45 Colt. While the drawing diameters some may list at .452", when you order a mold you can specify your desired diameter and alloy you will use, so it is easy to get a mold that drops, say .457, if your New Service has huge cylinder throats, which some of them do.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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