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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
sixguns said:
...would love to hear the story of that cylinder.


Since Sixguns asked on another thread here is the story.

I've seen it mentioned here at least once that someone was shooting their S&W or Ruger in .45 Colt or 44 Special using a "mild" load that wouldn't extract from their Colt.

I first found that to be true in a new 44 Special, Colt Single Action Army. Cylinder looked good on inspection but the cases had to be pounded out on some of the cylinder's chambers where they would fall out of my S&W. I couldn't easily see anything and the cases looked normal when they came out of the gun. I finally just replaced the cylinder and everything was fine. I still shoot that gun a lot. I later used that same out of spec 44 Special cylinder for a custom cut .45 cylinder.

On the .45 cylinder shown above I was loading what I had thought was a light load of WW231. A load i had shoot a lot of in a S&W .45s and a USFA. WW231 is a fine grain, fast powder and likely one of the worst you can use in the huge .45 Colt case. When I fired the round that made the biggest bulge you see on the locking slot, I felt the difference in recoil. Nothing traumatic but more recoil than normal. Thought that odd as I reload on a progressive machine with very accurate powder drops. Three of the rounds were sticky on extraction. The fourth had to be pounded out. Still clueless as to what happened, on the next full cylinder I noted the gun couldn't be cycled normally as the bolt wouldn't go into lock up on the worst of the cylinders. Slow I know but at that point I finally tore the gun apart and inspected the damage.

No question the cylinder is now unusable and unsafe.

While I certainly could have just set my powder drop incorrectly, and likely did to cause this damage, I did go back and check and spend some time pondering the result. My powder charge wasn't listed as anything close to max. The conclusion I came to was to no longer use 231 in the big Colt case. I use Unique specifically for the . 45 Colt now, but Trail Boss is a better answer I think just not as economical to load the high numbers I want to shoot. As anecdotal evidence to just how weak a Colt .45 cylinder is I had two locking notches budge on another new Colt that I intentionally only used factory ammo in a few years later. Again the sign that it had happened was sticky extraction. Nothing really serious this time and the cylinder is still usable, I had it replaced anyway. But once I knew what to look for, the lock slot bulge was obvious. That gun was shipped from Colt "in the white" and have always wondered if that cylinder missed heat treat.

 

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One time in a rush to meet a deadline I grabbed what I thought was Hodgdon Universal powder. Later inspection proved it was Hodgdon Clays, a faster burning propellant. Bulged two chambers on a custom ordered SAA that had been a gift. It was sent back to the factory for a new cylinder. That taught me to be slow when grabbing powder cans.
 

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Only time I have had sticky extraction was on an old worn python I had refinished. When I first got it back it was sticky getting cases out. That was just a case of too much blue on the inside of the chambersmaking it tight. After hitting it with a empty case a few times it was no longer a problem.
 

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Ya hoody, Thanks. The knee is coming along but I still can't get down stairs so I am having gun room withdrawal. Soon as I can transition from a walker to a cane I can get back down there.
An honor to have your membership! Anyway, Since descending stairs is easier, what about a cot in the gun room? You can get back upstairs when you are no longer fascinated with guns...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
MLV said:
.. The knee is coming along but I still can't get down stairs so I am having gun room withdrawal.
Bad for you...fun for us, 'cuz obviously the computer is up stairs :) You'll be healed up in "no time". I've been strapped into those CM machines a few times. Easy times to forget once it is done and you are up and running!

Wife broke her pelvis last spring in a wreck (horse) and was just lamenting the other day how hard it was to be stuck in a hospital bed down stairs.

Just pile a bunch of your favorite blasters around the office till ya get that cane a work'in!
 

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I think this is a good reminder that the SAA was originally designed as a black powder firearm. The dimensions of the SAA are as compact as could be made for a six shot (yea, I know about only loading five) revolver chambering a cartridge as large as the 45 Colt. Taking that black powder design and moving it into the smokeless powder era with no dimensional changes, necessitates better steel and heat treating for the modern cylinders. This is why I've been hollering at people who think they can get away with light smokeless powder loads in pre 1900 Colts. This was a black powder gun at it's inception and that needs to be considered before sticking your favorite hand load in those thin walled chambers. And that probably goes for modern made 45 Colts as well. Hand loading isn't hard...but it's easy to screw it up.

Climbing down from the soap box. I'll go take my meds now. (smile)

Dave
 

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Dandak, we are off like minds. Trail Boss is my go to powder for most handgun-size cartridges that were originally for black powder.
 

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A friend of mine did this to a python by using red dot and the 115 grain bullet. His manual gave a load for it but later manuals DO NOT USE RED DOT IN THE 357 WITH 115 GR BULLETS or in ANY 41 MAGNUM. Later they eliminated it entirely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A friend of mine did this to a python by using red dot and the 115 grain bullet. His manual gave a load for it but later manuals DO NOT USE RED DOT IN THE 357 WITH 115 GR BULLETS or in ANY 41 MAGNUM. Later they eliminated it entirely.
Yep light loads in big cases can cause a huge pressure spike and blow a gun..Kaboom! Was first seen I think in 38 cases using Bullseye. Any case that was intended for BP originally is suspect. I'd bet the .41 mag case would act in a similar manner.
 

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Since Sixguns asked on another thread here is the story.

I've seen it mentioned here at least once that someone was shooting their S&W or Ruger in .45 Colt or 44 Special using a "mild" load that wouldn't extract from their Colt.

I first found that to be true in a new 44 Special, Colt Single Action Army. Cylinder looked good on inspection but the cases had to be pounded out on some of the cylinder's chambers where they would fall out of my S&W. I couldn't easily see anything and the cases looked normal when they came out of the gun. I finally just replaced the cylinder and everything was fine. I still shoot that gun a lot. I later used that same out of spec 44 Special cylinder for a custom cut .45 cylinder.

