Thoughts on .45 Colt & .45 ACP Convertibles

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Joined
Oct 20, 2022
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Oregon
I'm new to the convertible game…I have a 7.5" 200th year .45 and a 5.5" Stainless New Vaquero in .45. I've wanted a convertible for a while. Last week I found one on consignment locally- a 5.5" NM Blackhawk. I was looking for an old model or especially a 4.5" flat top- but I couldn't pass this one up especially since it was basically new. I don't think it has ever been fired. I offered $600 and they accepted. I haven't put any lead down range, but I have a ton of ACP just waiting in the safe.

I used to reload some mouse fart ACP loads when I was target shooting 1911's. I need to find that recipe and see how it works on the Blackhawk. They were a hoot to shoot- felt like a cap gun, accurate as heck in a Gold Cup.


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Killer Bee

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
72
only .45 convertible I have is this '71 old model 4-5/8" barrel

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seems to prefer lc over acp but fun to shoot with both

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up in the 5-7 yard range slow fire it does well with both but the lc is still slightly tighter than acp

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vlavalle

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 10, 2022
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Location
Chandler, AZ
Now that Ruger doesn't offer nor will they fit a second cylinder to the gun unless it left the factory as a convertible, one must be more resourceful if one wants a convertible. I bought a NM Vaquero 45 Colt and wanted another cylinder so I bought a NM Flattop Blackhawk convertible and "borrowed" the 45 ACP cylinder from it. This cylinder I reamed to 45 Schofield by using a 45 Colt finishing reamer with a stop made from a piece of a case so it cuts the correct chamber length for the Schofield, and it worked out pretty good.

Just so happens the Flattop's ACP cylinder dropped in my Vaquero with only about .001" difference than the 45 Colt cylinder the fit was phenomenally good!

Shortly after this our infamous worst POTUS in history issued his EO making conversions like this into manufacturing instead of simple gunsmithing so the rest of us are sol as far as getting one done.

I figured Ruger gave us a FINE tier two platform with the medium framed revolvers, they are some of the best fit and finished Rugers I have came across, virtually no thread choke in the specimens I have had in my hands, so why not come up with an equally fine tier two load to match the gun? SAAMI won't ever sanction a 45 Colt +P load, and there is a conspicuous void of published load data for the Schofield in +P pressures as well, so other than Brian Pearce's articles and loads, you must seek out a copy of QuickLoad to safely develop loads in the tier two power band.

I chose the 45 Schofield because of the shorter case = higher load density and I also wanted to avoid the resulting freebore in front of the case mouth by using Schofield brass in a 45 Colt chamber.

This makes for excellent hunting loads with slow powders and less bullet weight than the Ruger Only loads, and one can still get a 260gr WFN to 1200fps while holding pressures just under the 23,000psi ceiling that the medium frame 45s are rated to. Recoil is snappy but not at all sharp and not nearly as violent as touching off a 300gr load over a full house load of H110 or W296. In fact it is downright liveable with no gloves or other protection to the bare hand.

Not intending to steer your thread Bob, just to toss a little twist into it ;)

I looked hard for a Blued/CC Vaquero to use for this but couldn't find one and the price on this one was too good to pass up, with only 50 rounds fired.

I want to comment on the SAAMI issue concerning the .45 Colt P. I really do not understand their contempt for this caliber and power level, but Buffalo Bore ignores this and makes three levels of .45 Colt +p rounds. Since I own a flattop model, Buffalo Bore makes it clear to not shoot the top two power loads, so I have shot only the round that has 1,216 ft. lbs., and it has quite a kick and sound. I have to use two hands and a glove to shoot this round! I cannot imagine what the next two hot loads are like! What is SAAMI's problem with this???
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Lake Lure NC USA
"SAAMI won't ever sanction a 45 Colt +P load,"

To try & answer this,, w/o actual direct knowledge,, I'd say it has to do with the fact that the .45 Colt was developed LONG before stronger guns like Ruger & T/C were built. Weaker guns,, requires less powerful ammo, to avoid blown up guns & injured people. Which,, that,, results in lawsuits in todays world.
So,, SAMMI won't sanction loads for liability reasons. Because they know some moron will put a heavier load into a weaker gun. Then the lawyers will have a place to start hunting for deep pockets.
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
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Butte, MT
... I handload, so no reason {to shoot .45 ACP}.
I 'finally' came to that conclusion too after I developed a few loads for the .45 ACP for my convertibles. It dawned on me ... 'why'. .45 Colt does it all from mild to wild. I don't have any semi-auto .45s, so the .45 ACP dies are just gathering dust now as is the 9mm dies.

