Playing Hard Ball

Heavy .45 ACP Bullets in Revolvers

 

By:† John Goins/akabeagle

 

It seems as if someoneís always asking a question on one of the talk sites about a good, heavy carry bullet and load for the .45 ACP cylinder in the Ruger Blackhawk convertible. Several folks have fitted a .45 ACP cylinder to their Vaqueros and are on the hunt for this magical load also.

 

The answer is invariably the Lyman/Ideal #452423 over 6.0 grains of Unique.† Now, Iíve shot that load and it isnít too bad.† It runs 1005 FPS out of my Blackhawk in milspec cases seated to 1.130Ē overall length. Not bad for a 246 grain bullet.† The accuracy is pretty good for 100 yard plinking and a man should be satisfied with it.† I shot a box last Sunday of mixed solids and hollow points and the hollow points won the accuracy test hands down.† They run 232 grains and that takes us right back to the old 230 grain round nose standby, the #452374 and its various clones.

 

For some reason, Iíve never been satisfied with old Elmerís .45 ACP bullet design.† Itís pretty short and stubby and you have to drive it fast to get good accuracy at longer ranges.† It has the aerodynamics of a brick and I think this works against it when accuracy and range is what youíre after.

 

I started looking through my mould cabinet for the various heavy .45 bullets that I had moulds for that might be suitable.† Several emerged that are favorites in the .45 Colt.† Then I got really interested with all of the possibilities and decided that Iíd test these, get some workable data once and for all.

 

L Ė R: 452309, 454485 HP, 452423, 454190, 452400, 454424, and 452490

 

Thereís the big brother to the #452423, the #454424.† I pulled that one out.

 

Elmer once shot this in guns chambered for the .45 ACP and Iíve played with it off and on over the years in various .45s including the M1911A1.† Iíve even shot Elmerís old load in the M1911A1 when I was younger and had less Öwisdom.† It worked after a fashion but Iíd not shoot that load again in an old Army M1911A1 unless it had special springs and Iíd not dare to publish that load here.† If you want it, look in Sixguns, by Keith, and blow up your own pistol.

 

I recall once when I was maybe 16 years old fishing a pond in North Carolina.† This was down in the sandy tobacco country and I was easing around the pond with a cane pole with a short line and catching blue gills through holes in the willows.† I came to one place with grass about a foot high and this Blacksnake stood up out of the grass like a Cobra and looked at me.† Now, Iím deathly scared of snakes.† I pulled a M1917 Colt that I had that was loaded with the #452424 and too much Unique in .45 ACP cases in half moon clips and proceeded to plop six of these big bruisers in the grass where he was.† After the dirt clods stopped falling from the impact on the soft pond bank, I found myself in the middle of a sandy road about 12 feet away from the site of the shooting and I donít remember going there. As far as I know, the snake is still alive and well and proliferating in NC. Thereís no doubt that the #454424 is a great .45 bullet because of the wide, flat meplat that absorbs the energy of the round upon impact.

 

Then thereís the #452490.† This is Ray Thompsonís .45 Auto Rim bullet design and one of my favorites in the .45 Colt.† Then I grabbed a #454190 as Iíve always had good results with that in the .45 Colt. Then I spied a #454485HP that I picked up in a trade with a fellow in California. I have already tested the #454309 and the #452400 in the .45 ACP and know that they work well so I decided to stick with moulds that I knew would be available.

 

Iím not fond of gas checks on revolver bullets.† In my opinion, theyíre about as useless as the proverbial appendages on a boar hog.† Last winter, I was in a mould modifying mood and me and my shooting partner ďdehornedĒ the #452490 (which has one cavity hollow pointed) and the #454485HP. Both modifications turned out well and both shoot accurately in the .45 Colt.

Now, before I get into this too far, Iím talking about .45 ACP loads for a Ruger Blackhawk with a .45 ACP cylinder.† These loads may or may not work in your .45 auto and probably wonít due to overall length and the pressures involved. On the other hand, they may work as Speer lists data for a jacketed 260 grain bullet.† Approach their use in a .45 Auto with caution.

 

The chambers on my Ruger .45 ACP cylinder are short. That means that Iím unable to get any longer seating depth to lessen the pressure problems.† In this situation, I start low and kind of ease into the level of loads that I want based on past experience and existing data.

 

Accuracy testing is done at 100 yards using some reference point on our 100 yard backstop. If bullets impact in the close vicinity as called, theyíre accurate.† If I see bullets that impact outside my ďcalled shotĒ zone, I know I have problems. Not terribly accurate but the system works well for developing field loads.

 

These are loads that Iíve previously used and tested.

