It isn't every day I get to shoot a relatively light weight, standard size
autoloader that can put an aggregated twelve thousand three hundred fifty foot
pounds of kinetic energy onto a target without reloading. Nor is it a daily
occurrence when I can change a Springfield Armory XD Tactical back and forth
between being a heavy hitter .45 ACP and a MAJOR thumper
.460 Rowland in just about thirty seconds.
Wild West Guns has made all of the preceding possible with a simple drop in
conversion kit that consists of a properly chambered barrel, a solid guide rod
and an appropriate recoil spring. The kit is priced below $350 and is also
available in six inch and ported barrel configurations.
Wild West Guns - A sidearm for wilderness areas
The reality is that wilderness areas favored for hunting and fishing are also
with large animals that can be dangerous and quite unpredictable, both four and
two legged variety. Subsequently, it's
always good to bring along a gun that isn't a chore to carry, a gun that can be shot
intuitively and a gun that has enough power to command respect, regardless the
No, I'm not suggesting three guns be carried, but I am suggesting you arm for at
least one gun that will provide the minimum amount of power to handle the
maximum probable threat. It could become... uncomfortable if you are armed to
ward off an attack from a feral dog and, instead, your encounter is with a five
hundred pound bear. To that end, with the Wild West Guns 460 Rowland conversion,
you end up with no more bulk than a standard size autoloader, but with more
power than a 44 magnum.
Wild West Guns' drop-in 460 Rowland conversion kit for the
Springfield Armory XD, unlike competitor's kits for 1911 type
autoloaders, does not employ a barrel extending compensator, a three hands to
install two piece guide rod or a recoil spring that mandates a powered winch for
compression. Additionally, because the conversion is based on the Springfield
Armory poly framed
striker platform, capacity is increased from eight rounds to fourteen rounds
while maintaining a grip no wider than a single stack 1911.
Above left, a Kimber with a Clark Custom .460 Rowland conversion
alongside of a Springfield Armory XD Tactical fitted with a 460 Rowland kit from
Wild West Guns. While the installed kit is obvious on the Kimber, there are no
external giveaways on the Springfield Armory gun and no increase in the gun's
Thirty seconds from .45 ACP to .460 Rowland, thirty seconds back...
Pictured above 1) Wild West Springfield Armory XD Tactical
conversion kit, 2) Standard Springfield Armory pieces, 3) 460 Rowland kit for
the 1911, 4) Standard Kimber 1911 pieces.
These Wild West Kit makes no permanent changes to a firearm, so
the kit can be swapped in and out as desired. The Wild West kit, and the
conversion of this type of autoloader, is clean and a bit simpler to install and
remove than is the case with 1911 type gun conversions. My personal opinion is
that the lock up system on guns like the XD are more solid over the long haul
than the radial locking lugs on the 1911 which sometime need work to maintain
their full engagement and concurrent contact.
The 460 Rowland, Rowland, Rowland... Sorry, Blues Brothers
44 Rem Mag
44 Rem Mag
For anyone not familiar with the .460 Rowland, this general
reference table will
put the cartridge into context with other
powerful rounds. The Rowland can deliver exceptional performance from a 5" barrel, more
than the 45 Super and more than the 44
Remington Magnum, the latter requiring a longer revolver barrel for
optimal performance. Revolvers chambered for the powerful 460 and 500 S&W,
absent from the table, were omitted as they fall into the foot long and five
pound Popeye carry class.
Formed as a stretched version of the .45 ACP case with some internal beef
added, the 0.0625" additional length of the .460 Rowland case is intended to prevent
chambering the round in a conventional .45 ACP chamber. Cartridge overall length maximum
of 1.275" for the .45
ACP remains unchanged to permit
standard magazines and to utilize standard frames and slides as the basis for
the converted firearm.
Factory loaded ammo is available from Cor-Bon in a number
of loads from 185 grain to 255 grains. The task of assembling handloads for the 460 Rowland is
straight forward, with one caveat; with each increment in maximum average
pressure in these hyper 45 autoloader rounds; 45 ACP 21,000 PSI, +P 23,000 PSI,
45 Super 28,000 PSI, and 460 Rowland 38,000+ PSI (40,000 CUP) comes a
disproportionate narrowing of margin for error. There is a substantial
difference between bumping up a couple of tenths of a grain at the low end of
the pressure spectrum then doing the same at the high end, as the high end is
operating closer to the limits of autoloaders converted for this purpose. No big
deal, just the same caution that follows any high pressure magnum handgun and
rifle cartridge reloading.
Live fire... Now that was interesting
During my checkout of the Wild West Guns' 460 Rowland
conversion of the Springfield Armory XD, the Rowland consistently outperformed
the .45 ACP +P or .45 Super, where respective loads were loaded to proper
pressures levels, and by a wide margin.
460 Rowland Handload Performance
CCI 300 primers
for all and all were taper crimped.
COL and bullet selection are critical to results.
Bullets selected appear above, left to right,
as they appear on the table, top to bottom. While the light weights can
crank out some serious muzzle velocity, I'd guess the heavier bullets that
are lower in velocity for the 460 Rowland, but way over the speed limit for
the .45 ACP, are the more useful as a trail gun where penetration through
large and dense body mass is a typical requirement. I did load some 260
grain jacketed bullets that yielded decent velocity, somewhere in the 1150
fps range, but I will save those for future penetration testing, along with
some similar weight hard alloy cast bullets.
easy to get so caught up in the cartridge that the gun is forgotten, which would be
unfortunate. The Springfield Armory XD Tactical, in concert with the Wild West
Guns' conversion kit, performed admirably. As
a .45 ACP or .460 Rowland the Tactical model has a naturally good point, clean
three dot sights and a recoil absorbing frame and grip.
Unlike the 1911 guns I have converted to 460 Rowland, the Springfield Armory
finicky about timing as much. This was demonstrated by the slide always locking open on empty and
the gun feed and ejecting flawlessly... if somewhat rapidly. I'll have to get an extension ladder
to get up on the roof and recover spent brass. No, not that bad, but I strive
for the dramatic expression.
Accuracy, for this type of round, I thought was excellent,
putting virtually anything and everything, bullet weight and charge combination,
into 2˝" at 50 feet from a rest. The five shot group, right is typical, some
better, none really worse. These were shot with 185 grain loads that clocked
1510 fps. Could this be tightened even further? I suppose, but I don't believe
this is the type of gun that will see 10,000 rounds worth of range time. My
recreational target shooting load is a Remington 185 grain JHP bulk bullet at
1.240" COL over 9 grains of Power Pistol. It's good for 1150 - 1200 fps, it is
relatively light in recoil, but not so light of a load that it serves no purpose
when I load up with heavy handloads for actual field use and not so light that
the gun doesn't cycle reliably. I can, of course, also practice with standard
.45 ACP ammo by removing the .460 Rowland kits and reinstalling the original
The Wild West Guns' 460 Rowland conversion is a way to get to
legitimate magnum power, cost effectively and in a standard size firearm.
Purchased as a stand alone kit, it is listed as "drop in" and installation
requires no more disassembly/assembly than that which is done for cleaning. The
kit, and the autoloader in this case, are well made and perform as advertised.
The fit and finish of the kits is excellent, the gun's Melonite slide finish and
poly frame are very low maintenance and durable. If you are a fan of
autoloaders, particularly with this heft, grip angle and size, this is an
excellent package. Wild West Guns also makes a drop in kit for the S&W M&P
Tactical, as well as six inch and ported barrel versions. Nice kit. fun gun. For
further information, contact Wild West
Guns. Nice people.