{edited} to change to ACP (brain dyslexia).
 
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Joined
Mar 24, 2002
Messages
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Location
Oregon City, Oregon
I've owned a number of .45 convertible revolvers. When folks were saying the ACP rounds were inaccurate or less accurate, mine never got that memo.

Pleased as I have been with 45Colt/45ACP revolvers, I have a Sheriff's Birdshead New Vaquero in .45ACP only, and the accuracy is quite good. I will never miss the .45 Colt capability for this tiny revolver.








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Joined
Nov 11, 2012
Messages
108
Location
In the Ozark woods
"SAAMI won't ever sanction a 45 Colt +P load,"

To try & answer this,, w/o actual direct knowledge,, I'd say it has to do with the fact that the .45 Colt was developed LONG before stronger guns like Ruger & T/C were built. Weaker guns,, requires less powerful ammo, to avoid blown up guns & injured people. Which,, that,, results in lawsuits in todays world.
So,, SAMMI won't sanction loads for liability reasons. Because they know some moron will put a heavier load into a weaker gun. Then the lawyers will have a place to start hunting for deep pockets.

This is exactly the reason SAAMI doesn't sanction 45 Colt *P loads. Too many people have NO idea about different load levels, and all they see is ".45 Colt" on the ammo box, pick up some +P loads and fill their vintage Colt's cylinder with them, and the next thing they know, they are wearing part of the top strap in their forehead.

If you go to SAAMI's web site and read their mission statement, there are three sentences, and in two of those sentences, the words "safety" and "safe" are used. That is their first mission.
 

Star43

Buckeye
Joined
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Contender is correct about the Safety and even more so the "Liability" reasons. An older gun that blows up or even worse, hurts the user, or others nearby will make it a field day for lawyers to wreck havoc and smile. That's what lawyers do.....
 
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Joined
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the Great State of Wide-open (WY)
... the .45 Colt was developed LONG before stronger guns like Ruger & T/C were built...

And even the stronger guns have their limits. About 30 years ago, the local gunsmith I did business with had a .45 Colt-chambered Blackhawk prominently displayed on the counter in his shop. I don't remember the specific model or barrel length, but half of the cylinder was missing & the top strap was bowed way up (but not broken). When I asked about it, he ascribed the destruction to hot reloads, and said, "If you want .44 Mag performance, just buy a .44 Mag."

Guess that wrecked gun was just a "public service announcement"!
:)
 
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Star43

Buckeye
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Aug 7, 2023
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Same thing with a friend of mine's shop about 25 or 30 years ago too. He had a shop and a shooting range downstairs and had a blown up Smith & Wesson revolver prominently displayed with a blown up top strap and blown out cylinder. Same type of scenario. When that happened, he mainly supplied the ammo to be used in his range.
 

vlavalle

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 10, 2022
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331
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Chandler, AZ
And even the stronger guns have their limits. About 30 ye33ars ago, the local gunsmith I did business with had a .45 Colt chambered Blackhawk prominently displayed on the counter in his shop. I don't remember the specific model or barrel length, but half of the cylinder was missing & the top strap was bowed way up (but not broken). When I asked about it, he ascribed the destruction to hot reloads, and said, "If you want .44 Mag performance, just buy a .44 Mag."

Guess that wrecked gun was just a "public service announcement"!
:)
I find this 'least demoninator' reasoning a bit weak on behalf of SAAMI. For instance, there are rather 'powerful' .45 ACP loads that a lot of pistols could not handle, like the Atomic 1225 fps 185 gr ammo that delivers 616 ft. lbs. Is this not SAAMI sanctioned as well? Then there are quite a few more powerful .45 Super rounds whose power goes up to 735 ft. lbs. These could be fired in most pistols also, and would probably break all the pistols not made to handle .45 Super, which is like 98% of all .45 pistols made! So, I do not 'buy into' the theory that SAAMI is protecting all calibers in all forms of guns. As usual, the responsiblility lies with the user, who has to have an understanding of what he/she is doing.

