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Hello all,
I have an Uberti made 1873 SAA Colt in .45 Colt with a 5 1/2" barrel. Now I have a couple of questions: Does anyone know the Maximum Effective Range" of a .44-40 or the 45 Colt?? While I have shot several pistols in both .44-40 and .45 Colt, it was only target practive or plinking at tin cans, etc.. But even at 100 yards it seemed to hit the red-clay bank with some punch. But I have never shot game with either round. I read a Louis Lamour western paperback the other day and in the story a guy shot at a deer or a man at like 400 yards with his Winchester ( I assume it was the .44-40 round). I can't imagine it having any power at that range, and a guy at work says that the .45 long colt is not good for hunting and has no knock-down power. Perhaps we are wrong about that so what is the Maximum Effective Range" of the .44-40 or the 45 Long Colt?? The late great Elmer Keith, in his book, "Hell, I was there!" , said that a "Colt .45 round with 40 grns of black powder will drive a bullet through a cow's skull and down into its neck". The other day a guy I know killed a deer with an Uberti Colt .45 (5 1/2" Bl) at 50 yards. Heck I know a guy who killed a deer at 50 yds with an 1858 Rem. .44 cap & ball! So what is the "Maximum Effective Range" of the .44-40 or the .45 Colt when shot from a standard 1873 Winchester and a pistol?? I know a pistol has its limitations due to its having such a short barrel as opposed to a rifle, but what can be expected in a pistol for hunting purposes?

My other question is about the powder in a Colt .45: I know that originally the .45 Colt round had a 250 grn bullet with 40 grns of black powder. I read somewhere that Colt reduced this load down to around 30 or 35 grains eventually as 40 grains of black powder seemed a bit to much to some folks. My question is, is this true? What is the history of the .45 Colt round? I reload my shells with black powder. I have done it with 40 grains and believe you me it feels like you are shooting a magnum of some sort. I sat on my back sliding-glass doorway stoop and fired a few rounds at 40 grains. The concusion of each round made dust jump from the brick wall around me. I actually worried about it being too much of a load for my gun so I too reduced it down to around 30 or 35 grains. It is not so drastic with that load. But what was the factory load for a .45 Long Colt? Was it 40 grains, 35 grns, or what? As far as that goes, did the .44-40 stay with 40 grains as well?
Just curious.
Thanks,
Pistolero
Millbrook, Al.
 

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for your replica it may well be too much load for your gun. in a modern ruger revolver the 45 colt can be safely loaded to magnum levels where it becomes an effective 75-100 yd hunting tool.
 

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I think you might be right about Colt reducing the powder load for the .45 Colt back in the 1880's. I remember reading somewhere that they began to duplicate the US Army load of the time (.45 Schofield) in their civilian ammo. Everyone shot one-handed in those days and the 40 gr. load was more than the average cowhand could control.

Lefty is right about the effective range for the .45 Colt. He's also correct that the Ruger revolver (or the Marlin lever-gun) can be loaded up hotter than your replica.

That being said, a fair number of deer have been killed with the blackpowder .45 Colt round, and the .44-40 rifle killed thousands of deer in the years before the .30-30 took over as the #1 deer round.
 

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Yes, Colt did reduce to 35 grs, and the original load was 40 grs. I tried some 40 grs. of Pyrodex behind a 200 gr. RNFP lubed with SPG in a Ruger Vaquero. Lots of bang and smoke. Next load will be 35grs. so I can run some through my Uberti Schofield. By the way, accuracy was excellent in the Ruger, and the SPG reduced the fouling to no more than I get from 8 grs. of Unique! Easiest black powder clean up (or substitute) I've ever had. I ordered the bullets from Midway, but will cast and size/lube my own. They are rather pricey, compared to the same bullets with other lubes. I haven't tried 44-40, and probably won't be putting any through my Colts. For effective range, take a look at Elmer Keith.
 

