.45 Super Ammunition
courtesy venturamunitions.com
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The 10mm Auto round is a sure ticket to a superiority complex for the handgun owner. It’s sort of like how a person buys an Audi or a BMW and all of a sudden they’re too good for anyone, despite still barely being able to find their posterior with both hands and a road map.

We probably all know a person like that. If you think “Hey, I drive an Audi,” then YOU may be that person.

Anyhow, the thing is, if you want a big bore auto round with MORE POWAH, then you’re better off with .45 Super. In fact, the .45 Super arguably should have superseded the .45 ACP, but has unfortunately been relegated to niche status, basically popular only with pin shooters and a maybe a few handgun hunters.

So, if you want to get in the same league as Ol’ Death And Destruction (at least according to the 10mm guys) you might look into a .45 Super conversion. You get basically the same performance, but with some benefits that 10mm shooters don’t enjoy.

The standard 10mm load is a 180-grain bullet that achieves muzzle velocity in the neighborhood of 1200 fps to 1300 fps with muzzle energy around 700 ft-lbs, but generates chamber pressure around 33,000 psi.

Since .45 Super uses the same .452-in projectiles as .45 ACP and .45 Colt, a 185-grain projectile is more common for that chambering. A 185-grain .45 Super usually does basically the same; 1300 fps and just under 700 ft-lbs of energy. However, .45 Super generates chamber pressures more like 28,000 psi.

So, basically, you generate the same numbers but with a bit less pressure and reduced stress on the gun.

Additionally, the .45 Super can use heavier projectiles, up to at least 255-grain, though handloaders have found it can even take 300gr hardcast bullets with great care in loading.

Your range time can also be a lot less expensive. Your garden variety box of 50 10mm cartridges is usually $25 or more, though you can certainly find some deals out there. The thing about .45 Super is that the case has the exact same dimensions as .45 ACP though the case walls are thicker. Thus, a .45 Super handgun will also chamber, fire and cycle with .45 ACP, which is about $5 to $10 cheaper per box of factory ammo.

You may need to swap in a lower-power recoil spring for .45 ACP, but they’re cheap.

The full-power loads will cost you (only a few companies make .45 Super, and it’s expensive) but range time doesn’t have to be. You can even buy .45 ACP +P in a pinch as a carry load, since a .45 Super handgun won’t have any issues.

Some pistols rated for .45 ACP +P can run .45 Super straight from the factory, with maybe only a new spring kit. 1911 pistols are easily converted, needing only a spring kit and a flat-bottom firing pin stop. In some cases, a .45 Super barrel will be necessary as the case must be well supported when chambered.

That said, if you want serious power out of a semi-auto, the .45 Super is one of the better ways to go about getting it. It’s sort of a shame the caliber isn’t more popular. Unfortunately, the round never found adoption by law enforcement or anywhere other than for sport shooting.

Ever think about a .45 Super conversion? Anyone out there actually have one?


Sam Hoober is a contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters and Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also contributes regularly to USA Carry and the Daily Caller.

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  1. Considered it, and I may still try it out. It’ll never replace 10mm in my stash, due to the higher mag capacity and wide availability of excellent factory ammo. Underwood is my favorite, and for cheap plinking I use .40S&W. Even suppressed, I’ve had solid reliability with 40’s cycling the slide.

    • RIA 1911 10MM (180gr@1300) – 17 rounds
      FNX 45 Super (180gr@1500) – 16 rounds.

      I think that 1 round doesn’t make up for the smaller bookit going 15% slower…

      • Where did you get the 180 grains @ 1500 fps for the 45 Super ? The standard in 45 is 185 grains, not 180 and the speed you mention is 460 Rowland territory, the 185 being rated at 1575 fps.
        In a 45 Super you’ll get 1250 fps on average and up to 1300 with a 185 grains bullet.

  2. Supposedly the Mark 23 and full-size USP45 and HK45 can handle .45 Super without even changing the springs (you still might want to change the springs).

    • The 40 USP needs a recoil spring upgrade to do 10mm right, the 45s likely benefit as well. It’s fun, but not really practical, to eject brass 20 yards from a pistol (and 10mm brass at that)

    • I’ve done it in the FNX Tactical 45, but man, you certainly feel it in the slide. It hammers back with authority. I wouldn’t run it with 45Super regularly, but for a few shots on game, I’ve done it.

