Reloading The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

Posted on: Thursday January 7, 2021
Reloading The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)
MD Smith

MD Smith


(WC= WadCutter, SWC= Semi-WadCutter,
HP= Hollow Point, RN= Round Nose), SP=Soft Point
(JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet)

Loads for .45 ACP:

New 2012 note on .45 ACP cases using small pistol primers vs. the large pistol primers. Not long ago shooters began to report brass that had a small pistol primer pocket instead of the traditional large, due to the use of a more “green” environment primer. More and more range ammo is being sold with the less air polluting primers fitting cases with small pockets. The DANGER here is mixing up a batch of used cases and trying to seat a large primer in a small pocket. Most likely if you use a fair amount of force on the press, it will explode as it is being crushed from not fitting in the small pocket. Loads are generally the same and no documentation has been presented saying anything but if changing from tested maximum loads with one type, back off a bit before using the opposite primer.

(Note: These are near MAXIMUM loads, you should use 10% less to start.)

(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.) (See note on NEW Nitro 100 powder at bottom of page)

Bullet sizes vary from .451″ for jacketed to .452″ for some lead in diameter. Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.

ACP is an acronym that stands for Automatic Cartridge (& Colt) Pistol. It was used by various John Browning cartridge designs primarily used in Colt and FN pistols.

(Note H110 & W296 are the same as of 2008 as is HP-38 & W231)

(IMR 4227 is same as H-4227 if made in Australia)

