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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I inherited a Colt SAA 1st Gen (smokeless shooter from 1917) with 7.5 inch barrel chambered in 45 colt. By the time I got the gun someone had swapped out the original 45 colt cylinder with one for 45 acp. That’s how I’ve shot it with basic cheap 45 acp ammo. I’m sure it’s been shot this way for a lot of its history.

I understand that standard 45 colt ammo tends to be around 14k psi. I’m not sure how much pressure a colt 45 plus p is. I’ve heard you will blow up your colt SAA with that kind of pressure. At the same time standard 45 acp is equivalent to around 21k psi if I’m not mistaken. I’ve since stopped shooting the gun, but who knows how long it’s been shot at those pressures. I’m wondering, if I want to continue shooting it if I should replace the 45 acp cylinder with a 45 colt one and transition to shooting 45 colt cowboy loads.

Simultaneously, I’ve considered retiring the old gun and buying a Pietta or Uberti same barrel length and 45 colt. I saw that there are some that come with BOTH a 45 colt and 45 acp cylinder. For those models, I take it they are safe to shoot 45 asp with 21k or so of pressure. Does that mean they would be safe to shoot hotter loaded 45 colt rounds of the same equivalent 21k pressures? How does that work? Keeping 45 colt cowboy loads at 14k loads in one cylinder, but swapping in a 45 acp cylinder making it ok to shoot higher pressures? I’m just trying to figure out how that works?
 

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It's my understanding that the "weak" part in revolvers such as yours is the cylinder. Specifically the amount of metal between chambers and between a chamber and the outside. That when they blow up, it's the cylinder that explodes due to too much pressure against the inside cylinder walls.

It's also my understanding that the pressure design for 45ACP is tightly controlled, no matter when it was made. Because it was designed to be used in an autoloading pistol, the amount of power needs to fit within a specific range of parameters in order for the autoloading pistol to function correctly. So, having said that, my guess is that any cylinder designed to handle 45ACP should work just fine with modern standard 45ACP rounds.

You're completely accurate to not want to shoot 45 LC +P rounds in your Colt. Those WILL blow up the cylinder. There are only a few 45 Long Colt revolvers capable of safely handling +P loads. SOME Ruger Blackhawks and SOME Ruger Vaqueros can, for example. But be careful, because some of these revolvers are "medium frame" and some are "large frame" models, with very little to distinguish between them.

In Vaqueros, the original version was large frame and anything marked "New Vaquero" is the smaller medium frame. They stopped making the large frame original Vaquaro years ago, so any new Vaquero is now the smaller medium frame ones.
In Blackhawks, the large frame versions have "ears" on the top strap around the rear sight while the "Flat Top" models without ears are the smaller medium frame. Ruger currently makes both kinds.
Oh, and both have an extra digit on the serial numbers if they're the smaller medium frame version. Both Vaquero and Blackhawks in large frame have a XX-XXXXX serial number while their smaller frame versions are XXX-XXXXX.
 

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.45 Colt is a powerful round even in not +P ratings.
At my age I won’t ever be loading “Ruger only” .45 Colt loads, and I don’t load maximum magnum rounds either.
You’ll probably find your most accurate load somewhere below maximum pressure. An accurate load is better than a high power load that’s inconsistent.
 

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how about getting a ruger vaquero .44 magnum for shooting ?? you can shoot it as hot (full blast .44mag loads ) or mild (.44 specials ) as you like without worry . retire
the old colt as a valuable heirloom ----------
 

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well MR. Sammi says-
45 Colt 14,000 PSI
45 ACP- 21,000 PSI
45 ACP Plus p 23,000 PSI---thats about typical as most plus P is about 10 % above standard loadings IF there is a recognized plus p loading in that cartridge.
I will not comment of loading any smokeless powder cartridge in a Black Powder weapon !
its sad that anyone would do that to an old Colt actually in my view, to many newer weapons that can be had for more power but to each their own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What Revolver Mike says makes a lot of sense to me. When it comes to “weakness” I’ve assumed that it was the whole package that was prone to blow up if subjected to high pressures, but maybe it’s primarily the cylinder.

My original question was really about how could the firearm, said to be weak and prone to blowup with higher pressures, why was it able to shoot the higher pressures of 45 acp. I was worried every time I used it that I was holding a time bomb that may one day blow up in my hands.

I might still transition to a 45 colt cylinder and fire cowboy loads as a way to increase longevity of the firearm. I don’t shoot it right now because I’ve started worrying about this pressure question.

I will probably end up buying a clone to do most of my SAA shooting. I’m not into cowboy competition shooting, but I do like the older cowboy guns. My family were ranchers and that’s the kind of stuff they used and that I grew up with.
 

