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Old June 10, 2024, 08:00 AM   #1
Shadow9mm
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Video, 1911 ball ammo for defensive use?

This video is of a Sheriffs Deputy making a traffic stop. During the traffic stop the officer temporarily takes a couple weapons from the driver. One of those is a 1911 loaded with ball ammo. The comments are going hard on how disappointed the officer seemed when he saw the ball ammo, and how the ball ammo was a bad choice.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/9QfPazB0xTU

In a 1911, in 45 auto, is ball ammo a bad choice for self defense?

1. The 1911 is not knows for feeding HP well, or at all in some cases.
2. 45 auto ball ammo worked well in WW2.
3. Even with hollow point ammo you can miss, or have over penetration and or failures to expand. Meaning regardless of ammo type you must follow the firearms safety rule of knowing tour target and what's beyond it.

What do you think, is all the hate for ball ammo, in this specific case, justified?
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Old June 10, 2024, 09:34 AM   #2
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Quote:
1. The 1911 is not knows for feeding HP well, or at all in some cases.
Yeah, if you have a pre-1980s 1911, it may have hollowpoint issues. I have a bunch of 1911 pattern guns and the only ones that don't feed ball ammo well are a WWI actual 1911 and a 1970s AMT Hardballer.

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2. 45 auto ball ammo worked well in WW2.
Did it? People make this claim all the time, but how well did it really work? It was the best pistol caliber going at the time, but was it really all that good? In 1940, a car that could go as fast as 80 mph was considered a really fast car of the day, but that would not be considered very good, today. Compared to what we have now, ball ammo is far inferior to hollowpoint for self defense use and cars of 1940 are much slower than cars of 2024, right? Amputations were the best way to survive most serious/infected appendicular battlefield ballistic wounds during the Civil War. Should we continue the practice today?
Mustkets were the best and most effective self defense gun going for the Revolutionary War. Should we be given them to our troops instead of the new 6.8? How about for home defense? If we follow the logic that "it worked good back then" meaning it is just as effective today, then of course, we should run with the older, simpler technology, but is effectiveness really the same? No, of course not.

The point here is that being good back in the day isn't the same as being good today. The standards of shifted greatly.

Quote:
3. Even with hollow point ammo you can miss, or have over penetration and or failures to expand. Meaning regardless of ammo type you must follow the firearms safety rule of knowing tour target and what's beyond it.
Not a point relevant any more to 1911 .45 acp than to any other handgun caliber. Or put another way, the same argument detracts from every other handgun and handgun caliber equally. Yes, you can miss with hollowpoints just like with ball ammo. That is on the shooter, not the caliber. You have misunderstood cause and effect for the issue of "good choice for self defense." Some people are not good choices for self defense even if they have a good gun/caliber/bullet type

Quote:
What do you think, is all the hate for ball ammo, in this specific case, justified?
Well, ball ammo is the absolute best choice if that is all that will run in your gun or that is all you have. Otherwise, hollowpoint ammo is the preferred self defense option for a variety of reasons.
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Old June 10, 2024, 09:51 AM   #3
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9mm hollow-point, if it expands, may reach a diameter of .45 inches.

.45 ACP, if it doesn't expand, makes a hole of at least .45 inches.
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Old June 10, 2024, 12:21 PM   #4
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First point, what worked in the past STILL WORKS today. Just because we have things that work better, today, (or seem to) does not change the fact that the older stuff still works as well as it ever did.

Next point is the implied idea that using something other than the most efficient bullet (or whatever) will be the cause of failure, and some go so far as to claim you will die, Die, DIE unless you use what they recommend.

When they go in the right spot, non-expanding bullets do work. Expanding bullets do too, and their "right spot" is SLIGHTLY larger because they expand, but only slightly, and only IF they expand as designed.

The military runs hardball because it is the most reliable feeding ammo under any and all conditions. Also because we honor the Hague Convention, but that is a political choice.

