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From: Norman Johnson <>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: (Fwd) 45 cal snake shot
Date: 8 Apr 2000 11:49:59 -0400


#Having a 45 Colt but not a 45 ACP, I need to know if I could use the 45 ACP
#snake shot in my single action.  If not, does anyone know where I might get
#45 Colt snake shot?  Yes, I know that I'm not fast enough if I was just
#walking around but I would like to carry it on my tractor while mowing brush
#to try to nail rattlesnakes before they get away.

# Another question, I want to build shot shells for my .45 LC.  Do you
# know of a rimmed, rifle round that is close enough to the OD of a .45
# LC round that I could cut it down to make shot shells?  I have an old
# article on making them for the .45 ACP using rimless rifle rounds,
# but that wouldn't work for the LC.  Ideas?

Both .444 Marlin and .308 cases (see next to last paragraph below).

Full length shot loads are made up from brass that will allow a
shot cartridge that is the same OAL as a standard bulleted car-
tridge in a given caliber.  I use .308 or .30-06 brass to make up
my .45ACP shot cartridges and .303 British to make .44 Magnum
or .44 Special.  The portion of the shot cartridge where the
bullet would normally extend is swaged down with a smaller die
for the proper length.  For instance, the .44 Special/Magnum shot
cartridge is swaged with a .41 Magnum die for the appropriate
"bullet" section.  This allows 50-100% more shot to be used than
is possible with traditional factory shot cartridges such as
the .22LR or .38 Special, both of which suffer from too small a
shot load.

Shot is held in a cut-to-length .410 shot cup.  It is held in
place by a gas check that is inverted over the shot then crimped
with a suitable die so that the brass case just cuts into the gas
check's (very short) mid section.  It actually cuts a little
crimp groove into the gas check.  The resulting shot cartridge is
rugged enough to take normal field handling and withstand recoil
in the magazine and cylinder.  If memory serves, I used a .375
gas check for .44 and .45 shot loads.

Incidentally, when the cases are cut off to appropriate length,
they should not be inside-chamfered.  The sharp inside edge cuts
the crimp into the gas check.

For the .45 ACP, the easy way today is to get a set of RCBS .45
shot loading dies.  That way you will not have to experiment with
dies, crimping tricks, etc.  These will make loads that feed in
your 1911, unlike the old military issue shot loads that would not
cycle the action. 

My full length REVOLVER shot loads were not all that successful
in that the cylinder was often tied up by case set back much as
was the S&W .22 Jet - the reason that revolver failed commercial-
ly.  The .45 ACP shot loads used in the 1911 are 100% successful,

# To what do you attribute the setback? 

As in the firing of all conventional cartridges, the first move-
ment of the case sets it back against bolt or recoil shield,
which ever is appropriate to the gun.  The case then expands to
fill the chamber.  The pressure is such that (apparently) the
temporary enlargement of the chamber allows the case to expand so
that its natural contraction after firing leaves it larger than
when originally chambered - so much so that it is now wedged
between the bolt/recoil shield and the necked down portion of
the chamber.  Since the recoil shield cannot move, one now has a
tied up cylinder.  A similar thing happens to a bolt gun when
fired but the bolt is cammed away from the case head face. 

I did a lot of chamber casts of many revolvers during that time
in attempt to relate the chamber shapes, especially the case-to-
bullet transition in revolver cylinders, to the set-back charac-
teristics.  Some cylinders have very abrupt transitions while
others use a gentle, almost forcing cone transition.                         

I learned some things about revolver cylinders at that time but 
was not able to correlate the aforementioned transition, chamber
roughness, or any other characteristic that I could think of to 

Annealing the case from dead soft to just a little made almost no
difference.  Using old brass that was work hardened from many   
loadings did not change things either.  I tried many brands of  
brass.  Only one brand always worked dependably (cannot remember
which; no records here); the others had varying records. I have
no idea why that brand worked.  Powder charges from heavy to very
light made no difference. 

Contact with writers who had discussed shot loads was useless. 
They all denied that they had any such problems.  My feeling is
that they ignored the problem in order to write a "successful"
article.  Only old Ken Waters would admit to ever having case
set-back and cylinder tie-up. And he said that it was not often. 

In some of my reading of very old publications since I did those
experiments, the shooters drilled out the cylinders and bores to
make full length shot loads.  Although they did not state that it
was so, evidently it was commonly known that cylinder tie-up
would occur if the cylinder chambers were not bored through. 

Do not remove the rifling from your revolver barrel for better
shot performance.  Ridiculous legislators have proclaimed this to
be unlawful. 

I have used both .444 Marlin and .308 cases to make up .45 Colt
shot loads.  Both work ok (except for the cylinder tie up
problems that I discussed).  

The .444 Marlin rimmed case is necessary in the double action guns
for easy extraction.  Either one is ok for single actions where
extraction is accomplished using the ejection rod. 

Not related to the above, but handy: 

Buck Shot           Buck Shot
  Size              Diameter
  00                   .33
  0                    .32
  1                    .30
  3                    .25
  4                    .24

God Bless!


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