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Old November 28, 2009, 01:35 PM   #1
MikeGoob
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why isnt the .45 SWC a popular defensive round?

I was taught that a disruptive wound channel that quickly causes traumatic blood loss is the ideal in defensive ammunition.

When you use slow moving ball ammo like a .45, the wound channel is not as disruptive as with something that would tear better like a swc/wc or hollow point.

along that reasoning why isnt the swc or wc more popular? Im sure theres something Im missing, please post your thoughts.

To clarify--this post came about because everyone seems to recommend either hollowpoint or ball ammo for a .45, nothing in between.

Last edited by MikeGoob; November 28, 2009 at 01:49 PM.
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Old November 28, 2009, 02:07 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
When you use slow moving ball ammo like a .45, the wound channel is not as disruptive as with something that would tear better like a swc/wc or hollow point.

along that reasoning why isnt the swc or wc more popular? Im sure theres something Im missing, please post your thoughts.

There you go. Why use WCs when hollow points are available? WCs may be better than ball ammo but I seriously doubt that they produce a wound channel more effectively than a hollow point. Sure, if you can't get hollow points then there MIGHT be an argument for WCs, maybe. I've never seen a direct comparison, so maybe not. Regardless, if hollow points are available then I can't think of a single good reason not to use them.
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Old November 28, 2009, 02:10 PM   #3
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Price? with cheaper ammo you can practice more with the same ammo you carry
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Old November 28, 2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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Another issue with semi-wadcutter rounds, especially in certain autopistols (I'm looking at you, Springfield XD) is that the sharp shoulder on the rounds can cause feeding and reliability issues. Back in the late 80s to early 90s, a 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter in a 1911 was still a pretty hot ticket in IPSC, however a lot of the guns of the time had to be tweaked to ensure proper feeding with the SWC round. Obviously, for a defensive round, you need to do everything in your power to ensure positive and reliable feeding, which definitely hurts the semi-wadcutter in .45 ACP.

Now, if you're carrying one of those featherweight 325 S&W revolvers, a soft recoiling 200 grain semi-wadcutter might be the ticket, because those 325s are notorious for pulling bullets under any kind of recoil.
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Old November 28, 2009, 04:59 PM   #5
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I remember reading that Jeff Cooper's preferred load was a semi-wadcutter for some reason, though it really wasn't a semi-wadcutter, it was a truncated cone, jacketed. I imagine his reasoning was that if it was a .45, that in itself was good enough.

But I've wondered the same thing myself but with hard cast "real" semi-wadcutters. I thought they would give superior penetration with a "clean-cutting" shoulder with any bullet weight, though by any I mean 180 through 230 grains. While it sounds good in theory, there are two problems. One is finding factory ammuntion for that load that wasn't a mid-range load. The other is that it doesn't do any of those other things any better than anything else. But the load always worked in the .45s I tried it in, so that part was never a problem. There is still a certain appeal to the idea though.

If it was a good idea for the .45 ACP, then it should be in other calibers, too, and I tried in for 9mm. Only for 9mm, the only SWC bullet that would work was a 158-grain swaged bullet, probably a Speer. But you have to make the load rather light because of the bullet weight, which tends to cancel out any good the idea might have. But again, it worked in the two 9mm pistols I tried it out with, a Browning HP and a Star BKM. The Star worked just fine with that offbeat load but wouldn't work with commercial hollowpoints.
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Old November 28, 2009, 05:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
I remember reading that Jeff Cooper's preferred load was a semi-wadcutter for some reason, though it really wasn't a semi-wadcutter, it was a truncated cone, jacketed.
He did carry a jacketed truncated cone, but that load came later. For many years Col. Cooper did carry a handloaded 215gr semi wadcutter over 7.3 grains of Unique running about 1100 fps. **It should be noted that this load is above current published maximums, and should not be attempted without carefully working up to it.**

I have a "do it all" load using a 200gr LSWC that runs about 950 fps out of a 5" 1911, and I wouldn't feel at all undergunned carrying it if necessary. It doesn't do anything that a factory JHP can't do though, so it's never been necessary.
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Old November 28, 2009, 05:51 PM   #7
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in my .45 Colt revolvers, I often use a 250 grain LSWC round. I load these myself with Blue Dot powder.

in my .45 ACP semi autos, I don't trust semi wad cutters to feed reliably.
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Old November 28, 2009, 06:26 PM   #8
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As already stated as a concern by others, the semi-wadcutter isn't the most popular choice due to reliable feeding into the chamber. I don't know of any semi-auto able to feed wadcutters.

