45 ACP GlowAmmo

Glow Ammo reloading kits are literally glow-in-the dark stickers that you put on the back of bullets, to see them in flight. It sounds silly. But it really works at dusk or an indoor range! You can get some really cool slow-motion video with just an iPhone.

I don’t actually see any training value in the product. The bullets are still fast. So in the best-case you only perceive an instestanious-line tracing from the muzzle to the target. …which isn’t actually more information than you get by watching the sights or muzzle at the moment the trigger breaks… And as the shooter the muzzle-flash and recoiling gun generally block out bullet’s flightpath. But more importantly regular bullets leave holes where they hit … it’s not a mystery where the bullet went, or how it got there. Having one more distraction doesn’t make calling shots easier.

That said, I highly endorse this product. It works. It’s safe and affordable. It’s fun. It’s educational — even if that knowledge isn’t practical. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll get the chance to use it on a 600 yard range at dusk and learn something I couldn’t see any other way.

Cartridge: 45 ACP

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: TiteWad 3.5 grains (source, I used a different primer)

Cartridge Length: 1.2130 – 1.2175

Bullet: 185 Grain Hornady XTP.

Velocity: Nominal 750, unmeasured

Notes: These had a pretty good glow effect. The XTP bullets have a very flat base, which helps the GlowAmmo adhere. GlowAmmo recommends a fast powder, and TiteWad is about the fastest I can find.

45 “Cowboy” Special

45 Cowboy Special (or sometimes just 45 Special) is a 45 ACP case, with a 45 Colt rim. The 45 Colt rim is smaller than the rim on a 45 Auto Rim. This lets it feed in many cowboy-action guns and use common 45 ACP load data. The smaller case-capacity means better performance with light loads, which is why I am interested in it.

Factory Ammunition

I found a source for factory “American Cowboy Ammo” .45 Special. Specifications: “180 Grain Round Nose Flat Point” at 475 feet per second. I disassembled a loaded round and the bullet weighed 183.5 grains actual, over 4.4 grains of mystery powder. Unfortunately the factory rounds would not reliably chamber in my Ruger Blackhawk 45 ACP cylinder. I believe they were hanging up on the bullet nose. Only about half would fit in an EGW chamber gauge. Rounds that fit would not always chamber. Everything chambered fine in a 45 Colt cylinder.

Firing Record on 3/7/2017 at Sunnyvale Rod & Gun ~ 55℉ outside

Firearm 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk with a 45 Colt cylinder

LabRadar Series: 68

Velocity: 485fps avg (555,513,526,472,576,347,450,435,488)

Spread: 576 – 347 = 229fps

Std Dev: 69.45 fps (9 shots)

Approximate Drag Coefficient: -0.64 fps/yard

Notes: Very light recoil, very quiet report, but significant unburned powder. Power Factor ~90 or only double the recoil of a .22lr.

Hand Loads

After firing the factory ammunition I uniformed the flash holes on the brass.

Bullets: 165 grain DEWC from Matt’s Bullets (Seated Flush by using an expander die, taper crimp in separate step.)

Primer: Rem 2 1/2

Powder: 0.7cc (Lee Dipper) Trail Boss

Brass: 1x Fired

Firearm 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk with a 45 ACP cylinder

Velocity: 764fps

Spread: 784-748.5 = 35.5fps

Std Dev: 13.44 fps (6 shots)

LabRadar Series: 71

Notes: Clean burning. Clean holes. Mild recoil, but not recoil-free (~125 PF).

165 grain DEWC from Matt’s Bullets, seated flush, taper crimp. Fired in a 5.5″ Ruger Blackhawk with a 45 ACP cylinder. Velocity in feet per second.
Avg Vel Spread StdDev N Charge Primer LabRadar # Notes
766 799-747=52 20.5 6 3.0 Red Dot Rem 2 1/2 S97 Smelly
764 784-748.5=35.5 13.44 6 0.7cc Trail Boss Rem 2 1/2 S71 Accurate and good holes
591 615-546=68 30.4 5 0.5cc Trail Boss Rem 2 1/2 S99 Smelly
517 554-494=60 32 3 2.0gr Clays WLP S98 “Crackling” burning powder in air. Some holes were not clean. Some shots were silent with no hole, but clear bore.
411 6 3.1 3 1.5gr Clays WLP S100 No crackeling
580 603-551=52 16.9 12 2.0gr TiteWad (3BR #18) WLP S104 Unburned powder in case
467 480.5-452.5=28 14 3 1.5gr TiteWad (3BR #15.25) WLP S105 Unburned powder in case

The “Geezer Load”

While looking for very soft-shooting 45 ACP loads, I saw “The Geezer Load” recommended a few times.

