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Thread: 45 ACP Rimmed VS 45 ACP Straight?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    DonMountain's Avatar
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    45 ACP Rimmed VS 45 ACP Straight?

    I have a S&W 1917 ex military revolver chambered in 45 ACP and have been using the "moon clips" to load it. Since the pistol was designed for rimmed cartridges and not the straight-wall types, I was thinking of purchasing some of the Rimmed 45 ACP brass that is available from Star Line. What is everyone's opinion of the use of straight wall or rimmed 45 ACP cases? Is it worth the expense of purchasing the rimmed cases? Are they easier to use then the moon clipped cases? Do you recommend them?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
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    When the gun Has To! go bang, using ammo most similar to what it was intended to use, which has a headspacing rim, is the way to go. This is the most reliable way to run a revolver.

    Yes I do recommend them. Having the most reliable option and freeing yourself from having to use moon clips is very worthwhile.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The revolvers usually work better with loads optimized for them, in terms of bullet diameter fitting the cylinder throats, of a weight which shoots to the sights, and of a power level which is accurate. The best revolver loads are usually quite different from those optimized for an autopistol. Using Auto Rim brass makes it apparent that they are REVOLVER loads not to be used in the bottom feeders.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Hi...
    I have been carrying a S&W1917 with .45AutoRim cartridges when hiking in southcentral Pennsylvania for decades.
    Mine is completely reliable with the AutoRim cartridges and reasonably accurate out to 25yds.
    It has managed to ruin a groundhog's day on several occasions and it's presence on my hip is a comfort on those occasions I encounter other humans.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Auto rim cartridges are slower to load but carry better than clipped ACP cartridges. As far as performance, I can't tell the difference but, then I have only one load for any .45 ACP or AR cartridge and do not try to expand the envelope.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  6. #6
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    For use in your M1917 Revolver make sure you get the 45 AR (Auto Rim) cases which have rims as thick as the ACPs rim + the moon clip thickness. You don't want to get the 45 ACP length "Cowboy" or American Cowboy cases made for SAAs with 45 ACP cylinders for SASS competition.

    I used a lot of 45 AR cases back in the day in several M1917 S&W and Colts. They were fine with loads I wanted to keep separate from use in my M1911s. However, I seldom use those loads anymore and , instead, just use my standard 45 ACP load (195 - 205 gr cast over 5 gr Bullseye) in my M1917/25 with half or full moon clips. That load is as accurate as any in my revolver. It also simplifies loading because the SDB is already set up for it and I've 4 separate 6 cavity moulds. Using my standard 45 ACP loads also eliminates deciding what ammo to use as I've usually got several thousand on hand loaded at any given time. Just me is all as I did find the 45 AR loads to be useful back then.....still have a couple hundred 45 AR R-P cases......
    Larry Gibson

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  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Mr. DonMountain- You will likely find that there is very little difference in the performance of your revolver whether you use straight-walled .45 ACP case with moon clips or the .45 Auto-Rim cases. Actually the weapon was originally modified from a standard cylinder revolver as a stopgap solution so that it could be used by the military in WWI with .45 ACP ammo, the supply of Government Model 1911 pistols being short at the time. Auto-Rim cartridge cases came much later and are the ones I like to load up (you will need a special cartridge holder for your loading press because of the rim thickness of the cases). Carrying some .45 ACP cartridges in your moon clips gives you a very quick reload of the cylinder either way.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Back when I had a 1917 S&W, I used the same loads that I used in my Goverment .45 and my Star PD .45 autos. I did shoot some .45 Auto Rim factory ammo in it, but never bothered buying a shell holder to reload the cases. Around that time the full moon clips came out and I bought a couple. But most of the time I just fired it and plucked the empties out with my fingernails because I had all the time in the world back then.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Snow ninja's Avatar
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    To me, it’s definitely worth getting some to try out. You won’t waste your money. I prefer the auto-rim in my 1917. You can just use ACP load data.
    Do the best you can, with what you've got, where you're at. -Theodore Roosevelt

  10. #10
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    The S&W 1917 revolver was designed to use 45acp ammo (rimless case ) with 1/2 moon clips for proper extraction of the fired cases.
    The 45 AR , Auto-Rim (rimmed case ) came out after the war so you didn't have to fool with those pesky 1/2 and later full moon clips . That big rim took care of extraction.

    If you don't care to fool around with moon clips or have a large free supply of 45 acp ammo / cases ... buy some of the Auto Rim cases and never look back .

    I like the auto-rim cases because I don't like fooling with the moon clips but I already have three or four 5 gallon buckets of 45 acp , once fired brass cases (from the old days when it was GI surplus) and being frugal (cheap) I reload them a lot and put up with the clips .

    If I were buying new brass... I would buy the 45 AR for a 1917 S&W ...the case with the rim .
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  11. #11
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    I no longer have a 1911 and I still have quite a few loaded .45 ACP to work my way through but when they are finally shot up in my 22-4, I will load with auto rim cases and sell the acp stuff. I may keep a few full moon clips just for that time I hope never happens again. I am 78 now and de-mooing acp brass and even worse getting loaded stuff back into moon clips is just not my idea of fun. And I am not going to pay $40.00 and up to get one of those tools that makes the job easier. Did I say that I am frugal (cheap too). james

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    The main purpose for moon clips TODAY is to provide fast reloads for the guys that still compete with revolvers - OR to give a revolver option to a guy who predominantly runs autoloaders. For that, they're great. As a historical answer to the problem of providing enough pistols for a military crisis, they're cool.

