The best .45 ACP Pistol is quite a bit easier to select because of the ubiquity of the chambering in recent years. So many manufacturers have jumped on the .45 bandwagon over the past 25 years that the quality of the guns coming out in .45 ACP has suffered for many of the options on the market.
Luckily, the performance and the history of the caliber keeps it relevant, along with modern ballistic upgrades and a nice field of firearms that are prodigious performers means this list is full of spectacular firearms. The 8 pistols on this list are excellent contenders for the top spot in the world of best 45 Pistols.
There has never been a problem with the .45 ACP cartridge – it is an excellent cartridge for home defense, sporting uses, and other needs. This probably explains the reason why there are so many sub-par firearms that tout the caliber for their chambering. That said, these pistols on this list are exceptional examples of why the .45 is so good and so well received.
Absent from this list are the mundane, ultra-popular handguns (at least some of them) that threaten to make the .45 ACP further ubiquitous. Included in this list are the quirky, and the interesting and the capable, even if they sometimes don’t fit into the mainstream view of what a .45 ACP pistol is.
Note: The list that follows is composed of semi-automatic pistols for very good reason: the .45 ACP is not a rimmed cartridge, and while the caliber is viable in a revolver, it is not ideal. The classic handgun pairing for the .45 ACP cartridge is a full-sized semi-automatic pistol, and this list reflects that perfect pairing.
Here is my list of best .45 ACP Pistol on the market:
- FN - FNX-45 TACTICAL
- SIG SAUER - P227 TACOPS HANDGUN
- HECKLER & KOCH - HK45 TACTICAL (V1)
- CZ-USA Dan Wesson Pointman 45, Semi-Automatic
- Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 Handguns
- Kimber Ultra Series Pistols
- KRISS USA - SDP G2 45 ACP
- SMITH & WESSON - M&P45 M2.0 45 ACP
Best .45 Pistol Reviews
FN - FNX-45 TACTICAL
Hugely popular compared to some entries into the market, but still the dark horse for some in the .45 pistol market, this gun is a surprisingly good firearm. From the perspective of an all-in variant, this is a loaded model. You won’t find a better mix of tactical features in a full sized .45 pistol with legitimate duty features that is as comfortable for use in home defense scenarios as this one.
Built for use with a suppressor from factory, the raised sight height and the threaded barrel with intelligent design at the attachment point, this is a spectacular model for those who already own a suppressor for the .45 caliber.
Furthermore, it is robust enough to be the main focal point for a shooter who desires to be using suppressors. It could easily serve as a core starting piece to a shooter with interest in moving into suppressed shooting.
The polymer frame is large, and may not fit some hands exactly, but the balance is hard to match when the firearm is fully loaded with the high capacity magazines. This balance and full-sized profile offer great recoil and muzzle flip mitigation and allow for particularly good ergonomics for medium and large hand shooters.
16 rounds of .45 ACP is a powerful equalizer in a tactical or defensive situation. FN’s reputation is excellent. The design features such as the mounting plates for optics and the creative grip checkering and rounded edges make this a strongly detailed pistol against peers.
A full-length barrel, accessory rail, and legitimate construction quality reinforces the decision to consider this firearm. The interchangeable backstrap makes it easier to handle for the smaller shooter or those with exceptionally large hands.
Most importantly, however, it is the reliability and robust material selection and beefy design that makes the FN FNX Tactical a top choice for the .45 ACP pistol market.
- Top quality build with a strong frame and great mating from frame to slide for a heavy-duty gun
- Very well-balanced despite being a bulky, high capacity .45 pistol
- A lower bore axis and a great setup for the suppressor enthused shooter
- Big and bulky for some
This is best for
Best .45 pistol for the shooter who knows they want to shoot suppressed and can handle the weight. The balance and intelligent design features make it an easy choice for a larger shooter.
Users who need a full-stop tactical offering and will actually utilize the design inclusions like the optics mounting plate and the threaded barrel.
A massive addition to the Sig Sauer lineup when it debuted, the P227 was an industry darling because it was effectively fleshing out the top tier .45 ACP portfolio for Sig. The legendary P220 had been a top performing product for decades. The P227 is much more nuanced compared to the P220 from a feature set and aesthetic perspective.
The ergonomics of the grip style gives a good moderately-high hand hold and positions safeties and controls within proper reach of the typical shooter. An integrated mag well and a massive magazine capacity allow the small or medium hand shooter the ability to pack some serious heat (14+1 rounds).
The G-10 grip material means the mag well integration is made to last and won't bend or break like cheap polymers. Speaking of a distinct lack of polymer: this is an all-metal frame to slide build. It’s a rare gun these days that isn’t incorporating increasing amounts of polymer into the newest designs. This high polymer inclusion is often a turn-off to many users.
The quality of Sig is hard to match at the price point and the innovations in design and the holsterability of this .45 ACP pistol are impeccable. Full-sized barrel length; amazing sights and classic Sig top-end lines makes this a very appealing gun for a wide range of shooters.
