April 4th, 2020

Loading for the .45 ACP — VV N320 and Other Good Powders

VV N320 for .45 ACP

There’s an interesting thread in our Shooters Forum right now — all about good choices for a .45 ACP handgun. If you’re considering getting your first .45 ACP pistol, you should read that thread. If you already own one or more .45 ACP handguns, this article offers some good tips on handloading options.

Forum Thread: Which .45 ACP Handgun to Purchase — Members Offer Suggestions

VV N320 for .45 ACPGood Powder Choices for the .45 ACP
We know that many of our readers own .45 ACP handguns and load for this extremely accurate “classic” cartridge. When selecting a powder for the .45 ACP, there are many good options. All the major powder manufacturers make propellants with appropriate density and burn rate characteristics for the .45 ACP. Popular choices include: AA #5 (Accurate Powder); Bullseye (Alliant); Clays, HP-38, and Titegroup (Hodgdon); VV N310 and N320 (Vihtavuori); and WW 231 and WST (Winchester). We’ve tried all those powders in a variety of .45 ACP handguns. When we consider all the factors that make for a good pistol powder, we think N320 is one of the best available propellants for the .45 ACP.

Vihtavuori N320 is very accurate, it meters well, and it burns clean, with minimal smoke and flash. If you haven’t tried VV N320 yet, you should.

Pros and Cons of Different Powders for the .45 ACP
This Editor has personally tried out eight or more different powders for the .45 ACP. Bullseye works but it is very dirty (both smoke out the barrel and sooty powder fouling on case). Though it otherwise burns clean, Titegroup leaves a singular (and nasty) high-temp flame streak on your brass that is hard to remove. AA #5 is a good choice for progressive press newbies as you use more powder so a double charge will (usually) be obvious. I like AA #5 but N320 was more accurate. Clays burns clean but some powder measures struggle with flake powders like this. WW 231 offered excellent accuracy and metered well, but it kicked out sparks with little pieces of debris that would hit me in the face. Who wants that?

I personally tried all the powders listed above with lead, plated, and jacketed bullets. After testing for accuracy, consistency, and ease of metering, I selected VV N320 as the best overall performer.

Vihtavuori N320

  • No powder tested was more accurate (WW 231 was equally accurate).
  • Meters very well in all kinds of powder measures.
  • Produces very little smoke from muzzle.
  • Does not put nasty burn streak on brass like Tite-Group does.
  • Low Flash — you don’t get particles and sparks flying out like WW 231.
  • Cases come out from gun very clean — so you can tumble less often.

Forum member and gunsmith Michael Ezell agrees that N320 is a good choice for the .45 ACP. Mike has also found that WW 231, while accurate, produces sparks and a large flash. Mike writes: “I first started using N320 after my first night shoot, while shooting IDPA/IPSC matches. It was astonishing how much of a fireball the WW 231 created. I was literally blinded by the flash while trying to shoot a match. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I went from WW 231 to N320 and never looked back…and the flash from it was a fraction of what a kid’s sparkler would give off. I have nothing but good things to say about [N320] after using both. Night shoots are a real eye-opener! When it comes to a personal protection… there is, statistically, a very high chance that if you ever have to use a gun to protect yourself or your family, it’ll be in the darkness[.] Being blinded by muzzle flash (and deafened by the noise) are things that should be considered, IMO.”

This Editor owns a full-size, all-stainless S&W 1911. After trying numerous powders, I found VV N320 delivered the best combination of accuracy, easy metering, consistency, clean burning qualities, and low muzzle flash. My gun has proven exceptionally accurate using N320 with bullets from 180 grains to 230 grains — it will shoot as accurately as some expensive customs I’ve tried. At right is 5-round group I shot offhand at 10 yards with my 5″ S&W 1911.

NOTE: The bullet hole edges are sharp because I was using semi-wad-cutters, and the target paper is thick. Rounds were loaded with Vihtavuori N320 and 200-grain SWCs from Precision Bullets in Texas. We shoot Precision’s coated bullets in many of our pistols. These projectiles are accurate and they seem to reduce fouling in our pistol barrels. You can learn about them in this video:

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June 23rd, 2018

Crowd-Pleasers: Best-Selling Pistols of 2018

Best selling gun genius firearms pistol Sig P320 gunbroker

Looking to acquire a handgun for personal protection of home and family? There are countless options on the market. Your buying decision may be simplified by seeing what other consumers have chosen, as revealed by nationwide sales trends. You can now check firearms sales figures using “Gun Genius”, a new data-crunching service of Gunbroker.com. On GunGenius.com you can select any type of firearm (handgun, rifle, shotgun)* and see the top sellers for that category.

