Ammo Test: Sig Sauer Elite Performance .45 ACP 230-grain V-Crown

Sig Sauer's 230-grain .45 ACP V-Crown ammo.

Sig Sauer’s 230-grain .45 ACP V-Crown ammo.

There’s a lot to be said for finishing the job.

When it comes to .45 ACP expansion performance, and I’m talking about the heavy and comparatively slow 230-grain varieties, reliable expansion can be an iffy thing. What starts as a projectile capable of leveling a city block often ends with some percentage of unexpanded slow but heavy bullets. Whether or not that matters is a whole different issue, as the projectile is almost a half-inch in diameter to start with.

Over the past several years, I’ve tested a pretty wide variety of 230-grain .45 ACP ammo and have found inconsistent results when it comes to expansion. Penetration is never an issue and I certainly have no desire to be shot by a .45. Then again, if a box of premium self-defense ammo is marketed as expanding hollow point, then it ought to do that in normal conditions.

Shooting most any of these loads into bare ballistic gelatin or water jugs will almost always result in picture-perfect expansion success. That’s the best possible environment for bullet expansion. Adding in a layer of cloth, or the FBI testing standard four-layer heavy fabric, makes things interesting real quick. It’s not at all unusual to fire five .45 heavies into this test scenario and see one or two expand properly, another start to expand, and the last two move straight on through like their full metal jacket cousins.

Before anyone gets all cranky, I’m not knocking .45 ACP in any way, shape, or form. I like it. I carry it. I’m a believer. All I’m observing is the very real challenge that its combination of velocity and mass presents to ammunition manufacturers. Hollow point expansion relies on fluid pressure to open up the bullet’s cavity. More velocity means more fluid pressure. If you could fire a Snuggie fast enough into ballistic gel, it might expand too.

The .45 is at the lowest end of the pistol velocity spectrum, moving along at somewhere between 800 and 950 feet per second for most 230-grain loads. I believe that’s why finding that perfect combination of penetration and expansion reliability is so difficult. If the bullet is designed to expand too easily, at too low a velocity, it won’t penetrate to the desired depth. Once again, whether expansion reliability matters with the big and heavy slug is a separate discussion.

I mention this to provide some background for my recent test of Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance .45 ACP V-Crown self-defense ammunition. To be honest, I’ve been putting this off for a while and the boxes have been collecting a bit of dust in my man cave. It’s just not as fun testing stuff that you think may not have a very good chance of working as you want it to, and given my history with heavier .45 rounds, I had my suspicions.

Well, I finally got around to checking it out, testing for velocity with four different guns, accuracy with two, and penetration and expansion with one. Here’s what I found.


I set up my now perforated Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range and proceeded to fire strings with four different guns. Averaging out the results for each gun, here’s what I found.

Sig Sauer 45 V-Crown Velocity

* As to why the shorter barrel gun clocked more accuracy, all I can suggest is interference by aliens or perhaps Thetan’s upset with my shooting that day. I shot the guns on the same day, within minutes of each other.

** For this one, I added an AAC TiRant 45 Modular suppressor. Because fun.


Just to be accurate (see what I did there?) in my testing, I tested the Sig Sauer 230-grain V-Crown ammo from two different guns. This won’t determine the inherent accuracy of the ammo. Rather, it tells me how accurately it shoots from these two particular guns. Minor nuance, I know.

As you can see, expansion started almost immediately after passing through the FBI four-layer fabric.

As you can see, expansion started almost immediately after passing through the FBI four-layer fabric.

I set up targets 25 yards down range and fired five-shot groups. To get a perfect hold, I used a Blackhawk! Titan III rest anchored with a bag of lead shot. To get a perfect sight picture, I installed a Bushnell 3500 Handgun Scope using an LM Tactical Rail Mount. To get perfect trigger control, I took nine Valiums before shooting. Just kidding, but I did make an extra special effort to be really, really careful since most of the other variables were addressed via my shooting setup.

From each gun, I fired three different five-shot groups from 25 yards and averaged the results to get the following figures.

Sig Sauer 45 V-Crown Accuracy

What doesn’t show so well in the averages is the consistency. For example, the three 5-shot groups from the XDM measured 2.73, 2.78, and 2.80 inches – almost identical to each other. Considering these groups came from off the shelf polymer guns, I would love to see what this ammo will do from a souped-up match pistol.

