The .45 ACP will always be a classic American caliber. Our country has a long history with this round. US soldiers fought in several wars carrying the .45 as a sidearm. Yet still, the .45 ACP seems to be losing popularity among today’s shooters. Super slim, lightweight, subcompact pistols are the hot new trend. Modern ammunition technology has narrowed the gap in performance between all the major service calibers.
These days, a quality 9mm round can perform just as well as a .45 ACP while carrying more ammo. The 9mm has less recoil, allows for faster follow up shots, and it’s cheaper to shoot. It’s easy to see why people are leaning towards the smaller, faster rounds. However, the .45 is still alive and well. In America, this round will never die.
Here are some excellent options for .45 pistols.
Kicking off the list is the classic Colt 1911. When most people think of .45, they think of the Colt 1911. This beauty is an American classic, used by the United States armed forces from 1911-1985. Designed by John Browning and manufactured by Colt, the 1911 was a welcome replacement to the .38 caliber revolvers used by the military in the early 1900s. US soldiers went on to carry the 1911 into two World Wars as well as Korea and Vietnam. The 1911 has grown to be an American icon and there is still a huge cult following for the gun. But they aren’t just ancient relics of the past. The 1911 is still a solid option for a fighting pistol if you don’t mind the size, weight and limited capacity.
While the full size Colt Government model is certainly the classic 1911, there are plenty of other options on the market. One of the best new comers to the scene is the Ruger SR1911. I’m fond of the commander size model, which has a slightly shorter barrel at 4.25 inches. This makes it a bit more comfortable for concealed carry. You still get 7+1 rounds of .45 ACP in a reliable package. The stainless steel model with wood grips is one of the best looking pistols on the market in my opinion. It’s an updated version of the American icon.
Accuracy, outstanding ergonomics and excellent reliability. That’s what you’re getting when you buy an H&K. They’re not the cheapest option on the list, but they are some of the most rugged pistols on the market. Used by law enforcement and civilians across the country, the H&K line of pistols is combat proven and won’t let you down. The 45 Tactical is a massive pistol with a threaded barrel and a tactical rail, which makes it perfect for nightstand duty.
The full size Glock 21 offers 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP in a rock solid reliable package. This is a big gun, perfect for home defense or duty carry. The large grip allows for maximum control for accurate follow up shots and fast reloads.
The Smith and Wesson M&P line is relatively new to the scene, making its first debut in 2005. Since then they quickly built a reputation for being some of the best pistols on the market. Used by civilians and police departments across the country, the M&P is the go to polymer pistol for shooters who prefer to buy American firearms. The full size .45 is perfect for home defense applications. Add a tactical light and a good pair of tritium night sights and you’re ready to guard your castle. The pistol comes with various back straps so the shooter is able to adjust the grip for their comfort. The M&P has superior ergonomics compared to the Glock, so shooters with smaller hands may appreciate this model.
Looking for a .45 pistol for concealed carry? The compact M&P is a great option. It’s a compact pistol designed for civilian carry but still offers a full grip, 8+1 capacity and a rail for mounting a tactical light. Another great thing about the compact model is it accepts the larger, higher capacity magazines. This gun can do it all. Concealed carry all day, then at home attach a light and insert a larger magazine for home defense. It really is a versatile option.
Springfield Armory is another classic American firearms manufacturer. In 1777, General George Washington himself surveyed and approved the site for the armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. Shortly after, patriots began to manufacture firearms and ammunition for their war for independence. Springfield Armory is still alive and thriving today. In 1999 Springfield introduced the XD series of polymer pistols to the market. The XD-M in .45 caliber offers excellent reliability, ergonomics and a 1911 style grip safety.
If you want something lighter with a higher capacity, then you’ll have to move onto the polymer pistols. Glock gets my vote. The model 30 holds 10+1 rounds of .45 ACP in a compact package that’s easy to carry. It’s also surprisingly soft shooting for its size. The downside is this pistol is a bit thick, so shooters with small hands might want to consider other options.
For the shooter who wants a subcompact carry gun chambered in the massive .45 ACP, it’s hard to beat the Glock 36. This single stack pistol holds 6+1 rounds of .45 in a slim, easy to conceal package. Some shooters may find the recoil a bit stout in such a small gun, but the trade off is its ease of every day carry compared to the larger models.
I must admit, when I first saw pictures of this pistol online I was not impressed. It looked like another cheap plastic Glock knock off. Boy was I wrong. The Ruger American pistol has fantastic ergonomics and a crisp trigger. The grip allows you to get a nice high purchase on the gun for a secure hold and rapid follow up shots. Get your hands on one and you might be impressed.