View Full Version : .45 ACP hunting loads

August 19, 2006, 02:46 PM
Does anyone have a favorite brand/load when it comes to .45 ACP for hunting? In Iowa it is legal to take a handgun hunting with you while are shotgun hunting. Shotgun is fun, but I think that handgun would be a bit more of a challege.

August 19, 2006, 03:42 PM
if you must use the 45 acp i would recommend something in a lighter bullet. id use something in a 185 grain. heres the winchester silver tips (i know its a hollow point) they have the most velocity out of a factory load. federal makes a 165 grn it might work as well.



August 19, 2006, 04:24 PM
I assume we are talking about deer hunting? The .45ACP is not really a hunting load. Sure, it can be done, but it is very limited in it's use. If I had to use a .45ACP, I would probably go with the heaviest load I could find, like the Buffalo Bore +P stuff.

August 20, 2006, 02:28 PM
i was just thinking that its already heavy enough for deer might as well get some speed out of it.

August 20, 2006, 03:05 PM
i was just thinking that its already heavy enough for deer might as well get some speed out of it.

The 185gr Win ST would be an awful load to hunt deer with. It has been criticized for having marginal penetration even on humans for self defense. How do you think it will fare trying to penetrate both lungs on a deer. I would say you probably need a minimum of about 16" of penetration. There are very few 45ACP JHP loads that can reliably penetrate that well.

If you are shooting a revolver I recommend some heavy SWC loads that will penetrate both lungs, exit the animal, and leave a pretty large wound. You can get away with using expanding bullets in your Magnum revolver rounds but in 45ACP you need all the penetration you can get. Personally I think hunting with a semi-auto handgun, unless designed specifically for hunting ie, Desert Eagle, EAA 10mm, is more of a stunt than responsible and ethical hunting. If you really want to use a handgun get a revolver in a high powered handgun cartridge.

Like I said, if you are using a 45ACP revolver, you can load up some hot 45ACP loads with heavy SWC bullets and you will be fine. In a 1911 or other semi-auto, you are stuck with bullets with rounded profiles designed for feeding in semi-autos. These don't offer a good balance of expansion and penetration as they are tailored for self defense from human threats and more agressive expansion. If they expand, they probably won't penetrate both lungs, and for sure won't exit. If they don't expand due to the heavier skin found on deer, you end up with a pencil hole wound, and will end up tracking the deer for a long ways.

August 20, 2006, 03:21 PM
CJ, you & I are going to agree on something yet!;)

Stay away from the light bullets, and use nothing less than a 230 JHP. Shoot just behind the front leg, about 4" up from the breastbone. Don't try raking or quartering shots.

I have used reloads with a 255 SWC bullet, intended for the .45 Colt, and got them to feed fine in a well set-up 1911. You'll find that they shoot high in guns set zeroed for 200-230 grain bullets. Shoot yours plenty and confirm your POI before heading to the woods. At 800+ fps they are probably a much better proposition as long as you don't take long shots-which in my book would be over 30 yards with such a combo.

August 20, 2006, 05:43 PM
A 230 Hydra-Shok would do well .Also the Corbon DPX, a light all copper bullet would also do well .Despite the light weight the all copper bullets give plenty of penetration !!

August 20, 2006, 06:51 PM
Does anyone have any experence on this or any articles on this?

I have thought about it when a deer comes under my tree stand.

Lost River
August 20, 2006, 08:59 PM
I have shot a bunch of deer with both 230 grain hydrashoks and Gold Dots out of duty guns, it is to be noted that most were injured already due to vehicle collisions and other incidents.

I have also had the occasion in the hunting field to use the same rounds as opportunity presented itself. The 45 acp is far more effective than most people realize. perhaps this is due to the gun mags always saying we MUST use a magnum of sorts. I have even read in recent years where gun writers have claimed the 44 magnum to be marginal for big game:rolleyes:

About 6 years ago I even filled my cow elk tag with one well placed hydrashok to the noggin.

In short pick your shots, be prepared to pass up shots you would take with more powerful rounds and be realistic in recognizing your abilities.

Your game deserves to be treared to humane kills.

Happy hunting.

john in jax
August 21, 2006, 11:30 AM
I too, suggest a SWC or LRN bullet at 230grns. Just my 2 cents, but I agree with the others above who think penetration is more important than expansion with a bullet that is nearly 1/2" in diameter to begin with.

