Monday, March 10, 2014

The Shooting Bench -- .45 Auto Reloads

I got into the reloading hobby around 1991 when I bought a revolver from a fellow service member who was set to ship out on an overseas assignment.  As a package deal the gun came with a set of reloading dies and several hundred rounds of empty brass cartridge cases.  I had seen a reloading bench before as a kid visiting a friend's house but I never saw the actual process of assembling the individual components into complete ammunition.

At the time I was stationed in eastern Washington state so there was a well stocked sportsman's supply not far from base so I headed downtown one day and picked up a reloading starter kit that got me off and running.  I'm still using that single stage press and most of the other stuff that came in the kit.  Over the years I've added a few more die sets for other calibers and other odds and ends to make the reloading process easier or more accurate.

Because I'm fascinated by mechanical things and working with my hands I quickly found reloading a great activity to exercise the attention to detail I learned in the military and the satisfaction that comes from setting up a small manufacturing process and making it work.  It is a hobby within a hobby and I can honestly say that I enjoy the reloading part almost as much as taking the rounds out to the range and firing them off.

Recently I've taken an interest in center fire semi-auto pistols in particular the .45 caliber 1911 pistol.  After shooting just a couple boxes of  ammo I fell in love with the cartridge and John Browning's venerable service pistol design.  I knew I'd have to try my hand at reloading the stubby yet powerful round.  The opening picture above shows the first 100 reloads of .45 Auto that the Roadqueen and I assembled earlier this winter.

Here is the recipe:

Case:  Once fired Blazer
Powder:  Bullseye  5 grains
Bullet:  Hornady Jacketed Round Nose 230 grains
Primer:  CCI 350 Large Pistol
Seated:  1.260"

It was still chilly this weekend but not too cold for a shooting session so we took off to the range and gave them a try.

15 Yards - Sandbag rest (7-ring is 4.00" diameter)
No malfunctions and every round fired without a hitch.


The Roadqueen brought along her guns for a little target practice too.  Below .40 caliber off the sandbags.

Like many shooters I know she has been around firearms all her life.  This cool little .22 semi-automatic rifle her dad bought for her when she was a young girl just old enough to learn to shoot.  Made for the Sears, Roebuck and Co. by High Standard the rifle was manufactured in November of 1963.  High Standard is most famous for a line of .22 target pistols they began manufacturing in 1932 and have been producing ever since. 

I had an old "Made In USA" Weaver rim fire scope that I wasn't using for anything so we mounted it up for her to try.  Scopes make .22's even more fun and I thought the Weaver would be a perfect match for the old classic American rifle.  Here are some groups she shot as we adjusted the elevation and windage of the scope bringing the point of impact in line with the cross hairs.


  1. Awesome! The1911 is my favorite pistol of all time. My father just gave me one made in the '30s. She's a beaut! Looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

    1. That sounds great Mike. Your old man is a heck of a guy! 1930's sounds like a Colt 1911A1. I did a quick search and I see between 1924-1945 the M1911A1 was manufactured by Colt's PT.F.A.MFG.CO, Singer Manufacturing Co., Ithaca Gun Co., Remington Rand, Inc., and Union Switch & Signal Co. Which one is yours?

  2. How does the Ruger compare to the Colt Gold Cup?

    1. Hi Steve, The 1911 is such an old design and since it has gained so much popularity over the years lots of companies are building them. They are all good. It just comes down to which company you like. Of course Colt is the original producer so that adds a lot of brand clout. I'd love to own a colt just for the historical significance if nothing else.

      If I were going to throw down more money for another 1911 I would go for the Springfield Armory Range Officer I've heard and read nothing but good things about that pistol.

      The nice thing about buying a 1911 today is getting features on a stock piece that would have been custom work 20 years ago and greatly increased the total package cost.

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