Penetration and Expansion

Last, but not least, I tested penetration and expansion. I used Clear Ballistics 16” long gelatin blocks. In front of the block, I taped up the four layer FBI heavy fabric simulation material which consists of denim, insulation, and two cloth layers to simulate an undershirt and regular shirt. For the gun, I used an FN FNX 45 Tactical.

You can't ask for much more in terms of expansion.

You can’t ask for much more in terms of expansion.

The pictures speak for themselves as far as expansion performance goes. All five shots expanded perfectly. Here’s the geeky math.

Sig Sauer 45 V-Crown Expansion

Closing Thoughts

Excellent results all around I’d say. The minor weight gains were likely the result of a little bit of fabric and/or gelatin that wasn’t visible under the expanded areas. This ammo did exactly what it was supposed to, and I was pleased to see perfect expansion results in the exact same test scenario that makes so many others fail.

About the author: Tom McHale Literary assault dude writing guns & shooting books and articles. Personal accountability rocks!

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  • timothy malbrough March 7, 2020, 10:40 pm

    I have a m&p .45 acp shot the same bullets at a hog dam near point blank range …I found the bullet and it didnt expand at all …so not sure exactly what happened..only thing I can see is maybe it hit a limb first cuzz it was in heavy brush .

  • timothy malbrough March 5, 2020, 8:49 am

    I have a m&p .45 acp shot the same bullets at a hog dam near point blank range …I found the bullet and it didnt expand at all …so I cant vouch and say they’re great at all

  • Brad June 28, 2019, 10:18 am

    I used to carry a 9mm everyday. But, the .45 acp has always been my favorite handgun caliber. Period. Now days, I carry a .45 everyday. I have a weird hobby of testing ammo lol. I have shot exactly 70 different hollow points and thats only hollow points. Not one of them ever failed to expand. Granted there have been rounds that didnt bloom out the way they should(this has never happened every time in any one particular ammo). That tells me there was something that happened whether it was angle of entry, a thicker part of the target, etc. But of that handful of rounds they are still bigger in diameter than all of my 9mm rounds fully expanded. Sometimes maybe the same size, but never smaller. And I am not knocking the 9mm.. it is perfectly capable of doing the job. Plus its a lighter carry option. I just know from all the rounds I have shot if you lined up calibers and told me to pick 1 I didnt want to be shot with its the .45 acp. I dont want shot with any of them, but I most definitely dont want hit with any of the .45s I have tested.

  • Bob Jakubs Sr June 17, 2017, 12:21 pm

    Read your results with great interest I just purchased a Charter Arms Pitbull in 45acp with a 2 1/2 barrel to replace my series 70 Combat Commander as my carry weapon (never have been happy with cocked and locked carry) Im hoping the 200gr round @ 915 fps will expand reliably @ 7 to 10 yds Any thoughts or predictions?

  • jtraine March 14, 2017, 10:46 pm

    i carry a sig 1911 tacops 4.25 inch barrel. i recently had the chance to try this ammo.
    at 10 15 and 20 yards it is devastating to bowling pins. and extremely accurate even for an average shot like myself.
    after seeing the damage done to the pins i have made this my SD ammo. won’t carry anything else.

  • Patriot December 20, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Very impressed with the Sig V Crown .45 ACP 230g results. I was confident the Sig V Crown .45 ACP 230g JHP ammo would be very good. I recently bought a Glock Model 29 which is a compact 10mm with 10 round mag. Also, bought some Sig V Crown 10mm 180g JHP ammo with about 1150 fps short barrel velocity. Have not had a chance to shoot it yet but I am convinced the Sig V Crown ammo was a very good choice.

  • machgman December 19, 2016, 8:50 pm

    Some years ago, the FBI conducted official ballistic testing of the Remington Golden Sabre 45 acp loadings including the 230 grain HP load. That load consistently expanded to diameters over .70+” with no jacket separation with penetrations over 11+”

    Subsequently, quite a few Federal agencies adopted the Golden Sabre 45 acp load, but the one they chose was the 185 grain +P load, which was the top performing of the three 45 acp Golden Sabre loads tested.

    BTW, Golden Sabre loads in 9mm and 45 acp tend to be priced much lower than other much more aggressively hyped high performance ammunition offered by other manufacturers.

