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I often link to Brian Pearce's articles especially the articles regarding the "New" Vaquero and the fact that you can safely shoot .45 Colt loads up to 20k psi. Right now he is my favorite "gun writer." The RCBS 45-270-SAA cast at 285 grains looks like a fantastic bullet and loaded with 10 grains of Unique it is my max "new" Vaquero load for bullets in the 280 grin range and at 1057 fps and 700 ft lbs it would work on just about any creature on earth. That is is the beauty of "pre-expanded" hard cast bullets in 11.5mm/.45 Colt with large meplats - they hit like little freight trains .
 

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Piney Woods Moderator
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Articles such as this is why I subscribe to all the Wolfe Publishing magazines.
 

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You and me both - plus Load Data - all for less than $5.00 per month. Wolfe is the best.
 

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After reading the article about the 45 colt I'm wondering where the 20,000psi information was developed at. I've searched all over for info on the "New Vaquero" and have found NOTHING to collaborate this information. Quite the contrary, everything I've read, from John Taffin and others say to stay within SAMMI limits, thats a little over 15,000psi. I doubt that 20,000psi is going to blow it up but those limits are there for a reason. If you have further information on this please post I'd be very interested. But from more than one RELIABLE source..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No Identified source:

After reading the article about the 45 colt I'm wondering where the 20,000psi information was developed at. I've searched all over for info on the "New Vaquero" and have found NOTHING to collaborate this information. Quite the contrary, everything I've read, from John Taffin and others say to stay within SAMMI limits, thats a little over 15,000psi. I doubt that 20,000psi is going to blow it up but those limits are there for a reason. If you have further information on this please post I'd be very interested. But from more than one RELIABLE source..
Interesting, Brian Pearce's articles never seem to identify the test data source or testing method.
 

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I've read articles by Brian where he states that he has witnessed tests that actually determine the breaking point of particular guns by blowing them up. He recommends loads with a 100% safety margin - e.g. if he recommends 20,000 psi, the gun handled 40,000 psi without blowing (although multiple 40,000 psi rounds would blow it, I'm sure).

I've always trusted his numbers.
 

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Gun companies guard that kind of information, for obvious reasons. If it were known that a given gun will withstand 40,000 psi, some wingnut out there would try loads that he thinks will only hit 38,000.

However, they might not object very strongly if a noted and responsible writer like Brian Pearce discovers the numbers. Even if he reports the numbers, they are immune.
 

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Rocky I agree completely. Admittedly I'm not real familiar with Brian Pearce or his credentials. I know he's a gunwriter and I've seen where others have quoted his work. I read a post where he (according to poster) advocated loading the 45 colt Ruger Redhawk to 50,000 psi and (again according to poster) loaded his own (Pearce) Redhawk to that level "all the time." Supposedly this was via a phone conversation. This information is also supposed to be in Handloader #217 from June 2002 By Brian Pearce. I don't have that issue. When Mr. Taffin and Mr. Linebaugh's information and load data show load pressures for the Ruger at 32,500 thats kinda where I stop and 50,000psi seems, maybe, a little irresponsible. I know they've (Taffin, Linebaugh) have done extensive testing on the 45 colt, so I tend to side with them. Maybe Mr. Pearce knows his stuff, but I've not read anything about extensive testing done by him for the 45colt. I also find that loading my 4" Redhawk to the aforementioned 32,000+ level (270gr. over 25gr. h110) to be "ENOUGH" for me. However, this all started for me with the 20,000 psi load data for the new smaller vaquero, which if vindicated, would make this revolver an even more attractive package. Parden the long post.
 

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I'm inclined to give Brian a little slack because I know that he knows what he's doing. And there may still be some confusion between CUP and PSI in his numbers (see the thread on that topic, I won't broach it again here).

I don't load ANYTHING that hot in a handgun. I haven't found any critter yet I couldn't shoot clear through with the original 255-gr Colt load at 900 fps - and so why load hotter? (Caveat: my hunting logbook isn't as thick as Brian's or many of the posters here, either.)

Frankly, I neither understand nor appreciate this modern hunger for ever more handgun power. They make rifles to do what lies beyond where the 45 Colt leaves off.
 

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Rocky,

What? Did you miss that episode of Saturday Night Live where the late John Belushi did his Dirty Harry satire by carrying around a revolver almost as big as he was? ;)
 

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Rocky, I'll defer to you're opinion of Mr. Pearce. From the posts of yours I've read here, I have come to respect your opinions. And again, I agree with you on the 45 colt loadings, however my "normal" load would be in the 1000fps range. I carry this load in a Bisley Blackhawk when horse packing or when out and about the country around here. The only use I see, and the reason I have loaded a couple boxes to the higher level is if going in harms way. Thanks for your response and opinions.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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As a handgun hunter and advocate of the .45 Colt here is my considered opinion.

