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John Kloehr

Philosophy question: .38 Special or 45LC

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Philosophical considerations, please no caliber war. I just got here and don't want to get booted. Also feel free to correct anything I have a wrong opinion on.

 

When looking at what the top shooters are running, .38 Special seems to be heavily favored.

 

And I do want to shoot fast.

 

But... The .45LC looks really cool and feels really good in my hands. I really like the thought of working with it. When I was welcomed as a guest at Oak Ridge, one of the members let me shoot his rifle in .45LC, and another loaned me his revolvers with the same ammo. I have to admit I liked it although the loads were a bit hot.

 

And while it seems to be a good idea to run one caliber in both rifle and revolver, this is not historically accurate. From what I have read, the .45LC was a revolver round. So what would be historically accurate for rifle? I'll need to decide if that matters to me, but I like the simplicity of only having one centerfire cartridge to deal with. Or in the pursuit of speed, might I end up with one load for rifle and another for revolver, even if they are the same caliber?

 

And black powder smoke looks awesome compared to modern accelerants... Can I run black powder in .38 Special?

 

What other considerations might I be missing?

 

I need to sort this out before springing for firearms.

 

 

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.38 Special is cheap to reload?

Lighter recoil. 

Brass and bullets very easy to find.

.38 Special will do everything you need done in SASS.

BP loading is a whole new reloading world and YES to BP in .38 Special. 

Believe in KISS :excl:

OLG 

 

 

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My best performance ever was with 45's. Having said that I have moved to .38's as the cost per round is less, especially with BP.  I do shoot large caliber when shooting BP matches because of the buck and smoke but my wife prefers 38's in smokeless or BP.

Eventually you will end up with more than one set of guns so...

 

Doc Nelson

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I did a cost analysis of the various popular calibers in smokeless cowboy loads.
These prices reflect my own costs for modest bulk purchases.

The single largest expense for supplies is the brass itself.
Note: this is a one-time expense, as many of the shooters get a whole lot of reloads before having to replace it.

Bullets are the highest per-shot expense.
 

 

image.reloading.expense.sfw.jpg

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Is $ per grain the cost of powder? If so, I'm a little confused how Clays cost $0.0038 per grain and $0.0026 per grain.

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If you feel that you want to shoot with Black Powder then in my humble opinion 44-40 is the best cartridge.  The bottle neck brass will reduce blow back much better than .45 or .38 and you can also use smokeless in the same brass.

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19 minutes ago, bgavin said:

I did a cost analysis of the various popular calibers in smokeless cowboy loads.
These prices reflect my own costs for modest bulk purchases.

The single largest expense for supplies is the brass itself.
Note: this is a one-time expense, as many of the shooters get a whole lot of reloads before having to replace it.

Bullets are the highest per-shot expense.
 

image.reloading.expense.sfw.jpg

 

Brass lasts for a great many loadings. 

The bullet is the most expensive component used in each loading.

Also, buy in bulk and the price drops even more.

OLG 

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Never heard anyone say, "You had the fastest time, but Cowboy X wins because he had cooler guns,"

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if budget isnt an issue shoot what you like. I run 45's and 44/40's the most because that's what I like. I pretty much only shoot black powder. The mrs shoots black powder through her 38's all the time. It really is shoot what you like or can afford. If you dont want to add any extra steps in the reloading or cleaning process and truly want to shoot the holy black then I would absolutely lean towards 44/40 or 38/40 calibers for all your guns. 

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1 minute ago, Marshal Chance Morgun said:

Never heard anyone say, "You had the fastest time, but Cowboy X wins because he had cooler guns,"

i've never had the fastest times but i've always got the coolest guns in my mind lol 

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JOHN,

 

I started out with .45 Ruger's with .38 Marlin.

Then went to .38 Rugers with .38 Marlin.

Then went to .32 H&R Rugers with .32 Marlin AND...I also still use my .45 Rugers with the .32 Marlin.

 

Ya see.....we all get 'hankerins' as we move thru this sport/game.   Its hard to advise someone on what might

be best for them.

Once you decide on your pistols and caliber, what barrel length are you gonna want..... 4+",   5.5",  6.5" 7" or 7.5".

There are buku variables that all of us play with.

 

Pick something you think at this time will allow you to enjoy shooting.

 

As for speed, well some of your speedsters are fast with just about any gun and caliber you put in their hands.

It comes from their practice routines...... lots of practice.

Same with the Shotgun.  You may find the SxS is your magic.  Or the 1897  or even the 1887.

There are some mighty fast shooters that use all of these.

 

Good luck in your findings and hope to see you at the range soon.

 

..........Widder

 

 

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There is a fellow on this Wire selling once-fired, 38 Special brass for 3-cents a case.  You don't find this kind of deal of 45 Colt brass.  If you love 45 Colt ammo you can shoot Classic Cowboy (an excellent category) and be on a level playing field.

