There are certain benchmark handguns by which all other handguns are judged. With sixguns it is the Colt Single Action Army dating from 1873 for single action sixguns to equal or surpass while with double action sixguns the measuring stick is the Smith & Wesson K- and N-frames dating back to 1899 and 1907 respectively. For those of us who use single shot handguns for silhouetting or hunting, the rallying point for good discussion is the Thompson/Center Contender, a relative new comer on the handgun stage going back to the 1960’s.
We have seen a great deal of development of semi-automatics in the last decade with new cartridges and an array of models too numerous to count. Most of them have been of the double action variety. However with all the new technology the grand old 1911 is still king, is still the number one platform for custom ‘smiths, and is certainly the “automatic” by which all others are judged. Has it ever really been improved upon other than by taking the basic model and adding good sights, a good trigger, and possibly for some of us who get pinched, a beavertail grip safety?
The Model 1911 in .45 ACP remains the epitome of what a fighting handgun should be. For hunting it is somewhat wanting when it comes to anything above large varmints which are better handled with the .38 Super chambering than the original .45. Yes, I know some have used the .45 for hunting such as wild hogs but I regard this as not a way to insure a long unscathed life. Use it often enough for such endeavors and eventually the wrong hog will take a hit in the wrong place and not be real happy about it!
Most of my hunting has been done with sixguns and single-shots not because I would not use a semi-auto but simply because those that are available, though amply powerful in such chamberings as .44 Magnum and .45 Winchester Magnum, are bigger and bulkier than handguns I want to pack. In addition to their overall great size the grip frames are too large for my stubby fingers to obtain what I consider a secure hold.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a standard sized 1911 that would deliver a .44 Magnum payload with no more recoil than a .45 ACP? Dream on! Right? Wrong? That dream has now been realized with a new cartridge that is handled by any standard 1911 using a drop-in kit from Clark Custom Guns. The concept itself comes from Johnny Rowland who hosts the Shooting Show out of Louisiana. I hunted with Rowland during the Fourth Annual HHI World Championship Hunt and Competition put together by Blackie Sleeva and J.D. Jones on the YO last fall and found him to be a grand guy to be around and a dedicated handgun hunter as well as one who uses his show to fight for our gun rights.
Five months later found I found myself at the SHOT Show talking with Rowland at the Clark Custom Guns booth. He was all excited about a cartridge and showed me a couple of revolvers that had been re-chambered to .460 Rowland, a Ruger Blackhawk and a Smith & Wesson Model 625. I came away with a drop-in kit from Clark and set about putting a .460 Rowland together on a 1911 platform.
What then is a .460 Rowland? It is simply a .45 ACP case that has been stretched and strengthened. Starline is making the brass, head stamped “.460 ROWLAND”, that is 1/16 of an inch longer than the standard .45 ACP (standard .45 ACP reloading dies work) with a beefed up interior. It will not chamber in guns designed to handle the .45 ACP and .45 ACP’s will not properly chamber in semi-autos designed to take the .460 Rowland as they cannot headspace on the case mouth but will drop too far into the chamber. Double action sixguns chambered for the .460 Rowland will accept .45 ACP rounds by using half or full moon clips. CAUTION!! Some of the early 1917 revolvers dating back to World War One are chambered straight through and they may accept .460 Rowland rounds. It would be a disaster if they are fired in these old weak sixguns!!
To put a .460 Rowland together using the Clark Drop-in Kit, I took the Springfield Armory 1911 main frame off a Springfield Armory Single Shot pistol and ordered the necessary parts to complete the gun from Brownells. A slide was needed along with several inner parts such as a firing pin, firing pin stop, barrel link pin, and especially good sights. For the sights I chose a BoMar adjustable rear sight and a Clark post front sight. The slide proved to be very tight on my frame and it took a little work to loosen it up so it would work and then everything was delivered to Mike at Shapels to cut dovetails in the slide and install the sights. A pair of coco bolo grips from Herretts completed the package. If one starts with a completed 1911, it is only necessary to change the barrel and replace the standard spring with the 24 pound spring found in the drop-in kit to come up with a.460 Rowland. Standard 1911 magazines work with the .460 Rowland.
In addition to drop-in kits being available from Clark Custom Guns, completed guns are also to be offered including a Kimber Convertible with barrels for both .460 Rowland and .45ACP, a Dan Wesson revolver in .460 Rowland, and conversions offered on S&W M625’s and Ruger Blackhawks originally chambered in .45 ACP. As mentioned Starline already has the brass and factory ammunition is available from Georgia Arms. The latter also offers another great idea of Rowland’s, the .45 DA cartridge which is nothing more than the .45 Colt with a larger rim for positive extraction from double action sixguns. It works in any sixgun chambered for .45 Colt that does not incorporate recessed case heads in the cylinder.
