For those who like .45 ACP, the 230-grain bullet weight variety is the classic. Earlier this year, we took a look at another 230-grain self-defense load from Sig Sauer. This time, we’re testing Federal Premium’s offering in the heavyweight class.
The Federal .45 ACP HST is a 230-grain load topped with a bullet designed to expand at the moderate velocities of the full-weight .45 ACP. Most 230-grain loads are rated below 900 feet per second, and this one is no exception, with a claimed velocity of 890 feet per second.
The HST line is the next generation of the Hydra-Shok basic design, but HST does not stand for Hydra-Shok Two. The word is that HST doesn’t stand for anything, it’s just a cool marketing name. The projectiles are jacketed, and each caliber and weight combination is specifically designed to achieve the desired expansion and penetration results. In fact, the gaping maw of the round might make the round look to some like a “flying ashtray.”
I was fortunate to have a small pile of different .45 pistols passing through at the time, so I tested actual velocity from a range of pistols from compact to full-size. To check velocity, I set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range and shot strings of fire from each gun so I could do some fancy math and get average velocities for each gun shooting the 230-grain HST load.
(feet per second)
|Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series Government (5” barrel)||853.1|
|Smith & Wesson 1911 Pro Series (3” barrel)||818.7|
|Smith & Wesson 1911 Sc (4.25” barrel)||840.9|
|Springfield Armory XD(M) Threaded (SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor, 4.5” barrel)||930.1|
|Springfield Armory TRP 1911 (5” barrel)||905.4|
For the most part, the velocity pattern was consistent with barrel length, meaning speed tapered off a bit as the barrels got shorter. One interesting observation was the velocity boost when I added the SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor to the Springfield Armory XD(M). That’s been the norm in my observations and getting a 30 to 50 feet per second is not that unusual. The other kind of weird thing was the difference between the two government models, both with five-inch barrels. I can’t explain why the velocity clocked so much higher out of the Springfield Armory TRP. It’s not like I coated the inside of the barrel with “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” or anything.
One more thing. I did the big-time match when shooting the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP and found the velocity consistency to be outstanding. Firing 10-shot strings, the extreme spread from lowest to highest velocity reading in the string was only 27.7 feet per second. That’s outstanding.
I set up my Blackhawk Titan III rest, weighed down with a 25-pound bag of lead shot. That’s a pain to lug around by the way. I set targets 25 yards down range and proceeded to shoot multiple five-shot groups with a couple of pistols. At the end, I averaged the five-shot group sizes to arrive at an “average” spread. Here’s what I found.
|Gun||Average Five-shot Group Size|
|Springfield Armory XD(M) Threaded (SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor)||2.14 inches|
|Springfield Armory TRP 1911||2.5 inches|
As expected based on the pretty incredible velocity consistency, accuracy was outstanding too. If I had been able to mount a handgun scope (the suppressor sights are too tall for my mount, and the TRP has no rail), I suspect the groups would have shrunk even more.
Penetration and Expansion
The fun part is always destroying gelatin blocks. I have to confess I never cease to be amused watching them bounce when hit. For this part of testing, I broke out the trio of Smith & Wesson 1911’s, so I could see the effect of barrel length on expansion and penetration. I used 6x6x16 inch Clear Ballistics gelatin blocks set 10 feet in front of the firing line.
I recovered all the bullets and measured expansion diameter at the widest point, then peeled off any obvious gelatin picked up along the way and weighed each projectile. Here’s what I found.
|Smith & Wesson 1911 eSeries Government (5” barrel)||15.25”||.892”||230.1 grains|
|Smith & Wesson 1911 Pro Series (3” barrel)||14.12”||.909”||230.1 grains|
|Smith & Wesson 1911 Sc (4.25” barrel)||14.87”||.901”||230.1 grains|
From all three guns, expansion was right at double the original bullet diameter. That’s not too shabby. I didn’t pull a bullet to check weight before the shooting, so I’ll assume either the original weight is 230.1 grains, my scale is slightly off, or each projectile picked up a little bit of jello that I didn’t catch. Whatever the case, the projectiles stayed together, and there were no signs of jacket separation.
There’s nothing to nitpick here and the results speak for themselves. Particularly impressive was the consistency of velocity. I think that speaks to care and a persnickety attitude in the manufacturing process. The deviation was among the best I’ve seen. If you are looking for great defensive ammunition, then take a close look at this from Federal.