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Saturday, August 02, 2008

WHY the .45 ACP?

All too often, internet firearms discussions degrade into 'X vs Y' battles, terminating when the moderators tire of blather-broadsides between 'attention hoes' and debate team wash-outs. Once in awhile however, a real gem surfaces- and it can take the form of a question that makes us actually use that three pounds of gray matter which occupies the space between our ears and eyes. Such was the origin of today's topic and credit goes to 'Firepower' over at for asking it.

I have a long and happy association with the .45 ACP, mostly because it just works. It offers big-bullet thump at very low pressures and the decisiveness of that 'thump' has been proven for nearly a century. When seasoned with common sense it is suitable for small to medium game; as a target round it is literally in a class by itself. In fact, the old .45 ACP handles so many handgun chores so well, you may find you don't really need another centerfire handgun cartridge.

The array of factory loads for this cartridge is downright dizzying and far too diverse to cover here. But for an idea of what's available simply go here for a look at what Midway has to offer.

Personally, my factory .45 ACP ammo needs are met by just a couple of factory loads. Practically anybody's 'hardball' load suits me just fine; and Winchester's 'USA' 230 grain JHP load has proven reliable, accurate and capable of excellent expansion. I trust it enough that I carry it on duty, or anytime the gun might be needed for its original mission.

Handloading the .45 ACP adds even more versatility. Wanna go light? Try 4.0 grains of W231 under a 200 grain LSWC, for about 626 fps. This load is accurate enough, works the action of my full-size 1911 every time and it shoots to point-of-aim out to about 30 yards. It is an excellent small game load and has dispatched vermin up to about 30 pounds, with authority. Recoil is nil and firing a couple of rounds without earplugs is not unbearable.

The Author & Rita the Saber-Tooth Rat-Dog, salivating over a kill.

For a target and general-use load I like that same bullet over 5.0 grains of W231, for about 830 fps. It also shoots point-of-aim and groups better than I can hold it, at 50 yards. It would serve well for defense and punches a nice, full-caliber hole. This bullet can be driven past 1000 fps without straining anything, if velocity is your bag.

'Third-gear' to this old '45 man' means 255 grain bullets at original .45 Colt velocities- 850 to 950 fps. John Taffin wrote an excellent article on handloading the .45 ACP, to accomplish just that. Folks, the amount of meat and bone such a load will bore a big hole through, must be seen to be believed. A friend with a sick 400 pound hog provided me with that opportunity. This load penetrated about 16 inches of tough critter, obviously grinding bone on the way across; it was found under the hide of the offside shoulder. I have also shot it through the heaviest shoulder & hip sockets of butchered bulls, and it drilled right through those with penetration to spare. I have killed some game with the .44 Magnum and I can tell you with a straight face that the .45/255/SWC at 950 fps will out-penetrate typical 240 JHP loads from the .44. I consider them on equal footing for big game at close range.

Here's a tip for those new at loading the .45 ACP, or any auto pistol cartridge for that matter. Get yourself a quality taper crimp die. Although it adds an extra step, it will save you headaches down the road. I use Hornady's TC die in this caliber and recommend it highly. I have enjoyed trouble-free feeding ever since I started using it.

And last but not least, there are the guns themselves. My admiration of the 1911 is well known, but it is by no means the only good .45 out there. The Sig P220 is a first-class DA pistol and the little Cobra .45 is getting excellent reviews. Glock, Springfield and FN produce polymer-framed .45 ACP pistols. Wheelgun nuts have the Ruger Blackhawk .45 ACP/Colt convertible and the Smith & Wesson 25's and 625's to choose from. Taurus even made a 5-shot snub for it and Derringers can be had in .45 ACP as well. If you're 'shopping used' you might even find an old 1917 Colt or S&W if you hunt around long enough.

We Americans love our .45 ACP's, and for good reason. It is a uniquely American invention that works even better than the day it was introduced. It got us through two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and a host of other difficulties and police actions. It continues to keep good men and women alive when the chips are down. It'll do to ride the river with.

So if you haven't tried the old .45 ACP, you really ought to give it a whirl. It is, after all, the American thing to do.


Blogger Tony said...

Hi Sarge!

Loved your post about the classic 45 ACP. Amazing what people have done over the years to make this an extremely versatile tool.

Thought I’d share a 45 load or two with you. Maybe someday you’ll get a chance to experiment.

For 50 yards shootin’ I use a 200 grain cast lead H&G 68 with 4.2 grains of Bullseye.
The velocity is about 728’ FPS (pretty slow by defensive standards) but it’ll print out of a Kart match barrel around 1.75”. I’d call this my classic long line “target load.”

I also have a defensive/target load that I use for CMP Excellence in Competition matches. For the 50 yard line again, I’ll use 4.7 gains of Bullseye or 4.8 grains of VV N-310 under a Honady 230 grain Total Metal Jacket bullet. Out of a Barsto match barrel, it’ll travel at about 845 FPS and provide a 1.9” group way out on the long line.

Thank heaven for Ransom Rests.

Be well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 2:33:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge said...

Thanks, Tony. Always glad to get your input, particularly on match loads for the .45 Auto.

Take care & thank for stopping in!


Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:18:00 PM  

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