".45 Range Ammo..."


Stephen A. Camp
February 7, 2003, 08:17 PM
Hello. Accuracy means different things to different folks depending upon the precision they require. The demand for a load that groups as tightly as possible regardless of power might be of primary concern to a pure bullseye competitor while an IPSC shooter wants one that'll group but meet minimum power requirements. The latter might well be willing to sacrific a bit of grouping for a load that while still accurate, has some margin in meeting minimum requirements for major caliber rating. You get the idea; sometimes some compromising is done to get that which performs best overall for us.

It occurred to me that while we can sort cases, weigh bullets, measure powder dropped into cases, and so forth, a great many handloaders will just load up what they have, throw charges, seat bullets and go to the range....and there's not a thing in the world wrong with that. Therefore, the 4 handloads used today were fired from mixed, fired cases with powder charges thrown, bullets not weighed. In short, no special effort was made for getting really precise.

While the man in pursuit of the tiniest group might be shooting his accurized 1911 with lighter recoil springs or the fellow interested in getting as much velocity with a JHP as possible for hunting, heavier ones, many folks will want a load that works fine with the standard spring or one just a bit heavier such that springs don't have to be changed with the load.

Selected handloads were picked that fall in a velocity range that should do just that.

While there are cleaner powders now available, the two powders used today were Bullseye and Unique, two old stand-bys. I've still got lots and lots and since they can be found in about any gunshop, they were used.
A factory 230 gr ball load was also fired and Sellier & Bellot was the choice as many use this ammunition as it can be had at good prices.

Test Gun: All loads were fired from an STI 5" Trojan .45 ACP that had both a shock buff in place and a Wolff 18.5 lb conventional recoil spring

None of the ammunition fired today showed any excessive pressure signs at all, but one is always wise to work up from the low end when working up handloads.

Firing: When I arrived at the range, there was a fair north wind and the temperature was 27 degrees. For that reason, I did NOT stay for any 50 yard shooting. Targets fired at 15 yards were fired off-hand using a 2-hand hold in slowfire. The 25 yard targets were fired seated and with my wrists supported, using 2 hands, and in slowfire.


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Stephen A. Camp
February 7, 2003, 08:19 PM
Ammunition: Pictures of the loaded rounds with the pertinent load data are shown below. Also provided are the average velocities for each bases on 10-shot strings of fire, chronographed 10' from the muzzle. Extreme spread and standard deviation are also given. I suspect that the velocities will be a little faster in warmer weather.

This 230 gr CRN load averaged 800 ft/sec with an ES of 49 and SD of 14.

Found some old 230 gr Hornady jacketed flat points. They averaged 806 ft/sec with an ES of 62 and SD of 19. It's been my observation that these can be problem feeders in some 1911s.

I was out of 200 gr CSWCs based on the old H&G #68, so I used some weighing 185 grs. Using 6.0 gr Unique, these averaged 804 ft/sec with ES of 51 and SD of 19.

Though not pictured, the 185 gr bullet was also fired using 5.0 gr Bullseye for an average velocity of 848 ft/sec, ES of 41, and SD of 14.

The S&B ball is not pictured either, but averaged 789 ft/sec with an ES of 27 and SD of 10. That's quite a bit better than the last batch I checked a couple of years ago.

15 Yards: Groups consist of five shots each.

Each of the loads described above are grouped together to make it easy to compare.
The gray area of the target is 1.98" in diameter; the yellow, 0.71".


Stephen A. Camp
February 7, 2003, 08:22 PM
25 Yards: Groups were fired from a rest and consist of 10 shots each. The gun was fully loaded with 8 rnds to insure functioning and then the final 2 rounds loaded & fired.


...another with the same load. The shot out of the group was my fault. The gun showed no tendency toward the "first-shot flyer" seen on occassion.

Here are the groups fired with the 185 gr CSWC loads. The group on the right is larger than it should be. Just couldn't make things "work" for the comparison so I reshot it a few minutes later.

The reshoot which felt better and more realistic. Again, the flyer was not the first shot and was my fault.
FWIW, the dimensions on these targets measure 5.02" for the gray and 0.845" for the yellow.

...and the Hornady 230 gr FMJ flat point...

Though not pictured, the Sellier & Bellot 230 gr FMJ grouped about like the CRN handload using Unique.

Observations: There were no failures to fire or eject with most empty hulls landing 6' or so to the right. This held true with the lighter bullet loads as well. At 25 yards, I found sights did not need to be changed if using a dead-on hold with the 185 gr bullets and a 6 O' Clock for the 230 gr rounds.

For me, this is sufficiently accurate for "range ammo." You'll need to decide if such is true for you, but at least we can see what might be expected by going the lazy route. I'll get around to trying this same sort of thing, but with weighed bullets and using the same make cases, fired the same number of times.


February 7, 2003, 08:31 PM
Stephen: I have gotten similar velocities (a bit more out of one of my .45s) and similar accuracy with 5.8 grains of Old Unique and 230 grain LRN or FMJ bullets. I still have some of an old keg left, so haven't tried the "new, improved" Unique.

The loads work OK in several .45 pistols, a 1917 Smith revolver made for Brazil in 1938, and a couple of .45 ACP subguns. Not only an accurate, but a versatile load, I'd say.

Stephen A. Camp
February 7, 2003, 08:38 PM
Hello and thanks. I failed to mention it; these were done with "old Unique." Thanks for the feedback on the load information.


February 9, 2003, 10:05 AM
Wow! Thanks for all the information. I wish I could hold a 45 that steady...

Stephen A. Camp
February 9, 2003, 01:26 PM
Hello and thanks. I wish I could shoot to that degree consistently. Such is not the case. Some days, 15 yard targets look like the 25 yard targets and worse.


February 10, 2003, 06:13 PM
I've been loading .45 like that for quite awhile. I just don't think it matters under 25yds. It's nice to see some comparison testing.

February 10, 2003, 07:17 PM
Wow! Great post! It's now resident on my computer in a Word file...


Master Blaster
February 12, 2003, 09:11 AM
Thanks Mr. Camp you are the BEST.

You must have read my mind cause after looking through my new speer loading manual #13, I decided to try Unique for .357 mag mid range loads and .45 ACP hardball loads.

I just bought some on Friday.

Matt G
February 13, 2003, 04:13 AM
...a range report!

Wow. Thanks so much for your detailed, illustrated report, Steve. A lot to look at, and I agree completely with your conclusions.

Superior work, and nice shooting, too!


Stephen A. Camp
February 13, 2003, 09:45 AM
Hello and thanks. I'm looking at some more stuff using 230 gr CRN and have some coated Precision 200 gr CSWCs on the way that have lots of potential from what a very good friend is telling me. We'll see.


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