On the .45 cylinder shown above I was loading what I had thought was a light load of WW231. A load i had shoot a lot of in a S&W .45s and a USFA. WW231 is a fine grain, fast powder and likely one of the worst you can use in the huge .45 Colt case. When I fired the round that made the biggest bulge you see on the locking slot, I felt the difference in recoil. Nothing traumatic but more recoil than normal. Thought that odd as I reload on a progressive machine with very accurate powder drops. Three of the rounds were sticky on extraction. The fourth had to be pounded out. Still clueless as to what happened, on the next full cylinder I noted the gun couldn't be cycled normally as the bolt wouldn't go into lock up on the worst of the cylinders. Slow I know but at that point I finally tore the gun apart and inspected the damage.

No question the cylinder is now unusable and unsafe.

While I certainly could have just set my powder drop incorrectly, and likely did to cause this damage, I did go back and check and spend some time pondering the result. My powder charge wasn't listed as anything close to max. The conclusion I came to was to no longer use 231 in the big Colt case. I use Unique specifically for the . 45 Colt now, but Trail Boss is a better answer I think just not as economical to load the high numbers I want to shoot. As anecdotal evidence to just how weak a Colt .45 cylinder is I had two locking notches budge on another new Colt that I intentionally only used factory ammo in a few years later. Again the sign that it had happened was sticky extraction. Nothing really serious this time and the cylinder is still usable, I had it replaced anyway. But once I knew what to look for, the lock slot bulge was obvious. That gun was shipped from Colt "in the white" and have always wondered if that cylinder missed heat treat.

You need to consider the possibility of a double charge. It is something that can happen with a progressive if you somehow get off "rhythm". I've been using W-231 in a the 45 Colt for about 15 years now (7.0 grains with various 250-260 grain bullets) and (just once, thank god) experienced what you did. I had to get a new cylinder but every thing else was OK. Somehow when I loaded that batch of ammo on my Dillon 550 I got distracted/lost my rhythm and did a double charge - oops! It is easy to get into sync on a progressive and if anything goes amiss make a mistake. I am a careful and conscientious reloader but I am a human being. If something - anything! - seems even a little off stop and check and make sure. Hard earned experience speaking here...
 

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Ya hoody, Thanks. The knee is coming along but I still can't get down stairs so I am having gun room withdrawal. Soon as I can transition from a walker to a cane I can get back down there.
Unfortunately, even if you get down the stairs you have to get back up -:). Course if you lucky you got a wife to go find it for you. recovery is slow but better than the pain before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
ColtSAA3G said:
You need to consider the possibility of a double charge. ...Hard earned experience speaking here...
Good point Sir Colt! And I certainly respect your own experience. Two things would have me think other wise on a dbl charge here though. Although I have a 550 I don't typically load any pistol ammo on it besides 32-20. I had run 1000s of 45 Colt loads with 231 prior and only one issue years prior....likely a dbl loaded on a 550. Which destroyed the gun.

All my 45 ammo gets loaded on a 1050 and is the machine that loaded for the blown cylinder. A dbl charge is possible but much, much more unlikely on a 1050. Also it would have been 4 double charges out of 6 and although a dbl charge is not beyond me, four in a row is really doubtful. I had other Colts' on the bench that day and was shooting the same ammo prior and continued shooting other guns after with that same ammo that blew the cylinder.

Been awhile since that happened and I don't remember if I was tryin to run a really light load or simply mis-measured the powder when setting up the machine. Something was wrong and I certainly didn't trust that batch of ammo so the rest was shot up in a rifle. But hard to believe even then I was running that far past 7 or 7.5 of 231 to cause the damage I did as 8 gr being at least one accepted max in a SAA. 14 or 15 gr would likely have destroyed the gun.

I've seen 2 KaBooms from small charges of powder in big cases that could be more easily explained as dbl charges. But I have also seen and felt known dbl charges (off a 550 actually :) Either way I know folks use and love 231 or HP38. I do as well just no longer a fan of either...in a 45 Colt.
 

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I started reloading back in the 70's with a Lee Loader, a bunch of 45 Colt cases and a can of Unique. But the next time I go to the store I intend to load up on Trail Boss. The closest I've come to a Ka-Boom was a fellow next to me at a match who had an M14 slam fire. He got a face full of fire and metal and I got sprayed with blood. Thankfully, his eyes were protected and I got an unforgettable memory.
 

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Personally, I love WW 231 and have been using it for many years in .38 Special, .45 Auto, 9mm and 40 S&W cartridges without problems. However, I know of at least two instances of revolvers being destroyed by guys trying to use it in .44 Magnum loads. I suspect double loads, but don't know for sure. Both times, S&W Model 29/629s lost the top straps and the top three chambers. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt in either instance, but it sure got the attention of the shooter and others on the line at the time!

- - - Buckspen
 

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Several have mentioned using Trail Boss in the 45 Colt load, but the data I've seen says the max load only gives something like 750 fps (+-). That hardly reflects the real character of the 45 Colt cartridge.

Dave
 

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My Ka-Boom with a .45 Colt SAA was in 1991. The gun was a 1st Gen made about 1914. At that time my standard load was 6.0 grains of Red Dot with several different deep seated bullets of 250-260 grains. Someone gave me a few hundred .45 Auto, 200 grain SWCs, which of course seat far more shallowly. Rounds were loaded on a Dillion 550b. The second one of those took the top three chambers off to never-never land and bent the top strap so it pointed forward. I pulled the bullets of the other 198 .45s so loaded and weighed their charges. None varied more than a tenth or so plus/minus. To this day I have no idea what caused that but with the experience behind me I welcomed the introduction of Trail Boss.
 
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