PMC .45 ACP Ammunition – 230 Grains Of Series 70 Fodder
Oct 13, 2009 (Updated Jul 2, 2013)
Review by morilla
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Appears to be more readily available than alternatives; Good cases;
Cons:A trifle hot, though not overly so; Somewhat inconsistent
The Bottom Line: A good, alternative, 'value' ammo in .45 ACP. Not the most consistent or the 'best;' but, it does get the job done.
With the ammunition shortage this year, popular handgun cartridges have been hard to come by; a situation about to be made much worse with California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing A.B. 962 into law. As a result, brand loyalties have had to take a back seat to what’s available. The trouble is that many people are unfamiliar with many of even the more popular options. While this is not completely surprising in that once you find a factory load that works for your firearm, you tend to stick with that brand, it is problematic when that particular brand is not available on the store shelf and might not be for some time to come.
Recommend this product?
What Is A “PMC?”
PMC is a brand of ammunition made in the Republic of (South) Korea, with their U.S. Sales Office based in Houston, Texas and has been around for closing on half a century. The company’s “Bronze Line” of ammunition is considered to be their “value line;” i.e., can we say “affordable?” Take careful note of the following from PMC’s website:
“… PMC has joined forces with Poongsan Corporation of Korea to expand its markets in the Global ammunition arena. The intention is "Be the Best in the World”… Poongsan, who is known today to be one of the top producers of quality military ammunition, has supplied PMC products since its origin. Now with the combined capacity of its Angang and Dongrae plants, the supply of hard to get PMC products should be more readily available… PMC will go into 2007 with its most popular items in pistol and revolver ammunition concentrating on its core market of target, plinking, home defense and law enforcement. The selection of rifle specifications will be limited this year due to the decision to convert the production of its civilian rifle facility to military contracts…”
The significance of this is two-fold. First, based on my own searches for suppliers of ammunition this year, PMC has regularly been available; at least if it wasn’t on the shelf at that moment, it didn’t seem to take long for the vendor to acquire it. In fact, locally, it was virtually the only ammunition available in quantity. Second, you will note their change of emphasis a couple years ago to ‘military’ contracts; with conversion of the civilian rifle factory to military contracts. At this very moment, I have a box of Winchester 5.56mm 55 gr. FMJ (Q3131A1) sitting in front of me. This is Winchester’s USA (“white box”) brand – with a notation on the back which states “Made in R.O. Korea.” I’ll let you draw your own inferences.
When looking at ammunition, the first question which comes up is what was/is the ‘standard’ by which to measure the ballistics of the .45 ACP. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) specs cite use of a 5” test barrel (consistent with a full-size, Government Model, 1911 style pistol) and 830 f.p.s. velocity at 15’ from the muzzle for 230 gr. MC-FMC (FMJ). The trouble is that they also cite a ‘margin’ of… ready?... plus or minus 90 f.p.s.!!! That’s a pretty wide range. Think about it. The range they are listing is from a low of 740 f.p.s. to a high of 920 f.p.s. The low end of this range might necessitate a ‘light’ recoil spring and, while not quite up to true P levels, the high end of SAAMI’s margin is definitely touching the low end of the P velocities and isn’t something I’d like to feed my 1911 a regular diet of, especially without a slightly ‘heavier’ recoil spring.
Another problem with this wide a range is the potential for inconsistency. Frankly, if a single box or lot of ammunition from the same manufacturer ranged that much, individuals would have trouble keeping things on target. Viewed another way, SAAMI specs allow for a margin of error equivalent to 21.7% in the .45 ACP (180 divided by 830). While that may be suitable from the standpoint of variance among different manufacturers, we’ve got to be able to do better than that in determining a standard for a single manufacturer’s product; thereby, giving us some basis for comparison among different lots and makers.
