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Much like .45-70, .30-06 and other OG cartridges, the .45 Colt — AKA .45 Long Colt — is an old cartridge design, dating back more than a century. When the round was first invented, it was propelled by black powder. In fact, much of today’s .45 Colt ammunition still is since one of the most popular uses for it is cowboy action shooting.

That’s probably the most popular use of most pistols chambered in the .45 Colt these days, as reproductions of Colt Single Action Army, S&W Model 3, cartridge-converted Remington New Model Army and Colt Open Top pistols are quite popular for the CAS crowd and general collecting. You can even get a Walker Colt repro and convert it…if you don’t mind a pistol the size of your arm.

Given that only a few modern revolvers are made for .45 Colt — far fewer than .44 Magnum and people who go for the high-end hunting handguns are generally more apt to select .454 Casull — it seems that .45 Colt still manages to hang in there.

But shouldn’t it be getting more love than it does? Big-bore revolvers just aren’t a lot of people’s cup of tea in this age of micro-compact poly striker nines, but there’s a bit more than meets the eye when it comes to the old flying ashtray.

The first thing to know about .45 Colt is that, much like some of the aforementioned older cartridges, the march of time has made it far more diverse. The case length allows for loading more powder than many other rounds are capable of. The result? A plethora of loads, ranging from soft BP loads for cowboy shooting all the way to full-test hunting rounds that equal the .44 Magnum in every sense of the word.

45 Colt .45 Long Colt
Courtesy Hornady

The full-house rounds also get .44 Magnum performance with about 80 percent of the chamber pressure. Mileage will vary but the prevailing wisdom seems to be that a stout .44 Mag produces about 38,000 psi, while the .45 Colt will only generate around 25,000 psi to send a bullet downrange at more than 1200 fps.

That makes it a great backup gun in the woods and/or handgun hunting round. Heck, you can even get a lever gun in .45 Colt and use the same rounds in your belt gun.

New Original Henry (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
New Original Henry (JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

As for self-defense use — after all, far more two-legged predators have been downed with this round than four-legged ones — the even average .45 Colt loads give you everything .45 ACP does, but with less chamber pressure and basically the same velocity and muzzle energy. If you’re a fan of 800-ish fps in a big hollowpoint, the .45 Colt will definitely fit the bill, and the reproduction guns can handle most standard-pressure loadings.

So you can totally load an Uberti SAA with 200-grain LSWCHP. It may not be ideal for the biggest four-legged critters, but it will do the trick on most two-legged predators with accurate fire.

ruger redhawk
Courtesy Ruger

Speaking of ACP, .45 Colt revolvers come with machined cylinders, allowing them to accept moon clips and fire .45 ACP if desired. (Ruger’s Blackhawk and Redhawk revolvers, for instance, are both available in convertible forms.) That means you can do a whole lot more shooting than your buddy who has a Model 29.

Besides…when was the last time you saw .44 Special at your LGS?

Liberty Civil Defense 45 long colt
Courtesy Liberty Ammunition

Granted, there aren’t too many guns chambered for the round that are appropriate for concealed carry. It’s a rimmed revolver round, so semi-autos can’t chamber it (that’s what .45 ACP was designed for). There aren’t too many compact big-bore revolvers around, and the few that are generally come chambered for .44.

That said, for a nightstand or woods gun, it’s one of the best and most versatile (and frequently more affordable) options out there. Get a Model 29 if you want one, but if a big-bore revolver is in your future, don’t overlook something drilled for .45 Colt. You might be missing more than you know.












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  1. I have too much diversity in my bullet selection already. 9MM, .357Mag, and .22LR for pistols and revolvers. .300 blackout, 5.56, .357Mag, and .308 for rifles, 12 Gauge shotty for me and 20 Gauge for the wife. 8 types of bullets I need to keep in stock if I wanna shoot whatever gun I’m itching to take out. The only reason I’d consider .44Mag would be for one of those Dan Wesson 2nd Amendment revolvers. In which case, I’d also probably pick up a .44Mag in a lever action. But that’s 8 already owned and another one in waiting in line. That’s a pretty big filing cabinet as is.

    All that to say “Sorry .45LC. You look like a sweet round, but my dance card is already full.”

    • “I have too much diversity in my bullet selection already…. my dance card is already full.”

      After the initial gun-lust has worn off (read: my jeans are no longer tenting), this is my very first consideration on the trail to a new acquisition.

      New ammo family, cleaning gear, new class of optics, fruit bats, breakfast cereals…

      • Well, thanks for telling me about your bullet boner. Fingers crossed you’re packing at least a .308 down there instead of a pistol cartridge. You’re spot on though. A gun chambered in a caliber I already have only requires a holster or sling as additional expense. But a new caliber? Suddenly that $500 pistol needs an initial purchase of bullets, reloading equipment and cleaning supplies. Plus who could forget stocking a new breed of fruit bats?!? Easily hundreds MORE dollars for a gun that does what my current guns do.

        On top of all that, gun ownership is a journey. What happens to your wallet’s bottom line if you decide to sell the only gun in that caliber? You gonna get even half value for used reloading equipment, ammo, or fruit bats? If you’re lucky, you’ll get 3/4ths online value which is about half store value.