If I were handgun hunting with a .45acp I'd be looking for a 230grn SWC or LRN moving out at +/-950fps.

And a BIG +1 to Lost River suggesting lots of practice so that you know what you can, and perhaps more importantly, can't do.

August 21, 2006, 11:44 AM
I'd use the Barnes DPX bullet as loaded by CorBon - based only on reports
Failing that I'd use the Hornady as loaded by Hornady - a proven go the extra distance load.
Failing that I'd go in the 200 grain neighborhood with +P loads from at least a 5 inch barrel.

Notice the Springfield long barrel 1911 in .45 Super with optimized loads was touted as a fine whitetail cartridge with adequate retained energy but dropped off the market.

The .45ACP is I think adequate for the shooter who knows deer anatomy and takes only careful shots targeting organs and bones but the .45 ACP is a poor choice for the shooter who settles for shooting center of mass on a deer.

My favorite is .460 Rowland!

August 21, 2006, 09:18 PM
I have even read in recent years where gun writers have claimed the 44 magnum to be marginal for big game

It is marginal for big game. Big game is classified as CXP3 which includes such majestic beasts as Elk, Moose that can routinely weigh well in excess of 700lbs. Deer is not considered a big game animal. These majestic animals deserve a humane kill. Any caliber that requires passing up shots that can easily and routinely be taken with another caliber to me means that it is a marginal caliber for that activity. The 44Mag can certainly bring down an Elk or Moose, but only in nearly perfect circumstances. There is no doubt that I would much rather be shooting a 300WM or 338WM to take down these majestic beasts. There are many cases of Moose and Elk running quite a ways after taking a shot from 270Win and 30-06 rounds to the lungs. Trust me, the 44Mag compared to rifle rounds with 3-4X the energy levels is marginal against these large critters. Shooting an Elk with a 45ACP ought to be illegal in all 50 states. It is illegal to use a 45ACP even for deer here in Colorado. All handgun calibers need to make 550ft/lbs of energy at 50yds. The 45ACP has a hard time getting that even at the muzzle.

August 21, 2006, 09:29 PM

August 22, 2006, 09:18 AM
I have the springfield longlide v16 in .45 super, and I still wouldn't try it. Not to say it wouldn't be ethical if done properly. But I'd much rather haul my 6" .357 mag, or 4" .45 colt revolver for the task of "deer under the tree stand" hunting. It is a definite concern, if the big buck is directly under you and you cannot position your rifle in such a way as to take a shot. I'd go for the spine in the neck area with my handgun if that ever happens. Plus, with the revolver, I can put a cylinder or two of shotshell rounds for the opportunistic squirrel shot. :)

Still, if I was gonna do it, like the man said, I'd get some 255 LSWCs made for .45 colt and press them into service in a .45 super load, pushing them out at 900 give or take.