Factory loads for the .460 Rowland are a 185 grain jacketed hollow point at 1550 fps, a 200 grain jacketed hollow point at 1450 fps, and a 230 grain jacketed hollow point at 1340 fps. Fired in my completed .460 Rowland, the 185 grain factory load does 1530 fps (and drops five shots into 5/8″ at 15 yards), the 200 grainer does 1436 fps and, and the 230 clocks out at 1330 fps. For a comparison with .44 Magnum loads I fired the Federal 180 grain jacketed hollow point load from the five inch barrel of a Smith & Wesson Model 629 with the results being a muzzle velocity of 1564 fps. Hornady’s 200 XTP .44 Magnum loading clocked out at 1350, while Black Hills rendition of the 240 grain jacketed hollow point .44 load came in at 1247. For all practical purposes, the .460 Rowland with its five-inch barrel equals, or surpasses, the .44 Magnum in a like barreled sixgun.
We basically have .44 Magnum performance in a standard sized Model 1911, but what about recoil? Even a .45 ACP chambered 1911 bothers me more than heavier kickin’ sixguns because of the torque it applies to my wrist. I was a little apprehensive about shooting the .460 Rowland. Not to worry! The Clark Drop-in Kit features a built-in comp that works. Really works. With it in place, the felt recoil of the .460 Rowland to me is less than that of standard .45 ACP. It is a different recoil, coming straight back rather than twisting so it effects me less.
Many hunting applications call for hard cast bullets so it was only natural that I turned to my stock of Keith-style .45 bullets to see what could be accomplished with the .460 Rowland. Two bullets from Lyman molds, the #452423 at 230 grains and the #452424 at 245 grains, plus the RCBS #45-255 at 260 grains were all loaded in .460 Rowland brass and seated just even with the shoulder and above the crimping groove so they would feed through the standard 1911 magazine. I was shooting on the Black’s Creek Range with Willie Lee who is career military and an old hand with a .45 ACP watching. “Boy, does that gun shoot!” was his comment. And how right he is. Whether with jacketed or hard cast bullets, the .460 Rowland will shoot.
Giving myself and the pistol a break, I shot seven-shot groups and counted five. One of the reasons for this is my particular gun has a common ailment with semi-autos namely it puts the first shot an inch or so away from subsequent shots. Using this standard, Hornady’s 200 grain XTP at 1453 fps, shoots into 1″, while the same bullet at 230 grains and a muzzle velocity of 1335 does even better at 7/8″ for five shots. With cast bullets it is the same story, second verse. The 230 grain #452423 bullet at 1158 fps groups in 1 1/8″ while the 245 grain #452424 and the 260 grain #45-255 are at 1128 fps for 3/4″ and 1119 fps and 1/2″ respectively.
In reloading for the .460 Rowland we have learned several things. For now, at least, Accurate Arms #7 is the powder for the .460 Rowland. We may come up with others later. Accurate Arms #5 has proven to get too hot too fast raising pressures very quickly. Bullets must be of the right construction for .460 Rowland speeds and pressures. Speer’s Gold Dot bullets that are designed for the .45 ACP are too soft for the .460 Rowland at top end pressures. Care should be exercised in using any bullets that are of like construction for muzzle velocities in the 1,000 fps range.
It is not very often that I am excited about a semi-automatic but with the performance possible from this particular version I am. So much so that the slide which came nearly in the white with only a token amount of bluing will be re-blued as fits it station in life.
For more information on the .460 Rowland, guns, conversions, loaded ammo, or data, readers can contact Johnny Rowland at The Shooting Show, 327 Irvin Rowland Rd., Dept AH, Dubberly, LA 71024; phone (318) 377-5189. Clark Custom Guns, for conversions or drop-in kits can be located at 336 Shootout Lane, Dept. AH, Princeton, LA 71067; phone (318) 949-9884.
.460 ROWLAND JACKETED BULLET LOADS
|Factory 185 XTP-JHP||1530||5/8″|
|18.5 gr. AA#7||Hornady 185 XTP||1543||1 1/8″|
|16.5 gr. AA#7||Hornady 185 XTP||1421||3/4″|
|14.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 200 XTP||1179|
|15.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 200 XTP||1244|
|16.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 200 XTP||1326|
|17.5 gr. AA#7||Hornady 200 XTP||1453||1″|
|12.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 230 XTP||1037|
|13.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 230 XTP||1149|
|14.0 gr. AA#7||Hornady 230 XTP||1180|
|15.7 gr. AA#7||Hornady 230 XTP||1335||7/8″|
|14.3 gr. AA#7||Sierra 240 JHP**||1228||1 3/4″|
DO NOT EXCEED MAXIMUM LOADS. START 10% BELOW AND WORK UP SLOWLY!!!
*Best 5 of 7 shots
** Designed for .45 Long Colt sixgun. Feeding difficulties
.460 ROWLAND CAST BULLET LOADS
|12.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452424/245 gr.||1080||2″|
|13.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452424/245 gr.||1128||3/4″|
|14.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452424/245 gr.||1231||1/2″|
|11.0 gr. AA#7||RCBS #45-255/260 gr.||923||1″|
|12.0 gr. AA#7||RCBS #45-255/260 gr.||968||1 1/2″|
|13.0 gr. AA#7||RCBS #45-255/260 gr.||1119||1/2″|
|12.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452423/230 gr.||1079||1″|
|13.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452423/230 gr.||1158||1 1/8″|
|14.0 gr. AA#7||Lyman #452423/230 gr.||1243||2″|