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Thread: 45 Colt & Unique

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy bishopgrandpa's Avatar
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    45 Colt & Unique

    I have mihas 452 340gr. HP and lots of Unique to burn up. I was told I could use 11 gr of unique but can't find any data to support that. Does anyone have data showing that to be a safe load in a Ruger New Model Blackhawk stainless?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Lets see if I understand you correctly. You have a Ruger Blackhawk Stainless in 45 Long Colt? Someone told you to use 11gr of Unique with a 340gr bullet? I have a Lyman's 49th edition and it shows a 255gr SWC with 6grains of Unique. A 250 gr jacketed HP with 9.0 gr max. Now, a heavier bullet will mean less of a powder load in my opinion again.

    The 454 Casull data shows a 325gr SWC with 11.3 grains of unique. Now I'm not an expert but it looks to me like you have a 45 LC and someone mistakenly mentioned a possible 454 Casull load which in my humble opinion will scatter pieces of you Ruger and possibly end you life somewhat earlier than St. peter would like and severely screw up his paperwork with respect to date and time of entry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bg6ga View Post
    I have a Lyman's 49th edition and it shows a 255gr SWC with 6grains of Unique.
    One thing you have to understand about the .45 Colt is, load data viability is totally dependent upon the revolver it will be used in. While I cannot say for sure about the aforementioned load, I suspect a Ruger Blackhawk will digest that load easily. I'm sure some Ruger .45 Colt shooters will chime in shortly.

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    Boolit Grand Master
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    I sure as heck am not going to recommend a load that is totally not backed in any manual. The data I listed which is close is for the Cassul and I personally don't care how strong someone thinks his Ruger is the plain fact is the load exceeds all known data. The 454 is a hell of a lot stronger my opinion again than a Ruger.

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    I think the assumption that someone gave you .454 Casull data is correct. Pretty sure that much Unique with a bullet that heavy is gonna blow up any .45 Colt ever made.

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    Boolit Buddy
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    I load just 8.5 grains of Unique under a 200 grain LRNFP. I could go to 9 grains, and maybe 9.5 grains of Unique, but 8.5 gets the job done quite nicely. a 340 grain bullet would most likely compress 11 grains of Unique and would be begging for disaster.

  7. #7
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    I don't know about that load. FWIW, the fastest powder I use for 45 Colt is HS6. I've worked up (more accuracy related than any specific velocity) to 12.5 grains using a 300 grain LFNGC. HS6 is usually listed as #43 and Unique is #32. I consider my load to be warm due to how HS6 acts. I'm shooting a 40 grain lighter bullet and slower powder.

    If you have to use that combo of bullet and powder, work up to an accurate and fun level.

    A RBH is a strong rascal and I doubt that load will lay the topstrap over the barrel, but why not enjoy the ride and work up your load. That's a heavy bullet for a plinker!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master gnostic's Avatar
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    I load 7.5 grains of Unique with 255 grain SWC in my S&W with good results. The load your suggesting will likely disassemble your Ruger....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bishopgrandpa View Post
    I have mihas 452 340gr. HP and lots of Unique to burn up. I was told I could use 11 gr of unique but can't find any data to support that. Does anyone have data showing that to be a safe load in a Ruger New Model Blackhawk stainless?
    That is a DANGEROUS LOAD. Do not use this load data in ANY Ruger revolver chambered in 45 Colt.

    Let's get a few things out in text so they can be understood.

    1. You cannot make magnum level loads with heavy boolits and fast burning powder, this includes Unique. You run out of headroom and into dangerous pressures VERY quickly.

    2. Unique at 10gr should be max in 45 Colt with 255gr boolits. Unique over 10gr can be spiky and very unpredictable. Heavier boolits will worsen the situation.

    3. Ruger single action revolvers with a TWO DIGIT prefix in the serial number are the older, larger, stronger models, these are safe up to 30,000psi

    4. Ruger single action revolvers with a THREE DIGIT prefix in the serial number are the smaller, thinner, medium framed models and are ONLY rated to 23,000psi, which is the same as 45 ACP+P pressures. They are NOT SAFE with the "Ruger Only" loads in published loading manuals which go to 30,000psi.

    So.. If you have a 3 digit prefix, medium framed gun, you will likely not find any safe load data for a 340gr boolit that only goes to 23,000psi, and if you did, it would not push that heavy boolit hard enough to generate enough spin in the rifling to be stable, groups will look like you fired them with a 12ga shotgun full of buckshot. 270gr, 280gr are about the max these medium framed guns can handle and stay under 23,000psi with slower burning powders.

