CLARK CUSTOM GUNS .460 ROWLAND CONVERSION

Wouldn’t it be great to have a pistol on a proven semi-auto action that had the hard hitting power of a .44 magnum without the heavy recoil, with a higher capacity magazine that could be reloaded much faster than a revolver? Such a gun would be about as good as it gets for handgun hunting for hogs, deer, or even larger game – with bullets available from 185 to 300gr in weight. To make things even better, imagine this dream pistol used the same magazines as a common 1911 in .45ACP, and could be reloaded using the same dies and even bullets.

To make this dream come true, get a Clark Custom Guns .460 Rowland drop-in barrel kit for your 1911 .45ACP, and very shortly you, too, can be shooting the most raw power in a semi-auto pistol outside a Desert Eagle .44 mag.

After conferring with Renee Autry of Clarks, I went on the hunt for a good Springfield Mil Spec 1911. Clark has a selected list of 1911’s they recommend to convert – also a list of those they would not recommend converting. Generally, an all steel gun is what you need, and stainless is really not recommended. When I found my Springfield, I sent the slide to Clark up front to have them fit the barrel to it. They will do this for no additional charge, even if you first try to put it in yourself, and find it needs a bit more fitting. As a slide is only a gun part, and not the part that has the serial number on it, no FFL needs to be involved in the shipping. (Editors Update: evidently, you don’t need an FFL to send your whole pistol in for custom work! This from Clarks website- “It is legal for any gun owner to ship his gun by common carrier to a licensed FFL holder for the purpose of repair or alteration.* All complete firearms must be taken to a UPS or FedEx hub (we prefer FedEx). You are required by law to declare that you’re shipping a handgun. UPS and FedEx regulations require that all complete handguns be shipped Next Day Air. Long guns may be shipped ground service. Federal regulations require adult signature upon delivery”. The barrel fitting process took 2 weeks to complete and have the slide back, with new, match grade SS barrel, barrel bushing, barrel link, link pin, Clark Compensator, new full-length guide rod, new 24# recoil spring (and a 20# spring if that one is too strong for your pistol), and a heavier firing pin spring. I think if I had just wanted to replace my stock .45ACP barrel with a new, top quality “match-grade” barrel and similar accessories, I would have spent about the same amount of money! Basically, all I had to do was slip the slide back on the frame and pin it in place with the slide stop pin. That, and get used to how hard is it to “rack” the slide against that 24# spring!

This is how my slide looked when I got it back from Clark, with new barrel fitted.

This is how my slide looked when I got it back from Clark, with new barrel fitted.

This is the Springfield Mil Spec .460 Rowland. Note the compensator on the end of the barrel?

This is the Springfield Mil Spec .460 Rowland. Note the compensator on the end of the barrel?

Clark will not sell a .460 barrel without a compensator, and does not like to discuss taking one off. This is because the uncompensated barrel would recoil – HARD, and probably damage the pistol over time.

With the slide locked open, the comp can be better seen.

With the slide locked open, the comp can be better seen.

Ammo shown here for comparison: 10mm 185gr JHP, .460 Georgia Arms 185 JHP, Wilson Combat .45ACP 230gr Hornady XTP, Buffalo Bore 230gr JHP, and Buffalo Bore 255gr HCFN.

The .460 case is a bit longer than the .45ACP – .0625″, to be exact, and the case is “beefed up” to withstand the higher pressures. This “stretching” is a concept “proven” by the .38 Special/.357 magnum and the .44 Special/.44 Magnum. The .45ACP/.460 Rowland cartridges cannot both be fired in the .460 barrel, however, even though the bullet diameter – .451″ – is the same, because semi-auto cases head space on the cartridge case, and not the rim (of which they have little or none). A .45ACP is not long enough to properly headspace, and if it did “headspace”, the cartridge might well be too deep in the chamber, and would probably wind up too deep for consistent firing. Some on the “inna net” are stating that The extractor will hold a .45 ACP round “in place” for firing,but this would causes pictures I’ve seen of primers after such firings are not pretty, the practice would undoubtedly be hard on the extractor – and it might not even work consistently. If you want to use your 1911 as a “dual caliber” pistol, just swap the barrel back to the original .45ACP. With the 24# recoil spring, it might have to operate as a single shot, but you DID save the original recoil spring, didn’t you? OR, load a .45 equivalent powder charge in a .460 case (although, again, the recoil spring may have to be changed – not a big deal if you are changing barrels, anyway).

