This is reprinted from a Facebook post. It’s a bit repetitive/redundant here, but I want to document the process.
My latest reloading adventure has been .450 Boxer/ .450 Adams (also known as .450 Corto, .450 Colt and .45 Webley. In 1868 this became the first metallic cartridge to be officially adopted by the British Military. Even at the time of it’s adoption it was acknowledged to be somewhat under-powered, but it was felt that it’s logistic advantages offset this. It was replaced in service in 1880, but remained a ‘second standard’ issue item through WW2.
The standard load for this was a 225gr. RNL bullet over 13gr. of FFFFg powder. This gave a velocity in the neighborhood of 700 fps. in a service-length gun- rather less in the compact ‘Bulldog’ style guns it was commonly used in. For that application- police and civilian self-defense- the cartridge was viewed as quite satisfactory and it was widely used throughout the latter half of the 19th and well into the 20th C. in small concealable revolvers. Since the early 20th C. it has been loaded with smokeless powder.
This cartridge is now almost entirely out of production, though Fiocchi seems to still do a run of it occasionally, packaged as .450 Corto. There have been reports that this ammunition has been unreliable, resulting in damage to some guns. It is usually advised to view this ammunition as a source of primed brass- pull the bullets and reload it.
I planned from the first to ‘roll my own,’ so the first hurdle was brass. I was able to look up the cartridge dimensions and the rim thickness. I started with .45 Colt brass. The first thing was to grind off the headstamp on de-primed brass. This left a rtim approximately .040″. I had intended to use a primer-pocket reamer to deepen the primer pocket, but this proved unnecessary. Then I shortened the brass to an overall length of 17mm.
For bullets I first turned to my standby, a 200gr. RNFP lead. But what to do for a load? All I could find were black powder loads, which were all basically the same. I decided to try Trail Boss, which is designed for mild loads in black-powder cartridges. It has a high volume-to-weight ratio, so it’s difficult to dangerously overload a cartridge. Following the manufacturer’s recommended methodology for developing a load- which amounts to filling the case to the base of the loaded bullet, measuring that and them backing off a little to start. This yielded a load of 2.0 gr. of Trail Boss. Huh.
I was a little dubious but took them to the range for a trial, firing them out of a SAA clone. There was virtually no recoil and ignition was somewhat inconsistent; there were a few rounds that went *Pamph!* rather than *bang* and scattered some un-burned powder, but everything cleared the barrel and went downrange. Accuracy was reasonable and none of the bullets key-holed.
For the second trial I used the same load, but this time with a heavy roll-crimp. This made a difference- ignition was consistent, the report was notably louder and sharper and recoil was noticeably increased (though still mild.)
The gun I was loading for arrived along with a couple of hundred 200gr. Hollow-base RNL and some brass, so I loaded these over 2.0gr of Trail Boss with a CCI 300 Large Pistol Primer, again with a heavy roll-crimp. When fired from the antique Bulldog revolver these performed quite satisfactorily as a range load.
I have to guess at the velocity as I do not have a chronograph, but I know that the paper targets I am using tear when hit with projectiles travelling less than 500 fps. Even before using the roll-crimp that wasn’t happening with these loads. I am guessing that I am currently getting 550 fps. or so.
They fly straight, they are reasonably accurate and they all get out the barrel, which is good enough for a range load for an antique gun.
I’m also going to work up some loads using Unique and Red Dot- but very, very carefully! I’ll let you know how that goes.