    You can find load data for a 340gr boolit in a large framed 2 digit prefix revolver, that will go to 30,000psi safely, but none of it will use Unique or any other faster powder like Herco, HS6, Bullseye, 700x, etc.. This data will use AA#9, 2400, H110/W296, LilGun, or other slow burning magnum powders.

    Note: Large framed TWO DIGIT prefix cylinder on the left with round ratchet star boss, medium framed THREE DIGIT prefix cylinder on the right with scalloped ratchet star boss:

    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

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    Boolit Buddy bishopgrandpa's Avatar
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    Wow!! Thanks to all who gave so much info. I guess that load can be forgotten. I'll stick to my 255 grain and W231 until I get a more appropriate powder. Thanks again to all.

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    You're welcome.

    Unique actually -IS- the go to powder for 45 Colt, just not heavy boolits and 30,000psi loads.

    255gr LSWC over 8.0gr Unique is a mild starting load which is close to the original smokeless powder loads, 9.0gr warms it up a bit but it's still safe in older guns, 9.5gr under a 255gr boolit gives roughly 900fps and is a little over the 14,000psi max for Colt single action, 10.0gr is as far as I will push one under ANY circumstances, at this point you are well into +P pressures even though you can find plenty of published load data with 10.0gr Unique under the 255gr LSWC boolit.

    Unique is best for standard pressure 45 Colt loads, once you get to needing 1,000fps, slower powders work better. Above 270gr in weight, slower powders work better.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

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    454190 cast of COWW + 2% tin loaded over 8.5 gr Alliant Unique in Starline cases with Fed 150 primers at an aol of 1.589" develops a measured 18,000 psi. The same seated to an oal of 1.664" runs a measured 15,700 psi.
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 11-13-2019 at 06:55 PM.
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    454? Do you mean 454423?

    Alliant lists 250gr Speer LSWC @ 1.6" CCI 300 primer over 9.5gr Unique at 941fps. They do not give pressure readings but these loads are considered safe in a smokeless powder Colt single action, Italian clones, and older S&W revolvers. SAAMI max for these guns is 14,000cup.

    What that translates to in psi is not enough to equal 18,000 so I don't know where Alliant is getting their pressure data from, but I do know you have the pressure barrel for testing so I am assuming your data comes from your own experience. However, it is a LOT different from what the powder manufacturer recommends as standard pressure loads.

    The Speer 250gr LSWC I think is a soft swaged lead boolit am I correct? Would the difference in swaged vs. coww +2% explain the differences in pressures?
    Last edited by DougGuy; 11-13-2019 at 04:54 PM.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  14. #14
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    Doug

    My bad, the mould was the 454190 and the bullets weighed right at 250 gr. They were sized at .454.

    I wasn't disagreeing with you or the load data you quote, was just stating what the psi was with the "classic" 45 Colt load using Unique. The 14000 psi (as measured via transducer or strain gauge) that SAAMI bases their MAP on psi derived from the BP load using basically that same bullet. The original 45 Colt BP load with the 230 gr bullet develops even less psi. However, as you indicate that MAP level is for the old original BP 45 Colts. The gen II & III SAAs along with modern made clones are quite safe with much higher psi loads such as those SAAs chambered in 357 Magnum and 44 SPL along with spare cylinders in 45 ACP for use in 45 Colt SAAs. All 3 of those cartridges have higher MAPs than the 45 Colt. While I don't so much anymore I have shot a lot of RCBS 45-255-KTs over the 8.5 gr load of Unique w/o any qualms or fears in my Uberti Artillery SAA. That, because of the heavier bullet and different seating depth, runs at 18,300 psi.

    "The Speer 250gr LSWC I think is a soft swaged lead boolit am I correct? Would the difference in swaged vs. coww +2% explain the differences in pressures?"

    The difference in seating depth and bearing surface is going to have a greater effect on the psi than the difference in alloy. At least that is what I've been able to ascertain through pressure testing so far. Near as I can tell, using the same bullet mould and the same load, varying only the alloy is that any difference in psi most often falls within the test to test psi variation thus any speculation is meaningless.
    Larry Gibson

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    Larry, man that is educational for this ol dog! .070 inch deeper seating depth equals 2300 PSI greater pressure.

    .070 inch is just a smidge over 1/16th inch [ if my math works ]. That is a very small difference in seating depth. I knew that seating depth made a difference but this is surprising to me.

    Thankyou for your records and investigation with your testers.
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    Larry I didn't take your post as disagreeing, I took it as you posting first hand knowledge gained by your own pressure testing. Good stuff too! I was kinda surprised at the differences in pressures in your testing compared to the (assumed) pressures in the Alliant data.