October 13, 2009, 01:07 AM
I disagree with all the posts stating that the 45 acp is not an adequate deer
cartridge. Perhaps in days gone by this round was not adequate. However recent years have seen a plethora of new generation rounds that extend all cartridges, and in particular the .45 acp into accepted deer harvest ability. I have taken two bucks, each over 175 pounds (one 220 pounds) with this cartridge without any wounding, ethical concerns, or other usual arguments to the contrary. Both were clean kills; one dropped in it's tracks and the other was a through and through lung/heart shot that enabled the deer to run 50 yards. The damage was massive: both lungs collapsed, heart/pericardium shredded, two broken ribs. i would never use a SWC or similar "old" type projectile.
Both kills were made using Double Tap ammunition with 230 gr. bonded JHP which in a 5 in. barrel presents 1010 fps with 521 foot pounds of energy (compare this to the Remington .357 mag. with 482 foot pounds). Both bullets were intact retaining over 96% of their original mass with an expanded diameter of almost twice the 45 caliber. The first deer literally was lifted almost a foot off it's feet and dropped like a bag of potatoes. Penetration in both was well over 12 inches; in the second it was 14.5 inches.
No one seems to think it's inhuman to shoot a deer with a bow and arrow, when after the shot the deer has to be tracked close to a mile. The delivered energy between a .45 acp and a bow/arrow is not even close. i have friends that regularly hunt with the venerable .45 and have all their lives with excellent results. Another popular cartridge is the Cor-Bon 45 ACP +P/185 grain which has a muzzle velocity out of a 5 in barrel of 1075 fps. The Cor-Bon is designed specifically for deer using a Barnes-X Solid Core copper jacket and base bonded to the hollow point, and shows virtually 100% retained weight with full expansion essentially 100% of the time.
These, and others, are recent additions to the .45 acp cartridge using powder and projectiles designed for hunting deer, a relatively new phenomenon. To compare these designs to others, even two years old, is an exercise in futility. The .45 has come of age for deer hunting.
That being said, like all low power combination, that being virtually any pistol (one can't compare ANY pistol with a 30-06 or a .338 Win-Mag, by definition they are low powered) limitations apply. One should never attempt a shot at a deer outside of the kill envelope, which for a .45 is usually 40 yards, and preferably less. The angle of the shot is important; no one should shoot without a broadside view with the vitals clearly seen, and no deflecting branches and such in the way. A small branch that would mean nothing to a 308 Winchester will spell disaster for a .45 acp. Most importantly, a 25 yard shoot with open sights using a pistol is NOT the same as a 45 yard shot with a scoped rifle. Common sense must rule. The hunter should also be proficient with his .45, at the target range routinly being able to hit what will be a small vital area. This kind of hunting is not for novices, or even fairly good shooters: it is for hunters that have years of experience using a .45 and are confident that they can make the shot, and also know their limitations and when to back off. No one wants a crippled wounded animal.
Most of us hunt in deer stands. Our main compitition are bow hunters, and I have seen many more deer wounded by an arrow than a .45 acp. If the above limitations are taken to heart, and the hunter makes it his/her mission to be an excellent shot using good equipment (my Kimber can shoot 3-4 inch spreads at 40 yards easy; the problem is me doing it!), a /45 within it's distance limitations is fully capable of taking down any deer in North America. The .45 acp has finally come of age as a bonafide deer hunting cartridge given the technological advances. As long as one approaches the hunt with the .45 acp's limitations in mind there is no problem; just as one wouldn't take a shot at a deer using a 30-30 at 300 yards.

October 14, 2009, 12:01 PM
I would suggest a heavy +P for sure, and if possible even some handloaded +P FMJ for the penetration. Nothing light and +P if possible.

October 14, 2009, 04:40 PM
radwjw bowhunters are not competitors. Every deer that I have hit in the vitals with an arrow has been down within 15 seconds or less and most only make it about fifty yards. Deer biology is such that when they receive a "hydrostatic shock"to their system they react by releasing adrenalin,constricting blood vessels and start building lactic acid in their tissue. On the flip side,when they recieve a low velocity penetrating wound like an antler goring, arrow hit or low expansion bullet that penetrates deeply,they release endorphins that mask pain, their blood vessels and arteries dilate(allowing faster blood loss) and often become unconscious very rapidly. I have used a 45 for deer before with super results. I used a 200gr hardcast swc at 950+fps. The deer looked like it was hit by a sledge hammer and was dead in under a minute. Full penetration. I use the same principle in my .357 with 158gr sjfp federal ammo. If you put it through the pump or a hose the deer will react much the same as an arrow hit and be down in short order. The western buffalo hunters used the technique withtheir Sharps rifle. Many buffalo would hardly move after being hit , thinking another buffalo had poked them with their horn. After a little bit they would simply collapse without spooking the other animals. Any how the 45 will do just fine with the right load. You want good penetration over expansion. Accuracy is the key. and btw archery loss of deer is nearly equal to firearms.

October 14, 2009, 05:39 PM
Range should be limited to less than 40-50 yards. I have shot 3 whitetails over the last two years with 45 acp 230 grain Federal HST +p and it works great. Is +p needed? probably not, but it worked fine. Avoid advice of a poster that stated a lighter load would be better - For hunting, a heavier bullet will do you better IMO

roy reali
October 14, 2009, 06:08 PM
Isn't there a thread somewhere here about hunters being critical of other hunters? Isn't there a thread here about anti-hunter propaganda? Wasn't this thread here started to get some advice about hunting?

Sometimes its hard keeping these threads separated in ones mind.:eek:

October 14, 2009, 06:38 PM
First off, Iowa only allows EXPANDING type bullets for their whitetail handgunning. No hardcast lead, solids of FMJ's allowed.

Second, many many deer have fallen to the lowly .45 colt. And I'm not talking Ruger Only loads but good ol' blackpowder loads. Wasn't the .45 ACP suppose to mimic .45 colt loads?

