Basic .45 Colt Handloads


Here’s all you need to assemble quality .45 Colt turbo-charged handloads.

When loaded heavy and fired in strong guns like the Ruger Blackhawk and Redhawk, the .45 Colt is one tough hombre. Companies like Buffalo Bore and Grizzly Cartridge know this, loading their big game ammo appropriately to make the old warhorse cartridge a powerful contender.

Having shot ammo from both of these companies, I know it’s great stuff. Their loads usually exceed listed velocities while remaining accurate, and often out penetrate most jacketed projectiles. While a bargain for the performance you’re paying for, similar custom loaded rounds can be handloaded by anyone willing to take the time to do it themselves.

Tank’s 15-year-old Lee mold still drops a dandy bullet.

DIY Satisfaction

Already an intimate experience, I’ve always felt handgun hunting was more satisfying with my handloads, especially when I cast the bullet. But if you aren’t up to casting your own, Cast Performance and Hunter’s Supply provide cast bullets of proper style and dimension.

Either way, I’ll explain how you can load top-grade custom ammo yourself, giving you the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Fresh from the mold, powder coating and sizing/gas check crimping are
the three stages to a deadly bullet.

Slug Out

For the paltry sum of $15 you can purchase a Lee double cavity mold. The one I bought over 15 years ago is a Wide Flat-Nose design with Gas Check (WFNGC). It’s listed as weighting 300 grains but drops from my mold closer to 320 grains when cast from WW alloy. I powder coat my cast bullets now and it can be done with bare necessities.

Once powder coated, the Gas Check is applied by running it through a .452” Lee Push-Thru sizing die. The result is a bullet ready for loading.

The simple Lee Loader kit is all one needs to load quality ammunition.

Roll Yer’ Own

If you already handload, you’re ahead of the game. If you’re just starting out and not sure you’re willing to commit to handloading, fear not. You can purchase a Lee Loader kit and still turn out great ammunition.

Loading your cartridges consists of seven basic steps which include sizing brass, de-priming spent primers, priming with fresh primers, powder charging, flaring case mouths, seating bullets and crimping bullets into cases

The Lee Loader is a small $25 investment and turns out great ammo. It works faster if you batch reload, meaning you start with 10 cases and go through each step 10 times before moving to the next step.

The kits comes with detailed instructions, as well as videos you can download from Lee showing how to do it. Once or twice a year, I load a few batches of ammo with the Lee loader to keep with my roots. It’s how I got started in this handloading obsession, after all.

Reloading Press

For those with an existing reloading press or ready to dive into handloading, most die sets for .45 Colt come with three dies. One sizes and de-primes, the second flares the mouth and the third seats the bullet and crimps the brass case in the same step. Some die sets come with four dies, separating the seating and crimping stages. I use a Lee Classic Turret press which cost about the same as a good single-stage press.

Here’s a cartridge Tank loaded with his Lee turret press next to the LEE WFNGC bullet used in the load.

Affordable Fodder

I call this my “Budget Buster” load for obvious reasons. The affordable components start with the Lee 300gr WFNGC slug loaded over 22gr of H110, sparked by a CCI 350 large pistol magnum primer and all loaded in Starline brass. This load clocks at roughly 1,250fps from most guns, give or take, depending on barrel length and cylinder gap.

The wide meplat, or nose, hits like a brick, causing a tremendous wound cavity. Critters struck by the blunt slug seldom travel far, if at all, when hit in the chest cavity. It’s a great bullet born from a $15 mold that has cast thousands of bullets for me and is still going strong.

Tank’s Custom Mag-na-port Ruger Bisley Hunter loves the “Budget Buster” load.

Inexpensive Quality

Sure, I love using fancier and more expensive equipment — and I own it — but this recipe and the equipment used shows quality handloads can be assembled on a budget. Like firearms, its more about the person than the gun itself.

Mindset matters most, but we can have fun loading our own ammo, save some money along the way, while increasing self-satisfaction and skill set. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing, if you ask me.

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