Ballistics by the inch

Ammo test results in two versions of the Glock 21

This is the first in a series of informal blog posts about the .45 ACP/Super/.450 SMC testing sequence we conducted over the Memorial Day weekend.

Here’s a pic of getting set the first day of shooting:

getting set

It’ll be a while before we have all the data crunched and the website updated, but I thought I would share some preliminary thoughts and information through a series of informal posts. In this post, we’ll see how two different versions of a Gen 4 Glock 21 performed with the ammo. The first version was with the Glock in the standard .45 ACP configuration, the second was with my .460 Rowland conversion kit in place.

The standard configuration has a 4.61″ octagonal polygonal rifling, while the conversion barrel is 5.2″ overall with conventional rifling, threaded, and with a compensator. The .460 conversion also has a heavier recoil spring.

Quick note about the data below: All the ammo used, with the exception of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), representing a total of 6 data points. I’m just giving the overall averages here; the full data will be available on the website later. The four * ammunition types only include two shots/four data points through the standard Glock 21 configuration — we only had one box of each of this ammo, and were wanting to get data from a range of guns.

Ammo                                                         Glock 21 Standard                   Glock 21 .460 Rowland

      Buffalo Bore

.45 ACP Low Recoil Std P 185gr FMJ-FN                 801 fps / 263 ft-lbs                       792 fps / 257 ft-lbs

.45 ACP Std P 230gr FMJ-RN                                829 fps / 350 ft-lbs                       826 fps / 348 ft-lbs

.45 ACP +P 185gr JHP                                       1132 fps / 526 ft-lbs                     1168 fps / 560 ft-lbs

.45 ACP +P 230gr JHP                                        951 fps / 461 ft-lbs                       974 fps / 484 ft-lbs

.45 Super 185gr JHP                                         1279 fps / 671 ft-lbs                     1299 fps / 693 ft-lbs

.45 Super 200gr JHP                                         1178 fps / 616 ft-lbs                     1203 fps / 642 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr FMJ                                         1069 fps / 583 ft-lbs                     1085 fps / 601 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr JHP                                         1094 fps / 611 ft-lbs                     1116 fps / 635 ft-lbs

.45 Super 255gr Hard Cast                                 1063 fps / 639 ft-lbs                     1061 fps / 637 ft-lbs

      Double Tap

.45 ACP +P 160gr Barnes TAC-XP                        1103 fps / 432 ft-lbs                     1103 fps / 432 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 185gr JHP                                          1328 fps / 724 ft-lbs                     1351 fps / 749 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 185gr Bonded Defense JHP                  1301 fps / 695 ft-lbs                     1314 fps / 709 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 230gr Bonded Defense JHP                  1097 fps / 614 ft-lbs                     1132 fps / 654 ft-lbs


Critical Defense .45 ACP Std P 185gr FTX               984 fps / 397 ft-lbs                       979 fps / 393 ft-lbs

Critical Duty .45 ACP +P 220gr Flexlock                  945 fps / 436 ft-lbs                       943 fps / 434 ft-lbs


.45 Super 170gr CF                                           1239 fps / 579 ft-lbs                     1253 fps / 592 ft-lbs

.45 Super 185gr XTP JHP                                   1329 fps / 725 ft-lbs                     1348 fps / 746 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr GD JHP                                    1075 fps / 590 ft-lbs                     1081 fps / 596 ft-lbs

*Federal  HST .45 ACP Std P 230gr JHP                813 fps / 337 ft-lbs

*G2 Research  RIP  .45 ACP Std P 162gr JHP        942 fps / 319 ft-lbs

*LeHigh Defense .45 Super 170gr JHP              1146 fps / 495 ft-lbs

*Liberty  Civil Defense .45 ACP +P 78gr JHP        1768 fps / 580 ft-lbs

The general trends are pretty clear with the power rising as you go from standard pressure to +P to Super/.450 SMC, and topping out at about 750 foot-pounds of energy in a couple of loads. And it is interesting to note that the 185gr loads seem to be the “sweet spot” in terms of power across the board.

Of course, pure power is just one component for what makes a good ammunition choice. Bullet design & penetration is extremely important when considering a self-defense load. Shootability in your gun is also critical — because if you can’t recover quickly from shot to shot, then you may limit your ability in a stressful situation. Likewise, if the ammo doesn’t function reliably, or damages your gun, that is also a huge factor.

Most of the ammo we tested functioned very well in the Glock in either configuration. This isn’t surprising to anyone who has much familiarity with Glocks which typically will handle just about any ammo under all conditions. We did experience FTFs (failure-to-fire) with a number of the different Double-Tap rounds. Those seemed to have been due to light strikes on the primer, which could have been due to improper primer seating, ‘hard’ primers, or some other factor.

The larger platform of the Glock 21 handled the recoil very well, even from the hottest loads. I was impressed that even with the .460 Rowland conversion in place, with the additional weight of the compensator and the heavy recoil spring, the Glock didn’t have any problems cycling even the lightest loads reliably.

