45 ACP Pistols Cover

The Ultimate Guide to the Best .45 ACP Pistols

Michael Crites

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Disclosure: Products are selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases from a link. How we select gear.

What is it about the vaunted .45 ACP cartridge that keeps it as one of America’s most self-protection and competition rounds? We examine this classic round, break down why it has survived and thrived for generation after generation, and provide a selection of great handguns that are chambered for it.

In This Article:

Comparison of the Best .45 ACP Pistols

Below is my list of the best .45 ACP pistols in 2021. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.

Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of pistols.

The Best .45 ACP Pistols

1. Auto-Ordnance 1911

Auto-Ordnance has been around for over 40 years as an M1911 maker and made a name for itself in the early 1980s when guys like competition shooting legend Chip McCormick set new world records with them.

Owned by Kahr for the past generation, they have improved and expanded but still make great .45s, recently debuting a Stainless model that has all the bells and whistles for modern shooters.

It pairs a stainless steel slide to a stainless frame and barrel, takes the whole package up a notch with an adjustable trigger, skeletonized hammer, full-length recoil guide rod, dual recoil spring, extended beavertail grip safety, and extended magazine release.

For a more basic but still carry-friendly gun, their BKO Government model offers a natural grip angle and smooth trigger pull — plus it only runs about $500, a decidedly affordable price for a top-tier .45 pistol.

2. Colt Combat Unit

Introduced in 2019, Colt’s Combat Unit series is their latest in the evolution of the Colt M1911. The combat pistol is full of features most shooters should love — including a National Match barrel, eight-shot mags, Novak front and rear sight, G10 gray grips w/25 LPI checkering, ambidextrous controls and extended thumb safety, and front and rear slide serrations.

To offer something for everyone, they have a standard Government model as well as shorter Commander for concealed carry users and Officer’s models — all of which will win many shooters kudos at the local shooting range.

Also available is the Rail version, which gives you all the goodies of the Combat Unit series with the addition of an under-barrel accessory rail, a decidely great feature. The railgun version, however, does come at a $100 premium over other like models.

3. CZ 97 BD

Czech gunmaker CZ long ago introduced their great-shooting CZ 75– a 9mm that is on every hipster’s want list– but decided to give the American market something special in 1997 when the CZ 97 was introduced in .45 ACP.

All steel with a very CZ75 feel to it, this DA/SA has an extended beavertail similar to competition M1911s but roll with a double stacked magazine and options for swag aluminum grips and fiber optic sights up front.

The BD model, which we recommend, comes with a safety/decocker lever, Tritium night sights, loaded chamber indicator, and a hard-as-nails black polycoat finish.

4. FN FNX-45 Tactical

The FNX-45 Tactical by FN checks a lot of boxes when it comes to a feature-rich .45 ACP combat handgun.

Polymer frame? Check. DA/SA hammer-fired? Check. High-profile night sights with the ability to add an optic? Check. Fifteen-shot double-stack magazine? Check. Available in both black and flat dark earth (FDE)? Oh yeah. Threaded barrel? Oh, you know that’s a check.

Although it sails under the radar, if looking for a serious use .45 with all the modern things, you owe it to yourself to give the FNX-45 Tac a closer look.

5. Glock 21

With Americans long a fan of the 45 ACP, one of Glock’s first models was the G21, a beefy 13+1 shot full-sized semi-auto that proved wildly successful with police and home defense users.

Now in its 4th Generation, the G21 has evolved over the past few decades and has a better, crisp trigger — but is still a handful, the full-sized pistol has a very wide grip to accommodate its double-stack mag.

As a bonus, there are dependable and affordable 26-round extended mags out there for the platform, which is something few of the other guns on this page can claim. Should you want to go with a longer polygonal bore barrel for tactical/practical purposes, the Glock 41 has everything the G21 has but in a longslide format that is often found in the holsters of law enforcement TAC teams as well as competitive shooters.

If the G21/G41 proves too big, the more compact Glock 30 or subcompact Glock 36 can be the ticket to your self defense tool.

6. HK 45

Although a German company through-and-through, Heckler und Koch has long realized that if they want to bring in those sales from the Yankee market, they must have a .45 in the stable.

Besides the MK23 that was adopted by the SEALS in the 1990s, their resolute HK45 (guess what caliber it is chambered for) has been singing the song of John Browning for over a decade.

