Stars and Stripes
Custom Pistol Ammunition

By Chuck Hawks

For those of you not yet familiar with Stars and Stripes Custom ammunition, it is premium new product, not reloads, made entirely in the U.S.A. Stars and Stripes offers a huge line of custom loaded rifle cartridges, handgun cartridges, and shotshells at prices comparable to premium factory loaded ammunition from the "Big Three" American loading companies. The Stars and Stripes motto is, "We manufacture premium new ammunition for almost any firearm that shoots."

Clint Huisinga of Stars and Stripes Custom Ammunition recently provided some .45 ACP production pistol ammunition for review on Guns and Shooting Online. This is semi-custom ammunition loaded in virgin Remington brass with Hornady 185 grain XTP hollow point bullets. All Stars and Stripes production ammo conforms to SAAMI and CIP standards.

To quote from the Stars and Stripes web page ( "Unlike factory ammunition, each of our cartridges is made on a single assembly line so each round is exactly like the one before it, giving the shooter unmatched consistency from shot to shot. All propellants are matched to individual cartridges for top efficiency."

We test fired the Stars and Stripes .45 ACP ammo on a warm summer day at the Isaac Walton rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. This outdoor facility provides solid bench rests for the use of their members.

This Stars and Stripes .45 ACP load launches its 185 grain XTP bullet at a muzzle velocity of approximately 1100 fps from a 1911 pistol. In addition to the Stars and Stripes ammo, we also shot groups with military ball (230 grain FMJ) ammunition for comparison purposes.

Guns and Shooting Online consulting gunsmith Rocky Hays and I did the shooting at Outers Score Keeper targets at 25 yards. We used a new Colt Model 1991-A1 pistol over a wooden rest padded with a double thickness of heavy carpeting.

Our test protocol was to each fire a 5-shot group at the same target, for a total of 10 shots from two shooters on each target. As it turned out, our individual 5 shot groups were very similar in size and hit the target in the same place, which was consistently high and to the left with both loads. The rear sight of this pistol had never been adjusted (drifted in its dovetail slot, that is) to center groups laterally. The shooting results follow.

.45 ACP / Colt Model 1991-A1 pistol

  • STARS AND STRIPES, 185 grain Hornady XTP - 10 shot group average = 5".
  • MILITARY, 230 grain FMJ - 10 shot group average = 5.75".

These results are, in terms of group size, what I've come to expect from an unmodified 1911 service pistol. The heavy "lawyer" trigger pull certainly did not help. These things are not target pistols. They were designed to survive the grit and filth of military combat, and the high quality Colt 1911 proved to be pretty good at that.

Some modern clones of the famous Colt pistol will shoot tighter groups out of the box. But check them again after, say, 50 years of hard use before you conclude that they are better (or anywhere near as good) as a genuine Colt.

As you can see from the above results, in our test gun the Stars and Stripes ammo performed comparably to the reference mil-spec load for which this pistol was designed. There was not too much difference in the point of impact between the two loads. The Stars and Stripes groups were centered about 6.5" high and 1.5" left of the point of aim. The mil-spec load centered its groups about 5.25" high and about 3.5" left of the point of aim. This difference is consistent with the higher velocity of the Stars and Stripes ammo.

The Stars and Stripes load was completely reliable from this box stock Colt, slow fire or rapid fire, despite its aggressive XTP hollow point bullet. I feel that this would be an extremely good carry or home defense load for someone who favors a .45 ACP pistol.

Stars and Stripes ammo is available from dealers or direct from Stars and Stripes. Visit them onlinle at:

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Copyright 2005 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.