Reloading The .45 Colt

Posted on: Thursday January 7, 2021
reloading 45 colt
MD Smith

MD Smith


(WC= WadCutter, SWC= Semi-WadCutter, HP= Hollow Point, RN= Round Nose, FMC= Full Metal Case, FMJ= Full Metal Jacket, JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet)

Loads for .45 Colt:
[See page on powder location in case affecting FPS elsewhere on pages]
(Note: These are near maximum loads, you should use 10% less to start, unless it is lesser of several loads or other indications like “mild” or “cowboy” etc.)
(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)
Bullet sizes vary from .450″ for jacketed to .454″ for some lead in diameter. Most are either .451″ (jacketed) or .452″ (lead) and Sierra even makes jacketed bullets for the Colt SAA that are .4515″ splitting the difference. Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up. (See note on NEW Nitro 100 powder at bottom of page)

SAAMI pressures for STANDARD .45 Colt is 14,000 PSI MAXIMUM, but
for Ruger Blackhawk and T/C, levels in the 20,000 to 25,000 range are
considered more the norm. Make sure your gun can handle it before
you use any of these loads listed below with STARS (*).
Note that the “Ruger New Vaquero” uses a smaller frame and cylinder
like original Colts. Treat it like one.

Note: Powder Mfgs. Velocities in a test
barrel differ from a 4 4/5″ revolver by
about 175 fps and from 7 1/2″ by 50 fps.

(Note H110 & W296 are the same as of 2008 as is HP-38 & W231)
(IMR 4227 is same as H-4227 if made in Australia)
9-9-11

160 grain LRNFP (Lead Round Nose, flat point)
Trail Boss 7.0 gr. 903 (IMR minimum load)
Trail Boss 8.5 gr. 1,018 (IMR Max load)
Universal 6.5 gr. 798 FPS minimum
Universal 9.5 gr. 1197 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 6.5 gr. 917 minimum
HP38 9.0 gr. 1177 Maximum
Titegroup 6.0 gr. 932 minimum
Titegroup 7.0 gr. 1051 Maximum
Clays 5.0 gr. 907 minimum
Clays 6.4 gr. 1083 Maximum
180 grain LRNFP (Lead Round Nose, flat point)
Trail Boss 6.0 gr. 818 (IMR minimum load)
Trail Boss 7.3 gr. 935 (IMR Max load)
Universal 6.5 gr. 791 FPS minimum
Universal 9.2 gr. 1161 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 6.0 gr. 838 minimum
HP38 8.2 gr. 1087 Maximum
Titegroup 5.0 gr. 759 minimum
Titegroup 6.9 gr. 1020 Maximum
Clays 4.8 gr. 840 minimum
Clays 6.0 gr. 1016 Maximum
185 grain JHP Sierra
ZIP 6.6 gr. 922 start
ZIP 7.8 gr. 1,086 max
True Blue 8.9 gr. 942 start
True Blue 10.5 gr. 1,108 max
185 grain Berry’s HBRN (Hollow base round nose) Plated bullet designed for .45 ACP
(being copper plated, I should have loaded this bullet much hotter in some above)

ZIP 7.0 gr. 587 Hi=670, Lo=521, ES=148 (too slow, wide spread)
ZIP 7.5 gr. 628 Hi=677, Lo=594, ES=8.3 (too slow, but good spread)
Nitro 100 6.5 gr. 625 Hi=673, Lo=594, ES=80 (too slow)(old formulation)
Universal 8.8 gr. 759 Hi=790, Lo=734, ES=56
Titegroup 7.0 gr. 824 Hi=876, Lo=759, ES=117
Competition 5.5 gr. 596 Hi=649, Lo=564, ES=85 (too slow)
Bullseye 6.8 gr. 890 Hi=912, Lo=858, ES=55 (good load)
Silhouette 9.5 gr. 685 Hi=740, Lo=647, ES=93
200 grain LRN or SWC (Lead Round Nose)
all cowboy loads below:* Blackhorn 209 is a black powder substitute with smokeless
like qualities. Load it like Trail Boss