    • From what I’ve read, those are the only handguns the inventor of the .45 Super recommends use of the round in out of the box without conversion. They both have recoil-reduction features, and HK states they can handle any! .45 ACP +P+ (which is effectively what a .45 Super round is) in existence. I’m thinking of getting an H&K .45, and would look into Super if I were headed out to bear country. 🙂

  3. Chamber pressure doesn’t beat up guns, recoil does. 45 is getting to be excessive without comps. 10mm already isn’t a “speed shooting” round but does significantly benefit over 9mm as far as energy/momentum/mass increase. 45 super is just more pain for diminishing gain. At some point just say screw it & get a Wildey.

    45 Win Mag for the win.

    • 20 years ago .45 win mag was a dollar a round. Normally the 1911 platform fits my hand quite well. But the extra grip length to fit the win mag made the weapon not a good fit for me.

      My experience with the win mag was not as good as I’d hoped.

    • There’s only a couple of pistols that chamber the .45 WinMag – the LAR Grizzly and the Widley.

      The WinMag is a real handful. I’ve shot a LAR. It’s a real hand cannon.

    • Weeellllll… about that.

      Yes, chamber pressure can beat up guns, but typically not a recoil-operated semi-auto pistol.

      Let’s take the situation in a revolver. When you start stuffing the loads to be very hot in a revolver, you’ll start cutting the top strap more dramatically when you’re running higher pressures. Further, on S&W revolvers, you can actually stretch the top strap by feeding a (eg) K-frame a steady diet of hot .357 loads.

    • I like the .45 Win Mag. About 25 years ago I bought an LAR Grizzly, thought it’d be just the ticket. It’s not something you’d be able to carry around like some 1911s but it has ample power, is easy to reload and over the years I’ve accumulated tons of brass. The thing I liked least about it was the absolutely awful trigger it came with from the factory. I even called the company owner and he steadfastly stuck by the fact that it came within factory specs for a normal 1911. Well, for a gun about twice the price you’d think they could do better but I remedied it- the sear ledge was almost .044 from the factory, brought down to around .017 you can knock things around with it pretty well at deer hunting distances in IA. It’s not a .454 Casull by any means (I have a 7 1/2″ Freedom Arms one I bought a couple years later) but it’s adequate for most things you’d want a .44 Mag for..

    • if your going to all the trouble of a .45 win. mag.
      simply go to a revolver in 45-70 … for the real win.

      • No- I’ve even carried my Grizzly around my MN lake property when there have been some black bear tearing open trash cans and carousing. It can be packed in a belt holster (I actually used a slide)- those 45-70 pistols and S&W X Frames pretty much need to be hung around your neck, bandolier-style. .45 Win Mag is in the .44 Mag category, not up there with .45-70. Besides, if I really need that much power I do own a Freedom Arms 7 1/2 .454 Casull. Lots of confidence there.

  4. ….handloaders have found it can even take 300gr hardcast bullets with great care in loading.”

    This sounds like a great way to play kaBOOM! roulette with your collection.

    • ” This sounds like a great way to play kaBOOM! roulette with your collection. ”
      only if you don’t know what you are doing.
      covered in this article.
      “Super Heavy Bullets in the .45 Auto” by Bob Campbell

  5. Hmmm.
    Don’t be get’n me think’n.
    Oh alright…
    Will my Ruger P97 handle 45 Super.
    “Built like a tank”, right??
    How ’bout a DW Pointman 7 ?

  6. Hmm.
    Not seeing the benefit of a cartridge that’s likely going to be hard to find.
    I’ll stick to the 10 with hot loads.

    • The benefit of the 45Super is that the 45ACP is easy to find. It’s no different than having a G19 that is converted to safely shoot the 960 Rowland. Can’t find Rowland ammo? Cool, shoot the hottest 9X19 all day long.
      For the 45Super loads, fired out of the same gun, it’s a reloader’s cartridge and I imagine it will stay that way.

