Letter to Editor: 125 Grain Hollow Point Bullet For .45 ACP?

By Norris Dyer

125 Grain Hollow Point Bullet For .45 ACP?
125 Grain Hollow Point Bullet For .45 ACP?

West Virginia –-(Ammoland.com)-  I have been trying to get the ammunition makers to make a 125-grain hollow point bullet for .45 ACP.

Most are so busy filling backorders in the standard bullet weights they will not even consider it.

Sierra, who at least had the courtesy to entertain my idea, makes three bullet weights in .45 ACP;

  • 230-grain hunting load at 900 feet per second (fps) with 413 foot pounds of energy (fpe),
  • 200-grain hunting load at 950 fps with 400 fpe
  • 185-grain hunting load at 1,000 fps with 410 fpe.

My question is why do they make three bullet weights that have maximum energies within thirteen foot-pounds of each other?

I have been told that the lighter bullet would not function, would not be accurate, and that there is no demand for them. Please bear with my idea, a standard military load, 230-grain bullet travels about 833 fps and has about 369 fpe (Sierra manual data).

A .357 magnum fires a 125-grain bullet at 1,450 fps and has 583 fpe (Sierra “hunting load”). Lee Precision’s manual states that a .357 magnum’s case capacity is 1.15 cc and a .45 ACP is 1.14 cc so there is no reason with proper powder choice that a .45 ACP cannot safely fire a 125-grain hollow point bullet at 1,450 fps with 583 fpe, improving the terminal ballistics by 583-369=214 fpe!

A .380 has 190 fpe so 214 fpe more would be more than adding a standard .45 ACP and a .380 round fired together out of the same pistol. This would drastically improve trajectory too.

Impossible you say?
Consider this, the Magsafe SWAT round fires a 68 grain .45 ACP round at 2,260 fps at 771 fpe. Don’t believe me, check them out on magsafeonline.com.

These rounds have one-third the recoil of a standard .45 ACP round (imagine that fired from your ported barrel…).

The drawback is the expense (the rounds are hand made and they will not sell bullets individually, I need an affordable bullet that I can buy or make) and lack of penetration. The Magsafe SWAT rounds are used by the military and anti-terrorist groups in planes etc. to prevent over-penetration and are reported to be very accurate. The police have always wanted an automatic pistol with the penetration and ballistics of a .357 revolver in 125 grain (some say the all-time best police load), they could have it just by reducing the weight of a .45 bullet to 125 grain.

I have been told that a 1911 frame would not take the stress, but consider the 400 Cor-Bon, it fires a 135 grain .40 caliber bullet at 1,350 fps with 547 fpe (Sierra “hunting load”) from a 1911.

Check the energies in the Sierra manual, a 125 grain .45 ACP round at 1,450 fps would surpass the energy of a 400 Cor-Bon, a 10mm, a.357 SIG, a 40 S&W, and of course equal the .357 in 125 grain. The .357 magnum does not throw a heavy bullet any better than a .45 ACP; a .357 180 grain (Sierra’s heaviest bullet for the .357 magnum in their “hunting load), only develops 1,050 fps and 441 fpe, very close to the 185 grain .45 ACP load at 1,000 fps and 413 fpe.

The gun manufacturers and ammo makers have made a mint selling newly patented plastic, iron, and brass to get what the .45ACP could have done with a 125-grain hollow point. With the Magsafe 68 grain, Glaser Safety Slug firing a 145-grain bullet at 1,350 fps with 587 fpe and Cor -Bon’s 165-grain +P at 573 fpe (data from Cor-Bon), I think the issue of lower recoil, increased energy, better ballistics, accuracy, and trajectory from a .45 ACP 125 grain bullet is pretty well proven.

I have tried to purchase 125-grain hollow point bullet molds in .45 caliber but no one makes them. I bought a bullet forming die from C&H tool and die but the ogive is 2R and a 1R is required to make the bullet short enough out of lead. The use of brass or copper would greatly facilitate a 125-grain bullet since the materials are lighter than lead and would allow a 2R ogive (The C&H die will not work with these materials). The punch in the die is also too short to make a 125-grain bullet (I am working on retrofitting the die and punch). Lee Precision’s 160-grain bullet mold has the right ogive (and a blunt point that will still feed after being hollow pointed) but they will not make that bullet style in a hollow point. I have drilled a 1/4 inch hole in the 160-grain bullet and created a 125-grain hollow point but it is very time-consuming using a Forester hollow pointing device (1/8″ hole) to pilot the 1/4 inch hole (Forester will not make a 1/4″ hollow pointer device).

When I get enough of the “homemade” 125 grain bullets made I hope to test the bullets even though the manufacturing process will be more imperfect than a factory or even molded bullet would be.