 

38 Special started out as a black powder cartridge and soon become a smokeless revolver round.  I shoot 38 Specials in Frontier Cartridge and love the caliber (so does my pocketbook).

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1 hour ago, Marshal Chance Morgun said:

Is $ per grain the cost of powder? If so, I'm a little confused how Clays cost $0.0038 per grain and $0.0026 per grain.


You are absolutely correct... thanks much for catching that.
Copy and paste is easier/faster than retyping all the calculations, and I blew it on the powder price.

My apologies to OLG, his quote copy of my original chart shows the wrong data.

Cost is price per pound / 7000 grains in one pound.

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Now, if you really want a math project, figure the cost per round on a Dillon vs a Lee.:P.

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You could shoot both calibers.  I did for years.  
 

Sometimes you want to go fast.  Sometimes you want to hurt the targets.

 

Yes, it requires more guns.  How is that a problem?  B)

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I have never shot a CAS match with a .38 Special.  I am debating whether or not to sell my 2 almost new NMV's in .357.  It has always been,  .44-.40, .44 Special of . 45 Colt for me.  I shoot Classic simply because it is fun, no other reason.  I shoot CAS to have fun and I like the larger calibers.  It is not a philosophical dilemma, it is all about having fun and enjoying whatever you bring to the table.  When I shot practical pistol and 3 gun in the past, it was about speed and winning.  I don't need to play that hard anymore or do I care to.  Don't get me wrong, we all like to do well but I find it more rewarding for me to send big bullets down range.  Most importantly, just enjoy the sport, the people and the good times.  Just my opinion...

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The .38 reload factor may be important to you.  You can buy once-fired or other non- SASS .38 Special brass inexpensively and literally reload it 30 times+ if you reload at the low velocities that most CAS shooters tend to.

 

Cat Brules

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bgavin,

 

I don't know about those particular powders that you listed, but not all jugs of smokeless powder are 16oz (1 pound).

 

Some are actually listed as 14 oz.    Clays is one of them.   So some jugs of powder are not 7000 grains.

 

..........Widder

 

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It is not price per jug, it is price per pound.
I buy Clays in 8# and Trail Box in 2#

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If reloading cost is a huge concern you can always make your own BP. My price per pound is roughly $2.60 if you don't count labor. :P

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Cowboy Action Shooting is about what you want to make it.  There is no right or wrong.  Most of the time you really won't know what the other shooters are shooting unless you ask or pick up brass.  There are extremely fast 45  shooters out there but the majority of them shoot 38 caliber.  Like Widder said,  it really is all about practice.  If you want to go fast ask the fast shooters what they use and buy firearms, holsters accordingly.  If you are more interested in the era, there are plenty of shooters that study that also.  The no. 2 shooter in the Winter Range Nationals shots 38 special, black powder.  My advice is to shoot other shooters firearms and talk  to them concerning any modifications they have made and why they picked what they did.  Most fast shooters have something done to each firearm.  Nothing wrong with shooting firearms without modifications either.  You can look around the SASS website under EOT champions and see what some of them shoot.  There is a great deal of information concerning firearms, loads, holsters etc on the wire.  If you like the feel of shooting the 45 caliber, then shoot them.  Practice, watch videos, attend clinics and get whatever advice you can get.  Doc Shapiro, Long Hunter, and Evil Roy just to name a few have readily available videos that explain many things.  Have fun most of all!!!!

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One thing if you shoot 45 vs 38spl, guns are lighter. Bigger bore=less steel in gun.

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Most top shooter's shoot a lot. So if you do the math it's a LOT bigger saving than people think when you shoot 38 vs 45. If you shoot once a month and don't practice who cares?

 

But if you have a wife and/or kids doing it as well then it's even more of a savings. It's $34 vs $46 for every 500. That's just lead.....not powder or brass. That alone times  2000 bullets a month is $48 dollars a month difference just in lead. Or 576 dollars a year if you shoot year round. It's not going to make or break you most likely but the 38's ring steel just as well you just don't get to say you shoot a 45. 

 

Last I have felt 45's that have less reoil than my 38's...it's all about the powder charge..........and usually they belong to a person that makes sure you know he's shooting 45's..........lol

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I started with .45 Colt.  Because of a hand injury, I had to figure out a way to reduce recoil.  I didn't want to start over so I went to C.45 Spl.  Because I believe in the KISS principle, I converted my main match rifle to C .45 Spl.  

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I started off in 1996 with .38 spl. I switched to .45's the following year and shot that caliber for years. I wanted to go to black powder and switched to .44-40, I did that for about 8 years. I switched to smokeless and then went back to .38's. I've been shooting .38's with smokeless now for about 3 years and I feel like I came back home. The ease of reloading and the cost savings with .38's is what I like. Just MHO

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I bought some buckets of brass at Winter Range years ago. It was about 2/3 .38 Special and 1/3 all the rest. While you can load different loads of the same caliber for pistol and rifle, I would say most would load what the rifle takes well and use the same for the pistol. 

