Using 45ACP JHP reloads as both range & defense load?


March 31, 2010, 08:27 AM
This is a 2 part question I suppose. For various reasons I'm considering making my next 1k order of 45ACP bullets JHPs. Thinking it'd be "logistically" easier to just have the same round for gaming & PD. (You know, there's the extra one in the pipe that can't go into the mag when you switch from PD to target, etc)

Assuming mid to upper load range and 100% reliability (yeah I know, but had to get that issue set aside for the question):

1) How's the target performance of a JHP vs LSWC/FMJ?

2) Other than reliability, what's your opinion on using the same load for both target & PD?

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March 31, 2010, 08:57 AM
While it's a good idea to practice with the same ammo as you use for SD, it really depends on how much 'target' shooting you do at the range and what your budget allows.
Personally I could burn up 1000 rounds in a session or two at the range, that's why I shoot lead for target stuff. But I've also shot a lot of factory SD ammo to know how my gun will shoot with it, if I need to.

March 31, 2010, 09:00 AM
I use Hornady 185 gr. JHP for both.
I pay about 19/20 cents for the bullet for reloading. (

You can also use a Nosler 185 gr. JHP--sold in box of 250

March 31, 2010, 09:11 AM
I've been shooting and reloading for a 1911 for over 40 years now and have some thoughts on this subject. For practice or target work, 200 gr LSWC bullets are perfect and rather inexpensive if purchased in bulk and you can load these lead bullets down for target work and/or training purposes. JHP bullets are expensive to start with and would guess in the vicinity of three to four times as much. JHP will normally cut a clean hole in a paper target, but the kicker is that full loads are necessary fo the 1911 to properly function with jacketed bullets. In conclusion, if you wish to practice with your FMJ service loads then go ahead. For more fun and inexpensive shooting go with the lead. Also remember the word "flinch" after too many full service hardball rounds.

March 31, 2010, 09:37 AM
For PD/SD/HD practice loads, I try to come close to the recoil/shot placement of the factory JHP using same weight bullet whether jacked/plated/lead.

I can come fairly close to matching the factory JHP performance using jacketed/plated bullets, but also found using lead bullets at about 5% below max load data good enough for practice.

The Bushmaster
March 31, 2010, 09:51 AM
I load Hornady 185 grain HP/XTP for self defense and practice with Rainier 185 grain plated HP.

I have worked up aload that duplicates my SD load using the Rainier bullets.

March 31, 2010, 10:24 AM
Cost wasn't really a concern, as Berry's plated JHP are $125/k, Precision Delta FMJ are $117/k, and MBC LSWC are $70/k. Though I've been shooting LSWC, thinking of moving to FMJ for less lead scraping.

Was thinking more towards how something like a Berry plated HP would be for SD use. Sure, it's not going to expand as nicely as a bonded bullet, but considering it's 1) a HP and 2) 45ACP, doesn't it still beat the heck out of a lesser caliber?

March 31, 2010, 10:55 AM
The Berry HP is purely cosmetic.

I have seen no evidence they will expand on anything softer then a steel plate.

Consider them FMJ performance wise.


March 31, 2010, 11:15 AM
RMR JHP are a little more money but far superior IMHO. They expand nicely

March 31, 2010, 11:18 AM
The Berry HP is purely cosmetic. I have seen no evidence they will expand on anything softer then a steel plate.

Ahhh... thanks rc - this was the kind of info I was looking for.

And thanks for your input pcwire.... but the question becomes moot if the cost of the JHP bullet gets anything beyond Berry's price, as it would no longer be a cost-practical target load.

So... guess it's time to buy a couple more mags & just keep em loaded with SD.

Thanks all.

March 31, 2010, 11:46 AM
Here are 2 plated .380 from affordable brass & bullets--- fired into a telephone book.
I may try their .45 just for fun (

Marlin 45 carbine
March 31, 2010, 11:53 AM
the tightest grouping jhp slug out of my 2 .45's is the Rem 185gr Golden Saber. it's fairly reasonable priced but I shoot cast for 'practice' 90% of the time.
I've tryed the RMR 9mm 124gr and they do fine but not as tight again as the Rem GS however cheaper than the Rem.

