Factory Ammunition

Other (Professional) Tests

You should read Why Ballisticians Get Grey first. As it shows, there are a lot of uncontrolled variables. Sometimes two guns built to the same specifications in the same factory will shoot the same lot of ammunition with a consistent 250 feet per second difference in average velocity. (See Colt Python #1 #2 and #3).

I can’t say enough good things about Ballistics by the inch. They give velocities of the same ammunition at different barrel lengths, and in real-world guns.

The ammunition vendor Lucky Gunner has done their own Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition Ballistics Test. They focus on performance in compact CCW style guns. They focus mostly on expansion/penetration in ballistic gel, but do have 5-shot-average chronograph numbers. I’m impressed!

357 Magnum

I don’t feel like I have enough experience with .357 Magnum to give a 👍/👎, unless there is an egregious problem like a failure to fire. All of my shooting has been with an oddball autoloading pistol, but the 357 is a revolver or lever-action cartridge, and should be evaluated as such.

357 Magnum, all rounds fired in a 5″ Coonan semiautomatic handgun
Ammunition Avg Vel Spread StdDev (N) Advertised Velocity Approx Drag Notes
PMC Bronze 158gr JSP (#357A) 1216 59 = 1248 – 1189 19.83 (15x) Muzzle: 1471
25 Yds: 1392
50 Yds: 1319
75 Yds: 1252
100 Yds: 1192
-2.79 at 1465 fps (R²=.997)
-2.4 at 1220fps (R²=0.99). 1100 actual at 50 yards. S137 100 yard backstop. Feed fine, but one failure to lock-back with buffer in place
Fiocchi 357 Magnum 142 Grain Full-Metal-Jacket Truncated-Cone FMJTC (357F) 1216 115 ? 1420 feet per second; 1245/1110 at 50/100 yards ? I did not record the full chronograph record to an SD card. I pulled one round: the bullet was 142.7grains with an exposed lead base, there were 8.3 grains of powder.

45 ACP

Most manufacturers over-state the velocity of their 45 ACP. Hornady and Buffalo Bore are exceptions. For back of the envelope calculations, a 1911 with today’s factory ammunition will actually shoot 230 grain ball at 800 feet per second; 775 and 850 are reasonable upper and lower bounds.

45 ACP
Ammunition Firearm Avg Vel Spread StdDev (N) Advertised Velocity Approx Drag Notes
230gr Speer Gold Dot LE Duty (#53966) 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk 857 43 = 884 – 841 15.09 (6x) 5 inch test barrel: 890/867/845/824/805 at 0/25/50/75/100 yards (-0.92 to -0.85 fps/yard). Ballistic Coefficient: 0.143 S203.
230gr Speer Gold Dot LE Duty (#53966) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 822 40 = 844 – 804 11.35 (10x) 5 inch test barrel: 890/867/845/824/805 at 0/25/50/75/100 yards (-0.92 to -0.85 fps/yard). Ballistic Coefficient: 0.143 S41.
230gr Speer Gold Dot LE Duty (#53966) 4.25″ 1911 (Kobra Carry) 810 29 = 828 – 799 10.82 (10x) 5 inch test barrel: 890/867/845/824/805 at 0/25/50/75/100 yards (-0.92 to -0.85 fps/yard). Ballistic Coefficient: 0.143 S204.
230gr Golden Saber (#GS45APB) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 847 136 = 926 – 790 31.38 (23x) “Muzzle velocity: 875 fps. Velocity at 25 yards: 853 fps. Velocity at 50 yards: 833 fps” -0.76 at 851 (R²=0.9).
-1.0 at 874fps (R=.96)
S166. Measured ~830fps at 25 yards. 👎👎. Sealant used around the primer would come off during firing, and leave O-rings of glue in the action.
ASYM Precision 230 grain FMJ Match (45N1-1) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 806 64 = 847 – 783 22.72 (9x) “Velocity: 850 fps (5 inch barrel)”. -0.7 at 800fps (R²=.865) S167. “Lot 480042”. 👎 I do not feel like this lived up to the “Extreme consistency” promise on the box, or the advertised muzzle velocity. One failure to feed from a 10 round magazine — could just be the magazine, but not a good look
ASYM Precision 230 grain FMJ Match (45N1-1) 4.25″ 1911 (Kobra Carry) 796 100 = 846 – 746 28.32 (13x) S194. Same box as above.
Sellier & Bellot FMJ – 230 gr (SB45A) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 792 27 = 806 – 779 9.09 (9x) Muzzle velocity 853fps in a 5.00 inch test barrel. 827/803/780/758 at 25/50/75/100 yards. -0.61 at 791 (R²=0.89) S178. 👍 very cheap, and yet very consistent. Muzzle velocity is over-stated, but the measured drag is less than the nominal -0.92 at 849.5 (R=0.999). The packaging on S&B has always been minimal, which I like because I can actually stack more of them in the same space than other bulk ammo. Primers are a bit harder than other ammunition, which can cause problems for “race guns”. The brass is reloadable with large pistol primers, but they take noticeably more force to seat because the pocket is cut to minimum diameter. Some people hate that, some people think it means means the brass will last longer because it takes longer for the primer pocket to stretch out of spec. I need a bench-mounted priming system to handle more than a box.
Sellier & Bellot FMJ – 230 gr (SB45A) 4.25″ 1911 (Kobra Carry) 777 58 = 800 – 742 18.02 (10x) S196.
Magtech/CBC – 45 Auto 230 Grain Full Metal Jacket 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk 821 72 = 845 – 773 18.38(18x) Muzzle velocity 837 in a 5.00 inch test barrel. 819/802/785/770 at 25/50/75/100 yards. ? S78. Same box as S79.
Magtech/CBC – 45 Auto 230 Grain Full Metal Jacket 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 807 59 = 831 – 772 21.51 (6x) Muzzle velocity 837 in a 5.00 inch test barrel. 819/802/785/770 at 25/50/75/100 yards. ? S79. Same box as S78. Very smokey — it has an exposed lead base. CBC brass isn’t the best for reloading, but it holds up better than Remington brass for me, so I can’t call it bad. 👍 if you get it at a very good price like I did. But I recommend the S&B (SB45A) all else being equal.
Magtech/CBC – 45 Auto 230 Grain Full Metal Jacket 4.25″ 1911 (Kobra Carry) 798 47 = 821 – 774 14.73(13x) Muzzle velocity 837 in a 5.00 inch test barrel. 819/802/785/770 at 25/50/75/100 yards. ? S205.
Speer Lawman 230gr TMJ FN (#53658) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 772 55 = 795 – 740 15 (13x) Muzzle velocity 830. 819/802/785/770 at 25/50/75/100 yards. Drag -0.616 fps/yard (R²=.995) -0.56 at 771 (R² = 0.81) S172. It bugs me a little that Speer seems to inflate their muzzle velocity. But it is controllable to shoot, and 👍 for a 230 grain jacketed flat nose bullet, which is hard to find. I like that design for defense against animals because it should still penetrate reliable while doing a bit more damage than a ball round. At least that’s the theory … I’ve never actually shot anything but target paper with it.
Speer Lawman 230gr TMJ FN (#53658) 4.25″ 1911 (Kobra Carry) 752 78 = 803 – 725 19.82 (17x) S195. Same box as above.
Hornady Custom 200gr XTP (#9112) 5″ 1911 (Les Baer) 931 47 = 951 – 904 13.54 (12x) Muzzle velocity 900fps. 856 at 50 yards, 817 at 100 yards. -1.42 at 930 fps (R²=0.91). -1.33 at 904 (R²=0.93) S171. 👍 Nice to see a muzzle velocity on the box that’s not inflated. But the nominal velocity-at-distance numbers are higher than my measurements. Overall pricy but high quality.

