reloading the 45 Colt (aka Long Colt) with Trail Boss powder
so i got the ballistics data from winchester's data page, and set off to find a good dependable load that I can put together.
i've tried 6 or 7 powders, and at least 10 different bullets, over the years.
i've gotten close with 9 grains of unique under a 255 grain lead semi-wadcutter from oregon trails. it was close, but i've never been happy with it. other loads, such as winchester's reloading data using W231 powder didn't cut it because the case sensitivity of the powder made it so that i had to tip the pistol up between each shot just to get consistent results. i've held off finally filing the front site down to bring the point of aim up on one load that does a fairly decent job, because the thought of taking a file to my gun isn't one i relish. not that i can't, or won't do it, but it just seems so final, and means to me that i've given up. i know this gun is capable of point of aim accuracy, because i have done it with factory loads. dammit.
then IMR powder company came out with Trail Boss powder this last year. the frustrating problem with this powder is it's availability. i've scoured the usual suspects ever since i read about the powder in one of the gun mags i get. nobody was carrying it, and when i asked about ordering it, i got a lot of blank stares. when it costs an extra $29.00 just in hazardous materials handling charges from UPS, above the cost of the powder and normal shipping fees, nobody was willing to order me a can and still charge me $13.00. luckily there was a gun show in Vallejo last weekend, and i was able to find a couple of bottles there.
Trail Boss was developed for use in cartridges originally designed for black powder use. that would include the 45 colt and the 30-30 rifle cartridge. the powder looks different. it's shaped like a donut, and it fed through my RCBS powder charger like a champ. it's designed to take up a lot more room. a typical 1 pound powder can holds 9 ounces of Trail Boss. so when you throw a 5.8 grain charge, it takes up over 1/2 the available space. and when you throw a 6.5 grain charge, the case looks close to full, with enough room that the charge isn't compressed when inserting a 200 grain round nose bullet.
just for comparisons, the following picture contains a 45 Colt bullet loaded with a 255 grain Oregon Trails lasercast lead semi-wadcutter next to a 45 ACP loaded with a 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter from Western Nevada bullet company. to the left is a 255 bullet, and to the right is a 200 grain lead round nose bullet, also from Oregon Trails. i used both the 200 grain round nose and 255 semi-wadcutter with the Trail Boss powder.
200 grain lead round nose 45LC bullets from Oregon Trails. load data shows min charge 5.5 gr max charge 6.5 gr.
the 5.8 grain charge showed hitting like a round of buckshot fired from a muzzle loading blunderbuss. not worth a damn
the 6.5 grain load wasn't a whole lot better
255 grain lead semi-wadcutter, Oregon Trail. load data shows minimum powder charge 4.5 grain to max of 5.8 grain.
i loaded the bottom of the band to 4.5 grains and when i shot it, i held a point of aim at the top of the black
here's the full image for the 255 grain bullet series. as you look at the targets, you can see that as i raised the powder charge to 5 grains, i started to get coherent groupings. at near the max charge of 5.6 grains, the grouping is still pretty good. remember, i'm firing off hand at 15 yards, in this instance, so tight pretty ransom rest type groups are not in the cards.
conclusion. it looks like i'll be doing a lot more loading with the Trail Boss powder and the 255 grain Oregon Trails semi-wadcutters. i'll go back and try this again, from min to max, only i'll do it in 0.2 or 0.3 grain increments, and i'll let you know which charge did the trick.
i think i'll be using this powder for the caliber from now on.