45 AutoRim: The Great Survivor

| December 24, 2014 | 1 Comments

The .45 AutoRim is a cartridge lucky to be in existence. Due to the lack of 1911’s as America prepared to enter WWI Smith & Wesson and Colt produced revolvers chambered for the .45ACP. These new revolvers were designated as the 1917 by the Army. Even though the 1917 revolver was derived out of what some say is necessity and others say unpreparedness for the war. It is clear the .45AutoRim was an afterthought and yet still remains in existence today. It is possibly the least known and least popular revolver cartridges still sold and produced by many ammunition manufacturers.?Everything about this cartridge breaks the rules of ammunition development. Revolvers typically introduce new cartridges or are adapted and retrofit to existing cartridges.?It is not ironic however that?I can often be found on the range when shooting pistols to always be accompanied by a Smith & Wesson model 625 and a box or two of .45 AutoRim ammunition. I find it very versatile fun to shoot, easy to reload and I never ever lose a piece of brass which is one of the attributes that make it a “Great Survivor”.

S&W 625 is very versatile. Shown with 230gr HP and 250gr LSWC

S&W 625 is very versatile. Shown with 230gr HP and 250gr LSWC

The afterthought of the 45 AutoRim is evident in that it was introduced a half a decade after the 1917 revolvers by Peters Cartridge Company. Peters developed this cartridge to fire in revolvers without clips, yes clips. Originally “half moon clips” were developed which allows the rimless 45ACP to be easily extracted from a revolver, it also is very important in providing the proper headspace to ensure reliability. During the war the ammunition was prepackaged in these moonclips for ease of use and carry. Eventually it would be the difficulty of utilizing these half moon clips that would drive the Peters Cartridge Company to develop the rimmed version of the .45ACP rimless cartridge (45 AutoRim) in hopes of eliminating these pesky half moon clips. Many decades later full moon clips were developed enabling faster reloads yet they still proved difficult to load and unload for reuse without the proper tool. There are a number of tools produced to make loading and unloading the moon clips easier. As an old timer I still prefer one of the earlier tools for unloading which simply looks like a hollowed steel pipe and sold by Brownells as a moonclip stripper. Some complain the metal moonclips are difficult to load thus moonclip loaders were produced. Any internet search for “moonclip tools” will no doubt turn up a vast number of devices to fit your needs. Though for many years I utilized these moonclips loading and unloading without any tools at all. All of these items come in very handy when competing in club matches.

Reloading the .45AutoRim is no different from any other rimmed revolver cartridge, you will need the appropriate shell holder and I prefer the Redding #17 part number RED11017. Though the cartridge is reloaded the same there are a few differences from the 45ACP other than its rim. Due to bullet profile and the function of the semi auto pistol ?the 45ACP is typically loaded with 230gr FMJ ammunition. Originally this produced the greatest reliability. With better technology in both bullets and pistol manufacturing many hollow points/self defense rounds can be used and be just as reliable as the old 230gr round nose workhorse. In reloading manuals for 45ACP you will most likely find loads that only go as heavy as 230grains, in the .45AR you can find loads suitable for 250grains. Ammunition manufacturers like Buffalo Bore produces ammunition upwards of 255gr but I would refrain from using these in any of the older 1917 revolvers.

Revolvers chambered in .45 AutoRim usually possess uncommon accuracy, something I’ve discovered over the years of shooting .45Auto revolvers are the differences in accuracy of the round nose profiled bullet compared to the Keith style leadSWC profile. Most of the jacketed hollow points I have used has performed as well as the LSWC. The long chambers of the revolvers would possibly allow the round nose profile of the 230gr bullet to tilt as it entered the barrel, couple this with the 230gr short bearing surface and you get rounds that aren’t as accurate.

The 1917, the 1950, and the 1955 .45cal revolvers are long gone from the Smith & Wesson catalog, but the .45 ACP/.45 AR revolver is a concept that will not die, making the 45AutoRim A Great Survivor. With the introduction of the Classic series by Smith & Wesson the 1917 and model 25 have enjoyed a come back.

The Smith and Wesson .45ACP/.45AR revolver has been designed in many different styles to fulfill many roles self defense, conceal & carry, competition action shooting and the .45AR with a 250gr bullet extends this revolver into the hunting realm.

The .45 Auto Rim is still a viable fun cartridge which occupies a space between the 357magnum and 44magnum. It combines power and accuracy with very manageable recoil when one wants to avoid the blast percussion of the magnums and is why I can always be seen finishing out a range session with the pure joy of ?ringing some steal with 45AutoRim the “Great Survivor”

Thank you to those who loaned me their revolvers for this review.

Added Update:

There is a discussion going on over on THR (thehighroad forum) which spawned a few thoughts in my head. There are conversations about the avilability of the brass and right now there are 3 major dealers that have 45AR brass readily available. Considering 45AR brass is very tough to lose, is 45AR the cartridge to have and shoot for reloaders during an ammo shortage like the one seen over the past few years. Of course that would mean you have the other components needed.

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1 Comment on "45 AutoRim: The Great Survivor"

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  1. Ritchie says:

    ” the 45ACP is typically loaded with 230gr round ball ammunition.”

    Suggest change to “round nose ball”. Although I have fired .454″ round
    ball in a 1911 with adequate results.

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