Available in the standard model with a 4.53-inch barrel, a Tactical model with a threaded extended barrel, a Compact model that has a shorter 3.9-inch barrel length with a corresponding chopped-down slide and exposed hammer, and a Compact Tactical which combines the last two concepts, the HK45 is a DA/SA polymer-framed hammer-fired pistol with rock-solid reliability.

Of course, it is pricy as well, but not exceedingly so.

7. HK USP 45

Using the same recoil reduction system evaluated and proven in the HK MK23 pistol developed for SOCCOM, the USP (Universal Self-loading Pistol) has been around for over 25 years and, while it looks super vanilla, isn’t trying to set the combat pistol world on fire or offer much in the way of a curved grip, it’s a downright unit when it comes to reliability and holding up under hard use.

HK recently showed off a USP that hit 200K rounds before it needed servicing. HK had made several USP models in .45 ACP over the years and still has several in production today, with either DA/SA or LEM triggers, 4.41 inch threaded M16x1 LH barrels, as well as Compact (8-shot) and full-sized (10/12 shot) frames.

8. Kimber Rapide

Kimber Rapide 45 ACP
The Kimber Rapide handles with the best of the .45 ACP pistol set.

Kimber switched gears (and owners) in the 1990s and moved from being a well-known precision rifle maker in Oregon to relocating across the country and taking the plunge into M1911-style handguns.

Now, with a quarter-century of experience in that field, they recently introduced their exquisitely detailed Rapide series that brings a lot to the party.

Standard features across the series– which includes the Nitron-black finished model and the striking Black Ice model– all use a stainless steel frame and slide, 5-inch stainless steel match grade barrel, eight-shot mag, V-cut aluminum trigger, snappy trigger reset, TruGlo TFX Pro day/night sights, and WavZ G10 grips.

Kimber Rapide 10mm 1911
My Rapide has thousands of round through it and never misses a beat.

9. KRISS Vector SDP

KRISS is kind of a one-hit-wonder with their innovative guns that use what they call their “Super V Recoil Mitigation System,” to abbreviate the felt recoil of their carbines and pistols.

Fans of the .45, they have made Vector SDP model pistols since 2011 and the current GEN II SDP-SB models— available in black, alpine (think Imperial Snow Troopers), and FDE — are ambidextrous, offer a low bore axis and full length picatinny top rail not found on other pistols, and are possibly the most enjoyable pistols to shoot on the market as they just kind of hang there.

Best yet, they take 26-round Glock sticks.

Sure, the only way you can carry one of these 6.7-pound chunks is in a bag, but once you fire one, you’ll be looking for that old JanSport backpack you had in high school to justify buying a KRISS.

10. Ruger American

Ruger recently replaced their P-series pistols that were introduced in the 1980s and earned a bit of popularity with the new Ruger American line.

One of the most appealing, from the aspect of this guide, is the American Compact .45 which comes standard with a gray Cerakoted stainless steel slide with a matching polymer frame and a 7+1 capacity with one of the shortest practical barrel lengths for the caliber on the market– 3.75-inches.

For a price of around $650, you also get Novak LoMount carry 3-dot sights while the gun remains right at an inch-wide.

I can hear the .45 ACP concealed carry fans squeeling with joy from here.

11. SDS Tanker

Although made by Tisas in Turkey, don’t turn your nose up at the Tanker, a Commander-sized M1911A1 that has been imported by SDS for the past couple of years.

Made with cold hammer-forged steel slides, barrels, and frames, they are built, well, like a tank.

Using 70 Series internals, they have decent factory triggers, a chrome-plated and lined barrel, and a hard-wearing flat black Cerakote finish, all for about $500.

For just a little more, SDS also brings in a similar Carry BR model which is the Tanker but with better 3-dot Novak cut combat sights, an M1913 Picatinny rail, and an extended beavertail grip safety.

12. Sig Sauer P220 Legion

Back when West Germany was still a country, Sig Sauer started making models of the Swiss-designed P220 in .45 ACP for export to America.

The gun proved popular enough that Sig Sauer still makes a few models of this big, alloy-framed DA/SA single-stack today.

The current top-of-the-line .45 P220 is Sig Sauer’s Legion series pistol whose stainless steel slide comes clad in “Legion Gray” and includes X-RAY3 day/night sights, an ambidextrous thumb safety, under-barrel accessory rail, and 8-shot mags.

13. S&W M&P 45 M2.0

Smith & Wesson introduced their second generation (M2.0) of M&P series striker-fired pistols a couple of years ago and it is hard to throw rocks at these affordable polymer-framed handguns.

