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Bountyhunter, 8.0 (896 fps) to 9.5 grains (1061 fps) of Unique is the recommended charge for 200 Gr lead bullets. Accuracy and lead fouling will probably be better at 9.5 gr.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's one of the loads I was able to find. I found others for that weight that were used much less powder. Lead fouling is one thing I'd like to avoid. Should I start at 9.5 or start lighter and work my way up? I'll be shooting them out of a Redhawk 5.5" barreled revolver.

Thanks Iowegan.
 

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Bountyhunter,
I am shooting the 45-270-SAA slug that weighs-in at 283 grains and I am using 9.0 grains of Unique with no pressure problems at all in a Blackhawk. Since you are shooting a much lighter slug, the loads mentions should be O.K. in a Redhawk. But I would just start a bit below the 9.0 and work up--can't hurt to do that. Good-luck...BCB
 

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The charges of Unique that Iowegan gave you are for standard colt pressure levels. That can be exceeded with ruger blackhawks and contender pistols. Your redhawk is even stronger than the blackhawk. You can safely start at 9 gr and work up. I use 10 gr of unique with a 200gr lswc. The accuracy and fouling seemed to be better the more I used. I got leading and a lot of powder fouling between 8 and 9 gr. I was using a ruger bisley.
Have fun, stay safe.
 

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Does this bullet have a crimp groove? There are a lot of these designed for the 45 acp, and if it has no crimp groove, make sure the neck tension is tight enough to keep the bullet from moving forward under recoil. The heavier charge of Unique will burn cleaner and work better with the hard cast bullet. I have used a LRNFP similar bullet at 9.6gr with good results out of the Blackhawk. Good luck and let us know how it works out.
 

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Here's some general info about hand loading lead bullets for a 45 Colt:

Years ago I stumbled onto a load with 255 gr LRNFTs that shot real well out of my Ruger Blackhawk (8 gr of Unique). When I ran out of bullets, I bought some more but from a different company. Using the same powder charge, these shot terrible and fouled my bore badly. I ended up trying a number of different powders and charge weights ... all in vain .... so back to the books. I learned a good lesson about 45 Colts and have been "preachin' it every since.

The 45 Colt has the lowest chamber pressure of any modern gun on the market. The original cartridge was designed to shoot black powder at the very low pressure of 14,000 psi. The next part of the equation is the lead bullet. Before a bullet will reform in the cylinder throat and bore, it needs ample chamber pressure. The harder the bullet alloy, the more pressure it takes to get the lead to reform instead of stripping or fouling. This process is called "obturation" and is by no means unique to the 45 Colt, however due to the 45 Colt's low chamber pressure, it becomes a very important issue. When the bullet hardness matches chamber pressure, the bullet will actually bump up in diameter slightly until it reaches the size restriction of the cylinder throats. The bullet is then pushed through the throat and into the barrel's forcing cone. The cone swages the bullet down in size just a tad so it will fit very snugly in the bore. As the bullet travels down the barrel, a tight seal is maintained between the bullet and bore to prevent hot gasses from blowing by the bullet.

In order for obturation to take place, there are five conditions that must be met.
1. The bullet diameter must be at least bore diameter, preferably a thousandth or so larger. This is to guarantee a good seal between the bore and bullet.
2. The cylinder throat must be at least .001" larger than bore diameter. This allows enough room for the bullet to bump up in diameter a little.
3. Bullet hardness must match chamber pressure. If the bullet is too hard, it won't change shape without leaving lead fouling in the throats and forcing cone. If it is too soft, it will foul in the bore.
4. Chamber pressure must match bullet hardness (within reason) or lead fouling will occur.
5. The forcing cone must be a smooth transition from the face to the lands. If there is corruption in the forcing cone, fouling will occur.

Most Ruger 45 Colt revolvers come from the factory with throats so tight that obturation can not take place and in fact the opposite happens. Instead of the bullet bumping up in size a little, it is swaged down in diameter by the tight cylinder throats. This has the same effect as shooting undersized bullets because the bullet is delivered to the forcing cone so small that it won't achieve a tight seal in the bore. As pressure pushes the bullet down the barrel, some of the expanding gasses blow by the circumference of the bullet. This causes the lead surface to vaporize from rapid erosion and leaves lead fouling behind. As more rounds are fired, lead fouling will build up in the bore to a point where accuracy is very poor. The fix for this condition is to ream the cylinder throats to an optimum diameter of .4525".

If the forcing cone is corrupted, it can be chamfered with a reamer. An 11 degree cone angle is optimum but more importantly is the smoothness and "squareness to the bore".