David Wile
March 31, 2010, 06:00 PM
Hey editingfx,

While I don't personally use the 45 ACP for personal defense use, I think for your purposes we could lump 9MM, 40S&W, and 10MM in with the 45 ACP for practical comparison purposes. Given that premise that you are using such a pistol caliber as above, you should also assume that you are not shooting it out with someone wearing body armor. If they are wearing body armor, you really want a rifle with full metal jacketed bullets.

If we can go with the assumption that the other guy is not wearing body armor, then I would suggest that the resulting wounds from most torso hits would not be all that different whether you were using full metal jacket bullets, hollow points, or just plain old cast bullets. Of course, almost any full hit in the head from any bullet would result in a real bad day for the guy who was hit.

Yes, I know there can be some difference in results between different bullets, especially hollow points and full metal jackets. However, I used to have my own indoor pistol range, and I did a lot of bullet testing with the four calibers listed in my first paragraph. Some of the things I found were somewhat counter to what one might expect. While most full metal jacket bullets simply plowed further into the target than hollow points and cast bullets, I found that a lot of different hollow points broke apart while others mushroomed as advertised. I also found a difference in cast bullet performance. When I used cast bullets made from really hard alloy, I found they would perform somewhat like the hollow points that would break apart. When using cast bullets from a somewhat softer alloy, almost all of them would mushroom quite well while staying together and gaining more penetration (other than the penetration obtained with full metal jackets).

In my experience with those four semi-auto pistol calibers, I think you can cast your own bullets which will work for plinking as well as self defense, and they will generally do as well or even better than commercial jacketed bullets. They are also a heck of a lot cheaper.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

March 31, 2010, 11:48 PM
I haven't tried Berry's plated HPs, but I have shot up a 1000 rnd box of Ranier plated 200 gr. HPs in 45 acp. They did not expand any better than FMJs when shot into wet sand, water jugs, or phone books.

The last load I tested was the 200 gr HPs at 950 fps, shot into water filled milk jugs. Every round fired fully penetrated 4 full jugs with no bullet expansion.

April 1, 2010, 09:10 AM
Interesting info David & Scratch. It is VERY tempting to simply use the cast 45ACP as my "one size fits all" round. Would anybody dispute that getting hit with a 200gr LSWC @ 900-1000fps center-of-mass is going to ruin your day?

Steve C
April 1, 2010, 11:52 AM
2) Other than reliability, what's your opinion on using the same load for both target & PD?

IMO its largely a wast of money to shoot self defense loads for target practice beyond simply assuring yourself that they will feed reliably and shoot where aimed.

To buy into the "need" to use the same loads for SD and practice you have to buy into the idea that your SD ammo is so significantly different in point of aim that you need to modify how you shoot it over any other type load. I haven't found that to be an issue at 25 yds and certainly not an issue at shorter more common SD distances.

If your SD ammo has a little more recoil that's essentially a non issue with how your shoot. Recoil doesn't affect accuracy unless you are anticipating it and if you are anticipating recoil then work at over coming that problem. The fundamentals of how you shoot a handgun accurately is the same for all calibers. The only thing recoil affects is perhaps how fast your bring your sights back on target but that is mostly a habit developed by shooting any gun or caliber.

April 1, 2010, 01:30 PM
I was actually thinking the other direction, Steve - target load for SD

April 1, 2010, 01:39 PM
Would anybody dispute that getting hit with a 200gr LSWC @ 900-1000fps center-of-mass is going to ruin your day?

As I understand it, up until the advent of modern JHP's, that was considered THE load for social situations.

April 1, 2010, 01:56 PM
social situations

lol... i have to remember that

David Wile
April 1, 2010, 05:06 PM
Hey folks,

I have a couple of other ideas to add to this mix. In Steve's post, he takes the tack that target loads and self defense loads are by nature different loads, and he thinks it is a waste of money to shoot self defense loads for target practice.

If one accepts the idea that one's target loads are going to be different (less expensive) than one's self defense loads, I would tend to agree with Steve's opinion. I would submit, however, that if a person uses good cast bullets that perform well, then that person can have one load for both target shooting as well as self defense.