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I could be wrong, but I think that only calibers with an official SAAMI +P rating are .38 Special, 9x19 (luger), and .45acp.
Anything else is just over-pressured.
38 SUPER, butt that was really just a name change to protect owners of 38 Automatics as nothing changed about the 38 Super cartridge except the name designation.
many people mention that the RUGER Single action can be loaded to higher pressure but I don't think I would do that, if i want a higher pressure then i would go to a more modern weapon and cartridge myself.
 
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Just last July, I went on a family vacation out to Yellowstone. We were really concerned about the flooding, but it ended up being a great trip.

I took it as an opportunity to buy myself a "bear gun". After a fair amount of internet research, I decided on a "full frame size" 45 Long Colt. My reasoning was that I wanted something that would continue to be fun to own long after the trip was over, and I've always wanted a 45 Colt anyway. Ideally it would have both the 45 Colt cylinder AND a 45 ACP cylinder. This way I would get to practice and plink with MUCH less expensive 45ACP rounds, but can quickly swap to the 45 LC cylinder and shoot either light "Cowboy Action" loads or "full power" 45 LC loads; or the higher power 45 Colt +P loads.

But I quickly learned that not all 45 Colt revolvers are built the same. By far most 45 Colt chambered revolvers are "medium frame". If you want something that is capable of handling much more powerful loads (i.e. bear loads), then you need a large frame revolver, which there are comparatively few of out there. The Ruger Blackhawk is the standout as it was historically always a large frame revolver. But more recently, Ruger shifted and started making Blackhawks on their medium frame platform. Same with their Vaquero. The original Ruger Vaquero was built on their large frame platform, but their "New Vaquero" shifted to their medium frame.

It took me months to finally find exactly what I was looking for... A stainless, large frame revolver with the shorter 4.625" barrel, with 2 cylinders - the 45 Long Colt AND the 45 ACP cylinder. An "original" Vaquero because as far as I can tell, Ruger has never made a Blackhawk meeting those exact specs.
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I decided to go with Buffalo Bore item 3B. It's a jacketed flat nose round rated at 1170 ft-lbs of energy.

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They're noticeably more powerful, but I found them to be totally manageable in the large frame revolver.

For reference:
44 Magnum Cor-Bon 300 grain jacketed soft point is rated at 1,041 lb-ft of energy.
45 Long Colt Buffalo Bore 300 grain jacketed soft point is rated at 1,170 lb-ft of energy.
So 44 Mag performance out of a 45 Long Colt revolver that is also capable of shooting 45 ACP rounds without moon clips.
To be fair, you can also get over-pressure +P 44 Mag loads, too, which will have even more energy, but again you'd have to be very careful selecting a strong revolver.
 

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I had one surprising encounter with a grizzly while in Yellowstone. Seriously. It was a sow with 2 cubs in tow. She came into our picnic one day while we were just starting to cook. We had plenty of time to grab the food and throw it into the car, but had to leave the small portable gas grill on the picnic table because it was hot. She left the grill alone and dug around at a fallen tree and ate some termites.

Sky Plant Natural landscape Cloud Tree


I'm standing behind my Jeep taking a picture over the hood. Notice the gas grill sitting on the picnic table, lol. My family is all in the car.

Then she moved on. We watched her move in and out of the tree line for a while, until she was pretty far away and upwind of us. At that point, we felt pretty confident we could start cooking again.

She wandered pretty far away and we brought the food back out. We cooked, we ate, we were just thinking about cleaning up, when she suddenly came back out of the woods right behind us. That was a surprise! We all immediately moved to the car, leaving all the food out. But because she was upwind at this point, she didn't bother coming over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I had one surprising encounter with a grizzly while in Yellowstone. Seriously. It was a sow with 2 cubs in tow. She came into our picnic one day while we were just starting to cook. We had plenty of time to grab the food and throw it into the car, but had to leave the small portable gas grill on the picnic table because it was hot. She left the grill alone and dug around at a fallen tree and ate some termites.

View attachment 491756

I'm standing behind my Jeep taking a picture over the hood. Notice the gas grill sitting on the picnic table, lol. My family is all in the car.

Then she moved on. We watched her move in and out of the tree line for a while, until she was pretty far away and upwind of us. At that point, we felt pretty confident we could start cooking again.

She wandered pretty far away and we brought the food back out. We cooked, we ate, we were just thinking about cleaning up, when she suddenly came back out of the woods right behind us. That was a surprise! We all immediately moved to the car, leaving all the food out. But because she was upwind at this point, she didn't bother coming over.

Great photo!
 

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i was talking to a Army buddy of mine about all this Bear stuff and he said that he thinks all of you are over thinking it!

Vertebrate Dog breed Mammal Carnivore Dog
 
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