Big .45 Bullets


By: John Goins/akabeagle



As I go through life reading, I think sometimes of the old caliber rifles in history.† Many of them were .45s of some denomination or another.† I often think of some hunter roaming the Maine woods with an 1886 45/70 Winchester loaded with a Gould hollow point bullet, or maybe one of General Custerís troopers as he removed a Trapdoor Springfield Carbine from his saddle on Custer Ridge, or one of the trooper of the 71st Infantry fighting up San Juan Hill with a 45/70 Springfield, or maybe of Lieutenant Parkerís Gatling guns as they fired in support of the assault on San Juan Hill. I like big .45 bullets.


†As I look at my mould shelf, there are 16 ďbigĒ .45 moulds on it.


†These go to feed the .45/70 Marlin (1-20 twist Ballard style rifling) and the 1903A3 Springfield thatís now doing duty as a .458 x2Ē (.458 American)(1-20 twist Douglas barrel).† I did have a Number 1 Ruger in .458 Winchester Magnum but itís gone now, replaced by the 458 X 2 which has a throat more conducive to cast bullet shooting. I will mention the .458 Win as I describe these moulds.


Before I go any further in talking about these bullet designs, let me make a recommendation.† If youíre looking for a mould for a 45/70 Marlin, buy a 45-405-FN RCBS and go no farther. It will do all of the hunting and plinking your heart desires and the weight is such that you have good ignition with most of the .45/70 powders that is sometimes a problem with the lighter bullets.


The weights given are from my alloy and include lube and a gas check where applicable. The weight you obtain from your mould may be different.


Saeco Moulds


Lets take a look at the Saeco moulds since I only have one of those.† Wish I had the #017 and #019 but I only have the† #018 and donít want to repeat styles and weights.


#018 Saeco



Saeco #018


This is a plain base, bore rider weighing 412.5 grains in the solid form and 384.3 grains in the HP version.† It is very accurate in the .45/70, .458 X 2 and a friendís Browning BPCR .45/70. This is a good bullet for all around use.


The RCBS Moulds


The RCBS moulds come in a variety of weights to meet your requirements.† The moulds cast well and are designed with crimp grooves for the Marlin levers. Most will cast right at .458 +/- .0005Ē depending on alloy used.



From L to R:† RCBS 300-FN HP, 405FN HP, 500 FN, 325-FN PB



45-300-FN† RCBS


This is a gas check design weighing 322.5 grains in the solid version and 303.6 grains in the HP version. With the correct powder, it makes a very good plinker in the .45/70 and other .45 rifles. It can be downsized to .452Ē and used in the .45 Colt and .454 Casull.


45-405-FN RCBS


This is another GC design and weighs 414.5 grains in the solid version and 395.5 grains in the HP version. In my opinion, itís the best .45/70 bullet we have today for the levers both for hunting and target use.


45-500-FN RCBS


Another GC design.† Mine runs 516.5 grains in the solid version and I havenít gotten around to hollow pointing this one yet but itís coming.† It will feed and shoots well in the Marlin levers.† Powder space is limited due to the overall length required by Marlins and as a result, velocities in the .45/70 are low.† It will feed through the Marlins and is accurate.† I recently shot some in the 458 X 2 with all of the Reloader 7 I could cram in and got 1700 FPS, which combined with that weight, was more than I really wanted. It is one of the two bullets that will shoot well in the .458 Winchester Magnum Ruger Number 1 with its long throat.


45-325-FN-U RCBS


This is the latest RCBS offering.† Itís a plain base bullet weighing 337.7 grains.† I shoots well in the .45/70 and also in my 458 X 2. Leading can be a problem and Iím using Dacron as filler, which alleviates the leading somewhat. This bullet after downsizing to .452Ē also does double duty in the .45 Colt and I have fired them with good accuracy in the .454 Casull.



Lyman/Ideal Moulds


Lyman/Ideal moulds are interesting designs with a lot of history behind them.† Most will cast .458 +/- .005Ē.† There are obviously more mould than these for the big .45s but these happen to be in my accumulation and are probably the more common ones encountered at gun shows or on E-Bay. Several of these designs are round nose designs.† The use of a flat top punch during sizing will usually ďbumpĒ the noses flat until there is little chance of an accidental discharge in lever guns.



