Reloading .45 ACP
Perhaps the most famous, and iconic, pistol, the .45
Automatic Colt Pistol, was designed by John Browning in 1905 for a prototype
service pistol. After some extensive testing by the United States Army, the
original intended user of the Colt, the Army requested some changes, including
a heavier bullet (the original weight was 200 grains). Browning changed the
bullet weight to 230 grains and the .45 ACP as we know and love it today was
born. The Army adopted both the cartridge and the Browning designed Colt pistol
in 1911 and both are still going strong today. Among civilian shooters, the .45
ACP is more popular today than it ever was.
Because of it’s popularity, reloading brass for the Colt .45
is also popular. The available components rival that of the 9mm. With so many
options available for reloading brass, it’s hard to say one method or one
sample of load data is the best. However, we will give you some pointers,
especially for those just starting in reloading brass.
The typical factory load for the .45 ACP uses a 230 grain
bullet (either FMJ or JHP) at a published muzzle velocity (in a 5" barrel)
of 850 fps with 370 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. This load has a mid-range
trajectory of 0.4" over 25 yards, 1.6" over 50 yards and 3.7"
over 75 yards. Beyond that the fat, slow bullet is falling pretty fast, but not
many people can hit reliably at long range with a .45 auto, anyway. If you’re
looking at a hunting pistol, it would be suggested to look for a different
Yet, the .45 is a popular carry cartridge for those that
conceal-carry. The reason for this is evident; it’s hard to keep walking after
you’re hit with a bullet from a .45. There’s not many calibers that can be
concealed and carried that have more stopping power than a .45. Sure, there are
bigger cartridges, but you trying hiding those guns in your pants and see how
easy it is.
As I stated earlier, there are plenty of reloading
components for the .45 ACP. The most popular bullet weights are 185, 200 and
230 grains. The correct jacketed bullet diameter is .451" (lead bullets
are usually sized to .452"), maximum COL is 1.275" and the MAP limit
is 21,000 psi. .45 ACP reloads must be taper crimped. Medium to fast burning
pistol powders generally work best in the .45 Auto.
The Speer Reloading Manual Number 14 shows
that their 185 grain Gold Dot JHP bullet can be driven at a MV of 837 fps by
6.6 grains of W231 powder, and at a MV of 954 fps by 7.4 grains of W231.
The impressive 200 grain Speer Gold Dot HP can be given a MV
of 823 fps by 8.5 grains of HS-6 powder, and a MV of 956 fps by 9.5 grains of
HS-6. A 200 grain bullet makes a pretty good civilian, general purpose load for
the .45 ACP, just as John Browning originally envisioned.
The Speer 230 grain TMJ ("ball ammunition") bullet
can be driven at a MV of 773 fps by 7.8 grains of HS-6 powder, and a MV of 863
fps by 8.5 grains of HS6. All of these Speer loads used Speer cases, CCI 300
primers and were tested in the 4.4" barrel of a SIG pistol.
Like we stated, this is just a small piece of information
that is available for reloading brass in the .45 caliber. Take some time and
read the reloading manuals for you selected manufacturer. Once you’ve got a
good starter load, don’t be afraid to modify it to fit your shooting style and
firearm of choice.