155 grain LSWC (Lead, Semi-Wad Cutter)
Nitro 100 use 5.9 to 6.5 grains 1,148 fps max.
Bullseye 6.9 gr. 1,175 FPS
Unique 7.4 gr. 1,180
Universal 6.5 gr. 1,015 start
Universal 7.0 gr. 1,135 max
Clays 4.9 gr. 1,040 start
Clays 5.2 gr. 1,082 max
HP38/W231 6.0 gr. 998
HP38/W231 6.7 gr. 1,112 max
No. 2 7.5 gr. 1,204
No. 5 10.0 gr. 1,189
HS-6 9.0 gr. 998 start
HS-6 10.0 gr. 1,126 max
540 8.5 gr. 940
Titegroup 5.7 gr. 1,039 start
Titegroup 6.2 gr. 1,132 max
180 grain LEAD FP
Nitro 100 use 5.3 to 5.9 grains max
Trail Boss 3.5 gr. 664 start
Trail Boss 5.0 gr. 852 max
HS-6 7.8 gr. 805 start
HS-6 9.0 gr. 961 max
Clays 3.8 gr. 783 start
Clays 4.5 gr. 910 max
Universal 5.3 gr. 755
Universal 6.4 gr. 1,019 max
Titegroup 4.2 gr. 771
Titegroup 5.2 gr. 946 max
231/HP-38 5.0 gr. 778
231/HP-38 6.0 gr. 950 max
185 grain Berry’s Plated RNHB (Round Nose Hollow Base)
Bullseye 4.5 gr. enough to function action (John Harris load)
Bullseye 4.8 gr. Works well and accurate (John Harris load)
Bullseye 5.2 gr. 905 Hi=917, Lo=891, ES=26
ZIP 6.2 gr. 939 Hi=974, Lo=913, ES=61
Titegroup 5.4 gr. 860 Hi=888, Lo=845, ES=43
Competition – try 4.0 to 5.0 grains.
185 grain Matt’s Lead HP bullet
Titegroup 4.9 gr. 926 Hi=941, Lo=909, ES=32 (good)
Titegroup 5.2 gr. 942 Hi=960, Lo=921, ES=39 (also good load)
185 grain JHP or JSP (Jacketed Hollow or Soft Point)
Nitro 100 +P load, use 6.2 to 6.8 gr. HOT +P load 1,050 fps.
Bullseye 5.3 gr. 914 FPS
Unique 7.0 gr. 928
Unique 6.0 gr. 765 (actual in Colt45 ACP for mild load)
Unique 7.2 gr. 988 MAX
Universal 6.0 gr. 908 start
Universal 6.4 gr. 977 max
Clays 4.5 gr. 855 start
Clays 4.9 gr. 981 max
Titegroup 5.0 gr. 892 start
Titegroup 5.5 gr. 956 max
PowerPistol 9.1 gr. 997 near max
HP38/W231 5.0 gr. 762 start
HP38/W231 5.9 gr. 906 max
HS-6 8.6 gr. 917
No. 2 7.5 gr. 1,077
No. 5 10.2 gr. 1,102
540 10.0 gr. 1,015
WST 5.6 gr. 935
WAP 8.9 gr. 1,045
200 grain LSWC or LRN (Lead, SWC or Round Nose)
Nitro 100 use 5.0 to 5.5 grains max
Bullseye 4.2 gr. 790 FPS
Bullseye 4.8 gr. 815
Unique 5.1 gr. 814
Unique 5.6 gr. 904
Unique 5.7 gr. 842 (different gun)
Unique 6.0 gr. 867 Max
Universal 5.4 gr. 804
Universal 6.2 gr. 955 (MAX)
Titegroup 4.9 gr. 874
Titegroup 5.4 gr. 957 (MAX HOT)
Clays 4.3 gr. 888
HP38/W231 4.4 gr. 771 start
HP38/W231 5.6 gr. 914 max
231 5.5 gr. 910
231 6.0 gr. 942 max (old book load)
ZIP 5.8 gr. 971 max
HS-6 8.4 gr. 907
No. 2 5.8 gr. 939
No. 5 8.7 gr. 1,025
540 8.3 gr. 925
WST 5.1 gr. 910
WAP 7.6 gr. 970
Trail Boss 3.5 gr. 652
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 783 RNFP lead, Hi=820, Lo=758, ES=62 Works Action-Mild
Trail Boss 5.5 gr. 816 max
200 grain FMJ full jacketed RN Hornady
Nitro 100 use 5.4 to 6.0 grains max *(old powder loads)
Nitro 100+P use 5.9 to 6.2 grains +P max *(old powder loads)
Titegroup 4.7 gr. 812 start
Titegroup 5.4 gr. 944 max
No. 2 6.1 gr. 921 near max
HP-38/W231 5.2 gr. 794 start
HP-38/W231 5.9 gr. 906 max
HS-6 8.2 gr. 868 start
HS-6 9.0 gr. 948 max
Universal 5.8 gr. 889 start
Universal 6.2 gr. 949 max
ZIP 6.4 gr. 955
Unique 5.6 gr. 692 mild target load
Unique 7.0 gr. 882 and 929 in different guns
Unique 7.2 gr. MAX 894 and 945 in different guns
205 grain Matt’s Lead HP bullet
Titegroup 5.4 gr. 920 Hi=962, Lo=905, ES=57 (Good)
ZIP 6.2 gr. 986 Hi=1006, Lo=965, ES=41
225 grain Speer JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
Bullseye 4.8 gr. 884 FPS
Unique 6.0 gr. 898
Universal 6.2 gr. 820
HP38 5.3 gr. 832
HS-6 8.2 gr. 825
No. 2 5.6 gr.
No. 5 8.5 gr.
231 5.2 gr. 824
WAP 7.9 gr. 895
ZIP 5.8 gr. 812
230 grain LSWC or LRN (Semi-Wad Cutter or Round Nose)
(these loads work for the RN Plated bullet,too-don’t use max)
Bullseye 4.0 gr. 810 FPS (target accuracy load)
Bullseye 4.8 gr. 884 hot load/Maximum.
Nitro 100 use 4.8 to 5.3 grains max (use 10% less if NEW formulation)
Clays 3.5 gr. 716 start
Clays 4.0 gr. 793 MAX with LRN
ZIP 5.2 gr. 828
ZIP 5.5 gr. 873
ZIP 5.8 gr. 915 max
Unique 5.5 gr. 795 (I got 738 fps in my gun)
Unique 5.5 gr. 913 (in Marlin auto carbine)
Unique 6.0 gr. 840* (I got 777 fps in my gun)
Unique 6.0 gr. 924* (in Marlin auto carbine)
Universal 4.5 gr. 703 start
Universal 4.8 gr. 782
Universal 5.4 gr. 857 max
Red Dot 4.0 gr. 808
Red Dot 4.4 gr. 807 max
Green Dot 4.3 gr. 810
Blue Dot 10.0 gr. 855
Titegroup 4.0 gr. 751 start
Titegroup 4.3 gr. 788
Titegroup 4.8 gr. 855 (MAX)
No. 2 5.6 gr. 870
No. 5 8.5 gr. 968
540 7.6 gr. 860
Trail Boss 3.5 gr. 658 start
Trail Boss 4.4 gr. 748 (using Carolina Cast bullet)
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 778 Hi=803, Lo=756, ES=47 RNFP bullet
Trail Boss 4.6 gr. 756 max (Hi=769, Lo=741, ES=28) Carolina Cast RN
WST 4.5 gr. 805
HS-6 8.0 gr. 858 MAX
WAP 7.3 gr. 915
HP-38/W231 4.3 gr. 699 start
HP-38 5.1 gr. 785 (Near Max)
HP-38/W231 5.3 gr. 834 Maximum
231 5.1 gr. 850 (I got 734 in my S&W)
True Blue 6.7 gr. 820
True Blue 7.4 gr. 913 max
Silhouette 7.0 gr. 882 max
Competition 3.6 gr. 725
Competition 4.0 gr. 805 max

