Which +P 45ACP - 165 or 230 grain?


December 4, 2007, 07:10 PM
I have Kahr P45 that I carry concealed and am wondering which Corbon 45 +P ammunition would be best for self defense. I have shot both 230 grain and 165 grain and they both seem reliable and accurate. The 165 grain velocity is 1250 fps and 573 ft/lbs and the 230 grain is 950 fps and 461 ft/lbs, or at least that is what is printed on the boxes.

Based on the specs, I have been using the 165 grain because of the increased energy and velocity. Is there any reason why the 230 grain would be a better choice?

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Deer Hunter
December 4, 2007, 07:13 PM
Either will do you just fine as long as you do your part.

December 4, 2007, 07:39 PM
Some still like the increased mass. It's a trade off, but based on the old formula F=1/2MV^2, velocity increases the total "possible" energy of the bullet by the square, while weight is linear. Don't know how the momentum/velocity thing translates into energy dissipation in the body though. I say if you can get heavier bullets that only go a smidgen less than the light ones, go heavy! I've also seen 185 & 200 gr bullets, so check them out as an alternative. Get some Double Tap!

December 4, 2007, 07:45 PM
People that know far more about .45ACP ballistics than I do have almost always suggested 230grain regular or +P to me, for whatever that's worth.

December 4, 2007, 07:46 PM

Personally, I go with nothing but 230gr for the "weight" and the inertia it carries.. punch/penetration.

Either one will do the job, as it is just a matter of recoil/snap one prefers, and getting following-up shots, on-target, that works best for the shooter, along with, one's FMJ range ammo being as close as, (the same), in both FMJ and JHP in fast follow-up shots, with the same accuracy.



December 4, 2007, 08:34 PM
If both feed without a problem, great then go with the most accurate load.
With a 3.5" barrel you are not going to get the published velocity and energy.
I would go with the 165 grn. to keep the velocity level up. Regardless, .45 ACP makes a big hole. Wound channel is important, but accuracy is paramount.

Semper Fi!!

December 5, 2007, 03:23 AM
Why not 185gr?

December 5, 2007, 04:15 AM
Not sure of your barrel length, but if it's 4" or longer, the 230 gr. JHP Gold Dot, Ranger, or Golden Saber will serve you very well.

If your barrel length is less than 4", definitely go with Corbon's 165 gr. PowRBall or 185 gr. DPX. These two loads, while expensive to function test, will give the best penetration AND expansion when fired from short .45 acp barrels (3.5" and 3"). I would skip on the "standard" 185 gr . and 200 gr. .45 ACP loads. The lighter, STANDARD-type .45 acp bullet weights (200 gr. and 185 gr.) lose velocity from shorter barrels at a MORE rapid rate than do the heavier (e.g. 230 gr.) bullets, which benefit from greater momentum. Shoot 230 gr. if you have to... it will give good penetration, even if it doesn't expand much at all from a short barrel.


"Shot placement is KING, penetration is QUEEN, all else is angels dancing on the head of a pin."

December 5, 2007, 06:01 AM
I always agree with DHART. I just like a 45 because of the heavy bullet, and I do use the 230 literally all the time. But then again, I do not have one of the little 45s like the Kahr. The smallest 45 I will carry is a Commander size, or more properly the Lieutenant Commander, the Officers slide on a regular frame, like it a lot. Also uses really heavy loads quite well (it is all steel). I am trying out a new Sig 220 SAO, it has some interesting possibilities for an alloy frame gun.

December 5, 2007, 01:55 PM
Jack... and like you, I won't go smaller than a Lieutenant Commander (or 4" Compact) myself. I believe that if you must go smaller in size (to a 3" barrel), then .40 or 9mm are better choices of caliber for such short barrels.

December 5, 2007, 02:13 PM
Let me suggest a test.

If you take a standard 9mm 115 gr and a standard 45 230 gr, both show about 330 ft lbs energy. Now shoot these at a metal plate. I suggest hanging a metal plate from two short chains from a target stand. The 9mm will hit and dive into the dirt, the plate won't move much. The 45 flips the plate around a bunch. There is a lot more wallop at the target, yet, the stats are the same. The point is not everything is in the stats. Mass makes a difference. Given two choices on near equal energy go with the higher mass bullet.

December 5, 2007, 03:11 PM
Do you live in a warm climate, or cold climate?

If warm and perps wear light clothes, go light.

If cold, and perps wear heavy clothes, go heavy.


