Last week Doc Russia and I went off to the range for a “Welcome Home” shooting session with our handguns (to celebrate the fact that Over Here we can do such a thing as opposed to in my erstwhile host country of Britishland, where shooting and ownership of handguns is streng verboten).

As always, I took my Springfield 1911, while Doc brought, in addition to his 1911 in 10mm, a SIG-Sauer Model Something in 9mm.

Dear Readers, I got hurt. Badly hurt. Not from a gunshot wound or anything like that; but I regret to say that after 100 rounds, the heavy (230gr) .45 ACP rounds were beating up my arthritic old wrist something fierce. Worst of all, the pain was giving me an uncontrollable flinch. Even a padded shooting glove didn’t help. At that point, I quit and shot the SIG instead. And I discovered that with the Europellet, my wrist didn’t hurt at all.

Shit. Time to rethink what I’m shooting.

Before anyone gets all upset and starts hooting ‘n hollering, let me reassure you that I’m not going to dump the old 1911 warhorse yet, oh no. First, I’m going to try shooting the lighter 185gr boolets, just to see how that works out. I’ve ordered some experimental ammo from our friends at (see my Blog Roll for a link), and if that works then I’ll replace all my .45 ACP 230gr ammo with the lighter stuff. (“Replace” means just giving all the 230-grain stuff to Doc, of course, and ordering a couple-three thousand rounds of 185s.)

From a  self-defense perspective, I don’t think there’s much difference between the two rounds; the 185gr bullet is lighter but it arrives a little quicker than the 230gr, so anyone at the naughty end of the shot is going to be just as dead. But I will need to shoot a lot of practice 185gr rounds to make sure that I get accustomed to the lighter bullet, after over four decades of shooting the 230gr loads almost exclusively.

I don’t need this shit in my life, but needs must. As one of my friends said, “This getting old stuff isn’t for sissies.”

I just hope that the lighter .45 ACP ammo does the trick. The alternative is just too ghastly to contemplate — and I think y’all know what I mean.


  1. I get all kinds of opinions about recoil. Some say that lighter boolets shoot softer and some say that heavier ones do (and all are “sure” ;)). I noticed that my 185gr GDHPs at 1100 fps kick more than the 230gr GDHPs moving at 900 fps. This was very confusing, since I was careful to hold all the variables constant (gun, bullet brand, brass, primer). I think though, that it can be cyphered out if we hold on tightly to Newton’s second and third laws.

    So, yeah, lighter boolets will kick less IF they’re moving at the same MV as the heavier ones. OTOH, if your lighter boolet “arrives a little quicker” then its muzzle energy (and therefore its recoil) is a bit higher. Remember, velocity contributes to energy exponentially, while weight contributes arithmetically.

    Believe me, I’ve been trying to cheat physics for over half a century and it just won’t compromise. For a sweet target load try a 185gr LSWC over 4 gr of TiteGroup for a MV of around 700-750 fps. My balance has been to cycle the action and punch a hole in paper at 25 yards.

    1. If memory serves, I remember trying the Remington flatnosed 185gr JHP a few years ago, and was amazed at how lighter was the recoil compared to the Winchester White Box and PMC 230gr. So I’m going to give the Remington a try, just to see.
      Otherwise… oh god. Kill me now.

  2. There’s no need to beat up those appendages that hang at the end of your arms. Since this is for practice you can handload your practice cartridges for a very light load and still have accuracy. For defense, you can then carry commercial loads. I never noticed the difference (recoil) between commercially-loaded 230s and 185s.
    BTW: my wife loves to fire my new SigSauer 320 in 9; no recoil, no noise. This is with a hot-loaded 124 pellet.

  3. If I ever make it to DFW, or you to Central Florida, I’m going to take you to the range and put a couple of my CZ’s in you hands. 147 grain 9mm out of a CZ 85 is fantastic, with very little felt recoil, and 147 grain HST’s will dead a goblin just fine.

      1. I love my CZ75BD. When you truly are allowed to hold up the trigger finger and proclaim, this is my safety.

        1. Yes! I have a ’99 75B from the “Turkish Overrun” and it’s a work of art. Throwing a Europellet out of that hunk of steel is like shooting a .22.

  4. If the old warhorse round, in any iteration, doesn’t work out, well, the Dark Side is licking its lips in anticipation of your arrival. Bwaahahaha!

    Seriously, you’re right: getting old ain’t for wimps; from thinning hair to receding gums and creaking joints, it’s all a reminder of the final hurdle to come. But you’re an intelligent man who’ll do what he must to keep in practice at the range, even if it is galling to do so.

  5. At every outing to Area .45, and subsequent Shooting Fiestas, I’ve fired the 185 gr. variant, exclusively. Pity, I’ve used the last of the “T’s Guns & Ammo” loads, quite some time back.

    You fired a few magazines of those up at Area .45, if you’ll recall, and noted quite rightly, the decrease in felt recoil.

    The 185 grain punches the same size hole in the goblin, and the only caveat I can think of, is to have the right projectile for the load’s velocity range. We DO want those hollow points to open up as intended, of course.

    Practice ammo? 185 gr. ball, if you please.

    You might have to select a bit lighter recoil spring for any “bunny fart” practice loads…but, your wrists will surely thank you.

    Oh, speaking of Shooting Fiestas. Wouldn’t be a bad idea for one fine Spring day, I think?

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  6. I am not a fan of Shok-Buff type accessories but when I briefly had one installed on my Delta (10mm) there was a noticeable decrease in the ‘sharpness’ of the recoil kick.

    One thing you can look at that is safe and original (if the one side effect doesn’t also cause you grief): the firing pin stop. JMB’s original design had a very tight radius on the bottom where it overrides the hammer but for various reasons it was later changed to a larger radius.

    EGW makes oversize firing pin stops with no radius; they need to be fitted but then you (or your gunsmith) can put that much tighter radius on them. It can make a surprising amount of difference in recoil feel at the cost of making the slide harder to rack. I have had one in the Delta Elite for many years with zero issues. Even the underpowered .40S&W equivalent commercial loads run without issue

    1. For some reason, I’m a little leery of putting a piece of soft plastic inside my 1911, so no to the Shok-Buff.

  7. I feel for you brother. That’s why my current duty pistol is an XD9. I just couldn’t handle the recoil of a full size 1911 with hot 230gr defense loads any longer. I have been carrying a Kimber Ultra Carry II as an off duty pistol. I only have to shoot 25 rounds in our off duty qual (just enough to show “proficiency” and safe gun handling) vs 200 for the duty weapon. I really like the Kimber but I’m thinking that for next year I may look for a single stack polymer 9mm off duty pistol just because this 65 year old guy is way too familiar with Mrs. Ritis’ little boy Arthur. Its hell to get old but we’re not doing all that bad when you consider the alternative.

  8. One nice thing about my 9mm Berettas is that they’re both pretty close to recoil free.
    And not too expensive to run.

  9. >The alternative is just too ghastly to contemplate — and I think y’all know what I mean.

    Ye gods….

    Kim is getting a Glock.

    A .380…..

    May as well just get an AR in .poodleshooter caliber and a rainbow flag!

    I’ll be going now….

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