+P ammo in sub-compact 45's

+P ammo in sub-compact 45's

This is a discussion on +P ammo in sub-compact 45's within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I recently came across some recommended information in relation to the use of +p loads for sub-compact 45's. The author suggested that using +p loads ...

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Thread: +P ammo in sub-compact 45's

  1. #1
    Member Array dagace's Avatar
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    +P ammo in sub-compact 45's

    I recently came across some recommended information in relation to the use of +p loads for sub-compact 45's. The author suggested that using +p loads in sub-compact 45's, put unneccessary stress and strain on the recoil springs. He mentioned this to be the case in a platform of the S&W 4516-2,(the ccw i use) and i just wonder if anyone else might have some more info on this subject. Does anyone out there believe that the use of such loads decrease the overall life of the weapon? Look forward to your replies.


  2. #2
    New Member Array Gort11's Avatar
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    I would check with my weapon manufacturer to see if they say +P ammo is recommended in their weapons.
    Why take the chance of screwing up your weapon.
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  3. #3
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    You should change your recoil springs more often with short barrel semi-autos. Fresh springs are cheap insurance.

    The 45 acp is a low intensity cartridge.
    Even in +P it is still comparatively a low pressure cartridge.

    The 45 acp cartridge has thin case walls which are not usually ideally supported during detonation in a semi-auto pistol.

    .45 acp case walls would deform, bulge, and rupture during extraction if 45 acp was loaded super over-hot.
    So the "PLUS" in the +P can only ever BE so PLUS in .45 acp or the case walls would blow out during extraction.

    Most folks assume that since firing off hot ammo hurts their hand it must also be simultaneously hurting the firearm to much the same degree.

    The firearm snorts & belches flame and it BITES! Ouch! It MUST then also be really hard on the firearm.

    Not necessarily so.

    If you lay your left hand down flat on a table & place a hardened steel plate on top of your hand and then smack that steel plate as hard as you can with a heavy hammer in your right hand...your hand is sure going to hurt like the dickens.
    But, it's really not going to hurt the hardened steel plate and it sure as heck is not going to damage the hammer.

    So change your recoil spring more often and shoot whatever your .45 acp firearm is rated for without too much in the way of concern for the "life" of your pistol.

    With 45 acp...if you personally can handle it then your high quality firearm can handle it also.
    If you own a junque firearm then that would be a whole different story.

    I have a lightweight alloy framed SIG and it has had (guessing) thousands of +P run through it thus far in addition to (??How Many??) non~+ reloaded ammo through it and it is barely showing "wear marks" to the anodized finish on the Aluminum frame rails. Just FYI.

    One mans qualified opinion - any member can feel free to disagree.

  4. #4
    Member Array dagace's Avatar
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    thanks for the reply, useful info for someone who looks to prolong the life of any tool....

  5. #5
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    This would be a good time for me to "sing praises" for the Chrome Silicon recoil springs.

    They are just fantastic if they are available for your particular firearm.

    They test out to often more than twice as many compression cycles and maintain their same compression strength for a really long time.

  6. #6
    Member Array MBtech87's Avatar
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    If it helps any.. Ive put probably close to 500-600 +P rounds though my ALUMINUM framed pistol, no damage. Now of course, if you're familiar with these particular pistola's then you know the OE recoil spring is junk, and they're supposed to be changed every 800 rounds. I have a stronger, stiffer aftermarket spring that still gets changed every 1000 rounds.
    Kimber Pro-Carry II .45 w/ 230gr Remington Golden Sabers
    Ruger SP101 DAO .357 w/ 125gr Speer Gold Dots

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    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    I shoot a SA Micro a lot. The manual says to avoid using +P ammunition. When I talked with a smith at SA I was told it was an issue with slide velocities not wear and tear. Lo and behold he was right. The +P stuff chokes and the regular pressure runs just fine. As for springs the first set ran around 2,000 rounds, the second around 1500 befor starting to throw the occasional flyer which they said was a sure sign of replacement time. Over 4500 rounds now and will probably replace again soon just 'cause.
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  8. #8
    Member Array ventri's Avatar
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    Why does one need to shoot +p in a .45 ACP anyway?