Since the M1911 and the M1911A1 are the archetypes and progenitors for most, though certainly not all, of the .45 ACP chambered pistols now on the market, let’s look at what the standard was for these. According to Hatcher’s Notebook…
“The Pistol Ammunition furnished for the National Matches during the period under discussion was loaded to the regular service specifications calling for a 230 grain bullet loaded to a muzzle velocity of 810 feet per second… A typical load was that of the 1929 National Match pistol cartridge… giving an instrumental velocity at 25 feet of 816 feet per second…” (p. 393)
National Match ammo is generally considered to be ‘premium’ ammunition; not because it is, of necessity, a different load, but because it undergoes more stringent quality control. A few pages earlier, in a schematic of the “Cartridge, Ball, cal. .45, M1911,” the following statement is provided…
“Charge of smokeless pistol powder to give 820 /- 25 ft. per sec. velocity at 25 ½ feet in pistol, automatic cal. .45 M1911A1.” (p. 351)
The 1940 published FM 23-35, Basic Field Manual, Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 & M1911A1, declares that…
“One model of .45 caliber ball cartridge and one model of .45 caliber dummy cartridge are authorized for use in the caliber .45 automatic pistol. These cartridges are designated – (1) Cartridge, ball, cal. .45, M1911… Average velocity at 25 feet from muzzle, 800 feet per second.” (pp. 16 & 17)
A 1986 reprint of an American Rifleman booklet by the National Rifle Association entitled The .45 Automatic posits the following…
“Reliable functioning of this pistol [the 1911A1] requires ammunition which works the mechanism with some reserve power. The Service cartridge with 230-gr. metal-jacketed bullet at 830 feet per second (f.p.s.) is somewhat more than adequate for this purpose…” (p. 6)
Finally, if we look at what is arguably the most popular .45 ACP ‘hardball’ factory load currently on the American market, the Winchester USA (“white-box”) specs are listed by the company as: 230 gr. FMJ (full-metal jacket) with a ‘muzzle’ velocity of 835 f.p.s. Thus, it becomes apparent that we do not need to look for a ‘standard’ of ballistics measurement. It has been there from the beginning. This is what the 1911 archetype was designed to function with. The round has served our Armed Forces from 1911 to this day; for, despite the politics-driven adoption of the 9mm cartridge in 1985, modern manufacture, along with WWI and WWII era production, 1911’s and 1911A1’s still see active service in the field with U.S. service members.
Put in a nutshell, the ‘standard’ for .45 ACP ‘hardball’ is precisely what Hatcher cited all those years ago: a 230 gr. FMJ bullet with a velocity of 820 f.p.s. – plus or minus 25 f.p.s. – said velocity measured 25 feet from the muzzle of a full-size, government model, 1911 or 1911A1 style pistol. That gives a low end of 795 f.p.s. and a high end of 845 f.p.s.; a margin of 6.1% or less than 1/3 the margin allowed for by SAAMI specs.
PMC Factory Specs
45 ACP FMJ 230 gr.
Velocity (ft./sec.) = 830 at the muzzle with a 'zero' at 50 yds.
[Note: I've hit targets during matches at 75 yards with .45 ACP; but, I don't see this as a 'long-distance' cartridge and 50 yards is pushin' it in the context of practical accuracy for most people.]
This velocity rating would put the PMC factory load directly in the middle of our accepted ‘standard.’ However, factory specs are one thing and performance “in the field” is something different. Thus, I went out to see what this would do…
I set up a Chrony F1 (chronograph) and measured a distance 10 feet from the muzzle. (I know that I just said SAAMI measured 15’ from the muzzle and military specs called for 25’ from the muzzle. First, you don’t need to be that far; 10’ is sufficient to mitigate the muzzle blast’s potential to influence the chronograph results in this handgun caliber. Second, all testing was done offhand. Finally, if you want to set up your chronograph at eight yards and not worry about inadvertently shooting the unit while simultaneously hitting ‘the sweet spot’ between the arms…) The elevation was 5,500 ft., on a clear day with temperatures hovering around 70 - 75 degrees F and relative humidity around 35%.
The test gun was a military spec 1911; i.e., your basic ‘rear’-in-the-grass .45 Government Model. Bearing in mind that I am not a ‘gun writer’ with access to manufacturer’s in terms of obtaining ‘donated’ ammunition for testing, the sample size is, of necessity, a bit small. Be that as it may, 10 rounds from two different boxes/lots of PMC Bronze Line 45 Auto, 230 grs. FMJ to establish the following results:
Mean Velocity = 865.7 f.p.s.
High = 887.7 f.p.s.; Low = 840.2 f.p.s. – ES (Extreme Spread) = 47.5 f.p.s.
