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The .45 Super is a powerful smokeless powder center fire metallic firearm cartridge developed in 1988 by Dean Grennell, a well-known writer in the firearms field as well as managing editor of Gun World magazine.[2][3] It is dimensionally similar to the .45 ACP round but has a thicker case wall and is loaded to higher pressures, which offers an average 300 feet per second (91 m/s) improvement in muzzle velocity over the .45 ACP.[4] The cartridge was co-developed by Tom Fergerson and Ace Hindman.[5]

.45 Super
Place of originUnited States
Production history
DesignerDean Grennell
Parent case.451 Detonics Magnum[1]
Bullet diameter.451 in (11.5 mm)
Neck diameter.473 in (12.0 mm)
Base diameter.476 in (12.1 mm)
Rim diameter.480 in (12.2 mm)
Rim thickness.049 in (1.2 mm)
Case length.898 in (22.8 mm)
Overall length1.275 in (32.4 mm)
Primer typeLarge pistol
Maximum pressure )28,000 psi (190 MPa)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
185 gr (12 g) JHP 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 694 ft⋅lbf (941 J)
200 gr (13 g) JHP 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) 639 ft⋅lbf (866 J)
230 gr (15 g) FMJ 1,100 ft/s (340 m/s) 618 ft⋅lbf (838 J)
Test barrel length: 5 inches (130 mm)
Source(s): MidwayUSA


Development historyEdit

In 1988, a Gun World article detailed Grennell's efforts to update the .45 ACP for the 21st Century, a difficult endeavor due to the inherent design limitations of the veteran round.[6] Introduced in the early 20th Century, the .45 ACP has a relatively large case capacity which was dictated by the relatively low pressure powders in use at the time of its development; as a result, it operates in the modest range of 19,900 – 22,000 Copper units of pressure (CUP). In contrast, current day cartridges using modern nitrocellulose powders generating higher pressure can produce a CUP in the 28,000 – 39,000 range.[6] As it was originally designed for lower pressures, the .45 ACP case has relatively thin walls and weak case head and web specifications; it cannot reliably contain increased pressures. The layout of most M1911 pistols' chambers presents yet another challenge in that the case head is not fully supported in the cartridge feed ramp area;[2] pushing the envelope in this critical area with too much pressure risks a catastrophic failure, resulting in a case bursting in the chamber.[6] To rule out such a dangerous possibility, Grennell chose to use brass formed from the stronger and more modern .451[1] Detonics, shortened to the overall length of the .45 ACP design.[2] Support for the case head was also addressed by adopting a new chamber and barrel design which supports the base area of the case.[6] Other areas of the model 1911 pistol design were also strengthened, including the addition of a heavier recoil spring and a strengthened firing pin redesigned to prevent primer material from flowing into the firing pin channel under high chamber pressures.[2]

Manufacturers such as Heckler & Koch GmbH currently offer pistols rated to fire .45 Super ‘out of the box’.[6] The Smith & Wesson Model 4506 and other models in the 3rd Generation 4500 series leave the factory with springs for the .45ACP, but feature full support for the .45 Super load when upgraded with a stronger spring. Although they will chamber, the firing of .45 Super rounds in non-rated standard .45 ACP automatics is not recommended, as doing so risks a case failure in the unsupported chamber and at the very least would batter the slide and almost certainly shorten the life of the pistol.[6][7]

.450 SMCEdit

The .450 SMC is a variant of the .45 Super with a smaller primer pocket, which can support higher pressure, and therefore velocity, because the case is stronger due to having more brass in the web area.[2]


A number of bullet weight and velocity combinations are offered in .45 Super, including a 185-grain (12.0 g) bullet propelled at 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s), a 200-grain (13 g) at 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) and a 230-grain (15 g) at 1,100 ft/s (340 m/s).[3][7] as well as other weight/velocities provided by Super Express cartridges and Buffalo Bore, such as 255-grain (16.5 g) at 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s).

Current statusEdit

Sedalia, Missouri based Starline Brass company eventually began marketing factory manufactured brass cases for the chambering, taking the round out of the obscure wildcat cartridge realm. In addition, Ace Custom .45’s Inc. of Cleveland, Texas trademarked the .45 Super name in 1994 and used to market factory .45 Super pistols, as well as gunsmith adaptations of .45 ACP pistols, and .45 ACP conversion kits. Ace Custom .45's Inc has since gone out of business and their website is down.[8] Texas Ammunition, Underwood Ammo,[9] and Buffalo Bore[10] offer factory loaded ammunition which is marketed by Ace Custom and others.[3][6] The Dan Wesson .460 Rowland will also chamber a .45 Super.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Short History of the .451 Detonics Magnum". 2012-08-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e "1911 Hot Rods" Handguns Magazine website. Accessed March 11, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "VERSATILITY AND POWER THE ‘45SUPER’ CONCEPT" Archived 2008-02-17 at the Wayback Machine Ace Custom .45s website Accessed March 11, 2008.
  4. ^ ".45 Super" Everything Development Company website. Accessed March 11, 2008.
  5. ^ Cengage Learning
  6. ^ a b c d e f g ".45 Automatic" Notpurfect website. Accessed February 25, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Starline Product Information & Descriptions" Archived 2008-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Starline Brass website. Accessed March 11, 2008.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  9. ^ "45 Super | Underwood Ammo | Pistol Ammunition | Self- Defense | Ammo". Archived from the original on 2015-06-07. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  10. ^ "Buffalo Bore .45 Super Ammo".