      • I always forget about the 960 Rowland, it’s like a 357 Sig but with fewer drawbacks, at least for the handloader. I might need to look into a conversion kit.

      • And the benefit of 10mm is that .40 is cheaper and also easy to find. The problem with .45 is you give up capacity and if both rounds have the same ballistics, why give up 2 rounds and for ammunition that isn’t as common or cheap as 10mm is and is becoming?

        Were .45 Super in the position that 10mm is now, I’d think differently.

  7. .45 Super is okay, but the real deal is .460 Rowland. Get a .460 Rowland barrel and spring, and you can use .45 Super for a mid-power load and .45 Auto for your plinking.

    Only real drawback is you pretty much need a muzzle brake to manage recoil so the gun will cycle, and the brake needs to be removed for .45 Auto to cycle.

    10mm pales next to .460 Rowland.

    • The need for the brake was the deal killer on the Rowland for me. Most of what I wanted it for was hunting at night. I need it suppressed and as little flash as possible.

      • Silencer is the brake, though. But maybe it would run without a piston or less assistance. I can see barn-burner SuperSonics being unhelpful for that application however

  8. Cheaper than a .460 Rowland conversion, especially if you roll your own. Something to think about.

  9. I converted a G21 to 45Super earlier this year. Lone Wolf threaded barrel, tungsten guide rod, and 25# recoil spring is all that I needed. The “conversion” was done in all of 5 minutes and the only tool I needed was hex key.

    The G21 was already well broken in, with many thousands of round through it. I have just under 1,000 45Super rounds through it now, all my own handloads.

    Using Starline brass and Power Pistol, I am pushing a 255gr bullet at just barely subsonic. I could push it faster, but I’m suppressing it and I want to keep it quiet(ish). It is hammering the pigs, with consistent pass throughs on animals below 50 yards.

    I’ve seen no issues so far, recoil is stout, but completely manageable, and the gun will still run any 230gr at 850fps or faster completely reliably.

    I love 1911s, but the G21 is the ideal platform for this conversion. Plus, you could also do a pretty easy 10mm conversion on the same gun.

    • Oh yes. I’ve been wanting to do a 45 Super setup with a 6-9″ barrel in a Roni stock (Glock 21) for a nasty, nasty pdw. 260 grain hollow points doing 1400 fps is a nasty, nasty concept. And you’re right, I can turn around and run standard pressure ball at .20 a round.

    • IMHO, the Springfield XDM 5.25″ is the better platform for 45 Super and its available in 10mm now also.

  10. Did a .45 Super conversion on a DW Heritage 5-6 years ago. My loads were 185 Hornady XTP at 1325 to 1400fps using Accurate #7. (The pistol worked fine with standard .45ACP loads too.) Biggest problem was that the 26# spring reaches full compression about when the slide stop almost gets to the notch. Using a 24# worked, but I eventually put it back to ACP because in a few thousand rounds it felt like it was beating up the gun too badly.

    The DW Razorback 10mm loads are various 180-grainers around 1350fps using Longshot. The standard 22# spring is stronger than your regular 16# 1911 spring, but works fine, and 10mm doesn’t feel like it’s bashing up the pistol.

    It was a fun experiment. Super is a ball to shoot, but I don’t think any 1911 could survive 20,000 round of it.

    • You’re right, higher pressure cartridges weaken metal faster. 20k rounds of +P+ 9MM will wear out a 9MM platform as well. It’s mechanical engineering/equipment reliability

  11. “Anyhow, the thing is, if you want a big bore auto round with MORE POWAH, then you’re better off with .45 Super.”

    Not quite. So how do you think a 185gr .45 cal bullet vs a 180gr .40 cal bullet will penetrate both going 1300 FPS. Yes there velocity and energy are about the same, but one will perform admirably on medium sized game and one will fail to penetrate. Two words: sectional density. What a joke.

    Now 230gr bullets may be useful in the super, but are likely a little on the slow side.

    • Do you really think 5 grains of weight and 5 hundredths of an inch diameter increase is going to make that much difference. I think not.

