I Feel The Need for .450 SMC Speed

By Tom McHale

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.
The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Sometimes we shooters do things because, well, why not? It’s as good reason as any, right?

At first glance, the .450 SMC cartridge may appear to fall into the “why not” category. When you start to look at specifics and potential use cases, it can make a whole lot of sense.

What’s a .450 SMC you ask?

What if I told you…

  • That you could launch a .451 160 grain projectile at .357 Sig velocities?
  • That you could blast a standard .45 ACP 230 grain bullet 32 percent faster?
  • That you could break 1,300 feet per second with an 185 grain .45 projectile?
  • That you could shoot a 255 grain hard cast bullet from an autoloading handgun?
  • And most importantly, that you could do these things from your existing .45 ACP pistol?

Sound farfetched? Nope. Assuming you have a .45 ACP pistol that’s rated for +P .45 ACP ammunition, you can shoot the .450 SMC to obtain this type of performance, and more. As we speak, Doubletap Ammunition offers five different loadings of .450 SMC.

Whose Crazy Idea Was This?

In late 2000, a company called Triton launched the .450 SMC. Similar to the .45 Super, one primary difference was the use of a small rifle primer, theoretically allowing more brass in the cartridge base for strength. Alas, Triton didn’t last, and the .450 SMC faded away.

Fortunately for us speed freaks, the Godfather of Boom!, Mike McNett, founder of Doubletap ammunition picked up the rights and tooling for the .450 SMC cartridge, and it’s now commercially available again.

What is the .450 SMC Round?

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.
Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t simply jam more powder into a standard .45 ACP cartridge case to obtain this type of performance. It’s a little more complicated than that, especially considering that the .45 ACP was designed as a low-pressure cartridge running at about 20,000 psi. There’s margin in the design, but you don’t want to go and drive pressure through the roof.

The solution is to use a different case while keeping the same dimensions. The .450 SMC uses a small magnum rifle primer rather than the standard large pistol primer of the .45 ACP. The small rifle magnum provides plenty of ignition power, but the smaller primer pocket means more brass at the cartridge base, hence a stronger case. As a result, Doubletap Ammunition can load the case with five to six thousand more pounds per square inch of pressure than a standard .45 ACP. Also, the stronger case prevents bulging even in a less-than-ideally supported chamber like a Glock 21.

As of now, Doubletap Ammunition is the only provider of .450 SMC. Founder Mike McNett bought the tooling and is now having a good old time loading lots of .450 SMC in various combinations. And I’m having a good old time shooting it.

Performance

When it comes to understanding relative cartridge performance, there’s one place I go first. The Cartridge Comparison Guide, written by my friend and mega gun geek Andrew Chamberlain, is the definitive source of rifle, pistol and shotgun ammunition performance. He’s spent well over 7,500 years working diligently with his slide rule to develop and categorize cartridge performance numbers including, but not limited to, velocity, energy, momentum, sectional density and recoil energy. More importantly, he’s sorted and categorized that data in a myriad of ways so you can easily evaluate comparative data of a near-infinite number of cartridges. Want to find a caliber that has over 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards? No worries, that’s the kind of information you can find in the Cartridge Comparison Guide.

Anyway, my copy of the Cartridge Comparison Guide did not yet have .450 SMC data, so I emailed Andrew, knowing that he surely had done the work on it already. Fortunately, he had, and here’s how it stacks up the similar .45 ACP cartridges. Remember, these figures apply to a standard 5-inch barrel .45 ACP pistol, assuming it’s +P rated, so you can obtain improved performance with a simple ammunition swap.

LoadVelocityEnergy (ft-lbs)Momentum (lbs-ft/sec)Recoil Energy (ft-lbs)
160gr. Barnes TAC-XP1,350648339.95
185gr.  Bonded Defense® JHP1,3507493613.1
230gr. Bonded Defense® JHP1,1306523712.7
255gr. SWC Hardcast1,0306013812.9

As a comparison, a “standard” .45 ACP fired from the same gun calculates as follows:

LoadVelocityEnergy (ft-lbs)Momentum (lbs-ft/sec)Recoil Energy (ft-lbs)
230 grain .45 ACP (standard)90041329.67.25

Recoil

In addition to myself, I asked two other shooters to test all five loads to offer their subjective opinion on felt recoil. All of us agreed that the super fast 160 grain Barnes TAC-XP load felt pretty much the same as a normal .45 ACP defensive round. The 185 grain loads were mildly stout to all of us. Where things started to get interesting was with the 230 grain loads. Those will wake you up in the morning but are perfectly manageable. The 255 grain loads get the attention of your range neighbors, three states away. I took some video of the other shooters, and when slowed down, you can see some healthy muzzle flip, but again, not uncontrollable.

