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  #1  
Old 12-10-2004, 05:28 AM
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"Maximum Effective Range" of .45 Colt in rifle and pistol??


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Hello all,
I have a question about the .44-40 and the .45 Colt rounds:
Basically I want to know what is the "Maximum Effective Range" of the .45 Colt, both with the original load of 30-40 grains of black powder and the modern full power loads? I have an Uberti made 1873 SAA Colt with a 5 1/2" barrel. A sweet pistola! Now I have a couple of questions: What is the "Maximum Effective Range" of a .44-40 or the 45 Colt?? Both then with the original factory loads and nowadays with the factory loads? 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, "****, 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". If that is true then that is power! 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?? 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 in .45 Colt for hunting purposes as well?
Take care,
Freebooter
Millbrook, Al.
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2004, 07:01 AM
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Probably as far away as you can reliably put a bullet through the lungs of a whitetail deer. I like to keep my handgun hunting shots within 50 yards, but for those who can place the bullet (and admittedly, a scope easily extends this range quite a bit), the shooter is the limiting factor.

Factory .45 Colt ballistics are a 255 gr. bullet between 800 and 900 feet per second. Black powder loads, by some reports, can actually run faster than that.....

The flat-nosed bullet will put a lethal wound channel through a critter's lungs at velocities well below what most hollowpoints will open up at, so you have to be particular about matching the bullet to the game and impact velocity. That's the essense of handgun hunting.

The high-pressure .45 Colt loads (300grain and up bullets at 1200fps or more), are a whole 'nuther world. Trajectory is certainly the limiting factor for most of us in putting that bullet where it counts.

Your friend who killed a deer with a .44 cap and ball proved that it's all about shot placement..... first and foremost. I sorta cringe when people get all wound up about needed this-or-that magnum to kill a skinny whitetail....

By the way it's on my list of things to do to kill a deer with a cap and ball revolver (Ruger Old Army).

When people start going on and on about 'knock-down power' they've done you a favor, because now you are aware they simply don't know what they are talking about. There is no such thing; if there was, I'd never find half of my deer. They'd be 'knocked' halfway into the next county....

Your 1873 is not a real strong gun and it'd be advisable to stick to factory ballistics. So, you'll gain a couple hundred feet per second compared to a handgun, maybe, with factory loads or equivalent. My Rugers will easily outrun your rifle, although the rifle will be far easier (for most people, myself included) to hit with.

Good question, and I expect we'll have some good discussions on it!
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2004, 02:13 PM
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For years follwed the 6X6 rule. Six shots from field positions (two from standing, two from siting, and two from leaning agaisnt the side of a tree) into a 6" circle...has to be 6 out of 6 shots, not 6 out of 7 or 8 shots. IF you can do it at 50yards, try 100...if can do it at 100, try 150...eventually you'll find the range you can't do it.

At whatever range you can do 6X6, you've got the accuracy needed for deer. Now as odd as it sounds, some of the big fat b arreled varmint rifles aren't much better at this game than light weight lever carbines.

POWER?...doubt that much past 1o0yards would be sporting, and staying on this side of 50 or 70 would be better. Now doing the 6X6 test with the carbine may be easy...but with the pistol, it would be a challenge.
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  #4  
Old 12-12-2004, 07:18 AM
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I can answer some of your question, just starting to do some serious BP loading for my 45 LC and have not enough nor sufficient data to comment on it. On the other hand I have a lot of info for smokeless loads as they relate to my New Model Ruger blackhawk. First, as Mike G points out, watch your loadings in guns not of modern steel and design to handle anything with high pressures, ect. My Ruger is known good and will handle any "safe" for it.

It's got a 4 5/8" barrel and .452" bore as opposed to the OEM .454" bore and this is something you need to consider when choosing rifle pistol combo's or such to see if they match otherwise you will have either pressure problems or lack of accuracy.