December 5, 2007, 04:12 PM
I'm with Jack and Dhart,

In the manual for my full-size Kimber, it actually says, "Use ONLY 230 grain, jacketed ammo." I know full well other loads will work just fine, but the truth is, I'm just fine with using the gun as it was designed. The 230 gr .45 acp at regular pressure is probably the most proven manstopper of all time. (for a handgun.) I actually cringe a little when people start to get silly with +P loads, I start to think they want the pistol to do more than it was designed for. If one needs THAT much if a velocity increase, perhaps they should look at a different cartridge.

COMPACT pistols, on the other hand, lose velocity. This is exactly what the smaller bullets are good for, to make up some of that velocity from a shorter barrel.

December 5, 2007, 04:39 PM
Doc2005... don't plan your program for light clothing, prepare for the worst case scenario; arm yourself for the worst and hope for the least. Count on perps being large, heavily built, thickly muscled, high on drugs, drunk, stoned, cold-blooded, and cold-hearted. Also count on having to land a large number of very well placed hits into the perp before you can even hope for a sudden "stop". You can empty a 1911 magazine in just two or three seconds. So between misses and hopefully some right-on hits, even with one perp, at this point, you may find a 1911 magazine empty or nearly so (especially a Compact magazine) - with NO time to do a reload. You can also count on there being two, three, or more perps acting together. (This is why high capacity is ALWAYS a better choice than lower capacity! That's why I carry a Glock 23 with 14-rounds of hot 180 gr. Gold Dots of forty or a Glock 19 with 16 rounds of 124 gr. +p Gold Dots. Much as I love my many 1911's, I prefer higher capacity.)

In .45 acp, forget the light bullets, unless they're of exotic design (PowRBall & DPX). You want deep penetration above ALL else. 230 gr. will get you that. Your bullets may have to pass through upheld arms, hands, before reaching the torso, then possibly many inches of fat and or muscle before reaching vitals. 230 gr. JHP/ball or exotic (PowRBall or DPX) are the best choices.

December 5, 2007, 05:04 PM
The 230 grain "fat & slow" round just wasn't designed for speed, you aren't going to get more "oompf" out of it, if you are wanting to shoot .45ACp out of a shorter than 5" barrel, then a lighter/faster load makes sense. I'd also use the 185gr load rather than 165gr.

If you want high vel. in a 165 gr load, then you may as well change to .40S&W.

James T Thomas
December 5, 2007, 05:18 PM

I am in agreement with most of the posters here; choose the heavier bullet.

DHart is correct on the bullet needing to penetrate past interveneing body parts. Please refer to the post here on THR about the 1986 FBI Miami shoot out.
One of the murderers took a round from the side which pierced his arm, traveled across his torso, only to stop short of the heart. I was an expanded Silvertip 9mm.

With handgun bullets; as compared to rifle bullets, so much of the K.E. is used up or consumed producing the expansion that unless the bullet retains some of it's "shank," or body if you will, it looses so much of it's penetration.
That theoretical energy is what "Rustynuts" is referring to.
Upon expansion the bullet becomes a flattened out disc or coin shaped projectile.
This occurs especially with the high velocity, low mass bullets which use up all their metal forming the expansion that there is none remaining to provide the "sectional density" required for penetration. The heavier rounds do provide some remaining shank after expanding.
I prefer the "controlled expansion" designs.

Sorry for the abstract or technical concept. However, of all the mathematical ballistic derivations, the S.D. index seems to be quite reliable in judging the critical penetration needed.

There is a post similar to this here on THR under Revolvers: Federal low recoil hydrashock 110 gn. rounds that you might want to read. It is another light weight but high velocity round that is discussed.

December 5, 2007, 06:05 PM
I carry Winchester "Flying Ashtrays" (230 Gr. Pers. Def.) year-round. :)

I dug these out of a boar: Ouch!!!





December 5, 2007, 10:09 PM
I chose the .45 ACP because I am of the heavy and slow school of thought. As a friend of mine put it when talking to someone who claimed his super hot 9mm was better than a .45 if it expanded, "Your 9mm might expand, but my .45 won't contract". That said, you are really killing the S.D. by going to a 165 grain bullet. I use 230 grain exclusively, and that is what I recommend. Performance on produce and animals that I have seen personally leads me to trust the 230 grainer, even from a short barrel.


December 5, 2007, 10:56 PM
When man can run faster than 573 ft per sec, Ill switch to 185 or a new cal.

Doc2005 Great camo patern what type is it?? That would be perfect for
coyote hunting.