Would I use a .45 acp for deer hunting? I'd give it a whirl. I'd keep to ranges similar to that of bow hunting and use quality hot loads with a bullet like the Hornady XTP's or Speer GoldDots (in Iowa that is). In states that allow solids I'd use a hot loaded hardcast. With all .45 ACP loads, shot placement will be very very critical.

IMO, all handguns loads from the .454 on down are underpowered for big game when compared to rifles and shotguns. Doesn't stop many critters from dieing though.

Of all the post on this so far I wonder how many of the naysayers have actually used the .45 ACP for deer hunting and how many are just regurgitating internet/gunwritter BS.


roy reali
October 14, 2009, 06:42 PM
Of all the post on this so far I wonder how many of the naysayers have actually used the .45 ACP for deer hunting and how many are just regurgitating internet/gunwritter BS.

Approximately the same number that have had a Taurus blow up in their hands.

Mike U.
October 14, 2009, 09:54 PM

October 15, 2009, 09:12 PM
I have to agree with "cje1980". The silvertips are a poor choice. I shot an antelope with a 45acp and 185 grn silvertips. It took 7 well placed hits to finally weight it down with lead. All bullets failed to give adaquete penatration. The antelope only weighed 100 lbs. I would only go with the heaviest bullets and forget about expansion you want penatration not speed.

October 15, 2009, 09:29 PM
... that with large caliber bullets, some people forget that what sounds like plenty of bullet weight may not be enough sectional density for the necessary penetration.

165 or 185 gr provides plenty of sectional density in a .355 or .357 bullet, but when you realize the .45 has over 50% more surface area for the body to resist, you also realize that to get the same penetration at a given velocity you need a fair amount more mass.

Light bullets often yield greater expansion, but poor penetration.

October 15, 2009, 09:59 PM
2amencw has this "spot-on"... Mleake you must of been awake for the lesson.... Colorado Lawmakers should pull there heads out and do some real research before they start making laws that have no aplication to true knowladge.

I have to add that those that preach Muzzle Energy have no clue what really kills... This is a formula for ammo manufactures to push the latest and greatest, and the clowns that run our state depts. It is complete non-sence!! Good for misleading those that have never shot an animal.

Case in point I once shot a Whitetail doe with a 50 BMG the boolit just passed through its lungs and it raised its head and looked around. It then went back to grazing:eek: I thought I had shot high...Several minutes passed before she started acting strange and fell over.

So much for the 12,000 lbs. of muzzle energy :confused::confused::D pretty obvious that energy has little to do with it

TKO is a much better formula... V x Weight in grs.x Dia./ 7000 (gr. to the lb.)

45acp.. . 800fps x 230gr. x .452 =83168 divided by 7000= a KO value of 11.9

The 357 magnum that was taken to Wyoming and used to kill Grizzly, Moose and Elk when it first came out has a KO of 11.2 with a 158gr. at 1400fps

roy reali
October 16, 2009, 06:55 AM
I have to add that those that preach Muzzle Energy have no clue what really kills... This is a formula for ammo manufactures to push the latest and greatest, and the clowns that run our state depts. It is complete non-sence!! Good for misleading those that have never shot an animal.

One of the best, if not the best, responses about muzzle energy. Sir, you should be nominated for next year's Noble Peace Prize.;)

October 16, 2009, 07:25 AM
45 is fine as long as it is a Long Colt. ACP bullets are designed with people in mind. A 250-275 Lead Flat Nose at 1000-1100fps is dandy.

December 11, 2009, 02:24 AM
A good 230 gr hollow point +P load within 50 Yds If you are a real good shot with your 45. I reload, so I make my 45 brass out of any case in the 3006 family. I load them hot with heavy hollow points. Tried semi wadcutters once, not up to par. You have to be a GOOD SHOT with your 45. I sometimes shoot NRA silhoutte to remain one with my Colt MK IV series 70 government model 45, customized by Frank Pachmyr.

