Ed Harris 45 Cal Cast Bullets Tests

  • Last Post 20 February 2017
Larry Gibson posted this 17 February 2017


After the successful test of several cast bullets in the 38 S&W Ed Harris sent 2 different cast bullets of 45 Caliber to pressure test using Alliant Bullseye powder in various 45 caliber handgun cartridges.  Pressure testing would be via the Oehler M43 PBL with the test firearm being a TC Contender pistol with 10” 45 ACP and 45 Colt barrels.   The 3 bullets from Accurate moulds were;






The cartridges to pressure test the 3 different cast bullets in were;


45 AR

45 Colt (Ruger Load)

45 Colt

(three 45 Colts shown w/3 different bullets loaded)


45 Schofield

45 Webley




Ed sent along the desired charges of Bullseye powder he wanted tested along with other specifications as to loading.  I duplicated the loads he requested.  A brief description will be added under each cartridge discussion with full data being listed on the Oehler test data printout.   There were 152 test cartridges total.



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Larry Gibson posted this 17 February 2017


Testing was conducted on 15 February, 2017 on the 100 yard Sara Park range in Lake Havasu City Arizona.  Temperature was a moderate 65 – 70 degrees with little wind.  Here is the bench set up with the M43 and the M35P.  Again the Start screen for the M35P was at 12.5’ in front of the M43 start screen which was at 15’.  The M35P was used in tandem with the M43 in case sufficient data wasn’t measured for a shot.  Then at least the velocity would be saved.  This occurred several times during the testing, especially when there wasn’t sufficient pressure generated by a cartridge for a measurement.  It takes about 7,000 psi to expand cartridge cases, then another several thousand psi are needed to apply stress to the barrel so a measurement can be obtained.  The lowest recorded psi with both barrels was 11,100.  Any cartridge fired that did not record a psi therefore produced less than 11,100 psi.



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Larry Gibson posted this 17 February 2017


I’ll give myself a bit of an alibi here regarding accuracy.  A group testing was with the target at 25 yards.  I used a black 2 ¼” bull aiming at 6 o’clock.  Both barrels have standard Contender iron sights. With my tired old eyes I do well to shoot 1 ½” groups at 25 yards with iron sights anymore.  The Contender was rested o the sand bag shown and an additional sandbag (not shown) was used to brace/rest the forearm on, the position was steady.   Looking down the sights through the screen we see;




After loading each cartridge the Contender action was snapped shut then the muzzle was raised to position the powder somewhat uniformly I the case. The Contender was then lowered level into the “V” of the sandbag rest.




Test results:




45 AR; The 45 AR cartridges were tested in the 45 ACP barrel.  Since the 45 AR cartridge is simply a 45 ACP with a rim test results would be applicable to an actual 45 AR cartridge.  Notice in the cartridge photo above a slight roll crimp was also used.  I had to size the front driving band/portion of each bullet .452 to get the loaded cartridges to chamber.  Otherwise the bullets were sized .454 and were lubed with LLA (by Ed).  The Extractor of the Contender 45 ACP held the cartridge in place so headspacing on the case mouth was not a problem.  The medium roll crimp was the same as I do with 45 AR cartridges.




However, the 45 ACP Contender barrel is normally quite accurate with most all reasonable 45 ACP loads.  In this case accuracy was actually poor with all 3 bullets.  That may or may not have been due to the use of the extractor to headspace causing ignition problems.  Additionally there was 16” of vertical impact difference between the loads.  This caused other problems as the screens were hit by at least 3 bullets.  I was able to repair the screens and continue testing.  After repair a “reference” ammunition test was conducted to verify the consistency of the measurements.  All was well, just nicked and scarred…….I have some of the 45-240H1s and 45-290H bullets left and in the near future will load them in the Webley cases (very similar to AR cases) and test in the 45 Colt barrel for accuracy.


All 3 bullets in the 45 AR test were loaded over the same 4 gr charge of Bullseye powder.




Note on the Oehler M43 PBL test data printouts the group is pasted onto the printout or the bullet holes are traced onto the printout.  The M35P printout is pasted to the left of the M43s Shot Data and Summary fields for quick comparison.


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Larry Gibson posted this 17 February 2017


45 AR w/45-240H1:  The M43 printout for the 45-240H1 bullet shows only 8 shots, the first 2 shots went high over the target and were not captured on paper.  The second 2 shots did not capture the complete time/pressure trace as the time was set for 2 milliseconds.  That was changed to 4 milliseconds and the trace data was then captured and recorded.  We see the psi MAP is a mild 12,000 psi(M43)



45 AR w/45-262H:    Here we see an anomaly that often occurs but few understand.  Ever notice in loading manuals the heavier bullet will higher velocity or a greater max powder charge?  Here is an example.  We have the same load components except for the bullet.  This 45-262H bullet is 7.5 gr heavier than the 45-240H1 and has a different profile.  Yet it is 15 fps faster and appears to have a lower MAP…..just FYI as it’s an interesting observation.  Again accuracy with this load as loaded isn’t all that good.  The MAP for this can be considered to be less than 15,000 psi(M43).




The last shot (did not measure) of this test hit one of the screens which caused problems with the next test.


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Larry Gibson posted this 17 February 2017


45 AR w/45-290H:  Had real problems with this test.  Began getting much higher velocities with one really high reading(?) than the M35P was recording.  One shot was completely off the target and two of the shots keyholed with two more screen strikes.  Thus I disregard the M43 velocity reading and rely on the M35Ps.  An examination of the screens showed severe damage to the last (stop) screen for the M43.  The lens was tilted forward which would have refracted the light and would have resulted in a higher velocity because the “stop” would have been sooner.  Fortunately Oehler Skyscreens are readily reparable and I carry spare parts so a repair was made, “reference” test conducted and the testing could continue.




The Map for the 45-290 was still only 15,000 so it would be quite usable in 45 AR revolvers.  However zeroing may be a problem as there was 16” of vertical impact dispersion between this load and a standard 45 ACP load. 


The poor accuracy may have been the result of the lower velocity levels of these bullets with this load in the 16” twist barrel.  The 262H and the 290H bullets were considerably long than the 240H1 bullet let alone a 230 45 FMJ.  The 45 Colt barrel has the same twist.  Yet with the same bullets at lower velocities accuracy was excellent.  Thus I really suspect the roll crimp and dependence on the extractor for headspacing is the real culprit for the poor accuracy.




I shall post the other tests in their own thread.  There is a lot of data and test information and to put it in one thread would get confusing.  With different threads addressing each cartridge we may keep also our comments pertinent to the cartridge of discussion without confusion. 






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Ed Harris posted this 20 February 2017


Thanks for the .45 AR/ACP attempt.

I find it VERY interesting that accuracy obtained with both the .455 Webley and .45 Schofield loads, jumping the bullets in the longer .45 Colt chamber gave better accuracy than the .45 ACP.

This was also my experience years ago comparing .45 ACP and.45 Colt 10” Contender barrels when I was at Ruger.

I discovered that the sharp-edged stop-surface and ball seat entrance of the .45 ACP chamber was shaving material off the bullet bases, depositing little rings of lead in the front of the chamber, which caused bullet deformation as well as possible variation in headspace, (perhaps?) maybe cushioning the firing pin blow.


73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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