By using Lee’s load data for their 160-grain bullet which safely propels the 160-grain bullet at 1,200 fps plus the loads should safely propel the lighter 125-grain bullet around 1,450 fps (Lee says that you can safely load a lighter bullet using heavier bullet data, everything else caliber, etc. being equal).

A lighter bullet would breathe new life into the .45 ACP cartridge, for several reasons; 230-105=125 grains of lead per round less cost ($17.50 per thousand at the old lead prices), lower recoil would allow women and small-framed individuals to comfortably fire a .45. (this is my big reason, my wife has carpal tunnel syndrome), a 125-grain hollow point could be loaded at low velocity for plinking/low recoil or high velocity for hunting/self defense. The military went to the 9mm for controllability: a .45 ACP round in 125 grain would be controllable and not add much more to a soldier’s combat load than a 9mm round but would have much more stopping power.

I have sold all my .357′s, 9×19′s, 9×18′s and will sell the 9×17 (380′s) as soon as I get the .45 bullet that will allow my wife to comfortably fire a .45 ACP. The 125-grain bullet will bridge the gap between .22′s and 230 grain .45′s for me and would bring a lot of .45′s out of the gun cabinet for many others who have retired their .45′s for the new plastic junk in exotic “improved” calibers.

For me a .45 ACP is big enough for a handgun, I do not get into the magnum handgun race; when they finally make a big, heavy, expensive pistol that will fire a one and one quarter ounce bullet at 1,300 fps it will be equal to a 12 gauge in recoil and ballistics but an 870 Remington shotgun will be cheaper, more accurate and just as easy to carry.

I had looked for years for a muzzle-loading load combination for deer. Round balls, unless you hit bone, punch a hole like a field tip arrow and the deer usually gets into the brush which is thick here in West Virginia, leaving little or no blood trail and dies where only a good tracker can find it (I am a good tracker, but why take the chance?). The heavy (230 to 385 grain) slugs from a muzzleloader are less accurate, have a poor trajectory and lose so much velocity that they do not expand well at any distance while delivering horrible recoil. Their heavyweight allows them to penetrate deep or shoot through the thin body of a deer (just like a military .45 ACP 230 grain FMJ through an enemy soldier) but even a “hillbilly” knows any bullet energy that goes out the exit hole is wasted. The properly placed bullet, which does the best job, totally expands in the vital area while depositing all of its energy in the deer making an exit hole pretty much unnecessary. I have retrieved many muzzleloader slugs and 230 grain .45 ACP FMJ bullets that could have been shot again without resizing, not a good testimonial to current .45 ACP loadings. I came upon a solution for my muzzleloader, I used a .45 caliber 185 grain Golden Saber bullet in a Knight sabot fired from a side lock Thompson Center “New Englander” .50 caliber with 90 grains of FFG (the accuracy load for a fifty with a round ball).

The result was a bullet that had the energy, accuracy, and trajectory of the round ball, and expansion superior to the ball, the minnie, and the heavy saboted bullets. I shot a deer at 45 yards with the new load and a .308 Win. could not have done better, just the right penetration and expansion, big entrance, and much bigger exit hole.

The deer fell quickly from the fully expanded185 grain bullet and it would have left a BIG blood trail, I believe the 125 grain hollow point bullet will do the same for the .45 ACP.

The shooting community as a whole, is in a rut when it comes to improving or changing anything…to this I say

“If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got… you cannot improve without trying something new”.

I am trying to get support from the shooting community to make the 125 grain bullet. Remington told me that one of their big criteria for developing new products was the number of requests for them… I wonder where we would be if that would have been the criteria the Wright brothers used when they were considering building an airplane?

Please consider the idea of a 125 grain .45 ACP round and give me any input, criticism, or comment that will help it to be developed and marketed. If you know of someone that has the means to make and test the bullets please let me know.

My resources are limited, I am a retired safety director and have no formal training in ballistics but a 125 Grain Hollow Point Bullet For .45 ACP makes sense to me.

Letters to the AmmoLand Editor

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I figure simply taking a cartridge, replacing the bullet with a smaller, longer one, making a deeper hollow point and putting in a sub-caliber barrel liner would do the job better and for less cost. For example, I had a 9mm blank pistol, chopped all but about 1/2″ of the outer barrel off, pulled the plug with pliers, put a .25 cal. barrel liner in it, paper sleeve and epoxy over the liner, 1/4″ nipple over that except for the length covered by the remaining blank gun’s outer-barrel length, drilled 6mm holes in the plugs of the 9mm blank cartridges,… Read more »

John L. Yukon, Ok

I just purchased 500 hi-Tek coated 125gr lead/coated .45 bullets. I plan to use 150gr data and will most likely start at 7gr unique, expecting 1125-1200fps. Majestic cast Bullets provides them (I found them on the west Texas brass and reloading Facebook group) seller reports getting 1325fps outmoded insole 1911. I will be loading in a glock 37 .45 gap, so mine may run hotter then my initial thoughys, may have to pull the charge a little back Saami pressures are still in safe ranges.
I saved the picture of the bullet of someone wanted to see it.


