Ruger Bearcat 4.2″ Barrel

Ruger Bearcat (Adjustable Sights) 4.2″ Barrel

Ammunition Bullet Weight (grains) String Size Avg Velocity Ext Spread Std Dev Notes
Federal 550 Round Value Pack (old, need to confirm grain) 36 6 Shots 984 66 26 Old pack with some corrosion on the bullet plating, but clean brass. Hard to load. Spit lead once. Box says 1280 @ muzzle, 1020 @ 100 yards
CCI 40grain CPRN “AR Tactical” 40 6 Shots 964 51 19 Easy to load
Aguila Super Extra 40gr 40 4 Shots 948 54 22.2 Nominal 1,255 fps @ muzzle, 1036fps @ 100 yards
Aguila Golden Eagle “Eley Prime” 40 4 Shots 847 18 7.8 Discontinued? Exposed lead. Nominal 1080fps.
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Cleaning Load with CFE

I though a “Copper Fouling Eraser” powder would be great for jacketed loads meant to be shot at the ned of a session to “clean” out lead fouling. I was skeptical of the very high velocity / low pressure load data the powder maker published. It looked too good to be true. My initial load didn’t use exact components and chronographed ~10% slower than advertised. So I tried exact components, and was pleasantly surprised to get within 1% of the advertised velocity.

Cartridge: 45 Colt

Brass: Winchester, 1x fired

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: CFE Pistol 8.8gr (per Hodgdon)

Bullet: 250 gr Nosler JHP, #43013

Crimp: Heavy Lee factory crimp

Velocity: 841 fps (814,868,844,850,825,845)

Extreme Spread (6 shots): 814-868 = 54fps

Standard Deviation (6 shots): 19fps

LabRadar Series: S29

Firearm: Ruger Blackhawk, 5.5″ Barrel

Notes: Low flash.

Hodgdon claims 915fps at 13kPSI with a Hornady XTP, WLP Primers, 7.25″ test barrel. I started with the maximum load, on the assumption I would get a cleaner burn at a higher pressure (since 45 Colt is much lower pressure than most modern pistol rounds CFE was presumably designed for). I felt safe doing that because I had a tremendous safety margin since this was intended for a Ruger Blackhawk.

The WLP primer Hodgdon used in their load data is suitable for hard-to-ignite “magnum” powders. Given the inconsistent performance of this load, I should try the WLP or a magnum primer, with my next CFE load, and see if I get more consistency.


I tried this same load with mixed brass, and 250gr HiTek coated lead bullets and got:

Velocity: 963 fps (940, 948, 952, 963, 937, 948, 972, 963, 967, 972, 980, 966, 948, 951, 983, 983, 971, 977, 978)

Extreme Spread (19 shots): 983-937 = 46.12

Standard Deviation (19 shots): 14.63

LabRadar Series: S106

Notes: Recoil was not bad, but a bit snappier than I expected. Hodgon’s load data for a “250gr. cast LRNFP” bullet predicts ~972 fps.


Next, I exactly duplicated the online load data. But I also used a different gun which should give higher velocity on it’s own (6″ Freedom Arms Model 83 with 45 Colt cylinder & minimal cylinder gap).

Brass: Winchester, 2x fired

Primer: Win WLP

Powder: CFE Pistol 8.8gr (per Hodgdon)

Bullet: 250gr Hornady XTP

Velocity: 905 fps (898,909,913,889,910,878,920,916,911,905)

LabRadar Series: S121

Extreme Spread(10x): 42 fps = 920 – 878

Standard Deviation (10x): 12.93

Firearm: Freedom Arm M83, 45 Colt cyl., 6″ Barrel

Notes: 9/10 shots on steel silhouette at 100 yards. Within 10fps (1%) of published velocity. ES and StdDev do not seem much better.