I personally do not use hot loads for anything I shoot. If one is going to load any of those four calibers to their hottest potential, I doubt if many shooters could manage to shoot the hot loads effectively unless they spent a lot of time on the range learning to control those hot loads. Steve made it seem that point of aim for self defense ammo compared to target ammo is rather insignificant at 25 yards. I have to disagree with Steve about that. If think if he were to shoot a dozen target loads at 25 yards and then shoot a dozen hot loads at 25 yards, he would notice a good bit of difference in his two groups. Heavy recoil does affect accuracy, and that is why Bullseye competitors use light target loads for best scores. If you want to shoot hot loads with heavy recoil, you really need to practice with that load to learn how to control it. At 10 yards, I would be more inclined to agree with Steve's premise, but again heavy recoil is detrimental to accuracy unless you have practiced and learned to control it. It is not just about how fast you bring your sights to bear on the target after a shot. It is more about not making an accurate shot in the first place because of expected recoil and lack of ability to control same.

Again I go back to the idea that if you have a good cast bullet that you can shoot well and control its recoil, it can be very effective at 25 yards or less, and it is also cheap enough to use for target as well as self defense use. A good hit with a cast bullet from any of those four pistol calibers is obviously far better than a miss from a really hot load.

I would also like to point out that when I used to hunt deer a good many years ago, I used a 150 grain gas checked cast bullet in a 30-06 rifle. My practice was to use hard cast bullets for target use in my hunting rifle, and my scope was set accordingly. When it came time to go hunting, instead of using my regular hard cast gas checked bullets, I used the same mould to make my hunting bullets out of dead soft lead. I normally only used ond of two of the soft cast bullets in a season, so leading the barrel was not really a problem. The soft bullets were essentially the same weight as my target bullets, so they shot to the same point of aim. Every deer I ever shot with one of my soft bullets was hit solidly, and the bullet would result in an excellent mushroom shape. When using regular spitzer hunting bullets, sometimes they will mushroom quite well, and there are many other times the bullet will fragment into smaller parts. Cast bullets can be very effective if used properly.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Steve C
April 1, 2010, 05:20 PM
target load for SD

While I see no advantage to spending more money than needed for practice I also don't see the value in saving a couple bucks if in that unlikely event one has to shoot somebody to defend their life or health.

The delta on a couple thousand rounds of practice ammo vrs premium personal defense ammo is probably around $1000 plus but the delta on 100 rounds of premium personal defense ammo vrs inexpensive or hand loaded target ammo is maybe $60. If I'm in a fight for my life or health I want every advantage I can get. Premium personal defense ammo gives you some advantage over any solid non expanding target bullet.

If all that was available is target ammo when attacked, that's what the assailant is going to get shot at with. But if I'm going armed for potential trouble give me some Golden Sabers, Winchester SXT's, Federal HS or HST's, or Speer GD.

April 3, 2010, 09:50 AM
Not wanting to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, but I believe in the fact that using reloads in todays law suit happy world is almost like saying I used this "supper dupper" round loaded just so that I would destroy my opponent.(regardless of what the load is) In all the reading I have done on the subject using a reload is like inviting the prosecutor to throw away the key. That is why it is suggested you make sure your SD load works in your weapon and then just use a reload that has the same POA-POI as it does.

April 3, 2010, 10:51 AM
IMHO, folks put way too emphasis on bullet design and construction in most SD calibers. In most autoloaders used for SD, the velocity produced does not give reliable and consistent expansion, regardless of bullet type. For true SD, it still comes down to hittin' what you're aiming at and being able to continue to hit that spot till the threat is gone. In most SD calibers, hittin' a BG square in the chest with a cheap bulk lead bullet loaded correctly will kill him just as fast and just as well as a new Hornady Critical Defense bullet. If one has a cheap practice round that shoots to POA everytime, and always functions in the gun it is used in, there's no reason not to trust it against a BG @ 3 yards. I always recommend folks use the ammo they feel confident with in their SD guns, and to ignore the media/internet hype.

David Wile
April 3, 2010, 04:24 PM
Hey Buck,

I don't think there is anything whatsoever to be humble about in your opinion. I agree with you completly, and I did a lot of penetration testing on different bullets from 1984 to 2005. I think Skat's remark about worrying about lawsuits is more or less skat from the bull out in the pasture. I would much rather be defending a bogus lawsuit than being on the losing side and taking a dirt nap.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

April 3, 2010, 08:39 PM
I wish you hadn't said "dirt nap"....can't get it out of my head, and now my regular afternoon geez may be a problem! :)

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