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Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:30 am
by JeeperCreeper
So I have been doing a lot of research on .45 Super / SMC and there aren't many specific threads on the internet with user experience, so I figured I'd chime in to my recent experiences.

WHAT: For those that don't know, .45 Super and .45 SMC are basically hopped up .45 ACP rounds with thicker brass, but external dimensions identical to .45 ACP. But instead of 300-400 ft-lbf, you can get 500-600 ft-lbf... becoming a rival to 10mm in a way but also increasing pressure and recoil over basic .45 or .45 +P.

WHY: I now live in Alaska. There are bears and moose and wolves here. Though rare, wildlife encounters happen so I'd like to be prepared without spending a fortune on a $1000 magnum revolver that I have to lug around. I also don't want to have to drop $600 on a 10mm semi auto (more for Glock and new barrel). I'd like to be able to get a good round out of a cheap platform that can be a minimum power level for wildlife deterrent.

HOW: Stock Springfield Armory XD45 Tactical 5" (obviously in .45 ACP). I picked up a used tactical XD45 for $300. I have used Duty 4" models with hot loads in the past, but the 4" models have a captive recoil spring that is not swappable. But the 5" uses a non-captive guide rod and spring (like a 1911) that can be swapped to stronger or weaker springs.

Many people suggest getting a new barrel, and a stronger recoil and magazine spring for .45 Super due to increased recoil and recoil speed. I would say that for a steady diet of .45 Super, it would be smart to protect the gun. But obviously, expensive and powerful ammo isnt common range ammo.

Soooooo... I decided to run Underwood 45 Super 255gr hardcasts through my newly used XD45 Tactical since it will not be a common thing and I was curious if the pistol would do it (before I start modifying it)

Short answer: it did fine.

I trialed a few different hot loads today in my stock pistol.
1. Grizzly 185 gr 45acp +P JHP (1200fps/592ft-lb)
2. Underwood 255 gr 45acp +P Hardcast (925fps/484ft-lb)
3. Underwood 255 gr 45 Super Hardcast (1075fps/654ft-lb)

They all recoiled significantly more than typical 230gr range ammo... maybe double. I could feel the slide smacking the end of it's travel, obviously tough on the frame. But it cycled every round and locked the slide back every time. Clearly the slide velocity was ramped up, but the gun was able to handle it reliably.

Now, I'm not saying that I recommend this and definitely consult a gunsmith before shooting any kind of hot ammo, but my range trip with hot loads showed I can run them for times when I'm out in the woods for protection.

Oh, and it was below freezing today at the range so the cold didn't seem to hinder the function.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:36 am
by NT2C
I'm not criticizing, I'm just going to tell you what I say to my wife when doing it the right way is kinda spendy but maybe it could be done the cheap way...
Well, doing it the right way would probably be less than our insurance policy deductibles and our medical insurance copays if the cheap way fails.
Oh, and I have it on good authority that slides taste horrible. At least buy the damn springs.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:13 pm
by JF89
This kind of reminds me of a conversation I had with my buddy on shooting shotgun rounds out of a flare gun. I have not not spoke to him in awhile, hopefully he didnt do it.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:00 pm
by flybynight
On a more positive note. I'm sure some people would much rather eat the gun than get eaten alive. ( maybe not slide first though).

This reminds me of a story I heard once , about a guy who was working on the Alaska pipeline and decided he should get a sidearm as protection against bears. But he couldn't decide if he should get a semi, double action revolver or single action revolver. So he asked a old timer which he thought would be the best choice. The old guy said , a pistol to protect you against the big bears around here? Well it don't matter if you get a double action, single action or any type of semi. Just be sure you get one with no front sight , so when you shoot that bear and it gets really pissed at you it won't hurt as much when that bear shoves the pistol up your ass. :mrgreen:

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:13 pm
by grennels
18 inch 12ga. with slugs.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:47 pm
by boskone
JF89 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:13 pm
This kind of reminds me of a conversation I had with my buddy on shooting shotgun rounds out of a flare gun. I have not not spoke to him in awhile, hopefully he didnt do it.
If he hasn't yet, Taofledermaus on Youtube did it.