Offered in 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 ACP, Smith currently makes six different models in our featured caliber. We went deep on the 9mm variant so if you want a more in-depth cut on the M&P check out our review.

These break down into full-length variants with 4.6-inch barrels, Compact models with 4-inch barrels, and variations in FDE, with threaded barrels, Picatinny rail mounts, and optional thumb safeties.

If you want one of the best .45 ACP pistols on the market — or a dependable striker-fired .45 that isn’t a Glock — the M&P45 M2.0 is the safe bet.

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact profile (1)

14. S&W 625

Smith, renowned of course for their revolvers, have usually carried a .45 ACP N frame wheel gun in their catalog off and on for the past ~100 years or so starting with the M1917 to the M1950, Model 22/25, and finally, after 1988, the stainless steel Model 625.

Using moon clips to hold the rimless rounds in place, these guns can be loaded and reloaded amazingly fast.

Speaking of which, famed professional speed and competition shooter Jerry Miculek set several of his records with the 625, so do not confuse yourself that this wheel gun is slow compared to a semi-auto.

Unfortunately, Smith early in 2021 dropped the 625 from production, but just as the cylinder of a revolver always comes back around, the moon-clip S&W will surely be back.

Until then, if you just must have a moon-clip-fed revolver that eats .45 ACP of all kinds and can’t wait, Ruger makes a model of their DA/SA Redhawk as well as several single-action Vaqueros in the caliber that will get you through your crisis.

15. Springfield Armory Emissary

The current Springfield Armory, Inc., has been in the business of making M1911-style .45s since about the mid-1980s so they have had lots of time and experience with the platform.

While many are fans of the Springfield Armory TRP and Operator lines of railguns, we have taken a shine to the new Emissary.

Complete with wrap-around texturing that seems like it came from a WWII pineapple grenade, it has a flat-slab trigger, square trigger guard, tritium night sights, a bull barrel with a fully supported ramp, and a forged stainless steel slide frame.

Springfield just introduced a Commander-sized model to go along with the Government-sized Emissary that came out earlier this year, all of which pack the classic SA trigger pull, grip angle, and integral accessory rail.

1911-emissary-45-acp-handgun-9
That grip though...

What to look for in a Quality .45

M&P M2.0 Smith Wesson 45

Name Recognition

The .45ACP is a significant cartridge that has a challenging geometry to it when it comes to making it run reliably in a semi-auto pistol. Therefore, handguns chambered for it often get a bad rap as a “jam-a-matics.”

Even then, a lot of makers who specialize in M1911 platforms in .45 ACP still caution new buyers of a “break-in period” that stretches across the first 500 rounds or so before it can be expected to perform at optimum levels.

Keeping that in mind, you want to go with a manufacturer that has figured out the correct balance between feed ramp angles, recoil springs, slide weight, grip angle, and magazine performance to make the .45 ACP sing, right out of the box.

With that, stick with reputable pistol makers like Colt, Glock, HK, S&W, Sig Sauer, and Springfield Armory that have progressed through the crawling and walking stage of producing .45s and evolved into a full-out run.

Barrel length

When it comes to reliability, short-barreled ultra-compact .45 ACP pistols designed to carry concealed usually don’t have it. John Browning designed the cartridge in 1904 for a pistol that had a huge slide with a 6-inch barrel that allowed it to fully burn a powder charge that, even at that, produced a relatively low bullet speed and a pistol that could consistently shoot accurately and reduce muzzle jump.

The most popular .45 ACP, the Government-sized M1911, has a 5-inch barrel, which is long compared to a common 9mm semi-automatic pistol, for instance. Add on a threaded barrel to support a suppressor and you’ve got a pistol that’s nowhere near concealed carry territory.

Even your more compact .45s, the very carry-friendly “Commander” type M1911s, still run 4.25-inch barrels, while the “Baby Glock” 30 and 36 models have 3.78-inchers to allow the round enough real estate to successfully leave the muzzle.

The takeaway? Longer barrels are usually better when it comes to running a .45 with an expectation of reliable function, so keep that in mind when tempted by ultra-compacts and concealed carry pistols chambered in the caliber.

Sure, those shorty boys may be easier for concealed carry, but they also may not work past the first shot in a self-defense encounter. You won’t find military and law enforcement packing may sub-5-inch .45 ACP pistols and for good reason.

Further, do your research on a .45 that pops up on your radar to make sure the feed ramp profile has been optimized to support modern hollow points. A lot of folks making “classic” M1911s for instance still use the 1940s vintage profiles that will choke up on JHPs almost every time.