The Cartridge Comparison Guide table above will give you a mathematical representation of difference in recoil energy, but felt recoil is just something you have to try yourself. Every shooter has different tolerance and ability to control the gun.

Practical Considerations

I'm kinda thinking the 255 grain hardcast load on the right is an excellent bacon making solution.
I'm kinda thinking the 255 grain hardcast load on the right is an excellent bacon making solution.

I’ve been testing all of the Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC loads in my Springfield Armory 1911 TRP. Mine has an 18.5 pound recoil spring in it at the moment, and for occasional .450 SMC use, it’s working fine. If I decide to feed it a steady diet of .450 SMC, I’ll likely switch out the recoil spring to a 22 pound version to reduce wear and tear on the slide and frame.

For defensive use, I would not hesitate to use the 160 grain, and possibly 185 grain loads as I was confident in my ability to shoot fast and accurate followup shots. Again, speaking for myself, I would also not hesitate to use the 230 and 255 grain loads for hunting with a 1911. The 255 grain hard cast makes a heck of a hog round, especially when fired from an extended barrel 1911. Using a 6-inch barrel will give you another 100 feet per second, more or less.

If you feel the need for speed, check out the .450 SMC. Make sure your gun is up to the task, and, as with any higher powered ammo, load just one round first so you can get an idea of recoil without risk of an inadvertent second shot.

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on . You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • 36 thoughts on “I Feel The Need for .450 SMC Speed

    1. Just remember that if you have a righteous DGU with it a gun hating DA will carefully weed out ANYONE with any real knowledge of guns or defensive shooting. They want gullible goobers on the jury not anyone with real deductive ability. Unless a few NRA members (who are not voir dired on membership, sneak on you could be toast.

    2. You guys, burning nitro in your government model is like putting a 671 blower on a flathead! I have numerous government models in .400 Corbon, 10mm and a “Grizzly” in .45 Win Mag. With added pressure you sooner or
      later are going to have problems. A simple solution sometime is not a good one. If you have ever had a case let loose
      at the web and blown a mag and grip panel (my .45 Win Mag did) it will be a real eye opener! Invest in a Desert Eagle, be a Man!

    3. Send me a boxl I’ll be the judge of that. LoL
      I’ll shoot them in my Glock 21 Gen 2.
      I’ll do penetration testjng
      Cronograph testing
      Accuracy testing ( nobody’s mentioned that part )
      Quality video of the house results
      “Trappers Taxidermy “

    4. I load 300gr rebated boattail bullets in my .450 smc/.45 super commander. these are lathe turned from penn/ssk 340gr casull silver alloy bullets. 7.0gr power pistol nets about 875 fps. Now thats some compact power!

    5. You have to have stronger recoil springs. I would up the hammer spring in 1911’s and SA/DA also. Stronger mag springs are a good idea or a necessity also.

      I don’t see the 160 gr. .451 @ 1300 or so that great. A 10mm will huck a 180 at that velocity with much better sectional density. You won’t push a good bonded 180 past it’s velocity window at hunting distances. I’ve shot 155 gr. GD’s from a 6.5″ 610 into water jugs from 15 ft. and they were flat as a pancake and larger than a quarter. They left the barrel at about 1,500 fps. All kept 100% of the original weight. The .40 155 GD has more sectional density than a 160 .45 and can be purchased from numerous manufacturers with velocity of 1,300 fps from a 4″ tube. All the 45 velocities are from 5″ tubes.

      The only advantage I see these and the 45Super have over 10mm is for SD. Having less sectional density with this amount of power is an advantage on humans IMO.

      1. The stronger recoil spring dor sure, the hammer spring probably, but I’m trying to fathom the need for stronger magazine springs. If you’ve carried and fired a 1911 for any length of time, you’ve probably already switched to a higher quality magazine such as those made by Wislon Combat or Nighthawk.