Because I am still having problems finding suitable pistol powders (Longshot is highly recommended for the .460), I purchased loaded ammo from Clark to get me started. I selected 185 gr JHP loads from Georgia Arms, and 230gr JHP and 255gr Hard Cast Flat Nose loads from Buffalo Bore. Published ballistics on this ammo is impressive. The 185’s are listed at 1350 fps, 230gr at around 1320, and even the 255gr loads show 1300 fps. You CAN get 1400, maybe up to 1500 fps with a .44 magnum, but it is not necessary for good bullet performance. I have made more hog kills with heavy hard cast bullets in my .44 at sub sonic velocities – say 1050 fps. The 255gr Hard Cast certainly has the power for a good hunting cartridge, and seems very accurate,but I am finding these rounds to produce a lot of smoke. I had to move my holographic sight back behind the ejection port, because the hot smoke from the comp was getting the lens too dirty to shoot after just a few rounds. I did not have this problem with the Georgia Arms 185c gr JHP’s and I have some 230gr JHP’s from them ordered to try.

For reloaders, especially, the .460 would have been more appropriately named the “.450 Rowland, as it fires a .45, not .46 bullet.I can only imagine the “.460” name was intended to show a big difference between the Rowland and a .45ACP (or .45LC?). While heavier bullet can be used than is normal for a .45ACP, they can’t be longer, like bullets for .45LC. The overall length of the .460 case is the same as a .45ACP, to enable it be to used in the same magazines, which results in the bullet being seated a bit deeper. With the increased pressure of the .460 – as much as 38,000 PSI versus normally 18,000 for the .45ACP, bullet seating depth is critical to avoid over-pressuring.

This was a rather loose group fired off a soft rest at 25 yards with Buffalo Bore 255 gr Hard Cast Lead Flat Nose bullets, at1300 fps and 967 Lb Ft of muzzle energy, while sighting in a holographic "dot" scope.

This was a rather loose group fired off a soft rest at 25 yards with Buffalo Bore 255 gr Hard Cast Lead Flat Nose bullets, at1300 fps and 967 Lb Ft of muzzle energy, while sighting in a holographic “dot” scope.

The Clark compensator certainly gets the job done! What little shooting I have been able to do with the .460 so far verifies that recoil is similar to a .45ACP 1911 – certainly much less than any full power .44 mag I’ve shot. Muzzle rise is almost non-existent, and the pistol wants to “push” straight back into your hand.

UPDATE: I ran two magazines of 185, 230. and 255 gr ammo through my new Rowland, shooting off a Bulls-Bag rest at 25 yards. I also ran some rounds through a .45ACP 1911 and my 10mm Glock. The Rowland DID recoil more than the other two, and even with ear muffs on, it was obvious it was considerably louder. The recoil was, as reported, quite a bit less than a full power .44 Mag revolver, but I did come away knowing I had been shooting a more powerful firearm.

I SILL LIKED IT, THOUGH!

The only problem I have had with this conversion so far was – like many of the problems I run into – mostly of my doing. I was unable to rack the slide when I first re-assembled the pistol – it was apparent something was “blocking” slide travel.I finally tracked it down to the slide stop. I wanted to use an after-market, add-on front rail on this pistol because it does not have a “factory” rail, and it uses the slide stop to anchor it to the frame. Since the slide stop “pin” must be longer, a suitable stop was included with the rail. Turns out this one did not let the slide travel freely. A little work on it with a small file fixed the problem, and it does fine now.

My only other problem was also related directly to my wants and “needs” for my particular application, but I’ll discuss this in the second installment of this post, where we will examine hunting optics for the .460 Rowland 1911.