I know of a guy who had to defend his life with ball ammo, twice. One time was with a .45 and the other with a 9mm. Based on his results, he rated them equally as their performance for him, was the same. "I shot the guy twice, and he fell down. Both times."
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:19 PM   #5
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( In 1940, a car that could go as fast as 80 mph was considered a really fast) don't forget back in 1940 most roads were still "DIRT" and i can testify that these stiff suspension roadsters doing 80mph on a dirt road usually end up smashed against something.

but to the OP's Q: is ball ammo good for self defense in the 1911?

far better than 22lr from a short tube, and more than enough to get the job done.
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:36 PM   #6
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It was certainly adequate for Sgt. York!
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:37 PM   #7
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that's exactly the story i had in mind.
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:59 PM   #8
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When I was a Private E2 in the US Army the only 1911 I could afford was the one they gave me. I shot a lot of civilian ammo through that pistol. Once I really splurged and bought a box of Speer Lawman, the 200 grain flying ashtray. They came in a plastic box of 25. I shot 14 of them in my issue 1911 and they worked fine. I kept 7 more in my magazine on duty, in my belt mag case, in case somebody wanted to inspect my weapon. I also ran my own handloads of a 185 grain JHP and a max charge of Blue Dot or Unique. The profile of this bullet was like hardball but with a hole in the nose. I think they were made by Remington. I never did an expansion test. I also shot some 185 grain Target Match, no spring change or anything, and they worked fine too. I had an E7 who did 3 years in Vietnam, air cav, he was in the Battle of the I Drang valley. During an NVA human wave attack he was using two 1911’s, with hardball. He said every time he pulled the trigger he put a guy’s d**k in the dirt. He was very confident in 45 hardball.
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Old June 10, 2024, 04:14 PM   #9
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The 1911 can usually be tuned up to feed everything well........but you may have to go to a smith who specializes in 1911s.

Ball ammo is almost as good as most hollowpoints.

It does expand sometimes.......or at least flattens out a bit on the nose to do a little more damage.

That's why the .45 has a good reputation as a self defense round.

As always........if you want reliability without tinkering........Glock DOES sell .45 ACP models, large and small.
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Old June 10, 2024, 05:38 PM   #10
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deputy

Without seeing the video, I bet the deputy in question was less than 30 yrs old!

In the past 20 yrs, and certainly in the past 10, the 1911 and ball ammo have become pretty much the whipping boy of the defensive pistol crowd. Nothing labels you more of a fudd/dud than commenting favorably on either one. Perhaps this seems more common since we have public mechanism's to do so these days when we did not prior. But with the advent of "modern" expanding ammo and the FBI telling us (retelling?) us it's all the cartridge you need, bashing .45acp and GI ball seems more prevalent to me. The "two World Wars" cry is bantered about as if it were nothing but an airsoft game.

Expanding ammo within accepted parameters has always been recognized as superior to ball in any caliber. The issue has been to obtain that expansion, and still maintain adequate penetration. They say these days we have accomplished that. I listened to one ammo executive boast that "now, we can make a bullet do anything we want it to".........really? In a constant medium like gel perhaps, maybe even every time. But in flesh , blood and bone......I wonder.

GI .45 ball offers reliable penetration to vital organs, central nervous system and major skeletal bones I would hazard to suggest......with every shot. The wound channel it creates in gel is not impressive but the penetration it offers is consistent. Ball ammo eliminates any issue of feeding reliability. If your pistol does not feed ball.....you've got issues that need corrected.

To sidestep ball ammo alleged ineffectiveness, many 1911 shooters will load a JHP round in the chamber, followed by ball ammo in the magazine. Another approach is to shoot an "improved" FMJ shape, as in the truncated cone bullet offered by Hornady for some years. Another option was to load a hot LSWC in the chamber, followed by ball in the magazine. While gel tests seem to indicate that the truncated and SWC designs offer no improvement in wound channels, reports from the field from sportsman shooting game animals with the same bullet designs seem to indicate they are an improvement over RN styles.

While I do not do so in other calibers, I have no reservations in loading ball .45acp ammo for defensive purposes. I have little doubt that a round well placed will reach and damage vital organs. The fact that it was successfully used by the US military and LE for many years in actual gunfights is a comfort and not a point of mockery with me. Others can (and will) do as they please......I'm good.
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Old June 10, 2024, 07:03 PM   #11
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Militarily, hard ball is becoming moot in the US.
The US military is now beginning to use hollow point pistol ammo as standard issue.

We never signed the Hague Accords, and our position today is that hollow point pistol ammo is safer around non-combatants and will reduce the need for follow up shots that do more damage.

Standard 230 grain hard ball .45 ammo has had an excellent reputation since 1912 and into the recent Sand Wars.
However, modern expanding bullets are proven better.
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Old June 10, 2024, 07:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shadow9mm
1. The 1911 is not knows for feeding HP well, or at all in some cases.
1911's have been made for well over a century by a myriad of different manufacturers. Some don't feed HP well (or at all) and some feed it just fine. If you have a 1911 of quality manufacture, made in the last 30-40 years, and use quality ammo and magazines it will probably run HP ammunition just fine.