It is heavier than most other guns in the space, especially when fully loaded, but the balance is spot on and the intuitive placement of controls ensures ease of integration into the shooting of the pistol. Sig has created a modern classic, that, while priced at the top end of the pricing spectrum, offers more than adequate value for the money.
- If it’s good enough to complement the Sig P220, trust us, it’s good enough to consider as a primary option
- Ergonomics make it feel smaller than it is, and gives exceptional control over the robust .45 ACP chambering
- Full-sized platform with massive capacity and top tier construction
This is best for
Best .45 pistol for Sig fans or those ready to move forward from the P220 for something a bit more modern. The shooter who wants a full-sized defensive pistol that handles like a moderate/medium sized pistol (note: the grip frame height is still large).
HECKLER & KOCH - HK45 TACTICAL (V1)
Heckler & Koch has a loyal fan base, but their .45 ACP offerings had been a bit stale of late. The bid for a service pistol that sparked the development of the HK45 has helped to create a new mainstream flagship for the company in the classic chambering.
This is a full-sized .45 ACP Pistol and offers a sleek approach to the space with all the necessary features in the modern combat pistol that any shooter will mandate. The threaded barrel is icing on the cake and takes it into the segment of the market that the die-hard tacticians will actually be looking within to find the best .45 ACP pistol.
The exceptional trigger guard design and the ambidextrous control possibilities mean that gloved hand use is a top quality experience. Very good sights for holster use and night time shooting adds to the value of the offering.
Recoil mitigation through intelligent design and an innovative recoil rod, paired with the o-ring legacy fitment of the barrel to slide.
You are also getting many years of design intelligence from the original pre-runners within the HK line (MK23 and HK USP); this gives HK the confidence to promise a service life for this pistol in excess of 20,000 rounds of +P ammunition. That is an impressive claim.
For a polymer framed pistol, it is among the better looking and smoother feeling firearms on the market, especially in such a large profile size.
- HK's line of polymer framed .45's has been nothing short of world-class, this pistol takes a lot of design cues from a functional and aesthetic perspective from those impressive previous offerings
- Very good recoil mitigation from the balance of the design and the weight distribution as well as the guide rod innovation
- Very good ergonomics for a polymer gun aimed at the masses
- A well-integrated system of components
- Lacking capacity relative to peers on this list
This is best for
Best .45 pistol for shooters who want to experiment with a lot of different loads and need to be able to trust their firearm to digest it. HK fans who know the legacy value of their previous .45 designs in the build of this particular gun.
CZ-USA Dan Wesson Pointman 45, Semi-Automatic
The CZ/Dan Wesson brand of 1911’s has been a fantastic competitor in the 1911 market and offers a lot of value for a factory-customized commodity offering. That said, it's a bit more special than most factory mainstream "customs".
This is especially apparent when you feel the gun in hand and see the seamless integration that exists between component parts. The only drawback relative to the rest of this list is the capacity restraints. It does offer some surprisingly important features as a result of only offering 8+1 rounds of capacity though.
The 1911 is a slim, ergonomic pistol that offers intuitive use and well-positioned controls. It is proven over more than 100 years. The component selection with the Pointman .45 pistol is very good too. The skeletonized trigger and hammer offer good looks and light weight in the operational mechanics of the pistol.
A full sized barrel and the top quality build including gorgeous checkering and well-fitted accessory items like the beavertail and adjustable sights make this a very good value when priced apples-to-apples.
The quality of the factory builds coming from CZ and the Dan Wesson line also improves the shooter experience. From a market perspective, it is well placed to compete with true customs like the Les Baer’s of the world when comparing high volume “custom” 1911’s.
The dual slide serrations are a nice touch, but the fit of the barrel to slide and the slide to frame rails is what really impresses. The lockup is truly top class for a gun that can still claim very good reliability with a lot of different loads.
- Very competitive pricing for the 1911 custom market
- Excellent sights with good target use capabilities
- A very compelling gun for those who don’t want too much embellishment but do want the most sought-after features
- Lower capacity compared to most of the guns on this list
This is best for
Best .45 ACP pistol for 1911 shooters that want the best feature set for under $1500.
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 Handguns
A sleeper on this list, the Springfield is the mainstream offering that most wouldn’t expect to top a list of .45 ACP pistols, but whose design and feature set cannot be disregarded simply because it’s a bit more non-descript compared to some of the competitors on the market.
The “non-descript” quantifier actually makes the case for this gun. The proven utility of the design and the reliability that has been baked into the line of pistols by Springfield guarantees that you cannot go wrong with this pistol for most use cases.
It is arguably the least interesting feature set in this list, but arguably one of the most proven in its current state because of the wide distribution and the well-made construction.
High handhold, lowered bore axis and very good sights are built into the platform. The trigger safety and grip safety make this a very good gun for holstering/de-holstering, and the accessory rail gives some options for custom tailoring.
Sometimes the mundane is exciting. Such is the case with the unassuming looks, and the proven utility that this pistol offers users. It’s one of the low-price leaders on this list and it is such a solid performer, it can absolutely keep up with the other offerings on this list if you need only a defensive handgun and nothing else.