Speaking of hunting with the Rowland cartridge, those who prefer a shoulder stock might want to look into the Mech-Tech CCU – “Carbine Conversion Unit”. This clever setup allows a 1911 “lower” – no barrel or slide – to be mated to a carbine style “upper”. It can be had in .45ACP, 10mm, and .460 Rowland. Because the chamber and barrel are in the carbine upper, ANY 1911 will work (in .45ACP or 10mm) – as it just provides a trigger mechanism and magazine. Both velocity and accuracy should be superior to a pistol with a 5″ barrel, making it an interesting option for either hunting or home defense. Cost is reasonable – one of these in .460 Rowland could be set up for less than an AR in one of the .450 calibers, and with nearly the same power. The 1911 lower simply slides into place and is pinned by the slide stop, so it is an easy task to return it to pistol form. These are also available for Glocks, and a 10mm with a 15 round magazine capacity makes a lot of sense. A 9mm Glock with 30 round mags would be a very effective home defense carbine, also.

http://www.mechtechsys.com/images/web/1911_telestock_full.jpg
1911 Basic Unit with ‘QuadRail’ – Red/Green dot sight , tactical flashlight with integrated red beam laser(no longer available), long riser and Telestock (1911 lower not included). $641.90
www.mechtechsys.com/1911.php

The Clark kit comes with a barrel bushing wrench that I predict I will never use. For one thing, it will not fit over the barrel with the comp in place, and Clark DOES NOT RECOMMEND unscrewing the comp. It is “locked” on with Loctite, anyway, and would require both heat and torque to remove. It appears the best way to “field strip” this pistol is to remove the slide stop pin and then take the slide, barrel, guide rod, recoil spring, etc. all off as one unit. Further disassembly will probably never be necessary for normal cleaning and lubing. If it was necessary to remove the barrel bushing, Clark says most can be taken loose by hand.

Ironically, the new issue of Handgunner magazine has an article about the .45 Winchester Magnum – a “souped up” .45 ACP that has been out of production for many years. Why they choose to write about this cartridge – except maybe for historical reasons – instead of the .460 Rowland is beyond me.

As a side note, one day I’ll be sending this pistol back to Clarks for a trigger job, a beavertail safety grip and new hammer, and possibly a frame mounted optics mount. They do good work!

Contact: Clarks Custom Guns – 318/949-9884 clarkscustomguns.com

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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26 Responses to CLARK CUSTOM GUNS .460 ROWLAND CONVERSION

  1. david sigafoose says:

    Just discovered your blog today and spent a fair bit of time looking through it. Really enjoyable! I live in Angleton and share your affinity for 10mm and 1911 pistols and am familiar with a lot of what you cover. Thanks for the enjoyable read!
    Take care,
    David Sigafoose

  2. MikeH says:

    David, thanks for the kind comments. I was at Dave Christian’s gun smithing shop off 35 towards Alvin from you yesterday, messed up my 1911 trying to do something to it myself, had to have him bail me out! Trying to get it lined up with a holo sight right now, will report on that when I’m far enough along. Wish my 10mm was a 1911, might ditch the Glock and buy a RIA 1911 10mm, if I ever find another one. Still, after all the mods I made to the Glock, it’s pretty reliable now. About to try a holo sight on it in a slide mount. Discarded the slide mount idea for the Rowland, partly on the advice of Clarks,as I don’t think I can afford a sight that will stand up to that punishment right now! Hoping to shoot some hogs with either or both of them real soon!

  3. jessep says:

    I installed the 460 conversion on my kimber custom 2 1911 and love it. But I need to remove it to suit my more every day needs any instructions on how i can do this without taking it to a gunsmith?

  4. MikeH says:

    If you installed the Clark barrel and kit yourself, and kept the original barrel, bushing, and recoil spring and guide rod, I would think just removing the parts from Clark in the same way you removed the original Kimber parts, and replacing those should have you back to firing .45ACP – unless I am missing something? This should only require “field striping” the pistol to take off the slide, but to remove the barrel from the slide, I guess the compensator has to come off? It is threaded on and secured with red Locktite, so it will require some heat to get it off. I had Clarks fit my barrel to my slide for me, so all I had to do was put it in position and pin it with the slide stop, never expected to switch it back to .45ACP, so I haven’t actually done that. Best bet might be to call Renee Autry at Clarks – 318/949-9884 – and let her walk you through it.

