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Use of +P ammunition with aluminum frames

3258 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Guardsman
I wanted to know if anybody either has any experience, or otherwise knows, whether the use of +P ammunition in an aluminum frame pistol (Ultra Carry in my case) can cause any problems? I plan on sticking to regular pressure ball for most practice, and if I were to carry +P ammunition, then occasional practice with that for familiarization. I would like to find out before I go buying any +P and firing it through it regulary. Thanks.

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I don't see an need to shoot +p's in my steel or aluminum frame 1911's(carry a Les Baer Concept IX aluminum frame). They accelerate wear on the slide/frame contact areas during recoil. Most of the newer standard pressure loads-Hydra shock, gold dot,etc) are far more effective and easier for follow ups too!
I would need to first ask why you are looking at +P rounds?

If it is to improve functioning and reliability under adverse conditions like rain, snow and mud soaked pistols then I would utilize them in my defensive firearm.

If the reason is to improve "stopping power" as posted by so many misguided writers and well meaning individuals then I would strongly recommend against using them in your pistol.

That said almost any modern pistol in good working order is capable of safely using +P ammunition.
As +P pressure levels vary greatly from one manufacturer to another it is hard to quantify exactly how many rounds you can use before you begin to cause accelerated wear on your pistol.

Keep in mind that 90% of the +P ratings are complete marketing garbage, take Corbon for example they began the .40S&W +P rating as a ploy to attract buyers to there relatively poor performing .40 S&W 135gr loading.
Other companies are just as guilty, how many times have we witnessed the 10mm +P, the .45+P+, the 380+P, sometime back we even saw the 32acp+P......

With one or two exceptions almost any 230gr jhp standard pressure loading will out perform the "best" of the +P -165, 185, and 200gr jhp loadings in your gun and the results will remain very consistent.

I would strongly suggest that all shooters seek out the loading(s) that will bring out the best accuracy and reliability in your pistol first, then worry about tailoring yoour ammunition selection to your environment and if you are really bored and want to exhaust a lot of personal time, begin to worry about "stopping power" as a hobby.
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David, thanks for the info. Actually, I started looking into the possibility of using +P ammunition after reading some of your ammunition test results, and after reading the DOJ/FBI Academy paper that you posted. While I'm at it, I'd like to thank you for providing all of that info, it has both increased and clarified my knowledge of ammunition and effectiveness.
Back to the point, I wanted to see if the +P ammo would provide any additonal penetration capability from the 3" barrel of my pistol. I plan on sticking with 230gr bullets, unless I hear about something lighter that may perform better.
Two last questions for you, while you are here. First, could you give me a basic overview of how you test ammunition with the newsprint? I'm assuming that it just involves soaking the newsprint (48+hrs, as in one post here), taking it to the range, doing the shooting, and taking the measurements. I just plan on checking the depth, and doing an eyeball comparison on diameters. Is there anything else that you could suggest, and this will be done in a public range, owners willing.
Second, any specific tests would you suggest I should perform with my weapon and/or ammunition, to determine suitability for carry?
Thank you for any and all help, David, and anybody else. Throughout my life, I have tried to keep fairly well up on guns and tactics, but I have only recently been able to get as involved in them as I would have liked to be, and it has been a heck of a learning experience. I have learned more in the short time that I have been visiting this site, than I have learned in many years. Thanks all.

John Szelog
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You may achieve between 25 to 40 fps on average by moving to the 230+P in your gun.
I use them as I am very, very hard on my pistols to the extent that the guns end up in poor condition after being subjected to a lot of abuse and dirt.

For testing you can use wet newsprint and soaking it for 48 hours should be more than enough time.
The important thing is to saturate all of the layers equally and to avoid color advertisements and circulars, tv guides etc. in the middle sections.
To measure bullet depth I use a .177 cleaning rod with a jag nose.
Expansion will tend to be overly exagerated in the newsprint.

In hinsight 48 hours may be too long as you do not want the newsprint to turn to mush or a paste like substance, it should be smooth, soft, and very wet but still have good consistency.

If you have the facilities available I recommend you bench rest test and chronograph your ammo, then shoot the living daylights out of the gun with your exact ammo.
I could post more than a few stories about the reliable gun that went 600 to 1000rds and then began to jam at every other round for the next 2000 rds.

Quite often the gunsmith or repair shop will get the pistol back and it will work for 50 to 100rds and they will ship it back to you, you will go to the range and 300rds later it is a jam-a-matic again.

So even when carrying the latest heavily advertised blaster you need to get a gunsmith that will actually shoot and test your pistol (like Dane).
I would continue to test it before carrying it.
Also buy your chosen carry ammo in cases.
Log the lot#s and results and do not mix and match the lot#s or ammo.
Some will disagree with me but I belive in always using the same mags for carry and practice I do not seperate them as this gives me a good idea as to the magazines design flaws and potential manufacturing defects.

You can also use gelatin if you have the refrigerator space a few large pans and a significant other that can tolerate the smell of the cooking gelatin.

FWIW, I believe in testing more against barriers like glass, metal, wood, drywall, plaster, roofing shingles, denim clothing, old matresses, furniture, file cabinets, and brick/mortar/masonary materials than tissue simulants.

Shoot your pistol at night or in the dark in a safe environment to test the muzzle flash signature and your night sight combo at least once and try to shoot the gun wet, with wet sweaty hands at least a few times if you carry on the job.
Don't forget gloves if you wear them when carrying.

I have shot waterjugs, beef ribs, whole hams, frozen and thawed turkeys and clay and not once did the bullet resemble the same bullet after I pulled it out of a deer so use the sumlants as a way to get a general idea is my advice.

Simulants are good but short of armed confrontations, handgun hunting will give you a solid idea of the rounds performance and terminal charcteristics.
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Thank you for the info and advice. I'll be to testing shortly. Thanks.

John Szelog
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