45 lc and whitetail

  • Last Post 10 February 2016
sabbatus posted this 13 July 2009

i have a ruger new vaquero in 45 colt with a 7.5 inch barrel.  id like to start hunting whitetail with a pistol and i am sure this one is up to the task.  however i am unsure on good hunting load and ranges with this cartridge. whats a recommended bullet weight and load  for this application..   and what about the possibilities of using blackpowder,  ive done some loading with it in this and my 45/70.  what fun that is.   thanks in advance

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GBertolet posted this 13 July 2009

I would suggest the Lyman 452424 255 gr SWC with 9 or 10 grains of Unique. This is the Elmer Keith design bullet that has taken much big game. Although the Vaquero is a good gun, it will not digest magnum type loads like the Blackhawk will, so I suggest keeping the loads at or near the traditional power levels, as my suggested load data follows. I am supposing, getting about 850 to 950 fps in your Vaqureo. It would be a good 50 to 75 yd load with complete penetration on deer. This cartridge has stopping power way out of proportion to it's paper ballistics. As with any loading data, start low and work your way up carefully. In my opinion although it could be done, I would forget about the black powder.

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RicinYakima posted this 13 July 2009

The question of range is pretty much up to the shooter. My test is how far can I hit a six inch paper plate from a two handed standing position 100% of the time! If it is 25 yards, that is my range. If it is 65 yards, that is my longest shot. A 255 grain 45 caliber bullet will kill deer as far as you can place your shot. IMHO, Ric

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crash87 posted this 17 July 2009

I'll go along with the Lyman Kieth semi wad. To add to Unique, I go with Universal Clays. I get 850 fps out of my 5 1/2” Beretta Stampede. As far as range? My eyes won't go as far as they used to and you will have to figure out  your max on your own. But a 250gr slug traveling at 850fps or a little better will be more than up to the task. Crash87

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sabbatus posted this 17 July 2009

thanks for the insight everyone, i cant wait to get all this in order and put to use this fall

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.452dia posted this 09 March 2011

If your vaquero is the old model it will handle the heavy loads but if it's a New Model made for CB Action Shooting then stick with the lighter loads. I have a 5&1/2 inch old model that I shoot 325 grain GC SWCWN bullets cast hard. I've taken 3 deer with it out of my tree stand and it looked like they were hit with a Peterbuilt.

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mike morrison posted this 09 March 2011

what .452dia said but i have only taken two deer. m

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Dale53 posted this 10 March 2011

I have an original Vaquero with 5½” barrel. I have shot a couple of thousand black powder loads with perfect satisfaction.

I shot Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette competition for fifteen years. There were often side matches for black powder revolvers. The requirements were black powder and fixed sights.

The matches were both steel silhouettes and NRA Bullseye with ranges to fifty yards. Some of the matches required excellent performance at fifty yards. We dressed the part and I decided to try the new (at the time) Lyman 452664 Round Flat bullet with a deep square lube groove. I had success with both Pyrodex Pistol and Black Powder. I got excellent accuracy with both. Velocities ran 900+ fps with a 250 gr bullet.

If you can find a mould for Elmer's 454424 that has a square bottomed grease groove, that bullet will work well with black powder. A good black powder lubricant is critical when running black.

I use Emmert's home mix (originally 50% pure natural beeswax, 40% Crisco, and 10% Canola Oil). I later modified the lube by dropping the Canola Oil and adding 10% Anhydrous Lanolin). All measurements by melted volume. I pan lubed but this lube can also be run through a lube sizer with excellent results.

Black powder varies in it's power. Originally, I had three different brands (+ pyrodex) in my powder locker. Velocities varied depending on granulation and brand.

Elephant was the least powerful (3f gave about 750 fps). Swiss was the most powerful (3f gave 900+ fps) with Goex in the middle. The recoil, of course, varied with the velocity.

I would not hesitate to hunt with a good black powder .45 Colt revolver with a proper bullet and proper lubrication. I found that a bullet alloy of 30/1 lead/tin worked quite well.

Mike Venturino's book, “Shooting Colt Single Actions” is very helpful with excellent reloading information with both smokeless and black powder.


Another bullet you might want to try is RCBS' 45-270-SAA. It will shoot to the sights of most fixed sighted .45 Colts. It also has a large grease groove that should work well with black as well as smokeless (I have only shot smokeless with this bullet).


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StrawHat posted this 11 March 2011

My load for the 45 long Colt was 9 grains of Unique under a 255 grain Keith bullet.  It worked well on Ohio white tailed deer.  Then I tried the same bullet over a case of black powder.  Better accuracy and still gave me complete penetration.  I cast them with a 20/1 alloy.  A good black powder lube is essential to success.  Dale53 has a good recipe (either of them).  I use beeswax and olive oil, roughly 50/50.  If too thin add more wax, if too thick, more oil, I keep it simple.


I have also used the 454190, 255 grain RNFP, that is supposedly the original mold for the cartridge.  The effect on game so far has been the same, meat in the freezer.

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LeverBob posted this 15 March 2012

I use 10.5 grs. of Unique in my custom blackhawk (I did my own smithing). The load would be usable in your pistol as a top load.

I've shot lengthwise thru big mulies with Elmer's old bullet. The old BP load of 35grs. fffg would give you about 9-950fps. & do the same thing.

.45 Colt is a grand old master of a cartridge & if you can't get it done with it...then you need a rifle.


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Dale53 posted this 16 March 2012

If I were still deer hunting (I'm too old to drag a deer out of the woods these days) I would use this bullet:

I believe that this is just a bit better bullet than the 454424 in the .45 Colt.

FWIW Dale53

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PapaG posted this 09 February 2016

RCBS 45-255KT and 18 grains of Alliant 2400 is my go to load. Full side to side penetration and a good, short blood trail. Don't think there was expansion. Waiting on son #1 to get his with the same load. My gun, Blackhawk 4 3/4, his, same with 7 1/2. Would not recommend for small frame or Colt or Colt clones.

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oscarflytyer posted this 10 February 2016

I have the NM BH flattop. My accurate loads (to date) are listed below. All in the ~900-~950 fps range (yet to confirm with chrono). I am currently using the Lee 255 gr LSWC but have the RCBS 45-255KT that I will eventually get to. I really can't get my revolver to shoot bad.  I would shoot a deer with any of these loads out to my personal distance limit (about 40 yds - older eyes)

HP38 7.1 Lee 255 SWC Unique 9.0 Lee 255 SWC Pwr Pistol 8.5 Lee 255 SWC 2400 16.5 Lee 255 SWC Pwr Pistol 8.0 Lee 255 SWC Pwr Pistol 9.1 Lee 255 SWC

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onondaga posted this 10 February 2016


The easiest answer that does consistently well in 45 Colt for Deer is a heavy flat nose bullet that doesn't even need sizing to shoot well.  The Lee TL 452-230-TC. This bevel base tumble lube design is easy to get shooting well in 45 colt with a wide variety of powders and loads. The flat nose smacks meat and tumble lube is so inherently simple it is funny.

Cast these in certified #2 alloy and they are strong enough  for any recommended load in 45 Colt with a 230 gr cast bullet, they double in caliber on meat impact and pass through deer at any practical pistol hunting range. finding a load that groups 2” @50 yards is not even difficult with this bullet. 

The mold is available in 2 and 6 cavity models from Lee:




This is far from a wimpy bullet, I have used these cast in #2 or pistol Hardball Alloy in a sabot in .500 S&W Mag rifle  at 2200+ fps with H LilGun and they easily shoot through a fire hydrant at 50 yards.


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