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Old 12-23-2007, 09:51 AM   #1
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.45 Super?

I was at the local gun store I haunt where I saw a recently trade-in pistol. It was a Kimber with a lot of custom work done on it. The thing that interested me was that it came with a box of Triton .45 Super. I'd never even heard of such a caliber before and the good folks who work at Albany Guns, Coins, and Jewelry seemed divided on what it is. This leads me to ask the question, what is it exactly? We pulled out a .45 acp and to my untrained eye the rounds looked identical. Is it just a really, really hot .45 or something else?
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Old 12-23-2007, 10:15 AM   #2
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yep- it's just a really hot 45 acp- like what the old 451 detonics was- the secret was that you cut 308 rifle brass to length and the thicker walls supported the higher pressures
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Old 12-23-2007, 10:24 AM   #3
 
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Triton Cartridge

It was named the .450 SMC, small primer instead of large to avoid patent conflict with .45 Super
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Old 12-23-2007, 10:59 AM   #4
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As I Recall...

...some modification of the gun was required to use the stuff. I believe an early S&W 4506, which I traded to a friend many years ago, ended up being so modified, so that my friend could load Supers with a 250 gr. .45 Colt bullet at velocities between 900 and 1,000 fps, for use as a backup gun while hunting.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:12 PM   #5
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Interesting cartridge, and even more interesting story… I'll try to get Forum owner Fernando Coelho on here to expound on it. The names of Dean Grennell, Tom Furgeson, Bruce Hodgon and Garey Hindman (Ace Custom .45s) are all part of the story to my recollection, and I still have some of the rounds in my ammo locker.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:52 PM   #6
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Now That You Mention It...

Quote:
The names of Dean Grennell, Tom Furgeson, Bruce Hodgon and Garey Hindman (Ace Custom .45s) are all part of the story to my recollection, and I still have some of the rounds in my ammo locker.
Here is what Garey Hindman has to say about the subject,
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:43 PM   #7
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To this day, once or twice a year Jan Libourel of Gun World magazine will run some kind of story on .45 Super or a pistol that shoots it. Just saw one not all that long ago.
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Old 12-24-2007, 05:22 AM   #8
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Re: Triton Cartridge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultima-Ratio
It was named the .450 SMC, small primer instead of large to avoid patent conflict with .45 Super
Triton loaded some 45 Super, but I believe they were required to pay royalties. At some point they created the .450 "Short Magnum Cartridge" which had similar ballistics, but they owned the patent.
IIRC, the 450 SMC could be used interchangibly with the 45 Super.
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Old 12-24-2007, 11:58 AM   #9
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Starline is still selling 45 Super brass and Buffalo Bore loading ammunition.

See: http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#45s

or
http://www.starlinebrass.com/

If you have a pistol modified or checked out by a gunsmith you trust, it can be a good round for some uses.

Disclaimer: Please do not interpret this post as an endorsement for reloading 45 Super, or using any 45 Super in any particular pistol or for any particular purpose. My only point is that, to the best of my knowledge, both ammunition and brass is currently available for purchase.
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Old 12-24-2007, 12:47 PM   #10
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So where does the .460 Rowland fit into all this?

Edit: did the Google-foo and answered my own question.
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Old 12-25-2007, 10:58 AM   #11
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The .460 Rowland is a long-case .45 ACP derivative at even higher pressures. The .460 can deliver honest-to-god .44 magnum ballistics out of a 1911.

Along with honest-to-god .44 Magnum recoil. Do not shoot a .460 without the compensator Clark Custom builds on the end of every conversion barrel.
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Old 12-25-2007, 05:14 PM   #12
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Here is something I wrote back in February of 2005 about the .45 Super. The information still applies today....

To fully understand the .45 Super, you have to go back to when the cartridge first came into existence and the reasoning behind it. In 1987 gunwriter Dean Grennell had been exploring the possibilities of loading .45 ACP beyond the velocity limits of the day. With a maximum working pressure in the 19,000 PSI range, he knew that was going to be difficult with standard .45 ACP brass. With 1911 chambers being unsupported and brass that weak, this was not an easy task. He also disliked the fact that .45 ACP brass did not headspace on the case mouth as it was designed to do. The brass was .898” in length. Chambers that he measured were in the area of .905”. What Dean started to look for was a cartridge case that could be used instead of the .45 ACP that would allow for pressures to approach the low 30,000 PSI range and be long enough to allow for case trimming.