Bottle neck cartridges are optimum for BP, but many use straight wall cases and seem happy. 

Research what categories you would like to shoot and assemble your guns and gear for that. After time, you'll probably add to it. I would bet few have stayed with only their starter guns and gear, not adding to the collection. For that matter, how many have not experimented with different bullet weights & shapes or powder?

Try before you buy, ask around and don't get in a rush to do it. This is a great pastime and there are lots reasons for doing it. 

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9 hours ago, Turkey Flats Jack said:

If reloading cost is a huge concern you can always make your own BP. My price per pound is roughly $2.60 if you don't count labor. :P

Putting you on the spot. If you have time or desire, I'm sure quite a few of us would like information on how to make our own black powder. 

A new post would be great with your techniques or where to look at instructions or videos. 

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You will need to use a dash caliber to be truly authentic, philosophically or historically, .38-40 or .44-40. Both are very black friendly and many guns are chambered for them. The .32 or .38s are the least expensive, good for the ladies, shooters with arthritic hands and of course gamers. The .45 is the most expensive, not truly authentic except in the movie/tv context, but can be downloaded with lighter bullets and cowboy special brass, it’s easy to reload and just about every repro gun is also chambered for it. All my cas guns are .45s with the exceptions of a couple of 44-40 winchester muskets, I shoot duelist too. It’s all about having fun. Whether you choose to be a competitor, a reenactor or a casual shooter it’s up to you. 

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15 hours ago, John Kloehr said:

 

 

"But... The .45LC looks really cool and feels really good in my hands. I really like the thought of working with it. When I was welcomed as a guest at Oak Ridge, one of the members let me shoot his rifle in .45LC, and another loaned me his revolvers with the same ammo. I have to admit I liked it although the loads were a bit hot."

 

Hi, what more needs to be said. I eat my own cooking as I use a 38 WCF. Wearing a cowboy hat doesn't improve scores but it makes the sport more fun. A 38 Special is acceptable if you like the cartridge, it was introduced in 1898. You say you 45 Colt is "really cool". Go with your heart, good luck, regards, Mike

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971 said:

If you love 45 Colt ammo you can shoot Classic Cowboy (an excellent category) and be on a level playing field.

+1

and also if you are considering to shoot Wild Bunch a big bore rifle ( > .40 ) is required ;)

 

Equanimous

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15 hours ago, John Kloehr said:

But... The .45LC looks really cool and feels really good in my hands. I really like the thought of working with it. When I was welcomed as a guest at Oak Ridge, one of the members let me shoot his rifle in .45LC, and another loaned me his revolvers with the same ammo. I have to admit I liked it although the loads were a bit hot.

 

Howdy

 

Yes, the 45 Colt is a very cool cartridge. It has been around since 1873. However, if you want to shoot fast, I suggest you start with 38 Special. Some new shooters buy 45 Colt, because of its mystique, but then they try to shoot fast, and find the recoil prevents it. So they try to down load the 45 Colt and shoot very light bullets, so it recoils about the same as a lightly loaded 38. The big cavernous case of the 45 Colt does not always do well when loaded way down. With a light load of Smokeless powder, the large amount of airspace inside can lead to spotty ignition and inconsistent powder burn. Yes, there is the 45 Cowboy Special, designed specifically to shoot light loads in a 45. The case is much shorter than a 45 Colt, it has the same interior capacity of a 45 ACP, and the same loading data can be used. But last time I looked, 45 CS was pretty expensive, and frankly, I don't know where you would buy them in quantity today. There is always the 45 Schofield too, a shorter 45 caliber case than 45 Colt, but longer than 45 CS. Most revolvers that will shoot 45 Colt can also shoot 45 Schofield, however sometimes there is a problem because of the larger rim diameter of the 45 Schofield case. Schofield brass tends to be pricey too,

 

Here is a photo of various 45 caliber cartridges. Left to right they are 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 45 Cowboy Special, 45 Auto Rim, and 45 ACP. (Automatic Colt Pistol)

 

poQZHysyj

 

 

 

 

I just checked the Starline Brass site, which is where I buy all my brass for comparative prices.

45 Colt  $115/500

45 Schofield  $121.50/500

45 Cowboy Special $129/500

38 Special $83/500

 

Yes, Starline does make 45 CS. I only quoted prices for 500 to keep  everything comparable. You may find better prices elsewhere, and you can probably buy less than 500 at a time at places like Midway USA (you can look it up)

 

15 hours ago, John Kloehr said:

From what I have read, the .45LC was a revolver round. So what would be historically accurate for rifle?

