Quite possibly the United States' most iconic cartridge, the .45 Long Colt was developed originally as a black powder cartridge in 1872. Colt Firearms collaborated with the Union Metallic Cartridge Company to produce the cartridge. The Colt Single Action Army revolver was released on the heels of the .45 Long Colt, and chambered for the new cartridge. The revolver was accepted in 1873 by the US Army and became known as “The Peacemaker.” This cartridge became the primary ammunition for military issue sidearms.
No longer used by the military, hunters and sport shooters still shoot the .45 Long Colt, keeping it popular. Handgun hunters in North America still use it for large game including deer and black bear. Long gun hunters who appreciate the .45 Long Colt have the ability to choose among many lever action rifles chambered in the caliber. The .45 Long Colt is also popular among many sport shooters, especially the Cowboy Action Shooters for whom adhering to the authentic historical aspect of their sport is important.
Ballistics for the .45 Long Colt are impressive. Lead round nose bullets weigh between 200 and 300 grains, and other variations are available for a variety of hunting and sporting applications. Muzzle velocity ranges between 750 feet per second and 1,300 feet per second - this means that some loads exceed 1,100 foot pounds of energy! These numbers put the power of the .45 Long Colt in the neighborhood of the .44 Magnum.
A recent boost to the popularity of the .45 Long Colt cartridge has been the release of the Taurus Judge revolver series. Defensive loads for shotgun in a .410 bore quickly lost their novelty, but ammunition manufacturers, surprisingly enough, latched onto the Judge's versatility and made personal protection ammunition available in .45 Long Colt. This cartridge has expanded the applications for the pistol, and returned attention to the .45 Long Colt as a legitimate personal protection cartridge.