I've got smokeless loads using the 300 grain Hornady XTP hollow point to pass the crono around 1420 fps and while that seems impressive and mathmatically calculates into big numbers for knockdown, energy, this that and the other table/chart or what have you...it don't mean diddly! These big bullets while moving fast still do NOT open up like you see in the ads. Granted I can poke holes in 4x4 timbers without a problem, they do nothing for killing ability. I have two bullets, out of the many I tried, that work well for me. First is the 200 grain SWC cast from a Lyman mold using strait wheel weight alloy and loaded around 700 fps, excellent for plinking, low recoil and accurate enough for practice and small game hunting. Next is the standard 255 grain cast lead, using a Lee mold on this one with WW alloy which has proven effective on accuracy and seems to be soft enough to get reasonable expansion yet being hard enough to prevent leading issues. I got these moving to 1500 fps with a stout load of smokeless and they seem to have much better accuracy than the jacketed and while maintaining a good deal of penetration they at least mushroom a little too.

As for effective range, I would think this is going to be determined by the load/bullet combo as well as by the accuracy of what you're firing it from. With a solid rest, my Ruger will drop the 255 gr bullets into 10" at 100 yds and 3.5" at 50 (5" free hand) with the OEM open sights. I personally would limit myself to a big game shot at no more than 25-30 yds unless the conditions were perfect, but that's just me knowing my gun and myself. I don't know how the BP loads are going to compare to the smokeless but I would say from a rifle I would not fear taking a well placed shot out 80 yds or so on a deer.

I do most all my hunting with my flinter's but carry the 45 as back-up because I know when it comes down to wire, it makes a big hole and that's what really counts.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2004, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freebooter
Hello all,
I have a question about the .44-40 and the .45 Colt rounds:
Basically I want to know what is the "Maximum Effective Range" of the .45 Colt, both with the original load of 30-40 grains of black powder and the modern full power loads? I have an Uberti made 1873 SAA Colt with a 5 1/2" barrel. A sweet pistola! Now I have a couple of questions: What is the "Maximum Effective Range" of a .44-40 or the 45 Colt?? Both then with the original factory loads and nowadays with the factory loads? 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, "****, 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". If that is true then that is power! 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?? 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 in .45 Colt for hunting purposes as well?
Take care,
Freebooter
Millbrook, Al.

Hey, good to have you here. I don't know anything about BP, I just saw that you're from Millbrook. Roll Tide!!! Good to see another 'bama boy out here. My grandparents live in Millbrook.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2004, 04:26 PM
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Max Eff Range of 45s

Hello all,
Thanks for your input guys. But I was wondering about the original factory loads in the old west as far as their max eff range. I also wonder about modern standard factory rounds such as Remington makes,e tc., not that low powered Cowboy Action Shooting stuff.
Thanks,
Freebooter
P.S. Hello Mattpair. It is indeed good to run into "home folks" here.
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  #7  
Old 12-17-2004, 04:46 PM
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Just food for thought.....

Elmer Keith wrote of shooting at an old outhouse in Idaho, I believe at 800 yards.... with a variety of guns. It's in either his biography, or Sixguns, or both.

Anyway, there is a fairly detailed description how how far various bullets penetrated the wood of this outhouse, I'm sure his usual .44 special load of 250gr. SWC at 1200fps was well-represented.

Gunwriter John Taffin wrote up in one of the American Handgunner annuals of shooting at an abandoned cabin, at 700 yards, with a .45 Colt. The 300gr. / 1200fps bullets would go right through the front wall and some out the back!

Various people have chronographed black powder loads, and in a 7.5" barrel, some report velocities up to 1,000fps with 250 grain bullets. So you can see that they aren't far behind the loads I mentioned in the Keith & Taffin writeups.

Needless to say, a load that will go through both walls of a cabin (no matter how flimsy) isn't something you want to stand downrange and catch!

The big downside to the factory loads, other than fairly low muzzle velocities, is the pointy round nose bullet isn't a good wounder (for hunting).

Anyway..... my conclusion is that my hunting loads would easily be deadly 10 times farther than I'm comfortable shooting.
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2004, 12:31 PM
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Freebooter,

Well, according to Winchester in their 1875 catalog, their 1873 (.44) was effective and accurate to 500-600 yards. I have fired my '73 at 500 meters and I can say that I would not want anyone shooting at me that distance with a '73.

The 200 gr. bullets hit with enough force to knock down some of the 55# steel rams at that distance so they would definitely venilate someone that far from the muzzle.

