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45 ACP ballistics question

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by pokersamurai, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. pokersamurai


    Jan 11, 2008
    I'm looking at possibly getting a new Springfield XDS 45 as a pocket pistol for summer carry when they come out, but lately I've been on different forums researching them and quite a few people have said that a 45 will not perform well out of a 3.3" barrel and that a short barrel 9mm would be better.

    I've researched the velocity loss on and they show that both the 185gr +p and 230gr both lose about 8-9% velocity going from a 5" barrel to a 3" barrel.

    The 9mm 124gr +p and 147gr lose about 9% velocity going from a 5" barrel to a 3" barrel also.

    So I'm confused why do people keep stating that a 45 acp out of a short barrel is a poor performer? According to a Federal 230gr 45 ACP out of a 3" barrel chronographs at 811 fps. Compare that to a Federal 225gr 45 Colt round chronographs at 791 fps out of a 5.5" barrel. So wouldn't a XDS with 5+1 45 ACP have the same firepower as a full-size 45 Colt 6 shot revolver (which I don't think anyone would call underpowered), or is there some other factor I'm missing? Please let me know your opinions on this topic.

  2. barth

    barth six barrels

    Oct 7, 2011
    The Free Zone
    .45 acp has had a reputation, in the past, for unreliable expansion from a 3" barrel.
    New high tech bullets are designed to open at lower velocities. That combined with new low flash fast burn gun powder has changed the rules.

    Concider loading 230 gr;
    Speer GDHP, Winchester Ranger T-Series or Federal HST and you will be just fine.
    Like Deanna I prefer +P in short barreled 45s if it's controllable.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014

  3. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    I am not sure the loss by the inch is correct for all 45 rounds. There was a recent article about the XDS and the 230gr rounds were around 750 as I recall. I have a P45Kahr with a 3" barrel and went to Corbon or Buffalo Bore 185gr +p Barnes copper bullet. In water, I could not get anything to reliably expands outside of the copper bullets when going through 4 layers of denim. The 230gr +p HST expanded some. I have not chronographed any, but I would say that anything less than 750 FPS will have difficulty through clothing. The Corbon 185gr +p copper bullets are working great for me.
  4. 481


    Feb 20, 2009
    I believe that what you might be neglecting to consider is that those figures were obtained using their barrel and one particular lot of ammo.

    Ammunition is loaded to pressure standards set forth by SAAMI and velocity is dependent not only upon barrel length, but also upon barrel tolerances. A barrel with tighter/smaller dimensions will tend to produce greater velocities than one that has looser dimensions (or greater wear) and sometimes even greater than a barrel of greater length. I had a Glock 19 that would consistently spit out my prefered defense load about 35 fps faster than an equally used Glock 17.

    Powder burn rates and pressure curves can also yield seemingly contrary results from differing barrel lengths.

    In order to know how fast your gun will shoot a particular load, you must run those loads over a chronograph using your gun. No two guns will ever turn in identical velocities even when using ammo from the same lot and/or box.
  5. dkf


    Aug 6, 2010
    Did you try Speer's 23975 230gr Short Barrel Gold Dot load?

    Ballisticsbytheinch used a custom contender barrel for most of their testing so the numbers are off compared to a semi auto or revolver.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  6. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    The short barrel GD did expand a little to about 0.63 and would be a good option. It feels like a lighter load than the regular 230gr GD. Does anyone know how the velocities compare?

    I just found that the copper bullets work best in my Kahr 3" 45.
  7. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Yep, smaller bores lose vel faster. WIth todays modern JHP designs, I don't think it's that big a deal. I ccw a 1911OM, 3.5" bbl, it does quite well w/ std vel 185gr RGS or 230gr RGS. The 185gr WSTHP is actually a better performer in the shorter bbls IMO, they expand less & penetrate deeper. My fav short bbl load is the std vel 200gr XTP. Still makes 850fps in the OM & expands to 65cal in denim covered wetpack. It's much easier to shoot wel lthan 230gr+P loads in the smaller guns & gives about the same vel.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  8. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    a short bbl .45acp benefits greatly from the lighter weight loads which retain a higher velocity.

    a 230gr. round going 850fps from a 5" might only get 750fps from a 3.5" bbl which may or may not be enough for proper and consistant expansion.

    while a 185gr. round going 1000 fps from a 5" bbl may still get 900 fps from a 3.5" bbl.
  9. That may be true but it still puts a big hole in you and several big holes usually translates into a bad day for the bad guy.
    I am more concerned with penetration than expansion.
  10. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    You are correct in that a lot of people died in the 19th and 20th centuries with just .45 holes in them. However, I would worry about overpenetration if it does not expand even at the lower velocities. With a 3.5" barrel you can have both world if you select the right ammo, such a Corbon 185gr +p Barnes copper.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  11. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002

    I agree here....

    I EDC "IN town", an M1911. BUT, At times I carry "in town" the G36, with my reloads 230gr XTP's at 907fps. Yes I carry hand loads.... The boogy man won't get me for it either... ( not directing this statement to you 481) .

    This is the only way to know for sure...

