More on +P Ammunition

After I wrote about about +P ammunition a while back, there were several reader responses. For that reason, I have dug into the matter again to come up with more data on the subject.  The term +P is associated with certain handgun cartridges. It essentially means “loaded to greater pressure.” In the strict sense of the word, the term belongs to SAAMI─Small Arms Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute.  SAAMI technicians have determined that four pistol cartridges─.38 Spl., .38 Super, 9 mm Luger and .45 ACP─may be loaded to a certain higher pressure levels and sold, as long as they are marked “+P.”  Note that .45 Colt is not a SAAMI-sanctioned +P cartridge. Some readers have mentioned that a popular internet information source says that it is, but the latest listings from the SAAMI are to the contrary.

Apparently, some unknown number of small ammunition makers are in fact offering .45 Colt ammo that bears the +P stamp and box label. In view of the fact that certain of the handloading manuals actually list high pressure .45 Colt loads for use in Ruger and Freedom Arms revolvers, you can sort of see where these makers are coming from. If this kind of hot stuff is used in other, probably older revolvers, the guns stand a good chance of catastrophic failure. I can well understand the drive to build a more competitive product, but when their +P loads are not in accordance with the specific pressure levels SAAMI lists for use with the “+P” label, there is no way to identify what they are. This means you should approach the matter with extreme caution.

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2 Responses to More on +P Ammunition

Rich wrote:
May 15, 2012

Isn't it plain common sense to use the LATEST DATA. As is mentioned in this article, newer guns are not the same as older models...everything changes! I got my .41 mag from S&W 25 years ago. It's not what you buy today.

Gary wrote:
May 07, 2012

Sometimes the folks that print handloading manuals just seem to make it up as they go along. For instance, Speer has come up with one "+P" load for the 7 mm Mauser and two for the .45-70 Government, in addition to the one for the .45 Colt. None of these are recognized by SAAMI. When Speer came out with their .41 Magnum 220-grain jacketed SWC, they included loading data in the box of bullets. Their top load called for 19 grains of #2400 with Magnum primers. In their Manual number 13, they were down to 15.8 grains with regular primers. All loads apparently used the same Smith 6-inch M57. Have you readers noticed that over the years, some loading data has been watered down? Perhaps this is in response to liability issues or new results from their research. In my case with the .41, the reloading manual publishers will argue that it is my responsibility to constantly replace every reloading manual I own in order to have the latest and safest data available in order to not harm myself, others, or my firearms. That puts a huge burden on the handloader. To me, this borders on the publishers avoiding a "Product Recall" when their "product" (manual) becomes "defective." If we registered our manuals and the calibers we loaded for with the publishers, they could either notify us of changes or just send new pages for the out-dated data. That is if their legal department cared.