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Red Dot for 45 Colt in a derringer - Good idea?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Dutchboy, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Dutchboy

    Dutchboy Member

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    I'm going to be reloading 45 Colt for use in a derringer with a three inch barrel. I was thinking of starting with Red Dot because it's a very fast powder, and the derringer has a very short barrel. (The brass case by itself takes up almost half the length of the barrel!)

    My thinking was that because the powder doesn't have much time to get its job done before the bullet is out the muzzle, the powder better be a fast powder. A slower powder would just make more flash and bang, but not as much push.

    Does that way of thinking make sense?

    I was going to make a few rounds with 5.0g / 5.5g / and 6.0g of Red Dot behind a 255g Keith bullet and see what the Chrony thought of them. (I'm finding sources that are showing max loads of between 6.0g and 6.7g)

    Hopefully, I won't shoot the Chrony with this thing!
  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    It makes perfect sense. I use Titegroup in my .44 mag loads intended for my short barreled SRH Alaskan. Anything slower and theres a huge muzzle flash and tons of unburnt powder in the barrel.

    Id keep the charges between 4.5 and 6.0, 5 grains should give you a nice safe easy to remember load.
  3. Archie

    Archie Member

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    It seems to make sense, but in reality may not.

    Powder burn speed is to be matched to bullet weight primarily. Lighter bullets use faster powder better and heavier bullets require slower powders to get proper pressure and therefore velocity.

    You can safely use Red Dot in a .45 Colt case, but velocities are limited - even in a derringer - and the pressure curve is more of a spike.

    Of course, in a derringer, the weight of the pistol is less and therefore recoil is more. One also notes the pressure level is lower, therefore the internal burning temperature is lower and that will reduce muzzle flash.

    Used to be in the days of less powders and bigger revolvers, Unique was considered the perfect .45 Colt smokeless powder. (This was before the time of Ruger revolvers that can withstand higher pressures than Model P Colts or even the New Service revolvers.) As a handgun powder, Unique is normally thought of as a middle speed powder. If you have any Unique, you might give it a try and compare those velocities with that of Red Dot.

    You might try some loads with slower powders as well, but your hand may not like it as much.

    Elmer Keith's book Sixguns discuss a wealthy Alaskan gentleman who carried a pair of Colt SAA revolvers with the barrels removed entirely, using only the chamber as the 'barrel'. The reason for the odd treatment was he carried them in his greatcoat pockets as defense against the unruly citizens of the town in which he lived. I cannot remember the loads discussed, but I don't recall them being especially fast powders for the day.

    It is your choice, of course. Proper doses of Red Dot will not hurt your firearm. (Neither will proper doses of Unique or 2400.) Try a couple and see what gives you the best combination of horsepower and recoil abuse.

    The 255 grain Keith bullet is just about perfect for .45 Colt. You may want to consider a 200 grain SWC if the recoil of the 255 bullet is more than you like.

    Finally: Do report back. I'd like to hear the results.
  4. Dutchboy

    Dutchboy Member

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    Did some shooting today, and the Chrony survived! (Actually, the derringer just made one ragged hole one inch low and left from point of aim at 4 yards. I was pleasantly surprised.)

    These are three shot averages with a 255gr Keith bullet.

    Red Dot: 5.0gr 564 fps
    Red Dot: 5.5gr 608 fps
    Red Dot: 6.0gr 652 fps (Lee shows this load as max)

    Trail Boss: 4.5gr 486 fps
    Trail Boss: 5.0gr 516 fps
    Trail Boss: 5.5gr 582 fps (IMR shows 5.8gr as max load)

    I've got a few odds and ends in 45 Colt that I have left over from another project. My plan is to clock them in this derringer, too.
  5. Dutchboy

    Dutchboy Member

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    Here's results with three other powders with the same bullet in the same derringer.

    AA #5: 10.0gr 657 fps
    AA #5: 10.3gr 668 fps (Lee shows 10.4gr as max) - recoil was harsh
    Win-231 6.9gr 591 fps (Lee shows 7.1gr as max)
    Titegroup 6.1gr 626 fps (Lee shows 6.2gr as max) - recoil was harsh

    Here's a summary for all of the powders at (or near) max loading. I've included IMR's relative burn rate figure for each powder in (XX).

    Red Dot (8) 652 fps
    Titegroup (14) 626 fps
    Trailboss (19) 582 fps
    Win 231 (29) 591 fps
    AA #5 (41) 668 fps

    My conclusion is that for this particular situation (heavy bullet in a very short barrel), the best performance was achieved with either a fast powder or a slower powder, but not with an intermediate powder. Pick one side, or the other, but don't go down the middle. That's an interesting result.
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