        One day, I’ll inherit my father’s gun collection. I won’t be the son that turns around and sells it for cash. And I won’t own a gun that I don’t take to the range. He has .45ACP in his Colt 70 Gold Cup 1911 (sorry, had to name drop), .270 in his hunting rifle and .380 in his Walther. Most of what he owns I have rounds for, but those alone will push my filing cabinet to 11 drawers. I might have to sell my .308 actually, it’s not near as nice as his old Savage.

        • “Fingers crossed you’re packing at least a .308 down there instead of a pistol cartridge.”

          .338 Lapua

          Of course…that’s just the bullet…the casing is on order. But it’s a very nice bullet.


      • Forgot Orangutans.
        And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu–

        • “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

  2. Some of the +P loadings for .45 Colt can get ridiculous. (Damn near .454 loadings.) I generally see .45 Colt as the “special” version of .454 or .460 and it works great for cheap practice ammo for pistols chambered in those calibers. While they may not be cheap, (~$0.50 per round) they are still a boatload better than the full powered cartridges.

    • I had a .45 Colt Redhawk modified for high pressure by Hamilton Bowen back in the ’90s. I can’t remember the pressures that is was good for, but whatever it was it was more than I could handle gracefully. I sold it to get a Nimrod Blackhawk from Mr. Bowen when the recoil of the Redhawk helped induce a AD somewhere around strait up. I have only fired single actions of that intensity since.
      The .475 that replaced it seemed like a ferocious mace aimed at my head most shots but I never ADd again.

      • I have a 6″ Raging Judge. It’s chambered for .454 and will handle any .45 Colt load in existence. Even the stoutest +P loads are a relative breeze to shoot. It may be a range toy on par with my Nagant revolvers due to my preference for autoloaders, but it’s tied for the most powerful handgun I own with my .50 AE Desert Eagle.

        • ….. and hopefully neither of your pistols induce anal discharge like A P Man’s redhawk was guilty of doing.

    • Given that I was unemployed a year ago as a result of the terrible economy, it is amazing that I run a home-based business and make a healthy $60k each week. It is now my duty to promote goodwill and make these instructions available to others after being gifted with them.
      =Detail Here———————————————————>>>

  3. I think you answered your own question. There isn’t a whole lot .45 Colt can do that .44 Mag/.44 Spl can’t do. And in revolvers, you can load your own power level preference in the .44 format. Nostalgia is the only thing keeping the .45 Colt around.

        • He’s correct, you can’t fire a 454 in a 45 colt only firearm, in order to have it fire all the 45 sized rounds you need to buy the bad boy 454 which carries with it the mag price.

    • .460 S&W and .454 Casul are both things. Revolvers chambered for either of those cartridges will accept a .45 Colt as a “low powered” round which can be uploaded quite a bit before you start rupturing cases, giving you a nice intermediate option between the .45 ACP that is the standard cowboy load and the wrist breaking .454 and .460 loads.

      • You could download a .454 casing if you wanted a softer load. Just like you could do with a .44 Mag.

        • Lots of empty space in a cartridge can be problematic though. Less burn and pressure consistency being the most common and most benign of the possible problems.

        • @Stinkeye

          Trail Boss…WHERE?

          I haven’t seen a container of TB in three years. Hoarding the few remaining 12-ouncers I have for special cowboy shoots.

    • ” Nostalgia is the only thing keeping the .45 Colt around.”

      It can be very practical.

      If gun rights go south, .45 Colt was developed in the black powder era. Car batteries and homemade BP can keep one shooting for the foreseeable future…

      • If gun rights go that far south, we might be better served by using whatever modern ammo we have left to take our rights back, rather than collecting horse piss and charcoal to make black powder…

        • ^^THIS+100^^
          I have a Vaquero 3″ birdhead grips in .45 LC and a rossi lever gun in the same, but would hate to be regulated down to them.

      • If it comes to using car batteries for lead, you might as well put the first round into your own head instead of suffering the cancer and other various genetic disorders associated with breathing the fumes in a world without modern medicine.

        • “If it comes to using car batteries for lead, you might as well put the first round into your own head instead of suffering the cancer and other various genetic disorders associated with breathing the fumes in a world without modern medicine.”

          I have fairly extensive experience in working under a fume hood with some very toxic nasties. You pick up those kinds of skills in analytical chemistry.

          Molten Pb should not be a problem…

        • I was going to try the car battery thing, but it looks like modern ones have all kind of nasty fume generating stuff alloyed with the lead. Even if you know what they are and what to use to get them out, probably not worth the effort at the hobby reloading level.

        • Where do you think the lead in current production ammo comes from? Obama closed the last US lead smelter in 2013.

        • @neiowa
          And that psses me off. America cant even make its own bullets, for shame for shame

      • Whelp. Youl had better plant your large pistol primer tree right now too–they can take many many years to bear fruit

        • “just break down 10mm… and use those.” Really? That’s all one needs to do? Please explain to me the process for safely removing a live primer from a cartridge case for reuse in another – I’d be extremely interested to hear how that’s performed!

          Here I’ve always thought that pressing them out with a decapping pin through the flash hole would detonate the primer… but what do I know?

        • In the future, primers will be worth their weight in gold. Which is even more than they’re worth now.

        • Re: “Please explain to me the process for safely removing a live primer from a cartridge case for reuse in another”

          I wear hearing protection. Have never, ever had a primer go off under the decap pin. N>500.

          The only time I have heard a primer was when I tried to prime a case that the decapper missed.

