.45 Colt

Infobox Firearm Cartridge
name=.45 Colt

origin= flagcountry|United States
type= Revolver
used_by=flagcountry|United States
designer= US Army
case_type=Rimmed, straight
bullet=.454 (lead), .451 (jacketed)
rifling=1-38 in
primer=Large pistol

btype1=Lead SWC
balsrc= Accurate Powder [http://www.accuratepowder.com/data/PerCaliber2Guide/Handgun/Standarddata/45Cal(11.5mm)/45%20Colt%20data%20(older%20Colt%20weapons)pgs%20142%20143.pdf .45 Colt data from Accurate Powder] ]
The .45 Colt cartridge was a joint development between Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, of Hartford, Connecticut, and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company of Bridgeport, Conn. Colt began work on the revolver in 1871, and submitted a sample to the U.S. Army in late 1872. The revolver was accepted for purchase in 1873. The cartridge was of outside lubricated type, but eliminated the rebated heel type bullet, often attributed to a Russian designer. The Colt replaced the .50 caliber Model 1871 Remington single shot pistol and the various cap-and-ball revolvers converted to take metallic cartridges then in use. While the Colt remained popular, the Smith & Wesson M1875 Army revolver, the Schofield Model, was approved as an alternate. The S&W revolver took a shorter cartridge, which would also work in the Colt, so Frankford Arsenal, then almost exclusive supplier of small arms ammunition to the U.S. Army, dropped production of the Colt round. The M1875 round was replaced by the .38 Colt in 1892. In 1909, the .45 M1909 round was issued along with the Colt New Service revolver. This round was never loaded commercially, and is almost identical to the original Colt round, except having a larger diameter rim. The rim is large enough that it cannot be loaded in adjacent chambers in the rod-ejector Colt model.

The cartridge, and revolver, also were very popular commercially. Today it remains very popular with renewed interest in western type shooting, as well as a round used for hunting.

Cartridge loads

Originally a blackpowder cartridge, modern loadings use smokeless powder. The original blackpowder loads called for 30 to convert|40|gr|g of blackpowder behind a convert|255|gr|g|adj=on lead bullet. Original loads developed muzzle velocities of up to 1000 feet per second (305 m/s), for a muzzle energy of 566 ft·lbf (766 J.).cite journal | month = July | year = 2001 | url = http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_7_47/ai_75287317 | journal = Guns Magazine | title = The Custom Loading .45 Colt | author = John Taffin ] Because of this, the .45 Colt was the most used cartridge of its time, preceded by the .44 WCF (also known as the .44-40 Winchester). It was said that the round was powerful enough to knock a man to the ground in a single shot. It was also extremely accurate (for a pistol of the time). With careful handloading the original loads can be safely replicated using modern powders.

Today's standard factory loads develop around 400 ft·lbf (542 J) of muzzle energy at about 860 feet per second (262 m/s), making it equivalent to the .45 ACP. There are also Cowboy Action Shooting loads which develop muzzle velocities of around 750 feet per second (230 m/s).

Some very heavy handloads and some cartridges loaded by small companies are around that put this round in the same class as the faster .44 Magnum. Such loads are not issued by major companies such as Winchester and Remington.

These loads cannot be used in any original Colt Single-Action Army, or any replica thereof (such as those produced by Uberti or Beretta, and guns like the Taurus Gaucho, or Ruger New Vaquero.) They should only be used in modern large-frame revolvers such as the Ruger Blackhawk, any gun firing the .454 Casull cartridge, or single-shot hunting pistols and modern rifles with strong actions (such as the Winchester Model 1894, Marlin Model 1894, and new clones of the Winchester Model 1892) chambered for the cartridge.


Over 133 years after its introduction, the .45 Colt still enjoys a wide range of uses. The .45 Colt makes a good hunting load, within its range limitations. Standard loads are good for animals the size of deer and black bear, and the heavier hunting loads will take about the same range of big game animals as the .44 Magnum, but less effectively, as the bullets of the factory loads move comparatively slowly and have a steep trajectory making long range hits harder. A two-barrel derringer is also still sold that is chambered in .45 Colt, and these derringers will also chamber a .410 bore shotgun shell without any modifications being required. Similarly, .45 Colt cartridges are still occasionally fired, although not good for the shotguns, in .410 bore shotguns by U.S. farmers needing to kill a mule or horse humanely. However, the most popular use for the .45 Colt today is in Cowboy Action Shooting, where the round is fired from either originals or replicas of the 1873 Colt Single-Action Army or similar guns of the period.

The cartridge was a joint development of Colt Patent Firearms Copmpany and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company. Colt began work on their Single Action Army Model in 1871. The .476 Enfieled cartridge did not appear until 1882. The sample cartridges submitted for Army tests were made by UMC, using the Benet Cup primers. Commercial ammunition used the Berdan type primer, followed by the more common Boxer priming. Original UMC loads used a 40 grain powder charge and 250gr. bullet. This was reduced to 35 grs. of powder, and later, by the Army, to 28 grs.

Comparisons with other cartridges

The .45 Colt is the basis for the much more powerful .454 Casull cartridge, with the .454 Casull having a slightly longer and stronger case. Any .454 Casull revolver will also chamber and fire .45 Colt, but the inverse is impossible due to the Casull's longer case.

The .45 Colt, when loaded to its potential, produces greater power with less recoil and chamber pressure than a .44 Magnum. All of this is achieved with a larger caliber bullet. [http://www.gunblast.com/Ruger-Hunters.htm]

The .460 S&W Magnum is an even longer version of the .454 Casull and the .45 Colt. Likewise, .460 Magnum revolvers can also chamber and fire the two lesser calibers, but again, the inverse is impossible.

The .45 ACP round produces inferior game killing ability, as it cannot use heavyweight bullets. It uses a much shorter overall cartridge length, with faster burning powders and higher chamber pressures, allowing it to be used in more compact autoloading pistols and submachine guns. Because of this, the .45 ACP is superior to the .45 Colt for military purposes.

Original name

The designation ".45 Long Colt" originated amongst military personnel to prevent confusion with the smaller .45 Schofield. It has become a widely used alternative name for the cartridge, and adopted by Colt for use in designating the chambering in its own Single Action Army revolvers.

ee also

*List of handgun cartridges
*11 mm caliber


External links

* [http://allworldwars.com/index.php/Colt%27s_Double-Action_Revolver_Caliber_45_1909 Colt's Double-Action Revolver Caliber .45: Official War Department Manual, 1913] Description, parts, operation, service, ballistics
* [http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=1 Handloads.com article on the .45 Colt]
* [http://www.chuckhawks.com/45Colt.htm Another article on the .45 Colt, by Chuck Hawks]
* [http://www.sixguns.com/tests/tt45lc.htm Article on the .45 Colt and the handloading therof]
* [http://www.customsixguns.com/writings/dissolving_the_myth.htm John Linebaugh discusses loading the .45 Colt]

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