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Hardball, etc.?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by ed dixon, Apr 19, 2003.

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  1. ed dixon

    ed dixon Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Just ordered a Springfield Mil-Spec and should get it next week. It'll be my first centerfire autoloader of any kind. So...

    (1) What exactly is "hardball" ammo?

    (2) Are jacketed bullets used almost exclusively in 1911s today or do some folks shoot lead?

    (3) Are there any bullet types and weights which I might reasonably reload for both .45 acp and .45 Colt?
    (.451" diameter seems pretty common, but I see .452" out there too. If both would chamber, and in the 1911's case, cycle, okay, can you play with that .001" difference or might it seriously affect accuracy?) I'm using a Ruger Vaquero for the latter and also have a Winchester Trapper chambered in it.

    Thanks. Ed
  2. TheeBadOne

    TheeBadOne Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Nemo sine vitio est
    1) Hardball ammo has a lead core surrounded by a metal jacket (usually copper).

    2) Some shoot lead, some shoot jacketed, some shoot both (me)

    3) I suspect you won't like the same bullet(s) out of your .45 LC that you like in your .45 ACP. The LC can use longer/heavier bullets than the .45 ACP.
  3. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I have shot tons of lead bullets out of my 1911s. No problem at all.
    I have shot bullets ranging from 155 grain SWCs up to some 255 grain cast bullets intended for use in the .45 Colt. The standard .45 ACP bullets are pretty much 185 - 230 grains. As a general rule, the hotter hollowpoints are your 185s in an attempt to get the bullet moving as fast as possible. The 200 grain has been very popular in the past as a competive bullet for bullseye and action pistol shooting. The 230 grain bullet was the standard GI bullet weight. These of course are simply general guidelines; you can get hollowpoints in 230 grain or whatever, you can shoot any bullet weight in competition etc. When I was shooting IPSC I was using 155 grain SWCs in an attempt to make "major" while cutting down on muzzle flip.
    The problem with using .45 Colt bullets is that it will increase pressure, they may cause feeding problems due to the bullets shape, and because they are usually heavier the will cut down on the case capacity since they will have to be seated deeper to feed through the magazine. If you cast your own bullets or even if you reload, you could run your .452 bullets though your luber/sizer with a .451 sizing die. But then again, if you cast your own bullets, you could simply buy another mould.
  4. tbeb

    tbeb Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Northwest Indiana
    I have a Springfield Mil-Spec. At the moment can't remember purchase date but I paid $350 new. For practice I use a 230 gr. lead round nose and 4.9 grs. of Winchester 231. For self defense I like the Federal Hydra-Shok 230 gr. JHP. Pistol has never malfunctioned with either. If the new ones are as reliable as mine, then you will be happy with your first centerfire semi-auto.
  5. Selfdfenz

    Selfdfenz Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    Small-sky country, again
    I shoot lead and jacketed in my 1911s but clean very well when going between the two styles of bullets.

    My cowboy load with the 230 gr bullets in the 45 Colt (that were designed for the 1911) were never as accurate as the 250 and 255 gr that were designed for the 45 Colt.

    If you have the second cylinder for your Vaquero that runs 45 acp seems like you have the best of both worlds already.

    I have never tried the 250 cowboy bullets in the 1911. Have data just never tried it.
    Good luck.
  6. Traithe

    Traithe Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    The main reason people shoot lead is that's is a whole lot less than copper jacketed bullets, particulary when you reload your own ammo.
  7. Stevie-Ray

    Stevie-Ray Member

    Feb 22, 2003
    Mitchi-gun, the Sunrise Side
    Shot a lot of lead bullets back in the day. Ordered 185 gr and 200 gr lead SWC bullets by the 500 box, several boxes of each. I had a 185 gr load that I could probably shoot aspirin tablets at 25 yds with, back then. Still like to shoot lead whenever I have time to reload. God, I miss that. Definitely the main thing on my mind for when it's time to retire.

    BTW, when you shoot lead, always remember to follow it up with a final shot or two with jacketed. It blows most of the lead fouling out of your barrel for you to aid in cleaning.
  8. Johnny Guest

    Johnny Guest Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 20, 2002
    North Texas
    Probahbly a target shooters' term to start with - - -

    Military packaging for the .45 ACP for many years was labeled,

    Cal. 45 M1911

    Bullseye shooters frequently used cast semiwadcutter bullets in 185 to 200 gr, loaded pretty lightly. While those bullets were usually fairly hard alloy, they were not so hard as the jacketed 230 RN with which the military ammo was loaded. Also, the milspec ammo was loaded to full power and was called "hard shootin' ammo." Therefore, the hard jacketed, hard hitting, full weight, military ammo became, Hard Ball, or hardball.

    My first handloading for .45 Colt was with my Lyman 452374 RN bullet, at 225 to 230 gr, which I loaded in .45 ACP. I used the same charge of Unique to start with. I later learned that I had started out loading something very similar to the .45 S&W or Scofield round.

    Later on, I got a 454424 mould, still in use, which dropped SWC bullets at 265 to 276 grs, depending on alloy. I loaded a lot of these, cast hard, over Unique powder, for bowling pin shooting. They would sometimes "grab" the pins with a marginal hit, when the LRN or hardball would glance off.

    I've probably shot at least 100 cast lead bullets from my .45s, for every jacketed bullet. At the modest velocities of the ACP, there's no particular problem with leading, and, as a practical matter, I would think it impossible to wash out a barrel with lead bullet handloads.

    Of course, I use jacketed ammo in the .45 autos, "for business."

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