  9. #9
    Member Array frostyeyes's Avatar
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    My Micro Compact Loaded Lt. Wgt. is loadded with +P Federal HST right now, I have probably put 500 rds thru it that way with NO problems or undue wear. Just replaced the springs last week they had 2500 rds on them and were still working fine.
    Gun Control: What a long strange trip it's been

  10. #10
    Member Array MBtech87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ventri View Post
    Why does one need to shoot +p in a .45 ACP anyway?
    Why not.. Even though I think 230gr +P's are a bit hot..
    Kimber Pro-Carry II .45 w/ 230gr Remington Golden Sabers
    Ruger SP101 DAO .357 w/ 125gr Speer Gold Dots

    "Try and fail is the manner of losers; try and learn is the way of the strong."

  11. #11
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    Additional info I found...

    1911 Reliability Overview: The Recoil Spring, by John Travis

    The Magical, Marvelous, Mystical recoil spring. There are probably more misconceptions--and misinformation--surrounding the application of recoil springs than in any other area of the 1911 design with the possible exception of ramp and throat geometry.

    I often hear the question: "What weight recoil spring should I use for Plus P ammo?" And, about as often, I hear erroneous statements to the effect: "You need a heavier spring to handle the pressures."

    The answer to the first is a bit involved, and requires more information than just the indication of working pressure levels. Bullet weight and chronographed velocity is more important than pressure.

    The response to the second is usually better addressed with an explanation of the way the 1911 and all locked-breech, recoil-operated weapon systems work. I'll make a flat statement and let the readers ponder on it for a minute.

    The recoil spring has not one thing to do with containing chamber pressures, and stepping up to a high spring rating will often cause more problems than it solves. Neither does it have any real effect on the barrel unlock timing. In fact, the mainspring has more effect on the barrel and slide timing than the recoil spring does. There's also the matter of the geometry of the firing pin stop...but that's a subject for another discussion.

    The recoil spring is captive in the spring tunnel with a fairly light pre-load that comes from the small amount of compression required to get the plug into the end of the tunnel. With a 16-pound rating on the spring, this pre-load amounts to about 3 or 4 pounds. Stepping up to a 20-pound rating increases the pre-load about 25% at most, which would produce a pre-load of 5 pounds. Very little difference, and one that you'd be hard-pressed to feel by hand cycling the slide one-tenth of an inch. Why just a tenth of an inch? Because that's about how far the slide travels when barrel unlocking begins. To further understand this aspect of the operation, it's best to look at the first part of the firing and recoil sequence step-by-step.

    The round fires, and the bullet accelerates through the barrel. The barrel is locked to the slide via the locking lugs. Recoil begins with bullet movement, and the slide moves rearward, pulling the barrel with it. The two remain fully locked for a short distance: the one-tenth inch mentioned above. At that point, recoil momentum is established, and the slide will continue rearward to complete the recoil cycle but, more importantly, the barrel begins unlocking and linkdown at the one-tenth inch mark. And some guns start the sequence a little before that. By the time the barrel starts to unlock, the bullet is long gone and chamber pressures have fallen to nearly zero. It's easy to see that with so little slide travel, that any effect that the recoil spring would have is pretty nearly inconsequential.

    When addressing the matter of any spring in the system, it's important to remember two things. Springs work both ways, and whenever a spring rate or load is changed, it affects other aspects of the cycle in areas not directly under the influence of the spring. A perfect example is the effect that the mainspring has on the slide's speed and timing. It's entirely possible to set up a pistol to function perfectly with a 10-pound recoil and 17-pound mainspring for reduced velocity target ammunition, and cause the gun to short cycle by simply switching to a 25 pound mainspring. By contrast, you can install an 18-pound recoil spring to reduce frame battering, and drop to a 17 or 18 pound mainspring and completely negate the high-rate recoil spring's benefits.

    Now...on to the negative side of recoil springs with high load ratings.

    Heavy recoil springs mean slower rearward travel but faster forward travel. The total cycle time changes very little, if at all. All the heavy spring does is alter the balance. Faster forward means that the magazine has to be in top form to keep up, especially on that critical last round...AND...slidelock. I've seen pistols fail to lock on empty nearly every time with an 18 pound spring, then turn around and function perfectly every time when the spring rate drops to 16 pounds.

