The .45 ACP may be one of the easiest calibers to reload (perhaps tied with the .38 Special). The question is, can the ease of loading the .45 lead you to develop sloppy ammunition reloading habits? Patrick Sweeney thinks so, and he talks about it in the Gun Digest Big Fat Book of the .45 ACP:
What makes the .45 ACP so easy and forgiving to reload? The first thing is its size. The case is big enough that you can handle it without fumbling or having to be fussy and particular about how you wrestle cases into and out of your loading press. They are easy to find at the range, so you don’t lose a lot of them. Since it operates at such a low standard pressure, they are not often hurled great distances when fired, nor mangled or abused during ejection. The low operating pressure also makes resizing (a process we’ll get into in just a bit) a lot easier. The .44 Magnum is a very versatile cartridge. But its operating pressure is great enough that when fired with the hottest loads you nearly have to stand on your reloading press’ handle to get cases resized. Not so with the .45 ACP. The case uses large pistol primers, large enough to not be “fiddly” to handle and load with. The bullets are large, so you have less hassle handling them and getting them in place on each empty case when it comes to bullet seating. The very attributes of the .45 ACP that make it so easy can lead you to sloppy reloading practices, practices that will not serve you in good stead should you take up reloading a more-particular cartridge.
How so? In reloading ammo, you have to go through a series of steps. The steps are, in order: pick up and sort, clean, size, deprime, reprime, expand the neck and mouth bell, drop the powder, seat the bullet and crimp the bell. In all of those steps, the .45 ACP is so forgiving that anything “close” is close enough. Sizing brass to fit a casually large chamber is no great task. The case has enough bullet inside of it that anything close enough to the correct neck-expansion diameter will do. Powder? You can just about load with any powder taken at random off the shelf, and some load will work well enough. All of which can get you in trouble when you move to a more persnickety cartridge like the 9mm or the .357 Magnum.
To read more about the .45 ACP, check out Pat’s book dedicated to the most popular big-bore handgun cartridge of all time – Gun Digest Big Fat Book of the .45 ACP. In it, he covers:
- The origins of the .45 ACP and the guns that use it
- Ammunition reloading tips, tricks and techniques
- The inside story of .45 ACP cases, bullets, primers and powder
- Competition with the .45 ACP
- Defense with a .45
Patrick Sweeney is a certified Master Gunsmith, film consultant, certified armorer instructor for police departments nationwide, and author of many of Gun Digest Books’ best-selling titles, including:
- Gun Digest Book of the 1911 Volume I and Volume II
- Gun Digest Big Fat Book of the .45 ACP
- Gun Digest Book of the Glock
- Gunsmithing: Pistols & Revolvers
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