December 11, 2009, 11:57 AM
I killed this typical Michigan spike last year using a Federal 230 grain HydraShok. He weighed about 130 pounds on the hoof. Wounded by another hunter in the lower hind leg, the injury slowed him down a bit but was not at all fatal. He was getting along just fine when we pushed him into a thicket, after a 3/4 mile track. Knowing I wouldn't be able to swing my 7 mag in there, I slung it and unholstered the 1911. After pushing him back and forth a bit like a pheasant, he bolted right to left at about 10 yards. As he passed through an opening I double tapped, once in the chest, once through the gut. The round in the gut passed through, leaving massive damage and a baseball sized exit wound, the one in the chest mashed the lungs and stopped in the off side shoulder, which was recovered by the butcher. That buck took another couple of steps and went right down, it was like he got hit by a hammer.
At close range, say out to 30 yards I wouldn't hesitate to use this gun and load, but I don't recommend making a habit of going out with it as the only means to collect game.

February 11, 2010, 05:28 PM
i have killed 4 deer with a 44 pistol a 140 inch 9pt a 120 inch 10 point and 2 does it is plenty. All of them didnt run more than 40 yrds with an awesome blood trail. I also just bought a 45 1911 and i am in the process of making cast bullets and deer huntin with it. A 45 is plenty for a deer its the exact bullet my 4570 shoots but with just a shorter effective range.

February 11, 2010, 06:20 PM
Another option to take deer with a .45ACP is to get a conversion kit so you make your 1911 pistol into a carbine with 16" barrel and a stock and rails for a scope. These guys have neat kits for 1911s. http://www.mechtechsys.com/

February 11, 2010, 06:25 PM
the only bad thing about that is it takes the fun out of hunting with a pistol. i have two 44 carbines

February 11, 2010, 06:28 PM
i have a 44 super blackhawk with a nikon monarch scope. that i killed the deer with i listed above i love pistol huntin lol jus thought a 45 acp would be somethin new

February 11, 2010, 07:26 PM
You have to consider your limitations, just like any other caliber, and keep your shots within those limitations.
Just like a bowhunter that can hit a target at 75 yards repeatedly with an arrow; but a responsible hunter would never attempt to shot at deer at that range.
Be prepared to allow deer to walk on when they are past your short comfort zone range!

Big Bill
February 11, 2010, 07:43 PM
I personally wouldn't use a .45 ACP on a deer. It's not worth wounding or otherwise not making a clean kill on an animal to take a chance. Why not always use a caliber that will do the job every time?

February 11, 2010, 09:30 PM
With a 300 grain cast bullet an a reload a 45 acp will be more than enough to kill a deer AT 50 yards its not the caliber size its bullet weight an knetic energy with a hot reload. I have killed deer out to 90 yards with a 44 mag and cast bullets no prob even dropped one in its tracks so a 45 cast bullet reload ought to be plenty AT 50.

Hog Hunter
February 11, 2010, 09:43 PM
I shot a 150 lb doe last year with my M&P45 shooting federal 165 hollow points at 28 yards. Knocked her down right there she got up and ran maybe 15 yards before she fell again, didnt get back up. Later on in the season i shot maybe a 200-220 lb boar hog at maybe 15 yards(didnt have time to range.) He run about 50 yards and faceplanted! Both shots were well placed, i reckon i got lucky! I use to carry this load for personal protection, but i got trigger happy a few weeks ago on a pack of hogs and shot my last 8 federals up and two winchesters. Didnt kill but one pig that just had to hang around after i shot the first time, by the way i missed the first shot

February 11, 2010, 10:30 PM
Having only shot a few head of big game with a 45 I dont have much experence, however I strongly disagree with the gentleman that suggested Winchester 185gn Silvertips. I used then once on a 100 lb antelope and had miserable results. It took 7 rounds to put it down and it finally laid down and died slowly and inhumanely. None of the bullets exited that small thin skinned animal and most stopped after just a few inches of penatration.

XD Gunner
February 11, 2010, 11:13 PM
Also the Corbon DPX, a light all copper bullet would also do well .Despite the light weight the all copper bullets give plenty of penetration !!

The DPX is a 185 and a +P at that! I wouldn't call them "light".

Art Eatman
February 12, 2010, 10:02 AM
Back some sixty years ago, my uncle worked his cattle with an Army surplus Harley 45. "If you're not workin' it, you don't have to feed it." He didn't like horses. He had a 1911 in a GI holster that was tied to the handle bar.

From time to time, one of his little pet bucks would hang around and stare at him. So, meat in the pot. I knew he'd been casting bullets, usually just pure lead 230-grain RN. I asked him about that and his comment was, "Aw, it just sorta wraps around 'em."