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A noted handgun expert wrote that his wife has used a .45, 260 grain, lead Semi Wad Cutter at 900 FPS to take five Mule Deer and his son has used the same load to take a nice Mule Deer Buck at 90 yards. Those bullets were all fired from a .45 caliber revolver. He said this load will go through an Antelope or a Mule Deer lengthwise at 100 yards. I conclude that a .45 Super 255 grain lead flat point or SWC at 1,075 FPS will do the same or more.

I have verified reports of 3 charging or threatening Brown Bears stopped and killed with 9 mm pistols. I have several reports of Bears stopped with every day carry pistols in .40 S&W, .357 Sig and .45ACP. The 10mm, .45 Super and 450 SMC are more powerful and would all seem to be more effective for predator defense than any of the afore mentioned calibers. See our article, “Dangerous Predators Stopped with Handguns”.

Ted Nugent recently stopped a wounded African Buffalo, shooting it in the neck with a 10 mm. I have also watched videos of Elk harvested and Deer and Hogs dropped, sometimes as if struck by lightning when shot with a 10 mm or a .45 Super. All 3 of the cartridges detailed here would appear to have the power required for predator defense for animals up to and including Black Bears.

All 10 mm, 450 SMC and .45 Super cartridges described in this article produce between 600 and 700 Ft. Lbs. of energy. Energy levels between 700 and 800 Ft. Lbs. can be achieved with all three of these calibers by using light weight projectiles traveling at much higher velocities. Such projectiles are not appropriate for predator defense due to insufficient penetration and were not considered for this article. Nor did we consider unconventional and unproven projectiles. (See our article “Handgun Ammunition for Carrying in the Woods”).

There are far more powerful firearms that would be very effective for predator defense. Few outdoorsmen however are likely to carry a heavy shotgun or rifle every time they venture off the concrete. Our only objective here is to compare the 10 mm to the .45 Super and 450 SMC.

Comparing 255 grain .450 SMC and .45 Super cartridges

Double Tap Ammunition 450 SMC, 255 grain lead Semi Wad Cutter “SWC”:
1,030 FPS in a 5-inch barrel for 601 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
1,120 FPS in a 6-inch barrel for 710 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
20 round box of ammunition is $28.07or $1.40 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition .45 Super, 255 grain lead flat point:
1,075 FPS in a 5-inch barrel for 654 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
50 round box of ammunition is $57.62 or $1.15 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition .45 Super, 255 grain lead flat point.
1,075 FPS (barrel length not given, likely 5-inch) for 654 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph velocity as advertised.
20 round box of ammunition is $18.99 or $0.95 per cartridge.

These prices do not include the additional cost of shipping.
Ammunition prices change often. Check before ordering.

Additional information on the 255 grain 450 SMC

The Double Tap Ammunition 450 SMC, 255 grain bullet is a SWC. This bullet was originally designed for use in revolvers. The SWC bullet has been used by handgun hunters for decades. It can however be problematic when used in semi-automatic pistols. I was unable to chamber this cartridge in my .45 ACP KKM barrel or in my Lone Wolf .45 ACP barrel. I fired one magazine of this ammunition in my S&W 4506. In the S&W, all the cartridges chambered except one. The cutting shoulder on the SWC bullet is engaging the rifling too soon, preventing the cartridges from fully chambering. Your barrel and ammunition may provide different results.

Note: In this article, I refer to Glock pistols for comparing the various loads primarily because Glock 21 pistols are often converted to shoot .45 Super and for comparison, the popular Glock 20 10 mm pistols are essentially similar to the Glock 21.

Comparing 230 grain 10 mm, 450 SMC and .45 Super Cartridges

Double Tap Ammunition 10 mm, 230 grain lead flat point:
1,120 FPS in a 4.6-inch barrel for 674n Ft. Lbs. of energy advertised.
Chronograph velocity from my Glock 20 with 6-inch KKM barrel 1,110 FPS.
20 round box of ammunition $22.50 or $1.13 per cartridge.

Double Tap Ammunition 450 SMC, 230 grain FMJ:
1,130 FPS in a 5-inch barrel for 652 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph 1,161 in a 6-inch Lone Wolf barrel.
20 round box of ammunition is $28.07 or $1.40 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition .45 Super, 230 grain FMJ:
1,130 FPS in a 5-inch barrel for 652 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph 1,137 FPS in a 5-inch barrel.
50 round box of ammunition is $57.62 or $1.15 per cartridge.