 

Remember, these are my loads in my revolver and they fire safe for me. If you choose to use the data as is, itís your revolver and your responsibility. Again, remember that seating depth is critical on a small capacity case like the .45 ACP so make changes carefully and expect changes in pressure.

 

Bullet

Weight

Powder

Weight

Av Vel

SD

Szd Diam

Primer

Seat Depth

Comments

 

452400

251.5

Unique

6.0

929

8.5

.451

WLP

1.164 AOL

Good Acc

 

452400HP

221.0

Unique

6.0

854

26.9

.452

RLP

1.164 OAL

Good Acc

 

452423

246.0

Unique

6.0

1005

41.8

.451

WLP

1.130 OAL

Good Acc

RA milspec cases

454309

235.0

 

Unique

6.0

985

45.7

.452

HLP

1.175 OAL

Good Acc

 

WLP Ė Winchester Large Pistol† RLP Ė Remington Large Pistol HLP Ė Herterís Large Pistol

 

Armed with this knowledge, I put together 8 test lots using 4 different bullets to kind of test the waters with.

 

Initial testing:

 

Bullet

Weight

Powder

Weight

Av Vel

SD

Szd Diam

Primer

Seat Depth

Comments

452424

254.0

Unique

6.0

958

18.5

.452

HLP

1.190 OAL

Fair

Acc

452490

260.0

Unique

6.0

925

5.4

.451

HLP

1.238 OAL

Good

Acc

454190HP

238.3

Unique

6.0

887

19.2

.451

HLP

1.258 OAL

Good

Acc

454485HP

237.8

Unique

6.0

949

11.2

.451

HLP

1.216 OAL

Good

Acc

452424

254.0

Herco

6.0

940

18.9

.452

HLP

1.190 OAL

Fair

Acc

452490

260.0

Herco

6.0

901

13.5

.451

HLP

1.238 AOL

Good

Acc

454190HP

238.3

Herco

6.0

871

27.4

.451

HLP

1.258 OAL

Good

Acc

454485PBHP

237.8

Herco

6.0

935

16.2

.451

HLP

1.216 OAL

Good

Acc

 

Loads tested in R-P Cases.† All rounds fired normally.† No indications of pressure such as flattened primers or sticky extraction were noted.

 

Ideal 454190 HP recovered at 100 yards

 

Thereís always a discussion on whether or not its worth while to HP .45 ACP bullets as thereís some doubt to whether they open at .45 ACP speeds.† This is a #454190HP that was launched at 887 feet per second during these tests out of a 5 ĹĒ Blackhawk .45 ACP. Now, I realize that a dirt bank isnít an animate medium but the energy was sure expended on this one and it mushroomed in the classic manor.

 

Follow up testing:

 

Bullet

Weight

Powder

Weight

Av

Vel

SD

Szd

Dai

Primer

Seat

Depth

Comments

454309

235.0

Unique

6.5

1037

60.9

.451

HLP

1.175

Acc

452400

251.5

Unique

6.5

1091

39.9

.451

HLP

1.164

Acc

452423

246.0

Unique

6.5

963

29.2

.451

HLP

1.130

Not Acc

452423

246.0

Herco

6.5

973

12.4

.451

HLP

1.130

Acc

452490PB

260.0

Unique

6.5

974

16.7

.451

HLP

1.238

Acc

454190

249.0

Unique

6.5

962

50.7

.451

HLP

1.258

Acc

454190

249.0

Herco

6.5

920

14.2

.451

HLP

1.258

Acc

454485PBHP

237.8

Unique

6.5

1081

11.4

.451

HLP

1.216

Very Acc

454424

254.0

Unique

6.5

974

12.9

.451

HLP

1.190

Not Acc

454424

254.0

Herco

6.5

945

14.1

.451

HLP

1.190

Not Acc

454424

254.0

Green Dot

5.5

949

8.9

.451

HLP

1.190

Not Acc

454190

249.0

Green Dot

5.5

953

41.2

.451

HLP

1.258

Acc

452400

251.5

Green Dot

5.5

928

125.0

.451

HLP

1.164

Not Acc

452423

246.0

Green Dot

5.5

1004

15.9

.451

HLP

1.130

Not Acc

452423

246.0

WW231

5.5

921

38.1

.451

HLP

1.130

Not Acc

452490PB

260.0

700-X

4.9

877

5.7

.451

HLP

1.238

Acc

454424

254.0

700-X

4.9

898

11.5

.451

HLP

1.190

Acc

454424

254.0

Bullseye

5.3

920

18.4

.451

HLP

1.190

Acc

452490PB

260.0

Bullseye

5.3

907

10.7

.451

HLP

1.225

Acc

452490PB

260.0

Red Dot

5.0

893

14.5

.451

HLP

1.225

Not Acc

R-P cases used in all loads.

