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Four Interesting .45 ACP Defensive Loads

April 14, 2023
Mike Sampson

One of the benefits of writing for Gun Talk is testing ammunition. I’ve written several articles on that topic and had the opportunity to check out four interesting loadings of defensive .45ACP from four ammo companies.

One of the loads I especially was eager to try was the Black Hills Ammunition 135-grain HoneyBadger, and a second was the 118-grain ARX Inceptor Preferred Defense, both sporting grooved bullets.

I added to the mix with a SigSauer Elite Performance +P 230-grain jacketed hollow point for law enforcement (I had this one in my ammo stash), and a 175-grain Norma MHP (Monolithic Hollow Point).

Ballistic specs for each loading I used are similar and read:

> HoneyBadger at 1,250 feet per second (fps) and 468 foot pounds of energy (fpe) at the muzzle. Box of 20 price is $33.00 to $38.00.
> Inceptor at 1,350 fps and 477 fpe. Price for 20 is $22.99.
> Sig at 975 fps and 486 fpe (this +P law-enforcement load is hotter than the more available V-Crown). Price for a 20-round box of 230-grain V-Crowns is $31.99 and specs are 830 fps and 352 fpe.
> Norma at 1,053 fps and 431 fpe. Price per box of 20 is $26.79.

Pricing is from an Internet search among vendors, with all loadings generally in stock.

For the range evaluation, I used my daily carry Glock 30 and had written about it and two Black Hills ammo loadings in my May 19, 2022 article “Black Hills .45 ACP in My GLOCK and Smith.” The empty Glock checks in at 26 ounces with its 3.78-inch barrel. There were no failures to feed or eject with any of the ammo

I shot two rounds of CCI Blazer ammo first. I then ran new targets down the lane and fired five rounds of each load.

On the first target, the HoneyBadgers were within 1 ½ inches and the Inceptors printed within 1 ¾ inches. With lighter bullets and higher velocity, the recoil felt snappy.

For the second target, the Sigs shot tight at less than 1 ¼ inches. The Norma MHPs spread a bit more, but all within 1 ½ inches.

I would recommend any of these high-quality .45ACP loadings for CCW and defense as accuracy is good and all hit hard. HoneyBadgers are pricey per round, and I would not hesitate to carry them. The Inceptor’s price point is fantastic, but check on availability.

As Gun Talk readers know, ammo brands and loads are many. Deciding what to use depends on your budget for cost per round, ammo availability, shipping costs with minimum orders, and obviously performance. Dig into ballistics for your carry ammo with penetration as a consideration. Some .45ACPs can approach 30 inches so always keep the background in mind.

One older penetration study for reference is at Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition - Ballistic Testing Data ( Today’s bullet designs are built for performance so most defensive loads should work for your needs.

Range time will not answer all questions, but will show how you, your weapon and ammo function together on a target.

Understanding these factors puts you more in control to Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
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. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications.

While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts. He also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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