The “grip zone” allows some customization for the normal shooter to enhance the way the gun handles.
- Very good value
- Safe, despite not a lot of safety specific additions
- Proven reliable
- Simple to use
- No real CONS
This is best for
Best .45 ACP pistol for the mainstream user that needs a good gun for a low price point and can handle the trigger and grip safety combination.
Kimber Ultra Series Pistols
There is not much to say here: if you don’t already know the value of the Kimber line of factory “custom” 1911’s you should. They have been the mainstay in the market “niche”, and actually driven this “niche” into the mainstream. The company has been innovative both in design philosophy and in the business model.
Kimber has a wide range of styles and offers a truly custom experience for the 1911 user, without the ridiculous lead times and the serious price tags of a one-off custom 1911.
Around 15 models exist in the Ultra series portfolio, and the classic to the modern are represented well. What is most compelling about the Kimber brand though, is the value exchange for the shooter seriously considering a 1911.
You cannot find the same price point with this many options anywhere else because Kimber practically invented the mainstream custom 1911 when it debuted.
A unique style of iron sights and very well refined trigger groups are also some of the ways Kimber impresses on a value budget. The economies of scale for their premium parts have helped to keep the 1911 market alive at the factory “custom” level. Many other manufacturers have tried to compete – Kimber still leads the way from a volume perspective.
- Tight enough to feel custom, and yet, still able to digest a lot of different loads
- Classic ergonomics of the 1911
- Very good value for a “custom” factory 1911
- Lower capacity than some competitors here
This is best for
Best .45 pistol for shooters who realize they want a 1911 and want the value that Kimber can offer through its strength in economies of scale and innovative material selection and mainstream custom production volumes.
KRISS USA - SDP G2 45 ACP
It might be a niche choice for some readers of this article. But the features of the .45 ACP pistol from Kriss which utilizes the Vector system offer the enthusiasts of the .45 caliber a lot for the money.
You can make a truly spectacular tactical firearm out of the KRISS with the right additions and by utilizing the sling attachment points and the accessory rails.
The unique design makes it a very compelling offering with the possibility of a two-hand hold and the recoil mitigation that the Vector system is famous for.
The true value in this firearm is that it can be used for so many different applications where most pistols would not be able to compete. Particularly the fun aspect of the gun and the range capabilities make this a special addition to the list. It is also the easiest to control from a recoil perspective, but without add-on optics, it would suffer some accuracy to utilize a standardized handhold position.
Heavy but well-balanced, this pistol might be a bit odd on paper, but it works well in physical operation. The recoil is minimal.
Large capacity and unbelievably good magazines make this a well-rounded choice.
- Mags which have legendary Glock reliability
- Very fun gun and able to be used competitively in many different scenarios
- Very customizable
- Big and bulky
This is best for
Best 45 ACP pistol for someone looking for more than just a home defense or duty gun and understands the value of the Glock magazines integration and the copious amount of rail real estate.
SMITH & WESSON - M&P45 M2.0 45 ACP
In what can only be described as a brilliant run by Smith & Wesson the M&P45 2.0 has reemerged as a favorite on the market. With good reason. For the money, you would be hard-pressed to find a better gun for normal day-to-day use.
The sophistication that remains muted on the surface and strong in implementation gives the user the upper hand when it comes to any of the mainstream offerings. At a little over a third of the price of most of the guns on this list, this is the go-to value proposition. Only, it’s better than that, it’s an easy top competitor on the .45 ACP pistol market.
Clean and utilitarian, this is an easy choice for those with a set budget or for those who have already had experience with the M&P.
Perfect it is not, but well above average and exceptionally well-priced it is. The clever design features like the grip interface; the large trigger guard and the well-integrated sights and slide cuts makes this a great gun for holster duty. You will have a sure draw and an easy re-holstering routine.
The capacity is slightly lacking, but you are getting a much more manageable gun than many on the list. You can expect to feel comfortable in a lot of scenarios with the S&W M&P. You are also getting a thinner pistol with this firearm than most here on this list (1911’s included).
For a utilitarian choice, this cannot be matched at the price point.
- Excellent reliability
- Proven as a complete system; well-integrated and well-redesigned improvements on the original design
- Great sized platform
- No real CONS
This is best for
Best 45 pistol for the budget shooter that wants to know they can spend the money they saved on ammunition or other options instead of dropping so much on a single gun.
Best .45 Pistol: Final words
This article is a list of actionable options when seeking a best .45 Pistol. The author has no doubt that the finest variants of the finest guns on the market in the .45 ACP caliber are on this list. Yes, you can argue there are plenty of great guns at all price points on the market. But none of the "mainstream" offerings, aside from those included here, have that certain X-Factor that propels it to a top spot in our minds.
We are confident that a true enthusiast of the .45 ACP pistol will find a great addition to their collection by using this list. For those who are not yet all-in on the .45 ACP Pistol, we think we have given you some food for thought.