Reloading

Loading Data:

The 45 RAPTOR uses 460 SMITH & WESSON MAGNUM reloading data.  Pressure tested data is published by Hodgdon, Accurate Powder and Alliant Powder to name but a few of the available sources.   As with all hand loading, reduce all published starting charges 10% (by weight) and work up in .2 grain increments using a chronograph to measure your velocity.   When measuring velocity, the velocity data published for the 460 SMITH & WESSON MAGNUM is for short handgun barrels, not 16+ inch barrel rifle barrels.  As a result, the velocity you will achieve in a rifle will be much higher than documented in 460 SMITH & WESSON MAGNUM handguns.   For reference, the 300 grain Hornady XTP MAG velocity will be approximately 2200-2300 fps based on the powder, powder lot and environmental conditions (temperature, humidity and altitude).  The 240 grain Hornady XTP MAG velocity will be approximately 2250-2650 fps based on the powder, powder lot and environmental conditions (temperature, humidity and altitude).

Reloading Dies:

The 45 RAPTOR uses 460 SMITH & WESSON MAGNUM reloading dies with the addition of a .308 WINCHESTER shell holder.  Reloading dies are standard products from RCBS, Redding, Hornady, Lee, Lyman and are available from major mail order reloading suppliers such as Midway USA, Graf & Sons, and Brownells.

Bullets:

The .45 is one of the most popular calibers in the United States and bullet makers offer an abundance of bullet options that are too numerous to list.  Remington, Winchester, Federal, Hornady, Sierra, Nosler, Barnes, Swift and countless other manufacturers produce bullets that range from 160-grains up to 395-grains.  In addition, advanced hand-loaders can swage down .458 caliber bullets to .452 caliber using swage dies increasing the range of bullet options to include some heavy weight 500 grains and heavier bullets to produce subsonic loadings for use with a suppressor.

In testing and user experience, the most popular bullets are

Hornady 225 FTX, 240 XTP MAG, 250 FTX, 250 XTP and 300 XTP MAG

Powders:

Hodgdon Lil’Gun and Alliant 300 MP have proven to be excellent performers with all bullet weights.  However, the powders that can be used include

  • Accurate 5744, 1680, LT-30 or LT-32
  • Alliant 300 MP and Reloader 7
  • H4198
  • IMR 4227
  • Vihtavouri N110 and N120.

** While Hodgdon Lil Gun was originally found to perform during development, we have found more recent production lots of Lil Gun are running at a faster burn rate than previous production lots as demonstrated by the powder achieving targeted velocities with 16.1 inch barrels with loads 10+% below Hodgdon’s published load data for the 460 S&W.

When developing your loads, It has been long standing guidance with all cartridges to reduce starting loads 10% by weight and increase incrementally using a chronograph measuring velocity.   Due to variances in manufacturing, powder lots can vary up to +/- 10% in burn rate so never assume that the maximum load in a published manual would be the maximum load using a current production lot.     

Extra caution should be used when developing loads using faster burn rate powders listed (Accurate 5744, Alliant 300 MP, Hodgdon Lil-Gun and Vihtavouri N110) since pressures can increase significantly with small increases in powder charge weight once a certain point is reached.  Some powder manufacturers have advised starting loads should be 15% by weight below published loads with pistol powder and we support following this advise with Accurate 5744, Alliant 300 MP, Hodgdon Lil-Gun and Vihtavouri N110.

Reducing the charge and redeveloping your load should be done every time you are purchasing a new production lot of powder to validate that there is not a variance in production lots.    

It goes without saying that having a quality scale when developing loads is mandatory.   I find the RCBS Chargemaster a good tool, that is worth the investment, dispensing individually weighed powder charges that is only surpassed in precision by using a scientific / medical digital scale combined with a precision powder trickler.   I am not a fan of volume based powder dispensing systems as is common on progressive presses.

Brass:

Raptor Shooting Systems has contracted with Starline to produce brass for the 45 RAPTOR and has over 100,000 rounds of new brass in stock.    This brass is built to the same quality standards as Starline 460 S&W MAGNUM brass.

Raptor Shooting Systems has given permission to Starline that they may sell 45 RAPTOR brass to major outlets such as MidwayUSA or directly on StarlineInc.com should they desire.

Retail pricing of 45 RAPTOR brass is 86 cents per piece in 250 round bags.

Primers:

The 45 RAPTOR is designed for only Large Magnum Rifle primers including the CCI 250 and Federal 215M.   Magnum primers have a harder cup due to the higher operating pressures of magnum cartridges.

Chronograph Use:

A Chronograph is an essential tool in the loading process.   A Chronograph not only provides velocity data for a single shot or the spread of velocities across a series of shorts with the same load.  In addition, a chronograph is used to develop trend data measuring incremental increases in velocity coinciding with incremental increases in powder charge.

As general guidance, incremental increases in velocity due to .2 grain increases in powder charge should be consistent and actually these incremental increases in velocity will decrease as you reach an ideal load.  I find a good load is one that has a small variance in velocity with a charge +/- .2 grains.  If you begin to see these incremental gains in velocity increasing with .2 grain increases in powder charges, it is an indicator of rapidly increasing pressure and you should exercise caution.

For example,  if charges of 39.8, 40.0 and 40.2 grains show very little change in velocity per .2 grain increase in powder charge and increasing to 40.4 grain results in a larger increase in velocity, you have found a good loading node at 39.8 between 40.2 grains.   At that point, test vertical dispersion of 5 shot groups at 39.8, 39.9, 40.0, 40.1 and 40.2 grains and identify which load has the minimum amount of vertical spread on target.

Remember, pushing loads to gain 50 or 100 fps in velocity is not going to result in increased effective range.   Even bullets like the polymer tipped FTX have low ballistic coefficients compared to smaller caliber rifle bullets so it is important to remember what cartridges like the 45 RAPTOR are and are not. The 45 RAPTOR is high kinetic energy hunting cartridge designed for center of mass shots on larger game animals inside 200 yards not a high precision bench rest cartridge being pushed to the limits of precision.   If you are shooting groups less than 2 inches at 100 yards and less than 4 inches at 200 yards, you are well within a 6-inch vital zone diameter of deer, feral hogs and larger game animals.

Reloading Presses:

I will begin with stating that the majority of my loading is done for high precision competition rifles and in work developing new cartridges like the 45 RAPTOR, 7 RAPTOR and 257 RAPTOR.   As such, I use single stage presses for almost all loading.   In practice, I load no more than 50 rounds of ammo at a time, measuring 50 powder charges, visually inspecting those 50 charges before proceeding with seating 50 bullets.

In fact, the only progressive press I own is a Dillon 1050 that has been stripped down to do nothing but brass prep including de-priming and resizing.    All priming is done with a hand priming tool which allows me to feel the seating of each individual primer.

If you must know what single stage presses I have, I use a Redding UltraMag which has the leverage for forming large cases and have a collection of Harrell’s single stage and turret presses that I use for all bullet seating and some sizing of smaller cartridge.

My loading equipment is so compact that I have a small cabinet containing a RCBS Chargemaster, a Harrell’s single stage press and small tools that allow me to do load development at the range by either plugging into a power outlet at the range or bringing a very small and quiet generator to supply 120 volt power for the RCBS Chargemaster.

 

45 RAPTOR Brass may be purchased by emailing:

arne@northamericansportsman.com