Standard Deviation (SD) = 14.271
While this puts it well within SAAMI specs, it does put it make it a little ‘hotter’ on average than the traditional military ‘standard;’ though not detrimentally so. While I know of no ‘official’ marker for standard deviation on factory ammo sold on the civilian market, an SD of around 20 has always been a bit of a rule of thumb; with low-end ammo starting to verge on ‘unacceptable’ around 30 or so and ‘match’ ammo having an SD of somewhere around 7 – 10. Remember, you’re talking about assembly line production, not individually weighed handloads.
Viewed from that perspective, an SD of 14 is good, solid consistency in factory, ‘value’ ammunition; with consistency being a key to accuracy…
It’s been nearly 20 years since I actively shot Bullseye and IPSC competition. I didn’t shoot anywhere near the thousands of rounds per week that champions such as Rob Leatham or Doug Koenig average; nor did I ever come close to Bob Munden’s speed. But, I did get rounds downrange and have a handful of plaques to show for it.
Now? Well… I’ll admit to being able to hit the broadside of a barn – provided it’s not moving and I’m standing inside. It’s not that I can’t hit what I aim at – most of the time. It’s that I’m not going to be winning any Bullseye matches in the near future. Further, I have none of the technological aids which help to take the ‘human factor’ out of accuracy tests; e.g., a proper rest such as a Ransom Rest. While I’m too far out of practice to have competitive speed, as for the practical accuracy necessary for IPSC…
I filled two magazines with PMC 230 gr. FMJ, set a target with an 8” black at a measured 15 yards and proceeded to rapid fire through both magazines. I used to be able to change mags on a locked back slide and be rockin’ in roughly ¾ of a second. Let’s say that the mag change was a trifle slower this time and the overall time probably wouldn’t have even put my name in the results bulletin, but it was still rapid fire. Additionally, I did a stance change every 3-4 shots; Weaver, modified isosceles, squat, kneel, and lean. ALL rounds ended up inside the black. (Folks… This ain’t braggin’. If you’re a shooter, you’d appreciate the hilarious spectacle I would have made had anyone been looking.)
Where this ammo comes into play for me is with a stock, original Colt Series 70 I’m acquainted with. This handgun had not had a single round put through it in, literally, years. It’s not that it had been relegated to being a “safe queen,” I just hadn’t done much shooting – really. Feeling guilty, I finally took her out to let her graze on a box of ammo last summer. I set a 30” x 12” piece of plain cardboard against a piece of sagebrush, paced off an honest 20 yards, loaded, drew and aimed instinctively…
That first round of PMC 230 gr. hardball went right down the tube and hit that cardboard DEAD CENTER. I couldn’t have hit that thing any closer to center if I’d put a bullseye on there and had done it competition-style. I should have quit while I was ahead. I got so shook up with the accomplishment and was so proud of the old girl that I didn’t really care what happened with the rest of the box; and I’m sure not gonna tell you about it.
However, I find this to be the case with this ammo and that Series 70. That first shot always goes where it’s pointed. That’s all I can reasonably ask. Remember, it’s your first shot that counts; you may not get a chance for a second.
Useful For What?
In a sense, this ammunition is usable for plinking, targets, and self-defense. Certainly, as their ‘value’ line of ammunition, the .45 ACP 230 gr. FMJ is marketed as a ‘plinker’ round. It is also intended for casual target shooting. (IPSC, Bullseye, and even bowling pin shoots are better done with a different type of bullet.)
Now, I know that I may have lost any number of you when I said “self-defense.”
“Hardball, for self-defense,” you ask incredulously?