Manufacturers that have taken this step will be clear in their literature for the gun by saying, either flat out just to use FMJ rounds, or that they are capable of being used with self-defense ammo. If in doubt, shoot the company an email to make sure you’re picking up a reliable gun for your purposes & chosen ammo type.

Action

While the first generations of handguns chambered for the .45 ACP were single-action– requiring the hammer to be cocked over a loaded chamber before each it can fire– today there are few single-action/double-action (SA/DA) hammer-fired guns out there such as the Sig Sauer P220, CZ97, and FN FNX-45 which are easier to use and carry with a loaded chamber.

An even lower mechanical threshold are striker-fired guns such as Glock pistols. For new gun enthusiasts or the first time gun owner, single-action models such as the M1911 style pistol can be a steep learning curve as they are sometimes difficult to field strip for maintenance, finicky in operation, and have a combination of active safety pistol features — like the firing pin safety — that present a challenge to those who lack patience.

This can all be overcome through the help of a local shooting class with a knowledgeable certified instructor.

For those looking for a more “point and click” .45, guns like the Glock or S&W M&P can prove easier to master.

History of the 45 ACP

The U.S. Army has long had a love affair with handguns that fired a .44-to-.45-caliber bullet. During the Civil War, the Union Army’s Ordnance Department purchased some 400,000 revolvers from domestic and overseas suppliers, picking up over twenty models.

The two most common of these were the Colt Army (129,730 ordered) and the Remington Army (125,314 ordered), both .44-caliber cap-and-ball six-shooters that fired a lead ball that was .454-inch in diameter.

Before that, the first revolver adopted by the Army back in 1848 was the Colt Dragoon, in the same caliber.

When the Army switched to cartridge revolvers, it chose the S&W Model 3 Schofield in 1870 which was chambered in .45 S&W. This revolver was soon augmented then replaced by the now-famed Colt Single-Action Army in 1873, chambered in .45 Colt (these days often incorrectly called .45 Long Colt).

While the Army briefly and disastrously flirted with underpowered .38 caliber revolvers in the 1890s and early 1900s– which they found anemic under battlefield conditions fighting Philippine insurgents– they soon switched back to the tried-and-true .45 Colt with the Model of 1909, a double-action wheel gun, while they searched for something better.

Speaking of which, to compete for a contract to supply the Army with a new, more 20th Century, handgun, in 1904 John Moses Browning developed a .45-caliber cartridge that was small enough to fire from an early semi-auto pistol while still carrying a very fat 200-grain bullet traveling about 900 feet per second.

Introduced in his Model 1905 pistol for Colt, the new cartridge was dubbed the .45 Colt Auto Pistol, or .45 ACP. After a few years of going back and forth between the War Department, Colt and Browning, the Model of 1911, or M1911 .45 ACP pistol, firing a 230-grain bullet to 850fps, ended up with the big Army contract.

This led to the standard round and handgun for Uncle Sam’s fighting forces from roughly 1912 through 1985, a period encompassing both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam as well as dozens of minor conflicts.

While the Army moved to 9x19mm Parabellum in the 1980s, and a series of corresponding pistols chambered for the round, this was largely for NATO standardization purposes, not because anyone found the big .45 ACP unworthy of combat. The Marines have kept the round for use by their https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD_AGr-MSNs MEUSOC commandos for the past 40 years, while the Army’s Special Forces https://youtu.be/g7jlH8V-vpU still used the M1911/.45 ACP combo in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Navy’s elite SEAL teams have fielded what is termed the “Offensive Handgun Weapon System” for special purposes since the 1990s. The OHWS is known on the consumer market simply as the Heckler & Kock Mark 23.

Like with many things’ firearms-related, as goes the military so goes the consumer and law enforcement market. As young men finished their often compulsory service for Uncle, they sought out the guns familiar to them from their training and experience.

Even without this word of mouth, a sure seller for gun makers is to offer the public the same proven platforms and calibers that survived stringent military testing to become adopted into service.

Thus, besides the more than three million .45 ACP-chambered pistols and revolvers (see the Model 1917 Colt and S&W wheel guns of WWI) of several types used by Servicemembers over the past century, at least that many have been sold to police and eager gun owners who want handgun for target shooting or that they can depend on when the chips are down.

With a storied history like that, it is easy to see why the .45 ACP continues to be the people’s champ even after all this time.