    The Sig 45 acp loading tested offers nothing new nor anything compelling over what is already out in the ammo marketplace.

    • Justaguy August 12, 2017, 1:35 pm

      Neither does what you said.

  • Sundance98 December 19, 2016, 11:03 am

    *Recoil? 230 Hardball…Spring tension? Better accuracy with a download….210 grain…..more speed….better recoil….less
    strain on your firearm.

  • Altoid December 19, 2016, 10:35 am

    Great review – even the comments are informative. I’ve seen this ammunition on store shelves and was hesitant to purchase any because I knew very little about it. They all make claims. But now maybe I’ll pick up a couple boxes in .45 ACP.

  • Ray August 21, 2016, 2:37 am

    Great information and thanks for sharing. I remember reading information from the Sig Sauer website re: V Crown 230 gr .45 Auto was best used n shorter barrels. I have 4.5 in barrel. What do you think?

  • LouisianaMan June 27, 2016, 12:33 pm

    Excellent review that answers my most important questions about this ammo. Thanks! For my purposes, this ammo clearly will get the job done, and that’s what I needed to know.

  • Jarrett April 2, 2016, 3:42 pm

    Very informative. I’m curious to know what would happen to this round if a more solid material such as car glass, door panel, or maybe even wood panel like in a house were the first media it had to pass through. I’ll buy a box and put a stalk on the junker hidden out back.

  • Jay Andre April 1, 2016, 5:35 pm

    I’m curious about something. Why don’t ammo manufacturers make .45 ACP’s, in the 230 grain weight, travel in excess of 1000 to 1200fps? Or even make a .45ACP Magnum! I’m sure it can be done Are they not able to do it? I don’t understand their reasoning. Modern guns can handle it. You can get .45ACP ammo in 185 and 200 grain traveling at 1000fps, or better. So why not a 230 grainer? You can do it with the .45LC, and load it to .44 magnum specs. Agreed, it’s usually only done with Ruger Super Blackhawks and Thompson Contenders. But it’s done, nonetheless!!

    • Uncle Foster's Coonhound December 16, 2016, 12:19 pm

      Replying to an older thread here but you may find an answer to your question if you Google the .45 Super, and its development.. Essentially the same dimensional (functional) size as ‘regular’ .45ACP round the .45 Super is loaded to produce much higher pressure and velocity while using the 230 grain and other typical .45ACP bullet weights. Aside from metallurgy advancements since introduction of the ‘1911’ variables such as ‘slide’ weight, length of travel, balancing recoil spring calibration in relation to bullet weight and developed pressure, as well as cartridge case support, are just some of the many considerations and differences that can affect overall performance (RELIABILITY and SAFETY). Retooling/reprograming for production is expensive for what is often viewed as a narrow market and ‘Product Liability’ seems to be the biggest reason for restraint that I hear the major manufacturers state for not ‘pushing the envelope’. BTW You may be interested in the .45 Remington Magnum or the 460 Rowland chambered pistol and 1911 conversion kits (which can develop .44 Magnum performance in some load configurations)
      Equipping oneself with basic reloading equipment coupled with reliable ESTABLISHED reloading knowledge can take one a very long way in satisfying the desire for speed, power, precision, and accuracy.

      • Chris Squier December 19, 2016, 8:21 am

        “I’m curious about something. Why don’t ammo manufacturers make .45 ACP’s, in the 230 grain weight, travel in excess of 1000 to 1200fps? Or even make a .45ACP Magnum! I’m sure it can be done Are they not able to do it? I don’t understand their reasoning.”

        Another diagnosed case of Magnumitis… If you want a faster bullet, look at the .40 S&W. The .45ACP has done it’s job for 105 years, and has done it superbly. Rahter than worry about another 200 fps, why not continue training so that your first hits count.

      • JPLen December 19, 2016, 3:11 pm

        Well that old 45 ACP has been getting the job done at 800-850 fps with that 230 grain slug for a long long time… I surely would not want to be on the receiving end when impact takes place. I have been a fan of that old 45 ACP for over 50 years and can also step down in grains to 200 or 185 gr if more velocity is necessary. If that’s not enough to keep me content and I really desire flatter shooting and higher velocity, I’ll just put the old 45 back in the safe and pull out one of my bad-ass hard hitting 10 mm autos which will put me in a flatter shooting and harder hitting cartridge with a bit more punishing recoil.. but I can pretty much guarantee that whatever I hit with either cartridge regardless of bullet weight or velocity will barely know the difference of what the hell just punched them so hard. The old 45 ACP will definitely get the job done with any bullet weight… even at a pokey 800 fps.