  5. James Leonard says:

    I really like the idea of upgrading a .45acp 1911 to the 460 Rowland, but don’t have a compatible slide. My Remington R1S has the stainless slide, and my old Armscor 1911A1 has a cast slide(so I am told). The Armscor is the best candidate, as it is ready for a new barrel anyway, but where do I find a compatible slide? I’ve Emailed several retailers who offer slides, but never get a confirmation the they have a fully heat treated slide. I wish slides were offered, as well as the conversion kits.

  6. MikeH says:

    I used the slide that came on my “basic” Springfield 1911 with no problems, not sure how critical the slide is in this conversion. I would contact Clark Custom Guns and ask their advice. Since most parts on all 1911’s are interchangeable, finding a “suitable” slide might not be a big problem.

  7. Johnny jones says:

    I have a Caspian frame, for the build? But my big question is how much money for the conversion, plus trigger work. I just watched another fine episode of Shoot Lane.
    Regard,s Johnny Jones
    1614 Fresno, San Antonio,Texas 78201
    Mob 210-859-1987

  8. MikeH says:

    That should be a good platform to start with. My Rowland was on a Springfield Mil-Spec. The barrel kit from Clark Custom Guns is a “drop-in” even I was able to install myself. Jim Clark passed away fairly recently, and I am not sure how that affected his business, but their website should have the latest price for the barrel kit. I had asked Rene at Clarks about a trigger job on my pistol, and I thought the price was a bit high, plus there would have been what for me would have been an excessive wait time. With the comp on the barrel, recoil is not real bad, but it is VERY loud. Having a good trigger would make shooting it easier, I think – giving you a better idea of exactly when that big “boom” was going to happen!

    Mike

  9. Johnny Jones says:

    Mike, Thanks for your quick reply. My next question is will any slide work? I have an Ithaca slide on hand, a new Colt Competition , and a (don’t laugh) Rock Island it works. Or will I have to order a slide from Midway?. Also can you explain the welding on the barrel. Did that have anything to do with with the barrel link or something else.
    Regard’s Johnny Jones

  10. MikeH says:

    Johnny, again, some of these question should be directed to Clark, but my understanding is any .45 ACP slide should work fine. I used the Springfield slide with my Mil Spec, and had no problems. Clark has always been very helpful when I’ve had any questions, and I have a lot of questions anytime I am “modifying” any firearm. I would suspect you are correct about the welding, but my Rowland has been “down the road” for some time now, and a computer crash deleted a lot of my photo files, so I’m not sure what pictures I still have of the conversion. As I’m sure you know, Clark publishes a list of which 1911’s they “approve” for their Rowland conversion, while I think Johnny Rowland will sell a kit to fit about anything. Of course, he is a TV host, Jim Clark was a master 1911 pistol smith, and the son of a master 1911 pistol smith. I tend to follow Clark’s advice.

    I don’t have any first hand experience with Rock Island pistols, but have heard very good things about them. I have a Taurus PT 1911 I think would have handled the Rowland conversion, but Clark did not recommend it. On the other hand, they pushed me towards the Springfield over a Kimber.

    Mike

  11. Johnny Jones says:

    Thank’s Mike your advice has been very helpful .

    Regard’s Johnny

  12. MikeH says:

    Glad I could be of help! If I hadn’t get sold the three boxes of .460 ammo I found in my storage “pile”, I’d make you a deal on some ammo!

    Mike

  13. Renee Autery says:

    The Best SHop online price with immediate shipment and detailed information about preferred platforms.

  14. Renee Autery says:

    The Only Pertinent Slide Criteria: Fully Heat Treated, Steel 5″ 45 ACP. 1 Caveat: slight advantage to the Springfield Armory slide due to their smaller firing pin hole which means less likely to suffer from ignition issues to to melting primers.