Nitro 100 use 6.0 to 6.7 grains of OLD formula 87
Nitro 100 6.5 gr. 833 Hi=873, Lo=783, ES=90 (old formulation)
Bullseye 6.0 gr. 870 FPS
Bullseye 7.0 gr. 920 MAX. LOAD
Unique 9.0 gr. 895
HS6 13.5 gr. 870
HP38 9.0 gr. 884
No. 2 6.4 gr. 952 (Cowboy load)
No. 5 12.1 gr. 1,035
231 8.3 gr. 998 MAX. LOAD
231 6.8 gr. 775 Approx. (Cowboy Load)(RNFP)
Trail Boss 5.5 gr. 706 (IMR minimum load)
Trail Boss 6.5 gr. 855 (IMR Max load)
*Blackhorn 206 24.4 gr. 972 Max (full case)
Universal 6.4 gr. 749 FPS minimum
Universal 8.8 gr. 1,067 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 5.9 gr. 761 minimum
HP38 8.0 gr. 1,002 Maximum
Titegroup 5.0 gr. 731 minimum
Titegroup 7.7 gr. 1,050 Maximum
Clays 4.6 gr. 777 minimum
Clays 5.9 gr. 931 Maximum
True Blue 6.8 gr. 667
Competition 5.2 gr. 731
VV N320 6.8 gr. 850 start
VV N320 8.7 gr. 1,043 Max
200 grain JFP Sierra
ZIP 6.1 gr. 883 start
ZIP 7.2 gr. 980 max
True Blue 8.5 gr. 888 start
True Blue 10.0 gr. 1,045 max
200 grain LRN or SWC (Lead Round Nose)
(Note: No. 5 makes a nice cowboy load around 9 grains)

Universal 9.0 gr. 995 FPS
Bullseye 5.0 gr. 744
Bullseye 6.0 gr. 824 MAX.
Trail Boss 6.4 gr. 866 Hi= 890 Lo=855 ES=35 (good Cowboy load)
Unique 7.5 gr. 760 (mild)
Unique 8.0 gr. 805
HP38 8.5 gr. 830
HS6 13.5 gr. 860
AA N100 6.0 gr. 839 (mild)
AA N100 6.2 gr. 846 (mild)
AA N100 6.9 gr. 933 MAX
AA No. 2 6.1 gr. 766 ( mild cowboy)
AA No. 5 8.5 gr. 773 (very mild)Hi=830 Lo=718 ES=112
AA No. 5 9.1 gr. 838 (mild) Hi=883 Lo=784 ES=99
AA No. 5 10.0 gr. 928 Hi=958 Lo=902 ES=56
AA No. 5 10.7 gr. 971 Hi=1,013 Lo=924 ES=89
AA No. 5 10.9 gr. 909 FACTORY SPECS
AA No. 5 12.1 gr. 1,033 MAX FACTORY SPECS
231 7.2 gr. 719 (very mild)
225 grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)

(THESE ARE MAXIMUM LOADS- HUNTING)

Unique 10.8 gr. 926 FPS
HS6 13.6 gr. 914
Blue Dot 15.4 gr. 947
IMR-4227 21.0 gr. 914

(back off 15% to start these loads)

230 grain Round Nose LEAD (also see 225 gr. lead loads)

(Experiment with A5744 powder)

Cowboy loads below:

AA5744 17.0 gr. 836 fps (powder pointing UP) (Hi=877.7 Lo=803.0 Spread=74.7 fps)
AA5744 17.0 gr. 771 fps (powder pointing DOWN) (Hi=783.1 Lo=760.3 Spread=22.8 fps)
Bullseye 5.0 gr. 744
Bullseye 6.0 gr. 824 MAX. LOAD
Trail Boss 5.5 gr. 685 (IMR start load)
Trail Boss 6.5 gr. 802 (IMR max load)
Universal 6.5 gr. 761 FPS minimum
Universal 8.1 gr. 975 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 5.8 gr. 738 minimum
HP38 7.3 gr. 941 Maximum
Titegroup 5.0 gr. 762 minimum
Titegroup 6.5 gr. 934 Maximum
Clays 4.4 gr. 734 minimum
Clays 5.4 gr. 865 minimum
230 grain Berry’s RN Plated lead (full copper plating designed for 45 ACP)
ZIP 6.9 gr. 634 Hi=665, Lo=619, ES=26 (too slow)
Nitro 100 5.8 gr. 580 Hi=622, Lo=491, ES=131 (WAY too slow-stuck bullet possible)(old formulation)
Universal 8.8 gr. 812 Hi=898, Lo=707, ES=191 8.5″ bbl
Titegroup 6.4 gr. 742 Hi=750, Lo=735, ES=15 (good spread, should have used more powder)
Bullseye 6.0 gr. 760 Hi=766, Lo=750, ES=16
Silhouette 9.5 gr. 756 Hi=800, Lo=674, ES=126
230 grain RN Plated lead (full copper plating)and FMJ-RN bullet.
# my actual in 4 5/8″ bbl revolver
## my actual in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver
### my actual in 20″ rifle barrel

