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Straight Shooters Cast Bullets
Rifle Magazine
October - November 2000
Volume 35, Number 5
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 207
On the cover...
The Kimber Classic Stainless Gold Match .45 ACP is
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Ramshot powders is a new entry into the American canister powder market. The powders are imported or purchased domestically by Western Powders, Inc. of Miles City, Montana, then packaged and distributed under the Ramshot label. Western, for those with long memories, was once known as Roundup Powders. The name change occurred in 1992, but the company continues under the same ownership. There are currently nine powders in the Ramshot canister line for rifle, handgun and shotgun reloading. Western Powders also distributes other noncanister powders to ammunition manufacturers.

True Blue is imported from Belgium and is a handgun powder promoted for use in small- to medium-sized cases. Like all nine of the powders, True Blue is double based and sphere shaped. The individual kernels are extremely small, almost dustlike, which provides a bulk density of 935 grams/liter. The powder should meter very well through handloaders’ powder measures. It is very clean burning and shot-to shot consistency is excellent.

The place to start when familiarizing oneself with Ramshot powders is with its Load Guide - Edition One, free for the asking from Western Powders. All data is well laid out. For True Blue, data is provided for the .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, 9mm +P, .38 Special, .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .45 Colt.

For each powder data is provided by caliber; for the bullet by weight, manufacturer and type; the brass by manufacturer; and the primer by manufacturer and type. The powder charge is given as is the overall cartridge length. Average velocity is shown, as well as the standard deviation and maximum average pressure. This latter figure is an average of the peak pressures for 10 shots through the company’s test barrels. Each test barrel’s length and twist are noted as is the SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) recommended maximum average pressure for the cartridge.

The reader will note that sometimes more than one powder charge is given for a particular bullet and is advised to begin with the lowest charge and work up as the signs warrant. Other times only a single charge is given. The manual makes no note of cutting the powder charge to start in such instances. Nor should it be necessary provided the handloader does not substitute components and, in particular, observes the cartridge overall length. In the event any change is made, cutting the powder charge to start by 5 percent would be the prudent thing to do.

When I set out to test the True Blue powder, I chose, in the interest of time, to work with the .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP and .45 Colt.

With the .38 Special I chose the Speer 140-grain JHP, a bullet I’ve come to like in this caliber and in the .357 Magnum. The manual listed this bullet with 5.3 grains at a projected velocity of 825 fps (from a 7.71-inch test barrel). I recorded 672 fps from a 4 5/8-inch Ruger Blackhawk. Extreme spread was not good, nor was accuracy. Mindful that the manual listed a 140-grain Sierra JHC with 5.6 grains of True Blue, I upped the charge to 5.5 grains. Things immediately improved with a velocity of 761 fps, an extreme spread of only 28 fps and a single digit standard deviation. Accuracy improved also, but in fairness, I was shooting the .38 Special in a revolver chambered for the .357 Magnum. I expected going to the proper length case would help and, boy, did it.


For the .357 Magnum tests, I used the same gun as before. Here I chose the 158-grain Sierra JSP. Only one powder charge was recommended: 9.5 grains. I started with 9.3 grains with only so-so results. Upping the charge to the recommended amount, results were excellent. Muzzle velocity clocked in at 1,209 fps; extreme spread was quite small, and the standard deviation was back in single digits. Accuracy was as good as it gets for that particular gun. This is a fine load.

Next came the .45 ACP. Beginning to sense that True Blue is at its best at the maximum recommended charge weight and when paired with bullets of traditional weight for the caliber, I opted for a 230-grain Sierra JHP. The manual called for 7.3 grains for a variety of bullets of this weight. As luck would have it, the Sierra JHP wasn’t among them, but a Sierra 230-grain FMJ was. Anyway, I began with 7.0 grains and worked my way up to 7.3 grains, the listed charge. It turned out to be an exceptional load, registering 821 fps from the Colt Government Model’s 5-inch barrel. The 7.71-inch test barrel generated from 824 to 861 fps for the same powder charge, depending upon the bullet used. For my load, functioning and reliability were excellent as was accuracy. Ten-ring, if not X-ring, groups were commonplace at 25 yards. A power factor of 188+ should satisfy those who are concerned about such matters. Again, I was quite pleased with this load.

Lastly, the .45 Colt was shot. Here only one bullet weight was listed, the cast Rushmore roundnose flatpoint (RNFP) at 250 grains. Winchester and Starline brass were listed, oddly, each with its own cartridge overall length - the former at 1.566 inches, the latter at 1.580 inches. Normally, we think of the factors controlling cartridge length as being, in this case, cylinder length, bullet length and the placement of the crimping cannelure or groove. Also the traditional OAL for the cartridge is 1.600 inches, sufficient for even the relatively short Colt cylinders.

In the end, it didn’t really matter. As pressures were modest, I worked with several cast bullets of this weight and a couple different case makes. Cases were crimped in the appropriate groove. A charge of 9.4 grains listed for Starline brass promised 925 fps from a 7.26-inch test barrel. From a 5 1/2-inch Ruger Bisley Vaquero I obtained 876 fps, very low extreme spreads, single digit standard deviations and sub-2-inch groups at 25 yards. This load is just about spot on for a duplication of the traditional factory load, and accuracy was excellent.

As with most new powder releases, load data is scant at first. To that end, Western Powders is constantly developing new data for all its powders and posting them on its web site. Also a hardcover reloading manual is under development and should be available this year. Ramshot powders are available in one- and 4-pound canisters.

Even with the plight of the American handloader with respect to the availability of powder choices, being truly an embarrassment of riches, I suspect we’ll still find a place for True Blue. For more information, contact Western Powders, PO Box 158, Miles City MT 59301; or call 1-800-497-1007; or visit its web site: www.ramshot.com.

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