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i read in some of my loading books that the Army reduced the load down to 28 grains of BP at one time. I have used the 28 grain load, and the 30 grain load, and then got fed up with it and just stuff the case to the rim, then press a bullet down on top to compress it and crimp at the right depth. I dont know if this is safe in a replica, but my Ruger likes it and shhots well with that load.

As far as effective range, i keep my hunting shots with my Blackhawks to 100meters just cause that is the pistol range where i practice most. But have seen a .45 Colt take a man down at 500yds. One of these was taken to Iraq and used instead of the issue Beretta 9mm. I wont say who, but this round is still an impressive performer to this day. Keep in mind that the Army determined back in the 1800s that you neede 300fps with any projectile to penetrate flesh, regardless of the size and weight of the projectile. I dont know the math needed to figure this out but i'm sure someone here has the brains to figure out at what range the .45 colt drops below that velocity. Now hitting at that range will probably be more than most of us can reliably do, and would be the main problem. But i'd bet on it that any range that you can consistently place your shot in the vitals of a deer, the .45 will do it's intended job.
Paul
 

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There were .44-40 rifle and pistol loads in the good ol' days, even though Sam's SAA was one of the strongest handguns of the day. Other designs - top-break come to mind - could not handle rifle loads.

Even today, I have to be careful what factory .44-40 ammo I use in my NA Schofield. (keeping in mind the original was never chambered in .44-40). CAS loads only really should be used in this type gun IMO.

Surely that book-spun 400 yard shot would have to be of the rifle ammo and gun variety and combined with at least 1000 grains of LUCK. And - you heard it in a Louis Lamour book, eh? Now I liked Quigley too, but never thought he really existed. :) BTW, speaking of Quigleys - here's mine:
http://ammoguide.com/?catid=334
(scroll to bottom)

A .44-40 at 400 yards - I can imagine the trajectory! Even with 240 grain bullets and rifle loads that approach .44 Magnum, my Model 92 has so little recoil, I question if the bullet would still be stable at 400 yards.

The .44-40 was the first round useable in both rifle and handguns. I don't believe the .45 Colt was chambered in rifles or at least to any significant degree.

Mike Haas
http://ammoguide.com/
 

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Louis L'amour lived in the west and grew up in the west. He wrote fiction sure but he researched his facts. If he wrote about a waterhole it was there. If he wrote about a gun you never heard of they made it.
 

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I own a 44/40 rossi 92, I have shot deer, cattle, pigs, dingos and eagles with it, but never over 150 yards, I know you said the 45 colt will drive a bullet through a cows skull and down into it's neck, well I dunno about that, but the 44/40 will do it to a bull at about 80 yards. 200grn winchester factory loads. I also shot a large sow(70-80 kilos) in the backside as she was running away, the bullet went all the way along he spine and exited behind her ear, breaking most of the wings of the vertibra on its way.

A couple of my mates have 44 magnums, and they laughed at me when I bought the 44/40, man I'm happy with it.
 

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I carry a .45 Colt while hunting, loaded with 20 gr of H110 or 10.5 gr of Unique under a 275 gr Keith bullet. I have shot completely through deer at 100 yards with that load. I actually like the Unique load as it does not recoil like the H-110.

Elmer Keith mentions in his books the ranges that he had killed deer and elk with his .44 and .45 handguns. It seems that 300 or 400 yards seemed to keep popping up in his writings. He did not mention the number of animals that he may have wounded and that went off somewhere else and died.

Keith mentions also that he used 40 gr of blackpowder in his loads. He also mentions that he blew some guns up. Elmanure tended to tell about his victories and forget about his defeats, me thinks. However, from experience, I know that my .45 in my 7-1/2" Blackhawk will very effectively kill deer out to 150 yards. In a rifle, I would not hesitate to extend that out to 200 yards. The ballistics are such that a 275 gr Keith bullet leaving the barrel at 1100 fps would have plenty of velocity and energy left at 200 to be an effective killer.

Bill
 
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