The .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) is one of the most iconic and sought after handguns in history. You should do your homework before shooting, however, to ensure that you are using the right round for the right job. Seasoned shooters have strong opinions about which is the “right ammunition.” That debate has been going on ever since the gun was created by John Moses Browning in 1905. Experts say the right answer depends solely on how you are going to use the ammo. Hobbyists want to hit the range while others plan to use their gun for self-defense or home protection. Therefore, the question remains – what is your perfect .45 ammo? There may not be one particular brand or type that will fulfill all your needs. They will work well all around but can’t be considered ideal. For example, self-defense rounds must have ultimate stopping power. That can be found in a hollow point round. Range training is more forgiving, since you can practice with a similar but less aggressive round.
What’s Your Purpose?
First, you must decide on how the ammo will be used. Second, pick the ammo that will work best for that specific application. .45 ammo comes in two styles: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP).
Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammunition has a soft lead core that sits in a copper jacket. It offers decent penetration, but there is no expansion, so it is best used at the range or for target shooting. FMJ is not ideal for self-defense because it could over-penetrate. The ammo could go astray or run through the target and cause collateral damage.
Jacketed Hollow Point
Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) is the top choice for a self-defense round. It has a lead core that sits inside in a copper jacket; but unlike FMJ, it has expansion. The core of the round will expand upon impact, creating a wider channel than the FMJ. However, the copper jackets slow down the ammo so over penetration is unlikely.
You should read reviews and test the ammo before buying a large amount. Find out what others use and test the rounds for yourself. Never take the word of someone without doing your own tests. Lucky Gunner has an excellent reputation of conducting thorough tests on ammunition, much like the field tests used by the FBI.
How Ammo is Tested
Experts use the following tests to determine the ballistics of ammo. The tests will show what results to expect and how to conduct your own tests. The testers use a compact pistol, an ideal weapon for concealed carry. A gun with a larger barrel will show higher numbers for muzzle velocity and penetration.
- Fire 5 shots of each with each brand of ammo to achieve a good average.
- Shots should be fired from 10 feet away, the average distance in most defense situations.
- Place 4 layers of fabric in front of ballistics gel to mirror real life situations; fabric mimics heavy clothing.
- Ideal penetration for the ammo is 12 to 18 inches; results show adequate stopping power without over-penetration.
Here are the top ten picks for .45 ACP cartridges. Down below are the top choices for self-defense and range training.
|Name of Product||Bullet Weight||Rounds||Muzzle Energy||Muzzle Velocity|
|Speer Gold Dot JHP||230-grain||20||405 ft-lbs||890 fps|
|Federal LE Tactical Bonded HP||230-grain||50||460 ft-lbs||950 fps|
|Blazer Brass FMJ||230-grain||50||365 ft-lbs||845 fps|
|Federal Classic Personal Defense JHP Hi-Shok||230-grain||50||370 ft-lbs||900 fps|
|Federal American Eagle FMJ||230-grain||50||405 ft-lbs||890 fps|
|Hornady Critical Defense FTX||185-grain||20||333 ft-lbs||900 fps|
|Magtech FMC||230-grain||1000||358 ft-lbs||837 fps|
|Remington Golden Saber JHP||230-grain||500||391 ft-lbs||875 fps|
|Winchester Supreme Elite JHP||230-grain||20||432 ft-lbs||882 fps|
|Hornady Custom XTP JHP||200-grain||20||494 ft-lbs||1055 fps|
Best .45 ACP Ammo for Self-Defense
Self-defense requires fast thinking and skill. Therefore, it’s imperative to know your weapon and to choose the right ammo. You may only get one chance. Self-defense doesn’t always mean killing the target, but rather, scaring away an intruder to keep yourself safe. You must handle each situation with efficiency and accuracy.
Federal Ammunition: Personal Defense 230 Grain JHP
Federal Ammunition Company produces a 230 grain jacketed hollow point (JHP). It is often called the best large caliber for self-defense regarding to accuracy, precision, and penetration while maintaining close to 100% weight retention.
Hornady Ammunition: Duty Defense 220 Grain FTX JHP
Hornady manufactures this 220-grain, .45 ACP. +P ammo is an FTX that offers ultimate stopping power. It has similar characteristics of Hornady’s cartridges, offering accuracy, precision, and penetration with maximum expansion.
Speer Ammunition: Gold Dot JHP 230 Grain JHP
Speer’s Gold Dot has a longstanding reputation for delivering a clean product. This 230-grain jacketed hollow point is an accurate round that fires controlled penetration powerful enough to stop any threat.
Best .45 ACP Ammo for Range Training
Federal Ammunition: American Eagle 230 Grain FMJ
Federal Ammunition is always at the top of the list in this category. It produces a 230-grain .45 ACP cartridge with a full metal jacket, non-magnetic lead core, and non-corrosive Boxer primer. The cartridge can be reloaded up to 5 times and offers high quality at an affordable price. The American Eagle .45 ACP is Federal’s newest production bullet featuring a clean-burning powder and ballistics similar to Federal’s Premium Personal Defense rounds. It is an ideal for practice shooting purposes.
Magtech Ammunition: 230 Grain FMC
Magtech Ammunition has been manufacturing ammo since 1926. They produce all components used in their ammo including the powder, primer, and projectiles. The company has strict quality standards. Magtech’s reputation and high quality ammo have skyrocketed them to the forefront of the industry.
.45 ACP ammo makes a strong showing in both self-defense and range training categories. Test several manufacturers to determine which works best for you. Shooters like the .45 ACP because it is affordable and can be bought in bulk online or at retail stores.
Your choice should be based on performance and comfort. Regardless of which ammunition you choose, there is never a substitute for practice. Never wait until a situation calls for action to learn how the ammunition will perform.