In many cases, you would be quite justified in your cynicism. However, in this case, you’re talkin’ .45 ACP. I really don’t care too much for ballistics tests done in gel or carcasses. While the results can be spectacular, you’re not measuring the effects on live nerve endings, living tissue, a moving target, and the ineffable qualities of individual reaction. Similarly, while anecdotal ‘evidence’ can be sparse and/or inaccurate, the .45 ACP has been around for a century; more than sufficient time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In the end, the .45 ACP is the only FMJ (‘hardball’ – ‘military’) round to have developed a solid reputation as a fight stopper. The 1911 and its derivatives were designed to work with .45 ACP ‘hardball’ ammunition. Ball ammo was designed to feed reliably, penetrate, and be durable; i.e., it won’t deform when stored, carried, or while being fed from a magazine or clip the way soft point and some hollow point ammunition will. ‘Ball’ ammunition does not rely on a combination of velocity, bullet design, materials, and target composition to expand as intended; it simply doesn’t expand. Further, while detractors of ‘ball’ ammo will cry about significant overpenetration, much of this anecdotal and lab test data stems from high velocity rounds such as 9mm Luger or military rifle calibers and not from sub-sonic rounds such as the .45 ACP. Finally, in the case of 230 gr. FMJ .45 ACP, you’re talking about hitting someone/something with over a ½ ounce of solid lead and copper traveling at approximately 800 f.p.s.; which means 0.53 ounces of solid lead and copper traveling at roughly 545 ½ m.p.h. Any way you take it, that’s gonna leave a mark…
While many and diverse are the battlefield stories, from WWI to the present, involving the .45 ACP and the M1911/M1911A1 pistol, the point is that they all involve the same ammunition – 230 gr. FMJ; said round meeting the specifications as laid out above. In fact, here is a portion from a more recent article entitled “In Time of War: The Israeli Answer To Terrorism” by noted, long-time firearm’s instructor/author Massad Ayoob:
“…Recent events in Afghanistan have shown the relative impotence of 9mm ball compared to the same style of .45 caliber ammunition that has been in historical evidence since before WWI. GIs in Afghanistan report that Al-Qaeda fighters are absorbing multiple 9mm ball rounds from the issue Berettas before going down, but tend to drop to one or two solid hits with .45 ball fired from the old 1911 style guns still in use by Delta Force.
The medium-caliber handgun cartridge such as the 9mm (.355” bullet diameter) or the .38 Special (.357” bullet diameter) requires an expanding bullet to best do its job of stopping human assault, while the .45 (.452” bullet diameter) has a long history of shutting off attacks with ball type ammo…” – see backwoodshome.com/articles2/ayoob81.html
Over the years, I’ve used PMC cases nearly interchangeably with Winchester in .45 ACP and haven’t been able to tell a difference. In fact, I’ve even mixed cases in a given batch and magazine; something I wouldn’t do if I were trying for highly accurate target loads. Longevity is roughly comparable to the Winchester; at least insofar as I’m concerned. I do not use cases until failure. When it comes to auto loading firearms, I figure on 5 or 6 loadings, then it’s into the brass bucket.
What do all these reflections, tests, and data indicate to me?
1.) This round is a little ‘hotter’ than I like; but, not egregiously so. While I had no Failures to Feed (FTF) or Failures to Eject (FTE) in either the military spec test gun or the Series 70, I’d be cautious with this ammunition as a ‘steady diet’ for WWII era or earlier vintage guns.
2.) While a solid performer, it is not the most consistent .45 ACP ‘ball’ ammo in the ‘value’ market niche.
3.) Prices can and will vary widely. Locally, I’ve seen a standard 50 round box of PMC .45 ACP 230 FMJ go for as much as $40 this year. Online… Cabela’s currently lists it for $21.99 for a box of 50. They also list bulk packs at $134.99 (300 rds.), $245.99 (600 rds.), and $469.99 (1,200 rds.). That’s when they have it!!!
People… You may think I’m exaggerating about California’s new law regarding handgun ammo. I’m not. Cabela’s has already put their California customers on notice. In fact, the morning after Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law, Cabela’s moved their Ammunition sub-menu from the bottom of their “Shooting Gear” page, to the first position at the top. Other online dealers (with comparable pricing) have placed limits on the number of boxes per customer; having already had them there for awhile. Likewise, the shortage has created circumstances with some online retailers where, if you’re not set up to receive email alerts on your blackberry, you will miss out in that the ammunition will be “Sold Out” in, literally, a couple of hours – at most. On top of all this, you need to remember that California has just over 12% of the country’s population. Even with the economy the way it is, less than one day after the Governator signed this bill, I already hear a great sucking vacuum as Californians hurry to stockpile what they can (even though, the way I understand it, the law doesn’t take effect until early 2011).
4.) While there remains a certain brand loyalty vis a vis “white box” ammunition, in the .45 ACP 230 gr. FMJ, the PMC isn’t a bad alternative. (I can’t say that about all the PMC ammo.) In fact, I have been putting together a bit of a ‘selection’ of this ammo specifically for the old girl. (“A barrier constructed to contain the flow of water” plus an “N,” I’m proud of her; shooting like that after all these years.)
Is the PMC .45 ACP 230 gr. FMJ my first choice in value, ‘ball’ ammo in that caliber?
But, I suppose it says something that I currently have more of it than other brands; even if that’s because it’s been all I could readily get.
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