Ballistics

9mm 10mm 45 JHPs
9mm vs 10mm vs .45 ACP

The .45 Auto Colt Pistol, simply called .45 ACP or .45 Auto, is a goliath among popular semi-auto handgun cartridges today. For shooters who developed their skillset with .22LR plinkers then moved on to something more serious such as 9mm, the first time they have to load a mag with John Browning’s .45 Auto cartridge for target practice, it can come as a bit of a shock.

By simple comparison, the typical .45 ACP bullet weight, 230-grains, is double that of the typical 9mm bullet, which usually runs 115-grains. Does that mean the .45 is twice as powerful or makes twice the damage as a 9mm? Not really. Does it mean it can impact magazine capacity? Absolutely.

While there is no way around the fact that the big hunk of lead hurled downrange from a .45 ACP makes a bigger hole in the paper– or other mediums– the actual energy delivered to the target tells a more measured story.

When comparing the apples to apples that is common Winchester white boxed FMJ rounds, a 230-grain .45 ACP round generates 835 fps velocity which works out to 356 ft/lbs. of energy at the muzzle.

The same brand of WWB 9mm 115-grain FMJ rounds clocks 1190 fps– over 40 percent faster– which means the lighter bullet can deliver a very respectable 362 ft/lbs. of energy, making it a tie with the .45, at least in this metric.

Of course, this does not address the factor of wound cavities.

Basic physics tells us that the larger bullet will make a larger hole, and this has often been demonstrated in multiple gel tests with .45s that have shown modern defensive hollow points to create large cavities as the bullet mushrooms out its travel and, if anything, sometimes tend towards overpenetration — with some loads averaging over 20-inches of penetration in ballistics gel, a questionable level of penetration for self defense applications.

As a general rule of thumb, the better .45 ACP JHP designs expand to over .75-inches, an almost unheard of diameter for 9mm and hard for even dimensionally similar cartridges like .40 S&W to match. As they say, bigger holes bleed faster.

9mm 10mm 45 JHPs and Mushrooms
9mm, 10mm, & .45 JHPs and Mushrooms

The 45 vs other cartridges

Invented only two years apart, the 9mm Luger/Parabellum and .45 ACP have been rivals in the world of semi-auto pistols ever since.

While the .45 was king on this side of the Atlantic and the 9mm was seen as a more European round for most of the 20th Century, by the 1980s the reign of Mr. Browning’s chunky .45 began to slip and today, by far, the 9mm has ascended to the heights of popularity.

As we have touched on when talking about ballistics, comparing the two rounds on paper in terms of energy comes out as a draw while the .45 without a doubt leaves a bigger hole after the fact.

However downright anorexic when stacked next to the .45, the 9mm allows for an easier recoil and a larger magazine capacity. The 9mm is also more flexible when it comes to barrel length and given its more compact stature, can be crafted into concealed carry and self defense pistols with relative ease.

On the topic of magazine capacity, the Glock 17 has a standard capacity of 17+1 rounds of 9mm compared to the roughly similar-sized Glock 21 which can only fit a 13-round .45 ACP magazine because it has a larger grip to accommodate it.

Even in the M1911 style pistol, which was designed for the .45 ACP, when chambered for 9mm the gun usually grows its magazine capacity by at least two rounds.

With the 9mm and .45 ACP roughly comparable when talking about modern defensive loads, it is hard to make the case that it’s sensible for anyone to go with the larger of the two and sacrifice magazine capacity in the same-sized gun.

For example, when Ballistic Magazine spoke with fourteen industry experts about their choice between a .45 and a 9mm, they unanimously opted for the Parabellum — which is telling considering the panel included such old-days classic “fuddy five” fans as Larry Vickers and Bill Wilson.

While the .40S&W and semi-related 10mm Auto also have a serious history in real-world use and can be compared to the .45 in performance, they are more of a stretch as fewer platforms are chambered in those rounds, especially in the case of .40S&W in recent years.

"Other" 45s

45 GAP left compared to 45 ACP right

In 2003, Speer, working with Glock, introduced the .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol) cartridge as basically a shorter .45 ACP that could be used in a smaller framed gun.

In other words, instead of needing a larger grip as seen on the Glock 21 to double-stack .45ACP cartridges, a pistol chambered for .45 GAP could be closer in size to a 9mm — akin, say, to the Glock 17.

While offering a lot of potential as a “.45ACP killer,” the round never caught on and today only Glock makes a few models for it, the standard-sized G37, the compact G38, and a subcompact G39.

