As I am partial to .45 ACPs, I welcomed the opportunity to take two loadings of Black Hills Ammunition ammo to the range.
The ammo for my evaluation included the 200 grain Match Semi-Wadcutter (SWC) and the 230-grain FMJ, packaged in 20-round boxes. My two pistols are a Glock 30 and a S&W 4553TSW.
Founded in 1981, Black Hills Ammunition is based in Rapid City, SD, and offers a wide range of handgun ammo. Website ballistics for the loads I tested showed the 200-grain SWC with a velocity of 875 fps and energy of 340 foot pounds. The 230-grain FMJ showed a velocity of 850 fps and energy of 369 foot pounds.
The Glock is a compact with a 10-round magazine. The Smith is a law-enforcement issue with a seven-round magazine and is out of production. All metal, the pistol weighs 28.6 ounces empty, so a heavy compact.
I first fired three rounds of .45 ACP Remington 230-grain FMJs through each pistol, with a two-handed hold (my definition of “gun control”). Then, for each loading and pistol, I moved a Midway USA pistol target to 21 feet and shot five rounds. I repeated that again for verification with a new ammo box, allowing for one flyer each time. The results for the target work were almost identical each time.
I began with the 200-grain SWC in the Glock, and the first round was close to point of aim, but the casing failed to extract. I discovered the exposed lead shoulder of the next round in the magazine had caught the spent casing, denting the bullet. I removed the magazine, ejected the spent casing and chambered the next round.
In sending five rounds downrange, two failed to extract from the Glock. Brad Handley, the H.I.S.S. L.E. Indoor Range owner and veteran police officer, confirmed the problem I identified. The next bullet’s shoulder protruding from the magazine at times was stopping the extraction.
I had read that Glock advises against lead bullets, but the usual reason is that the pistol’s rifling may contribute to bore leading. I could find no references for lead bullet design affecting Glocks. I did find a 2009 post that said “GLOCK does not recommend the use of unjacketed lead ammunition."
I followed up with a phone call to Glock headquarters in Smyma. GA, and technical support said Glock “advises using only FMJ or jacketed hollowpoint bullets. Lead semiwadutters are a problem.” Tech support also confirmed the dent I found on the round blocking extraction.
The retrieved target showed a 2.25-inch grouping for four shots, and two of those were touching, so great accuracy for me. The SWCs do produce clean round holes.
I switched to the Smith and there were no extraction or chambering problems, but I knew that pistol had many rounds of police quarterly qualification lead put through it. I expected no function issues.
The target showed a four-round grouping of 2.5 inches, but the trigger pull on the double-action only Smith is long and requires a fair amount of effort.
Next, I moved to the 230-grain loading with the Glock 30. All five rounds ran perfectly and produced a group of 1.75 inches with two shots touching. Can’t beat that accuracy with my hands!
With the Smith, there were no issues and four rounds grouped at slightly less than 2.5 inches, so similar to the 200-grain SWC load.
On the Black Hills New Ammunition website, there are six loadings for .45 ACP including four hollow-point rounds. The firm also has HoneyBadger ammo without hollowpoints in nine calibers, and includes a 135-grain round in .45 ACP that I would like to try.
Overall, the .45 ACP loads I shot were accurate easy on the hand. One vendor’s retail on the 230-grain round was $21.99 per box, and $19.99 per box for the 200-grain SWC, but do check pricing. I certainly can recommend these Black Hills loadings.
I shot the remaining 20 rounds in the open boxes through my Glock and Smith, and all were within a 2.75-inch grouping. Failures to extract with the 200-grain SWC appeared multiple times in the Glock.
This confirms the need always to check ammo for reliable function in your firearm. I’ll use the SWC loads only in my Smith for future range time.
Verifying ammo reliability is a must to Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training, worked as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, and also worked as an outfitter’s guide.