December 6, 2007, 12:07 PM
That, my friend, is Real Tree. Green on one side, white on the other. :)


December 6, 2007, 12:27 PM
Maybe try Gold Dot 230 gr short barrel, or Speer also offers 185 gr and 200 gr Gold Dots and +P in 200 gr.
From everything I have read about Gold Dot it is one of the best, and will perform as good or better than other premium ammo.
The short barrel ammo is designed to reach quicker velocities in a shorter barrel to make up for reduced velocities/pressures of a shorter barrel.
When I first started shooting .45 I went with 185 grain bullets thinking the recoil would be less than 230 grain, I don't think most people can tell a difference, I still carry 185 gr. Gold Dots in my .45 and don't feel under gunned but it seems to be that most .45 guys prefer the 230 gr.
The 200 gr +P seems to be an excellent compromise and probably what I will switch to. Hope this helps.
Good Luck and Be Safe!

December 6, 2007, 12:36 PM
I almost forgot Doc2005, great pictures and a great example of what a bullet should do, and on an animal with a reputation for being tough. I was curious, did it take two shots or did you double tap the boar?

December 6, 2007, 02:19 PM
The lighter, STANDARD-type .45 acp bullet weights (200 gr. and 185 gr.) lose velocity from shorter barrels at a MORE rapid rate than do the heavier (e.g. 230 gr.) bullets, which benefit from greater momentum. Shoot 230 gr. if you have to... it will give good penetration, even if it doesn't expand much at all from a short barrel.I might be wrong, but isn't that bad physics? Since you are trying to accelerate the bullet, not slow it down, wouldn't a LIGHTER bullet accelerate faster in a shorter distance than a heavier bullet? The heavier bullet has more mass, and like you mentioned it has more momentum due to its mass. I thought more momentum = more resistance in acceleration/decceleration?

If I'm on the right track, then a 185g or 200g would definitely leave a short barrel much faster than a 230g would.

In my opinion, a 230g JHP is best used for anything 4" or longer. They have great penetration and should expand just fine. I fear that when shooting out of shorter barrels, the bullet won't be traveling fast enough to penetrate AND expand like it was designed to. A 200g seems more practical in a Kahr P45 w/ a 3.5" barrel. It is still heavy enough to penetrate a great deal, but it will be traveling fast enough to get more reliable expansion than a 230g would. Heck, maybe even a 185g would do the job better..I still don't like the idea of underpenetration w/ a 185g though.

I wouldn't use any 165g loads in 45acp. It just seems that with a large diameter, less mass, and faster speed it wouldn't penetrate for squat. I'd rather just shoot a 165g .40S&W load.

December 6, 2007, 03:54 PM
Depends on the bullet.

The SCHPs (solid copper hollow points) penetrate about 30% deeper than most other JHPs at the same weight/velocity. The 165 PB/HS/EFMJ penetrate about 9-10 inches, the 165FD/160 DPX at least 12 inches.

Magtech's 165g First Defense and CorBon's 160g DPX penetrate deeper than some other heavier 45s, even some 230s. They go deeper after auto glass than the 230 Winchester USA/SXT, PMC Starfire, and Speer Gold Dot for example. All those were under 12 inches after glass, the 160/165 SCHPs over 12 inches. The DPX loads will even do 12 inches in gel through a real car door.

PowerBall, in any caliber, is a poor penetrator. Lottsa energy, but not a "deep puncher".

After auto glass:

100/9 +P PB, 4.7 inches
135/40 PB, 7.9
165/45 +P PB, 5.5

Then again, ya never know... the Win 230 JHP did fine in the boar above, only penetrated less than 11 inches of gel in the FBI glass tests. So don't shoot the pigs if they are driving. ;)

bob kk
December 6, 2007, 05:00 PM
I checked some 165g Fed personal defence ammo in a 3 inch Kimber averaged 980 ft. About 200ft faster in my Kimber target. That's the only jacket bullets I've choreographed with my O-35 proof screen.

December 6, 2007, 06:36 PM
I like the lighter, faster JHP for SD/HD in an urban setting, as overpenetration is a little less likely. Remember, you are responsible for every round you let fly... :uhoh:

For .45 ACP:

Double Tap 165gr. JHP, 1325 fps - 643 ft./lbs. :eek:

For 10 mm:

Double Tap 135gr. Nosler JHP, 1600 fps - 767 ft./lbs. :what:

In a rural setting or for hunting, I'd favor the heavier, deeper penetrators--230 gr in .45 ACP and 200 gr hard-cast in 10 mm. ;)


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