I’d love to see them.

Ralph Leue

Lehigh Defense makes 120 gr. .451 bullets out of copper. They have a hollow base so that the projectile can be made a little longer. The COL is 1.23 with load data stating speeds up to 1410 fps. They also sell loaded ammo. I found this thread as I was looking for load data to make some tonight with these newly acquired bullets.


maybe you should look into the liberty halo point bullets, which i use exsclusively in my 1911 in 45 auto. it uses a 78 grain bullet at about 2000 or so fps with impact energy above 500 , idont remember exact specs but i think you would be impressed!

Bill Flowers

See suddenimpactammo.com

Norris Dyer

I apologize for not checking my post before this, I had given up on anyone but me trying a 125 grain hollow point for a .45. Casey, I too had thought of the Lee 90570 bullet and have been busy working on that. Erik has hollow pointed and shortened the mold and I have made and tested the bullet. It is performing as I had hoped. The bullet molds out to 127 grains (using about one fourth wheel weights) using 7.8 grains of Unique (Lee’s maximum for the 160 grain bullet but propelling the 33 grain lighter bullet at 1,400… Read more »


I have been trying to find some kind of load data for light weight bullet in the 45 acp i saw some once for a 120 gr bullet at a very high velocity but lost the web sight. I have a swage die and swage hollow based .451 bullets as light as 117 grains these do function the guns well at about 1300 f/s are accurate and with a hard alloy penetrate very deeply. My thoughts are these would be great self defense rounds at short range when coupled with a soft core and hollow point.


You probably should contact Barnes bullets about your 125Gr. bullets. Remember as a bullet gets lighter it usually gets shorter (same caliber of course). Barnes makes all-copper bullets, so your lightweight bullet wouldn't turn out to be overly short/unstable. Just a thought…

James Hoffman

commenting on the "125 gr bullet for .45acp" as far as bullet ballistics on paper it sounds like a winner, keep in mind i don't own a .45acp gun. i do own a mosin nagant rifle in 7.62X 54r and the heaviest sp hunting load for it is a bernuall 203gr! 33gr less than your .45 for a .30 full rifle round. the barrels can take the pressures, the problem may well be the lack of recoil cause a "fte" (failed to extract) due to the lack of recoil to operate the action of a semi auto (like using a… Read more »

Casey Harper

Great Idea!!! Not original, but under utilized these days. If you read back in the history of bullets, the dumb-dumb bullet was(as the English called hollow points to make bullets lighter so that they could use the same load and mold and have a faster = flatter trajectory at medium distance. Two ways to get your light weight .45 bullet. Have Erik Ohlen [email protected] modify a Lee double cavity mold 90570 (160 grain) to hollow point for you. He will make custom pins that would lighten it to not much more than 125-135grains. or have him modify a 90470 40… Read more »

James Rodriguez

Hello, I have the Lee 160 grain bullet mold for the 45 acp RF cast lead bullet. In your article you wrote that lee has load data for this cast lead bullet but, I have not found this load date. I have the Lee second edition load book and the newer revised edition and the load data for 160 grain lead bullet is not printed. Is it safe to use the next higher grain load such as the 170 grain cast lead load data as shown in the revised second edition reloading book or is there a actual load data… Read more »

Norris Dyer

Thank you for your comments but I did not intend to go over the SAAMI specifications and since their data incorporates 1911 frames in their 45 ACP load data the unsupported barrel would not be an issue. You used a 155 grain bullet and pushed it at 1,200 fps, that is the top end of what Lee Precision's data allows (and obviously should be approached with caution) but I am saying that if you remove 30 grains from your bullet's weight that the 18,000 CUP or 20,600 psi (the highest pressures I saw in Lee's $45 ACP data which they… Read more »


You neglect to consider the two factors that actually matter: maximum pressure levels that guns built in .45 ACP can handle (there is a SAAMI spec for this for a reason), and that most 1911s built in .45 ACP have unsupported barrels. Go back and study what happened to 1911's in .38 super with unsupported barrels when IPSC shooters tried to run loads that exceeded safe pressure levels. The term "super face" was coined to describe the injuries shooters got from fragments hitting them in the face when their guns blew up. I (and many others) experimented with running 155… Read more »