One of the most popular caliber swaps for large frame pistols is the relatively new .460 Rowland caliber. It offers a bit more bang for the buck but has some things to keep in mind. We look at this innovative aftermarket conversion for the Springfield XD.
What is the .460R?
If you took a .45ACP sized round, and made it deliver performance around that of a .44 Magnum, then you have something on the order of the .460 Rowland. This round, the brainchild of "Shooting Show" host Johnny Ray Rowland about twenty years ago, uses a 24.3mm case and a .451-caliber bullet to generate a simply staggering 900-1000 ft.lbs of energy at the muzzle. It does this by making a 230-grain bullet, standard .45ACP fodder; go supersonic at 1300 or more feet per second. It is .0625" longer than a .45 ACP and features a beefed up interior case wall. As such, it will not chamber in .45 ACP gun barrels.
In short, the supped-up .460 delivers three to four times the power downrange of the .45ACP, which makes it a pretty bad mama-jama. This puts in a bit hotter than 10mm Auto, and firmly in the arena of .44 Magnum loads.
Jim Downey over at Ballistics By the Inch, the website where most gun nerds (this one included) go to minutely distill data on ft.lbs. and fps for various loads, said of the .460 Rowland that its "Like flinging thunderbolts."
Prices for these rounds are not in the same unobtanium realm that makes getting into .45 Auto Mag or some others impractical. Currently Wilson Combat, Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and Georgia Arms among others carry it on the shelf at a price that runs about the same as .44 Mag and quality .45ACP.
However, if you plan to shoot more than a few boxes, it is probably wise to get into reloading (standard .45 ACP reloading dies work) to keep your prices down.
Why would you want to do this to your XD?
.460 Rowland converted XDs (Photo 460Rowland.com)
Should you want the option of using your .45ACP based XD platform as a hunting tool in states where sportsmen can harvest game with a pistol, the .460 is ideal. It also gives you a nice, solid ring when participating in steel plate matches if you are a 3-gunner while giving you an extra peace of mind should you use it as your home defense gun.
The people over at .460 Rowland.com run a program to where they state they can convert any .45ACP Springfield XD and XDm models with the following barrel lengths: 5.00" 4.50", 4.00" and the new 3.8" Compact. As you may have noticed, this covered everything except the 5.25 XDM Target model.
According to the company, "Just specify the make, model and barrel Length of the gun you want to convert, place your order, and we will deliver it to you ready to install."
The only thing about the 3.8 variant is that it requires some extra modifications. According to Rowland:
"The 3.8" XDm compact: is smaller and its slide is lighter than the XD series pistols and requires more than a heavy duty recoil spring and compensator to reduce its slide rate when shooting the mighty 460 Rowland. The 'Rowlanator' weighted rear sight replacement applies the extra weight exactly where it is needed. Not on the barrel, or in the recoil assembly, or in the lower... but right on the slide itself. This very effective, patent-pending and highly proprietary innovation works using the simple physics of an object at rest to resist slide acceleration and to reduce its ultimate velocity. This allows your gun to work as it was designed to, even when firing four times the cartridge. And the truly innovative 'sight groove' and large 'Owl Eye' rear sight dots improve rapid target acquisition and accuracy over standard rear site configurations."
Thomas Scriminger performs a .460 conversion on his XDm
This conversion consists of a new barrel, heavier spring, and either a screw-on style compensator or a triple-ported barrel. This compensator is required. This round, with its increased oomph, really (did we say really?) absolutely has to be fired from either an extensively ported barrel/slide or one with a quality extended barrel compensator. While yes, you can fire the beast that is Mr. Rowland without such a compensator installed or porting, you are courting reliability issues that over time can lead to slide and possibly even frame failure (read= Kaboom).
Remember, you are pushing a round that generates something like 40,000+ psi of pressure at the chamber, and all that gas has to go somewhere. Use of a compensator/barrel porting also reduces recoil and muzzle flips.
Feed issues are another thing to worry about with any .460 conversion. The 24-pound and heavier springs that come with these aftermarket kits slap that slide back into batter with enough force that you can often overrun the magazine, pushing nothing but hot air and broken dreams into your chamber.
Worse, there can be resulting double-feeds. This is another reason for the porting, as it will help slow that slide down a bit and allows everything to balance out.
Still, if you have the time and patience, Rowland has the kit. If you don't like it, they'll take it back for a refund.
What do you think? Have you gone .460? If so what are your experiences? Drop it below in the comments.