First, I'll back up Rocky and say you'll have a difficult time recovering bullets from critters when you are using hard cast in the .45 Colt, pretty well regardless of velocity (include .44 mag, et al, in that statement). I think I have maybe one. Yeah, now I remember. It went through several inches of neck bone in a bison, the entire skull, and was somewhat poking out the bone above one eye. I had the skull cleaned up and gave it to a friend whom I've hunted with and he quite appreciated the personal touch on that skull mount :D

Anyway, having said that, there are some things you can do to predict the ability of the gun to handle XXX pressure loadings ahead of time. Engineers do this all the time so they don't have to do destructive testing on EVERYTHING. Yeah they occasionally crash a mini-van into a barrier with test dummies to validate the work, but a lot of calculations went into that event. So.... if you carefully consider all of the dimensions of the "brand x" revolver, and evaluate the type of metals, production means, tolerances, etc., etc., then it is reasonable to suggest what pressures the gun SHOULD stand.

Even the mini-vaqueros (or whatever they are called) are slightly larger in dimensions than the original Colts, and WAY better materials and quality control. 20,000 psi? I don't doubt it.

50,000 (or whatever, I read the article too but don't have it handy anymore) in the Redhawk? Yeah, maybe. It has more metal around the cylinders, and the bolt notches are more offset than a Blackhawk. Admittedly, a very specialized loading that is confined to a few guns, but if Brian wants to do it, that's his business. I seriously doubt that Wolfe publications would print this if it were very dangerous.

Last..... doesn't matter what level the Redhawk will stand, as I don't ever intend to run above that. Even if I get one (which I'd like), I won't. For one, the muzzle blast at those pressures is unpleasant. That was one of the reasons I got rid of a nice .454 Casull. I am quite content at the 30,000-ish pressures that my handloads are running in my Bisleys and older Blackhawks and just don't intend to change. Mostly I don't even carry those loads as a 255gr. SWC at maybe 1,000fps is perfectly capable of what I need in a sidearm in the hunting fields.

I won't load a flat-top Ruger .45 Colt to 20,000 psi either, as frankly I don't plan on ever owning one. Just too concerned about the chance of a 30,000-ish load ending up in it. Plus recoil would be horrible.

That's my thoughts. In summary, I think Brian is credible or at least very close in his estimations on the guns mentioned above, but I already have my .45 Colt reloading at the level I am comfortable at, for the guns I have.
 

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I love reading Brian Pearce's stuff. I would lot rather guys like him check this stuff out instead of me. I like to shoot loadings that will let my firearms last a long time. I shoot lead when I can in my pistols and revolvers and those loadings are usually on the mid to low end of the scale. If I thought I needed more gun and could control it I would get a bigger caliber, not load one of my babies, hot. Just me, and I sure ain't no expert, just a shooter. Here is a target from today as a matter of fact.
 

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I had a Redhawk converted to 454. The 44 mag cylinder was rechambered to 454 and a new barrel fitted to the revolver. I certainly belive that the Redhawk can take the 454's pressure and it did. As a matter of fact I am have a switch barrel and cylinder Redhawk built, with a Dan Wesson barrel system and 2 cylinders and crane assembles. The Redhawk will have 1 barrel and cylinder in 44 mag and the other in 454 both in 6 shot configuration
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Remembered:

Both Speer and Accurate Powder data manuals show higher pressure 45 Colt loads but limit these to the 21,000 PSI level. The same pressure as 45ACP +P rounds.
 

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The S&W N frames and the Colt SAA were chambered in 45 ACP. Its the same diameter as a 45 Colt. The 45 ACP runs about 20K pressure so the 45 Colt at that same pressure should be OK. The 44 Special in those same size cylinders should also be OK as it has more distance between chambers. I use a light lead bullet load for practice but for hunting a heavier load is called for. I dont use many of those but The Ruger Flat top will handle it. I have the 44 Special 5 and 1/2 inch version. Just my .02.
 

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, going above the SAAMI limits in .45 Colt is dangerous in any gun. Doing so puts yourself at risk. If you want to make the .45 Colt into .44 Mag, you should just buy a .44 Mag and save your hands and face.

I am fully aware that most Rugers can handle much higher pressures than are published.
 
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