.45 Colt Target Load

  • Last Post 16 November 2021
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Bud Hyett posted this 07 November 2021

Situation: Three different strength level .45 Colt revolvers and too many conflicting (unclear) recommendations. I'm shooting pistol to regain strength in my arms and increase hand/eye coordination. Seeking a standard load in strength level #1. I've been shooting 6.5 grains Unique with the 200 grain SWC and that is not doing the trick for accuracy. Checking on the web, there are differing recommendations for the Level #1, I'd like to know what people are actually using that is successful.

  • Level 1: Colt SAA second generation (1964 manufacture), Colt New Service (1915 manufacture); Uberti Schofield
  • Level 2: S&W Model 25, S&W Model 625
  • Level 3: Ruger Blackhawk, Colt Anaconda

Powder: Unique 

Bullets: H&G 200 grain SWC (primarily), RCBS 45-230-RN, and SAECO #954

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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Boschloper posted this 08 November 2021

I am using 7.0 gr of HP38 and a Lyman 452460 (powder coated) in my New Model Convertable Flattop. I think this is Level 1 load, I wouldn't use Level 3 in a flattop. The powder coated loads sure do shoot clean.

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Eutectic posted this 08 November 2021


I used my H&G #78 200 grain and 5 grains of red dot and got excellent accuracy if the chamber throats were small (.451 -,452). Some 45 Colt revolvers have large chamber throats 0.454+ and the H&G did not cast large enough. I had a LEE 250 RNFP I hogged out to cast 0.456 and sizing it to match the throat gave good accuracy in some revolvers.

The bullet must be a tight push fit in the throat or even a little larger for accuracy. You may find you need to size bullets for each revolver. 

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Tom Acheson posted this 08 November 2021

This may not be much help but….

S&W Model 25 in 45 AR……4.0 WST RCBS 255-grain SWC

Ruger (1sr year of production) Vaquero 7 1/2” barrel  .45 Colt. 7.1 Tite Group Lyman 45-250 or Seaco 45-230.



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cfp4570 posted this 08 November 2021

I have always had good results with 8 grains of Unique with any cast bullet up to 260 grains. Ruger Blackhawk and H&R rifle.

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BigMan54 posted this 08 November 2021


Had good luck with the #452488-195gr SWC over 5.0grs in the .45ACP case for My NM Blackhawk convertible.  For .45Colt I like 6.0grs under a #452423-250gr SWC (N.O.E. clone). 

These are both powder puff loads. 

I favored the #454424 over 8.0grs for a paper puncher in the S&W M25-5. 

The most accurate load I've ever shot in .45Colt was a Lee #452-230-TC over 5.0grs Clays, in a old 7 1/2" Vaquero.  I know that's not in your balliwick,  but it's a Good one in every gun I've tried it in. Including Marlin & Uberti rifles.

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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Bud Hyett posted this 08 November 2021

I'm seeking some kind of a standard load I can shoot over a range of revolvers. I'm going back to shooting pistol as part of my cancer therapy. The chemotherapy has robbed me of strength in my arms and grip. I figure this is a fun way to build back the muscle and grip.

I did this when I as twenty and hospitalized for burns over my upper body. Hands wrapped and not used for a month, I was very weak. Bought a Ruger Mark 1 bull barrel and a case of ammunition, went out behind the corn crib and started in. 

Conundrum: The cylinder throat size on the older guns means bigger bullets and the strength means lighter charges. Fortunately my big cylinder throats are on the Level 1 revolvers, the S&W all are .452 or .453 press fit. The Ruger and Colt Anaconda run .453, which is good.

I've previously used 6.5 grains Unique with the H&G 200 grain semi-wadcutter for Level 1, but this hardly gets through the paper. It does not cut a clean hole like the 8.0 grain load in the S&W Model 25. 

After all the input, I'm thinking of separating the S&W loads, 8.0 grains Unique and the 200 grain semi-wadcutter. This will be the everyday load for practice several times a week. I'll shoot the S&W for regular practice, I'm getting too old to be continually picking up brass from the Gold Cup. It will also work for the Ruger and Colt Anaconda for plinking.

The Level 1 load will be 7.0 grains Unique and the SAECO #954 cast of scrap wheelweight alloy. Again, just for plinking.

The SAECO #954 and RCBS 45-230-RN loaded with 9.5 grains Unique will be for the Elmer Keith Memorial Match. This match is shot at 140, 200, 250, and 600 yards over iron sights. Fun, but very challenging.  

Thank you everyone for the input, 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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45 2.1 posted this 08 November 2021

Loads often overlooked for all 45's are a milder load of Bullseye behind a hollow based bullet. They fill up the cylinder throat and barrel on all those Webley's, Colt SA clones, old S&W revolvers (converted and unconverted) and modern handguns which have large cylinder throats and shot out barrels which keyhole normal bullets.

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RicinYakima posted this 08 November 2021

These is my hollow base .45 bullet from Modern Bond. 

And it shoots very well and to  point of aim.

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Pentz posted this 15 November 2021

Bud, with my weaker hands from "arthur" I load my Ruger 44 and 45 with 6 to 6.5 of Unique, its what I've always used under a 200 to 250 cast.  But then again I am no longer a decent offhand shot....


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Bud Hyett posted this 16 November 2021

I know about the visits from Uncle Arthur, I've looked for lighter loads myself. The cancer regimen I am on includes steroids and I am covered for that now. I've got far more Larger Pistol primers than Small Pistol primers and am loading the bigger bores due to primer availability. With disciplined shooting, we can make the 2022 CBA match season. Hopefully, we can squeeze in a Montana or Wyoming prairie dog trip or two this coming year. 

I've been experimenting with 7.8 grains Unique and the 235 grain SAECO %954 in a Blackhawk Bisley for Alice, the heavier frame soaking up some of the recoil. I've got a LBLT four-cavity copy of the H&G 200 grain semi-wadcutter and a four-cavity SAECO #954 mold. Sized .452, they work well in all my Blackhawks. With these molds, I can make a bunch of bullets in an afternoon. 

We loaded the 6.5 grain Unique in the .44 Special with a 200 grain round-nose flat point swaged graphite-coated bullet in the Super Blackhawk and it was not accurate. the Load had to be pushed up a grain for the accuracy to come back. I've got about 1500 of these and need to shoot them up. Once these are gone. I have an Ohaus three-cavity 240 grain exact copy of the Keith bullet including square grease groove. 

The 6.5 grain Unique with the 200-grain semi-wadcutter works well in my Schofield.. It shots low. 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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Geargnasher posted this 16 November 2021

Titegroup or Bullseye.  14,000 PSI standard loads available in almost any  recent Lyman manual.  Bullets lighter than 250 grains may print low.

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