a 45 round close up towards camera

How Fast Does A 45 Bullet Travel?

With all the excitement about the 9mm and the 40 s&w, people tend to think the 45 is slow and less effective. This is because the Military dropped it in the 80s, and the FBI also chose to use the 9mm recently.

Still, it remains a popular round, so when fired how fast do they travel?

The 45 travels at an average of 830 fps (253 m/s or 565mph), but there are several rounds to choose that are faster or slower. It has an almost equal stopping power to the other handguns, and the recoil isn’t as bad as most people think.

a few 45 rounds and a target

To learn what a 45 bullet is, what its performance is like and the trending speeds with respect to bullet grain, read on.

What Is A 45 Bullet?

The 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), also known as the 45 Auto, is a handgun cartridge that dates back to the 1900s. It was designed in 1904 by John Moses Browning after there was a need for a bigger round that could incapacitate warriors. 

It was during the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines where the US Military realized that the 38 Long Colt didn’t have enough stopping power against the Moro Warriors. They needed a larger caliber.

The reason why the Military may have stuck with smaller calibers in these wars, some as small as the 22 calibers, was that there was no penicillin. Therefore, even though one just got a small wound, chances were high that they would still get an infection and die. 

The invention of penicillin, which could treat smaller injuries and the strength of the Moro warriors, necessitated a bigger caliber. That’s why the US military replaced the previous cartridges with the .45.

Currently, the .45 ACP round issued in the Military and other law enforcement agencies for the M1A11A1pistol is a 230-grain bullet that travels at 830 feet per second and operates at a chamber pressure of 21,000 psi. 

a close up of 45 rounds standing up

Even though the Military later replaced their handgun with the 9mm Berretta 9mm and the SIG Sauer P320, the .45 ACP is still a practical rifle used by both law enforcers and civilians for home defense.

The standard .45 ACP measures 11.43*23mm, but there are other .45 rounds. For instance, the 45 GAP is designed for the Glock Models 37, 38, and 39. It’s the first ammo associated with the Glock and was developed in the same diameter and same power as the .45 ACP. 

However, it is shorter than the .45 ACP.

There’s also a .45 AutoRim designed for revolvers. Since the .45 ACP is rimless, you may need to use half-moon clips to fire them in revolvers. 

Or, you can manually eject the used cases.

Factors Affecting Bullet Speed (Muzzle Velocity)

Muzzle velocity is the speed at which the projectile leaves the barrel. It’s fastest once it leaves the barrel, but other factors will determine how far it travels, and how far it falls before it reaches the target. 

The main factors that influence the bullet’s path are gravity, wind, earth’s rotation, and the bullet’s nature. But let’s stick to the bullet velocity in this article.

A faster bullet is not always the best. Yes, it reaches the target faster, but it may have more recoil and may be less accurate than slower bullets. 

3 pistols and some 45 rounds

Whichever speed you choose depends on what you’d like to achieve. 

Without further ado, below are the main factors that affect muzzle velocity.

  • Cartridge power – The power of a cartridge determines the bullet’s initial speed as it leaves the barrel. The higher the pressure a cartridge has, the more powerful it is. If you’d like to achieve a higher velocity, you can also choose lighter rounds. However, lighter rounds are easily affected by wind, and they will lose speed faster once they leave the barrel.
  • Pistol barrel length – The longer the barrel is, the higher the muzzle velocity. Handguns don’t necessarily have longer barrels, but the slight differences can make a huge difference. But even though longer barrels shoot faster bullets, they may be hard to control in tactical situations, and possibly less accurate. Most handguns benefit from having shorter barrels and being lighter; that’s why they make great sidearms in combat.
  • Bullet grain (weight) – Bullet grain (gr) affects the projectile’s velocity once it leaves the barrel. Lighter bullets achieve higher speeds but are don’t have as much impact on the target as the heavier bullets. When considering wind and gravity, a more massive bullet shot at the same speed is likely to maintain the bullet path.
  • Temperature An increase in temperature increases the muzzle velocity. According to one researcher, a rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit in temperature leads to an increase in 1.7fps in muzzle velocity. This can be the temperature of the surroundings or an increase in the barrel’s temperature if you’ve been shooting for several hours. Despite several manufacturers claiming to produce powders that aren’t affected by temperature changes, always expect a slight change in the velocity.

a semi automatic and some 45 rounds

Traveling Speeds Of A 45 Bullet

There are several rounds based on the .45 parent case. Below are some of them and their average muzzle velocities.

Round Muzzle Velocity
.38/.45 1245 fps
.400 Cor-Bon 165 gr – 1240 fps

150 gr – 1310 fps

135 gr –  1400 fps

.45 AutoRim 230 gr – 730 fps

185 gr – 800 fps

160 gr – 1050 fps

.45 Super 230 gr – 1100 fps

200 gr – 1200 fps

185 gr – 1300 fps

.45 Remington-Thompson 935 fps
.45 Winchester-Magnum 260 gr – 1200 fps

255 gr – 1400 fps

230 gr – 1600 fps

.45 GAP 230 gr – 940 fps

200 gr – 1050 fps

185 gr – 1150 fps

.50 GI 300 gr – 700 fps

275 gr – 875 fps

230 gr – 1000 fps

185 gr – 1200 fps

The Performance Of The 45

Overall, the .45 is a good and accurate cartridge. It also has enough stopping power to incapacitate human targets. 

It has more immense recoil than most handguns, but the recoil is manageable in most cases. The standard Government Issue .45 ACP is a 230 gr bullet that travels at 830 fps. 

But as we’ve seen in the table, there are several rounds related to the .45, and they all have different muzzle velocities. 

This cartridge operates at 21,000 psi, which is lower than the 40 s&w and 9mm parabellum. As a result of the lower pressure, rifles designed to fire this cartridge may last longer.

The reason it achieves high stopping power is its penetration rate, and the ability to cause a larger wound through expansion. Even though it may not penetrate enough to damage vital organs, the large wound is enough since it will cause extensive blood loss.

a 45 round close up towards camera

Despite having a lot of stopping power, this round was dropped by the Military since it’s heavier and more expensive to produce than the 9mm. 

It’s also ineffective against regular armor. Due to its weight, it drops several inches in long-range shots, making it less suitable for modern-day combat situations.

However, it’s still popular among home defense users since it’s a handy rifle for short-range shots. The smallest magazine holds at least eight rounds.

The FBI also chose to switch to the 9mm since the .45 ACP has a lot of recoil, minimizing its accuracy in hot pursuits.

Final Thoughts

The fact that the .45 bullet was extensively used in wars in the 20th century shows that it’s effective in its own rights. 

Traveling at an average of 830 fps, it has enough muzzle velocity and stopping power for law enforcement and home defense applications. 

side on view of a 45 rounds traveling

Better yet, there are several upgraded rounds that are faster, lighter, and more effective. 

Despite the excitement around the 9mm due to its use in the FBI, the .45 ACP is still worth consideration.

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