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Will Reloading the .45 ACP Make You a Sloppy Reloader?

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:

This rifle case, fired in a proof load, shows pressure signs. If you ever see pressure signs in loading the .45, stop what you are doing and seek help. The .45 maxes out at 23,000 psi. Pressure signs like this don't start until 60,000 psi.

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:

 

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4 thoughts on “Will Reloading the .45 ACP Make You a Sloppy Reloader?

  1. ncpilot

    I have to wonder how you can say that “grabbing just about any powder off the shelf”, or something to that effect, will work. That would be dangerous from everything I have ever heard or read. I know it may have been a “tongue in cheek” remark, but still…

  2. nmgene

    I reload 5 handgun and 3 rifle cartridges. I have never had a failure, but I am very careful. Maybe he never heard of carbide sizing dies and as you say his chambers may be oversized. I have been trying to figure out how to reload my 22s LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. ScottS

    Just because Sweeny has “been around” DOES NOT make him the expert in all things firearm. And in this instance he is so far off base it is pathetic. His commentary about having to “stand on the press handle” to resize .44 mag cases, for example, is not due to excessive pressures, but, as any experienced reloader can tell you, it the result of out of spec chambers. A case can ONLY expand to the diameter of the chamber, this is basic physics at its finest. The fact is, the .45ACP is one of the FINEST rounds to introduce someone to reloading for all the reasons he proclaimed as faults. The truth is when you start into something you start small and move onto more advanced levels. Since the .45 case doesnt get beat up as much as other rounds,and is not as prone to stretching and case fatigue(the real issue with high pressure rounds) it can be reloaded with the most basic of hand loaders such as the Lee Load-all with out issues. The ability to safely use so many powders, again is a plus, for economy sake, and also makes it a goot tool in learning effective powder selection. Its sad that some peoples notoriety cause them to make such foolish statements as he has.

    1. dannysteel

      Sad but true Scott. It’s a mind-set of the general public that if a well known or much publcized name says something about, and/or uses a certain product, (endorser) then they automatically are assumed to be the “foremost authority” about it, regardless of how questionable that might be. (i.e. if so-and-so uses it, or says something about the product, then it’s got to be the best) In some cases, it’s nothing but “mental gymnastics” at best. Nonetheless, it’s a fact that the use and/or display of nationally known names (product endorsements)sell products, and that’s what it’s really all about.

      As another example, many times you will see major company names being displayed that have absolutely nothing to do with the person, product, or particular sport, such as NASCAR Racing. (Remington, Winchester, Tide, ect) Go figure?

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