Saturday, May 4, 2019

Ammo Review: 45 ACP

This month we are going to test three different loads for the .45 ACP.

Again I thank the people at Widener's for giving us this opportunity.


For these tests we will be using a Ruger SR1911 with the standard 5" barrel.

First up is a target load from Black Hills Ammunition. This is their 200 grain Semi-Wad Cutter (SWC) for those that don't know, "wad cutter" bullets are designed to cut clean holes in paper targets.

Black Hills Ammunition was founded in 1981 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Black Hills is more of an "assembler" of ammunition than a manufacturer. They choose quality components, then using time tested (and U.S. D.O.D. regulated) QC standards they produce some of the best ammo available.

The projectiles in this load appear to be very uniform and the case is crimped perfectly just below the shoulder.

The brass cases have a head stamp that reads "BHA  45 ACP"

For refernce below are the SAAMI specs for 45ACP cartridges:

The minimum Combined OverAll Length (COAL) is 1.19" and the maximum is 1.275"

As part of my SOP for testing cartridges, I start by measuring the COAL and weight of five random cartridges. Here is what I found:

Cartridge #1: 1.238" - 294.6 grains
Cartridge #2: 1.240" - 294.4 grains
Cartridge #3: 1.242" - 293.4 grains
Cartridge #4: 1.240" - 294.3 grains
Cartridge #5: 1.240" - 294.0 grains
This was surprisingly consistent for a target load. This gives us an average length of 1.24"and a deviation of .004. The average weight was 294.14 grains with a deviation of 1.2 grains.
Although it doesn't say it on the box, they are listed as 200 grain Match Semi-Wad Cutter, with a velocity of 875fps, we can only assume the testing was done with a Colt Government model (aka the M1911 pistol).

see the details here

The Black Hills lead wad cutters were pretty consistent, running an average of 945 fps, faster than the 875 fps advertised velocity. The fastest ran 969 fps and the slowest was 925 fps, giving us a deviation of only 44 fps.

This is high quality ammo with some pretty tight consistency.

Next up is Federal Ammunition Personal Defense 230 grain Jacketed Hollow Point.

Federal Ammunition needs no introduction. Since coming on the scene in 1916 (then started anew in 1922) they have become one of the largest producers of ammunition in North America.
Federal has also been on the forefront of defensive ammunition development. This particular load is a JHP with a deep hollow core. 

The head stamps 

I measured the COAL and weight of five random cartridges. Here is what I found:

Cartridge #1: 1.210" - 324.1 grains
Cartridge #2: 1.211" - 324.4 grains
Cartridge #3: 1.211" - 323.3 grains
Cartridge #4: 1.211" - 324.1 grains
Cartridge #5: 1.211" - 323.0 grains
Not too unexpected from a defense load from Federal. The average length of 1.2108" and a deviation of just .001. The average weight was 323.78 grains with a deviation of 1.4 grains.

The muzzle velocity of these loads is printed on the back at 850 fps with 369 lbs-ft of energy.

Incidentally when doing research on this round I found that Federal has discontinued it, see details here

The Federal JHPs were fairly consistent...consistently slow...

Running an average of 509 fps, way slower than the 850 fps advertised velocity. The fastest ran 538 fps and the slowest was 489 fps, giving us a deviation of 49 fps. One wonders if this was defective ammo or perhaps the reason  the ammo was discontinued...

Next up is a new comer to the world of ammo, Sig. This is the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 200 grain JHP.

Sig Sauer started as Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft in 1853 in Switzerland. The name, translated to English, is simply Swiss Industrial Company. They merged with gun maker J.P Sauer & Sohn of Germany in 1976. SIG wanted to export their P210 pistol and Swiss laws prohibited it, so an agreement lead to the SIG Sauer company we know today.

In mid 2014 Sig Sauer (the U.S. based division) introduced a new line of defense ammunition. The ammo was originally built by a subcontractor. In 2017 Sig opened a new 75,000 sq ft facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas and is producing the ammunition in house.

This load is the 200gr JHP, the cartridge cases are nickel plated and have a head stamp that reads "SIG 45 Auto"

The measurements for the SIG ammo is as follows:

Cartridge #1: 1.211" - 295.2 grains
Cartridge #2: 1.210" - 293.4 grains
Cartridge #3: 1.211" - 295.7 grains
Cartridge #4: 1.213" - 296.6 grains
Cartridge #5: 1.207" - 294.1 grains

This gave us an average COAL of 1.2104" and a deviation of .006, the average weight was 295 grains even with a deviation of 3.2 grains. 

SIG lists the muzzle velocity of this round on the box at 918 fps, again I would guess this was tested out of a standard 5" 1911 full size pistol. 

Out of our 5" barreled SR1911 we got an average velocity of just 621 fps, while we had a few that matched or exceeded the advertised velocity, it fell well short of the advertised speed. The fastest bullet traveled through the chronograph at 956 fps and the slowest was 492 fps, giving us a deviation of 464 fps.

We did suspect that the chronograph we were using was faulty, but we had some other ammo (in other calibers) that was consistent and up to the specs. So we cannot account for the slow moving bullets from some of the brands tested.

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