“So, here’s the scoop on the Geezer Load. Using mixed cases, with Winchester large pistol primers, and
Berry’ 185gr. HBRN bullet, a charge of 4.3-4.4 grains of Hodgdon’s Clays gives a velocity 758fps. The finished
rounds are loaded to an OAL of 1.250” and are crimped to .468”. The load is as close to 100% reliable
as it can be in my full size 1911 Government model pistols when they are run with 16lb. recoil springs.”
John Markwell

I double-checked a second source for safety. Hodgdon says that a Fed 150 Primer + Winchester brass + 185 GR. HDY JSWC + COL 1.135″ gives:

4.5gr Clays 855fps @ 14,500 CUP

4.9gr Clays 981 @ 17,000 CUP

I did: Mixed “Brass Guys” brass, Winchester WLP, 4.3 grains of Clays (first individually weighed, then #45 on the Redding 3BR), Berry’ 185gr. HBRN, OAL of 1.2650″, to match the OAL of Magtech 230 grain hardball. I used a lighter crimp. I figured that I could always seat deeper or add more crimp later if needed.

Firearm: Les Baer 5″ 1911

Date/Location: 5/13/2017 at approx 7:30 PM at Sunnyvale Rod & Gun Club

LabRadar Series: 92

Velocity: 755 fps avg (777, 713, 742, 776, 755, 739, 691, 797, 762, 733, 808, 773)

Spread: 808 – 691 = 117fps

StdDev:33.9 (12 shots)

Notes: Did cycle the the firearm, although I may try a shorter OAL next time, since with some magazines the feel of letting the slide down could have been smoother. Somewhat dirty — I will consider upping the charge for a better chamber-seal if there is gas blow-back. Power-factor looks about equal to 9mm. The spread is unfortunate. Pretty neat that my average speed was so close to Markwell’s figure.


Hodgdon Clays A very fast shotgun/pistol powder with a narrow velocity range that is optimized for clean and light-recoiling target loads.

Bottom line: 👍 so far.


  • Bulky (low density, high case-fill, only 14 ounces in a “1 pound” container).
  • Very good metering in Redding 3BR.
  • Small charges means a can lasts a long time.
  • Load data available for different calibers
  • Clean burning and good Std Dev possible with light felt recoil


  • Narrow range of safe charges.
  • Can’t make more powerful ammunition
  • “One Pound” can holds 14 ounces.

Density (per Lee dipper chart) 6.8 grains/cc

Redding 3BR Pistol Insert

pistol_insert_number ≈ Grains/0.0938 – 1

Grains Thrown ≈ 0.0938(pistol_insert_number + 1)

Pistol Insert # Grains Thrown 10x Throws (Grains)
35 3.4 33.3 (variable)
31 3.0 30.2
41 3.9 ???
42 4.05 ???
45 4.3 ???
48 4.5 44.9
50 4.8 ???

Hodgen Universal

Hodgdon Universal “…handles the broadest spectrum of cartridges”. Sometimes called Universal Clays. It is the “Clays” (cleaner burning) branded version of the classic propellent Unique.

Bottom Line: Good, but I haven’t found a reason to buy it again.

There’s no niche it fills for me. The flipside of being universal is that everything it does another powder does.


  • Lots of load data for many different cartridges.


  • Lots of unburned powder at light/starting loads.

Density (per Lee dipper chart) 9.1 grains/cc

Redding 3BR Pistol Insert

Grains Thrown ≈ 0.115 × pistol_insert_number + 0.34

Pistol # ≈ (grains – 0.34) / 0.115

Pistol Insert # Grains Thrown 10x Throws (Grains)
20 2.6 26.1
44 5.5 53.6
47 5.6 57.3
48 5.8- 58.2
50 6.1 60.4
55 6.6 66.0
60 7.2 71.1
99 11.7 116.8

Pink Bullets in 45 ACP

Bullet: 200 GR RN Polycoat Bullet from Eggleston Munitions in Pink.

Primer: Rem 2 1/2

Powder: 1.0cc Trail Boss ≈ 4.4 ± 0.2 grains

Cartridge Overall Length: 1.240″

Brass: Mixed 5x fired

Firearm 5″ 1911; Les Baer

Velocity: 774 fps (10 shot avg)

Spread: 804-734 = 70fps

Std Dev: 25.26 fps

LabRadar Series: 69

Notes: 👍 Unfortunately the pink bullet seems to be discontinued. Or only sometimes available. The coating did flake more than I’d like in shipping, leaving spots of exposed lead. Weight was pretty consistent, 200 – 203 grains.

Mild recoil. Quite report. Still cycled a couple 1911s.

Their load data shows 1.225″ COL for 200 GR RN Polycoat Bullet. I initially had a longer OAL of 1.255″, to be conservative about pressure. This shot fine in the one and only 1911 I tested, but after acquiring a chamber-gauge, I realized the rounds did not chamber in it. Seating deeper to (1.240″ COL) fixed the problem. I also crimped aggressively, but the COL was the true fix.