Quote:
2. 45 auto ball ammo worked well in WW2.
"Worked well" is a relative term. Yes, it worked well in comparison to other common handgun ammunition of the time. In the 1940's, pretty much all ammunition intended to be shot in an autoloading pistol was loaded with round-nosed FMJ ammunition because that's pretty much all the autoloading pistols of the day would reliably function with. With revolvers you got a little more variety like wadcutter and semi-wadcutter bullets, but LRN was still the most common and expanding bullets of any sort were still quite rare. Of all the handgun cartridges used in WWII, .45 ACP was one of the largest and most powerful and nearly everything used non-expanding bullets. So, compared to it's peers in WWII, .45 ACP FMJ could said to have worked "as well as any and better than most."

While it is true that .45 ACP FMJ works today as well as it ever did, there are certainly things that work better. About the only good reasons I can think of to use .45 ACP FMJ ammunition are that your only available handgun won't function reliably with anything else, JHP ammunition is for some reason unavailable to you, or you live in a jurisdiction that prohibits the possession or use of expanding bullets.

Quote:
3. Even with hollow point ammo you can miss, or have over penetration and or failures to expand. Meaning regardless of ammo type you must follow the firearms safety rule of knowing tour target and what's beyond it.
A common misconception about hollow point ammunition is that when it fails to expand it "turns into FMJ." HP bullets are often lighter than their FMJ counterparts and even if the same weight they have a different center of gravity. This means that while a HP that fails to expand will almost certainly penetrate more than if it had expanded, it's more likely to yaw and thus not show the very deep, very narrow "ice pick" type wound channel of FMJ. Also, many times HP bullets that people say "failed to expand" didn't actually fail completely, they just exhibited very little expansion. It is not uncommon to see a JHP bullet that has its nose expand to the same diameter as the base of the bullet taking on a similar profile to a backwards HBWC. While the diameter of the bullet remains unchanged, the nose will have much more surface area and thus display less penetration than a FMJ which is unlikely to have any sort of expansion or deformation at all unless it hits something harder than itself.

Yes, the basic rules of firearms safety apply regardless of what type of ammunition you're using. However, hollowpoint ammunition greatly reduces the likelihood of overpenetration from that of FMJ and in increase in terminal effect of hollowpoint ammunition means that you're less likely to have to fire as many shot to achieve the desired outcome and thus the chances of missed shots and overpenetration are reduced due to the reduced volume of fire.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dfariswheel
We never signed the Hague Accords, and our position today is that hollow point pistol ammo is safer around non-combatants and will reduce the need for follow up shots that do more damage.
This is true and, in addition, as I understand it the Hague Accords were only binding between fellow signatory powers in an officially declared war. Congress has not issued a Declaration of War since WWII and we haven't been at war, declared or otherwise, with a signatory power since WWII. Even if we had signed the Hague Accords, they would not prohibit us from shooting Viet Cong or Taliban with JHP ammunition.

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Old June 10, 2024, 08:20 PM   #13
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Yes, but then you have to put up with it being a Glock!

Every 1911A1 pattern gun I've ever had (around a dozen or so over the years) that wasn't a Frankenstein built of parts from who knew where, was dead nuts reliable with ball ammo. Most were usable with JHP ammo, and several fed SWC slugs without modifications.

And, they all did it with what is, for me, a better grip angle, better trigger, and better safety than any Glock I've ever shot, handled, or heard of.
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Old June 10, 2024, 08:22 PM   #14
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Webleymkv; i take occasion with the statement "a FMJ which is unlikely to have any sort of expansion or deformation at all unless it hits something harder than itself"

a harder than self object is never needed to deform things. only speed is needed.

fire 22lr hp streight down into water, they expand/deform. the water is most definitely not harder than the lead the bullet is made of. while no one here is arguing that fmj work as well or better than hp on humans, the deformation statement is a bit over the top.

while i agree that most fmj's do not seem to deform "much" when hitting skin/flesh/soft tissue, when closely examined one may see another story.

at any rate; the OP asked "In a 1911, in 45 auto, is ball ammo a bad choice for self defense?"

short answer is NO.

longer answer is while there are probably better choices, 45acp ball ammo is sufficent to stop an aggressor with.