          Hint: if you look really close, the primer anvil points away from the force of the decap pin. Easy does it, and the primer slides out.

  4. All of the Taurus offerings for 454 are available for this cartridge, as well as the Judge. This cartridge makes the 454 weapons much cheaper and pleasant to fire, while still being good for personal defense or hunting.

  5. “when was the last time you saw .44 Special at your LGS?”

    So you answered the question “Why Doesn’t the .45 Colt Get More Love?” with another question.

    What does the .45 Colt (1872) and the .44 Spl (1907) have in common? They’re both old-timey revolver rounds that have been eclipsed by more powerful rounds. Which is a shame.

    Both rounds are fun to shoot and will do the business in most situations. The .44 Spl is very special indeed when fired from an S&W M29.

    • Yup, weak point by the author. Not much 44 Spl, but not much 45 LC either, especially if you break it down between cowboy, hunting and anti-personnel loads

      • Exactly. Both rounds are equally uncommon around here. The 45 Colt guys I know do their own hand loading, so availability of factory ammo isn’t as big a deal. But again, you can do the same with 44 Spl.

    • Ralph, good reply. And a good article. I have two Colt SAA in .45 Colt. They are very cool. What I need is one, or more, in .44 Spl. I prefer .44 Spl. Working on a deal to acquire two Colts in the caliber. It’s been frustrating. Guy says he wants to sell, but won’t name a price. Consternation!

      As an aside. I’m watching 60 Minutes. A story on Artificial Intelligence. I think that explains Dacian.

      • artificial yes
        intelligence no
        unless the comparison is dog shit then maybe?

      • I think “Intelligence Vacuum” comes closer to describing lil, and I don’t mean vacuum in the ” sponge” sense of the word, more of the “deep space” sort of connotation.

  6. There’s a shortage of grizzle bears on North America, never understood the need for a 454 and often have thought the same as this author about the 45 Colt. But having said that; We talk big bores and shoot nines. 500 S&W’s just gather lots of dust. And now the 40 is going the way of the DoDo.

    • To be fair, the .454 and .460 were designed with very specific mission goals. Basically give you reliable animal defense against anything in North America without having to tote a rifle or a shotgun. .45 Colt gives weapons chambered for these monster cartridges a great training and every day carry alternative. If you’re a bush pilot in Alaska, you’re probably not going to want to have six different guns in your plane. This way, you get a revolver for predator defense if you go down and you can turn it into a personal defense gun in about five seconds just by replacing your loads with a nice +p .45 Colt.

    • We’ll all be long dead before .40 S&W goes away. Despite the FBI dropping it, it is still the most commonly used round for LE agencies across the country.

      • I bet the .40S&W goes the way of the .25ACP. It’s only the most common LE round for a short time until LE contracts expire and agencies buy new guns. With the FBI and the DoD both independently choosing 9MM over every other round within about a year’s time, it’ll affect LE’s choices faster than you might think.

        For the private market, Conceal Carry is #1 and the .40 is both tougher to handle than it’s 9MM buddy, it’s also more expensive to train with. For collectables, the .45 is far more established, cheaper, and easier to reload. For competition, I don’t see any advantage to a .40.

        It’s a fine man killer, don’t get me wrong. But effectiveness is a combination of bullet hole size, capacity, reaching proper depth for internal organs, cost, ease of shooting. .40 beats 9MM in one of those things. Which of course is why the DoD and the FBI went with 9MM. If you like it, it’ll serve you plenty well. I suspect most people will continue to pick other rounds.

        • For competition, .40 is valid to make major power factor in Limited divisions for USPSA. 9mm Major is a no-go in Limited, but is okay for Open. If you’re shooting major in both classes, why not just maintain one cartridge?

        • If you are issued a .40 for work as LE and/or you just EDC one that holds enough rounds for competition, then it’s great. There’s nothing wrong with the .40 as a round. But what percentage of the population out there compete in USPSA at all, much less in Limited that have chosen the .40 over the .45 and is it enough, do you think, to make a real impact on the market?

        • The amount of people who are concerned with that is a tiny, tiny share of the general market.

        • “I bet the .40S&W goes the way of the .25ACP. It’s only the most common LE round for a short time until LE contracts expire and agencies buy new guns.”

          And when that time comes, the agencies will not be destroying or storing those .40s on a shelf at the station.

          They will hit the used market to join the the many millions more in existence out there.

          40 may not be quite as popular as it is now, but it will be around far longer than you and I combined…

    • I get your point, but, I went from being a .45 acp semi auto guy to a .44 mag guy, quick fast and hurry after the first time I shot one. I now shoot my .44 every chance I get. I absolutely love big bore revolvers and love shooting them, even if they’re not the most practical self defense weapons. They are sure excellent for self defense against large animals and for hunting though. Also the recoil on these types hand guns isn’t that bad at all when firing from a full sized gun, that’s designed for the round. I can “rapid fire” my .44 accurately.

  7. While the .45LC can be loaded to energy levels that not only equal, but well exceed the .44Magnum, few revolver cylinders made for the .45LC can handle those loads. This is especially true of most historical reproduction revolvers.
    Read your owners manual carefully, and follow SAAMI specs. If you want a .45LC that will safely fire at such high pressures, I would suggest you call John Linebaugh. https://www.johnlinebaughcustomsixguns.com/

    • Factory 6-hole Redhawks are capable of living on the wildest loads .45 Colt can offer, with the right twist-rates to shoot them straight, too.