It made a pretty dandy grenade.
flybynight wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:00 pm
On a more positive note. I'm sure some people would much rather eat the gun than get eaten alive. ( maybe not slide first though).

This reminds me of a story I heard once , about a guy who was working on the Alaska pipeline and decided he should get a sidearm as protection against bears. But he couldn't decide if he should get a semi, double action revolver or single action revolver. So he asked a old timer which he thought would be the best choice. The old guy said , a pistol to protect you against the big bears around here? Well it don't matter if you get a double action, single action or any type of semi. Just be sure you get one with no front sight , so when you shoot that bear and it gets really pissed at you it won't hurt as much when that bear shoves the pistol up your ass. :mrgreen:
IIRC, a lot of the bush pilots were buying .500 S&Ws and cutting them down as bear guns.

Of course, if I remember my numbers, .500 S&W turns out around 2,800 foot-pounds compared to .44 mag's comparatively piddly 1k or so. I suppose, shotgun pistols being largely illegal, that's why bush pilots were attracted to 'em.

And there's at least one company that makes .500 S&W magnum lever actions. Gotta get that matched pistol/rifle combo, doncha? :D

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:39 pm
by NT2C
boskone wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:47 pm
JF89 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:13 pm
This kind of reminds me of a conversation I had with my buddy on shooting shotgun rounds out of a flare gun. I have not not spoke to him in awhile, hopefully he didnt do it.
If he hasn't yet, Taofledermaus on Youtube did it.

It made a pretty dandy grenade.
flybynight wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:00 pm
On a more positive note. I'm sure some people would much rather eat the gun than get eaten alive. ( maybe not slide first though).

This reminds me of a story I heard once , about a guy who was working on the Alaska pipeline and decided he should get a sidearm as protection against bears. But he couldn't decide if he should get a semi, double action revolver or single action revolver. So he asked a old timer which he thought would be the best choice. The old guy said , a pistol to protect you against the big bears around here? Well it don't matter if you get a double action, single action or any type of semi. Just be sure you get one with no front sight , so when you shoot that bear and it gets really pissed at you it won't hurt as much when that bear shoves the pistol up your ass. :mrgreen:
IIRC, a lot of the bush pilots were buying .500 S&Ws and cutting them down as bear guns.

Of course, if I remember my numbers, .500 S&W turns out around 2,800 foot-pounds compared to .44 mag's comparatively piddly 1k or so. I suppose, shotgun pistols being largely illegal, that's why bush pilots were attracted to 'em.

And there's at least one company that makes .500 S&W magnum lever actions. Gotta get that matched pistol/rifle combo, doncha? :D
Maybe an M82A1 SBR with some custom soft points... :crazy:

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:06 pm
by raptor
Thanks good post. I learned something. I had previously never heard of this round.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:21 pm
by JeeperCreeper
NT2C wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:36 am
I'm not criticizing, I'm just going to tell you what I say to my wife when doing it the right way is kinda spendy but maybe it could be done the cheap way...
Well, doing it the right way would probably be less than our insurance policy deductibles and our medical insurance copays if the cheap way fails.
Oh, and I have it on good authority that slides taste horrible. At least buy the damn springs.
HAHA good advice...

Normally, I wouldn't take a risky chance with firearms, but after a decent amount of research, it seems occasional hot loads shouldn't hurt modern firearms. With .45 acp and variatns being relatively low pressure rounds, I figured it'd be OK for a quick function test.

Just for reference on pressures for myself later:

.45ACP - 21,000 PSI
.45ACP +P - 23,000 PSI
.45Super - 28,000 PSI

10mm - 37,500 PSI
.40 S&W - 35,000 PSI

So pressure wise, on paper, .45 Super is still low-ish pressure. Only thing that scares me is pressure distribution. If a 10mm barrel and a .45 barrel had the same external dimensions, the 10mm will have approx .025" more thickness in the chamber walls.

I'm no engineer, but a 10mm has approx 25% more pressure, but with a possible 12% more metal. Now I know pressure and metallurgy do not have a 1:1 relationship, but I wasn't too worried about a KaBoom...

I do plan on upgrading my springs and maybe getting a comp/porting if I decide to carry .45Super. Right now, I'm content with regular ACP +P

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:30 pm
by JeeperCreeper
flybynight wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:00 pm
On a more positive note. I'm sure some people would much rather eat the gun than get eaten alive. ( maybe not slide first though).

