The 45 Colt cartridge began as a black powder cartridge in 1872. It was developed by UMC and Remington for the Single Action Army Revolver. The .45 Colt remains popular with renewed interest in Cowboy Action Shooting. However, the round also saw resurgence as a cartridge in handgun hunting and Metallic Silhouette Shooting competitions in the 1960s with the introduction of stronger heavier framed handguns. It also became the basis for rounds such as the .454 Casull developed and designed by Dick Casull.
With the advent of Magnum and +P ammunition came very interesting debates about the capabilities of the 45 Colt. Today’s smokeless powder 45 Colt ammunition loads produce 400ft-lbs of energy at 860fps making it somewhat more powerful than 45ACP. Newer ammunition makers arriving on the scene like CorBon producing hot rod 45ACP rounds caused many shooters to debate why 45 colt when I can get the same out of 45ACP with greater capacity. Those against this debate will mention CorBon also produces 45 Colt ammunition in the same class of 44 Magnum. These 45 Colt rounds are often referred to in reloading manuals as Ruger only loads. Such loads are not issued by major companies such as Winchester and Remington. These loads cannot be used safely in any original Colt Single-Action Army or any replica thereof; such as those produced by Uberti, Beretta, the Taurus Gaucho, or the Ruger New Vaquero as these guns are built on the smaller frame with thinner cylinder walls. The 45 Colt is still very venerable and becoming one of my favorite cartridges. Though the 45 Colt vs. the 45ACP power debate comes up often in gun shops and internet forums, there has been no debate like that of 45 Colt vs. 45 Long Colt.
The debate over 45Colt vs. 45 Long Colt has been going on for well over 75 years and can often be seen debated even today in 2010 on forums such as thehighroad and thefiringline. Elmer Keith in his book Sixguns wrote of such arguments many years ago when he wrote “Some newcomers to the game claim there is no such animal, but if they had shot the short variety that Remington turned out in such profusion before, during and after World War I they would see there was some basis in referring to the .45 Colt as the .45 Long…” (Elmer Keith, Sixguns, page 285)
I have been involved in many heated debates over 45ACP vs. 45 Colt with my old man. I have often found the generation difference is one of the main drivers for such a debate. I did not come to appreciate the 45 Colt until I was presented with a great opportunity to purchase this gem as my first owned Smith & Wesson Performance Center revolver. The older I become the more I understand and appreciate my father’s wisdom.
This 45 Colt 625-7 with very low serial number has a 6inch slab side ported barrel, red ramp dovetailed front sight, round butt frame, integral Weaver style base rail with Hogue wood grips. It also came in the gorgeous Smith and Wesson Performance Center Aluminum case I am very fond of.
Fit&Finish Grade Excellent
The fit and finish is what many have come to expect from the Smith & Wesson Performance Center, first class. Stainless is one of the most durable finishes, not easily scratched and if you do incur any handling marks they can be easily dealt with. It has a very unique look with a slab side ported barrel with integral Weaver style base rail. The cylinder lockup is very tight and the cylinder gap measured .005 with my feeler gauges. It is only deserving of such a classy revolver to be finished off with a beautiful yet functional set of wood grips.
Handling/Feel In the Shooters Hand Grade Excellent
The Model 625-7 is based on the N Frame, which I believe is satisfying to all hand sizes with the proper set of grips. The balance with the slab sided integrated weaver base adds a little weight to the front of this revolver causing a heavy forward balance in the hand. If this were a 44 magnum the extra front weight would be a welcome addition to help with absorbing recoil. Being a 45 Colt this is not needed as recoil is very minimal with cowboy and standard saami spec 45 Colt loads. The wooden grips are functional but may only be suited for those with medium to large size hands. A beautiful revolver like this only deserves a set of wooden grips. Others with smaller sized hands may need to experiment to find the proper feel.
Trigger Grade Excellent
As would be my expectation the trigger on the Performance Center Model 625 is excellent. It is very smooth, crisp and consistent and has no over travel. This revolver carries the best trigger of any firearm under my ownership. In double action, this trigger has no feel of staging. The great man of wisdom, my father says this is the way a revolver trigger should feel unlike the trigger on the Model 29 I reviewed previously. This trigger is smooth as a baby’s bottom and breaks like glass. The double action trigger measures in right at 8 pounds as can be seen by my RCBS trigger gauge.
The single stage trigger pulls measures 2 pounds by the RCBS trigger gauge. I measured the single stage pull 10 different times as I could not believe it was so light.
To have such light single and double action trigger pull the return spring is still yet strong enough to ignite factory ammunition as well as reloads primed with CCI large pistol primers which are known to be the hardest CUP primer in the industry.
Sights Grade Excellent
From the factory, the 625 comes from the Performance Center with a red ramp dovetailed front sight, white outlined traditional adjustable rear sight. This sight combination was very easy to acquire sight picture and sight alignment quickly on the indoor range as well as outdoors. I even tried accuracy out to 25 yards with a shiny hard to see target. The red ramp front sight made it easy to focus on while still seeing the target clearly even with the lights reflecting off the shiny paper. The only better sights have seen and prefer are the combination of the Gold Bead front sight with the white lined tradition rear sight.
Reliability&Accuracy Grade Excellent
The 6 inch barrel and balance of this weapon provides a long eye relief, which lends itself to excellent accuracy. The firing of cowboy action loads as well as reloaded saami spec’d 45 Colt loads provides 6 shots of very accurate deadly lead down range. I am not a fan of hot rodded ammo so no ruger loads were fired in this revolver during testing or ever will be. If a situation arise which needs something more capable I move up to a larger caliber 44Magnum, 454Caull, 460S&W Magnum or even the 500S&W magnum.
The first 6 shots were fired with my reloads of 255gr lead sitting a top of W231.
This target looks as if it only has 4 holes but I assure there were 6 shots fired, imagine the smile on my face after this first round.
Continuing with the large smile on my face at the pure delight of the double action trigger. I loaded the cylinder with another six rounds and move the target back to 15 yards. I took aim with a 2 handed hold out of a weaver style stance and sent another 6 rounds down range. Below are the results.
Wanting to see what I was capable of with 45 Colt at 25 yards I turned to get another target only to see I had run out. I decided to use one of the peel off backing at 25 yards. With the reflection from the indoor range lights I at first didn’t think of this as a good idea.
I then raised the revolver focused on the front sight and noticed how well the red front sight stood out against the shiny background. I sent 6 shots down range not sure eactly where they struck the target. I have been so accustomed to the Caldwell Orange Peel high visibility targets the shiny backing left me with low confidence. As the target got closer I could see it wasn’t the grouping I was looking for but all 6 rounds hit the target. With lesser sights I am sure it would have been worst.
Overall the Performace Center 625-7 45 Colt has deserved an excellent rating from me. The fit&finish is outstanding and the lock up is very tight. The best feature is the trigger, the double action weighs in a 8 pounds and the single action 2 pounds. This action is as smooth as any trigger I felt in my 2 and a half decades of shooting. Do not mistake the 45 Colt cartridge it has taken many men and beast lives in the Wild West and still delivers a venemous punch today.