    • punisher December 31, 2016, 8:46 pm

      about 25 years ago, they had a 45acp super it had the case lenthg at the max. it went out a 5″ 1911 at 1,010 FPS. did not last. the high pressuer on the 230 gr, was too much for the gun and some got cracked frames. no enetented for a glock 21. i reloaed my own and got close to 1,005 fps and the recoil was harsh and i used vetovory poweder. great for magnums. used a slower burning one and got what i wanted. at 50 feet , i got 2″‘ groups. @ 1,00fps. used phone books soaked in waater and it exspaned perfectally.

  • Stephen Culbertson March 29, 2016, 12:57 pm

    another reason Sig is my go to brand

  • Rip March 28, 2016, 7:41 pm

    Simply put I will give them a try ! Nice review.

  • Mike March 28, 2016, 1:15 pm

    This was a great article, but I was curious if you did any testing of penetration and expansion out of the shorter barrel pistol? If not, do you intend to in the future?
    Before everyone jumps on me, I understand that it was not covered in the article. This would be nice to see since most companies tend to focus on performance out of the longer barrels and neglect the fact that there are a great deal of people carrying the short barrel counterparts concealed. In most cases the round will work decently in a longer barrel but not perform adequately out of a 3″ barrel. Which compound the whole speed vs weight and expansion issue that you mentioned.

    • Tom McHale March 28, 2016, 7:47 pm

      Couldn’t agree more! Unfortunately I did not have a short barrel .45 ACP in at the time, but will soon, so I will come back to this with the Sig 230-grain ammo. Will be interesting to see if losing 50 to 100 fps will matter in this case. Based on my results with other Sig calibers in short barrels, I’m optimistic, but we’ll soon see.

  • Bob March 28, 2016, 7:31 am

    Sig Sauer really has become the shooter’s one stop shop. Firearms, Ammo, Suppressors, wide Variety of Accessories, and Comprehensive Training. I have tried out V-Crown defense ammo in other calibers and found it to be very consistent, but with this review, I’m going to take a closer look at it’s effectiveness over the leading contenders for “The Best” round.
    I assumed Sig contracted with a large ammo company like Hornady to fill their “We have it all” marketing, but relied on Speer Gold Dot’s to pack my magazines.
    Much like the author, my favorite round is the 230gr. .45acp. and now I have a peaked interest in the Sig .45acp V-Crown to stoke my P220’s and Sig 1911’s.

  • Chris March 28, 2016, 6:26 am

    Tom I have to second Will’s comments; this is just an absolutely fantastic review, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks very much!

  • Will Drider March 27, 2016, 2:18 pm

    Outstanding review. Brief and covered all major areas. No mention of any cycling malfunctions so I assume there were none. Bullet also has a cannelure so “creep” should not be a issue but I always test for it. I’m going to get a few boxes.
    Thanks, WR

    • Tom McHale March 28, 2016, 7:45 pm

      Doh!!! Sorry, forgot to mention function results…

      As you guessed, no issues at all. I toured the Sig ammo factory a while back and they are fanatical about details. They’ve developed automated checking for every stage, and usually more than one “type” of check for each test area like primer pockets shape and depth, primer seating, powder charge, overall length, etc etc. One of the reasons that the velocities and accuracy results are so consistent. Also factors into the reliability results too.

    • Dr Juett R Cooper June 26, 2016, 9:24 pm

      As a resarcher, I recommend testing ACCURACY use 1 pistol, such as your Sig, whistling well established accuracy record . l then completely secure the weapon with a secured benchrest. You seem to be a good shot, however if you want to test bullet accuracy, you must control for your abilities and inabilities. Therefore attach the pistol to a rig with a string pull or remote trigger system. It isn’t as fun, but you are testing the accuracy and variability between rounds. Afterwards assess recoil using various weapons if you so choose. My wife, son & I use Sig ammunition (9mm, .45 ACP & .357 Sig, respectively) is 1 of our defense loads. It’s accurate, reliable, has excellent expansion & has superb energy in line with the FBI one shot stopping capabilities.

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