45 acp

Why .45 ACP Is Not What It's Cracked Up To Be

Read comments on websites or on social media, and there seem to be a bunch of people convinced that .45 ACP is the ultimate man-stopper. Even if you miss with a .45, you still hit them.

How much stopping power does .45 have? ALL OF IT.

And so on and so forth. You know what? It's almost all bunk. The reality is that .45 ACP is a very capable, very good defensive round but gets overrated quite a bit by some people, especially the 1911 guys (that includes this author) and people who already carry a .45 (ditto) and as a result, it's time that someone put the brakes on this hype train.

Granted, if you enjoy your .45 and shoot it well, keep doing it! It's a great carry caliber. That said, if you go around thinking it's the be-all, end-all, it just isn't true. Here are 5 reasons why .45 ACP is a little overrated.

Troops Used Hardball In World War II

ww2 acp full metal jacket

Let's get something out of the way about the .45 ACP pedigree, because this is usually about the point where someone says "two world wars." The truth is that soldiers used hardball (full metal jacket) ammunition in their sidearms in those days (and still do today) which meant that all a bullet did was poke a hole in a fleshy target.

Of COURSE it outperformed 9mm! A 9mm bullet is just a hair bigger than one-third of an inch in diameter; that's not a very big hole. A .45 caliber bullet is slightly less than half-an-inch in diameter, which is bigger. When that's what you have to work with, the bigger bullet usually does better.

A 9mm with modern self-defense ammo is way better than .45 ball every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

.45 Isn't As Easy To Shoot

how to shoot 45 acp

Some people will tell you that you can shoot a round that's easy or you can shoot one that works, and the .45 ACP is included in the latter camp.


Today, the .338 Win Mag crowd taunts the people shooting 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester and 7mm-08 Remington. Puny bullets, they say. The reality is that .270 Winchester puts deer down, is a proven elk slayer and will do for black bear with good placement, and with minimal recoil.

Similarly, the 9mm and .40 S&W rounds have put down plenty of bad people. More police departments issue guns in those chamberings than any other, and for good reason. They work, and they are pretty easy on the shooter. The greater the mass of the bullet, the greater the recoil as Newton's Third Law applies.

That Goes Double For Compact Guns

compact gun

Take everything in the above section and double it about compact guns, which is actually very important in this day and age. Why is that?

More gun owners these days are buying pistols for the purpose of concealed carry. They want a smaller pistol so it's easy to carry because not everyone wants to tote around a service gun. That has led to a plethora of compact and subcompact pistols for precisely this purpose.

A bigger bullet in a smaller gun? Have fun with that. Enjoy your carpal tunnel syndrome.

Magazine Capacity Is Reduced

45 acp mag

We could get into the tired old debate over how much magazine capacity is actually needed. Suffice to say, though, that it's needed when it is needed and the thing about .45 ACP is that magazine capacity must necessarily be restricted. It's a big bullet, so that means unless you have a really big gun with a really big magazine, not too many bullets are getting in it.

Typical pistols chambering .45 ACP hold 6 to 10 rounds, depending. Some go up to 12, but very rarely any more than that, and some of the guns that hold that many are already enormous.

The H&K Mark 23, for instance, is almost the size of a Walker Colt (ie the size of most people's forearm) and only holds 12.

Point being that if you're going to carry .45, you can't carry many.

.45 ACP Is Expensive

45 acp price

Granted, .45 ACP is not expensive compared to .454 Casull, .338 Remington UItra or .375 H&H Magnum, but is when you contrast it with 9mm or .40 S&W. A box of Blazer brass in 9mm will often run you about $10; Blazer .45 is about double that.

But carry rounds? Even worse. Expect $20 for a box of 20 good carry rounds, as that's what Speer Gold Dot or Federal HST will run you.

That means shooting you'll either spend more money on shooting or you'll shoot less. Most likely the latter, and a truth about carrying a gun for protection or for hunting is that you need to put in time behind the gun to keep sharp.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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