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Reloading The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)



Left to right:-- 230 gr. RN, .45 with JRN, .45 with JHP, 230 gr. JRN
(WC= WadCutter, SWC= Semi-WadCutter,
HP= Hollow Point, RN= Round Nose), SP=Soft Point
(JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet)

Loads for .45 ACP:

Photo from Mark Curtis
New 2012 note on .45 ACP cases using small pistol primers vs. the large pistol primers. Not long ago shooters began to report brass that had a small pistol primer pocket instead of the traditional large, due to the use of a more "green" environment primer. More and more range ammo is being sold with the less air polluting primers fitting cases with small pockets. The DANGER here is mixing up a batch of used cases and trying to seat a large primer in a small pocket. Most likely if you use a fair amount of force on the press, it will explode as it is being crushed from not fitting in the small pocket. Loads are generally the same and no documentation has been presented saying anything but if changing from tested maximum loads with one type, back off a bit before using the opposite primer.

(Note: These are near MAXIMUM loads, you should use 10% less to start.)
(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)(See note on NEW Nitro 100 powder at bottom of page)
Bullet sizes vary from .451" for jacketed to .452" for some lead in diameter. Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.
ACP is an acronym that stands for Automatic Cartridge (& Colt) Pistol. It was used by various John Browning cartridge designs primarily used in Colt and FN pistols.


(Note H110 & W296 are the same as of 2008 as is HP-38 & W231)

