The venerable .45 ACP is my favorite self-defense round. The half dozen handguns I own that are chambered for this round, including two revolvers, are my most often carried firearms. Since we are going to discuss reloading the .45 ACP, you should be aware that we are talking about practice ammo here, not your self-defense carry ammo. There was a time when gun writers could write about handloading to improve the defensive capabilities of pistol ammunition. But those days ended with Nehru jackets and bell-bottomed jeans. Today shooting a bad guy with a handload won’t be more effective than an appropriate factory round, and it makes it more likely that you will have problems during any criminal prosecution or civil case that arises from defending yourself.
Unlike in the 1960’s, today we have an excellent selection of high-velocity, hollow-point pistol rounds that are exceptional performers in a life and death situation. Keep your gun loaded with these when you are out on the street and you won’t regret it. Naturally these high tech rounds are expensive. Generally you can expect to pay a dollar per round or more for these proven man stoppers. So, unless you’re the sort of person who lights cigars with 10-dollar bills, you will not want to practice with this stuff. You should shoot enough of your carry ammo to sight your pistol in, and to assure yourself that your pistol is 100 percent reliable with your chosen loading. After that you’ll need cheap, reliable practice ammo. That is where handloading comes in.
Reloading for revolvers is as easy as pie; unfortunately loading for autoloaders is as easy as soufflé. Well, maybe not that bad, but it is a more precise operation. With a revolver, if you can jam the rounds into the cylinder with finger pressure, you’re home free. With an autoloader tiny irregularities in resizing, overall length or crimping can result in a round failing to feed or failing to fully chamber in the middle of a course of fire. This can be annoying on the practice range, disastrous during a match, and deadly in a confrontation. Luckily, good, reliable reloads are easy to produce for autoloaders. You just have to add a couple simple quality assurance steps to the procedure.