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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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