45 Colt (modern firearms)

45 Colt
Ammunition Firearm Avg Vel Spread StdDev (N) Advertised Velocity Approx Drag Notes
Double Tap 45 Colt +P 360gr. WFNGC Hardcast 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk 1124 102 = 1175 – 1073 27.91 (11x) ‘1200fps – 1151 ft./lbs. – 7.5″ bbl.
1495fps from a 16.5″ carbine
1000fps from a 2.5″ Ruger Alaskan’
-1.2 fps/yard at 1127 fps (R²=0.98) S199. Could hit 100 yard steel targets. Not much muzzle flash. Claimed 27,500 PSI. Stout recoil, I would have needed gloves if firing more than a couple cylinders.

500 Linebaugh

Fired out of a 7.5″ converted Ruger Blackhawk with Mag-na-porting.

500 Linebaugh
Ammunition Firearm Avg Vel Spread StdDev (N) Advertised Velocity Approx Drag Notes
Buffalo Bore 435 gr. L.B.T.-L.F.N. (1,300 fps/M.E.1,632 ft.lbs.) (1B) 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Ruger Blackhawk (converted) 1111 27 = 1126 – 1099 7.92 (10x) 1,300 fps -1.3 (low confidence) S211. 🤔 I’m quite surprised by the lower-than-advertised velocity from a 7.5″ barrel. Most 500 Linebaugh guns tend to be in the 5-6″ range, because the cartridge shines in packability. Buffalo Bore has a reputation for posting velocity estimates that line up with real-world firearms. So I expected slightly higher velocity, but got substantially lower. Very consistent velocity though: 1120, 1110, 1113, 1126, 1115, 1099, 1109, 1103, 1109, 1109. It is possible I had chronograph problems, since I was firing at an indoor range, and had the target close. I need to re-measure under better conditions.

12 Gauge

Hornady Critical Defense® 00 Buckshot (Item #86240). Nominal 8-Pellets at 1600 fps. I strongly suspect this is the same load as the Superformance® branded buckshot (Item #86246). I didn’t chronograph them, but they shot the same for me. The only difference is that the “Critical Defense” had black plastic hulls instead of red plastic hulls, and cost a few bucks more. I have no problem with the brand and surcharge. But I do wish the defensive line used flash suppressed powder. Both loads have significant muzzle flash from a short barrel. So far they give the most muzzle flash of any 2 3/4″ shot load I’ve fired. Otherwise they are noticeably low recoil, and really do deliver wonderfully tight patterns.

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