John
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2005, 01:43 AM
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The original black powder load from Rem was a 255 gr round nose flat point bullet at 900-950fps in the 45 colt. It was a screamer then and now. The factory loading now for roughly the same performance is still available. Its a very effective load against man and beast out to 100 yds if you can hold the gun steady. The 44 mag only outperforms it because of the number of old 45 colts which cant take the higher pressure the new loads generate. If you load your own, take the 45 over the 44mag any day.Just stay with the Rugers or the T/C.
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2005, 08:34 AM
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"maximum effective range" there was an article recently about two guys up on a ridge sighting in their 44mag pistols (model not mentioned) they had a target tacked to a stump according to them at 50 yards. One of the misses, (high I'm assuming) went over 800 yds. down into the canyon they were above, and killed a man sitting in a lounge chair at a campground. According to his wife, who was sitting next to him, instantly. Not a nice story, were the shooters being negligent? they probably thought they were far enough away from anyone or anything and were being safe. Read the box of 22 long rifles, distance 1 mile, don't sell your guns short, they are effective a lot further than you might expect. As a side note, hard cast bullets aren't really supposed to expand, just make a big hole and wound channel all the way through.
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  #11  
Old 03-03-2006, 08:19 AM
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Well maximim effective range, as stated by others above, can be 500yards+.

Although as a shooter, you should know that the maximum range (not maximum effective range) of your weapon is determined by your MPBR. That is the largest accpetable deviation (lets call it 8") from your point of aim. If you can kill a deer with the .45 Colt from a rifle at 500 yards, that's great. But you probably had to aim your gun at a point 35 feet above the deer so that when the bullet finally got there, it would hit him instead of bouncing along the floor.

You'd have to to arch your rifle up a few inches from the point of aim like artillery to hit him. There's a certain amount of ambiguity as you can see. The .30-30 is considered a 200 yard maximum range round, but it can still kill twice as far as that. But 200 yards is the farthest away you can shoot while still aiming directly at the deer without the bullet dropping below the deer and missing him entirely. At that range, the .45 Colt would've dropped 4-5 feet.



HOWEVER, if you're talking about using an adjustable tang sight, that's a whole different story.
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Old 03-08-2006, 10:32 AM
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My box of 22 lr says 1 1/2 miles, but I would not be able to hit what I am aiming at. That is why you look to see what is beyond your target before pulling the trigger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simcoe
"Read the box of 22 long rifles, distance 1 mile, don't sell your guns short, they are effective a lot further than you might expect. As a side note, hard cast bullets aren't really supposed to expand, just make a big hole and wound channel all the way through.
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  #13  
Old 04-03-2006, 04:28 PM
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I heard of a guy shooting completely through a wooden shack at 600 yds with a .45 Colt pistol. Now I'm sure you 'd be lucky to hit anything at that range.
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  #14  
Old 04-03-2006, 06:19 PM
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No doubt that the .45 is quite lethal at well beyond the maximum logical range of a pistol. Although, when fired from a rifle with the proper sight, hits at 300 yards or so should be easy.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:40 AM
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Is it my imagination or are some of us confusing "maximum range" with "maximum effective range".
A 45lc bullet of 255 gr driven at 1000 fps would be 160 inches high at 275 yds if you sight in at 500 yds, or 318 inches low at 500 yds if sighted in at 250 yds. Bearing those figures in mind I think we should forget about calling the 45lc a 500 yard gun. I dont know much about deer but if i assume a kill zone of 8" then the ability to hit that zone without allowing for bullet drop cuts the distance by a huge margin. If we sight in our gun with the sight 1" above the bore and a sight distance of 100yards the bullet will be 4' high at 50 yards and 4.5" low at 120 yards, so to my mind its effective range is more like 120 yards than the 500 yards being discussed here.
Armi gi says hits at 300 should be easy, again with a 100 yard zero the shot would still be 128" low at 300yds
Though i will concede that if i had to kill an outhouse or barn at 500 yards I would consider doing it with a 45lc

Bob

Last edited by gundownunder; 06-29-2006 at 04:48 AM.
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  #16  
Old 06-29-2006, 09:37 AM
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That's exactly what I said. Didn't you read the post I talked about MPBR?

Also, you smokeless powder junkies talking about MPBR. In the blackpowder days, shots were routinely made at 500-1000 yardage with the old .45-70 Government. You had to be a very skilled shooter to shoot with low velocity weapons BECAUSE of the holdover. Now with smokeless powder, you can point your rifle DIRECTLY at the target and thats where the bullets go.

That's why tang sights and ladder sights were invented for the old BP guns; to allow for their rainbow trajectory. But you had to be an experienced shooter to call the range of the target and sight in your ladder sight appropriately. Not something very practical if it was a moving target.