      But if you can swing it, send work Linebaugh’s way. The world needs more custom wheel guns.

  8. The reason I don’t own any .45 colt guns is the price of the ammo and limited selection. The .44 magnum has more offerings for hunting/self defense loads. Unless your into cowboy shooting and can reload your own, the cost of the .45 colt is prohibited.

    • The cost of ammo is most certainly very high, from around .50 for cowboy action rounds (650 to 750 fps with lead bullets) to $1.50 or more for high pressure Buffalo bore or similar. But reloading with black powder (or substitute) is pretty inexpensive, and there are many bullet choices on the market. 40 grains (by volume) of black powder (1000 fps or better) is a healthy thump, and the smoke screen is free.

      • I have a couple muzzleloaders and the reason I don’t shoot them more is all the cleaning involved. The more classic Hawken rifle I shoot with real black powder. The other, an inline Wolverine, I use pellets. Now that straight-walled cartridge rifles are legal for deer in Ohio, they’re both safe queens.

        I’m not sure I want a lot of black powder residue in my Ruger Blackhawk or my Rossi Circuit Judge.

    • Buying my first (and so far only) .45 Colt a couple years ago was the reason I got into reloading. Managed to score one box (50rnds) of Federal soft points for $65 and that was a bargain at the time. Now I’ve got yet another hobby to consume my limited time and $$$.

  9. Its a great cartridge.

    It’s also big and takes a big revolver to handle it.

    Maybe a 5 shot, light weight version get some attention.

    • Taurus made one they discontinued that was actually a pretty nice gun. My dad has one, I believe it was a model 85…its a 2″ ported lightweight fullsize frame. A BEAST to shoot, and I wouldn’t want to do it without hearing protection either…but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that everyone within two blocks hits the deck the first time you pull the trigger. Also, If the perp is within 10 feet and you somehow happen to miss, no worries…the fireball will get them,lol.

  10. While some (many?) deride the platform, the Taurus Judge will also shoot .45 LC, in addition to the normal .410 shotshells.

    • I recently acquired a Taurus Judge Ultra Lite, 3″ barrel and really enjoy shooting 45LC with it. I get my 45LC ammo from a company called LAX Ammunition. They have some pretty decent prices on 250 count boxes.

    • Defens – the Circuit Judge does the same, now if I could find a Judge I’d have (another) battery. BTW, there are speed loaders available for both as well.

  11. Somehow you skiped over the combo guns that keep the .45 Colt on shelves? How can you over look thayr love fest?

  12. I’m glad it’s still a thing, but it’s destined to live in the shadow of 357, 9mm and 45 ACP for self defence, because it’s oversized, and in the shadow of 44 and 454 for hunting because it’s low pressure.

    • Put a 250g XTP over 25g of Lil Gun and tell me 45 Colt is slow and under-pressured coming out of a 7.5″ Super Red Hawk. Chrono’d at 1434fps average and it makes a hell of a fireball to boot!

      • I use Lil Gun in 32-20 Starline cases behind HEAVY gaschecked lead flatpoints out of a NM 30Carbine Blackhawk…. talk about a BIG fireball !!! And fairly cheap to boot.

  13. One possible advantage I can see to the .45 Colt is that it could be useful for home defense. In standard loadings it creates less blast and flash when fired, but is still effective thanks to throwing that great big chunk of lead/copper/whatever. That will help a defender who either doesn’t have enough time to put on earpro, or doesn’t have a suppressed arm (for whatever reason).

  14. another to add to my list of things to reload for? I already load 7 calibers for several applications, already have everything I need to hunt anything in North America, what is the need for another caliber to compare to my .44?

  15. Actually the last time I was there they had .44 Special. What was funny about it was it was Blazer Aluminum. I was kinda hacked I wanted the brass to stash for reloading at some point in my life. That said it didn’t seem much softer than the Magtech .44 mag ammo I had at the time.

    Honestly I’m more a fan of .357, and if I did get a large bore gun it would probably be a .44 magnum. Why get stuck worrying about tracking over pressured loads that may not shoot safely out of some guns when I can just have a gun that will take it?

  16. You’ve answered your own question. If it can’t be easily concealed, 90% quit considering it, and as you said, for most uses it was replaced by .45ACP a hundred years ago.

    I’m a .45 Colt fan for about one month of the year – November. During elk rut, I carry a 3.5″ FA97 loaded to produce 800+ foot-pounds times five. During the rest of the year, not so much.

    Even the major makers have forgotten how badly large gaps and oversized throats affect performance. And if it’s not about performance, bigbore revolvers don’t have much reason to exist. (Except for reenactment, I guess.)

  17. It has plenty of love, but its a different kind of love. Like classic cars.

    Stock to stock, a modern minivan beats many classic muscle cars. If performance is your only standard, then muscle cars are objectively worse (Ditto for safety, fuel economy, and insurance). Start tinkering under the hood and both will improve, but with 50 years of tech advances to work with, more aftermarket support, and a more spacious engine bay, the muscle car will have greater potential, but only because by modern standards it was less optimal to start with. Why do we do it?

    I have both .45 colt and a classic car. I couldn’t tell you why though, other than I like them and they work (mostly).

