Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing

The 45 Colt is ballistically similar to the 45 ACP though it dates back to the 1870s United States. It is still popular today as a Cowboy Action Shooting cartridge and occasionally is used for self-defense. In the self-defense role, the 45 Long Colt is more reliable than the 45 ACP in a revolver since the 45 Long Colt has an exposed rim. 45 ACP cartridges can be used in a revolver but often require the use of a ‘moon clip’ in order to hold the cartridge in place. In practice, there are few issues with using moon clips but I am a ‘purist’ of sorts and I like simplicity. For this reason I recommend the 45 Colt to those looking to shoot a medium-power revolver for self-defense.

The people at right were skilled enough with their firearm(s) to stay alive to be photographed. Notice also that their primary weapon is a lever action rifle.

It is popular in the movies to portray the cowboy as riding into a gunfight armed with only a handgun. But I repeat myself… such a mistake can only be made a handful of times before the secondary value of a handgun becomes apparent.

While manually-operated weapons like pump shotguns are still very relevant to ground combat it is senseless to hamstring oneself with cumbersome technology for the sake of tradition. Do not let the misconceptions Hollywood has planted in our minds get you seriously hurt or killed should you need to defend yourself one day. If you want to use a 45 LC revolver for self-defense, please use one that can be fired double-action. There are no guarantees that one will be able to use both hands in a shooting because a hit to the arm or shoulder will likely disable the hand. Combined, the arm and hand are large targets.

A point of particular performance interest with this cartridge is the ability to use the same ammunition in both a rifle and a handgun. Many places in the world are covered by heavy foliage and tree cover. Lots of the places that are not so feature rolling hills that do not permit distant observation. For those environments the 45 Long Colt carbine / handgun combination might warrant your interest. A handgun with a 6” barrel length will shoot a 225gr bullet at 1100 ft/sec while a rifle with 16” barrel length will propel that same bullet to 1475 ft/sec. Using a rifle and being certain to practice regularly with your weapon at this distance, you should be able to repel an attacker to 200 yards and hunt ethically at 50 yards.

Ammunition selection for the 45 Long Colt is easy for the standard pressure load. A 225gr hollowpoint that expands reliably is a fine choice for self-defense against human predation. For animal predators you will want to look at the ‘Large Frame Ruger revolver’ loads like the Buffalo Bore line. The 45 Long Colt can reach 44 Magnum performance levels with the proper load.

The opportunity to use this cartridge in a rifle presents problems with over-driving the bullet. Too much velocity generates too much pressure in a fluid medium … unless designed for a particular velocity range it is possible to have a bullet overexpand, fragment and penetrate to a depth that is too shallow to be desired.