John Moses Browning (AKA The Prophet) is responsible for nearly every advancement in modern firearms. Even to this day, many of his designs are still essentially unchanged from their initial specs. His 1911 is the most familiar of these inventions and, of course, the authoritative .45 ACP cartridge that it fires. While practice ammo is available rather widely, it isn’t typically built to run as hot as defensive ammunition and, as such, denies you the full .45 experience. When it comes to recoil management and follow-up, you need to be practicing with something that handles more like a +p blow-your-lungs-out round. Here’s one of my favorites:
First, understand that this is where you are trying to end up, not where you want to start. What is listed below is a recipe that utilizes a near-max charge of fast-burning smokeless powder. Some guns might show pressure signs before this charge, so you will need to start at the bottom (Lyman lists 6.4 grains) and work up in one-tenth-grain increments.
As you might imagine, a 230-grain round-nose bullet is at the core of this load. I like using X-treme’s copper-plated pills, as they fly great and handle the powder charge better than exposed lead. As the 1911 was built for this bullet, they also run more reliably than anything else I have ever loaded. With bullets in hand, I prepare large-pocket Remington cases simply because they are abundant and can be reloaded at least a dozen times. After they are cleaned and sized, I check their length and toss anything that is too long. The finished product is belled and primed with a CCI no. 300 Large pistol primer. These are my go-to for accuracy-intensive loads, and there is no arguing that the .45 ACP can shoot the balls off a gnat if loaded properly.
Seating to an OAL of 1.260 seemed to always do the trick for most 1911s, but your mileage may vary. I like using Hornady’s Series II dies, as they taper crimp instead of roll crimping, which is not only inaccurate but potentially dangerous for straight-walled rimless cartridges. Roll crimping changes headspace and should be avoided like a cigar from Bill Clinton’s “humidor.” Of course, if you are leery, you can skip the crimp altogether, as in most cases, the powder will keep the bullet from getting driven any deeper.
This load plays well in progressive machines, largely because Longshot powder flows like cocaine at a bachelor party, and 230-grain bullets slip through feeders like a Hunter Biden through the legal system. A good loader can run several hundred of these off an hour; however, getting the job done on a single-stage is also pretty fluid. Regardless of your method, take your time and check yourself along the way. Don’t forget that starting at the bottom and working up will also reveal a powder-puff load that will produce one-hole groups at 15 yards, so aside from safety; it is well worth the time and a few measly components.
Bullet: 230-gr. X-treme Copper-Plated Round-Nose
Propellant: Hodgdon Longshot
Charge Weight: 6.6-gr.
Primer: CCI no. 300 large pistol
Case Trim-To Length: .888″
Cartridge Overall Length: 1.260″
Velocity @ 10’ (F.P.S): 850 FPS
*Handloading can be dangerous without proper training. Always confirm all recipes with a reputable, published reloading manual and start with the minimal listed charge weight, working up in small increments. The components listed cannot be substituted for any reason. If unfamiliar with the process of making ammunition, it is recommended to take the NRA Basic Reloading course and/or work closely with a certified instructor.
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