  18. I purchase a Remington new army Uberti for $259,and a conversion cylinder for $100. Buffalo Bore makes a round that is withing the pressures that are recommended at 1000 fps A gun and ammo, I would feel comfortable with as a backup to my 45/70 if in bear country. YMMV

  19. My S&W Governor is one of my favorite firearms. First up, I have a couple of .410 defensive rounds, followed by .45LC.

    My main reason for loving this gun is not necessarily due to lethality but PERCEIVED lethality. It’s just a bad@ss looking weapon. It shoots pretty good too.

    My only option for carry is a concealed carry vest, which works perfectly.

    • I have a 3″ chambered Judge. Would never consider carrying it concealed, or open for that matter.
      If you carry that Governor much, I’ll bet you wear out your shoe soles pretty quick, because of the extra weight, especially if you one of those guys that like to carry a hundred or more rounds of reloads.

  20. The bottom line is 45LC costs to much. I have a Taurus Judge and I love it. But .410 costs a lot less than 45LC.

    • Cost of .410 to .45 Colt is kind of Apples-to-oranges. Sure, you can get #6 or #7 shot target loads for down around .30/round, but once you get up into buckshot, slugs and defensive loads, prices are equivalent to .45 Colt.

      Thing is, you can practice with cheap .45 Colt ammo @ .50/round (yes, pricey) and it’s a reasonably similar experience to using defense loads, but practicing with a Judge with .410 target loads is a completely different thing than practicing with 00 buck, slugs or buck & ball. The cheapest 00 buck is going to cost you about the same as the cheapest .45 Colt.

    • And, I like my Charter Arms Bulldogs in .44 Spl. My local gun shop keeps .44 Spl in stock and .45 Colt, too. Usually Critical Defense but other brands, too. Underwood offers some good loadings, as well. Plus, I do have a Ruger Redhawk .45 Colt/.45 ACP (using moon clips) but the Redhawk is not for everyday carrying. It’s a chunky boy. So, is my Judge.

      • Found an older CA Bulldog with the 3″ barrel. I load 200 gr wadcutters over RED DOT and enjoy shooting it. Both the .44 spl & the .45 Colt have one major advantage over the “modern” 9mm or .357 mag. A big fat heavy wadcutter doesn’t need high velocity or major expansion to be effective. While many commercial .44 spl loads are “low power”, there are a larger number of .45 Colt commercial loads that would be effective as defensive rounds. Either round in a TAURUS TRACKER or S&W “L” frame size revolver would have mild recoil as well. Note – I have a .44 mag Tracker, and even a “hot” .44 spl load of RED DOT and the 200 gr wadcutter is an easy shooting combo.

  21. …if you don’t mind a pistol the size of your arm.

    Mind, I love a pistol the size of my arm.

  22. I will get some 45 colt cases when I eventually get a .454 casull just so my lighter loads are readily distinguishable from my heavier loads, but I can’t imagine buying a .45 colt revolver- with the possible exception of a “cuz it’s cool” piece.

  23. I have Pietta 1873 SAA with a 4.75″ barrel. I slicked up the action (most of the Italian guns need a bit of hand fitting to work properly) and made a set of faux ivory grips from a very hard polymer from Tombstone Gun Grips. Not only is the gun beautiful, it is accurate. I bought a Lee Loader, but that is a lot of work to reload 50 rounds, so at some point I’ll upgrade to a single stage press.

  24. Rounds are too expensive.
    Would be nice to have a snub nose revolver in 45 colt. maybe a break action

    • What exactly is the price magic number that makes a caliber expensive? Shooting is not a cheap hobby in general.

  25. I didn’t realize that the .45 Colt dates back over 100 years. That’s actually pretty cool. I’m surprised that it is still one of the most versatile options out there. This is definitely something that is missing from my collection. Maybe I will check out a few different .45 models the next time I am at a gun store.

    • …. it’s actually already had it’s 150th birthday. I’d like to think it’ll celebrate a 200th also.

  26. I have owned and used 45 Colt revolvers for years. Any Ruger blackhawk will handle that 1200fps load without breaking a sweat and I find it much more controllable than the 44mag. Its a perfect woods gun, and very easy shooting loads with 255gr lead SWC at 1000fps don’t bounce off of anything either.

  27. Whaddya mean no love. .45 Colt is one of the OFWG favorites. Right below .45ACP out of a “by gawd John Moses Browning designed get that drop safety outta here Nineteen Eleven.”

  28. Most guns in .45 LC are just one of those guns on my list to get, but never got around to buying. Maybe one day thought, maybe one of those Mare’s leg’s from Henry Repeating Arms. Or one of the offerings in it from Rossi.

  29. I have an old model Vaquero SS 6 inch in .45 Colt.
    It’s fun to show off and to shoot, but expensive to feed and doesn’t get shot a lot.

    That said, a big, utterly useless, ridiculously powerful single six-gun is just an obscure object of desire. If you understand it, you want one or already have one. If you don’t get it’s not for you.

    • Utterly useless? How so? Because the round dates to 1873, it’s no longer lethal? Watch a couple championship CAS events on youtube…it will surprise you how quickly a trained shooter can get out 24 rounds of .45 LC from his rifle and two pistols. Nothing useless about that.