    • so, I did the math between the two loads. Both are going to be way past the 12″ minimum of penetration, but neither are going to be 20″+ to provide secondary benefits of an exit wound or the MV required to shatter a spinal cord.
      Based upon the math:
      45 Super:
      10.5″ of wound volume, 700 PSI of cardiovascular overpressure, 47″ of wound area.
      10MM: 8.9″ of wound volume, 636 PSI of cardiovascular overpressure, 45″ of wound area.

      So yes, I would say that little bit of difference makes a tremendous change when you add in all the variables that impact ballistic performance. 45 Super-1, 10MM-.5

  12. I carry a Glock 30 under each arm. Both have extended/ported barrels, 23 lb. guide rods, and extra power magazine springs. They are both loaded with .45 Super. They are soft shooting and make a bigger hole than my 10 mm. That the round isn’t much more popular proves that the people are stupid and the universe is absurd.

  13. I order all my ammo online, so (until the EMP knocks out the web) “availability” is irrelevant. I can shoot .45, .45+P, and .45 Super without flaw and without changing ANYTHING in the gun. Again, it dumps the same foot pounds of energy into the target as my 10 mm guns, but the bullet expands to the diameter of a QUARTER. Works for me.

  14. I have a Smith and Wesson, 1006 chambered in 10 mm that once belonged to a member of the FBI HRT who had to trade it in for a .45 because he was too limp wristed to control the recoil.
    Now most Law Enforcement are shooting Castrated 10mm otherwise known as .40 S&W.

  15. As you increase velocity you need to increase sectional density. Even in .45acp the 185gr. pills are often referred to as ‘flying ashtrays’. Bump up the velocity significantly and that lead is going to it’s best ‘fly on a windshield’ impression on Mr. Bad Guy. Even a 250gr .45 slug has a lower SD than a 158gr. .357 slug, so it kind of shows how impressive a han dgun rou nd can perform if you give up the notion that it needs to be fed up a magazine that inserts into the grip.

    • But that’s not what actually happens. Instead what happens is a half inch hole cut clear through a couple feet worth of tissue. That’s what happens with a 230gr round going 1150fps. I’M punching clear through pigs with the 45Super, and I’m not the only one. Heck, use the same bullet in the 460Rowland, going even faster, and you’ll get even better results.

      • Well yes, the 230gr should work well. I was commenting on the 185gr. Just as a general rule, when you increase velocity you should increase SD as well. If you’re looking for similar penetration. That said, my 180gr. .44 magnum slugs should put down a human attacker at least just as well as a 115gr. in 9mm.

        • I have also been confused why people are using the lighter bullets in the 45 Super. I honestly hadn’t considered it as any kind of self defense ammunition. There’s no need. The 45ACP does that job just fine.

    • I have glock 21 with wolf conversion bbl, spring and comp, 460r, para p14 steel frame ramped with Bomar rib to slow down slide (18lb spring!!) 460r clark kit, just gave son in law a foster with a clark, 460, also have glock 30 with ported 4.75 wolf 45 bbl with complete rowland kit, minus bbl. The most fun to shoot? The g30 believe it or not. Favorite loads are mainly 250gr with longshot, powerpistol, or 800 at @1225 and the brass, well, …. Fully ramped and full supported cases are EXACTLY how Johnny R developed the rowland, USING 45ACP CASES, and slugs up to and over 300gr. Let that sink in. That means that Johnny loaded acp cases to 40,000. Why can’t everybody do that? Well, lets say bubba has a autoordinance soft metal 45 and he mistakenly grabs one of the hot ones? This is also PRECISELY why they created the 357mag to supplant the 38/44 with identical balistics to the 357, and dimensions of a 38sp. Personally, someone who is not me might do that, and have left specific instructions that when they croak for son in law to toss ALL the acp they find

  16. …ain’t never heard of .45 Super before; now I have.


    And yeah, I’m still learning.

