The Mann Load: A New Meaning To Having A Bullet With Your Name On It

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The Mann Load: A New Meaning To Having A Bullet With Your Name On It
One of the first boxes of the Mann Load from Doubletap Ammunition in 2010. The packaging has changed a bit since then.

A look at the Doubletap Ammunition Mann load, an excellent defensive .45 Auto load bearing the author’s name.

On a typically beautiful high desert morning in October of 2010, I was riding from Prescott, Arizona, to Gunsite Academy with Mike McNett of Doubletap Ammunition. We were discussing the terminal performance of defensive handgun ammunition. I was telling McNett about a test I’d conducted with the Barnes TAC-XP 160-grain bullet in 0.45-caliber. The conversation resulted in McNett offering a new load for the .45 auto that he calls the Mann Load.

What I explained to McNett during that drive was that I’d evaluated nine 160-grain TAC-XP bullets using a 5-inch 1911 in .45 Auto by shooting them into 10 percent ordnance gelatin. By handloading, I’d varied the impact velocities from as slow as 809 fps to as fast as 1,263 fps. What I found was quite amazing in a number of ways.

Regardless of the impact velocity, that bullet would upset consistently and always penetrate more than 12 inches. If you know anything about the FBI’s bullet testing protocol and scoring procedure, this is what they’re looking for. The thing to remember is that these results were for a single bullet with an impact velocity variation of 454 fps, or 56 percent.

mann-load-gel-test
This is typical performance for the Doubletap Mann Load for the .45 Auto.

McNett told me he currently offered this bullet in a +P loading, which should reach 1,200 fps out of a 5-inch barrel. What I explained to McNett was that, as consistent as this bullet is at almost any velocity, the added recoil from the +P load is unnecessary. In fact, you could argue that at that velocity the bullet might over-penetrate. I suggested he offer the load in a non +P version at about 1,050 fps from a 5-inch barrel or around 1,000 fps from a 4.25-inch 1911 Commander-length barrel.

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As a comparison, Doubletap’s +P load will generate about 7.5 foot-pounds of recoil from a 30-ounce handgun. My suggested load, at around 1,000 fps from a 4.25-inch barrel, would generate only about 5.5 foot-pounds of recoil. That’s 25 percent less. However, from a terminal performance standpoint, at the slower velocity the 160-grain TAC-XP bullet actually creates a larger crush cavity.

hollow-point-expansion-mann-load-45-auto
Here you can see the bullet upset consistency of the 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet at impact velocities from 809 to 1,263 fps.

At the +P velocity, the bullet will penetrate around 17 inches and have a recovered diameter of around 0.62 inch. This works out to a crush cavity of about 6.2 cubic inches. But at the slower velocity the bullet’s petals don’t peel back as far, so it has a larger recovered diameter. This combined with the slower velocity limits penetration to around 15.25 inches, but the crush cavity increases by about 8 percent.

You could argue this isn’t enough difference in terminal performance to matter, and you might be right. But if that’s the case, then the slower moving bullet is clearly as good as—if not a better—because it recoils so much less. McNett agreed this was a very valid load for self-defense, especially when fired from lightweight .45 Auto pistols. We spent the day at Gunsite Academy training and conducting terminal performance testing on several other Doubletap handgun loads.

hollow-point-expansion-denim
Intermediate barriers, like clothing or denim, have no negative effect on the Mann Load’s 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet’s ability to deform and penetrate as designed.

On the way back to the hotel in Prescott, McNett said he’d decided to offer the standard velocity 160-grain TAC-XP bullet load for the .45 Auto. I was excited because, at that time, the only similar offerings were from Wilson Combat and Buffalo Bore.

The Wilson Combat load was close to the velocity I wanted but about 50- to 75-fps faster. The Buffalo Bore load was a screamer; I’ve seen it reach 1,275 fps from a 5-inch barrel. If using a full-size duty pistol and maximum penetration is desired, the Buffalo Bore makes sense. But for everyday carry where human adversaries are your worst worry, I feel the 160-grain bullet at about 1,000 fps from a 4.25-inch barrel made more sense.

A few weeks after we got home from the Gunsite event, McNett called and told me he had the load ready and was going to send me a few boxes. He added that, instead of calling it a standard pressure load —which sounds weak and uninviting to the average shooter—he was going to call it the MANN Load, and that’s the way it’s been listed on the Doubletap website, along their +P version and the other eleven .45 Auto loads they offer, ever since.

doubletap mann load 45 ACP
With the +P 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP .45 Auto load from Doubletap, the bullet deforms a bit more, but still offers a wide frontal diameter and deep penetration.

I’m not so sure I deserve any recognition for convincing an ammo maker to slightly slow down a load they were currently offering. But I appreciated McNett’s gesture, and when I carry a .45 Auto, the Mann Load is what I most often have in the chamber and magazine.

Wilson Combat recently discontinued their 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP load for the .45 Auto. Bill Wilson prefers a new load from Lehigh Defense that launches a non-deforming 135-grain XD bullet at about 1,250 fps. We’ll look at that load in depth in a later column. Buffalo Bore still catalogs their +P load, and if recoil does not bother you, just like the +P offering from Doubletap, it’s a great option.

One of the struggles bullet engineers have with low velocity handgun self-defense ammunition is creating a bullet that is—for lack of a better term—velocity blind. A bullet that works out of handguns regardless of barrel length and out to any reasonable shot distance you might take—that’s what you can expect from the 160-grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet. It’ll work whether you’re shooting a handgun with a 3- or 5-inch barrel, and it’ll work out to at least 50 yards. Regardless of the 160-grain TAC-XP load you choose, I cannot think of a better option for a .45 Auto carry gun.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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