Marines buying up 185 grain .45 ACP

Over the past 6 months I have been following the Marines sly procurement of M45 1911 pistols (formally MEU(SOC) pistol) in small parts. The Marines have just procured 150,000 rounds of Federal Premium Gold Medal .45 Auto 185GR FMJ-SWC Match Ammunition.

The procurement is notable because the rounds are not loaded with classic 230 gr hardball bullets, but the lighter and faster 185 grain FMJ-SWC bullets.

[ Many thanks to Matt for emailing me the info. ]

UPDATE: Daniel pointed out that the purchase was for the USMC Competition-In-Arms Program and that the solicitation appears to have been canceled.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • This is just for bullseye competition shooting. It is typically loaded to lower velocity than the 230gr FMJ service load. Compared to the service “hardball” load, the mid-range 185gr loads are often called “softball” loads.

  • Freiheit


    Well that explains why basic brass cased 230gr FMJ went from below my price cap of $0.40/round back up to $0.50/round. I will happily adjust my ammo budget for the Marines, they have more important shooting to do, but why aren’t the manufacturers stepping up production?!?!

  • Al T.

    Ditto to what Dan said.

  • rick

    Could this stuff offer better stopping power than the FMJ 230 and yet remain in compliance with Geneva?

  • Lance

    The USMC might not be buying the lighter rounds for combat but for training. The lighter recoil of 185gr .45 is better to teach new shooters to use a M-45, and easier to transition from a M-9. I bet the Corps has tons of older 230gr Ball in there invatroy over the years they made it from 1911 to the late 1990s.

  • Vitor

    Well, 185gr is still a heavy round, and the extra speed may give some thumbling…who knows, only the person shot.

  • I’m with Dan on this one. 150k isn’t what you’d expect for a combat procurement, and SWC are less reliable feeding, but better for punching nice holes in targets. Sounds more like a procurement for a competition team than for combat use.

  • jody

    i have small and weak hands, but have shot hundreds of rounds of standard pressure 230 grain .45 ACP from 1911 pistols. it does not really recoil that much due to the low pressure of .45 ACP and relatively heavy weight of the handgun.

    i don’t know why the marines are buying 185 grain full metal jacket. if it’s for war, it does not make sense. the FBI has spent over 20 years on this issue. their conclusion: .40 S&W. the standard ammunition is 180 grain bullets. plus you get more rounds in the magazine.

    could be yet another case of the US military trying to do their own, silly version of “new gun, but which gun?” something they feel they have to do themselves, from scratch, ignoring everybody else’s work on the subject, every single time they want to switch weapons. instead of simply using the weapon that other people have figured out was better. i can see it now, the US marines 2040 rifle trials. 50 million dollars and 3 years later, the marines decide the AR-15 is still the best available weapon.

  • @Jody
    Mmm yeah .40/180..
    That is why hru and most smart folks still do..

  • Read the linked solicitation; it clearly states: “This requirement is in support of the United States Marine Corps Competition-In-Arms Program.”

    Also look up the load on Federal Cartridge’s website. Federal only claims a muzzle velocity of 770fps for the Gold Medal 185gr FMJ-SWC Match load.

    For what its worth, the solicitation was canceled on January 26. It will be reissued without stating a specific brand.

    • Daniel, thanks for the info. I missed that.

  • DaMan

    no wonder 45 became almost impossable to buy about 2 months ago.

  • Phil

    Good point Lance, the Marines must have tons of .45 ammo. on hand from years back. Why the need for an obvious non-essential item. Competition, swampetietion. How many grunts do they have in competition? That’s a bit of ammo. for some COMPETITION.

  • Pete Sheppard

    FWIW, back before effective hollow-points for pistol calibers were developed, Jeff Cooper advocated SWC for defensive use, since the shoulder would presumably create a true .45″ wound channel, rather than simply pushing tissue aside, which would then spring back.
    Since the US abides by the Hague Conventions, banning expanding bullets for combat use, this *could* be also be way to improve effectiveness of the .45ACP.