Front L to R:


457122HP, 457191, 457192HP, 457193HP, 457124HP, 457125HP,

457483HP, 457406HP, 457643HP, 462560HP Thorís Hammer





If you own a .45/70, you have to own this mould.† It is a plain base mould that comes as a factory hollow point.† Mine weighs right at 338 grains.† This is known as the Gould mould. Designed by John Barlow but promoted to fame by A.C. Gould, editor/publisher of the ďRifleĒ magazine in the late 1800s. There is one variation of this mould that Iím aware of.† For a time, Lyman made it with a slight bevel base.† The specimen I have shoots just as well as the regular base. Occasionally, older specimens of this mould will be seen labeled as 456122. Most cast right at .458Ē but I have one that runs just over .460Ē.




This mould will be listed sometimes as a 456191.† Itís a plain base design and weighs 298.5 grains.† Iíve owned 4 of these and all cast on the small side with my alloy going less than .458Ē.† Due to the short bearing surface, Iím not as fond of it as other designs. It does downsize to .452Ē well and can be used in the .45 Colt and .454 Casull.† It was originally designed for the older series Winchester .45 Express series of cartridges.




This is another of the older designs for the Winchester Express series.† It is a plain base bullet and weighs 342.4 grains in solid form and 326.9 grains in the hollow point version.† Sitting side by side with a 457122, they are very similar in shape and weight almost the same.† If youíre looking for a 457122 in solid form, this is the one to choose.




This is another of the old Express designs.† This is a plain base bullet and weighs 418.9 grains in the solid form and 390.9 in the hollow point version.†





This bullet was put out by Ideal/Lyman to duplicate the old government ďstandardĒ 45/70 bullet.† Itís a plain base and weighs 398 grains in the solid version and 379.1 grains in the hollow point version. As it was designed for black powder use, you will find that the nose will be somewhat smaller in bore diameter running about .445Ē to compensate for BP fouling.† This diameter can be enlarged (read elsewhere in this book) to give good accuracy.† As it is, sometimes, the small nose gives problems with obtaining good accuracy with smokeless powder.




This bullet was marketed to duplicate the old government 45/70 ďInfantryĒ bullet.† Itís a plain base design and weighs 510 grains in the solid version and 483.5 grains in the hollow point version.† It too has the characteristic small nose for black powder use but if itís expanded to around .450Ē, shoots very well.† It will feed in the Marlin levers although it has to be deep seated to meet OAL figures.† This limits powder space and you will be better off to choose a different bullet for this application.





This is a gas check design.† It weighs 400.7 grains in the solid version and 378.4 grains in the hollow point version. Basically, itís a 457124 with a gas check.† It shoots very well if the nose is large enough to fill and ride the bore.





This is another gas check design.† It weighs 503.2 grains in the solid form and 478 grains in the hollow point version.† This is basically a 457125 design with a gas check.† Again, if the nose is big enough, it shoots well but again, due to OAL constraints; powder space suffers in the 45/70.




This is one of Lymanís later designs and has a crimp groove that is designed with levers in mind to give the proper OAL.† It weighs 449.9 grains in the solid version and 397.8 grains in the hollow point version. It has proven very accurate in my Marlin .45/70 and is a good choice if you want a heavy, plain base bullet.


462560 ďThorís HammerĒ



I list this bullet, as itís one of my favorites.† Originally designed for the .460 Weatherby, it will normally cast a little over .458Ē.† It is a gas check design and weighs 549 grains in the solid version and 532.1 grains in the hollow point version.† It will feed through a Marlin lever but powder space is so limited that higher velocities canít be achieved due to seating depth required.† The large diameter, flat nose makes it devastating on the terminal end.† This is the other bullet Iíd recommend as giving good accuracy in the Ruger Number 1 .458.


The selection of big .45 bullets is great.† Obviously, there are many I didnít cover as there are many new designs for the BPCR shooting sport, which is really outside my realm of shooting.† Many old designs have gone by the wayside and are interesting to cast for and shoot should you be lucky enough to locate old moulds in good condition.†


The history behind the older, big .45 designs is both extensive and interesting should you care to research it.† These and earlier designs were used by our forefathers in hunting, home defense, target shooting and in war.


I hope that you enjoy your quest.




Back to the Casting Fellows Homepage