 

These tests were pretty interesting.

 

No excess pressure signs were noted in any of the test lots although Iím beginning to see some flattening of primers.† Not enough to be worried about but still the loads are getting to the velocity level I want.

 

As I expected, for the most part, the round nose bullet designs shot better than the semi wad cutter designs.† What amazed me was the total failure of the Keith SWCs in some cases that I labeled ďNot AccĒ.† In some cases, I had flyers that were 2-3 feet off my beaten pattern and I didnít call these.† This indicates that something is causing an unstable condition in this style bullet.† I have a theory that Iíll test next week with the SWCs.

 

 

Bullet

Weight

Powder

Weight

Av

Vel

SD

Szd

Dai

Primer

Seat

Depth

Comments

452423

246.0

Green Dot

5.5

994

10.1

.451

HLP

1.120

Not Acc

454424

254.0

Green Dot

5.5

972

18.2

.451

HLP

1.162

Acc

452423

246.0

WW231

5.5

925

23.9

.451

HLP

1.120

Not Acc

454424HP

236.1

WW231

5.5

918

12.8

.451

HLP

1.162

Acc

454424

254.0

Unique

6.5

979

21.4

.451

HLP

1.162

Acc

452423

246.0

Unique

6.5

1012

25.1

.451

HLP

1.117

Not Acc

454424

254.0

Herco

6.5

959

40.1

.451

HLP

1.162

Acc

452490PB

260.0

Blue Dot

8.3

945

16.4

.451

HLP

1.232

Acc

452423

246.0

Blue Dot

8.3

982

30.5

.451

HLP

1.128

Acc

454424HP

236.1

Blue Dot

8.3

978

27.3

.451

HLP

1.187

Acc

 

My theory didnít pan out. I was thinking that if I flush seated the bullets and applied a taper crimp, the semi-wadcutters would enter the throat as a round nose design. There are definite problems with the #452423 in bullet stability in this cases and Iím suspecting a weak front driving band.

 

Iím actually where I wanted to be on the seating dept as most autos will require flush seating for magazine clearance and Iím flush seating all of the semi-wadcutters now and there are no signs of excess pressure.

 

 

On further examination of the bullets produced from this mould, the front bands are running about .450Ē. Going on Elmerís theory that an accurate bullet must have a full diameter driving band, I ďbeagledĒ a mould to a bigger diameter and then sized this batch to .452Ē.† Now, all bullets have a full diameter driving band of .452Ē

 

The following lots were loaded:

 

Bullet

Weight

Powder

Weight

Av

Vel

SD

Szd

Dai

Primer

Seat

Depth

Comments

452423

246.0

Blue Dot

8.3

982

27.8

.452

HLP

1.123

Not Acc

452423

246.0

Herco

6.5

993

18.0

.452

HLP

1.123

Fair Acc

452423

246.0

Unique

6.5

1009

13.9

.452

HLP

1.123

Not Acc

454190HP

238.3

Herco

6.5

950

16.1

.451

HLP

1.250

Acc

 

This will be the end of my testing.† I have achieved the goals that I set and that was to identify loads that were safe in my Blackhawk .45 ACP cylinder with bullets in the 240-260 grain range that were accurate and in the neighborhood of 1,000 FPS for field use.† I also captured the ďrecipesĒ for putting them together with recorded seating depths that is lacking in many manuals and I identified readily available powders for use in them.

 

None of these loads exceeded published data for jacketed bullets but we just didnít have much for cast bullets.† Now, I think we have.† None of these bullets showed signs of excess pressure in my Blackhawk and I think most of them could be tweaked up a little more but Iím satisfied with the performance.

 

From my testing, with the moulds normally available to casters, either Lymanís #454190 or #454424 look to be the best bullet choices.† The #452423 was disappointing to me as I was expecting more out of it.† I obtained good accuracy out of the hollow point version but many of you wonít be blessed with a HP mould.† The ďsolidĒ version proved very unstable at 100 yards with some flyers ďout of the patternĒ as much as 6 feet with some powder combinations.† In my opinion, if itís unstable at 100 yards, it will be off at 25 or 50 as well.† In the future, Iíll use the HP version for any of my shooting in the Blackhawk.

 

Bear in mind, these results were obtained with my pistol.† Yours may handle any of the bullets differently than mine.

 

Iíll now ship this data and a big heavy box of bullets to AnthonyB and heíll use it to develop loads in this range for the .45 autos.

 

Itís been a fun project.

 

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