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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fiocchi USA Handgun Ammo T&E

On the various firearms discussion forums I frequent, members occasionally inquire as to the quality, accuracy and reliability of Fiocchi’s .45 ACP handgun ammunition. As in most things, everybody is looking for a first-class product at a competitive price. I used a little of Fiocchi’s ammo in the 1990’s, when I was the firearms instructor for a 40-commission Sheriff’s Department; I also knew of at least one other small agency that trained a lot, and burned quite a bit of Fiocchi every year. Our general consensus was that Fiocchi made good ammunition, at a very reasonable price. This was particularly handy for western and southern Missouri agencies, which simply picked up their ammo at Fiocchi’s facility in Ozark, MO.

I had never tried this company’s .45 ammo, so I called Terri at Fiocchi USA, primarily regarding their 230 FMJ .45 ACP load. In the course of that conversation I expressed an interest in testing some of their recent offerings, and writing them up for Terri agreed to send some T&E samples of ammo in several common handgun calibers, and not long afterward, samples were received:. They are illustrated individually, in the above photo.

One of the things I that didn't tell Terri, was that this ammo was going to be tested in “working” guns. There would be no scoped, long-barreled tack-drivers begged or borrowed for these tests. The reliability of all these guns is known- or else they wouldn’t still be here.

The Test Guns

The .357 Magnum ammunition was tested in two revolvers. The first was an old S&W Model 19 2 1/2", which belongs to an old academy classmate. A dead ringer for a Model 66, it was hard-chromed decades ago.

The second .357 is an “Old Model’ Ruger Blackhawk with a 6 ½” barrel.

The .40 S&W used for these tests is a Springfield XD, purchased new in 2004.

The .44 Magnum used in these tests was my 4” nickel Model 29 S&W, from about 1980. I have owned this gun for about half of its life and it has proven itself many times over. It is easily capable of 4” groups at 100 yards, with good ammo using bullets of 240 grains or more; but it has never particularly liked 200 grain ammo of any description.

The .45 Auto used in these tests was my current duty gun, a mildly-accurized and rebuilt Auto Ordnance WWII Model 1911-A1. With match-grade 200 or 230 grain ammo, it produces accuracy of around an inch and a half at 25 yards, and about 4” at 50. Its reliability is downright boring.

All shooting was done at 25 yards. Revolvers were grouped with all six chambers; semi-autos were grouped with five rounds. Shooting was done over the cab of my old beater range truck, using an improvised rest; in this case, my range bag. I’m certain that if we had Ransom Rested these guns or shot them off a concrete bench using sandbags, we would have seen some honest 1” groups. Instead, the accuracy tests reflect actual use in the field- shooting over the best rest available. This was taken into consideration during the evaluation of group sizes. Where a single flyer was called and obviously my fault, it was removed from the measurement. In no case would the called flyer have increased the overall size of any group, by more than one inch. So to see what my worst groups looked like with any given round, just add an inch to the figure. For those ‘stinkers’ I am certain you can blame me, and not the ammo.

All velocities were measured five feet from the muzzle with a ‘Shooting Chrony’ Beta-Master Chronograph. Temperatures ranged between 48 and 56 degrees during the chronograph sessions. Velocities are the average of five or six shot strings; auto pistols with five rounds, and revolvers with six.

Accuracy & Velocity Observations

None of these handguns are target pistols- but overall they produced excellent accuracy with Fiocchi’s ammunition. The results are sorted by caliber:

.357 Magnum

From the little S&W, the 142/FMJ clocked 1152 fps, and grouped 2 ½". The 148/JHP did 1131 fps, and grouped 2 ¼”. The Model 19 snub really liked this stuff, and shot fully as well as the 6½” Blackhawk, which I also fired to check velocities from the longer barrel. The 142 grain FMJ clocked 1313 fps from this gun, and the 148 JHP clocked 1306 fps.

.40 S&W

The Springfield XD had never produced consistent groups under 2 ½” with any ammunition; yet it beat that figure with both Fiocchi’s .40 S&W loads. Both loads also surpassed their published velocity figures, from this particular gun. The 170/FMJ-TC gave 1071 fps, with 2 ¼” groups; the 165/JHP registered 1079 fps, and plunked five rounds into 1 ¾”. This excellent .40 S&W ammo by any standards.

