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Originally developed in 1904, by John Browning, the 45 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge was designed for use in a semi-automatic pistol he was then working to perfect; an effort that culminated in the Model 1911 Colt.

The U. S. Military was looking for something to replace the 38 Colt Revolver then in use as the official combat sidearm.  The 38 had proven entirely inadequate in battle against determined Mori Warriors who were heavily drugged and wore tourniquets on their limbs to limit bleeding from peripheral wounds.

For this reason, the Military explicitly requested a round that came closer to duplicating the well-proven stopping power of the 45 Colt: flat-nosed 45-caliber bullet, not less than 200 grains, and launched at not less than 900 fps.

Most likely, Browning created the 45 Automatic case by turning the rim off and shortening solid head 45 Colt cases, a round standardized in 1873.

Owing to functionality concerns, Browning was unwilling to use a flat-nosed bullet in his semi-automatic pistol.  To offset the decreased terminal effect of the functionally more dependable round-nosed bullet, he increased bullet weight and muzzle velocity.  His original load launched a 230-grain Round Nose at 930 fps.

To achieve this level of performance, pressure was higher than is now used in any standard factory load and recoil was rather brisk.  Most shooters could not handle it and the 1911 developed a reputation among those who were unwilling to learn how to shoot it as being inaccurate.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as myriad target shooters have proven over the past century and longer.

With modern propellants such as Ramshot Enforcer, it is no trick to launch 230-grain bullets at 1000 fps from a full-sized 1911 without exceeding SAAMI working pressure for the 45 ACP.  However, any such load requires installation of an effective recoil buffer to prevent battering damage to the gun.

As with any pistol round headspacing on the case mouth, best practice is to apply a taper-crimp after seating the bullet.  This helps to lock the bullet in place against chambering forces that might otherwise drive it into the case.  I cannot too-strongly recommend getting a second seating-and-crimping die so you can have one adjusted to seat the bullet and the second adjusted to only taper-crimp the case mouth.  Generally, attempting to do both operations in one step is a recipe for damaged and destroyed cases.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
Die Sets
Lee Collet Necksizing 2-Die Set
Lee Full-Length Sizing Die Set
90513 (Carbide 3-Die set)
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Lee Breech Lock Die Set
91883 (Carbide 3-Die set)
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90864 (Carbide)
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91997 (45 CAL)
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