Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale and The Other McCain for the Rule Five Links. And thanks once again to blogger pals over at The Daley Gator for the link. If you aren’t perusing these blogs daily, you should be!
As anyone who has read these virtual pages for any time knows, I’m a big fan of .45 caliber sidearms. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I found a recent article on the .45ACP over at Firearms News interesting. This article asks the question: Is the .45 Auto as ‘good’ as its reputation? (Scare quotes in the original, and I’m not sure why.) Excerpt:
The .45 Auto suffers from many of the same limitations and downfalls as the .380 Auto and .38 Special cartridges, chiefly its low velocity. The average 230-grain .45 Auto load will rarely break 900 feet per second, with typical velocities falling between the 825-890 feet per second mark. Keep in mind this is from a 5-inch barrel. These factory 5-inch velocity figures are due to the 1911, with its 5-inch barrel, being the most common handgun found in .45 Auto. Typical barrel lengths on “duty” or “Concealed Carry” handguns fall from 4 to 4.5 inches, meaning the already low velocity of the .45 Auto is further reduced, typically falling 5-10% from advertised muzzle velocities.
With these already low velocities, the threshold in which a typical .45 Auto hollow point will reliably expand is relatively limited. So, the .45 Auto needs to retain as much velocity as possible to consistently perform well, especially through heavy clothing and other light barriers. Even premium offerings, from trusted brands will suffer from this issue. Take the Barnes TAC-XPD, solid copper hollow point offering. This uses the 185-grain, XPD projectile, famously used by premium ammunition manufacturers such as Black Hills, early Cor-Bon and Barnes branded ammunition itself. Advertised at 1,000 feet per second, the actual chronograph results show an 11.85% decrease in velocity, with an average that didn’t even break the 900 feet per second mark, coming in at 894 feet per second from my Heckler and Koch USP V1.
So, it seems the noncommittal answer to the question asked by the title is “…yes, depending on the ammo.” And that’s a fair answer; ammo has come a long way since 1911. The classic old 230-grain FMJ load has been supplanted by a wide variety of high-performance defense and hunting loads. This same technology, by the way, has transformed former pipsqueaks like the .380 APC into decent defensive loads, and have brought the .38 Special and 9mm Parabellum into primary sidearm status.
Here’s the conclusion, though, and it’s well taken:
Whatever you choose for caliber, I recommend researching credible sources for ammunition terminal performance. Then train hard and train often, because in the end shot placement, recoil mitigation, capacity and ability (a marriage between equipment and person) is the ultimate threat stopper, not caliber.
Yes. Especially the “practice” part. The most effective defensive weapon is the one with which you can put round on target under adverse conditions.
Even so, I have been and will remain a big fan of .45 caliber sidearms, both in .45ACP and .45 Colt varieties.