Is a .45 still lethal at long ranges?

How far will a .45 kill?


It’s time to throw our gunoholic readers a bone – and this one will be a 230 grain bone.

For fans of the .45 ACP, and there are millions (myself included), we’re all aware of the damage that will be inflicted on anything unfortunate enough to be in the sights of a .45 handgun at combat range. For the most part, assuming proper shot placement, it’ll be dead, dead, dead.

But, what about at longer distances? What about 100 yards? Or gasp … 440 yards?

This video, called “How far will a .45 kill?” runs 17.31 minutes and is worth watching – I know that I enjoyed it, and it does answer the question.

The shooter (Eric) actually exercises the big .45 round all the way out to 440 yards to see what kind of penetration (and therefore lethality) can be expected at what can only be called extreme ranges for a pistol caliber bullet.

The shooter uses a CZ 97 handgun with a 4.8” barrel and a JR (Just Right) carbine with a 16” barrel to test the lethality of the .45 at various distances.

He first shoots Federal 230gr. ball at 100 yards with the handgun and gets 6 rounds into the target plywood baffle. He then tries the CZ again at 200 yards and (no surprise) has difficulty hitting the target – but finally does.

And finally he switches to the JR carbine for the extreme 440 yards shots.

You’ll have to watch the video to get the results, but suffice to say that it’s surprising.

And by the way, if you’re interested in the other versions – he’s done .22 and 9mm versions, they’re available on YouTube, just Google the title. Enjoy!


As an old geezer, it simply amazes me that these guys can even SEE the target at 100 and 200 yards, much less hit it! But they do and actually hit the target with a handgun! I like to think that I’m a pretty good shot – but that presupposes that I can see the target, and without optics,  I’m limited to 50 yards or so. That’s what happens when you get old!

Thanks to Hardnox for finding the video!





Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Is a .45 still lethal at long ranges?

  1. Saltwater says:

    More than just cool, the videos are a great lesson for those who choose to own and carry a defensive handgun — know what is BEHIND your intended target. That bullet you set loose will continue to ‘fly’ until it impacts something; and it can be a very long way before gravity ensures that something is Mother Earth.

    • Garnet92 says:

      Excellent point Salty! And one that I should have stressed in my commentary.

      That is one of the four rules of gun safety, “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.” And, just to reinforce that thought, I watched all three of the videos and in all three cases (.22, 9mm, .45), hits at 440 yards were all potentially lethal. So, if you miss your target, regardless of what you’re shooting, you’d better be sure of what’s behind it or risk an extremely unpleasant (or lethal) outcome.

  2. vonmesser says:

    There are three ranges for a gun.
    1. How far will the bullet actually go?
    2. How far away will the bullet kill?
    3. How far away can YOU hit your target effectively?

    • Garnet92 says:

      Right VM – and that’s coming from a cannon guy! How far will a bullet go pretty much has one answer: until it hits something (and that includes the earth). How far away will the bullet still be lethal is answered by the videos – at least in the case of the three calibers they tested. But wait, they didn’t really test the outer limit of lethality – they only tested out to 440 yards. And your last point is the one that limits most of us. How many shooters could hit a man-sized target at 440 yards, even given a 17 round 9mm mag? With a spotter – maybe. Without a spotter or a scope, there’s little chance that many of us could hit a refrigerator at that distance.

      Thanks for playing VM!

  3. Uriel says:

    Good video. One note of warning water behind will actually if glancing off of carry bullets further. Had this demonstrated at a friends farm one year. Owner behind his 20 acres fired at target. It glanced off my friends pond and hit a cow 10 acres away. Did not kill friends cow but certainly hurt it.

    • Garnet92 says:

      So true Uriel, a bullet can skip much like a flat rock skimming across water. That becomes part of our caution when considering what’s behind the target.

  4. Hardnox says:

    Garnet, as you know I’m a big .45 fan. The lethality at 440 yards was surprise for me.

    • Garnet92 says:

      Me too Nox and when you consider that the rounds went through the 3/4 plywood AND THE 2X4 SUPPORT POST TOO, it makes you wonder what IS the outer limit of lethality for a .45?

  5. Clyde says:

    Good post, Garnet. Personally, to make SURE it’s a kill, I’d prefer my target to be just a wee bit closer.

  6. Garnet92 says:

    Me too Clyde. Without a scope, I can barely make out a shape at 50 yds. I could (accidentally) mistake a progressive democrat for a feral hog or something – wouldn’t that be … just awful?

  7. Western Guy says:

    I have a .22 carbine that will put 10/10 on a paper plate at 200 yds offhand, and I can usually put 8/10 on a 55 gal drum with my .22 pistol. ….love my .22s

  8. I.R. Wayright says:

    Years ago there was a young lady driving along the Long Island expressway when she took a round through the side window that entered her skull behind her left ear, killing her instantly. It took investigators quite a while to find out that the shooter was a guy in a boat shooting at sharks with a .308. That ricocheted off the water and traveled over a mile to connect with the car.