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45 ACP ballistics question

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

  1. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    I don't think anyone has pointed out that the .45 Colt the OP references sounds like a cowboy action load. It's pretty wimpy, particularly for a .45 Colt. A normal standard pressure load would be 250 - 255 grain at 850-900 fps.
  2. WinterWizard


    Jan 17, 2012
    Ballistics by the inch is unreliable. You cannot take the average loss per inch going from a 16" barrel down to a 3" barrel. The loss goes up incrementally as you get shorter, and the greatest loss occurs when going from the 4" down to the 3". You may only lose 25-50 fps when going from 5" to 4", but you may lose another 75-100 fps when going that extra inch down to 3".

    8-9% is way off. Based on tests with chrono results that I have read, my G36, with 3.78" barrel and octagonal rifling profile (which helps velocity a bit), is losing about 7-10% versus a 5" barrel. A 3.3" barrel with standard rifling and a hexagonal profile (like the XDs) is going to lose more, probably in the 12-15% range.

    I personally consider about 3.5" to be the cutoff for .45 acp barrel length. Do some new loads work sometimes in the short-barrel .45s? Yes, most times they do... But do you want to risk your life on it? I suppose worst-case scenario if you have a HP that doesn't open up at least you have a SWC with little teeth.

    And this is why I don't find the new XDs alluring. I am sure it's a great gun. I just think it's a tad too small for a .45, ballistics-wise. But if I were forced to carry one, I would be running the hottest 185 gr. HPs I could find, probably Corbon standard JHPs at 1150 fps (5" barrel).

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012

  3. ricklee4570


    Sep 11, 2009
    Now that the XDS has been out a while now, is there any chronograph data available for it yet?
  4. shooter1234


    Mar 12, 2008

    Though I found this for a better carry gun:

    Looks like the 9mm does a little better from short barrels; Approx. 279 foot pounds of energy for the .45, & 351 for the 9mm loads. Wow, must suck to get .380 energy from a 19 dollar box of .45 rounds, with less penetration than a 9... I was considering an XDs too. Think I'll go with my original plan and stick to the PPS.
  5. ABNAK


    Apr 22, 2005
    Actually, according to Kahr's website the P45 has a 3.54" barrel. It is the PM45 that has a 3.24" barrel. That might make a difference, albeit only about 1/4 inch, but still.

    I have a CW45 and it has a 3.64" barrel (why it's 0.1" longer than the P45 I have no idea). I fired a standard pressure 230gr HST through 4 layers of denim into water and it expanded to ~ .80", so that was encouraging. While I haven't chrono'd the standard pressure HST I'd wager it was still well into the 800+fps range, which should be more than enough juice for the HST to work.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  6. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    If I had a Glock .45 to go along with my G17 9mm, I'd carry the .45 in my VT winters, and the 9mm in the warmer months.
  7. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    You are correct the P45 has a 3.5" barrel and it was a typo on my part. I am not saying the 45 is not effective at shorter barrel lengths, but it has been my experience that you may have expansion diffculties below 4". I Chronographed the BB and Corbon 185 +p copper bullets and DT 160gr +p copper bulllet out of my 3.5" Kahr. BB was 1,036fps, Corbon was 954fps and the DT was 1,042fps. All expanded and seem to penetrate well. These are the bullets I would use with a barrel below 4".
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  8. rsilvers


    Apr 10, 2009
    That may be true, but the 230 does not rely on velocity as much to work. What really matters is which one expands to the largest diameter when penetrating 12-18 inches. Assuming that is the 185 is pure speculation and there is no reason to assume it is the answer.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  9. NEOH212

    NEOH212 Diesel Girl

    Mar 25, 2008
    North East Ohio
    230 +P in either HST or Ranger-T series will do just fine from the short barrel.

    The standard pressure version of the above isn't far behind, even from the short barrel. I personally prefer the +P ammo from the short barrel gun as long as it's still controllable.
  10. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    I have an XDs and it will get a diet of 230 HPs, because it doesn't need the velocity to do what it's good at. I figure the HP has a profile that is more likely to cut than slip through and if it were to have enough velocity to "Over penetrate":dunno: it would probably have the velocity to expand and not over penetrate.
  11. NEOH212

    NEOH212 Diesel Girl

    Mar 25, 2008
    North East Ohio
    230 grains is why I love the .45 to begin with. All the smaller cartridges rely on velocity and pushing the limits to do what the .45 does without breaking a sweat.

    Even when you push it up a notch with .45 +P, it's still not breaking a sweat and it's performance has no equal with anything but the most powerful handgun cartridges.

    Needless to say, I'm very happy with the .45 and the 230 grain bullet.
  12. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002
    I reckon I am not PC savvy enough to know what "QFT" means yet ... haha !

    If your saying that 45's don't have to run at rocket speed to dispatch the target or threat (two legged) your correct. And the 230gr have the momentum to get where they need to go.

    Thats why "in town," I carry one. Usually the M1911, sometimes the single stack G36. I admit I do hand load my own for the G36, because I have never found factory stuff that get's out of the 600's-700's fps range in that 3.78" tube, so I load a 230gr XTP at 907fps. Does it it need to be that warm? nope. Does it hurt to be? Nope! It is what my favorite load and powder worked out to be in that short barrel, so I gladly accept it ! ;) I'm happy with that. 850 + is fine with me in a 230gr 45acp. I just can't justify lighter bullets in this caliber to get there.

    Like you, it seems, are saying pard, the 230gr does what it needs to do without going to lighter bullets, or pushing it to outragous vels.

    Stay safe.

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  13. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    Stay with the .45 ACP. It is the caliber that the .357 tries hard to expand up to.
  14. rsilvers


    Apr 10, 2009
    In my mind, 5 inches is a long barrel, 4 inches is in the middle, and 3-3.5 inches is a short barrel. If I were designing short barrel ammunition, I would test it in barrels from 3-4 inches.

    I assume the "short barrel" ammo is tuned to reach FBI 15 inches of penetration from a shorter barrel. They would achieve this by having a larger HP cavity and/or thinner walls. Low-flash powder is good.

    I doubt that they use "faster" powder. I keep on hearing people say that, but I am not sure why that would help raise velocity. Powder speed is based on bullet mass, not barrel length.
  15. rsilvers


    Apr 10, 2009
    You seem to be saying that if you were going to have a short barrel, you would prefer another caliber to 45. So for example, 9mm from a 3 inch barrel is better than 45 Auto from a 3 inch barrel. But is this true?

    Also I am suspicious of recommendations to use 185s if the barrel is short. It seems to be an argument that it keeps the velocity up, and somehow that is better. I am not sure that is the case. If a 185 and a 230 both expand to 0.65 inches, and both penetrate 15.0 inches of gel, why is the 185 better than the 230?
  16. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Hardly true at all. A 3" anything, well maybe a 44mag being the exception, is going to significantly mess with terminal ballistics, UNLESS the bullet is designed for the reduced vel. The 230gr HST std vel makes 830fps+ in my 3.8" XD45C. It still expands to 75cal+, penetrates enough to exit a smaller target. No need for the extra flash & bang you get in +P loads, which a 9mm in a short bbl really needs to get off it's knees IMO.
  17. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    3.5" and less I would use only HST 230gr but that is my preferred .45 carry load in any length.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  18. Batts


    Apr 24, 2014
    +p HST make up for the short barrel at near range.

    Otherwise Gold Dot Short Barrel has a different alloy jacket for proper expansion.

    Still I would guess anything at high subsonic ~1050fps would make enough lbft (it's a lb before it's a ft, like Newton meters) to perform.


    force - distance - time = lbft/sec
  19. stevewonderful


    Jan 25, 2009
    Maybe I missed something but I didn't see fred recommend 185 or 200 gr at 750. I agree with fred thinking on this. I don't consider 200gr (at 850fps) a light bullet. I think its ideal in shorter barrels. But we all have our preferences according to what works for us and gives us confidence. :wavey:
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  20. stevewonderful


    Jan 25, 2009