    Faster forward means increased momentum for the slide. When you consider that the relatively small lower lug feet and the slidestop crosspin are the two parts that bring it all to a sudden halt, it's not hard to figure out that if the slide's momentum is increased by 10%, then the shock against these parts is also increased by 10%. That's not a lot if the pistol sees limited use...but in a hard-duty range gun, it means something. The impact surface between slide and frame were designed to withstand a lot of impact shock. The lower lug feet weren't. This is why the dictum to never let the slide go to battery at full speed on an empty chamber is generally accepted wisdom. The feeding phase slows the slide and softens the blow. When the gun is empty, the feet slam into the slidestop crosspin with all the impact that a 16-ounce slide that is driven by the recoil spring can muster. Think of it as slapping the faces of two 16-ounce hammers together at the same speed of the free-moving slide. It won't be long until the hammers begin to deform.

    The springs in the 1911 were determined by John Browning and a team of engineers at Colt nearly a century ago. Whenever we start playing around with these carefully considered rates, we very often bring on problems with the gun, all of which may not be immediately apparent.

    Any time that a component of a successful design is altered or changed, it affects several aspects of the design's function. The engineer's dictum states that: "Whenever one thing is changed, it usually requires change in at least two other areas in order to compensate for the first change."
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  12. #12
    Member Array FHBrumb's Avatar
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    I've shot some Double Tap 185gr in my Kahr PM-45. Although DT does not call it +P, I think it must be. It's too hot not to be. I think maybe it's like 2 PSI below the +P threshold, so they call it standard pressure or "just shy of a +P rating..."

    My Kahr seems to eat it just fine. I've fired over 100 rounds already. I recently ordered 150 rounds of their 230gr to try as well. As soon as Speer gets some more Gold Dots to DT, I guess I'll see them...

    I do fully expect that my recoil system will need an upgrade every 1000 rounds or so. I read that if your pistol starts to short cycle, stove pipes or the like, replace the recoil spring before anything else.

    When I get to about 1000 rounds (+P and standards mixed), I'll have a few of new springs on order, and stash one or two for the future.

    Other than a good snap at the wrist, the hot DT doesn't seem to make any issues for my PM so far.

    BTW, the PM is half captive, and half not, if that makes any difference.
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  13. #13
    Member Array johnsonabq's Avatar
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    Personally, I want my gun to make the same bang in SD as in practice. I can't afford to practice with +P so I don't carry +P. Any good brand name ammo will still expand (Federal HST, Gold Dot, etc.) and I have faster follow ups without the +P. My Glock can handle it fine, it's just my preference. I have full confidence in the Federal 230gr HSTs that I carry.
    Jeff
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    (my favorite but hard to hide)

  14. #14
    Member Array 93civicsedan's Avatar
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    Ive shot some Federal HST +P through my Taurus Pt145, no issues at all honestly.

  15. #15
    Member Array Chroode's Avatar
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    As far as I understand +P and magnum ammunition perform poorly in short barrels beacuse the bullet does not have enough time in the barrel to accellerate. You therefore end up with much more unburned powder giving a larger brighter blast at the muzzle and unneccesary muzzle flip.

    I personaly choose Speer GoldDot 230Gr. for Short Barrel Guns for my Glock 30.

    230 grain Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel - Ballistcs testing results.

    Speer Ammo - Short Barrel


    Gold Dot Short Barrel Personal Protection - 45 Auto
    Part Number Cartridge
    Bullet Wt. Bullet Type Box Count Bullet Coefficient
    23975 45 Auto 230 GDHP-SB 20 0.148

    Velocity(in feet per second) Energy (in foot pounds)
    Muzzle 50 yards 100 yards Muzzle 50 yards 100 yards
    820 783 749 343 313 287

    Trajectory if sighted at 25 yards test Barrel Length in inches Usage
    25 yards
    50 yards
    75 yards
    100 yards
    0.0 -2.5 -8.5 -18.3 4 1

    Usage Key: 1 = Personal Protection | 2 = Training | 3 = Hunting

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