From a ballistics point of view, my other guess is the hollowpoint bullet has come a long way in the reliable feeding department along with holding its own on making a pretty vicious wound channel. If one can do both admirably and the other doesn't, then the process of elimination ensues.

That's how I see it...
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Old November 28, 2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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I don't know of any semi-auto able to feed wadcutters.
There are centerfire target pistols designed to feed WCs - e.g. the S&W 52. But that's typically the only type of bullet that they can feed.
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Old November 28, 2009, 07:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuttle8
the semi-wadcutter isn't the most popular choice due to reliable feeding into the chamber.
I can only really speak intelligently about 1911's, as I have no experience with SWC in other semi-autos. In a properly functioning 1911 though, you should have no feeding issues as long as the OAL is correct. I shoot many thousands of 200gr LSWC rounds a year through my various 1911's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuttle8
I don't know of any semi-auto able to feed wadcutters.
In addition to the Smith 52 Casimer mentioned, there are also custom 1911's set up to shoot .38 Special wadcutter rounds. They will generally only feed wadcutters, and you only get a 5 round magazine.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:04 PM   #11
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Taper crimp and close attention to components sizing is key. Lots of .45 acp cases had overly thick cases, and even with enough taper crimp they would hesitate to feed. While I think the 200 grain SWC would make a great defensive round, I don't know how successful it might be from a marketing standpoint.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:07 PM   #12
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I was speaking of off-the-shelf commonly had semi-autos. Glocks, XDs, Sigs, Rugers, etc.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:46 PM   #13
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When you use slow moving ball ammo like a .45, the wound channel is not as disruptive as with something that would tear better like a swc/wc or hollow point.
You just compared a SWC with an HP. At one time the SWC was thought to "cut a better wound channel" (which sounds logical to me), but actual shootings didn't show the SWC to be any better than HB, where as the increased expansion diameter of the HP is definately effective, expecially with sharp edges or petals.

Quote:
As already stated as a concern by others, the semi-wadcutter isn't the most popular choice due to reliable feeding into the chamber. I don't know of any semi-auto able to feed wadcutters.
Not where the 1911 is concerned (we're talking throated pistols). All mine feed 200 gr. lead SWC's slick as a whistle. When the .45 was king of ISPC, so was the 200 gr. SWC--for it's extreme reliablity for one thing. Better than hardball in my experience. I have 8 rd. mag's. that won't reliably feed the first rd. of HB, but have no problems with SWC's. The H&G 68 is the profile I'm talking about, and in 200 grs.

With other pistols, I tend to agree. Most were never designed to feed that rd., though my SIG's in .45 and .40 will feed them. In my P220's, the bullet must be seated fairly deep (barely some shoulder showing) or you can't fit 8 rds. in the mag. It's not the length that's the issue, it's the radiused front part of the mags that are compatible with HP's and HB, but not the wide portion of the SWC that sits too far forward.

Last edited by Nnobby45; November 28, 2009 at 10:15 PM.
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:46 PM   #14
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LSWC

Maybe someone else has the source....I don't remember where.....but some years ago a study was done (???) that evaluated the effectiveness of a wide variety of cartridges and various bullets.
IIRC, the .45 LSWC did better than the standard ball ammo.
No documentation - but maybe someone has a better memory.
I own two 1911s, both shoot LSWCs flawlessly (a Colt Gold Cup and SA Loaded).
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Old November 28, 2009, 09:57 PM   #15
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Great education all around, thanks!
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Old November 29, 2009, 10:24 AM   #16
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SWCs for the 45 ACPs are normally loaded light and were used as target rounds for the CF portion of the NRA Bullesye matches. They were loaded by factorys that know how to load SWCs in 45s that allow them to feed relability.

I dont know of any factory SWCs that are loaded hot or to the standards(velocities) of Hardball.

Then along comes us reloaders with the ideal that we want SWCs loaded to hardball velocities. Only we dont know how to handload SWCs. We think we have to stick to the published overall length of 45s, which often leave the should of the SWC bullet sticking out of the case. (the 45 headspaces on the mouth of the case. You load the SWC bullet out, where the shoulder the gun tries to headspace on the bullet instead of the case, and JAMS OCCURE.)

But since we know all about reloading, we know its not our loads but our guns so we start ginding or filing on the gun polishing this and that untill nothing works. So we say SWCs dont work for defence and go back to hardball, hollow points or whatever. The Semi gets a bad rep.

The SWC in 45s will work as a defence round, you can shoot them faster then the target loads and if loaded properly they will function. SWCs will make a better defence round then the RNs ball, just as the 158 grn 38s in SWCs work better then the 158 round nose bullets.