However, good luck finding ammo for any of these, especially these days.

Three other .45s– the .45 Winchester Magnum, .451 Detonics Magnum, and .45 Super– are sometimes confused with the .45ACP which is understandable as these spicy hot rods were often used in modified M1911 platforms but are even more rarely encountered than the .45 GAP.

Why a .45 ACP pistol?

9mm 10mm 45 mushrooms
9mm vs. 10mm vs. .45 ACP mushrooms
  • Proven Effectiveness. The .45ACP was originally designed to meet a need for an early 20th century Army handgun tender that required — after tests on cadavers (hey, it was the 1900s) — that the bore be at least .45-caliber. Successful enough to remain the standard pistol and submachine gun round for the U.S. military for a 75-year run (and unofficial for another 25 past that), the cartridge also proved a success with police, competition shooters, self-defense enthusiasts, and everyday gun owners. While, yes, it was introduced when Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House, the round has remained relevant today and is still exceedingly popular. As mentioned above — bigger holes bleed faster and the near three-quarter inch expansion of the .45 ACP in self-defense loads means JMB’s chunky pill will stop most assailants in their tracks.
  • Handgun Options. .45 ACP pistols are second only to 9mm in terms of variety, which means you will likely find a handgun that suits your needs chambered in the caliber. Semi-autos, SA/DA pistols, and the veritable M1911 are all available for someone committed to mastering the .45 ACP.
  • Historical Significance. Considering the 75-year run the .45 ACP made as the U.S. military standard, there’s something fundamental and significant about incorporating the round into your collection. Plus the round also plays well in PCCs such as the Thompson, giving it legs beyond the limitations of a pistol. Is a .45 ACP the only pistol that should be in your collection? No way. But I’d argue no one’s collection is complete without one.

Shortcomings

With the sheer quantity of materials needed to produce the cartridges, coupled with the heavier weight of the loaded ammo to ship, .45ACP always runs more expensive than 9mm, .380ACP, or .32ACP rounds made by the same manufacturer.

They typically are a closer match, in terms of cost per round, to .40S&W and 10mm Auto but can often run more than those as well.

On average, only magnum and hard-to-find handgun calibers made in small runs, such as .44 Special or 7.5FK, are more expensive.

Another by-product of the chubby .45ACP, one that we’ve already touched on, is reduced magazine capacity when compared to other handgun rounds. The bottom line is that the typical .45ACP user will carry fewer rounds with them into a hairy situation than one who carries the same-sized gun in almost any other caliber.

As a final barrier, most guns chambered for .45ACP are either large-framed and heavy, to eat up all that recoil impulse, or should be.

No one is going to mistake firing a .45 for a 9mm.

Just last year, a well-known gun writer penned a somber piece about aging and stepping back from the .45, a caliber he had loved and used for almost a half-decade, to go with the milder 9mm.

.45 ACP Pistol Prices

  • Under $500. At the sub-$500 price point you’ll have fewer options in terms of brands & design features, although there are plenty of solid choices in this neck of the woods. SDS & Auto-Ordnance have models that both make this list and can be found for under $500 new in box. These tend to be utilitarian pistols, often with straightforward sights and cerakote finishes on steel frames and slides, but there’s no lack of solid .45 ACP pistol choices under $500.
  • $500-$1,000. This is a sweet spot for .45 ACP pistols. You’ll find household brands occupying this space, with Sig, Smith & Wesson, Ruger’s American pistol, and others which opens up the playing field to polymer pistols, feature-rich builds, and European pistols from the likes of HK. You won’t find soup to nuts tactical pistols or more custom 1911 builds, but you’ll almost certainly find a pistol in this price range that will last you a lifetime.
  • Over $1000. Once you get into the more premium landscape, almost anything is possible. From Springfield’s new Emissary, FN’s Tactical masterpiece, the remarkable Kimber Rapide, and even a freaking KRISS Vector can be had at this price point. You’ll find heirloom-quality pistols as well as technical innovation that can rival any caliber pistol.

Closing

The .45 isn’t for everyone, but it scratches a lot of itches for those who are willing to take the plunge and master its mysteries. The round is still a staple in everyday carry, law enforcement, and competition.

There is a reason the .45 has endured across time and space, and the military kept it in service for over a century as other– supposedly better– calibers came and went.

With about every major handgun maker cranking out pistols in the caliber while every large ammo firm is supplying factory-fresh boxes to feed them, the days of the .45 and the pistols that use it are far, far from being over.

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