Cowboy ammo

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by midlifevette, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. midlifevette

    midlifevette New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Shelbyville, KY
    I see the term "cowboy" ammo often. What does it mean?
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,733
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Cowboy Action Shooting is a gun game. You race the clock shooting at steel targets. Since you are only shooting targets, and excess recoil means slower recovery which means slower second shot, people started loading extremely light loads in what are generally considered large-bore guns. Standard factory specs for 45 Colt, for example, are and always have been a 250 to 255 grain bullet at around 850 or 900 fps. People started loading 180 grain, or lighter, bullets at 650 fps, or slower. This enables them to shoot faster, while still claiming, "Yes, I shoot a manly 45, not no little wimpy 38". Ammunition companies took notice of this and started downloading their ammo. This is a great deal for them. They use less lead and less powder, but charge more because it's "cowboy ammo".

    It's the large-bore equivalent of a 38 target wadcutter. A factory-loaded squib.
  3. midlifevette

    midlifevette New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Shelbyville, KY
  4. steve666

    steve666 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    232
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Alpo forgot to mention that they are using non-jacketed lead bullets. and they also do make .44-40 and .38 spc Cowboy loads along with a .45-70 and some of the more unusual calibers like .45-90 and .56 Spencer.
  5. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    4,963
    Location:
    SW Fort Worth
    another .02 into the pot :

    Since you're shooting steel targets at close range, you don't want to be shooting jacket bullets or anything at a high velocity. Most competions will have a ceiling on ammo velocity. Lead spatter from a 255gr @ 1050 fps at a range of 10' is rather nasty. Every attempt is made to duplicate loads and scenarios from the cowboy days without any modern advantages other than smokeless powders and digital shot timers.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,733
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Nope. The "Cowboy loads" are wussified loads in big bores. It has all to do with winning "cowboy matches", and nothing to do with "cowboy days".

    1899, 38 S&W Special, 158 grain lead bullet at 850 fps. Cowboy load, 125 grain lead bullet at 625 fps.

    1873, 45 Colt, 255 grain lead bullet at 900 fps. Cowboy load, 165 grain lead bullet at 650 fps.

    1873, 44 Winchester Center Fire, 200 grain lead bullet at 1100 fps. Cowboy load, 180 grain lead bullet at 700 fps.

    Jacketed bullets are against the rules, and always have been.

    I've shot some close targets at a match, but I've never seen one at ten feet. Ten yards, maybe, but not ten feet.
  7. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,261
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    SASS is fun to watch. Id never win though, Im too much a nostalgic fan and my ammo would be correct in terms of original performance.
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,733
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Many years ago I read an article by Mike Venturino. In it he was talking about his loads (he shoots full power black powder). The timer stands close to the shooter, so the machine can register his gunshots. He said that, often, but the time he has finished emptying one gun, the timer would be 5 or 6 feet behind him. He said timers have told him that he could back off on his loads, but he asked them. "If a war party of screaming Comanches came riding over the berm, would you be happy with what you have in your guns?" Made sense to me. So I shoot real loads. I would be satisfied with what my guns are loaded with. I'm also not a speed demon. My intention, when shooting, is to kill all the Comanches. Makes me slower, but I hit more.
  9. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    122
    SASS puts a maximum velocity of 800 fps (IIRC) on pistol bullets because you are shooting metallic targets at very close range (< 5 yards sometimes), and they want to reduce bullet back-splatter to shooters, timers, counters and other bystanders.

    There's cowboy loads, and then there's bunny fart loads...

    Andy
  10. AL MOUNT

    AL MOUNT Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,321
    Location:
    Cleaning my Thompson in The Foothills of the Ozark
    Been a SASS member since Sept. 96.

    SASS# 10454 Alias Sgt. Mount

    Alpo's got his facts pretty straight
  11. bayhawk2

    bayhawk2 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    SASS certainly looks fun.You're right the rounds sure look light.
    Some look like they are shooting with less recoil than a .22 L.R.
    I wonder if they take into consideration that a lightly loaded
    .32 round is going to have less recoil than say a .45 Colt lightly loaded round?
    Thus recoil would bring the time down on the .32.
    From what I understand,it's not really the shooting as much as it is
    the comroderie.The gathering and folklore of the old west.BBQ and
    old west talk.A name like Wild Bill and Annie Oakley.I might be into that.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  12. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,733
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Young lady was shooting 32 Rugers. Fellow-cowboy asked her about her loads. She told him I loaded 'em. He wrote me and I gave him the data. He wrote back, "Oh no, that's too hot. I just wanted something that has enough power to get to the target."

    Lots of people shoot the 32s, but the 32 is usually a smaller, lighter gun. If you really wanna be fast you shoot 38s, which are the same size as the 45, and because the holes in the barrel and cylinder are smaller, is heavier than the 45. Load it down and there is no recoil at all.

    But then, you're shooting "sissy 38s". The "cowboy ammo" is for people that want to shoot "manly 45s", but want little or no recoil.
  13. AL MOUNT

    AL MOUNT Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,321
    Location:
    Cleaning my Thompson in The Foothills of the Ozark
    Not sure if you mean by factory loads in that statement.

    Store bought is all I ever shot in my two .45's

    and they would belch fire and rare up on ya. :eek:
  14. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,261
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    wonder what theyd say if someone went out there wheelin full throttle 'kieth' loads in a ruger flat-top .44 mag
  15. AL MOUNT

    AL MOUNT Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,321
    Location:
    Cleaning my Thompson in The Foothills of the Ozark
    I'll bet I know....... :eek:

    You owe our club for that target you just kilt.... :D
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Black powder & cowboy ammo Jan 11, 2011
The Ammo & Reloading Forum cowboy action loads / powder / large bore rifles Feb 10, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum cowboy bullet source Nov 29, 2006
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 45LC Cowboy bullets:Which is best? Oct 20, 2006
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Bulk Packed Ammo Nov 13, 2014

Share This Page