Last edited by Army GI; 06-29-2006 at 09:40 AM.
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  #17  
Old 08-02-2006, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
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Though i will concede that if i had to kill an outhouse or barn at 500 yards I would consider doing it with a 45lc

Bob
Some outhouses just need killin'.
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Old 08-06-2006, 07:40 AM
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Elmer Kieth was really into killing things with his pistols. Read his book,"Six Guns", or ,"**** I was there". I adhere closely to a rule I read years ago when learning about muzzle loading rifle and deer. It was the idea that there should be 500ft/lbs. of energy at your "effective accuracy range". Effective accuracy range is the max. range you can shoot accurate enough to hit the bread basket 100%.With pistols you have to have your "wooble zone" not wobble off the kill zone.Elmer Kieth killed an antelope with a revolver at 600 measured yards but that is unethical I think. Ethics play a role here too. Ethical with a cap&ball revolver and a round ball using a Remington revolver would be 35 yards max. to me.That doesn't give 500 ft/lbs of energy but will still kill a middlin size deer. Big Buck? You'll be tracking awhile and be lucky to find the deer down. "Knock down" energy to me is what the bullet weight gives you in ft/lbs with a certain velocity. It's an indicator to be used. "Of course the result of that energy on it's intended target has to be considered". What does the bullet do to the "matter" when it hits is a very important factor. That is labeled "knock out" energy by some. It considers the bullets effect on the consistancy and organic make-up of the target. A good example is what has been told of the use of "The most powerful handgun cartridge in the world" as it was advertised at the time it was available to the public. The 357 magnum. It has been noted that the "professional hunting guides" for the big bears switched to the 357 magnum as a back-up pistol to use when clients wounded the grizzlies. The thick hair and tough bone,sinue,muscle mass ect.ect. of the grizzly didn't respond well to the 357's bullets. The 357 is said to have just made the bears mad and had too little effect on their mass and the "density" of it. Well, the guides are said to have gone back to their original revolver cartridges and pistols. The 45 Long Colt. The 45 Colt is said to have an effect on the bears. The heavy 45 Colt lead bullet ,moving slower than the 357's, could penetrate enough at close range to "coupe de grais" a big bear. The 357 bullets being lighter and traveling faster didn't penetrate well. The effect of the density and consistancy of the target dictated that a heavier bullet of a good lead alloy was needed. The effect the bullet has when it hits the target has to be considered. A good rifle hunter doesn't take a "deer bullet" to a bear hunt. Know what I mean? Anyhow the 45 Colt cartridge was effective on the bears. The 45 Colt was developed with the help of the Army Ordanance Dept. and what they wanted was a pistol round that would disable a "horse" at least at 100 yards. The 250 gr. bullet could do it. May not kill the horse but it would do some damage and disable the horse. There's something to be said for a relatively heavy bullet moving at slow speed. It retains energy "after" it hits the target and sheds it slowly. Relatively speaking. I think 500ft/lbs of energy is a little on the high side for deer. I kinda feel 300ft/lbs can still be ethical for middlin size deer and 400ft/lbs for bigger bucks. That would render a lot of 45 Colt pistol rounds unethical. The 45 Colt in a rifle could stretch it out to 100 yards I guess and still be ethical. The 7.5 inch barreled 45 Colt revolver could be ethical for a good shooter out to 35-40 yards I think. I'm thinking in the realm of deer hunting. Deer are pretty tough but even a well placed 22 long rifle bullet can kill them but not ethically and consistantly. When I'm mentioning the 45 Colt cartridge I'm thinking in terms of standard loads with blackpowder or smokeless. Standard loads but not the "Ruger/TC Contender only" loads with heavier bullets and more smokeless powder.
It has been written that some Col. back in the day broke his Sharps rifle and wanted to borrow a rifle to get game meat. He was loaned an 1873 Winchester rifle (44/40) and didn't feel it would be adequate after using the Sharps as a hunting rifle. Well, he took the Winchester and set up in a hollow with a watering hole. He killed(mostely one shot kills) something like 27 deer, 10 or more elk, several buffalo and a bear or two. Don't quote me on the numbers but I'm quessing or remembering "low". The guy shot "lots" of game with the Winchester 44/40 and was impressed with it as a short range rifle. His distance where he set up to shoot from was on a high spot over looking the water hole 100 yards distant. Anyway at that distance the rifle and it's bullet could react to the density and consistancy of the mass he was shooting at and damage it and penetrate it. If you call it "knock out" power you see that the formula for that contains an accounting of what the bullet can do "when it hits the mass and density of the target". The comparing of the 45 Colt and the 357 is a good example when they were used on the big bears. One example I remember reading that is true to history was when an exploration party out West came on a grizzly bear. The party of about a dozen men shot repeatedly at the bear with the 36cal. 1851 Colt percussion cap&baller revolvers. No effect on the bear except to make it hide in a circle of brush. A horseman rode close to the big bear and killed it with two quick shots from a Colt Dragoon cap&ball revolver. Naturally the Dragoon fired a bigger ball with a great deal more powder than the 36 cal. 1851 Colt Navies used by all the other men. A person can do a comparison of the Dragoon with a heavy load of powder and the ball to a 45 Colt with less powder but a bullet that would be 100+gr. heavier. Anywhoooo, my opinion would be that the 44/40 or the 45 Colt standard loads including blackpowder would have "effective max. range" of 100 yards with the rifle and 35-40 yards with a 7" barreled revolver. Just an opinion. Just an opinion.
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:29 AM
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First do not, repeat, do not use hot loads in a toggle link lever gun. Despite advances in metalurgy, the toggle link is a inherantly week design. You may not blow it up but you will shorten it's life expectancy. Black powder is about as hot as you can go. Same for the peacemakers and clones. Something to do with the recoil impulse being slower with black powder means you can get higer velocity out of it while keeping the CUP down to safe levels.