Here are the five (5) top-selling NEW semi-auto handguns for May 2018:

Best selling gun genius firearms pistol Sig P320 gunbroker

And here are the five (5) top-selling USED semi-auto handguns for June 2017:

Best selling gun genius firearms pistol Sig P320 gunbroker

*Chose semi-auto pistols, revolvers, semi-auto rifles, bolt-action rifles, lever-action rifles, single-shot rifles, semi-auto shotguns, pump shotguns, and more. You can also filter for sales trends (upwards and downwards). Drill down to see detailed product specifications and current prices.

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August 25th, 2010

Kimber Super Carry Pro — Kobra Carry Clone for $1000 Less?

This year Kimber introduced a new line of ‘Super Carry’ 1911-style pistols. Assembled in Kimber’s Custom Shop, the Super Carry Pro (4″) and Super Carry Custom (5″) feature aluminum frames with an Ed Brown Kobra-style cut-back heel and snakeskin-style serrations. The Kimber’s slide is blackened stainless, making for a very handsome two-tone handgun. By using an aluminum frame (as found on the “classic” Sig-Sauer p226 and p228), Kimber has shaved significant weight off the Super Carrys — an important factor for guns intended to be carried all day long. The Super Carry Pro, a Commander-sized 1911 with 4″ barrel, weighs just 28 ounces (with empty mag) — that’s 7 ounces lighter than an Ed Brown Kobra Carry. Kimber’s 5″-barreled, full-size Super Carry Custom is 31 ounces with empty mag. By comparison, a full-size Smith & Wesson SW1911 weighs 41 ounces. A ten-ounce difference is significant when you’re packing.

Kimber Super Carry Pro

Kimber Super Carry Pro Copies Kobra Carry
It’s obvious that Kimber copied styling features from the Ed Brown Kobra Carry, notably the slide serrations and the cut-back grip heel, which mimics Brown’s Bobtail™ frame. Kimber can’t call its frame a “Bobtail” since Ed Brown has trademarked that term, but the looks and function of Kimber’s “round-heel frame” are much the same. If you’ve every carried a 1911 right behind the hip, you know the bottom of a standard 1911 frame can dig into the kidney area. So Kimber’s adaptation of Ed Brown’s Bobtail was a smart move, as was the use of aluminum (for weight savings). What about wear? Is there a problem with steel sliding over aluminum? Well, that hasn’t been a problem with the aluminum-framed Sig Sauer pistols, and Kimber’s aluminum frames are coated with KimPro II, a proprietary coating that Kimber claims is “self-lubricating and highly durable.”

Kimber Super Carry ProAmbi-Safety Makes Sense on Carry Gun
We like the new Kimber Super Carry models, though we could live without the snakeskin treatment on top of the slide. That’s over-doing it in our book. Having shot both the Super Carry and the Ed Brown Kobra I actually prefer the feel of the Kimber’s nicely radiused grip safety and I think Kimber is wise to put an ambi-safety on the gun by default (an ambidextrous safety is $75.00 extra on the Kobra Carry). In a self-defense scenario, a right-hander might have his strong-side arm disabled, so it is important that he be able to operate the gun left-handed.

How about accuracy? I only had a chance to shoot a few rounds with the Kimber Super Carry Pro, and it didn’t group as tight at 10 yards as the Kobra Carry I’ve shot, but the difference wasn’t that great. Also the nearly-new Kimber’s trigger was a bit heavy and gritty, and I didn’t have a chance to work up a custom load. Neither gun shot as accurately as this Editor’s SW1911 with my handloads (VV N320 and Precision Bullets 200gr semi-wadcutters) which cost just $700.00 a few years ago. That SW1911 prints easy 1/2″ groups at 10 yards with handloads. So, is the Kimber Super Carry a good buy? Street price for the Super Carry Pro is about $1300.00, and that includes night sights. That’s over $1000.00 less than a Kobra Carry which costs $2445.00 with night sights. We predict those who are in the market for a Bobtail, two-tone carry gun will look very seriously at the Kimber Super Carry Pro, given the huge price savings over Ed Brown’s Kobra Carry. This Editor likes the lighter, “round-heel” aluminum frame (particularly in the 4″ model which balances well), and I like the overall feel and appearance of the gun. For $1300.00, however, I expected more from the Kimber’s trigger. As with most production 1911s it can benefit from a trigger job by a competent 1911 smith.

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