(IMR 4227 is same as H-4227 if made in Australia)
----------------------------------------
155 grain LSWC (Lead, Semi-Wad Cutter)
    Nitro 100  use 5.9 to 6.5 grains 1,148 fps max.
    Bullseye   6.9 gr.   1,175 FPS
    Unique     7.4 gr.   1,180
    Universal  6.5 gr.   1,015 start
    Universal  7.0 gr.   1,135 max
    Clays      4.9 gr.   1,040 start
    Clays      5.2 gr.   1,082 max
    HP38/W231  6.0 gr.     998 
    HP38/W231  6.7 gr.   1,112 max
    No. 2      7.5 gr.   1,204
    No. 5     10.0 gr.   1,189
    HS-6       9.0 gr.     998 start
    HS-6      10.0 gr.   1,126 max
    540        8.5 gr.     940
    Titegroup  5.7 gr.   1,039 start
    Titegroup  6.2 gr.   1,132 max
-----------------------------------------
180 grain LEAD FP
    Nitro 100  use 5.3 to 5.9 grains max
    Trail Boss 3.5 gr.     664 start
    Trail Boss 5.0 gr.     852 max
    HS-6       7.8 gr.     805 start
    HS-6       9.0 gr.     961 max
    Clays      3.8 gr.     783 start
    Clays      4.5 gr.     910 max
    Universal  5.3 gr.     755
    Universal  6.4 gr.   1,019 max
    Titegroup  4.2 gr.     771
    Titegroup  5.2 gr.     946 max
    231/HP-38  5.0 gr.     778
    231/HP-38  6.0 gr.     950 max
-----------------------------------------
185 grain Berry's Plated RNHB (Round Nose Hollow Base) 
    Bullseye   4.5 gr.  enough to function action (John Harris load)
    Bullseye   4.8 gr.  Works well and accurate (John Harris load)
    Bullseye   5.2 gr.     905 Hi=917, Lo=891, ES=26
    ZIP        6.2 gr.     939 Hi=974, Lo=913, ES=61
    Titegroup  5.4 gr.     860 Hi=888, Lo=845, ES=43
    Competition - try 4.0 to 5.0 grains.
-----------------------------------------
185 grain Matt's Lead HP bullet
    Titegroup  4.9 gr.     926 Hi=941, Lo=909, ES=32 (good)
    Titegroup  5.2 gr.     942 Hi=960, Lo=921, ES=39 (also good load)
-----------------------------------------
185 grain JHP or JSP (Jacketed Hollow or Soft Point)
    Nitro 100 +P load, use 6.2 to 6.8 gr. HOT +P load 1,050 fps.
    Bullseye   5.3 gr.     914 FPS
    Unique     7.0 gr.     928
    Unique     6.0 gr.     765 (actual in Colt45 ACP for mild load)
    Unique     7.2 gr.     988 MAX
    Universal  6.0 gr.     908 start
    Universal  6.4 gr.     977 max
    Clays      4.5 gr.     855 start
    Clays      4.9 gr.     981 max
    Titegroup  5.0 gr.     892 start
    Titegroup  5.5 gr.     956 max
    PowerPistol 9.1 gr.    997 near max
    HP38/W231  5.0 gr.     762 start
    HP38/W231  5.9 gr.     906 max
    HS-6       8.6 gr.     917
    No. 2      7.5 gr.   1,077
    No. 5     10.2 gr.   1,102
    540       10.0 gr.   1,015
    WST        5.6 gr.     935
    WAP        8.9 gr.   1,045
-----------------------------------------
200 grain LSWC or LRN (Lead, SWC or Round Nose)
    Nitro 100  use 5.0 to 5.5 grains max
    Bullseye   4.2 gr.     790 FPS
    Bullseye   4.8 gr.     815
    Unique     5.1 gr.     814
    Unique     5.6 gr.     904
    Unique     5.7 gr.     842 (different gun)
    Unique     6.0 gr.     867 Max
    Universal  5.4 gr.     804
    Universal  6.2 gr.     955 (MAX)
    Titegroup  4.9 gr.     874
    Titegroup  5.4 gr.     957 (MAX HOT)
    Clays      4.3 gr.     888
    HP38/W231  4.4 gr.     771 start
    HP38/W231  5.6 gr.     914 max
    231        5.5 gr.     910
    231        6.0 gr.     942 max (old book load)
    ZIP        5.8 gr.     971 max
    HS-6       8.4 gr.     907
    No. 2      5.8 gr.     939
    No. 5      8.7 gr.   1,025
    540        8.3 gr.     925
    WST        5.1 gr.     910
    WAP        7.6 gr.     970
    Trail Boss 3.5 gr.     652
    Trail Boss 4.5 gr.     783 RNFP lead, Hi=820, Lo=758, ES=62 Works Action-Mild
    Trail Boss 5.5 gr.     816 max
-----------------------------------------
200 grain FMJ full jacketed RN Hornady
    Nitro 100  use 5.4 to 6.0 grains max *(old powder loads)
    Nitro 100+P use 5.9 to 6.2 grains +P max *(old powder loads)
    Titegroup  4.7 gr.     812 start
    Titegroup  5.4 gr.     944 max
    No. 2      6.1 gr.     921 near max
    HP-38/W231 5.2 gr.     794 start
    HP-38/W231 5.9 gr.     906 max
    HS-6       8.2 gr.     868 start
    HS-6       9.0 gr.     948 max
    Universal  5.8 gr.     889 start
    Universal  6.2 gr.     949 max
    ZIP        6.4 gr.     955
    Unique     5.6 gr.     692 mild target load
    Unique     7.0 gr.     882 and 929 in different guns
    Unique     7.2 gr. MAX 894 and 945 in different guns 
-----------------------------------------
205 grain Matt's Lead HP bullet
    Titegroup  5.4 gr.     920 Hi=962, Lo=905, ES=57 (Good)
    ZIP        6.2 gr.     986 Hi=1006, Lo=965, ES=41 
-----------------------------------------
225 grain Speer JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
    Bullseye   4.8 gr.     884 FPS
    Unique     6.0 gr.     898
    Universal  6.2 gr.     820
    HP38       5.3 gr.     832
    HS-6       8.2 gr.     825
    No. 2      5.6 gr.     ---
    No. 5      8.5 gr.     ---
    231        5.2 gr.     824
    WAP        7.9 gr.     895
    ZIP        5.8 gr.     812 
-----------------------------------------
230 grain LSWC or LRN (Semi-Wad Cutter or Round Nose)
    (these loads work for the RN Plated bullet,too-don't use max)
    Bullseye   4.0 gr.     810 FPS (target accuracy load)
    Bullseye   4.8 gr.     884 hot load/Maximum.
    Nitro 100  use 4.8 to 5.3 grains max (use 10% less if NEW formulation)
    Clays      3.5 gr.     716 start
    Clays      4.0 gr.     793 MAX with LRN
    ZIP        5.2 gr.     828
    ZIP        5.5 gr.     873
    ZIP        5.8 gr.     915 max
    Unique     5.5 gr.     795  (I got 738 fps in my gun)
    Unique     5.5 gr.     913  (in Marlin auto carbine)
    Unique     6.0 gr.     840* (I got 777 fps in my gun)
    Unique     6.0 gr.     924* (in Marlin auto carbine)
 * Alliant shows this a Maximum load
    Universal  4.5 gr.     703 start
    Universal  4.8 gr.     782
    Universal  5.4 gr.     857 max
    Red Dot    4.0 gr.     808
    Red Dot    4.4 gr.     807 max
    Green Dot  4.3 gr.     810
    Blue Dot  10.0 gr.     855
    Titegroup  4.0 gr.     751 start
    Titegroup  4.3 gr.     788
    Titegroup  4.8 gr.     855 (MAX) 
    No. 2      5.6 gr.     870
    No. 5      8.5 gr.     968
    540        7.6 gr.     860
    Trail Boss 3.5 gr.     658 start
    Trail Boss 4.4 gr.     748 (using Carolina Cast bullet)
    Trail Boss 4.5 gr.     778 Hi=803, Lo=756, ES=47 RNFP bullet
    Trail Boss 4.6 gr.     756 max (Hi=769, Lo=741, ES=28) Carolina Cast RN
    WST        4.5 gr.     805
    HS-6       8.0 gr.     858 MAX
    WAP        7.3 gr.     915
    HP-38/W231 4.3 gr.     699 start
    HP-38      5.1 gr.     785 (Near Max)
    HP-38/W231 5.3 gr.     834 Maximum
    231        5.1 gr.     850 (I got 734 in my S&W)
    True Blue  6.7 gr.     820
    True Blue  7.4 gr.     913 max
   Silhouette  7.0 gr.     882 max
   Competition 3.6 gr.     725
   Competition 4.0 gr.     805 max
-----------------------------------------
230 grain FMJ or JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
    Nitro 100  use 5.0 to 5.6 grains max
    Bullseye   4.8 gr.     884 FPS
    Clays      3.7 gr.     670 start
    Clays      4.0 gr.     732 MAX
   Competition 3.8 gr.     694
   Competition 4.2 gr.     771 max 
    HS-6       8.0 gr.     790 start
    HS-6       8.2 gr.     825 max
   Silhouette  7.3 gr.     868  
   Silhouette  8.1 gr.     964 max
    Tightgroup 4.4 gr.     744
    Tightgroup 4.8 gr.     815 max
    Unique     6.2 gr.     880
    Unique     6.8 gr.     901 max
    Universal  5.1 gr.     716 start
    Universal  5.6 gr.     844 max in Hodgdon manual
    HP38/W231  4.2 gr.     751 sart
    HP38/W231  5.3 gr.     832 max
    HS6        8.0 gr.     815
    HS6        8.2 gr.     825 max
    PowerPistol 6.8 gr.    815
    No. 2      6.1 gr.     874 max
    No. 5      8.7 gr.     927 max
    231        5.1 gr.     785
    540        7.6 gr.     800
    WST        4.9 gr.     800
    WAP        7.4 gr.     885
    True Blue  6.8 gr.     802
    True Blue  7.1 gr.     804
    True Blue  7.6 gr.     889 max
CCI commercial comparison  875  Hi=881, Lo=868, ES=13 (excellent load)
Blazer Brass 230 FMJ       812  Hi=888, Lo=735, ES=152
-----------------------------------------
260 grain FMJ or JHP Revolver Loads
    Bullseye   4.5 gr.     725 FPS
    Unique     5.4 gr.     760
    HP38       5.1 gr.     800
    HS6        8.0 gr.     849
    No. 2      5.5 gr.     785
    No. 5      7.7 gr.     845
    231        5.0 gr.     788
-----------------------------------------

