454 Casull Velocity — The Heavy Hitter

| September 18, 2015 | 14 Comments

The 454 Casull cartridge developed by Dick Casull and Jack Fulmer in 1957 by lengthening and adding strength to the 45 Colt case was known as the most powerful handgun cartridge during this?time for a short while. Until the 475 Linebaugh and 444 Super magnum arrived on the scene, though they are not as well known. Today you can’t walk into a big box store and expect to find 475 Linebaugh or the 444 SuperMag, but you will?surely?find the 454 Casull on the shelf.?Of readily available ammunition I would say the 454 Casull is the third most powerful handgun cartridge next to the S&W 460 Magnum as the fastest and the S&W 500 Magnum as the most powerful. It may be third on the list but packing such a powerful punch into a much smaller case?compared to the S&W 460 Magnum and 500 Magnum the 454 Casull is numero uno, number one on my list as The Heavy Hitter —– one with the most recoil.

For those that love recoil what could be more rewarding than spending a day on the range with a handgun cartridge that reminds you every time you touch one off that you are alive??Or for us Marines the eiry feeling of a hand grenade going off just outside of the killzone radius, but close enough to remind you to be alert. According to SAAMI the pressure for the 454 Casull which requires a small rifle primer for ignition are?similar to that of the 300 Weatherby Magnum rifle cartridge.?Finally getting a chance to test the effects of barrel length on the velocity of the 454 Casull is something I have always wanted to do.


Having all of this come together for one great dayattherange would truly be special. Today Rossi/Taurus are the only manufacturers I know still producing a lever action for this powerful pistol cartridge. Being offered the chance to shoot a few rounds through one set things into motion. Having 3 different types of 454 ammunition on hand and 3 different firearms with varying barrel lengths, all was go for a calm, cool dayattherange.


Ammunition used for testing are the Federal Fusion 260gr, Hornady Custom 300gr and my own reloads of 360grain gas checked?thumpers.

The firearms utilized would be the Ruger Alaskan 2in barrel previously reviewed here and here after a few nice modifications.?Also accompanying me is the 8in S&W 460 Magnum and Steve with his 16in Rossi Lever action.

Though not truly scientific and there really isn’t a quick way to apply this to all ammunition as it depends upon the type of ammunition, caliber, powder used and bullet weight. What we do know is barrel length has an impact on velocity, not scientific but it would prove to be fun and informative. Especially if you are in the process of making a decision on taking your rifle or handgun on a hog hunt. You will want to know how the round will perform and most importantly what can you as the hunter do with your firearm of choice to affect a good humane kill. How quick and good will you be with follow up shots if needed? The 454 Casull in the Rossi and S&W 460 Magnum proved to be tame more bark than bite. In the Ruger 454 Alaskan it was very different, in touching off each round recoil was stout and pressure from the explosion from such a short barrel was breath taking. Just ask Steve.


Testing: 4 Rounds from each firearm with the chronograph placed 5 yards in front of the muzzle. 82 degree weather and calm winds.

Pistol Barrel Length Ammunition – Powder-Manual Bullet Weight Bullet Type Velocity FPS Average Velocity FPS ES SD
Rossi 92 16in Hornady Custom 300gr HP Advertised 1650fps
Chronograph Results 1937 1937 31 13
S&W 460 Magnum 8in Hornady Custom 300gr HP Advertised 1650fps
Chronograph Results 1811 1810 24 9
Alaskan Redhawk 2in Hornady Custom 300gr HP Advertised 1650fps
Chronograph Results 1458 1446 22 12
Rossi 92 16in Federal Fusion 260gr HP Advertised 1350fps
Chronograph Results 1700 1715 27 11
S&W 460 Magnum 8in Federal Fusion 260gr HP Advertised 1350fps
Chronograph Results 1470 1482 32 16
Alaskan Redhawk 2in Federal Fusion 260gr HP Advertised 1350fps
Chronograph Results 1204 1238 55 24
Rossi 92 16in Reloads 22.5gr H110 2015 Hodgdon 360gr LeadFP Advertised 1090fps
Chronograph Results 1426 1431 25 10
S&W 460 Magnum 8in Reloads 22.5gr H110 2015 Hodgdon 360gr LeadFP Advertised 1090fps
Chronograph Results 1212 1210 49 20
Alaskan Redhawk 2in Reloads 22.5gr H110 2015 Hodgdon 360gr LeadFP Advertised 1090fps
Chronograph Results 1050 1045 13 5

What a blast!!!!!!

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14 Comments on "454 Casull Velocity — The Heavy Hitter"

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  1. Kent says:

    Hey Mr. Revolver guy I just bought a Ruger Alaskan in 44 mag have you done a review for this one? I read the 454. Just wondering what your thoughts were and if you had some pet loads for plinking?

    Thanks Kent

  2. Kent,

    I have not had the opportunity to review the Alaskan 44Mag yet. But the 44 Mag is one of my favorite cartridges. A great all around load is Hodgdon Universal Clays 8.5grs under a 240gr bullet. This would be a great all around load for you. In a 3 inch 44magnum I was able to get 965fps with very little recoil.

    You may find this article interesting
    “Keep in mind I am not saying the 44 Magnum is perfect or best suited for a firefight, the best range cartridge or even the best hunting round. But what I am saying is paired with the right handgun or carbine the 44 Magnum is the most versatile cartridge known to man.”