.44 Magnum

I mentioned above that my short S&W Model 29 has never particularly liked 200 grain ammunition. Well, it sure didn't mind Fiocchi's 200 grain JHP, which departed from it's 4" barrel at 1158 fps, with 6 rounds clustered into a 2” group. This is every bit as well as the gun shoots with Winchester 210 grain Silvertips. I have been shooting both loads through it for over 10 years, and I consider the Fiocchi load a viable choice for any application where a 200 grain .44 Magnum load might be employed.

.45 ACP

Overall, my WWII Auto Ordnance liked Fiocchi’s .45 ACP ammo. The 200 grain load produced 896 fps and respectable accuracy, at 2 ¼”. The 230 grain FMJ ‘hardball’ load was a stellar performer, giving "GI" velocity at 841 fps, and producing a 1 ½” group. This load is accurate enough that I would not hesitate to enter any conventional pistol competition with it. The 230 grain JHP, trundling along at 801 fps, was the only load that I just could not get to group well. It's best efforts were around 4”. This may have been an anomaly with this particular gun, and a Colt or Springfield 1911 might shoot it just fine. Even with 4” groups, it will do for defensive ammunition. It also has other redeeming qualities, as we shall see in a moment.


All loads fed, fired and ejected just as they should, including the JHP rounds in the auto pistols. Crimps were good & solid, and there was no evidence of bullets ‘deep-seating’ on the feed ramps of auto pistols; ‘bullet pull’ under recoil was non-existent with the revolver loads. In fact, there were no malfunctions of any kind throughout the tests.

Terminal Ballistics

The hollowpoint ammunition in each caliber was tested for expansion by firing it into an 18” column of water. Recovered bullets and velocities are captioned in the photo above. Several rounds of each load were tested and the bullets photographed are representative of typical expansion, for each load.

The .357 load gave excellent terminal performance from the 2½” S&W. The .40 S&W load expanded perfectly, and the 200 grain .44 Magnum load exhibited complete expansion from the Model 29’s 4” barrel. The 200 grain .45 ACP load however, simply refused to expand in this medium. The real surprise was the 230 grain hollowpoint in .45 ACP. At barely 800 fps, it expanded violently and consistently. It is also the softest-recoiling 230 grain JHP load in this caliber that I have fired.

All loads tested penetrated to the third jug, with the 200 grain .44 & .45 loads exiting it and being recovered partially embedded in the catalog behind it. The 200 grain .44 load and the 230 grain .45 ACP load each shed their jackets in the second jug; but he cores of both bullets continued to penetrate. With the lone exception of the 200 grain .45 ACP load, I would classify the terminal performance of this ammunition as very good- and a far cry beyond what we were getting from even the ‘big name’ ammo outfits, 25 years ago.


I came away with the opinion that Fiocchi’s current offerings are very good pistol ammunition. This runs parallel to my experience with it 15 years ago, so I’d say these folks have found a system that works- and they are sticking to it. Some of the tested loads performed better than others, in my guns. This came as no surprise. We have long understood that every gun is a ’law unto itself’ when it comes to ammunition preferences. I feel comfortable saying that in its better examples, Fiocchi handgun ammunition crowds the ‘big-name’ offerings pretty hard. I tested eight loads and found six that performed very well indeed. The .357 148/JHP, the .40/165 JHP and the .45/230 JHP all gave good terminal performance. The ‘hardball’ loads gave good or excellent accuracy as well. Their 200 grain .44 magnum JHP load does all you could ask, of any mid-range load in that caliber. I have carried it as a duty load and would happily do so again. The .45 ACP 230 FMJ was my overall favorite in that caliber, and if I was shooting high-volume action matches you can bet that bet that I’d be shooting a lot of this stuff. I think if you try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Contact Information:

Fiocchi Ammunition USA
6930 Fremont Road, Ozark, MO 65721
Phone: 417-725-4118, Fax: 417-725-1039

They are great folks to visit with, but the reader should be aware that they only sell through stocking dealers. stocks an extensive line of Fiocchi ammunition, and a complete list of dealers along with information on the entire Fiocchi line is available online at: I note with interest that a number of their newest offerings feature Hornady’s excellent XTP handgun bullets. This can only serve to make an already-excellent product even better.