Second, let me say that for the most part I agree with what Rifle had to say. I hunt short range,100 yards or less, with a 1860 Henry in 45. My load for it is a 250 grain soft cast PRS flat point bullet, 38 grains of Graf's 3F black powder and a magnum primmer. That load out of the 24" barrel of my Henry chronos at just over 1000fps. That was good enough for the last deer I took at 70 yards. He was running up a hillside and I was a little higher on anouther hill. Bullet entered just left of spine and lodged next to belly skin. Bone was shattered on spine and deer droped in it's tracks. Everybody talks about hollow point this and epanding that, rember the 45 is nearly a 1/2" going in, it doesn't need to expand.

One other thing to rember is that unless you modify it, the 73' doesn't have a scope or mounts, and your limited to iron sights. I can ring steels at 200 meters with my Henry, but wouldn't try a deer at that range with the old fashioned ladder sights wheather or not it had enough killing power at that range or not. If I could put the bullet within a 6" circle a 100% of the time I might would try one to 3-400 yards, but only with a laser rang finder and darn good optics and perfect shooting conditions.

I vagely rember an article on paper patched bullets where a shooter took his sharps and went on an African safari. He was shooting a 32 or 34" barreled sharps, 550 grain paper patched bullet in I think 45-120. He practiced judging distance standing up and got very good at it. He took an impalla at somewhere around 600 yards from the sitting position. He was off something like 4 or 5 yards and cut the legs out from under the animal. Moral is know your weopon, know your sites, know your distance, and for sure know you can hit what your aiming at before pulling the trigger. Wish I could rember the article, I'm bound to have gotten a plenty of the details wrong.
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:04 AM
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Will52100, huntin with a Henry rifle?? Kewl. 45 Colt with the bigger bullet to make a bigger hole helps too I bet. Ever hit one in the bread basket from a side shot? Go down quick with the 45 out of the Henry? I have an 1873 Winchester/Uberti and that rifle has killed more ground hogs than any rifle I own. Bulls-eyes even out at the 400 yard range. Luck involved. I lived on a farm and knew the approx. distances around the pastures too. Gunslinger 2005 was there at times. I have the 1873 with the long barrel(sporting model with pistol grip) and it's accurate but shoots with a pronounced rainbow. That's one reason I'd not hunt deer with it over 100 yards. Hard to be 100 percent with it unless I've been shooting it alot. One gun on my "wish list" (as long as Gunslinger 2005's) is an Henry iron framed model. Max range fer ground hogs making holes in the pastures with a Henry? Same as my 1873 Winchester/Uberti. As far as the eye can see. hee hee

Last edited by Rifle; 08-15-2006 at 07:07 AM.
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