At the time, the .45 Winchester Magnum had already been on the market, as was the .451 Detonics Magnum. The .45 Win Mag was 1.198 inches long while the .451 D-Mag was .945 inches long. Both cases had identical case head construction. The simple fact was Detonics had approached Winchester and asked for a special run of shortened .45 Win Mag brass with their “451 Det Magnum” headstamp. If you look at the extractor groove of the Winchester and Detonics cases, you will see that they have the same narrow cut unlike the wider .45 ACP.

Dean set out to trim .451 D-Mag and .45 Win Mag brass to lengths ranging from .900 inches and .905 inches and began working up loads. Now one must remember that Dean’s goal was to explore the possibility of a cartridge, having a stronger construction than the .45 ACP. He was looking to achieve a moderate increase in velocity over standard .45 ACP factory loads. Trimming the cases to between .900 and .905 inches was done to see if they would be more accurate than the shorter .898 inch cases.

Once Dean achieved loads that were generating pretty healthy velocities and showing signs of superior accuracy, he installed a 22 pound recoil spring in his 1911 test mule, an old Remington-Rand government model. That was all that was done firearm wise. After Dean experimented with various bullet weights and powders, he published some of his data in Gun World magazine (Feb. 198.

By this point Dean had truly opened a whole can of worms. He was achieving velocities that were pretty high using the stronger brass, but he was also encountering some problems. For instance, when he loaded 230 grain bullets, they would bulge the cases. This was because of the thicker walled brass. Then there were the smeared primers and primer swipes that you inherently get when an auto prematurely unlocks. Velocity wise, Dean has easily surpassed moderate improvement levels over the .45 ACP. His hotter loads included a 185 grain at 1,400 fps and a 230 grain at over 1,200 fps.

Time constraints were the biggest problem for Dean so he turned to fellow writer and friend, Tom Ferguson. Tom took brass and a 1911 to gunsmith Ace Hindman. Ace had already shown an interest in Dean’s project and was pretty knowledgeable with the 1911 platform. For the brass, Ace trimmed all the cases to .900 inches. He then ran an inside neck reamer into the cases, thinning out the case walls in order to prevent the bulging with heavier bullets. This also helped in another way: the cases had an internal shoulder created from the reaming, preventing the bullets from seating back into the case. Ace then played around with more powders. At the 1,400 fps range (185 grain bullet) they were seeing pierced primers and had feeding malfunctions. What was diagnosed as the problem was the fact that the higher pressures were causing the gun to open up early as well as driving the case head hard against the breach face. The firing pin didn’t have enough time to retreat back into the firing pin tunnel. This cause swiped and pierced primers. The 1911 being used also didn’t have all the features found in most every 1911 on the market today. Things like a lowered and flared ejection port was only available from gunsmiths. The standard ejector in a government model was also too short, something else remedied in current renditions of the 1911.

Ace lowered and flared the ejection port, installed a longer ejector, and then shortened the firing pin by .035” in the hopes of helping it to retreat completely into the firing pin tunnel. Lastly was the recoil spring system. Ace utilized the heavy duty dual spring recoil guide rod system that was developed for and used by Detonics. It consisted of a thin full length guide rod with the equivalent of a shock-buff wedged between to pieces of steel. The thinner rod accommodated dual recoil springs.

This completed “system” allowed for any 1911 government model of the day to be able to handle a steady diet of .45 Super ammunition while still allowing for the use of .45 ACP ammunition with no changes. After pressure testing was done for Ace by both Hodgdon’s lab and Federal, the velocities for the .45 Super were standardized to a 185 grain loaded to 1,300 fps and a 230 grain loaded to 1,100 fps. The specific load recipes were as follows:

185 grain Nosler JHP
Hodgdon HS6 – 13 grains
.451 Detonics Case trimmed to .900” and inside neck reamed .250”
Federal 150 primer

230 grain Nosler FMJ/RN
Hodgdon HS6 – 11 grains
.451 Detonics Case trimmed to .900” and inside neck reamed .320”
Federal 150 primer

By this point there was no mystery over the .45 Super. Articles were printed in Gun World and American Handgunner by Tom Ferguson, Dean Grennell, and Bill McLennan. If you wanted to achieve velocities greater than what the .45 ACP could offer and you owned a 1911, you sent it off to Ace Hindman, the man Dean Grennell handed the .45 Super project to. If you owned a revolver T/C Contender in .45 ACP, then you didn’t need to worry about a .45 Super conversion, just tracking down the brass.