*If you have an older can of Scot Nitro 100 or Accurate Nitro 100, please note, it is NOT the same as the new formulation at Western Powders. I have been told as of 2011 that the NEW and current N-100 is faster burning in pistol calibers than the old. Use 10% UNDER any values you see here for older N-100. The older was slower burning in pistol calibers.

Discussion: The small case and short powder burning time of the .45 ACP requires a faster burning powder, like Bullseye or Unique. Trail Boss is new for the .45 ACP, but it shoots very well with a lead bullet (you can use jacketed also) and is quite mild but works the slide well in loads I have tested so far. The almost standard bullet is the 230 grain round nose (lead, jacketed or plated), since it feeds so well in autos. More shooters are using the 200 grain SWC as of 2011 that in the past. You need the driving bands to hold the bullet tightly with just the taper crimp on the .45 ACP. Be careful with the lightweight bullets. If they get driven into the case with recoil or feeding, you are in for a lot of trouble and possibly an explosion.

However, the SWC has a round enough nose that it feeds well in most autos and makes a cleaner target cut-out. If you were to be hunting or for protection, you might consider the Jacketed Hollow Point bullet shown in the loaded round. Whether you use the lead or full metal jacketed bullet is up to you, but the lead is, of course, much cheaper if you shoot very much. Because of lead fumes in the air, you should consider using a jacketed or copper plated bullet indoors unless well ventilated.



*
Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
No. 2, No. 5, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company
WMR, WSF, WSL, 760, 748, 231 and 540 are products of Winchester, Components Div.

References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet - - Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders' Guide (1995) - - Hodgdon's Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) - - Speer Reloading Manual, #12 - - Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition - - Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. - - VihtaVuori Oy Company, reloading booklet (1995) - - Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.

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This page created 1/22/96 by M.D. Smith and last modified on April 1, 2012 ©