        1. The slide is traveling much faster and a stronger mag spring insures that the next round is where it needs rob to go into battery without feed issues…

      2. The .450 SMC would be an ideal cartridge for PPC’s made by Ruger, Marlin, Beretta, JR and other companies that offer AR-based platforms chambered in .45ACP +P. These would be as powerful as a 10mm in a Hi-Point (low end) or Kriss Vector (high end) but with less recoil and a smaller flash signature. Additionally,you can run normal and subsonic .45ACP’s, .45ACP +P’s and .45 Supers through them as well..

    6. Fantastic FINALLY 10mm performance for a CHL pistol. Ordering today. Barnes 160 grain in .450 with a Speingfield XDS does it get any better. Barrier penetration, penetration in general and the 500 ft lbs of energy that the FBI recommends. plus from a 3.5 inch barrel whats not to love . Plus like its been said to be a to carry a 1911 for hunting ummm the 44 is up for sale. Smart move Mike very smart!!!

      1. GREAT so long as you recall the episode of Mr. Fish in UT who defended himself with a 10mm and the DA got a conviction (overturned) by lying to the jury that the 10mm is a “murder round” not for civilian use.

    7. I set up a Springfield Armory 1911 in 2006 for the 450smc. Triton made it back then, but they went byby and Mike picked it up. Good job Mike! I’m building up another 1911 for it now. While shooting it sparingly from +P rated weapons is ok, I would not keep it on even a semi rich diet of these powerhouses. They are screamers! And they easily outrun 10mm at this level. A properly set up 1911 should be outfitted with a flat firing pin stop with 1/6″ radius bevel, 23-25lb main spring and at least a 20lb recoil spring. A buffer wouldn’t hurt either.

    8. Can’t wait to try these in my Boberg XR45-s pocket pistol!
      The Boberg is already certified for +P and SUPER ammo.
      The worlds’ most powerful pocket pistol on steroids

    9. Now if we could get all the fish and game folks a heads up on this development; it may make the 1911 a viable platform for the deer season handgun hunt. On paper this round leaves the 44 Special behind.

      1. The 1911 has been a viable deer pistol since Colt made the first Delta 10mm, I know of several large bucks take with one in the late 80’s. The 45 acp will take deer if you are close enough and have excellent shot placement. It is not an idea gun for ranges over 4o yards, just think archery distances when you take the shot.

    10. I can see how these types of loads would be handy when hiking or fishing in bear and moose country. My 1911 rides so much nicer than any of my large caliber single or double action handguns. Sometimes I just don’t feel like carrying the big revolvers or a rifle or shotgun. I could keep three mags of these in the pickup and just grab them when I wanted to go fishing or take a walk.

        1. That’s why 44 magnum barrels wear out so damn fast or 10 mm or 40 S&w , oh wait they don’t and they are operating under higher pressures with similar barrels. If set up correctly it’s a non issue….

    11. “He’s spent well over 7,500 years working diligently with his slide rule”….Either this is a typo or he’s related to Mathusala !!

    12. Why do we need to fire these high powered rounds. Because they are there and we want to. The gun grabbers love to throw in our face, why do you need more than one gun, 10 guns, or 100 guns. Well, why do they need 7 $100,000.00 cars, 200 pairs of shoes, 10 one million dollar homes in different states. That line can be applied to anything and lets remember, these politicians making these allegations are robbing us blind and living the high life that we can’t even begin to fathom. Lets start taking some of their so called “needs” away from them and make them live like us.

    13. Ok so it says ideally less supported chamber like a Glock 21. Which is +P rated. Meaning it will work in a G21. Mine is a Gen 4.

    14. I called Ruger about my SR1911. Their customer Svc office said it was rated for +P. Called Colt about my wife’s Mustang and they were able to confirm it could shoot +P safely.

    15. Les, I believe the article says that the .450 SMC is available for all pistols chambered and rated for .45 acp +P. Check with your manufacture to be sure that your pistol is rated for the higher pressures.

    16. How would one learn if their 45 acp pistol in was rated for the 450 SMC + P round? Is the a list of weapons or. Contact the .manufacturer.

      1. “+P” is a rating for .45 ACP, not .450 SMC. Your firearm’s owner manual should say whether the firearm is built to handle .45 ACP +P ammunition. According to this article, IF your firearm can handle .45 ACP +P, then it can also handle .450 SMC.

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