Buying bullets in the right diameter is easy. If your revolver was made since WWII and is not an Italian Colt clone, it will have a .451" bore. That means .452" lead bullets will be optimum and by the way ... that's what most of them are. Larger bullets up to .454" will work fine too ... as long as they meet hardness requirements.

Bullet hardness is measured in "Brinell Hardness Number" (BHN) where a low number indicates a softer alloy. Someone came up with a formula for obturation that works well for all revolvers in all calibers when lead bullets are used. It is: BHN = Chamber pressure divided by 1440. If you know the bullet hardness and need to know chamber pressure ... Chamber pressure = BHN times 1400. The max powder charges for standard loads will run very close to 14,000 psi. In "Ruger Only" load charts, the high end powder charges produce about 25,000 psi.

With a 45 Colt's pressure so low, you need a very soft bullet to make things work. A BHN 10 bullet will work great for standard velocity loads (800-850 fps). The problem is ... most commercial cast bullets are way too hard ... typically in the BHN 20 to 25 range. No way are they going to obturate properly in a low pressure cartridge ... thus excessive fouling and poor accuracy. My "magic bullet" for a 45 Colt is a Hornady Cowboy .454" 255 gr LRNFT swaged bullet (not cast) that is BHN 10. 8 to 9 grains of Unique get the chamber pressure in the right range so the bullet will obturate properly and produce exceptional accuracy with minimal fouling at standard factory velocities.

Most reloaders think "lower is better" when it comes to chamber pressure. That is far from true when you load lead bullets in a revolver. Higher chamber pressure is needed to get bullets to obturate and that can be done two ways ... more powder or use faster burning powder. Of course you must stay under the max allowable pressure to prevent damage to your gun but I've found the loads on the high end of the chart were always more accurate with less fouling.

Lead fouling and accuracy go hand-in-hand. As fouling increases, accuracy will get worse. If you can maintain clean cylinder throats, forcing cone, and bore, accuracy will also be at it's best and that is the secret to success in any revolver shooting lead bullets. If you see excessive lead fouling, I guarantee the throats are too tight or bullet hardness is not matched to the chamber pressure and in nearly all cases with a 45 Colt, the bullet is too hard.

Just one more comment .... I've found accuracy in a 45 Colt was always better when bullet weights were 250 grains or more.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The bullets I got don't mention BH at all. How do I know how hard the bullets are? Is 9.5 grains of Unique still a good place to start?

One more question. If I use copper plated bullets will I have less to worry about?

Thanks for all that info Iowegan. I appreciate your time.
 

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Bountyhunter, Plated bullets are a hard lead alloy with a very thin copper plating. They are supposed to be loaded like lead bullets because they really are lead, but ... they are so hard (BHN 22 or more) that obturation is not possible in a normal 45 LC load. The only accurate and non-fouling loads I've seen with plated bullets use a heavy dose of W-296 or H-110 and are run up to 1200 fps. Save your money and spend it on true jacketed bullets if you want "Ruger Only" loads.

Lead hardness testers are expensive. I used to have a nice casting set up so I bought a Saeco lead hardness tester, see: http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=193445 It works great but the reading has to be converted via a chart to Brinnell numbers. Unless you are getting really serious about casting and shooting lead bullets, your best off spending your money on known good bullets. The Hornadys I mentioned in the previous post are just great for factory level loads. If I want to get more serious, I load 260 gr Speer jacketed HPs at 1250 fps. These jolt your teeth.

Mean time, there's really no good way to test your bullets short of a hardness tester or maybe calling the company that cast them and asking questions. The typical cast bullet will be way too hard to obturate so when you load up a batch, check for lead fouling. You can always use those 200 gr bullets in a 45 ACP where lead hardness is a virtue. Companies such as the Missouri Bullet Company, See: http://www.missouribullet.com/ will make most any diameter, bullet style, weight and hardness you want and their prices are good.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you Iowegan. Maybe I will use the ones I have for my acp. I've been loading 230 grain fmj using 5.9 grains Unique. What's a good load for the 200 grain lead bullets using Unique?

On a side note, I have a box of Cowboy loads I bought in case I get to shoot the new gun before I get any reloaded. Will these cause a leading problem for me as well? Any idea what the hardness on these factory loads is? I have no idea what powder is used but I'm guessing they are probably shooting at about 800 fps. Am I right on this?
 