I first spoke with Ace Hindman in 1989. I also had several letter exchanges with him over the .45 Super conversion and cartridge. In 1995, after having started Triton Cartridge, I called Ace Custom 45's and spoke with Garey, Ace's son. By that time Ace had passed away. Garey was now running Ace Custom 45’s and still converting 1911’s to handle the .45 Super. The problem was there was a declining interest in the cartridge because of the lack of brass. Sources for .451 Detonics brass were drying up. The only other alternatives were to trim down .45 Winchester Magnum or worse, .308 Winchester. With .45 ACP +P ammo now on the market, there really wasn’t all that much interest from the reloading community for the .45 Super. I offered Garey the idea of having Triton take a shot at producing a true factory loaded .45 Super utilizing true .45 Super brass. It was a big risk for Triton because we would be the ones making the financial commitment and we were a brand new company. We would have to go to a brass maker (Starline) and order a minimum run of this new brass. That equated to 100,000 pieces. To me it was a chance to bring to life something Ace Hindman and Dean Grennell worked so hard on. I had really liked the .45 Super concept and wanted to see it go from a wildcat to true production cartridge. Robert Hayden, Jr at Starline Brass was instrumental in bringing the .45 Super into production. He took the time to listen to our needs, examined the .451 D-Mag brass, and made a few versions of the prototype brass for Triton. I in turn took up the task of going over all the previous load data. Then working with new powders and loads I had been playing with years earlier, I began the long task of pressure testing everything. Even Charlie Petty got in on the act and helped out with load development. After all the tweaking and fine tuning of our “recipes”, Triton ended up with both full house loads and reduced velocity “tactical” loads. Over the years they included some of the following versions:

Full House Loads:
165 grain JHP - 1,400 fps
185 grain JHP - 1,300 fps
200 grain JHP - 1,200 fps
230 grain JHP - 1,100 fps
(28,000 PSI average pressure)

Reduced Velocity “Tactical” Loads:
185 grain JHP - 1,200 fps
200 grain JHP – 1,125 fps
230 grain JHP - 1,025 fps

Now one must understand that by this point, the 1911s on the market were all starting to come with features that were once only available from a gunsmith. For example, the Springfield Armory stainless steel government model already featured an extended ejector and lowered and flared ejection port. The only thing it was lacking was a heavy duty recoil spring. When Springfield Inc agreed to produce factory versions of their 1911 factory tuned for .45 Super, this comprised of a heavy duty recoil spring, shok-buff, and .45 Super rollmarked on the slide of one of their standard 1911s. But here is where the problem began: for this they had to pay a royalty to Ace Custom .45’s in order to use the now Federally Registered and Trademarked .45 Super name.

This also posed a different problem. If you sent your 1911 to Ace Custom .45’s for a .45 Super conversion, there was a good chance your gun already had a lowered and flared ejection port right from the factory. For roughly $300 what was done was an extended ejector was installed as was the heavy duty recoil spring system and heavy duty firing pin spring. This was the first time that the whole .45 Super Conversion concept that started off with sound reasoning turned into a questionable situation.

Later Ace Custom .45’s released a drop-in heavy duty recoil spring system. It comprised of the full length guide rod (copy of the Detonics unit), dual recoil springs, heavy duty firing pin spring, squared off firing pin stop, and lengthened ejector.

With many new autos on the market chambered for .45 ACP, the growing demand for .45 Super also posed a legal dilemma. When S&W was approached to offer a model 4506 set up for .45 Super, one of the problems was the royalty. When Taurus became interested in releasing a .45 Super and actually displayed one during SHOT Show, the lawyer representing Ace Custom 45’s (who now had started his own small ammo company producing .45 Super) approached management from Taurus and said they would have to work out a licensing agreement. The .45 Super concept was immediately dropped by Taurus and the attorney told to leave the booth.

Triton had been approached by Naval Special Warfare to develop a .45 Super load for use in their HK Mk 23. We ended up giving them a 185 gr FMJ/FP loaded to 1,340 fps. Thankfully there were no issues over licensing since this wasn’t a request by HK, nor were the Mk 23s labeled as .45 Super.

Today there are 1911’s on the market from Springfield Armory, S&W, HK, Kimber, Para-Ordnance and Colt that all have the base features necessary for handing the .45 Super. Some even have fully supported chambers. The issues that still need to be addressed are the velocity in which the slide will travel rearward, the firing pin retreating out of the way, and the timing when the action begins to unlock. Remember, the case thickness was not an issue. The .45 Super was designed from the very beginning to be fired from an unsupported chamber. While a fully supported/ramped barrel added an additional safeguard for the shooter, there was still the issue of slide velocity.

You still need a heavy duty recoil spring. The strength of that spring is predicated on how hot the .45 Super loads will be. If you are using factory loaded ammunition, then you can get away with a spring as light as 22 lbs or as heavy as 24 lbs. If you opt for a dual spring system, then you can go as heavy as 28 to 32 lbs of combined spring rate. The problem with the heavier spring rates arises when the slide returns back to battery. The velocity in which the slide slams home is pretty fast. Many gunsmiths agree that the added stress of the slide slamming shut like that is not good for the 1911 platform.