Comparing heavy (220-230) 10 mm cartridges only

Double Tap Ammunition 10 mm, 230 grain lead flat point:
1,120 FPS in a 4.6-inch barrel for 674n Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph 1,110 FPS from my Glock 20 with 6-inch KKM barrel.
Chronograph 1,161 in a 6-inch Lone Wolf barrel
20 round box of ammunition $22.50 or $1.13 per cartridge.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition 10 mm, 220 grain lead flat point:
1,175 FPS in a 5-inch barrel for 674 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
Chronograph 1,231 FPS in a 6-inch barrel.
20 round box of ammunition $31.55 or $1.58 per cartridge.

Underwood Ammunition 10 mm, 220 grain lead flat point:
1,200 FPS (barrel length not stated) for 703 Ft. Lbs. of energy.
1,267 FPS in a 6-inch barrel.
20 round box of ammunition is $18.99 or $0.95 per cartridge.

Note when comparing cartridges with the same weight bullets and fired from the same length barrels the 450 SMC and the .45 Super achieve the same velocity and energy as the heavy 10 mm loads. Actual velocities that I have observed indicate many of the .45 Super loads chronograph a little faster than advertised.

The higher ballistic coefficient of the 10 mm when shooting bullets of the same weight may provide a five to ten-yard increase in point blank range and slightly greater penetration compared to the .45 Super. These differences should be insignificant.

It is also interesting to note that the 450 SMC and .45 Super, while producing identical or slightly better ballistics that the 10 mm, do so at considerably lower chamber pressure. Full power 10 mm cartridges operate at 37,500 PSI. Full power .45 Super cartridges operate at 28,000 PSI.

In comparing the hand loading data for the .45 Super and the 10 mm, I found that full power, heavy 10 mm loads produced by the three ammo manufactures mentioned here are very difficult to duplicate. The full power .45 Super ballistics were much easier to achieve with hand loads.

I often hear concerns about the recoil of the .45 Super damaging pistols which are designed for the .45 ACP cartridge. The 10 mm Glock 20 and the .45 ACP Glock 21 are built on the same frame and there is only a small difference in the slides on these pistols. They are equipped with the same recoil spring. The recoil of the 10 mm 230 grain bullet at 1,130 FPS must be similar if not the same as a .45 Super 230 grain bullet at 1,130 FPS. The recoil impulse for both calibers using heavy loads should be nearly identical.

How is it that the stock recoil spring is sufficient for the Glock 20 shooting 10 mm cartridges but is not sufficient for the Glock 21 shooting .45 Super ammunition? The recoil spring in the Glock 20 was likely selected to handle the more common reduced power 10 mm loads and occasional use with heavy loads.

Upgrading the recoil spring in a Glock 20 which is primarily used for shooting heavy 10 mm loads would seem prudent. Upgrading the recoil spring in a Glock 21 which is going to see regular use with .45 Super Ammunition would also seem appropriate. I see no reason why shooting .45 Super ammunition in a  Glock 21 with an upgraded recoil spring would be any harder on the pistol than shooting  heavy 10 mm loads in a Glock 20 with an upgraded recoil spring. The recoil is the same.

Many Glock 21 and compact Glock 30 .45 ACP pistols have been converted to .40 Super. This caliber produce higher velocity, more energy and more recoil than heavy 10 mm or .45 Super cartridges. This suggests that the heavy 10 mm and .45 Super cartridges are not pushing the full-size Glock 20 and Glock 21 pistols to their limits. Glock also sells their compact Glock 29 10 mm pistol as a standard production item.

Shooting heavy loads in a pistol is going to increase wear. Shooting light loads will likely maximize the life span of any pistol. I am aware of several Glock 17 9mm pistols which have fired over 300,000 rounds of ammunition. Such longevity should not be expected from more powerful, harder recoiling pistols such as the 10 mm or the .45 Super. I have been told by police armors that .40 S&W and .357 Sig service pistols require more maintenance than 9 mm service pistols and require more frequent replacement.