(What do you think, is all the hate for ball ammo, in this specific case, justified?)

not at all. why "hate" anything? maybe suggest a better option than that being considered, but hate a thing that has worked for it's purpose as long as 1911 ball ammo. that makes no sense at all.

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Old June 10, 2024, 08:54 PM   #15
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I'm old and honestly the odds of my ever getting is a self defense shooting in my remaining lifetime are pretty close to zilch. Also I have more ball ammo than money to buy other ammo so ball suits my assessed needs.
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Old June 10, 2024, 10:49 PM   #16
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A civilian pulling a gun in self defense is much different than a police officer or a military fire fight. How many actual civilian self defense shootings involved failure to stop a criminal if they actual hit them?.
I would wager it's a very small number, I have seen a number of videos of when someone pulls a gun and starts shooting the bad guys run if they are hit or not. Criminals are generally want soft easy marks. I don't think a crook is going to hang around to see what rounds are begin shot at them. I have no issues carrying FMJ in my hanfguns
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Old June 11, 2024, 12:45 AM   #17
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A FMJ bullet, fired straight down into water will not expand unless it is going insanely fast.
a .22 LR expands because it's soft lead.
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Old June 11, 2024, 12:52 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by georgehwbush
Webleymkv; i take occasion with the statement "a FMJ which is unlikely to have any sort of expansion or deformation at all unless it hits something harder than itself"

a harder than self object is never needed to deform things. only speed is needed.

fire 22lr hp streight down into water, they expand/deform. the water is most definitely not harder than the lead the bullet is made of. while no one here is arguing that fmj work as well or better than hp on humans, the deformation statement is a bit over the top.
There are a few issues here you're overlooking. First of all, yes, propel a bullet fast enough and it will deform even from hitting a very soft target, or, under the right conditions, no target at all. One of the reasons that high-velocity .22 caliber centerfire cartridges like .22-250 and .220 Swift have relatively slow twist rates like 1:14 in their barrels is because at the extremely high velocities that they're propelling their bullets (around 4,000 fps) a faster twist rate would cause the rather light cup-and-core bullets they were originally designed to shoot to fragment in mid air from the centrifugal force imparted on them. We are, however, talking specifically about handgun bullets and handgun bullets travel nowhere near that velocity. Very few handgun cartridges exceed 1500 fps and many, including .45 ACP, don't even exceed 1,000 fps in their most common loadings.

Secondly, a .22 HP, or any HP bullet for that matter, relies on hydraulic pressure within the HP cavity to cause its deformation and expansion. This requires much less velocity to initiate deformation than in a non-expanding bullet like FMJ or even other expanding bullet designs like JSP.

Finally, a .22 LR makes a rather poor example because very few .22 LR loadings use FMJ or any sort of jacketed bullet at all. Most .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle ammunition is loaded with either plain lead bullets or lead bullets which are copper washed or copper plated. While copper plating does provide a harder bullet than just lead, the layer of copper is much thinner and less resistant to deformation than a true FMJ as is commonly loaded in .45 ACP and other centerfire handgun calibers. If you look at what a .22 Magnum, which actually does have loadings with a true jacketed bullet, does when fired into water you will find that even from a rifle it will often display little or no deformation if a non-expanding bullet is used.
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Old June 11, 2024, 09:48 AM   #19
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Having dug GI 230gr ball out of 80 yr old locust fence posts (VERY hard stuff) and finding the only change to the bullet was the rifling engraved into the jacket, and a very small flat spot on the tip, I'd say they are pretty hard slugs.

Here are a few points to consider,

Since people have been shot with the .45 since it was invented, now well over the century mark, and since that century + has included the two largest wars in recorded history, and numerous smaller wars where the .45ACP was the primary handgun (and SMG) round of US forces, if it didn't work, at least acceptably well in GI configuration, where are the reports of its failures??

There ought to be volumes by now. Where are they??

Next point, there is no way to exactly duplicate shot results in live tissue. Each and every shot is going to have unique factors. Every shooting has a plethora of unique factors. These factors can and do affect the results.

One can use ballistic gel, or other uniformly replicated medium, observe the results, and be reasonably sure of performance, based on that, but only reasonably sure, not positively certain.

Another point to consider, those people who take the biggest, most dangerous game generally shoot "solids". NON EXPANDING bullets.

The idea, of course is that the bullet has to penetrate deeply through tough hide, thick flesh and heavy bone. If this didn't work, it would be pretty obvious in short order and people would stop using them. That's not the case.

