History is full of hunters and shooters trying to eke as much performance out of their firearms as possible. Old cartridges are improved with modern metallurgy and modern powders to turn them into real fire-breathers. Or sometimes they’re massaged just a little bit to turn them into real performers.
The .45 ACP has been a trusted handgun cartridge for over a century. But sometimes a .45 just isn’t enough. That’s what led to the development of the .460 Rowland.
The .460 Rowland was designed for use in pistols that normally chamber the .45 ACP, such as the Model 1911 pistol or the Glock 21 pistol. The case of the .460 Rowland is 1/16” longer than the .45 ACP to prevent chambering in .45 ACP barrels, but the bullet is seated deeper so that overall cartridge length is the same as the .45.
The .460 Rowland operates at nearly double the operating pressure of the .45 ACP, with a 40,000 psi maximum pressure. That’s just a few thousand psi higher than modern handgun cartridges such as the 10mm Auto, and the same as the .357 SIG.
Because of that higher pressure, the .460 Rowland is able to offer performance rivaling that of the .44 Magnum, but in a semiautomatic pistol. The cartridge is capable of pushing 250-grain bullets to 1,300 feet per second, for nearly 950 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, or 185-grain bullets to 1,575 feet per second, for over 1,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
With properly constructed hollowpoint bullets, that makes the .460 Rowland quite a man-stopper. And with the right hardcast or solid bullets, the .460 Rowland could be a very effective short-range game cartridge. It certainly is capable of taking deer and very likely black bear, and should be a very effective self-defense cartridge in bear country. With the 13-round magazine of the Glock 21, you could hike in grizzly territory and feel pretty confident about defending yourself against bear attacks.
One of the drawbacks to the .460 Rowland is the heavy recoil. Imagine the muzzle energy of an AR-15 SBR but in a pistol. The increased recoil requires mitigation efforts such as slide weights, heavier recoil springs, muzzle brakes, etc. The cartridge is also semi-proprietary, with barrels and conversion kits only available from a few sources.
Ammunition is expensive when it’s available, at over $1 per round, and is normally only available from a single source. That makes handloading almost a necessity. Thankfully brass is available from Starline at reasonable prices.
All things considered, the .460 Rowland can be a very effective handgun cartridge in a survival scenario. Being able to also fire .45 ACP gives additional flexibility. But if you don’t own one already, you may be better off sticking to factory stock firearms chambered in 10mm Auto that can give you similar performance without the high cost of entry.