True 44 Magnum power from a 45 ACP platform -- sounds appealing, right?? It was to me -- so down the road of a 460 Rowland conversion for me.
The 460 Rowland cartridge case is slightly longer than a 45 ACP case -- not to allow more room for powder, but strictly to prevent the high pressure cartridge from being chambered in the standard 45 ACP barrel. The maximum OAL for the 460 Rowland is the same as 45 ACP, therefore the bullet is seated deeper into the lengthened case. The case web is stronger in the 460 Rowland -- with the parent case being the old 451 Detonics case. Pressure in the 460 Rowland runs 38,000+ psi, compared to 21,000 for 45 ACP, 23,000 for 45 ACP +P, and 28,000 for 45 Super. Therefore, a 230 gr bullet can be pushed from a 5" barrel at 1350 fps -- resulting in 930 ft/lbs of energy (mid-range 44 Magnum ballistics from a 4 or 5" revolver).
Having 10+1 or even 13+1 rounds of 44 Magnum power in a relatively light and easy to carry semi-auto sidearm for woods work and as a hunting handgun -- over the 6 rounds offered by the revolver -- was a definite plus for me.
Once limited to hand loaders with Starline brass, several manufacturers now load ammunition in 460 Rowland. Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and even Georgia Arms have a variety of loads from 255 Hard Cast lead to 185gr and 230gr Gold Dot JHPs available. For price and availability, my first choice is Underwood. Repeated testing of all Underwood ammunition has shown that the advertised velocities equate to actual velocities from real handguns -- unlike some other specialty ammunition companies...
As I pondered pulling the trigger on a 460 Rowland project, I considered all options. Having many Glocks, and being an armorer -- I considered the G21SF. I thought about the S&W M&P. Being a relatively new owner of the XDs -- who successfully runs 45 Super in his unmodified XDs -- I decided to look to the XD or XDm as a base pistol.
I chose the "Compact Tactical" (5" top end on the frame with the compact grip) because I wanted the long barrel to get the most velocity -- but with the shorter grip that would be better for concealment. (This will primarily be a woods/hunting sidearm -- but could be pressed into service as a CCW in some instances.)
I read the posts that were produced with my searches for 460 Rowland on the XD forum -- and I became concerned that this combination might not be reliable. I thought about going back to the Glock -- but decided to see if I had some of the same difficulties that others expressed with FTEs.
I ordered my conversion from www.460Rowland.com
-- and it arrived within a week from placing the order. When I opened the package, I became somewhat concerned again -- as the barrel and compensator looked as if it was used... I don't know if this condition was due to testing at the factory -- or if this was a conversion that was a "return" that was shipped to me as being new... The "kit" included the barrel, the compensator, the Loctite, and a mag spring. The instruction sheet made no mention of the mag spring. Rather than call or email the company, I decided to give the conversion a shot without complaining.
My brand new XD "Compact Tactical" arrived last week (a gunbroker purchase at a very good price). The flush magazine holds 10 rounds and the extended magazine also only holds 10 rounds (bummer). I plan to add a couple of 13 round magazines soon.
I installed the barrel and compensator and allowed the loctite to cure for two days. Today was the day to take the hand cannon to the range. I wanted to see how well the extractor would hold the proper headspace so I loaded up the first magazine to shoot the following -- 2 rounds of 45 GAP ball (Georgia Arms), 2 rounds of 45 ACP ball (WWB), 2 rounds of 45 ACP +P (Ranger T), 2 rounds of 45 Super (Underwood), and 2 rounds of 460 Rowland (Underwood). The extractor is viewed to be strong enough to hold the shorter cartridge cases at the proper headspace by the conversion manufacturer and other conversion users in all makes of pistols able to be converted...so, i decided to take them at their word. Afterall, if it didn't hold proper headspace, the shorter cartridge would drop deeper into the chamber and the firing pin would likely not reach the primer -- so I didn't see this as a safety issue. (at least that was my professional safety engineer position).
The first round of 45 GAP fired, but if failed to completely eject -- causing a stove pipe. The second round fired but did not eject. Both rounds of 45 ACP ball fired and ejected. Both rounds of 45 ACP +P fired and ejected. Both rounds of 45 Super fired and ejected with a noticable increase in recoil and muzzle flash. Both rounds of 460 Rowland fired and ejected without difficulty -- and the slide locked to the rear over an empty magazine.
The second magazine was loaded with 10 rounds of 45 Super. All rounds fired and ejected without difficulty.
The third magazine was loaded with 10 rounds of 460 Rowland. All rounds fired and ejected without difficulty.
Accuracy from all rounds fired was exceptional. Less than a 2 inch group from 15 feet, standing and shooting offhand. This is from a pistol straight from the box - no cleaning or lubing, simply the barrel change and compensator installation. Also, the single stock magazine spring was used for all rounds fired. (some owners of previous conversions had doubled magazine springs in an attempt to gain reliable feeding)
I have to say that I am extremely pleased with the results of this conversion project -- and the reliability that I have personally experienced. Maybe I am just lucky... 44 Magnum power from a 45 XD -- who could complain about that!!
While at the range, I decided to run some 45 ACP Blazer (aluminum) and MagTech Ball ammo through the conversion. The Blazer ammunition would fire but not eject. The failures were mixed between stovepipes, nose dives, and simply a spent case remaining in the chamber. The MagTech produced a few FTEs of the stovepipe variety, but the majority of the rounds would fire and eject without difficulty -- although the recoil was very mild, I suppose as a result of the compensator.
I plan to do more range testing with both 45 Super and 460 Rowland, especially once I obtain some 13 round magazines. After another 200 rounds of failure-free shooting, I will declare the conversion reliable for personal protection/hunting.