Powder: 5.8gr H. Universal

Velocity: 864fps avg

Spread: 911 – 809 = 102fps

Std Dev: 37 fps (12 shots)

LabRadar Series: 91

Notes: 👎 Stronger recoil than Trail Boss, but noticeably less than standard 230 grain loads.

Blue Dot + 500 Linebaugh

Cartridge: 500 Linebaugh

Firearm: Converted Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Barrel

Powder: Blue Dot 18.0 grains, individually weighted

Bullet: 420gr Hunter’s Supply

Primer: CCI 350 Large Pistol Magnum

LabRadar series: 82

Shooting Record: 4/12/2017 @ Sunnyvale Rod & Gun

Velocity: 1180 fps average (7 shots)

Spread: 1193 – 1171 = 22fps

Std Dev: 7 fps (7 shots)

Drag Coefficient: -1.56 fps/yard over first 60 yards

Notes: Taffin Test data shows 18-20 grains of Blue Dot for “LBT #512.440 LFN (445 Grains)” with 18 grains giving “1037fps from a 5 1/2″ barrel.”

A LOT of recoil, but noticeably less than 525grain @ 980fps load. Lot of smoke. Low flash. I had poor accuracy, but I attribute it to poor control — I hadn’t shot this big of a bore in a while, and the smoke made it difficult to see POI corrections. No signal on bullet pull — I single loaded.

Primers were starting to look flat. No unburned powder. I am not comfortable increasing this charge without more data, and recommend starting lower.

TrailBoss + 500 Linebaugh

Cartridge: 500 Linebaugh

Firearm: Converted Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Barrel

Powder: Trail Boss 2.2cc Lee dipper ≈ 9.4grains ± 0.2

Bullet: 420gr Hunter’s Supply

Primer: Winchester WLP

LabRadar series: 81

Shooting Record: 5 shots, 4/11/2017 @ Sunnyvale Rod & Gun, between 8 and 9 PM

Velocity: 768 fps

Spread: 778.6 – 757.4 = 21 fps

StdDev: 8.12fps

Drag Coefficient: -0.56 fps/yard over first 60 yards

Notes: Recoil was very controllable, no pain at all, I could make 100 yard hits repeatably. Winchester WLP primer helps identify light loads.

Although very slow, 420 grains × 768 feet per second = 240 grains × 1,344 feet per second, which approximates 44 magnum factory ammunition. And there was much less muzzle blast than with a 44 magnum. I was fortunate enough to be able to setup my chronograph at the 100 yard steel, and the LabRadar indicates that velocity-loss was pretty good for a pistol order of 1 fps lost for 6 feet of travel.


I only got data to 60 yards. But extrapolating to 100 yards, the slug would still be moving at about 710fps — still a “Power Factor” of ~300.

Blue Dot + 45 Colt

Bottom line: 👎 in this caliber. There are more consistent powders for moderate 45 Colt loads. There are safer powders for heavy loads. I’ll finish the rest of the canister in 500 Linebaugh or 45 ACP.

Cartridge: 45 Colt

Firearm: Ruger Blackhawk, 5.5″ Barrel

Powder: Blue Dot 13gr±0.5 (high variation from using rifle-insert in measure)

Bullet:260gr Lyman #454424 from Matt’s Bullets

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

LabRadar series: S61

Shooting Record: 2017-03-07, evening, approx 55 Fahrenheit, 12 shots

Velocity (12 shots): Average 1060fps, ES 1087-1015=72fps, StdDev 22.4fps

Notes: stiff recoil — not pleasant, but not yet painful with gloves on. Lots of smoke.

Charge was max for 14kPSI with 260 grain jacketed per Alliant data. Note that charge is above max (by 0.1 grain) for 250gr Lead SWC in Speer #12. Assume it is +P and unsafe, until proven otherwise. QuickLOAD predicts 921fps @ 13.7kPSI. But clearly we got more than that, so something’s up! I tried estimating the pressure by increasing the powder charge in QuickLOAD until I got a velocity of 1060fps, which happened at an estimated 19kPSI.

Bullet: 230 grain “Softball!” (actually Brinell 18) Hi-Tek coated from Missouri Bullet Co

LabRadar series: S62

Other details identical as “S61” above.

Velocity (6 shots): Average 1053fps, ES 1086 – 1023 = 63fps, StdDev 22.3fps

Notes: Recoil was noticeably less than 260 grain load, much much less smoke.

Brass: Starline 1x fired

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: Blue Dot 12.9gr (Indv. Weighed)

Bullet: 250gr Lead SWC (Speer #4684)

Crimp: Lee Factory Crimp (moderate)

LabRadar Series: 86

Velocity: 1028 nominal, 1019 actual. ES 1043 – 996 = 47fps, StdDev 14.8fps (13 shots)

Notes: Speer LSWC Bullets are very consistent, ±1 grain or less. Charge is maximum in Speer #12. I took my time weighing each charge, so I could test if Blue Dot is a consistent powder — since my early loads above might have just shown inconsistent powder-measuring + variability in casting.