  30. I love the 45 Colt! It introduced me to the world of reloading and between the Judge, Blackhawk and R93 I’ve enjoyed it immensely. The recoil is a heavy but slow push and the report is very mild in my revolvers. The R93 report is basically that of a 22LR rifle at standard velocity (no ear-pro necessary outdoors).

    150 yd man-sized steel is no problem with my 7.5″ Blackhawk. I’ve handloaded some 255 grain SWC that have a definite super-sonic “crack” in my 20″ R93.

    I’ve never shot CAS, but shooting my 45 Colts is both a pleasure and addictive.

    • > 150 yd man-sized steel is no problem with my 7.5″ Blackhawk.

      I’d love to get some details on that. What is your load?

      • I recently watched 3 shooters hit man sized steel at 100 yds with 2 inch J frames and an LCR, all in .38 special. Surprisingly easy to do.

  31. A .45 Colt revolver and levergun combo is probably the next thing on my list to acquire. I got to shoot a buddy’s New Vaquero and R92, and was pretty well hooked.

  32. The biggest reason I hear why newer shooters don’t want to mess with a .45 Colt is that it takes some knowledge, effort to reload to get the most out of it, gun rag propaganda about how old/slow/huge/heavy it is, the fact that there are no cheez-whiz pistols made to take it, the use of all-lead bullets, the requirement to learn how to roll crimp your ammo, etc, etc etc.

    Bitch, piss, whine, moan, whinge and complain. And then they go find the cheapest 9×19 ammo they can find to feed their cheez-whiz pistol.

    Personally, I think the .45 Colt is one of the most versatile big bore rounds out there. Modern firearms with tight chambers reward the handloader with very high levels of performance. It rewards almost every sort of shooting discipline: cowboy shooting, self-defense (if you’re a big guy who can conceal a large-frame revolver like a N-frame), handgun hunting. wildlife self-defense, lever gun round, etc. When you look through the Ruger catalog, Henry’s catalog, historical arms, S&W’s line, Colt’s line, etc – there’s a ton of firearms that shoot .45 Colt. You just need to understand what each one will/can take, and load appropriately and judiciously.

  33. Wow. Unless I missed it, not a single comment on the Bond Arms derringers. Lots & lots of those out there in 45 Colt. Sure, it’s definitely a BUG, but then again, for most defensive situations are 17 rounds of 9mm really needed. So many consumers have clearly drank the kool-aid. (Same kool-aid – different flavor – for the 40 S&W being a has-been round, but I’ll save that argument for later.)

  34. I collect .45 caliber firearms including the .45 Colt and .45-70. The thing with them is that you don’t shoot as much ammo through them as with a 17 round Glock, you have to reload every six.

    I enjoy shooting them a lot. There is a kind of smile that gets imprinted on your face when you fire 1/2 ounce of lead at 1000+ FPS. I never shoot cowboy ammo, they are de-fanged to .45 ACP performance. The standard round for the .45 Colt is a 255 grain bullet (.68 ounces) at 960 FPS, safe in all modern firearms. At that loading it gives 512 ft. lbs. of energy.

    For walking in the woods in NC during bear season I carry a 4-inch Ruger Redhawk with a 300 grain solid at 1300 fps and 1126 fl. lbs! Recoil is high but manageable with Adrenalin flowing. That because gun weighs 46 ounces.


  35. It’s just so expensive, you know? That’s the only reason I don’t shoot .45 Colt more.

    I actually have that same Ruger revolver pictured above, albeit with a longer barrel: the Blackhawk Convertible, which can swap between .45 and .45 ACP. It was the first gun I ever purchased, and while the cost of ammo means it only comes out to the range once in a blue moon, it’s always a good time. That said, the longer barrel and added weight make it a bit cumbersome, and while sentimentality means I’ll never get rid of it, I’ll probably supplant it with a Vaquero in .45 Colt eventually for ease of use.

    • The Ruger Blackhawk Convertible has been a dream gun for me for a while. .45 ACP for range time, .45 Colt for the country, Single Action smoothness all around. Unfortunately even .45 is not cheap and .45 Colt is hard to find in my environs. The only revolver cartridges I can find around here are .38 / .357 and occasionally .44 Magnum. Everything else is 9mm/.357 SIG/40/.45ACP/.45GAP. Might end up getting a convertible 9mm/.357 so I can find Ammo to feed it. Gotta save up for a while though.

      • Hold on 357 sig and 45 gap……………you around the Albany NY area or is there somewhere else that still stocks those for oddball department issue?

  36. What evidence does the author have to support this claim: “far more two-legged predators have been downed with this round than four-legged ones”?

    Oh, and I prefer the Colt Anaconda in .45 Colt.

    • Proof? You need proif? Can’t believe my ears. Must be a mighty young man Who ask that question. Read your history son more men have been gunned down by a 45 I would venture to say than any other round ever made for a pistol than maybe a 45 acp. In the old west, only one that was equal to the number of men brought down was the 45-70. The 44 may as well As the 357 are youngsters to the game and have along way to go to match the stopping and killing power of the .45LC. Respect your elders younguns.

  37. .451 diameter is a hit while a .429 hole could be a miss as well as a bigger hole allows blood bleed out faster. (Even with expanding bullets). But it is all what you want/like.

  38. The accuracy of my Judge, using the 45 Colt is terrible! This is attributed mostly to the excessive freebore in front of the bullet in a 3″ chamber. I bought it because I’ve always wanted one. Didn’t think about that freebore situation. Oh well, live and learn.

