Hunting Bullet Guide – 454 Casull

Anyone who has ever fired a handgun chambered in the 454 Casull knows this a real powerhouse of a cartridge. Dick Casull wasn’t kidding around when he began to develop the 454. He built the cartridge from the ground up and, in my opinion, created the best all around (traditional) handgun hunting cartridge to ever be developed.

X454C22 - 454 Casull

Handgun Ballistics

Distance (yds) Muzzle 50 100
Velocity (fps) 1625 1451 1308
Distance (yds) Muzzle 50 100
Energy (ft. lbs.) 1759 1413 1141
Distance (yds)   50 100
Mid Trajectory (in.)   0.5 2.0

When properly loaded a handgun hunter is equipped with a cartridge truly capable of taking game ranging from deer to the largest of dangerous game.  Ballistics from a 7 ½” barrel are enough to bring a tear of joy to your eye.  Take the ballistics of the popular 44 Remington Magnum loaded with a 240-grain bullet at 1500 fps the 44 Magnum generates 1200 ft. lbs of energy and a 300-grain bullet at 1300 fps generates 1125 ft lbs of energy.  Compare these numbers to factory offerings in 454 Casull from Winchester, Remington, and Federal and the performance level of the 454 becomes very clear.  Winchester shows a 260-grain bullet at 1800 fps generating 1870 ft lbs of energy, and a 300-grain at 1625 fps generating 1759 ft lbs of energy, that’s an impressive 634 ft lbs more energy than the 44 Remington Magnum with the 300-grain bullet.  Remington is now offering a factory load with a 300-grain Core-Lokt bullet charted at the same velocity and muzzle energy as the Winchester load.  Federal has joined the party producing a load utilizing the 300-grain Trophy Bonded Bear-claw.  It’s nice to see the major ammunition companies producing loads for this fine round and these should only continue grow in the future.

The 454 Casull is a hand loaders dream come true.  Cases are tough as nails and will last for a very long time even under the use of heavy loads.  One interesting thing about the case is it has a small primer pocket so that small rifle primers may be used.  This was done to help contain the high operating pressures associated with the cartridge.  Which exceed the 55,000 C.U.P range in some cases.  There is no shortage of bullets for the 454, in both weights (commonly 240 to 370-grains) and construction, but like anything else some are better than others.  The 454 Casull uses the same diameter bullets (.451-.452”) as the 45 ACP or 45 Colt.  The problem being the bullets designed to give reliable performance in the 45 ACP or 45 Colt will not “hold up” to the velocities and operating pressures the 454 is capable of producing.  A quick check to the bullet manufactures recommended velocity range and bullet application chart will prevent this from becoming a problem.  I’ve experimented with a number of bullets in my 454’s from Sierra, Speer, Nosler, as well as Hornady and a few cast bullets.  Sierra’s 300-grain JSP is a thick, heavily jacketed bullet with a 6% antimony core and a wide flat-nose.  This bullet gives a solid “whack” upon contact with an animal and penetration is exceptional.  Another bullet I’ve used in my 454 with equal results is the Speer 300-grain Uni-Core.  This bullet is manufactured using Speer’s patented Hot-Cor process to fuse the bullet core to the jacket.  Both of these bullets are super though, capable of standing up to the strains the 454 can dish out and still remain accurate.  Nosler produces two bullets a 260 and a 300-grain in their Partition HG line.  My best accuracy to date, a 2.5” five shot group at 100 yards, was shot from a rest using the Nosler 260-grain bullet.  Cast Performance Bullet Co. produces several hard cast bullets suitable for the 454 and the one I like the best is the 335-grain WLNGC (Wide Long Nose w/ Gas Check).  I’ve found WW296 to be the best powder for my uses in the 454 hands down.  Separating bullet seating and crimping into two steps is a recommended practice.  I also use a Redding Profile Crimp Die to ensure a solid and uniform crimp.  This uniform crimp keeps the bullets from creeping forward under the heavy recoil of the 454.  Make no mistake the recoil and muzzle blast are on the heavy end of the scale.  Hearing protection is a must and some shooters will find wearing a recoil or leather glove will make shooting the 454 far more enjoyable.

It’s hard to speak of the 454 Casull without the mention of the Freedom Arms model 83 Revolver.  These 5-shot revolvers are the upper echelon of the firearms world.  They may be expensive but you get what you pay for; the best.  The strength, manufacturing process, and attention to detail of these guns are second to none.  Its worth noting at the time of this writing Ruger, Taurus, and Magnum Research are all building revolvers for the 454 Casull and Thompson Center has barrels for their Encore pistol.  Both of my 454’s have been Freedom Arms revolvers.  My first was a 7 ½” Premier Grade, scoped with a 2x Leupold EER held in place with a T’SOB base and rings from SSK Industries.  This is the gun I shot the 2.5” group with mentioned earlier.  The second and my favorite is a 4 ¾” Premier Grade with an action job from the Freedom Arms custom shop.  This revolver is Mag-na-ported, and wears an Express Bead sight.   Its preferred load consists of a Cast Performance 335-grain WLNGC bullet crimped over a load of WW 296 powder.  When I’m in the field this little combination is the one I carry on my hip.  Tucked away in a thumb-snap cross-draw holster from Freedom Arms I hardly know I have it unless I need it.

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