Nitro 100 use 6.1 to 6.8 for normal Colt 45 loads (old formulation
Nitro 100 use 7.7 to 8.6* for +P Ruger and T/C Only (old formulation
Universal 9.3 gr. 1,000 FPS
Bullseye 6.0 gr. 825
Unique 8.3 gr. 725#
Unique 7.5 gr. 708##(lo-649/hi-762)
Unique 8.5 gr. 1,180###
AA No. 5 11.1 gr. 871 Hi=938 Lo=797 ES=141 (Colt Anaconda 6″)
AA No. 5 11.5 gr. 936 Hi=963 Lo=897 ES=66 (med. hot)
HP38 8.5 gr. 830
HS6 <13.5 gr./td> 860
2400 13.2 gr. 800
2400 14.9 gr. 1,050 (MAXIMUM)
IMR4227 16.5 gr. 800
IMR4227 18.7 gr. 1,000 (Maximum)
240 grain JHP Sierra

RUGER AND CONTENDER ONLY

W-296/H-110* 24.9 gr. 1,239 fps(* Plus P)
250 grain lead RNFP Cowboy loads
Nitro 100 use 4.9 to 5.5 grains (old formulation
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 606 FPS minimum
Trail Boss 5.8 gr. 727 FPS MAXIMUM
Universal 6.5 gr. 742 FPS minimum
Universal 7.8 gr. 941 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 5.8 gr. 785 minimum
HP38 7.1 gr. 916 Maximum
Titegroup 5.0 gr. 716 minimum
Titegroup 6.2 gr. 881 Maximum
Clays 4.2 gr. 713 minimum
Clays 5.1 gr. 817 Maximum
Zip 5.8 gr. 698
Competition 5.0 gr. 723
True Blue 7.0 gr. 733
Silhouette 6.2 gr. 753
250 grain Hornady XTP (.452)(Hot, Ruger, Contender only -not old Colts)
H-4227 20.0 gr. 1,150 start
H-4227 24.6 gr. 1,343 max
H110 25.7 gr. 1,398 start
H110 26.5 gr. 1,455 max
Lil’Gun 23.5 gr. 1,331 start
Lil’Gun 25.5 gr. 1,410 max
Titegroup 8.0 gr. 983 start
Titegroup 9.5 gr. 1,124 max
2400 21.4 gr. 1,226 max
AA #9 14.1 gr. 935
AA #9 16.0 gr. 1,044 max – Ruger only
ZIP 5.5 gr. 884 max – OK for all guns.
True Blue 7.7 gr. 803 start
True Blue 9.0 gr. 945 max – ok for all guns
250-255 grain LRNFP (Lead Round Nose, flat point)
can stick in barrel- this is below MINIMUM.)(I do not recommend over 8.5 gr of Unique; tough on guns)* Blackhorn 209 is a black powder substitute with smokeless
like qualities. Load it like Trail Boss

Nitro 100 use 4.7 to 5.3 grains for 800-875 fps (old formulation)
Bullseye 6.3 gr. 810
Unique 6.4 gr. 716 (very mild, caution, some bullets
Unique 7.0 gr. 722 (mild in 4 5/8″ bbl)
Unique 8.6 gr. 891 MAX in one manual
Unique 8.5 gr. 734 (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver)
Unique 8.5 gr. 963 (Actual in Rossi 45 Carbine)
Unique 9.0 gr. 905 MAX LOAD (I got 932.2 in revolver)
Unique 9.5 gr.*** 992 MAX+ (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver)
Unique 10.0 gr.*** 1024 MAX+ (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl 250 gr. RNFP)
Unique 10.0 gr.*** 1007 MAX+ (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl 255 gr. SWC)
Universal 6.5 gr. 742 Cowboy mild
Universal 7.8 gr. 941 Cowboy MAX
Universal 7.2 gr. 804
HP38 5.8 gr. 785 cowboy mild
HP38 7.1 gr. 787 Cowboy mild
HS6 9.0 gr. 916
HS6## 10.5 gr. 946 Cowboy Max load ##
Clays 4.2 gr. 713 cowboy mild
Clays 5.1 gr. 817 cowboy MAX
AA5744 16.0 gr. 773 (in 5 1/2″ bbl revolver)
AA5744 16.0 gr. 872 (in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver)(ES=38 fps)
AA5744 17.8 gr. 860 (-MAXIMUM LOAD Nitro)
AA5744 17.0 gr. 853 (Powder UP – see note) (Hi=872.5 Lo=827.5 Spread=45 fps)(some unburned powder)
AA5744 17.0 gr. 802 (Powder DOWN – see note) (Hi=809.2 Lo=792.6 Spread=16.6 fps)
AA N100 5.5 gr. 780 (mild)
AA N100 6.2 gr. 886 MAX
AA No. 2 5.9 gr. 730 (mild)(AA now says 813 fps)
AA No. 5 9.4 gr. 846 (mild)
AA No. 5 10.4 gr. 961 MAX
AA No. 5 11.0 gr.* 969 MAX + (Ruger & T/C only)
AA No. 9 13.6 gr. 800 Hi=910 Lo=813 ES 190
AA No. 9 14.0 gr. 867 Hi=909 Lo=842 ES=67
AA No. 9 14.6 gr. 905 Hi=1002 Lo=840 ES=162
AA No. 9 15.0 gr. 880=Powder Up (708=Powder Down)5″ bbl.
AA No. 9 15.5 gr. 982 Hi=1016 Lo=900 ES=116
AA No. 9 14.3 gr. 850 (Factory specs)
AA No. 9 16.3 gr. 1,050 (MAXIMUM)
Nitro 100 5.5 gr. 868 (cowboy load)
Solo 1000 5.8 gr. 807 (cowboy load)
231 7.0 gr. 704 (mild)
231 7.5 gr. 843 (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver)
WAP 8.6 gr. 776
IMR4227 17.0 gr. 830
IMR4227 19.0 gr. 904 Maximum for regular Colt. 45
IMR800-X 8.0 gr. 769 (mild)
IMR PB 6.5 gr. 630 (very mild)
IMR PB 7.0 gr. 700 (MAX)
VV N320 5.9 gr. 805
VV N340 6.6 gr. 641 (mild)
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 606 (IMR start load)
Trail Boss 5.8 gr. 727 (IMR max load)
*Blackhorn 206 22.2 gr. 869 Max (full case)
N32C Tin Star 8.3 gr. 889 start
N32C Tin Star 9.6 gr. 1,001 Max
True Blue 9.3 gr. 865 near max
——————-Ruger Blackhawk, T/C only———————
* For Ruger and T/C ONLY !
*** ONLY USE in Ruger, T/C and modern guns. This EXCEEDS MAX LOAD Use at your OWN RISK)
## new Cowboy load from Hodgdon
AA5744 is most consistent powder I have found, point up or down in case before firing.
Less “position sensitive.” Titegroup performs well.
New (2005) Trail Boss is very bulky and very consistent.

Nitro 100 7.3 to 8.1 gr. * 1,050 @ 8.1 Max load
(No. 5 11.8 gr.***1,080)* (10.6 to 11.8 MAX/MAX is good range)
(No. 7 14.6 gr.***1,023)* (13.6 to 15.1 MAX is good range)
(No. 9 17.6 gr.***1,180)* (15.8 to 17.6 MAX is good range)
250 grain Rainier Flat Point, Copper Plated
============Ruger and T/C ONLY below==========* For Ruger and T/C ONLY !
*** ONLY USE in Ruger and T/C. This EXCEEDS MAX LOAD, Use at OWN RISK)

Unique 8.5 gr. 727 (Actual in 7 1/2″ bbl revolver)
Unique 8.5 gr. 730 (Actual in 4 5/8″ bbl revolver)
Unique 8.5 gr. 946 (Actual in Rossi 45 Carbine)
Unique 9.5 gr. 935 Hi=974, Lo=877, ES=98 in 8.5″ bbl
Unique 10.0 gr.*** 981 (in 4 5/8″ bbl EXCEEDS MAX)
No. 5 10.4 gr. 870 FPS
(No. 5 11.8 gr.***1,080)* (10.6 to 11.8 MAX is good range)
(No. 7 14.6 gr.***1,023)* (13.6 to 15.1 MAX is good range)
(No. 9 17.6 gr.***1,180)* (15.8 to 17.6 MAX is good range)
260 grain FMJ or JHP/h5>
==========-[only RUGER and T/C below]=========* ONLY for Ruger and T/C guns. CAUTION!! over normal MAXIMUM
Use at your OWN RISK

