Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Latest Interest - .45 Colt

No, not the .45 ACP but the old-school .45 Colt, or commonly referred to as .45 Long Colt. Originally, I had no interest in this old cartridge or any interest in the old school revolvers. Sure they look pretty but they just didn't really appeal to me. At least not until recently.


I try to choose a cartridge based on characteristics that can be "scientifically" proved, however, I tend to get swayed by general discussion or shop talk, if you will. For example, I chose my first handgun in .40 S&W because it was right between 9mm Parabellum and 45 ACP in terms of capacity, bore size and recoil. I'd gotten away from .40 S&W these past few years but now I'm back again because of the numbers game and a few other reasons. Normal .40 loads supposedly run around +400 ft/lbs of muzzle energy so this puts it above 9mm and .45 ACP as their normal loads supposedly have muzzle energies below 400 ft/lbs. Reportedly though, some of the defense/ +P loads for both 9mm and .45 ACP have muzzle energies above 400 and even above 500 ft/lbs. To me these are impressive numbers for an automatic handgun cartridge. But you always have someone bring up the "well .45 will knock a big hole and keep 'em down..." Another example is the .30-30 being a good "brush gun." These are what I qualify as "general discussion" or shop talk type arguments. It's not that there is any real scientific evidence to support the argument, just their experience or what they heard from someone else. On a side note, I'm also interested in .45-70 and .30-30 so I will be looking into a Marlin 1895 and 336 for a little T&E in the future.

Discussions of the common handgun cartridges almost always bring up .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum being much more powerful (which they are) but these are usually specific to revolvers. You'll hear talk like "well you need a revolver if you want power" etc. Yes, the Desert Eagle can shoot both those cartridges but there are few automatics that are setup to shoot them if any at all. There are cartridges like .357 SIG and 10mm Auto and those are chambered in modern firearms. But during my research into various cartridges (I'm sort of a bookworm when it comes to guns) a question popped up, how do the older cartridges stack up against today's plastic, high pressure world? Well, it turns out some of the old cartridges are pretty impressive.

I suppose the willingness to even look into these cartridges is due to a newly developed interest in the cowboy lifestyle and related firearms. I started watching the Rifleman and even Rawhide recently for some reason and I'm currently wearing a nice pair of cowboy boots. I must be getting crazy in my age j/k. Thanks Mom for the boots!

I was looking up cartridges like .44-40, .30-30 and .45-70 and they pack a mean punch! But they didn't really surprise me when I think about the shop talk and history of those cartridges. .30-30 was and still is used for hunting various deer in North America but isn't really recommended due to sub-2000 lb/fts power levels and .45-70 was and is used as a big game cartridge, so the stated power levels for those two don't really surprise me.  But one really caught me by surprise. The old .45 Colt.

The .45 Colt shows up around 1872-1873 and I doubt the old loads where anywhere the current power levels but looking over modern load data for it, modern loads are averaging between 400 and 600 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. I saw where Buffalo Bore makes a load that allegedly puts the cartridge in the 1200 ft/lbs range with a 325 gr +P load. Yikes! I wouldn't be running those loads from an pre-1900 Single Action Army but from a modern firearm sure.

I've seen the .45 Colt sold on Walmart shelves as if it were as common as .40 but I always looked at it as if it were a throw back to the olden days. It just always seemed weird to me until I started to pay attention. I began to notice the various modern firearms such as revolvers like the Judge and Governor and derringers such as the Snake Slayer were becoming some what popular. Guns not only setup for .45 Colt but .410 as well. I suppose with the introduction of those firearms, .45 Colt has gotten a renewed interest, maybe?

Even if that's true, it's got my attention and so does the Cowboy Action Shooting community. I recently made a trip over to my Local Gun Shop and found a few .45 Colt revolvers sitting on the shelves. They had a few Ruger's and a Stoeger/Uberti in stock but online I found one that has really caught my eye. The Uberti 1873 Cattleman Hombre. Something about it's basic-ness has me interested. It's a 4.75 inch barrel with a basic blued finish. It doesn't really bring anything special to the table but it has a real good price and looks just fine. The funny thing is that in terms of cowboy era guns, in my opinion, the break top Smith & Wesson's were a better choice since they load faster. I think Annie Oakley would agree. I had heard that over time they tend to separate so higher power loads weren't used but with today's metallurgy, the top breaks' probably hold up better. I'd still have one for sure but now that I've got the cowboy action bug an SAA is a must! At the very least an SAA in .22 LR will definitely be purchased.

As I've also been looking at getting into lever guns, a rifle in .45 Colt to go with my future SAA would be nice. There are a few offerings from companies like Rossi, Winchester, Henry and Marlin in .45 Colt but I feel that a rifle should have more power. I really like the idea of having a handgun and rifle that shoot the same cartridge and I like the idea of a gun that can shoot more that one cartridge so I'd like to see about getting that rifle in something like .454 Casull.  I know Rossi has their M92 so that might be a good option to go with my future SAA.

No matter what guns I buy in the future, the .45 Colt with it's claimed +400 ft/lbs of muzzle energy has impressed me. And the classic lines of the Colt Single Action Army is now on my list of guns to buy.

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