As it is the quietly assumed standard ammunition of .45 ACP semi-automatic pistols, my general purpose reload for the caliber is what is commonly known as ‘hardball’. The rather ordinary 230 grain, fully jacketed, round nose bullet at about 850 feet per second muzzle velocity. Not as easy as I thought.
Short note: This ammunition is referred to as ‘hardball’ for two reasons. It is fully jacketed, common to all military cartridges, handgun, rifle and machine-gun. Also, in the case of the .45 handgun, the bullet is ’round-nosed’, nearly spherical in shape and reminds one – with a bit of imagination – of the small ‘hard’ ball used in baseball. This design is not particularly ferocious; designed not to expand on contact with any target. The U. S. Armed Forces – and other armed forces – refers to the ammunition as ‘ball’ ammunition. This derives from the muzzle loading days when ammunition was in fact loose balls to fit the arm and loose black powder. The modern term ‘ball’ means the projectile is, other than possessed of velocity, inert; opposed to tracer ammunition (which leaves a light trail), incendiary (to start fires), armor piercing or blank. Enough.
According to “Department of the Army Technical Manual (TM) 43-0001-27 Army Ammunition Data Sheets Small Caliber Ammunition FSC 1305, dated April 1994”, the “Cartridge, Caliber .45, Ball, 1911” the projectile weight is not listed, but the velocity is given as 885 +/- 25 fps. The manual also lists the propellent as “SR 7970, (weight) 5 gr”.
I was under the impression I had been loading a proper duplication load. My own ‘stand by’ reload is 5.2 grains of W231 powder. Then I tested a new (to me) pistol and the velocity came up short. Curious, I decided to chronograph test the same load in five other pistols in .45 ACP. (They are all examples of the Browning designed, Colt built ‘Government Model’.) All six pistols have nominal five inch barrels.
The six pistols gave ten-shot averages of 764.9, 754.6, 754.5, 747.4, 742.4, 742.0. The average of these is 750.9. This is roughly 135 fps shy of the specified velocity. The good news is there’s about 22 fps difference between the highest and lowest average velocities. So the loading is fairly consistent in these six pistols.
Looking in various reloading manuals, very few loads are listed which will in fact duplicate the standard .45 ‘hardball’ load. My usual powders for handguns do not appear to push the projectile to the specified velocity. Jumping back to the specifications in the TM, the minimum velocity is 860 fps (885 minus 25 fps)
However, in the Speer Loading Manual #14, I find some information that indicates I may be able to duplicate the load. To make things better, the powder is one I have in my inventory: Power Pistol. In fact, a ‘maximum’ load is not required, even better. Time to load up some test loads again.
Returning from the range I bear good news. I have a valid ‘hardball equivalent loading which less than a ‘maximum’ charge. I chronographed the shots fired and the results bear out my research.
Using regular Winchester (nickeled) commercial brass, a (in this case Winchester) Large Pistol primer, a 230 grain FMJ bullet and the charge of 7.2 grains of Power Pistol gunpowder; the projectile registers 878 feet per second with the chronograph 15 feet from the muzzle. This charge is about half a grain of powder less than maximum recommended; so it isn’t on the ragged edge of destruction. It is not a relaxing and serene load to shoot, the report is impressive and the recoil is fatiguing over time.
If factory “hardball” seems a bit ‘harsh’ to shoot, you will not like this load any better. (It is manly, however!)
WARNING: This load was done by me, at my reloading equipment and scale. Then it was fired in my pistol. YOUR loading technique, YOUR reloading equipment, YOUR scale and YOUR pistol ARE DIFFERENT! Please be cautious should you decide to duplicate my work. Get solid information from a reputable loading manual and begin with minimal charges. Work up to the velocity desired without exceeding the recommendations of the reputable loading manual. Use only in well maintained firearms designed for use with full charge .45 ACP ammunition.
SINCE I’M NOT IN CONTROL OF THE ABOVE CONDITIONS IN YOUR WORLD, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY MISHAPS, DAMAGE OR FRUSTRATION ON YOUR PART.
And double check the charge loads with the manual.