One other note: as discussed in my blog post about the .460 Rowland conversion, full-power .460 Rowland loads tend to cause damage to the magazines. As far as we could tell, the same isn’t true of the full-power .45 Super/.450 SMC loads. Just one magazine (a new one) was used for all these tests, and there was no detectable damage. Nor was there any other damage detected to the gun otherwise, though it is possible a steady diet of loads of that power could cause some over the long term.

Look for more results, images, and thoughts in the days to come.

Jim Downey

June 1, 2015 - Posted by | .45 ACP, .45 Super, .450 SMC, .460 Rowland, Data, Discussion., General Procedures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Excellent Data, Jim & Company! Can’t wait for the usual BBTI deluge of test results, but this is good for now! Thinking of another 1911/2011 for Rowland Conversion 😉 Did the shorter case “ACP Style” rounds function flawlessly in the G21 Conversion? I’d LOVE to have the Rowland capability and still be able to shoot regular ACP length rounds!
    Love the site!

    Comment by underground12x8 | June 1, 2015 | Reply

    • Yeah, there were no problems with feeding or firing the ACP-length cases in any of the configurations. I’ve been very happy with it all around. And there will be a couple of 1911 platforms to come in these test results.

      Thanks for the good words!


      Comment by James Downey | June 1, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] This is the third in a series of informal blog posts about the .45 ACP/Super/.450 SMC testing sequence we conducted over the Memorial Day weekend. You can find the previous posts here and here. […]

    Pingback by Ammo test results for a pair of 1911s « Ballistics by the inch | June 9, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] sequence we conducted over the Memorial Day weekend. You can find the previous posts here,  here, and […]

    Pingback by Some “Super” performance out of a Cx4 Storm. « Ballistics by the inch | June 16, 2015 | Reply

  4. […] I had seen the results from the extensive .45 Super/.450 SMC tests (some of which has already been published), I had a pretty good idea of where the power band for these loads was, and how different guns […]

    Pingback by Does primer size make a difference? « Ballistics by the inch | October 21, 2015 | Reply

  5. I wish people would stop spreading the rumor that mass penetrates. No, it doesn’t! ENERGY and terminal sectional density (TSD) drive penetration. Admittedly (and maybe where the confusion is rooted), mass is a factor in the calculation of kinetic energy and TSD, but velocity squared dominates kinetic energy, double the speed (e.g. from 900fps subsonic to 1800 fps supersonic and get four times the energy. To get identical energies you would go from a Liberty Defense 78gr +P w/1800fps muzzle velocity to a 312gr projectile running at 900fps. No one makes 312gr .45LC but there are 325 and 335gr, so you can definitely get more energy on target than the Liberty 78gr at 1800fps, but those massive bullets are going to kick like a mule and drop like a stone downrange. A real-world example: one of (if not) the hardest-hitting .45LC is Buffalo Bore’s .45LC+P LBT LFN 325gr running at 1325fps for 1267ft-lbs at the muzzle. It’s 4.17 times the mass of the 78gr pill, running at 1325fps vs. 1800fps for the Liberty, a speed difference responsible for 1.84 times the kinetic energy, despite only 36% more speed, but your 325gr mass is only producing 2.26 times the energy of the much milder recoiling Liberty pill. Velocity gets you lots more energy than mass does and energy is what actually accomplishes penetration, not mass. Shooting massive +P rounds is certainly more manly than a girly 78gr pill, perhaps ego satisfaction should not be discounted.

    And, … I’m sure you know that bullets tend to pick up speed in longer barrels. Say you’re shooting 225gr Cor-Bon DPX+P out of a Bond Arms Texan Derringer with a six-inch barrel – you’re going to see 1210fps at the muzzle. The guy next to you at the range is shooting a Smith & Wesson .460 XVR with a 14″ barrel and borrows some of your Cor-Bon, finding that the chronograph reports an average of 1454fps at the muzzle. He’s pushing 1.444 times the muzzle energy that your 6-inch barrel is providing you.

    Here’s a brief article on SD and TSD:

    Comment by Mike Landis | September 19, 2022 | Reply

    • Here is some even more illustrative data supporting velocity (not mass) much more than mass responsible for energy on target. See: and look at any row, say the first row for a 16″ barrel. That page is particularly useful because .300 Blackout comes in both 110gr supersonic AND 220gr subsonic pills, so you can see what happens to energy with mass being the driver. For the 16″ barrel with 110gr, you get 2412fps and 1421ft-lbs energy while the doubly massive 220gr pill gets you 1102fps and 593ft-lbs of energy, I don’t know how much clearer it could be shown, VELOCITY gets you lots more energy than mass, in this case halving the mass, kicks energy up 2.4 times, directly contravening the supposition that more mass gets you better penetration. Let’s all stop being ignorant of high school physics, from now on, please?

      Comment by Mike Landis | September 21, 2022 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: