.45 Wadcutters Slow And Steady Wins


The original .45 Colt bullet profile is known as a truncated cone or round nosed flat point (RNFP). It basically started in the early 1870s as a round-nosed bullet given a slight flattened nose. It’s always had a great reputation as a man stopper. Some time in the early part of the 20th century wadcutter bullets arrived. This style bullet is simply completely flat-nosed, available in several configurations. I’m fortunate to have one of the now long-gone Lyman bullet molds, #454309, which is a flattened-off wadcutter having a vestigial stabilizing nose.

Out of my alloy this bullet weighs right at 240 grs. and has a crimping groove, with most of the body of the bullet inside the cartridge case. I have shot a lot of these in a 71/2″ Colt New Frontier .45 Colt over 8.0 grs of Unique for right at 950 fps. This is more than 100 fps faster than the long standard .45 Colt load and the flat-nosed bullet smacks with a lot of authority.

Currently I’ve been using a fully flat-nosed .45 wadcutter from Matt’s Bullets. Instead of being totally encased in the cartridge case this bullet has a crimping groove just about amid-ships so approximately one-half of the bullet is above the cartridge case. Just as with the Lyman design this bullet smacks with a lot of authority and I particularly like to use it in short-barreled .45 Colt and .454 Casull sixguns. Within its range limitations it’s an excellent bullet for varmints and small game, with a full-caliber hole being cut all the way through. I would not hesitate to use it for deer-sized game up close. This also makes an excellent self-defense round.

The USFA Sheriff’s Model .45 Colt with 250-gr. wadcutters is a very serious proposition.
John says you can hear the bullets “smack” the target.

Targets fired with the little Freedom Arms Model 97 .45 Colt with 250-gr.
wadcutter bullets show its accurate heritage.

Hits Like A Train

In .45 Colt this bullet works exceptionally well in three short-barreled sixguns. One is a USFA Sheriff’s Model without an ejector rod and a 21/2″ barrel. This style is often called a Sheriff’s Model or Storekeepers Model. I can certainly see this design used by a storekeeper, banker or homeowner, however I can’t imagine this being the primary arm for anyone in law enforcement. The cartridge cases have to be picked out with the fingernail or pushed out from the front with a rod of some kind after firing. However, five rounds of these potent loads may be all that’s needed!

My most-used powder with this wadcutter is Alliant’s Red Dot, with my standard load being 5.5 grs. In this Sheriff’s Model this load is over 700 fps and you can hear it hit with a smack! I also use this in two short-barreled Freedom Arms 5-guns. One is the full-sized Model 83 with a 3″ barrel and no ejector rod while the other is the smaller Freedom Arms Model 97 with a 31/2″ barrel length and an ejector rod. I use the Matt’s Bullets 250-gr. wadcutter bullet either crimped in the crimping groove or over the slight front shoulder. With 5.5 grs. of Red Dot from a 3″ barrel the former clocks out at 730 fps while the latter, seated slightly deeper, comes in at 750 fps. At seven yards both of these loads shoot well under 1″. For a slightly milder shooting load I use the same bullet over 5.0 grs. of Bullseye for right at 685 fps. This load is also exceptionally accurate.

The 250-gr. wadcutter loaded in .45 Colt and .454 brass. Impressive, isn’t it?

Five Rounds Is All

The Freedom Arms short-barreled Model 97 is particularly easy to pack, as the frame size is slightly smaller than a standard-sized Colt SAA. The grip frame has also been slightly rounded off so there’s no sharp edges to smack the hand. Frank Hamer always carried a Colt Single Action .45 with five rounds loaded and no backup cartridges as he felt anything could be handled with just five rounds. I feel the same way about this Model 97 loaded with wadcutters.

Switching to .454 brass for use in the Freedom Arms Model 83 I use 6.5 grs. of Red Dot, giving me 755 fps from the 3″ barrel, with a 3/4″ 7-yard group. My Freedom Arms Model 83 with a 43/4″ barrel has been in use for well over 30 years and is quite versatile, as it has four cylinders. In addition to the standard .454 cylinder it also has cylinders in .45 Colt, .45 ACP and .45 Winchester Magnum, allowing me a lot of experimenting with various .45 bullets. At seven yards the longer barrel with this load shoots one-hole groups, as expected, and clocks out right at 800 fps.

For more info: www.alpineproducts.com, www.mattsbullets.com, Ph: (870) 856-6788

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