Furthermore, ammo manufacturers do take responsibility in addresing their hot loads and cautions that go with that. Bufflo Bore is one such manufsacturer, and has big warnings about what kind of gun that can safely shoot their hot .45LC ammo. I own a Ruger .45LC convertible 'flattop', which is weaker than non flattops, and there are clear warnings online by Buffalo Bore about what gun manufacturers and about the smaller framed flattops that should not shoot their hot loads. So, I have adhered to their warning and have shot ony the weakest of the three hot .45LC loads they make. I feel that this should be the industry standard, and not for everyone to rely on whether SAAMI 'seconds' or 'authorizes' some particular ammo, especially since they do not state any caveats at all. There are probably several hot loads in the ammo world that would destroy older or weaker models of guns, whether that be a handgun or a rifle. I saw a vidio on You Tube about a guy who blew up his .50 cal rifle, with standard .50 call BMG ammo. I do not recall the specifics on his .50 cal rifle, but was SAAMI somehow suppose to prevent this too?

Perhaps SAAMI's tenure of only providing safety guidlines for 'any' ammo they approve to be safe for any gun of that calliber is out of date? I wonder how many 10m pistols would blow up with the Underwood 749 ft. lbs. hottest 10mm ammo?
 
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Don Lovel

Hunter
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Red Dirt Oklahoma, Go Cowboys
I am looking for a 45 ACP cylinder to go with my 45 Colt Bisley Vaquero.
I am also looking for an unfluted Bisley cylinder in 45 Colt. I tried out the unfluted cylinder from my 7 1/2" Bisley Blackhawk and it worked good, timed well in my 5 1/2 BV but my 45 Colt cylinder from my BV would not turn on cocking in the 7 1/2 frame gun
I put the unfluted cyl in the 5 1/2 for this picture
But recently sold the 7 1/2 with the correct cyl.
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Joined
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SAAMI doesn't "sanction" anything. SAAMI presents listings of agreed-upon pressure and dimensional standards for cartridges and their respective chambers. They list various manufacturers that they deem to be usually in compliance with these standards and that provide products in compliance with the data provided. The manufacturers are responsible for their products. If they say a gun is chambered for a specific SAAMI-listed cartridge, that allows the user to check what the standards for that cartridge are, and decide whether or not to comply with those standards. The responsibility lies on the user, not on SAAMI. If you reload your ammo, it's your responsibility to be sure your loads will generate pressures within the SAAMI spec, and if not the results are on you, not on SAAMI.

The fact that SAAMI does not list data for a .45 Colt +P merely indicates that an agreed-upon set of specs has not yet been established for that chambering . . . for all the reasons already pointed out above. Any gun claimed to be good for .45 Colt +P is strictly on the shoulders of its manufacturer. With ammo so claimed, you cannot be sure what the pressures will be unless specifically spelled out. YMMV ;)

Edited to add . . . I checked out some numbers relating to the hot Underwood ammo of 155 grains at 1500FPS producing 775 ft-lbs of energy. Underwood lists no pressure for these loads, nor does it claim it to be safe in any specific gun, only claiming "this high-performance ammunition is field tested using popular, real firearms that our customers are most likely to own." For what it's worth, SAAMI lists maximum pressure for the 10mm ammo at 37,500 PSI, but we have no idea what pressure the Underwood ammo produces.

Also checked out Buffalo Bore's 180-grain bullet at 1350FPS producing 728 ft-lbs. They claim . . .

"These loads bring out the full potential of the 10MM but operate at standard pressures (???) and are safe to use in any standard 10MM pistol. Please don't phone us and ask if these loads are safe in your 10MM: they are safe provided your 10mm is a normal operating pistol in good condition."
 
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Joined
Dec 9, 2013
Messages
272
I am looking for a 45 ACP cylinder to go with my 45 Colt Bisley Vaquero.
I am also looking for an unfluted Bisley cylinder in 45 Colt. I tried out the unfluted cylinder from my 7 1/2" Bisley Blackhawk and it worked good, timed well in my 5 1/2 BV but my 45 Colt cylinder from my BV would not turn on cocking in the 7 1/2 frame gun
I put the unfluted cyl in the 5 1/2 for this picture
But recently sold the 7 1/2 with the correct cyl.
View attachment 48638
Lucked into this Bisley 45 Colt cylinder for my converted Blackhawk Convertible. Also bought a Blackhawk cylinder advertised as a .44 mag, ended up being a .45acp! fits my original Vaquero and functions fine. Both under $100 each, they are out there.
$89.99.jpg

Bisley .45 Colt.jpg
 
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