Sunday, October 30, 2016


Aluminum casings
Expand to fill
Cylinder’s chambers

MY #1 SON, THE COP, and I went to the range the other day. It was my first chance to try out my Taurus 605 wheel gun.

I had a box of .38s for the paper target and five rounds of Liberty Civil Defense aluminum-case .357 magnums. My son brought along his .40 service weapon and a .45 ACP pistol.

“ACP” for those not already “in the know” stands for “Automatic Colt Pistol,” a/k/a semi-automatic. .45 wheel guns normally fire .45 Long Colt ammunition, although now there is a moon clip adaptor to allow wheel guns to fire the less expensive, more commonly available .45 ACP ammunition.

Taurus, which made my .38/.357 magnum, made a .45 ACP wheel gun and several companies – notably Ruger and Smith & Wesson make .45 ACP wheel guns. Still, according to The Truth About Guns the results of firing an ACP round from a wheel gun are poorer than firing the same round from a semi-automatic. The bottom line seems to be if a shooter wants the power of a .45 ACP round, the answer is to buy a .45 semi-auto.


I am used to firing .38 Specials from an over/under Derringer. Kick (recoil)? Negligible even with the very small (6 inch total length) gun. The kick from the Taurus 605 loaded with 158 gr .38 Specials from Wal-Mart seemed, strangely enough, more than with the Derringer. Maybe the difference was the age of the shooter.

My son convinced me to burn up a couple of clips (magazines) of his .40 service weapon. I was prepared for more recoil than I had with the .38. If there was a difference, it was not noticeable to me. Then he insisted I try the .45 ACP.

It’s reasonable to expect a major increase in recoil as the caliber gets bigger, but the .45 was easy to handle.

Finally, I loaded the .357 magnum Liberty Civil Defense high speed rounds. We both have the aluminum ammunition; he has yet to fire any from his .40, so, having fired three rounds I handed over the Taurus for his use.

Aside from being a bit of a flame thrower – I didn’t measure the flame, but it was substantially greater than the .38, .40, or .45s we had been firing – the recoil was no worse - in my opinion - than the .40 or .45. It may have been the loudest round fired, but as far as recoil nothing to write home about. My son is more than 6 feet tall and fires lots of rounds both on his own and to remain qualified with the (police) department – and his targets show it. I’m shorter, but I weigh in at “around” 180. How a lighter, delicate person would rate the recoil remains to be seen. (I intend to loan the Taurus with five rounds of .38 FMJ rounds for a woman in my neighborhood to try.)

Sticky casings

It’s a good thing I waited until the end of the shooting session to fire the Liberty Civil Defense aluminum ammunition. With all five rounds expended we discovered that the casing were expAnded.

Normally the casings fall out when the Taurus is tipped up. Not so with the Liberty’s. The aluminum cases were solidly stuck in their chambers. The ejection rod was immobile.

We waited maybe 10 minutes for the casings to cool and then we managed to bang the ejection rod to pop out the casings. Number One Son surmised that the heat generated by the power expanded the casing; letting it cool down allowed the casing to return to its pre-firing diameter.

I told him that this situation made use of the Liberty Civil Defense bullets a show stopper – what if I needed to reload? His logical reply: If you need to reload, run. I suggested he try several rounds in his .40 to make sure the semi-auto could eject a spent casing. (Never stand near a person firing a semi-auto pistol or rifle; casings fly in all directions; not so with wheel guns.)

.45 ACP revolver??

Having been impressed with the .45 semi-auto firing Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) ammunition,
and knowing .45 ACP ammo is less expensive and more available than .45 Long Colt (LC)
and knowing I wanted something with more “knock down” (non-lethal) power than my .38/.357 without the “pass through” of the high-speed Liberty Civil Defense ammunition,
I’m toying with the idea of searching for a revolver that fires .45 ACP.

There ARE some around; there was a Taurus (Raging Bull) that fired not only .45 ACP but the .454 Casull cannon. Taurus discontinued the weapon. Ruger makes (made?) the Redhawk 5032 that fires both .45 LC and, with provided moon clips, .45 ACP. But at a “suggested retail” of more than $1000, it’s a “bit” out of my price range.

At one time, c 1917, the U.S. Army bought .45 ACP M1917 wheel guns from both Colt and Smith & Wesson. While it might be possible to find an M1917, it might be a dangerous buy, given the advances in ammunition pressures since World War 1. The Army wanted something reliable (a revolver) to “supplement” the M1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic, not known for being a rugged, accurate, care-free weapon. (Semi-autos require much more Tender Loving Care (TLC) than wheel guns; no disassembly required to clean a revolver after use. I can clean my wheel gun in half the time it takes my son to break down, clean, and reassemble one of his semi-autos, and he does that regularly.) A Colt M1911 manufactured in 1922 recently sold for $1,700; like the Redhawk, out of my price range…and it was in only “fair” condition. The same site listed a Ruger Blackhawk from 1983 with .45 ACP and .45 LC cylinders for a mere $450 for a pretty nice piece.

Charter Arms offers/offered its Pitbull revolver in .45 ACP. According to the Personal Defense World web site,
“When Charter Arms introduced the Pitbull line, it didn’t use moon clips at all, but instead the ejector star/ratchet at the rear of the cylinder was made thick enough to contain small, spring-loaded plungers. When a cartridge is loaded into the chamber, the plunger is depressed and then pops back out to engage the extractor cut in the cartridge case. The round headspaces on the front of the cartridge case and, when the revolver is empty, the cylinder is swung out and the ejector rod pressed vigorously to extract the spent cases.”

The 5-shot, 2.5-inch barrel .45 ACP Pitbull lists, on Charter Arms web site for $500 +/- $25.

Then again

Most .357 loads are “slower” than the Liberty Self Defense aluminum ammo. Ballistics 101 lists .357 specs from a number of manufacturers, albeit Liberty is noticeably absent. The Liberty’s are hard to find and a bit on the pricy side. OK, they are lead free.

Plus, the Taurus 605 fires the less expensive .38 “Wal-Mart plunkers” as well as .38 +P (but given the punch of the .357, why?)

I believe I just convinced myself that, as much as I enjoyed firing the boy’s .45 ACP semi-auto I’ll hang on to the paid-for Taurus 605. Besides, I still have some Wal-Mart .38s and 15 rounds of Liberty aluminum to burn through. I just have to remember to fire the Liberty rounds at the end of a session.

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