    The 14,000 that SAAMI references to, is cup and not psi. Given the squirrely formulas used to convert one to the other, your 18,300psi might not be very far north of this figure but probably a little bit.

    I would think the Uberti guns capable of 21,000psi which is standard 45 ACP pressure, and Uberti chambers those SAA's in 45 ACP. Given the same cylinder wall thickness and web thickness for 45 caliber cylinders, I would feel safe in saying the Uberti in 45 Colt should be good to the same pressures. If Uberti says they are good to 45 ACP+P then they would be good to 23,000psi in the 45 Colt same as the 45 ACP cylinders.

    Personally I wouldn't subject my avatar Uberti Old West to those levels, the 454190 over 9.0gr of Herco gets the nod. It shoots milder than 9.0gr Unique and is very accurate.

    I shot my 1st gen push pin Colts with 255gr LSWC over 8.5gr Unique til the cows came home, never an issue. Nice to know now what the pressures might have been. As you pointed out, and SAAMI specs, 14,000cup would be the ceiling for black powder Colts, which I would never use smokeless loads of any kind in. This is also the reason SAAMI will never spec +P pressures for 45 Colt, in case somebody shoots these in the older BP guns.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

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    The SAAMI 45 Colt is in 14,000 PSI. https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...sting-Copy.pdf page 23. The CUP for 45 Colt is 15,900 CUP
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    The SAAMI 45 Colt is in 14,000 PSI. https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...sting-Copy.pdf page 23. The CUP for 45 Colt is 15,900 CUP
    I guess I am corrected. I always thought the early specs were cup.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

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    "I shot my 1st gen push pin Colts with 255gr LSWC over 8.5gr Unique til the cows came home, never an issue. Nice to know now what the pressures might have been. As you pointed out, and SAAMI specs, 14,000cup would be the ceiling for black powder Colts, which I would never use smokeless loads of any kind in. This is also the reason SAAMI will never spec +P pressures for 45 Colt, in case somebody shoots these in the older BP guns."

    DougGuy

    It is a myth and misconception the pressures of the cartridges used were what the firearms were "designed" for. The pressures of the cartridges back in the day of cartridge infancy were simply dictated by the components used and where the brass/copper case would fail. The 45 colt stuffed plumb full of BP of any fg under a 250 gr bullet will generate up to 14,000 psi and that's all.

    SAAMI MAPs are based on the average psi's of the cartridges as loaded by manufacturer(s) as submitted for evaluation and standardization. SAAMI has a set of parameters and procedures it follows to standardize a cartridges MAP. It really has little to do with the "design" of any firearm. The SAAMI chamber standards also only apply to chambers and not to any firearm design. The MAP for the 45 Colt is set at 14,000 psi (I usually don't mention the CUP figure to avoid confusion between the two) because that is what the original BP and smokeless factory loads generated. We don't see any +P 45 Colt loads simply because no SAAMI member manufacturer has submitted any for standardization.

    The old classic load of 8.5 Unique under a 250 gr bullet has been used for years. Like you I have shot a lot of them in not only my Uberti but also Colt New Service, S&W and other Colt SAAs. It is an excellent 45 Colt load.
    Larry Gibson

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    I shoot a 7.5" BlackHawk 76' vintage .

    The hottest Ruger/TC load shown is from Speer #12 for a 300 gr jacket at 9.5-10.5 Unique stating the loads are 20-25,000 psi .
    I have wandered out in the weeds with Quick Load data from a known and respected industry guy and I have dabbled in rifle loads for the Colts with that 350 gr data , that was when I decided to just buy a 45-70 and be done with it .

    As above 296/H110 , 5744 among others appear for the heavy weights . I shot 19.0 of H322 in a 16" carbine for 1280 fps which would probably be about 850 in the RBH I shoot with a spectacular fireball . I also quickly abandoned that direction as I just didn't see myself running those kind of loads for anything really . Don't follow my course check data etc and run your own QL or whatever .

    In my view a guy ought to take all of the weight options and max loads and just see what developes the desired energy or max energy then put that against the BC and just see how it comes out at anticipated ranges plus 10-25 yd . I've found some surprising values for several cartridges . With the Colts and 45 cal in general there isn't enough gain to sweat anything but weight and MV at the muzzle under 400 gr anyway .

    My money says that the maximum return will be about 270 gr with Unique after that the heavies start so slow that it's a dead heat to 50-75 yd where momentum takes the edge .
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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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