  39. I love .45 Colt. You can load it mild to wild. 25 years ago I bought an Anaconda and Taurus Raging Bull in .45 Colt. The RB was a six shot and probably one of the best they made. Sold the Anaconda a long time ago, but kept the Taurus because it was more accurate.

    It wasn’t until I acquired a Super Redhawk in .454 did I find a better pistol. I probably shot more .45 Colt out of it by far than any .454

  40. What about 44-40, aka 44 wcf, aka 44 Winchester Center Fire? The Winchester model 1873 was the “gun that won the west”, and the ’73 Winchester was chambered in 44 wcf. Colt made a 44 wcf “Frontier” version of their ’73, so that you can have your rifle and pistol chambered in the same cartridge. And the 44-40 was, at one time, one of the most popular deer cartridges around, until the 30 wcf (30-30) came along. Around the turn of the century, when smokeless powder was catching on, a “high velocity” load for the 44-40 (1700 fps) was commercially available, to be shot out of the “new” Winchester model 1892. The 44 wcf is truly a once very popular cartridge that gets absolutely no love today.

  41. Proof? You want proof? Read your historyv partner. How much more proof do you need? More men were brought down by the 45LC than any other weapon caliber made I would venture to guess. Other than maybe the 44-40 or the 45 70 the 357 and 44 may have along way to go to prove itself in body count and staying power. f those rounds are still around after the same length of time as the LC then I’ll consider giving it the same respect as the LC. As for personal protection can’t ask for better. Once again the history books proved that. They men who carved this country out didn’t carry plastic pea shooters they carried real pistols od weight. Since she. Did we get so sissyfird that we as men can’t carry a pistol around with a little weight to it?m retiered military and at 5’8″ that pistol doesn’t tire me to carry it all day long everyday. Learn tovrwspect your elder- now run along youngsters and have fun with your 9 mil pop guns and don’t forget to play nice as they will ricochet.

  42. I didn’t read Jeff’s “evidence” question as implying that the .45 Colt wasn’t the most prolific caliber used to bring down men, but rather that he figured plenty of animals must have been shot for every one man who was shot, and that shooting those animals was often done with the same gun (or at least the same caliber) as was used to shoot men. That would seem especially likely when defending against predators, whereas a planned hunting trip would probably involve a rifle (though perhaps a .45 Colt lever-action) or shotgun.

    I don’t know, maybe he did question its proliferation as an anti-personnel round; in which case, let me be the one to acknowledge its history of taking down men and question if it was used in even greater volume taking down 4-legged animals…

    Side note: I recently acquired a Ruger Vaquero (old) in .45 Colt and I really like it so far. I already bought a mould and some brass, can’t wait to get my hands on the dies and load my own cast bullets. Too bad I ran out of money!

  43. apparently this article is an encore presentation from 2017, judging by the comments dates. Running low on things to post TTAG?

    • Neat seeing 50 cents being a complaint on price per round. Also no Dacian, Miner, other inane posters.

  44. but at least we know Baldwin likes the .45 caliber, insisted on using that gun in the movie. Pretty good with it too, got two with one shot.

  45. Semiautos can’t chamber rimmed rounds? Really?

    Desert Eagle. Coonan. Ruger Marks up to 4. Kel-Tec PMR-30. etc cetera.

      • But those are all, effectively, unicorns. Feed problems are a regular occurrence, especially with .22 magnum. There’s a reason there’s not a mass market for semiautos in rimmed calibers beyond .22 LR. They’re efforts to overcome a problem that’s already been solved by rimless cartridges.

        • Widley automag various calibers still in production just too heavy to get shipped to NY (safe act nonsense)

  46. .45LC does still have a place in life but it is being largely phased out in many ways. Even over to .40S&W in my opinion. Time is marching forward and fewer people see it as desirable. I know that for me, I’m likely not going to have anything in that caliber in my future (but who knows). 45ACP is good for my needs and anything outside of that is likely just going to be 9mm, 10mm, .38 Special, and .357mag. It’s just difficult to see many new younger people go with .45LC.

  47. Love the 45 colt, it’s just to expensive to shoot if you aren’t a reloader and there are cheaper calibers for the serious cowboy action shooters to use to save themselves money if they shoot a ton.

  48. Sadly most of the .45 revolvers intended for carry are of the Judge/Governor variety and really that’s just a lot of wasted space. The .45 Colt is better for defense than the .410 in virtually every way.

  49. The US Army used the 45LC for many years. Even bringing it back when the .38 revolvers they were issued were not effective against natives in the Philippines.
    The 45 long was used as a man stopper/killer for decades in the old west and until replaced by the 45ACP. Still, serviceable today.
    I carry an old S&W model 25 in .45LC as my belt gun around the farm. Not the bunny fart loadings offered for use in the older BP guns, but not unpleasant to use.
    A modern, even something from the mid century, hand gun, should handle almost anything fed to it Yes, I usually run hotter hand loads, but nothing overboard here. And I do have a few collectors pieces I feed the old lower power loadings. No point in chancing damage on collectable guns just using them as range or re-enactment pieces.
    I like the old big bore guns. Always have. my second choice as a belt carry weapon is my Blackhawk again in .45LC.
    I have an older S&W Model 29. And several other handguns in a variety of calibers. Still use the old 45LC. Just something about that big bullet going about whatever business I sent it on I like.
    Old School? Size Queen? Old White Guy? Boomer? Whatever?
    The big revolver does everything I ask of it and seldom needs more than a single round on target to down something as large as a feral hog. Or, if needs be, a two legged predator.
    Same with my antiquated 1911 I use as my CCW. No, it doesn’t have a huge magazine. But usually a single massive slug, placed in a vital location, does the trick.
    Always thought being capable of hitting what you shoot at more important than being able to lug around a ton of ammo.