HP38 7.5 gr. 797 FPS
HS6 12.0 gr. 804
HS7 13.5 gr. 871
No. 5 10.5 gr. 762
Unique 7.8 gr.
231 7.0 gr. 725
No. 5* 11.5 gr.* 1,000*
No. 7* 14.5 gr.* 1,000*
Unique* 10.5 gr.* 1,079*
2400* 16.2 gr.* 1,130*
2400* 18.0 gr.* 1,180* MAX/MAX load
IMR 4227* 20.0 gr.* 1,250*
260 grain JSP Speer

RUGER AND CONTENDER ONLY

W-296/H-110* 20.4 gr. 1,171 fps(* Plus P)
300 grain JHP or Hornady XTP
==========-[only RUGER and T/C below]=========* ONLY for Ruger and T/C guns. CAUTION!!
MAXIMUM+ Use at YOUR OWN RISK

Bullseye 5.0 gr. 605 FPS
Unique 6.8 gr. 690
Universal 7.3 gr. 700
HS6 10.5 gr. 712
HS7 12.0 gr. 771
231 6.0 gr. 640
2400 12.5 gr. 735
ZIP 4.7 gr. 652 start
ZIP 5.5 gr. 767 Max
True Blue 6.4 gr. 689 start
True Blue 7.5 gr. 811 max
H4227* 19.0 gr. 1,051
H110* 21.8 gr. 1,191 start
H110* 22.1 gr. 1,192 max
Lil’Gun* 18.0 gr. 1,140 start
Lil’Gun* 20.0 gr. 1,198 max
Unique* 10.0 gr.* 970*
2400* 16.0 gr.* 1,150*
IMR 4227* 18.0 gr.* 1,150*
AA No.7* 13.0 gr.* 788*
AA No.9* 15.2 gr.* 1,100*
310 grain Lead RNFP (Ruger and T/C Only)
Lil’Gun 19.5 gr. 1,155 near max
H110/W296 24.5 gr. 1,195 max
350 grain JSP (Jacketed Soft Point)only RUGER and T/C
* ONLY for Ruger and T/C guns. CAUTION!! MAXIMUM+ Use at YOUR OWN
RISK

2400* 16.0 gr.* 888* FPS
H110* 20.0 gr.* 990*
H4227* 20.0 gr.* 995*

in pistol calibers than the old. The top of the can says “NOT FOR HANDGUN LOADS”. Use 10% UNDER any values you see here for N-100. The older was slower Fast-burning in pistol calibers. However, my first test with OLD Nitro 100 were very light, too light.

Discussion: The old Western Style COLT normally uses big, heavy and slow lead bullets. You can certainly use the Jacketed bullets fine, but don’t look for incredible speeds. Bullseye is a bit fast for this big cartridge and I don’t especially recommend it, but it will work. Unique is better. Unique and Universal still don’t fill the case up as much as a yet slower powder (like No.9, AA5724, H-110/W296, AA5744, and Alliant 2400).

Reference to Powder UP and Powder DOWN is to actually shake the gun in an up or down position before firing each round and gently bring the gun to the horizontal and shooting. In the large .45 case, a large difference has been noted in speeds. Normal powders vary quite a bit and also have a larger spread between shots. For example, No. 9 with 15 gr.* which is just a little over maximum Colt loads (but mild for Ruger) shot an average of 880.2 fps pointing up and 708.0 fps pointing down, but the spread between shots was 146 fps and 235 fps respectively.

With Accurate’s 5744 the speeds with 17.0 were 853 fps UP and 802 DOWN, but spreads were much better at 45 fps and 16.6 fps respectively. So both the up and down positions were closer in speeds and the spreads were noticeably closer. I would conclude this powder is much more consistent in speeds than others that I have tried in the .45 Colt.

Be very careful using the loads for Ruger and T/C (Thompson Contender) as these are maximum loads, even for these strong guns. A Modern rifle should handle these loads equally as well, such as the Winchester Model 94. Some people have tried to load the .45 Colt to levels of the .44 Magnum. Bad Idea! If you want those speeds and power, buy a .44 magnum.

A bullet with a copper gas check or copper plating is best for INDOOR ranges to keep lead vapors out of the air.

*
Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6, HS7 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders. HS7 is slowest of the group (Similar to 2400)
IMR Trail Boss, 4227, IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
Nitro 100, No.2, No. 5, No.7, No. 9, #5744, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company

References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company, reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.