The mighty 454 Casull represents about as much power as you can package into a standard size 45 caliber handgun. But full power 454 Casull loads generate a high level of recoil and achieving good accuracy with those loads can prove very challenging. Many folks just shoot 45 Colt loads for practice and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But if you already have 454 brass (and no 45 Colt brass), or if you want to avoid having to clean the pronounced chamber powder ring that develops from the use of the shorter 45 Colt brass, you can handload lower power 454 Casull ammo for practice. And since practice loads for the Casull are in the typical magnum revolver power range, they can double as hunting loads for game up to the size of deer and black bear.
Reduced 454 Casull loading data is published by a few sources. Speer’s manual lists three levels of 454 Casull loads, and I found it very helpful in finding the practice loads I like. The loads from the Sierra manual for their 240gr. bullet are also well below maximum power. And Freedom Arms also lists some lower power data on their website (though all their loads were developed using their very stout bullets and their mighty fine and robust revolvers).
One thing to keep in mind with the 454 Casull is that full power loads require very stout bullets to handle they very high pressures and velocities of those loads. But when reducing the loads down to the levels I’ve listed here, bullets designed and suited for the 45 Colt work just fine.
I’ve tried a number of powders in search of nice 454 Casull practice loads. I prefer Hodgdon HS-6 and Ramshot True Blue, or if you want a little more excitement in your practice, IMR4227 or Alliant 2400.
I also tried loads using Winchester 231, Alliant Unique, Hodgdon Universal, Hodgdon Titegroup, Alliant Power Pistol, and Accurate #9. All except Accurate #9 gave acceptable results, and Titegroup turned in some rather nice groups. Accurate #9 seemed somewhat inconsistent at these lower pressure levels and is probably better suited for higher power loads.
I used 45 Caliber Hornady 250gr. XTP, Nosler 250gr. JHP, and Sierra 240gr. bullets in my load testing. Those bullets were designed for 45 Colt velocity and pressure levels and all seemed to perform well in these 454 Casull practice loads. You can use stouter bullets designed for the 454 Casull with these loads, but they are more expensive and unnecessary at the velocity/pressure levels these loads develop. All bullets were seated to their crimping grooves and a moderate roll crimp applied.
A few cautions are in order. First, some of the data is below the starting loads listed by the data sources. I believe the powder charges listed are sufficient to ensure the bullets leave the barrel, but be on the lookout for the possibility of bullets stuck in the bore if you try them in your gun, especially if you have a long barrel (I tested these loads in a 6 1/2” barrel). Second, the 454 Casull has a large case and none of these loads come close to filling the case. In some instances double or triple charges will fit in the case without running over. So make sure each charged case is carefully examined for multiple charges before seating the bullet.
Below is the specific data for the loads I’ve settled on. Please heed the cautionary comments above before use:
***Carefully inspect charged cases for multiple charges when using the above loads.***
Starline cases were used for testing the loads above.
Bullets seated to their crimping groove and a moderate crimp applied to all loads.