This reminds me of a story I heard once , about a guy who was working on the Alaska pipeline and decided he should get a sidearm as protection against bears. But he couldn't decide if he should get a semi, double action revolver or single action revolver. So he asked a old timer which he thought would be the best choice. The old guy said , a pistol to protect you against the big bears around here? Well it don't matter if you get a double action, single action or any type of semi. Just be sure you get one with no front sight , so when you shoot that bear and it gets really pissed at you it won't hurt as much when that bear shoves the pistol up your ass. :mrgreen:
It ain't a bear thread without the tale of the butt gun...

I'm waiting for the "get a .22 and shoot your buddy in the knee" one too HAHAHAHA :awesome:


I find firearm threads for both bears and hogs have a very supernatural undertones, that both beasts have paranormal invincibility and can not be killed by mere mortals and nothing short of .50BMG will vanish them from this realm.

Bears, hogs, wolves, moose, elk, buffaloes, and any other NA big/dangerous game may be tough to take down, but there are so many factors and I know all have been killed with a .22LR in certain situations.

As far as bears, a charging bear will only present head and spine shots. That's more about accuracy and speed than power. Vital shots, heart and lungs, will only be presented in defense if the bear is mauling someone else. Even with a rifle round, bears can live more than 90 seconds after an exploded heart due to low metabolism. So basically, if you're going vitals, you have a long fight no matter what you shoot an angry bear with.

But that's a whole other thread about what works, what doesn't.. from bear bells to bear spray to big guns to little guns to common sense and knowing animal behavior in various environments.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:04 am
by Chaos454
I am in Arizona so our black bears are not supernatural beasts. Unless you read to many forums like I did when researching a bear round, then you will be convinced they can swallow you whole even after being shot multiple times with whatever caliber handgun the poster was asking about. I toyed with a 45 super for awhile but ended up just running Buffalo Bore hardcast 45 acp.

I made a target by attaching a paper plate on a spring to a 2x4. The plate represents the head, the 2x4 the shoulder and spine area, and the spring allows the plate to Bob around when pulled by a string to simulate a charging bears head. I tested my skills with a 44, 357, 45 super and 45 acp. The super and acp were both fired from a glock 21 modified for the super round. I was more accurate with just the 45 acp, and 357. I went with the semi auto for ammo capacity.

This is my long winded way of saying that while I love the 45 super round I found it to be cost prohibitive to obtain and then maintain the level of accuracy I felt I needed.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:02 am
by 91Eunozs
I “converted” my G21 to 45 Super/450 SMC last year for bedside duty (with 185 grain hollow points), and if I were to ever carry it anywhere I’d potentially run into anything in the Ursidae family (with 255gr hard cast flat nose bullets).

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I liked the idea of this vs. a 10mm or converting one of my 1911s for a variety of reasons...foremost is the value (just needed a heavier spring), and that my G21 has a fully-supported chamber even though the chamber pressures are generally lower than 10mm rounds. I did add a stronger firing pin spring as well, and was already running a rubber cushion under the guide rod end.

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Not sure that even the 45 Super would be enough in a situation where I “really” needed it when confronting a bear, but believe it’s better than anything short of a magnum caliber rifle or a shotgun with Brenneke slugs that aren’t nearly as practical to carry. Yes, I know a .44 Magnum or any of the .50 caliber flavors have even more energy, but I like the idea of 10mm power (slightly better actually) with 13 or more rounds in the magazine at my disposal. This pistol is also a lot easier to carry and present from the holster than a big wheel gun too. The platform is one I’m extremely comfortable shooting, and very familiar with the flashlight controls, etc. too.

My G21 normally stays in its “Super” configuration when in the biometric safe bolted to the bed frame; have yet to even fire it with the 255 grain bullets, let alone carry it in that configuration. I put in a factory-weight spring when I switch over to regular .45 ACP ammunition at the range.

Re: Experimenting with .45 Super (.45 SMC)

Posted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:55 pm
by RickOShea
91Eunozs wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:02 am


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^^^Nice.^^^ 8-)