A heavy duty firing pin is a must in order to make sure that the firing pin retreats back into the firing pin tunnel quickly. A squared off firing pin stop is a recent way of trying to delay the unlocking of the action and adds further initial resistance. Unfortunately the linked barrel system of the government model does not lend itself to changing the lock time the way linkless barrel systems do.

In the end, the .45 Super concept came from the fertile mind of a very innovative writer by the name of Dean Grennell. Later when the .45 Super grew from obscure wildcat status to factory loaded with factory chambered autos, the almighty dollar clouded the vision of some of the people involved, thus hindering the growth and future of the cartridge. It also left all this mystery surrounding what is really needed in order to set up an auto to handle the cartridge.
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Old 12-25-2007, 05:30 PM   #13
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The 450 SMC came from a meeting at NASGW (can’t recall the exact year) with a buyer from a major distributor. They had been buying .45 Super ammo from Triton and when we discontinued producing the ammo, they were concerned because they still had plenty of Springfield Armory 1911s set up for the .45 Super. The buyer was aware of the trademark issues with the .45 Super and asked us if we could come out with a cartridge with a different name. One of my employees said, “yeah we can call it the suck my c**k”. After everyone got a chuckle out of that, I said, “how about the SMC?” The folks at STI already had a 1911 called the 450 that could handle the .45 Super, so we called it the 450 SMC. To make the name politically correct, we told everyone SMC stood for Short Magnum Cartridge. Those in the “inner circle” knew the real name.

This did give us a chance to improve upon the .45 Super cartridge case by using a small pistol primer pocket. Primer flow was a constant nuisance with the .45 Super and the smaller primer pocket would help alleviate that issue. In the end, we were able to squeeze more velocity out of the 450 SMC than we could with the .45 Super.
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Old 12-25-2007, 05:54 PM   #14
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I have read about the .45 Super way back when that article was first published. I decided against pursuing it after shooting an LAR Grizzly with some 230g bullets loaded to 1150 FPS. The thought of similar performance in a lighter weight 1911 and the high cost of ammunition encouraged me to invest in .45 Colt and N Frames instead.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando Coelho
230 grain JHP - 1,025 fps
This sounds practical. Any idea what kind of pressure this generated and how much recoil spring was required for these reduced loads.
 
Old 12-25-2007, 06:20 PM   #15
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Depending on the powders used, pressures were in the area of 25-26,000 PSI. With that load a 22 lb. recoil spring and squared off firing pin stop worked well.
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Old 12-25-2007, 07:17 PM   #16
 
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Re: Triton Cartridge

[quote=Tim Burke]
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Ultima-Ratio":17gcv6hz
It was named the .450 SMC, small primer instead of large to avoid patent conflict with .45 Super
Triton loaded some 45 Super, but I believe they were required to pay royalties. At some point they created the .450 "Short Magnum Cartridge" which had similar ballistics, but they owned the patent.
IIRC, the 450 SMC could be used interchangibly with the 45 Super.[/quote:17gcv6hz]
Thanks Tim, fuzzy memories tho I do recall the free samples of .450 SMC way back on AmmoLab.

Someone mentioned interest in a [email protected]? Back in the 80s I swapped into a few cases of Super-Vel from the Denver FeeBees that were loaded with [email protected], I always wondered why the much funded FED ammo tests after the Miami shootings never listed that load in their rush to adopt the 10mm.

Fernando mentioned the EGW flat bottomed FPSP and upgraded recoil system, I choose a #26lb mainspring and take .030 off the firing pin tip also.

Back when Dean's articles hit the rags I had a customer order 1k each of 185s and 225s, after spending a few hours on the phone I found Prairie Shooters had the .45 W.M. brass, that my friends was a day of trimming!
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Old 12-25-2007, 08:40 PM   #17
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Very interesting.

Generalissimo, is a lowered/flared ejection port an absolute must, or is it just very helpful? (I'm thinking about trying to build an SMC that looks like an old MilSpec.)
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Old 12-25-2007, 09:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
One of my employees said, “yeah we can call it........

Sounds like a retired Marine to me...

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Old 12-26-2007, 04:30 AM   #19
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Diamondback - That was something that was done in order to keep the ejection process working smoothly, but before you take the file or dremel out, I would try the ammo without the lowering or the flair. If it works, it works. If not, then go ahead and make the mod.

Al Thompson - yep!
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:30 AM   #20
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So which is the better round for big cat attacks, the 10mm or the .45 Super.

Geoff
Who likes to start a bit o' trouble now and again. :P
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