    • If you already have it yeah makes sense and works well for what you do. I would be surprised if you didn’t have other stuff as well but useful and fun is nice in it’s own way.

    • The .38Long Colt was pretty anemic. The story may have been different had they used .38spcls?
      Probably, maybe, but no matter what big bullets make big holes.

  50. I purchased as .357 cowboy gunm because the .45 LC were much more expensive and harder to get.
    But my next cowboy gunm is going to be a .45LC, because.

  51. its pretty simple really…
    .45 long colt:
    > 60 cents per round
    which is more and sometimes way more
    and sometimes even way way more
    than most other caliber pistol ammo
    and even some rifle ammo
    dollar for dollar
    for 98 percent of folks out there
    its just not worth it

  52. I have three .45 LC revolvers and a .45 LC carbine. It is a good cartridge, easy to reload and very accurate. I agree maybe I should reduce my cartridge selection and stick to popular, easy to get calibers. But hey, it’s a hobby not my Business. It’s good to have choices. Glad to be an American.

    • A 230 grain ACP has a lower muzzle velocity and ME than a 255 grain .45 Colt round over 40 grains of BP or an equivalent smokeless powder loading. Plus a modern .45 Colt lever gun can take a substantial bump up in chamber pressure over all but the Ruger; can’t do that with a .45 ACP.

      • Depending on firearm 45 super, 460 Rowland. With that said yes don’t need to change out brass for the 45lc.

  53. Great round ….. especially in a carbine.

    I especially like the Winchester Silvertip in my Winchester Trapper. Around 1100 fps.

    Low noise and almost no flash and will cut under 2inches at 50 yards.

    The newer Winchester Defender looks promising as well.

    The Corbon JHC ups the velocity if you want more horsepower.

    You can use Garrett loads if you want low end 45-70 power.

    To me – it’s prime use (other than long range plinking) is a relatively quiet, accurate, low recoil thumper for defensive use.

    But I think you need to reload to fully enjoy its niche. It is great fun.

  54. Wish I could still get a Jovino conversion in .45 Colt. The Peacemaker has its drawbacks.

  55. Since this was published years ago, I have acquired two more .45 Colt revolvers and a Winchester/Miroku lever gun with a 24″ barrel that loads 13 rounds. It is a cinch to reload, and once you go down that road, bullets and powders lead to infinite possibilities.

  56. Model 29-2 all day long. I’ve always been interested in .45 Colt but can’t start another ammo hoard. Would love to shoot one.
    On the topic of wheel guns, I did just add to my .357 collection with a 28-2 Highway Patrolman in the box, faintest of turn lines. Don’t think it’s been fired much at all, until I got it. Man, it’s solid, hard to believe troopers carried it every day, all day.
    That makes eight .357s, the youngest is a 1988 686.

  57. I think y’all are missing the point. The standard 250gr .45 Colt load will go completely through your average whitetail deer and its pleasant to shoot. There’s no need to suffer the buck and roar of the magnum big bore cartridges. Plus its been a very effective man stopper for over 100 years. The .45 Colt is a great round. I love it! I’m especially fond of it in the S&W N-frame revolvers. Despite what you may have heard, the S&Ws are tougher than you think. They can handle +P level loads without any problem. But then again, there’s absolutely no need to “magnumize” the .45 Colt. It’ll do whatever you need in its standard velocity form.

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  59. Love my Blackhawk and R92. 250 gr LSWC at 800-2000 fps, depending on how much recoil I want.

  60. .45 Colt’s problem is that it wasn’t popular in its day. Civilian revolvers were at least as likely to use something like .44-40, .44 American/.44 Russian (which work in a .44 Special or .44 Magnum), or even an import cartridge like .44 Bulldog or .455 Webly. Even within the army, there was .45 Schofield. This greatly diminishes the appeal among repros when there’s two much better chamberings in common production which are also historical.

  61. I LOVE 45LC and that Ruger Redhawk. It’s superior to 44 special ballistically and costs less. For me I ended up with a 45ACP though. I’m one of those weirdo’s who actually carried a Taurus Judge daily for a few years. At the time I was looking at the Charter Arms Pitbull 45 or the Bulldog 45. Identical frame size and capacity, and price. 45ACP is way cheaper and more available if you don’t hand load, and there are far more modern defensive hollow point choices for 45ACP. Those factors and my equal love of JMB’s God caliber landed me with the 45 auto.

  62. well i purchased a Henry big boy x lever just because of the power of the 45 colt with +P rounds.
    that doubles the power of average cowboy rounds making it able to take down anything from Wild boar, Deer, Elk, Moose, Black bear and Grizzly bears with no trouble at all.
    a friend shot a 250 pound black bear in the front shoulder facing forward with a buffalo boar + P round and it exited the rear rump causing a massive hole u could put ur fist in.
    Now that some pure hitting power…. 👍👍

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