  3. kobs says:

    I reaload and enjoy 454 Casull with 31.5 Gr. of Hodgdon H110 (Winchester 296) with a 250 Gr. bullet, Winchester small rifle primer. A medium to heavy crimp is needed with those powders. Manageable recoil out of a 460 S&W for target/range practice.

  4. Chad says:

    Mr Revolverguy,

    Good article, but with the Federal Fusion, how do you get 1238 fps out of your Alaskan? The Fusion advertises 1350 fps, and in my Alaskan I always loose about 200-300 fps from that. In real world, my Alaskan spits these out at an average of 1089 fps…way lower than your same revolver does. Could you be in error?

  5. Every revolver is different I am sure this is not in error. There are many factors that contribute to velocity, I have seen cylinder diameter be the largest contributor. Could it be the cylinders in this revolver is tighter than perhaps yours?

  6. Chad says:

    Interesting thought. I just measured all six, and they are .455 on the dot. That’s .004 wider than my 45 Redhawk’s. What’s yours? I’ll do some research and see if I can find what it’s supposed to be.

  7. Chad says:

    Looks like .455 is what Ruger put on all of their Super Redhawk 454 throats.

  8. That is a very impressive Ruger Alaskan I would like to know if you would give me the information as to who done the cylinder work on your Ruger Alaskan and possibly some contact information for them thank you very much Ron

  9. Brad Moore says:

    I have owned a Rossi 92 .454 Casull since 2010, reload for it, and have taken three Indiana whitetails with it. I enjoyed this article because ballistic data for the .454 for RIFLES is hard to come by. I have some orphan Viht N105 powder left from reloading some oddball cartridges for a buddy. While N105 may not be the best powder and while I prefer H110 the Vihtavouri reloading manual says 19.8to 23.0 grains can be used under a 300 grain bullet. I measured a five shot string using 20 grains with my Chrony for an average of 1628 fps and a three shot string using 23 grains for an average of 1807 fps. Point being, the velocities fall in the ballpark of your project. Thanks for posting it!

  10. Bob Good says:

    Excellent article. I would love for you to test Underwood’s 240 xtp in 454 2.5 inch super alaskan. This company puts a little more bang for the buck in each pill. Just came back from the range and I have never had such an experience. Would love to know the chrono and energy with this round. Thanks.
    Ps: wear your gloves.

  11. Brandon Fischer says:

    Bob, I was thinking the exact same thing as I read this article a month after you

  12. Phil says:

    “The 454 Casull in the Rossi and S&W 460 Magnum proved to be tame more bark than bite.: “tame” recoil? You gun writers need to come shoot with me. Retired military and big game nut, I killed my first 100 deer, antelope and elk and quit counting decades ago and yes we eat everyone, I am old. That said, my recoil tolerance is 30-06, that being I can shoot it all day, like a 22 or 223 nothing of import. My most often deer gun now is the 257 Wby loaded to the max, about the same as the 30-06 in recoil. I often use a 300 Weatherby Mag and 3.5 inch 12 gauge, loaded to the max, those are kickers and I tire of them pretty quick.

    The Rossi 454 is a different animal. I reload the 300 grain bullets to about 1,800 fps, identical to my 45-70 guide gun which weighs 7 pounds as opposed to the Rossi which is closer to 5 pounds 9 ounces. The 47-70 thumps, the Rossi kicks and more than a little. I frequently let friends, family and stranger shoot them at the range. Lots of folks ill fire 5 rounds out of the 450-70, most fire only 1 or 2 out of the Rossi. The factory load I use most is the Magtec 260 grain load, not sure the velocity from memory, but several veteran shooters have fired them one time and handed the little gun back to me.

    The Rossi 454 is by far my favorite lever gun, I collect them and many but only that one will do it all. Mine is the 20 inch buy the way, the nice stainless version. Just saying, I think the recoil is equal to my 300 WBY Mark V or my 870 3.5 inch mag.

    You guys are just much more man than I am. By the way, how many full power rounds did each shooter fire on the test day?

    Also, why would you only fire 4 rounds thru a revolver, each chamber can change the velocity of a round which also effects accuracy. I have always been taught that it is error to fire partial cylinders for accuracy testing, 5 shooters you shoot 5, 6 shooters 6 and 7 shooter 7, etc. Just curious why the odd number.

    Last, Lee makes a 350 grain .458 mold that is .340 grains. I size them to 454 and load them with Unique powder to about 1,600 fps which makes a mild load that you can shoot buffalo with if they wander by and perfect for hogs or deer at open sight ranges. I have not tried them in handguns, just a very cheap cast load with a small amount of powder. I can load them very cheap.

    Question: For the Rossi. I have a box of Hornady 200 grain HPs I am going to load for the 454. Any suggestion on load data? I am looking for about 1,800 fps, no more. That would be about a 1,500 fps load in a handgun. Suggestions? I like H110 but have lots of powders.

    Excellaet article by the way.

  13. Allen says:

    I have the 454casull rossi r92 in a 20in barrel the hornady XTP 240gr chronographed at 2250fps, seems the extra barrel lenth really brings out the POWA! i love this little rifle with open sights for wild boar or long walks in bc the rifle is light weight.

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