The popular 45ACP cartridge has a long history that’s seen it used by military and law enforcement around the globe. It also has found itself a spot in the world of shooting competitions.
The cartridge still maintains a strong following among civilians and shouldn’t be overlooked simply because law enforcement and military have been shifting to 9mm, by and large.
In fact, 45ACP is a great option for competition shooters. Here are a few reasons why.
Variety of Options
There are plenty of ammo and pistol manufacturers for 45ACP, and you're going to find a lot of 1911s. In fact, Rock Island Armory (RIA) has a few beauties ready to go for competition shooting. You can find them here in our PRO Series.
In some competitions, a variable known as "power factor" (PF) affects scoring. Shooting a bullet with a higher PF gives shooters the benefits of using the "major" scoring system instead of the "minor" system. (We'll touch on that more later.)
A bullet's PF is calculated by taking a bullet's weight, multiplying it by its velocity (velocity from a chronograph measurement) and then dividing the total by 1,000. The PF for a common 230 grain 45ACP bullet clocking in at 860 fps is around 197. Typically, a PF of 165 is needed to qualify for the "major" scoring system.
Many competitors will create custom handloads using 45ACP with a powder load that sends the bullet at a slower fps, but just enough to meet the competition's PF requirements. This gives shooters access to the "major" scoring system, while still having the advantages of a relativley soft shooting round.
In the United States Practical Shooters Association (USPSA) Single-Stack Division, competition shooters need a power factor of 165 to qualify for the "major" scoring system.
This system gives shooters an extra point for hits landing outside of the "A" zone. For example, a hit in the "B" or "C" zones gets four points with a Major PF and three with Minor PF. A "D" zone hit gets two points in Major and one point in Minor.
However, someone shooting with the "major" system is only allowed to use standard, eight-round magazines. "Minor" shooters can use as many as 10-round mags.
The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) has a competition, the Custom Defensive Pistol Division, that's exclusively for 45ACP in a Major PF. It allows for 1911s with modifications and a max of eight-round magazines. The list of modifications allowed is extensive, but the entire pistol, with an uloaded mag, can't weigh more than 43 ounces and must fit within the IDPA's "gun test box" (essentially, a case measuring 8 3/4" x 6" x 1 5/8"). See page 37 of the rulebook for more info.