A lot of my handgun shooting is done using cast bullets, and in particular hard cast bullets that do not expand (and often don't really deform) and in my experience if they don't work, its because I didn't place the shot correctly.

IF your gun shoots expanding bullet ammo well, and reliably, AND the bullets perform reliably, there is no reason not to use it. Just be aware that no matter what the makers claim, nothing works 100% perfectly, 100% of the time. There is no magic bullet, and, no free lunch.
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Old June 11, 2024, 09:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
longer answer is while there are probably better choices, 45acp ball ammo is sufficent to stop an aggressor with.
Of course it is. Oddly enough, .17 hmr ball has been known to stop aggressors as has .25 acp and .22 lr. These will all stop aggressors and have a track record substantiating as much, but they won't all do it equally well. We don't have an established performance cutoff of what is or isn't good enough performance, but all of these calibers are sufficient to stop an aggressor with ball ammo. However, without this line of demarcation between good enough and non good enough performance, what we are talking about are better choices, about that you spot on. Part of the reason the sheriff's deputy was disappointed with the ball ammo is that there are better choices. It may be hard to imagine, but bullet performance/technology has improved over the last few hundred years and probably with the most notable improvements in the last 50 years or so. For self defense work in doing tissue damage, hollowpoint ammo is a better performer overall than ball ammo.

Quote:
I'm old and honestly the odds of my ever getting is a self defense shooting in my remaining lifetime are pretty close to zilch. Also I have more ball ammo than money to buy other ammo so ball suits my assessed needs.
So because you have virtually no needs, ball ammo works well for you? Solid logic, hilarious, but solid.
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Old June 11, 2024, 10:44 AM   #21
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Correct. When one doesn't need a gun, the ammo in the unneeded gun doesn't matter. The logic is perfect.
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Old June 11, 2024, 11:05 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy View Post
So because you have virtually no needs, ball ammo works well for you? Solid logic, hilarious, but solid.
Kinda sorta. The reality is we each face differing needs and conditions. For example, where I currently live there were a total of 6 gun related homicides over the four year period between 2020 and 2023. In addition, as I pointed out but you excluded from your reply, I have more 45acp ball ammo than money to buy the current hollow point du jour. I'm in my 80s so even under armageddon scenarios I will likely have more ammo than I would use.

Further, I feel relatively comfortable with the reliability, usability, repeatability and accuracy of any and all of the firearms I own and carry and feel equally protected whether it is my 32 S&W Long Regulation Police or my Colt Detective Special or a 1911 5" or the S&W 59 or Sig 226 or for that matter one of my 22LR. In fact today and at least tomorrow (Wheelgun Wednesday) I will carry my S&W model 19 but with 148 gr full wadcutters.

So when I post a response to a question I can only honestly address what I find works for me. I don't say others should not prefer different selection and perhaps if I were not old and on fixed income with more disposable funds and less inventory on hand I might find the latest flying ashtray round my choice.

But I doubt it.
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Old June 11, 2024, 11:36 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
Having dug GI 230gr ball out of 80 yr old locust fence posts (VERY hard stuff) and finding the only change to the bullet was the rifling engraved into the jacket, and a very small flat spot on the tip, I'd say they are pretty hard slugs.
One thing to remember is that there can be a lot of differences in different brands of ammo.

I think it was Paul Harrell and his "meat target" that found some expansion of (I think it was Federal) .45 ball ammo.
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Old June 11, 2024, 08:26 PM   #24
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It may be hard to imagine, but bullet performance/technology has improved over the last few hundred years and probably with the most notable improvements in the last 50 years or so. For self defense work in doing tissue damage, hollowpoint ammo is a better performer overall than ball ammo.
Better than ball (FMJ)?? I don't hear anyone saying it isn't. Absolutely HP ammo is a better performer than ball, A) when it works as intended (and they have gotten quite good at that in recent decades), and B) when, on those rare occasions, it doesn't, it's essentially the same as ball ammo.

Point here is not that there isn't better ammo than ball, or that ball is better in the target than HP, but that Ball ammo still works as well as it did when it was cutting edge technology.

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Old June 11, 2024, 11:27 PM   #25
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In Army days, stateside was where most of 45 was shot on ranges. Never knew personally of failure of GI ball to feed. The biggest feed problems were caused by bent magazine in country only 45 firing I saw was idiots shooting into the dark at FBs. Mags are weakest link in 1911 function
I carry Ball in all mine. I don’t feel a designer bullet is needed.
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