  17. I converted a Springfield basic GI model to 45 SUPER. Started with way to heavy spring and worked my way down to 22# recoil spring from Wolff Gunsprings. I fit a flat bottom firing pin retainer and used Wolffs extra heavy FP spring they send with their recoil springs. I had a full length guide rod in my parts box and used it for awhile but went back to the standard guide rod as there didn’t seem any reason for the full length and takedown was a PITA with it. I also use a Wilson buffer. So far only have Underwood 255gr hardcast at 1075 fps and it is a blast at the range. 45 +P Underwood runs like it was made for this setup and 45ACP shoots fine but won’t lock open after last round. My next order from Wolff I will try a 20# spring and that would probably work and hold open on last 45ACP round. May feel too light for Super though, we’ll see. For those who say just buy 10mm some can’t budget another gun sometimes and this get’s you into 10mm class for very little money if you already have an all steel 1911. Definitely a hunting capable round at reasonable range.

  18. We sure there’s less stress on the gun with 45 Super? Top of my head it looks like there would be more bolt thrust…

  19. The article is BS. “Lower chamber Pressure with .45 Super”. Didn’t mention that it pushes out the same 700 ft-lb range of energy down the barrel and recoil on the slide.
    Lower PSI doesn’t mean anything until you calculate with how much actual Square Inch it is acting on. .45 Super having more Square Inch to act on pushes out the same pressure on the barrel.
    Except that with same 1911 frame, 10mm auto will have thicker steel barrel to contain all that.
    You can see the 10mm envy on the first paragraph. Just hater article.
    Get Underwood Extreme Penetrator/Defender you can go for 740~ ft-lb energy. Put that same round in 6″ to 10″, you’ll have more space to burn powder and make even MORE energy. 10mm is perfect for the 1911 long slides like 6″ or 7″, AR and other carbines using longer barrel.

  20. Good morning gun store ninjas. Ace Hindman put together a 45 Super for me in ~ 1990. He used a Jim Clark ramped barrel and it shot and still shoots extremely well. As I recall, Dean Grennell was the 45 Super’s developer and it was used extensively by Hal Swigett for hunting and by various Border Patrol and DEA Agents for stopping. It was consider by those gentlemen as a far superior stopper to the 10mm.

    Thanks for reminding me, I was looking for a fun handgun to hunt antelope with in WY this fall and here it’s already in my safe. Ace was partial to 185gr. Nosler HP’s @ 1350fps. Good night Mr. Goat!

  21. So you’re saying shooting .45 Super is cheaper than shooting 10mm, as long as I only shoot .45 ACP out of the gun. Got it.

    Honestly I’m on board with .45 Super and it should have replaced .45 ACP decades ago, but it’s the power versus recoil issue that created .40 S&W in the same way. The reason 10mm isn’t the third-most popular handgun caliber is because it had to be turned into .40 S&W to do that. Now 10mm is seeing a resurgence but it’s still not a common carry caliber. I’d like to see .45 Super gain at least as much popularity as 10mm, but even if that happens, it will undoubtedly be loaded light on powder the same way 10mm is now, and you’ll end up with a new .45 ACP, the same way factory 10mm duplicates .40 S&W power levels.

    • You should check LuckyGunner’s latest gel tests. In the world of moderate 10MM vs moderate (non Super) 45 ACP, the 10MM is at a distinct disadvantage.

  22. I own both. And I agree. The super will do nearly everything the 10 will do with less blast and significant reduction in perceived recoil.with that said I’d never give up either! The 10 mm in a full-sized 1911 isn’t as difficult to shoot as people might have you believe but in a commander size gun the blast and felt recoil increases significantly! The super much less so. I have a Remington R1 enhanced Commander in .45 super with thousands of rounds through it with no ill effects so far. I have a Springfield stainless Milspec converted to .45 super also and although I’ve shot it much less so far the recoil increase over standard hardball is far less noticable. I think the 10 definitely has an advantage being flatter shooting and with equal weight bullets a penetration advantage as well but with standard for caliber bullets the difference is also insignificant. To each their own….I enjoy shooting all calibers in a 1911! And own them in .22lr 9×19 .38 super 9×23 Winchester .357 sig 10mm .40 super .45acp .45 super and .460 Rowland….if you like the platform and enjoy shooting like I do try them all! I’ve even began aquiring the parts to build one in 7.62×25 tokarev just for the fun of it! Give em all a shot and happy shooting!

    • I like the cut of yer jib, sailor. A 1911 in 7.62×25 Tokarev is something I never knew I wanted to see until just now!

