Review: Wilson Combat 230 gr. HAP “Bill Wilson Signature Match” .45 ACP

4 hap 230

Ask any handloader why they measure their powder charge multiple times for a given load, and you’ll likely get an answer that has something to do with consistency. Whether it is for range use, a match, or personal defense, consistency from round to round is of paramount importance. Reliability and accuracy depend on it, and it is a key part of the equation when deciding whether to trust one’s ammo. It’s nice when a manufacturer shares that belief. And so when ammo is as good as the round in question, it’s an appropriate compliment to begin by saying that this is the most consistent round I have ever tested.

1 hap 230

If there is anything that Wilson Combat knows, it’s .45 ACP. They built their name and reputation on perfecting the most famous .45 caliber weapon platform in history. But to anyone who may question that expertise, I would encourage you to try out this load for yourself. Per Wilson, this ammo is slightly downloaded to 760 fps on a 230 grain Hornady HAP bullet. Not to worry, though—it still has more than enough “oomph” to make major power factor while providing the shooter with noticeably softer recoil and much quicker follow up shots than full-powered loads. In any of the guns I tested, it didn’t necessitate a spring change, and that included everything from a 5” 1911 with an 18.5 lb recoil spring to a bone stock Glock 21. For competitive shooters who might not have space to reload, this round more than neutralizes the advantage previously garnered by those who “roll their own,” and with the current shortages on powders and primers and price gouging on standard economy FMJ, what used to look like a premium price should have begun looking a lot more like a bargain. Wilson uses only top quality components, and for those who reload or might want to do it down the road, the brass is fantastic. Not to mention every 100 round pack comes in a durable Case Guard box. The overall length (OAL) and the crimp are optimized to run perfectly in the 1911 platform, with the 1.225” OAL designed to mimic the feed profile of ball. In hundreds of rounds I’ve never had the first round hang up in my Colt; this is a JHP match load that you can trust in your 1911. To the consistency point, the 5 shots we chronographed came in at 753 fps, 755 fps, 760 fps, 761 fps, and 762 fps through a 5” 1911. That’s about as dead-on as it gets; just check the label:

2 hap 230

I was going to bench the gun (a Colt Series 70 that was worked over by Novak’s but still has the stock Colt barrel) for the accuracy portion of the review until the groups I was shooting off-hand at 15 yards looked like the photo below; then I figured that the readers could extrapolate the rest for themselves. There was one flier for each cup of coffee I had just before shooting. Rested, those would have disappeared. So I take Wilson’s word when they say that the round could fire ½” groups at 25 yards through a testing fixture, because 3 out of 5 of my shots were in a ½” group off-hand at 15 yards. Across the board, you’ll be impressed accuracy-wise. This ammo groups like a round that is perfectly tailored to any weapon that fires it, and that’s enough to make any seasoned reloader jealous.

3 hap 230


Not only is this ammunition accurate, it has virtually zero smoke due to the encapsulated base of the HAP bullet. Especially during longer strings of fire, you’ll come to appreciate that when no smoke accumulates or interferes with your view of the front sight. And you’re going to be seeing that front sight a lot more after trying this ammo for yourself, so you’ll definitely notice the difference.

-Colt Driver; Photos by kChanko; Bill Wilson Signature Match (A45-230-HAP), $69.95/ 100 rounds

*Originally Published 3/2/2013

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