    Just because you have a short tube in a 45acp, does not mean you have to start using 180gr'ers to get more horse power to do the job. Good greif this gun /caliber was desinged around a 230gr bullet. Use it. Get the momentum and penetration you need to have out of your 45's. I have never seen so many folks buy a 45acp and then drop down to the 185gr bullet. Why not stick with the 230gr and get the hard hit and the needed penetration. The short barrels will still do fine with the 230gr I assure you.

    Macc283 likes this.
  12. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    The Gold Dot Short barrel, which I am a huge fan of in snub .38's, in .45 is tested from a 4in barrel.

    Is my P220 really considered a "short barrel" .45? That is my only problem with the short barrel .45 loads. They should designs a .45 to perform out of a 3" barrel.

    I dont know what load I would carry out of a XDs.
  13. NEOH212

    NEOH212 Diesel Girl

    Mar 25, 2008
    North East Ohio
    This is some of the most sound advice I have ever heard. I agree totally. :wavey:
  14. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    My results with a 230 grain XTP, 6.6 grains of WSF, 1.210" overall length, CCI large pistol primers and winchester brass:

    5" 1911 (TRP): 856 fps average
    Sig P220: 824 fps
    Glock 30: 827 fps
    Glock 21: 876 fps

    All said and done with different rifling and different barrel lengths, we're talking about an extreme spread of 52 feet per second. Could be more or less if you use different guns, different powders... but just not that big of a deal IMHO.
  15. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    The original 45acp design was a 200gr bullet @ 900fps+, a really good load IMO. It's a shame more manuf don't build a good load around theses specs, easier to get good JHP performance, enough mass for penetration & less recoil, all works for me. Full size guns get 230gr std vel JHP, my small/lt.wt. 45s get 200gr std. vel XTP loads, mostly for recoil control. The better 230gr JHP will expand fine down to 750fps, but I am not sure they offer enough momentum for really good penetration or hard barriers.:dunno:
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  16. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002

    Well amigo, that is why for the G36 (and similar short barreled 45's) I hand load 230gr XTP's at 907fps. In all the testing and media I can dream up and stay as realistic as I know how... These work just fine. I see no need in dropping to a lighter bullet in the 45acp. I may as well go to a 40S&W or a 9mm.

    Most of these JHP's do not open much in humans any way so i prefer all the penetration I can get and that is going to be with the 230gr bullet.

    I do not see the logic fred of going with a 200gr bullet at 750fps, when I can get 907fps out of the 230gr bullet. BTW... it is very controllable for "me" and I have no problems running combat drills with them and staying on target. ;)

    I will close by saying that if a man cannot control his weapon with such loads in a short barrel or long barrel, then I suggest more and more practice time, or else go to some other caliber.. I do not even have issues with the M629 S&W 44mag. I have been raised doing this for almost 50 years out on a ranch since i was a little kid, perhaps that makes a difference.. :dunno:

    But I use heavy for caliber no matter the hand gun. In my 44mags/45LC's and other big hog legs, and in my 9mm's or 45acp's.

    I will never understand dropping the weight in the 45acp to think I am gaining an advantage of some sort. I rather be hit with little dirt clods, than big heavy ones ! Remember those days. haha.

    Not arguing with ya. Just do not agree.. :wavey:

    Bless ya

  17. cheapshot


    Oct 27, 2011
    really good advice!
  18. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    No Gary, you miss read me. In short bbl guns, the 200grXTP factory load will still do 850fps+; a vel level that insures some exp & enough mass to penetrate well. I have gotten good exp w/ most 230gr JHP down to 750fps, but I am sketchy about limited penetration @ that low vel. Can I run 230gr @ 900fps in a short/lt 45acp, sure, but recoil goes up, accuracy goes down & my split times are a tiny bit slower. Enough to matter, maybe not.:dunno:
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  19. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Deus Vult!

    Sep 20, 2003
    Penn's Woods
    My 3.5" barreled Detonics Mark IV used to keyhole 230 grain FMJ bullets all of the time.
  20. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002

    Well fred you know amigo I respect ya. But running the loads I run has never effected my shooting, accuracy, or speed, so.... So I stay with what works for me... :wavey:

    I still rather shoot a 230gr at 900+FPS than a lighter bullet at 750fps. As I said, I shoot the 44mag and the 45acp very fast and very accurately.. Perhaps it's just me. :embarassed: But because I can, I choose to do so. ;)

    If others cannot handle these loads then perhaps just standard 230gr would be best. I cannot see at all going below 230gr's in a 45acp....

    Hickock 45 is not the only dude on earth that can shoot a gun well. :supergrin: We shoot out to 600yds on a regular basis. Been doing it all my life. Who ever believes it or not does not matter to me. I know what I know from firing tons of lead for all these years and every day pretty much. Do I know it all ? NO ! But I know what i know and the experiences I've had. Going by this, I choose the 230gr in any length 45acp and in the short barrles the 900fps works great. No need to sacrifice dropping to 180's to gain speed when I can get the same speed with a 230gr and still control the gun well and get on target in a combat situation. !

    I do respect your opinion, but this has been my experience.... ;)

    Bless ya !

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012