Corbon .45 Colt 225-gr. DPX Ammunition Test

About 133 years ago, the .45 Colt was introduced to the world. Like the .45 ACP, its creation was for the US military and it has remained a popular cartridge with shooters ever since. With lighter loads it is used in cowboy action competitions while handloaders crank up the power for hunting in strongly built revolvers such as those from Ruger.

Though eclipsed for police and defense duties by other calibers and semiautomatics, the .45 Colt still has a contingent of devotees. It has been referred to as the "Gentle Giant" due to its relatively low recoil for a big-bore round and can be quite accurate with loads matched to a specific revolver.

Like other calibers not topping the graphs for sales, there are relatively few ammunition choices when compared to more popular numbers such as 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 auto and so forth.

Corbon offers 5 different loads in .45 Colt. These run the gamut from an aggressively expanding conventional JHP and Glaser Safety Slug, to deep penetrating, non-expanding hunting solids and lightly loaded "Cowboy loads." They also offer it in their relatively new line of DPX ammunition.

DPX stands for Deep Penetrating X-bullet. Created by Barnes, the X-bullet is homogeneous and contains neither lead core nor gilding metal jacket. Thus, concerns over bullet and jacket separation or fragmentation are pretty well eliminated.

On the left is a more or less common 250-gr. CSWC handload. This one would average about 900 ft/sec. Next to it is the DPX, which weighs 225-gr. The hollow cavity on this one is 0.262" wide and 0.223" deep.

Cartridge LOA is 1.580" and it is loaded in Remington cases. The bullet is cannulured and there is a nice roll crimp to insure that it stays in place during recoil.

Corbon lists the velocity on its .45 Colt 225-gr. DPX as 1200 ft/sec, but this is from a 7 1/2" barrel. My only .45 Colt revolver is the S&W Mountain Gun, which is equipped with a 4" tube.

The 225-gr. DPX will be contrasted to the same company's 200-gr. JHP, which uses a Sierra Power Jacket Hollow Point, a very aggressive expander. It is rated at 1100 ft/sec from a 4" barrel.

Shooting: A mentioned, the test gun was my 4" Mountain Gun. This stainless steel S&W large frame revolver has proven easy to carry, usually on hunting trips or when prowling around the woods. In the past I've used it primarily with either Hornady XTP bullet handloads or the older cast SWC's, both being loaded to around 900 ft/sec.

Here is the test gun shown with a hunting knife made for me by knife-maker, Ken Wengert. The revolver is stock with the exception of the change in Pachmayr grips.

The DPX was shot at 15 and 25 yards. Mike Shovel of Corbon advises that this cartridge is considered both a hunting and self-protection load so the 25 yard distance was included. The 50-yard range was occupied so I didn't get to fire it at that distance. All shooting was done from a seated position with wrists braced. I fired in slow-fire and used the gun's single-action for this work.

This six-shot group was fired at 15 yards and grouped quite well. It does hit lower than POA in my revolver, which is sighted in for a heavier bullet at lower velocities. The expanded bullets were recovered from super-saturated newsprint. (Expansion will be discussed later.)

Corbon's 225-gr. DPX grouped nicely at both 15 and 25 yards, with the picture above showing the results at the latter distance. The expanded bullets were fired into the same stack of super-saturated newsprint as the JHP in the preceding photograph. The flyer at high left is due to my letting a shot get off before I was exactly ready for it to.

Cases from both loads extracted nicely and there was no sticking. Primers did not appear excessively flattened though Corbon lists both of these loads as being loaded to +P levels.

Chronograph Results: 10 rounds of each load were fired with the muzzle a measured 10' from the chronograph screens.

Chronograph Results for Corbon .45 Colt from S&W Mountain Gun (ft/sec):

Load: Low Velocity: High Velocity: Average Velocity: Std. Deviation:
200-gr. JHP +P 1033 1090 1066 22
225-gr. DPX +P 1107 1131 1120 9

From my revolver, the average velocity was 34 ft/sec less than the listed nominal speed at which Corbon rates this aggressively expanding 200-gr. JHP. The DPX was about 80 ft/sec slower than its rating from a 7 1/2" barrel.

Expansion: Not being able to afford either 10% ballistic gelatin or the temperature controlled environment needed to meet the accepted protocols for expansion testing, I simply did what I could afford! I soaked plain newsprint for 24 hours and then drained for 30 minutes before shooting. The muzzle was 5' from the stack of wetpack. 5 bullets of each load were fired. Penetration depths as well as expansion figures are averages of all five as are the recovered bullet weights.

Super-saturated newsprint is denser than ballistic gelatin and penetration depths in it are typically less than in gelatin. Expanded bullets are very similar to those recovered from gelatin in my observation and the process is not temperature dependent.

On the left we see the 225-gr. DPX cartridge and an expanded DPX bullet recovered from wetpack. On the right are expanded 200-gr. JHP and cartridge.

On average, the 200-gr. JHP penetrated 5 3/4" in the super-saturated newsprint. Its average recovered weight was 183.1 grains. Expanded dimensions averaged 0.715 x 0.660 x 0.428" tall.

The DPX lost virtually no weight. Recovered bullets weighed right at 225-gr, usually about 224.9!

Penetration averaged 8 1/4" and the average expanded measurements were 0.879 x 0.867 x 0.614" tall.

Both bullets expanded reliably but the DPX was more consistent. Make no mistake; the petals are not easy to bend and unless striking bone, I believe that they would stay extended as shown, at least at the velocity attained from a 4" revolver. Mr. Mike Shovel of Corbon advises me that the 225-gr. DPX penetrates roughly 15" of 10% ballistic gelatin and expands to "at least eighty-caliber" after passing through the dreaded four layers of denim.

Observations: I am very favorably impressed with both loads, but especially the DPX. Like DPX in other calibers I've tried, it was extremely consistent in both velocity and expansion characteristics. Here in Texas, about the biggest game animals commonly found are whitetail deer. They are not as large as their northern cousins are. I would have no problem using the 225-gr. DPX on them and hope to do so this coming hunting season. As a handgun hunter, I limit my shots to broadside or a slight quarter and distances that are less than others might take, but it pays off. If everything falls together, I can usually collect the animal with one shot and very little, if any, tracking.

Out of the 4" Mountain Gun, I found the DPX load to have not insignificant felt recoil, with muzzle flip being quite noticeable. For me, it felt similar to shooting a .41 Magnum from my Model 58. (Examples: PMC 210-gr. TCSP @ 1251 ft/sec or Corbon 170-gr. JHP @1333 ft/sec.) Were I going to use this primarily as a defense load, I'd personally have to practice for accurate rapid-fire capabilities. That said, if asked what I'd want if in an imaginary scenario where I can fire but one shot at a psychopath preparing for the down stroke with his axe, I'd go with this load above all others in any caliber that I've shot.

I found the 200-grain JHP at well under 100 ft/sec less velocity to be quite a bit more controllable than the DPX, more so than the paper figures might indicate. For now, that's the load I'd opt for between the two. If I had a Model 25 or heavier barrel, the DPX might very well be "tame" enough for me to handle accurately at speed. Others might have no problems a tall with it as is in the Mountain Gun. In the hunting field, I plan to use this new round from Corbon and expect that it will perform very well indeed.

In my neck of the Texas woods, this gun/ammo combination should be very capable of handling anything needing "handling."

I fully believe that there is no "magic bullet" that is so potent as to make accurate shooting an option, but I swear that I get close to hearing the word "abracadabra" whispered when shooting many of Corbon's DPX line of ammunition! The late Cajun humorist, Justin Wilson, might have called it "wondermous"!

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