    Otherwise, I find them to be a complete pain in the ***. Clicking rounds in, clicking spent brass out, keeping them from bending, having to keep track of your mooning and de-mooning tools. . .I give them a HARD pass for most applications and will take a rimmed round almost every time.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master



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    First of all, I am a fan of .45 ACP/.45 Auto Rim revolvers. When considering ACP cases, Auto Rim cases, moon clips, RiMZ clips, etc. I do not look at them as "either or". I look at them as choices for a given purpose.

    As an example: I am an old man these days, but when I was much younger, .45 ACP cases, once fired, were available for very low prices and I bought them by the thousands when I was active in IPSC. They were military once fired and it was necessary to remove the primer pocket crimp. However, that was a one time thing and was not a problem - just something that needed to be done before reloading.

    Most of my early uses was .45 ACP cases in a variety of 1911's. When I would use the revolvers, I also mainly used ACP cases and loads (with excellent results, I might add). I was in the field a LOT as I really enjoyed roaming the woods and hunting edible small game. The revolver excelled in that as it did not throw the brass away. I really liked using the Auto Rim loads in the field just like any other revolver I might use.

    After I got my 625-6 and 625-8 JM Special, I enjoyed using the Auto Rim loads at the range AND in the field. I ended up with a moonclip tool for loading and unloading the steel full moon clips. When using the tools, I did not find it a chore to use the clips. Then, I discovered the polymer RiMZ clips. They are extremely handy to load and unload without the necessity of using tools. They are excellent for range and field use but do not retain the cases as well as the steel ones for serious use.

    Frankly, I enjoy the choices and make my decision on what to use at any given time, as to which is best for a given situation.

    Startline Auto Rim cases are superior to the old Remington cases which have not been available for many years.

    Did I mention I LOVE .45 ACP/.45 Auto Rim revolvers?

    FWIW
    Dale53

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I appreciate all of the input on this issue and you all have given me some valuable information on the 45 ACP Rim VS non-rimmed cases. I don't own any semiauto pistols in 45 ACP anymore as I have gravitated to shooting revolvers. And this old S&W 1917 is one of my favorites to shoot. I have a few thousand of the non-rimmed 45 ACP cases that I have used for years, with the full moon clips of which I have maybe 10 of them. And may continue to use them when target shooting for fast loading on the range (out back of my barn). And I made my own de-mooning tool from a piece of 1/2" electrical conduit that works very well. But, as I get more elderly even pushing the cartridges into those full-moon clips is hard on the fingers. And holding onto the clips as I remove the empty cases is getting harder. So, I was making a trip to one of my favorite reloading supply places and they offer these 45 ACP rimmed cases by Star-Line for sale pretty cheap. Hence my question of how they work. I guess my next question will be how much do I need to modify my loads to transition to the rimmed cases? I am using random range brass now with CCI 300 large pistol primers, 5.0 grains of W-231 powder and an RCBS 45-201 SWC projectile sized to 0.452" that shoots well in the S&W 1917.

  15. #15
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    cabezaverde's Avatar
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    Could anyone spare a single 45 rimmed case for me to try in my unaltered Blackhawk convertible?
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  16. #16
    45 Auto Rim cases? Absolutely! For bullseye competition I use rimmed cases for my 50 yard loads which demand the greatest possible accuracy. I use ACP cases in moon clips for 25 yard loads in my S&W 25. The moon clips are faster to load, but you can also get speed loaders for Auto Rim cases. Try it, you'll like it.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    oldsalt444, where did you find speed loaders for the auto-rim? I would like to have at least a couple of them. Thanks, james

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Cabezaverde;
    .45 Auto Rim cases will not work in your Blackhawk Convertible. The rim is too thick. However, the .45 Cowboy Special cases are essentially, a .45 ACP case with a .45 Colt Rim. I have a Ruger SS Bisley Blackhawk .45 ACP/.45 Colt Convertible and use the .45 Cowboy Special cases when using heavy bullets with a crimp groove in my .45 ACP cylinder. They work perfectly well in that use.

    Starline has .45 Cowboy Special cases in stock:

    https://www.starlinebrass.com/45-cowboy-special

    FWIW,
    Dale5

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by cabezaverde View Post
    Could anyone spare a single 45 rimmed case for me to try in my unaltered Blackhawk convertible?
    I don't have a Blackhawk convertible to examine, but I strongly suspect that the Auto Rim cartridge will not fit. The Blackhawk single action doesn't need the rim or clip for extraction, so I wouldn't expect Ruger to mill the cylinder for clearance.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    I had both the colt and the S&W. I used ARs,half moons and full moon clips. The .45ARs were best when you just wanted to refill 1 or 2 chambers. After a while, I just used them and left the moonies at home.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check