You just have to load them propertly. Make sure you push the bullet deep enough in the case the shoulder of the bullet isnt sticking out fooling the gun into thinking thats where its suppose to headspace. If I load a batch of SWCs and they dont function, I dould I can fix the problem by tweaking the round (leaving the pistol alone) by running the case back in the seating die and pushing it a tad bet deeper.
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Old November 29, 2009, 10:41 AM   #17
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There's a SWC and then there's a SWCHP which make for a better SD load.
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Old November 29, 2009, 11:03 AM   #18
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It's long been known that the 185-200gr target SWC's outperformed RN ball even at it's low velocities. I think 230gr ball ammo underservingly retains a macho "image" which overshadows this fact.

How do the 230gr truncated cone boolits feed? They are shaped like many HP's (230 XTP) and have a .35ish caliber meplat. Is this the next best thing to HP's?
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Old November 29, 2009, 08:19 PM   #19
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I dont know of any factory SWCs that are loaded hot or to the standards(velocities) of Hardball.
When the .45 is used for IPSC, it has to be loaded hot enough to make "major caliber". Whimp loads not allowed. There were a number of smaller ammo companies that produced such ammo for competition shooters.

There's nothing hard about loading SWC's in .45. A 200 gr. SWC H&G 68 (most utilized this profile) was fine loaded anywhere's from 1.250 to 1.260 and most shooters loaded their own.

With regards to seating the bullet out enough to act as headspace, I don't believe length was the issue, as long as the rd. fit the magazine. However, if seated out TOO far, the slide can't go all the way into battery--which is a different type of feeding problem. Perhaps that's what you were referring to.

Last edited by Nnobby45; December 1, 2009 at 03:07 AM. Reason: corrected LOA from 1.150 to 1.250, etc.
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Old November 30, 2009, 12:26 AM   #20
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if anyone has links where to buy factory loaded swc that could be decent for self defense please post. Its worth a try to see how well it feeds.
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Old November 30, 2009, 07:02 AM   #21
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The 185-200 gr target SWCs outperformed 230 gr RN ball? Says who? In what way do they outperform? More accurate? More penetration? Or more distructive?

Another factor is the lead itself. I suspect that most factory SWC loads in any caliber are swaged bullets, except perhaps from small volume custom handloaders. With absolutely nothing to back up my hunch, I'd say they perform differently than hard cast lead alloy bullets, especially with a hollow point. But which is better would be another story. There's also the theory that one might work better in certain barrels, particularly in barrels that are expected to be used with jacketed bullets but on this point my memory fails.

The original posting did not mention .45 ACP by the way, just .45.
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Old November 30, 2009, 07:23 AM   #22
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?

Quote:
The original posting did not mention .45 ACP by the way, just .45.
True. I inferred .45 ACP from the reference to "ball ammo" which is a common way to refer to .45 ACP ammo and an uncommon way to refer to .45 Colt or .45 GAP or any other .45.

Quote:
The 185-200 gr target SWCs outperformed 230 gr RN ball? Says who? In what way do they outperform? More accurate? More penetration? Or more distructive?
I, too, have read that....wish I could remember where.

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Old November 30, 2009, 12:13 PM   #23
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sorry, yes I mean .45 ACP
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Old November 30, 2009, 05:09 PM   #24
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Quote:
if anyone has links where to buy factory loaded swc that could be decent for self defense please post. Its worth a try to see how well it feeds.
Since the .45 ACP was replaced with .38 Super for National and International competition, loaded rounds may be harder to find.

Looks like Mag Tech makes it, but you'll have to BO.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct...tNumber=730214

Note: with regards to excellent feed reliability, I'm referring to the 200 gr. SWC. As mentioned, it uses the Hensley and Gibbs profile which has been much copied.

Not the shorter nosed 185 gr. SWC with different profile.

I tried the short nosed 185 gr. SWC some time back, just once. They didn't feed well, and the shorter bullet didn't offer as much security with re: to seating depth. No doubt, some have had success with this bullet, but I'll sticki with 200 gr.

I also purchased some plated 200 gr. SWC's that choked every 1911 I own (not at first, but after the gun got a little dirty). At first I thought it was the plating, but I then discovered they had a different nose profile---much thinner than the H&G. I gave away 500 of 'em.
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Old November 30, 2009, 07:28 PM   #25
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its easier to buy SD ammo that are hollow point instead of putting a risk to yourself legally by loading your own LSWC for the 45. I load the LSWC for target rounds at my local range. I don't think I would ever use them for SD unless it was an emergency type thing, and I had them in my bag for whatever reason.
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