According to several sources, H&K USP .45 ACP pistols are rated to shoot .45 Super ammunition without modification. Shooting heavy 10 mm or .45 Super loads with or without upgrading the recoil spring in your pistol is an individual and personal decision. More power means more wear and less durability regardless of the firearm or caliber. I use an upgraded recoil spring in my Glock 20 and my Glock 21. I am responsible for my results and others are responsible for theirs.

Characteristics such as lightweight, high capacity, night sites, the ability to mount an illumination light, fast to reload, reliable under field conditions and the heavy loads now being produced by several ammunition makers are likely reasons for the growing popularity of the 10 mm as an outdoorsman’s caliber.   These advantages apply to the .45 Super and .450 SMC as well.

In my opinion, before the 10 mm can take its place as a top trail, woods and outdoor survival handgun, a factory loaded shot shell should be available. The CCI .45 ACP shot shell can of course be fired in a .45 Super or 450 SMC which are  .45 ACP pistols with a fully supported chamber and heavier recoil spring. (Some conversions will include additional upgrades). However, the heavy recoil spring will necessitate manual functioning with the very light recoiling shot shells.

In comparing the 450 SMC and the .45 Super to the 10 mm, the ability to shoot less expensive .45 ACP, .45 ACP +P and CCI .45 ACP shot shells for snake and pest control override any slight advantage the 10 mm may have in penetration. These two .45’s also have the advantage of being able to shoot 255 grain bullets. The heaviest bullets currently loaded in the 10 mm are 220 and 230 grain. In the few tests we have conducted, the .450 SMC and the .45 Super have produced impressive penetration.

Some might wonder if the similarity between the ballistics of the 10 mm, 450 SMC and .45 Super heavy bullet loads remains constant with lighter projectiles such as the 180 and 185 grain hollow points popular for hunting medium game such as deer. In the accompanying chart, we can see that the similarity remains the same, with the .45 Super indicating a slight advantage in velocity. Note: These lighter weight bullets are not in our opinion appropriate for Predator Defense due to their limited penetration.

Comparing 180 and 185 grain 10 mm, .45 Super and 450 SMC medium game hunting loads

Buffalo Bore 10 mm 180 grain JHP
Chronograph 1,374 FPS in a 5-inch barrel.

Buffalo Bore .45 Super 185 grain JHP
Chronograph 1,352 FPS in a 5-inch barrel.

The difference between these 2 loads from Buffalo Bore of 22 FPS is negated by the slightly heavier bullet in the .45 Super.

Underwood 10 mm 180 grain JHP
Chronograph 1,328 FPS in a 5-inch barrel.

Underwood .45 Super 185 grain JHP
Chronograph 1,387 FPS in a 5-inch barrel.

The difference between these 2 loads from Underwood is 59 FPS in favor of the slightly heavier .45 Super.

Double Tap Ammunition 10 mm 180 JHP
1,300 FPS advertised

Double Tap Ammunition 450 SMC JHP
1,350 FPS advertised.

The difference between these 2 loads from Double Tap is 50 FPS in favor of the  slightly heavier .450 SMC.

Final Thoughts

After comparing all the information, ballistic testing and field experience I could obtain I have concluded that my pistol of choice when afield in my home state of Utah will be a Glock 21 loaded with 255 grain hard cast lead flat point .45 Super ammunition. A second magazine loaded with the same ammunition and a third magazine loaded with CCI .45 ACP shot shells should serve me well in a variety of outdoor emergencies. This pistol is equipped with tritium sites and I will also carry an illumination device that I can mount on the pistol.

I would forgo all the advantages of an auto pistol and switch to my Ruger-5 inch Super Red Hawk in .454 Casull loaded with 360 grain bullets if I were going to spend time off the concrete in Alaska or Montana, due to the size of bears. Many outdoorsmen however have elected to rely on a 10-mm pistol for Brown Bear defense and it has proven effective in that role on several occasions.

In comparing 450 SMC, .45 Super and 10 mm from the three manufactures listed here, Underwood Ammunition cartridges were generally loaded to slightly higher velocity and are less expensive. If you have field experience with any of the cartridges described in this article we would appreciate your report.

At Marksmanship Matters we offer a two-day Predator Defense Class.

We teach the use of a sidearm during a variety of outdoor emergencies. The first day is classroom and the second day consists of live fire range drills. You will find additional information on our web site.

Larry and Stacey Mudgett
-Marksman Matters LLC.
www.marksmanshipmatters.com

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