* Alliant shows this a Maximum load

230 grain FMJ or JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
Nitro 100 use 5.0 to 5.6 grains max
Bullseye 4.8 gr. 884 FPS
Clays 3.7 gr. 670 start
Clays 4.0 gr. 732 MAX
Competition 3.8 gr. 694
Competition 4.2 gr. 771 max
HS-6 8.0 gr. 790 start
HS-6 8.2 gr. 825 max
Silhouette 7.3 gr. 868
Silhouette 8.1 gr. 964 max
Tightgroup 4.4 gr. 744
Tightgroup 4.8 gr. 815 max
Unique 5.3 gr. 880
Unique 5.8 gr. 901 max
Universal 5.1 gr. 716 start
Universal 5.6 gr. 844 max in Hodgdon manual
HP38/W231 4.2 gr. 751 start
HP38/W231 5.3 gr. 832 max
HS6 8.0 gr. 815
HS6 8.2 gr. 825 max
PowerPistol 6.8 gr. 815
No. 2 6.1 gr. 874 max
No. 5 8.7 gr. 927 max
231 5.1 gr. 785
540 7.6 gr. 800
WST 4.9 gr. 800
WAP 7.4 gr. 885
True Blue 6.8 gr. 802
True Blue 7.1 gr. 804
True Blue 7.6 gr. 889 max
CCI commercial comparison 875 Hi=881, Lo=868, ES=13 (excellent load)
Blazer Brass 230 FMJ 812 Hi=888, Lo=735, ES=152
260 grain FMJ or JHP Revolver Loads
Bullseye 4.5 gr. 725 FPS
Unique 5.4 gr. 760
HP38 5.1 gr. 800
HS6 8.0 gr. 849
No. 2 5.5 gr. 785
No. 5 7.7 gr. 845
231 5.0 gr. 788

*If you have an older can of Scot Nitro 100 or Accurate Nitro 100, please note, it is NOT the same as the new formulation at Western Powders. I have been told as of 2011 that the NEW and current N-100 is faster burning in pistol calibers than the old. Use 10% UNDER any values you see here for older N-100. The older was slower burning in pistol calibers.

Discussion: The small case and short powder burning time of the .45 ACP requires a faster burning powder, like Bullseye or Unique. Trail Boss is new for the .45 ACP, but it shoots very well with a lead bullet (you can use jacketed also) and is quite mild but works the slide well in loads I have tested so far. The almost standard bullet is the 230 grain round nose (lead, jacketed or plated), since it feeds so well in autos. More shooters are using the 200 grain SWC as of 2011 that in the past. You need the driving bands to hold the bullet tightly with just the taper crimp on the .45 ACP. Be careful with the lightweight bullets. If they get driven into the case with recoil or feeding, you are in for a lot of trouble and possibly an explosion.

However, the SWC has a round enough nose that it feeds well in most autos and makes a cleaner target cut-out. If you were to be hunting or for protection, you might consider the Jacketed Hollow Point bullet shown in the loaded round. Whether you use the lead or full metal jacketed bullet is up to you, but the lead is, of course, much cheaper if you shoot very much. Because of lead fumes in the air, you should consider using a jacketed or copper plated bullet indoors unless well ventilated.

The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

*
Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
No. 2, No. 5, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company
WMR, WSF, WSL, 760, 748, 231 and 540 are products of Winchester, Components Div.

References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company, reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.