  23. If you shoot a G20, you can shoot .40 S&W out of the 10mm barrel just fine.

    I can see the appeal of .45 Super for limited use while hunting or in place of a magnum revolver while outdoors. I’d just be careful about what pistol you choose if you are going to shoot thousands of rounds out of it.

  24. I only have one thing to say to burst the author’s 10mm hating bubble. 10mm magnum.

    • 460 Rowland. 😉

      Nothing but love for the 10MM. I hope to have a 16+1 10MM RIA 1911 someday.

  25. Not only is there a lack of 45 super rated weapons, even compared to the 10, you’re still sacrificing ammo count and why the 45 in general should be a niche caliber.

    • A few things;
      Most 1911s are good for 45 Super. I wouldn’t put a 45 Super in a cheapie, but most of the modern, known brands are good to go.
      As far as round count; there are multiple weapon systems with 15+1. What is required?

  26. I run .45 Super in a Springfield XD Mod2 5″ and just got an XDM 5.25″ 10mm. At the 180/185gr loadings they’re dead even in power at 1300fps. I like the 255gr Super load and the 220gr 10mm load. In that comparison the 10mm has about 50ft pounds of muzzle energy over the Super, but I’d expect about even penetration from both. Now that I have both and also an identical XDM in .45 that I could use to test with identical platforms, maybe I should get some gel and see.

  27. I use a Springfield XDm .45 4.5″ with a steel guide pin and slightly heavier recoil spring. Works great with zero failures for .45 Super. Also fires standard .45ACP without issue even with the heavier spring.

  28. 180 grains @ 1300 fps gives 675 ft lbs of energy, not 700 in the 10 mm.

    185 grains @ 1300 fps gives 694 ft lbs of energy in the 45 Super.

    Unlike what the article says. The 45 Super produces more energy with these particular loads.

  29. Well, I have a 10mm and think it’s the business, and I can hand load it to my heart’s content however fast I want to throw lead. However, it’s steel, and fullsize, so for variety, I converted a stainless commander to 45 super. Now I have a choice of my bear guns. I can carry stainless if I’m worried about water or loan one to my son when/if we’re in bear country. I love having options, but do enjoy the availability of 10mm

    • “”The 10mm Auto round is a sure ticket to a superiority complex for the handgun owner. It’s sort of like how a person buys an Audi or a BMW and all of a sudden they’re too good for anyone, despite still barely being able to find their posterior with both hands and a road map. […]””

      This is infantile. You’re busy in other people’s minds? I don’t own a 10 mm but I think that your views are outlandishly incongruous to a discussion about firearms. If in your perception a 10 mm “is a sure ticket to a superiority complex”. You restrict yourself artificially basing your restrictions on fabricated personal beliefs and you have too much time on your hands. Get busy with something intelligent. It will benefit you. Whatever you do, don’t you buy a 10 mm so you wont need a road map to find your ….. brain.

  30. Oh, I forgot. I like the 45 Super and think it’s awesome. I’m not crazy about the 10 mm but it is one heck of a great round.

  31. Old thread I know….but surprised nobody brought up the S&W 625 revolver (45 acp moonclipped). Even though I realize this thread directed more towards autos, it’s also about the 45 super round. The 625 will shoot 45 super with no modifications needed at all (there are even several shops that convert the 625 to 460 rowland using same barrel, frame, wheel). Smith and Wesson has also on several occasions OK the super round from stock revolver. I have the 5″ version of 625, shoot 45 acp for cheaper plinking and grab a couple of moonclips stuffed with Underwood 255 grain hardcast flat nose 45 super for woods carry in case black bear or cougar want to interrupt my hike 🙂 44 mag penetration with way less muzzle flash and recoil. It’s a beauty way to go!

    • Thank you for that info, Doug! I was wondering whether the Ruger Redhawk in .45 ACP/.45 LC would work with .45 Super along the same lines.

  32. Just about everyone i know (in alaska) carries a 10mm for big browns and it has a stellar record. My uncle dropped a 600 lb grizz at 35 yards (right bellow his left eye) put him down quick. Never heard of a 10mm not getting the job done. That said i would prefer a 45/70 with a long barrel lol

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