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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.45 S&W Schofield

Author: Brian Pearce / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Feb 28 2013


The .45 S&W Schofield cartridge was introduced around 1875 for the Smith & Wesson Model 3 "Schofield" revolver, with both being adopted by the US Army almost immediately. The new cartridge featured a larger rim than the .45 Colt to facilitate uniform, reliable extraction in the hinged frame S&W revolver, and the case was shorter accommodating the comparatively short cylinder. The S&W cartridge was also designed to work universally in the Army issued Colt Single Action revolver, but the .45 Colt cartridge was too long to work in the S&W revolvers, and the rim was insufficient for reliable extraction.

The S&W cartridge became obsolete around 1940. In 1997 Starline began offering new brass and Black Hills Ammunition was first to offer a factory load in almost half a century. The current Starline .45 S&W Schofield case can be used in most .45 Colt revolvers; however, some modern guns with countersunk chambers will not accept the large rim. The rim can also be problematic in .45 Colt repeating rifles, as extractors have difficulties, and neither were guns timed or designed to function with this short cartridge.

Most standard .45 Colt dies will also work for handloading the Schofield; however, some older dies may not apply a crimp due to the length of that die.

Hornady swaged lead bullets used in the accompanying data do offer crimp grooves. They should be seated to proper depth, then a heavy roll crimp applied.

Loads that produce less than 500 fps are of concern, as powders that are position sensitive can cause squib loads. Furthermore, these loads produce unusually low pressures. Bullets pushed through the large throats found on many .45 Colt revolvers may stick in the barrel forcing cone or bore, either of which is potentially dangerous. The most consistent and accurate loads were generally found in the 650-to 800-fps ranges.