Custom .45 ACP loads


by R.K. Campbell

photography by R.K. Campbell

August 14th, 2008




Recently I have fired and evaluated a number of good .45 ACP loads that I feel merited some ink. My experiences with the Springfield Long Slide have been interesting and with a combination of medium burning powder and heavy bullets this pistol is really beginning to talk, and it speaks my language. During the course of load development I have tested three outstanding factory  loads that I feel are worthy of interest. Two are custom loads and one is a remanufactured load that we would call a reload if made up in our basement or loading shack. Let's take a look at some of the results...


I have used Mastercast loads in the .44 Special and .45 Colt with good results, but the .45 ACP sings to me. During the making of my 1911 book I fired many thousands of rounds of ammunition. Among the standouts as concerns price and performance was the Mastercast 200 grain JHP. I have to report there were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject with this cartridge. Remanufactured ammunition is less expensive because the cartridge case is a reloadable component. Mastercast does a fine job with their loads. I have clocked the Mastercast JHP at 908 fps from the SW 19111 with fine accuracy. This load has proven it is a natural for testing with handguns that are new to me. I began with the  H and K USP compact. The 200 grain jacketed hollowpoint clocked 880 fps, with the same good results as the SW 1911 as far as accuracy - remember that figure. The Springfield Long Slide produced 1020 fps, excellent velocity for a standard velocity load. Accuracy is in the one ragged hole category at 25 yards and worth a bit of conversation at 100 yards.

Wilson Combat

Bill Wilson knows something about handguns and ammunition. He chose the Hornady 200 grain XTP - the same bullet used in the Mastercast load - for his signature defense load. The Wilson Combat load uses a different powder than used in the Mastercast load and produced an average 874 fps compared to 908 fps for the Mastercast load in the SW 1911,  statistically and practically irrelevant. Here is the surprise: in the H and K USP the Wilson Combat load ran the exact same average velocity as the Mastercast load, 880 fps. This was very surprising. I double checked and this is indeed the figure.  The remanufactured Mastercast is affordable and a fine practice option. Moving to the Long Slide, the Wilson Combat load produced a full 95 fps less than the Mastercast at 925 fps. Very interesting. Of course, a full powder burn and good accuracy in short barrels is most important for a defense load, not six inch barrel performance. This load offers an excellent balance of expansion and penetration for personal defense.

Double Tap

Double Tap produces +P ammunition. A single round of +P produces about as much shock as a single round of hardball or a standard load as far as wear on the pistol..  My .45s run on pretty mild loads most of the time. But I have the itch to take meat with my long slide .45 and the Double Tap load is at the top of the list at present. A bonus in using slow burning powder with the long slide is that you alter lock time a bit and the piece stays locked longer. Accuracy should be much better. In the past I had figured 35 yards was the limit for a clean kill with my skills and the power available in a .45 ACP handgun. With the +P loads and the increased accuracy demonstrated with the Springfield Long Slide, I believe fifty yards is not out of the question. The Double Tap load with a 200 grain Speer Gold Dot JHP demonstrated a full 993 fps from the USP. Control is not particularly good with the USP and I tend to dip the barrel down when attempting to control such a light polymer frame handgun. With the SW 1911 results were much better and the velocity was well over 1,000 fps. Double Tap +P loads can be counted on for an extra 100 fps over standard loads with my experiments as a guide. That is significant in handgun terms. From the Long Slide Springfield, Double Tap 200 gain .45 +P loads generated 1102 fps. Accuracy is excellent. Lets sum it up-- a standard velocity 200 grain load exits the SW 1911 at about 900 fps. A velocity increase of 100 fps is realized with +P loads and another 100 fps by going to the Long slide .45. As a bonus my heavy .45 is easier to shoot and more accurate than any other .45 I have fired. Am I ready for the game field? Of course, especially with forty years of 1911 behind me. As for personal defense, well, no gun is too big to fight with. While I am not going to make a point to carry this 1911 "Buntline" it certainly would make a fine house gun. It is reliable with full power ammunition and points like a finger. All I have to do is my part. I hope this guide to extra special .45 ACP ammunition is a help in pursuing better performance.

R.K. Campbell


Lee Berry gave good results with the long slide .45.



The .45 doesn’t rise that much even with hard hitting Double Tap loads.



All who fired the Springfield Long Slide commented on its accuracy and comfort. This is a first time handgun shooter. John Spier did just fine.



This is an expanded Gold Dot bullets as used in the Double Tap load.



Gold Dot bullets usually give fine results, and many custom loads such as the Double Tap use this bullet.

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Despite the extra inch of barrel the Springfield long slide handles well and is very mild to fire.



This young lady found that the Springfield Long Slide handles quickly.



The author had acceptable results with the USP but strongly prefers the 1911.



Our Pro Chrony from Competition Electronics has given excellent results.



The Springfield really handles well at moderate range, simply hanging on the target.



The author uses great numbers of XTP bullets, always with good results.