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Most "cowboy" loads I've seen are loaded at 750 - 800 fps and use a soft lead bullet. You will probably be able to cut a groove in the bullet with your fingernail. The info on the throat and forcing cone sizes is very important for accuracy and reduced fouling in the 45c. All these areas need to be addressed if you want your gun to be optimized. If not, just have fun shooting it and working up a favorite load.
Most of my 200 grainers also went to the 45acp. If I recall correctly, the Unique load was 5.1 - 5.2 gr with the 200gr LSWC, but please check this in your manual. This should get you just over 800fps.
The best lead bullet for the 45acp is the 230gr LRN or LSWC if they have a rounded shoulder. The 45acp also likes a faster burning powder like Unique, and Bullseye is another good powder choice.
 

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jimbo1096, I load the Hornady cowboy bullets to factory velocities (850-900 fps, depending on barrel length). They shoot great in my Blackhawk, Vaquero, Beretta Stampede, and Colt Anaconda. My load is normally 8 gr of Unique with a pinch of fiber filler on top, however I do run it up to 8.5 gr sometimes. The fiber filler totally prevents position sensitive issues and tightens the max velocity spread to a typical 10 fps, which helps accuracy too. My most accurate 45 LC revolver is the Beretta Stampede and with the 255 gr cowboy load, I can easily keep groups under an inch @ 25 yds. The Rugers and the Colt will group right at an inch @ 25 yds .... still not bad at all.

I have two near-identical heavy frame Vaqueros in 45 LC. One has reamed throats (.4525") and a re-cut forcing cone (11 deg) while the other Vaquero is box stock. The stock Vaquero has tight throats (approximately .449") and a rough forcing cone, just like the other one originally had ..... The reamed Vaquero shoots way more accurate with hardly a trace of fouling whereas the unaltered Vaquero is lucky to see 5" groups at 25 yds with the same exact ammo and is a mess to clean up. I plan to sell the unaltered Vaquero so I don't want to mess with it unless the new owner wants it reamed.
 

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Sounds like a good load, but I think Bountyhunter was asking about a factory box of "cowboy" loads. Most of these I have seen are fairly soft and lower that normal velocity.
I haven't used any cowbooy style bullets as I normally prefer a 1000fps + load. About the softest .45 bullets I've loaded recently are hand cast from wheel weights.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yep I have a box of cowboy factory loads. Looks like jacketed bullets or finding some very soft lead bullets. I'm off to find some. Thank you gentlemen. :)
 

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Bountyhunter, Oops, I missed a few things. Yes, the factory cowboy loads should have soft bullets and should shoot well assuming your throats and cone are in good shape. A good test would be shooting 24 rounds and having accuracy maintain with minimal fouling. The Cowboy #1 bullets at Missouri Bullet Co should work OK. A little softer would be better but that's very difficult when you are casting. You may have to jack up your load from 8 to 10 grains (plenty safe for your Redhawk) to get the chamber pressure where you want it. This will result in a 1000 fps load which is very manageable.

I've seen many "new to reloading" guys throw in the towel when they started with the 45 LC and lead bullets. It can be a very frustrating venture but if your throats and cone are tuned and you get soft bullets, it's absolutely amazing how accurate these Rugers can be with hardly a hint of fouling.

Here's how to test your throats, assuming you don't have a set of plug gauges. Unlatch and swing the cylinder assembly open. With a .451" jacketed bullet, push the bullet nose into the front holes of the cylinder (throats). The bullet should pass through the throat and drop through the chamber with very light finger pressure. Check all 6 throats. If a .451" bullet will pass through all throats, then try a .452" lead bullet the same way. Results: if the .451" did not pass through all throats, you need to ream all the throats. If the .451" bullet passes but the .452" doesn't, your revolver is optimized for jacketed bullets. This is the way they are supposed to be shipped but usually they are tighter. You can ream the cylinder throats to optimise for lead bullets if you wish. If the lead bullet passes through all 6 holes with modest finger pressure (use a fresh lead bullet for each hole), the gun is optimized for lead bullets and does not need to be reamed.

Inspecting the forcing cone is very easy. With the cylinder assembly swung open, look closely at the cone. If you see heavy machine marks or other corruption, re-cutting the cone with an 11 degree reamer would be advisable. If you see a smooth transition from the mouth to the lands, you should be good to go.

If you do have to ream either or both, let me know ... I have the tools.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ok Iowegan, I did the bullet test. The jacketed bullets slide thru all 6 throats with no problem. The lead .452 bullets do not pass thru any of them.

If I'm understanding how to check the cone, it seems to be a bit rough to me. I'm not real sure what it is I'm supposed to look for. The cone edge seems to be a bit sharp and a little jagged. The smooth "face?" seems to show tooling marks. I hope I'm making sense. I'm very far from being a gunsmith. When I've reached the #1 spot on your pain in the butt list just let me know. :)

Thank you.
 
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