 

That is correct. 45 Colt was never chambered in rifles until sometime in the 1980s. You will hear a lot of theories about how Winchester would not chamber their rifles in a cartridge with the name Colt on it, but the fact is, in the 19th Century 45 Colt ammunition had very small rims, much smaller than today.  A rifle extractor could not get a good grip on the rims of some of the old 45 Colt ammo.

 

Here is a photo of some old 45 Colt rounds. Notice how tiny the rims are on most of them. You don't need a very wide rim to keep the round from being shoved too far into the chamber of a revolver, and most of the old revolvers used an ejector rod to poke the empties out from inside. The round second from the right is a round that was loaded for the Army to be used in one of the double action revolvers of the time, and it had a much larger rim so the revolver extractor could reliably extract it. Which is the reason that 45 Schofield also has a wider rim, for the extractor of the S&W Schofield revolver. the round all the way on the right is a modern 45 Colt round, with a rim large enough for a rifle extractor to grab.

 

pnzh1RyHj

 

 

 

 

The Winchester Center Fire rounds (WCF) were the most common rifle rounds in the 19th Century. In this photo, left to right, the rounds are 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40 (44WCF), 44 Russian, 38-40 (38WCF), and 45-70. Notice the 45 Colt, 44-40, and 38-40 are all approximately the same length. In Black Powder days, cartridges were completely filled with powder, so the relative size of the cartridge was a good indicator of relative power.

 

pmyhd5Hjj

 

 

 

 

I scrounged around in my hard drive and found this comparitive photo of a 44-40, 38-40, and 32-20 (32WCF) round.

 

po71XZlJj

 

 

 

 

14 hours ago, Nickel City Dude said:

If you feel that you want to shoot with Black Powder then in my humble opinion 44-40 is the best cartridge.  The bottle neck brass will reduce blow back much better than .45 or .38 and you can also use smokeless in the same brass.

 

Sorry, I always have to correct this statement when I see it. It is not the shape of 44-40, or 38-40 or even 32-20 that makes it seal the chamber better than 45 Colt. It is because the brass of these cartridges is thinner at the case mouth than 45 Colt. So they seal the chamber better, eliminating blow back better, than a round with thicker brass at the case mouth, such as 45 Colt.

 

 

Regarding making your own Black Powder, I strongly suggest against that. You need to have plenty of open space, so the powder can be corned (ground into grains) with nobody and nothing nearby. Powder mills used to explode regularly, and it usually happened when the powder was being corned.

 

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I was into the Colt .45 cartridge before CAS became a thing.  It was a romantic thing, brought

up on the old westerns it just required that I own a .45 revolver, as well as my .45 ACP pistol.

 

I've always thought of the .45 Colt as an adequate fight stopper (ignoring the more modern load now available),

as i did the .45 ACP so it seemed adequate to use both at full power and at reduced loads for target and practice.

 

Once I left IPSC (where I shot .38 super) and started shooting CAS in the 90's, it seemed appropriate to get

more .45's and a rifle as well.  I didn't want to deal with different calibers, as having a family it was cheaper to

stick with one.

 

In my opinion the Colt .45 can be loaded light enough to reduce the time between shot splits, it's really about transitions

when it comes to going fast in CAS.  I'm not sure caliber is as significant as practice, working on splits, and focusing

on body movement and timing.

 

I love the historical and romantic aspect of the caliber, and if I had started with a brace of Colt's in .357 magnum I would

have used them, but I had .45s and wanted to stick with them.  I left speed behind when I left IPSC.

 

YMMV, but I'd go with what you love, whether it be the caliber of the idea of winning.

 

Shadow Catcher

 

ps - attached is one of my favorites!

 

L1001037-2.jpg

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3 hours ago, Trooper Ozzy said:

Putting you on the spot. If you have time or desire, I'm sure quite a few of us would like information on how to make our own black powder. 

A new post would be great with your techniques or where to look at instructions or videos. 

against better judgement I went ahead and posted a write up. Now i'll wait for everyone to tell me how dangerous it is lol

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Get guns in .38 WCF. (.38-40 )... good to go in all categories ,,, Including Wild Bunch if you want ...

This is the Best cartridge for use with Black Powder bar none !!! 

Having said that I shoot 1872 Open-Tops in .44 Spl. and a 66 Sporting Rifle in .38 WCF. , I shoot FCD ...

I also Like my .45 Colts and shot them for years ...

I am not a Fan of .38 spl. ,,, but to each his own ...

 

Jabez Cowboy

 

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Unbelievable wonderful replies to my question.

 

I have stayed away and refrained from replying as I did not want to steer the direction, just see where it went.

 

Hopefully I will have time tomorrow to go through the replies and respond. Just wanted everyone to know I did not suddenly disappear.

 

And even now, I see there are three more replies I have not read yet.

 

Hearts will be inbound to everyone just before I respond to all of the inputs.

 

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