Why You Shouldn’t Overlook .45 Long Colt

The .45 Long Colt, aka .45 Colt, .45LC, doesn’t get as much love because everyone is obsessed with magnum cartridges in revolvers. If it isn’t a .44, .357, .460 or .500, it seems like nobody cares.

But you shouldn’t overlook the .45 Long Colt. It’s been in production for more than a century and it led to the development of the .45 ACP, one of the most popular and effective handgun cartridges available.

Just like other older bullets, the round is capable of great versatility and shouldn’t be summarily dismissed.

Modern Loads of .45 Colt Are Fantastically Diverse

Decades ago, the .45 Colt was basically a .45 ACP with a larger case, since the latter was made by shoehorning the former into a round that would work in an auto-loading pistol. It was a big, slow bullet that made up for any deficiency in velocity with energy and penetration. In it’s day, it was one of the most powerful black powder cartridges available.

Today, a number of .45 Colt loads are very similar. Plenty of 225 and 250 grain loads are available that produce muzzle velocities under 1000 fps and 300 to 500 foot-pounds of energy. There are also reduced-recoil, black powder and cowboy-shooting loads for target practice that fall even further below those figures.

Given that .45 Colt is normally chambered in medium to large-frame revolvers, that means a large round that’s easier to shoot than magnum loads but packs more punch than a .38 Special. That’s a plus for someone that doesn’t want to mess with auto controls or a snubbie.

However, there’s a sinister side to the .45 LC. Modern firearms made to modern specifications and tolerances can take a lot more than guns of the Old West. Modern smokeless powders have enabled handloaders and manufacturers to get almost double the performance out of the round.

Some ammunition makers produce .45 Colt loads capable of 1400 fps and muzzle energy in excess of 1000 ft/lbs of energy. In other words… into .44 Magnum territory. That’s a lot of versatility for a century-old cartridge.

Capable Woods Gun And Carbine Round


The modern .45 Colt is a capable woods gun and carbine round for short-range rifle hunting, at distances of about 100 yards or so. The longer barrel of a pistol-caliber carbine (such as the Winchester 1892 and derivatives thereof) will produce greater velocities as well as improve accuracy of the round.

It will certainly work as a game-getter at close range. While not as powerful as the .45-70, a carbine in .45 Colt is certainly no slouch.

As a woods gun, it’s a capable backup gun as the hotter loads produce magnum performance. Heck, CCI even makes ratshot rounds which could easily down small birds.

There is, though, the slight catch that you have to buy a modern revolver to reap the benefits. Reproductions of black powder revolvers cannot tolerate the pressures of modern ammunition, so that Uberti Walker Colt you’ve been thinking of cartridge converting won’t be able to fire those Buffalo Bore +P rounds.

Besides, what you’ll pay for it, plus the conversion cylinder, works out to about the cost of a Ruger Redhawk that WILL shoot those Buffalo Bore +P rounds.