  15. Renee Autery says:

    Johnny,
    Sounds like you’re talking about the episode of Shootout Lane where Kay is getting her 460 kit “accurized”. The weld is added to the top and bottom lugs as well as the hood to have additional material to custom fit the barrel to the gun. That is how Clark Custom Guns has been accurizing 1911’s for years.

    P.S. I’d stay away from the Ithaca slide

  16. MikeH says:

    Rene, Thanks for the comments, I’m sure they helped answer some questions the readers had! Hope things are going well at Clark’s Custom Guns? Anything you’d like for me to “put the word out on”, as always, just let me know!

    Mike Holmes

  17. don horn says:

    I have a colt deltaelete stainless 10 mill I am interested in your conversion is it not recommended for stainless guns

  18. MikeH says:

    Nice gun! Go to Clark Custom Guns website, and either email or call them. Be aware that Johnny Rowland sells conversion kits for guns such as Glocks and some 1911’s that Clark does not recommend converting to .460. My Springfield – which Clark recommended – worked fine, but it is a potent round. Makes a 10mm feel tame in comparison!

    Mike

  19. #1 seo says:

    Do you have a FB? I’d like to follow you!

  20. MikeH says:

    Don’t do Spacebook.

    Mike

  21. Trooper says:

    Why would Clark not recommend Glocks to be converted ? The guy that invented the caliber sells conversions for them. This doesn’t make any sense at all.

  22. MikeH says:

    Possibly because Johhny Rowland is/was a TV show host, Jim Clark was a pioneer 1911 gunsmith and top competitive shooter who knows the pistol inside and out? They also do not recommend many brands of 1911 pistols for the conversion. If you shoot a .460 Rowland, it will impress you immediately with it’s power. The 1911 platform was originally designed for the low-pressure .45 ACP round. Glocks were designed for 9mm, which is even lower in power than .45 ACP. I had a case blow out just above the rim in a 10mm Glock (G20), and it cracked the magazine, destroyed the mag release system, and scared the hell out of me. VERY glad it wasn’t something as powerful as the Rowland! I no longer own a Glock, and my next 10mm, should I get one, will likely be a revolver or 1911 with full case support.

  23. Trooper says:

    I’m sure you were using a glock OEM barrel and some souped up loads. Rowland doesn’t even build or suggest using them without a fully supported barrel replacement. The slide on a glock is stouter (overbuilt actually) than a 1911 by far. The only Kaboom I’ve seen on any glocks were a result of someone doing something they shouldn’t have. I have about 30 years experience shooting both 1911’s and glocks. The glock platform is as solid as anything I’ve ever used. It was hard for me to except for several years also, when glocks were first introduced. I think Rowland knows enough about the caliber he invented to give good advise on them. Check his sight out sometime. I’ll have one of each at some point though, as I love both platforms and the caliber.

  24. MikeH says:

    Actually, at the time I had a Lone Wolf 6″ barrel, and was shooting Double tap loads. Turned out – at least with that barrel – the Glock could fire without being completely in battery. The chamber was so tight that Buffalo Bore ammo would not chamber. I replaced it – on the advise of the owner of Double Tap – with a Glock 6″ “Hunter” barrel, then went with a stronger recoil spring, stainless rod to replace the plastic Glock rod. Also a few other “improvements”. If I did “something I shouldn’t have”, it was to let “The Glock Store” talk me into a Lone Wolf barrel.

    I know others who really like Glocks, but I don’t. The make believe safety has caused a lot of injuries, some deaths. Good luck if you go with a .460 Glock. You’ll need it, I fear.

    Mike

    By the way, I sort of resent your insinuation my Glock problem was MY fault.

  25. Trooper says:

    Sorry, nothing personal. It’s OK Mike, I resent you telling people that Rowland doesn’t know what he’s talking about and completely discounting one of the best combat handgun platforms out there. It’s all good. We are even. Obviously, Clark thinks if it’s not a 1911, it’s worthless for this application, or anything else. I’ve heard this argument before. It figures, The first time I’ve ever posted on a blog, I offend someone. I apologize. I’ll butt out.

  26. MikeH says:

    No offense taken.

    Mike

Comments are closed.