Smith and Wesson revolver

4 Best .45 ACP Revolvers

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Some of you might be wondering: is there still a place for revolvers in this age of modern, semi-automatic handguns? Obviously, the answer is yes. Otherwise, gun brands should have already ceased manufacturing them. Although revolvers existed for nearly two centuries, it still has its own charm. I personally love using revolvers because they’re more robust than semi-autos. Plus, they’re straightforward to use. My favorites are the Smith and Wesson 617 which has almost no recoil, and the Ruger GP1000 which screams top-quality. I’d love to talk more about these revolvers. However, that’s another story as I’ve already written a full review about them. We’ll discuss the 4 best .45 ACP revolvers here. 

Revolvers are simple, fun to shoot, and are versatile. They are less prone to malfunctions, making them more reliable in emergencies. Combine it with a .45 ACP caliber, and you’ve yourself got a powerful gun.

Here’s a summary of the 4 best .45 ACP revolvers that we’ll look at today:

  • Smith and Wesson Governor: A sleek-looking versatile revolver that’s accurate in short ranges
  • Smith and Wesson Performance Center Model 325 Thunder Ranch: A revolver designed with tactical features that’s also ideal for self-defense
  • Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Revolver 454 Casull: A reliable heavy-duty revolver designed for self-defense, hunting, and wilderness protection
  • Charter Arms Pitbull .45 ACP: A lightweight revolver equipped with a unique system for faster reloads that’s great for concealed carry

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Comparison Table

RevolverWeightLengthBarrel LengthCapacityMSRP
Smith & Wesson Governor29.6 ounces8.5 inches4 inches6 shots$905
Smith and Wesson Performance Center Model 325 Thunder Ranch30.5 inches9.5 inches2.5 inches6 shots$1329
Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Revolver 454 Casull44 ounces7.62 inches2.5 inches6 shots$1419
Charter Arms Pitbull .45 ACP22 ounces7.38 inches2.5 inches5 shots$506.80

Let’s first discuss revolvers before delving into each of the 4 best .45 ACP revolvers. If you’re an expert, you may skip this part and head onto our best revolver picks below.

The Revolver

4 Best .45 ACP Revolvers Parts of a revolver
Image sourced from Made How

Some refer to revolvers as wheel guns because of their distinct design — the cylinder. Revolvers have been a trustworthy weapon for a very long time. Unlike ammo-packed pistols, a typical revolver only has five to six rounds. However, they are more versatile. The available chamberings of revolvers are far more potent compared to semi-autos. Furthermore, revolvers can also chamber the powerful .45 Colt and +P ammunition.

Most modern revolvers come in double-action mode. The typical caliber for a self-defense gun is the .38 Special or .357 Magnum.

Why You should Get a Revolver

There’s a good reason why revolvers are still in the market despite this modern age of semi-automatic firearms.

  • Easy to use: The revolver is easy to learn to shoot, with minimal or no training required. To use a revolver, first, open the cylinder. Second, insert the bullets. Third, close the cylinder. Lastly, aim, and pull the trigger.
  • No cases: A revolver doesn’t throw spent cases all over the place. This is helpful especially if you’re reloading.
  • Simple design: Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry whether the round was chambered. It’s because you don’t need to rack the slide, like in semi-autos. You also don’t need to feed it through the grip. It has no slide bites. No safeties and no jamming. In addition, you can easily know if the revolver is loaded without touching it. The cylinder is visible and you can see if there are shell casings loaded in it. It’s also easy to clean. Just swing out the cylinder, do your usual cleaning and gun maintenance, and you’re done. No disassembly/assembly required, simple, and no hassle at all.
  • Fixed Sights: The revolver has sights that are firmly attached to the barrel. It’s better compared to the loose attachment to the slide of some sights in semiautos.
  • Versatility and Power: Typically, revolvers function flawlessly regardless of any round you use — even a multi-caliber. Additionally, the most powerful handgun cartridges are exclusive to revolvers.
  • Reliable: Lastly, a revolver rarely fails. It’s highly reliable, especially if you’re going to use it for self-defense.

One Caveat

Although revolvers are easy to use, they can be challenging to shoot well. This is especially true if you’re using a snub nose revolver. We also have one of the best snub-nosed revolvers on this list, which is the Charter Arms Pitbull.

Snub nose revolvers are short-barreled revolvers. They are lightweight, but using these requires more proficiency as it’s challenging to master. This is especially true if you’re using a .45 ACP caliber. In addition, their design is ideal for short ranges and concealed carry. So if you’re opting for snub nose revolvers, keep in mind to visit the range and practice, practice, practice.

The 4 Best .45 ACP Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Governor


Weight29.6 ounces
Length8.5 inches
Barrel Length2.75 inches
Caliber.410 2 1/2", .45 Long Colt, .45 ACP
Capacity6 shots

If you’re looking for a jack of all trades revolver, then this first revolver on our list is for you. The Smith and Wesson Governor is chambered in .45 Long Colt, .45 ACP, and .410 calibers. It’s also a six-shot cylinder-loaded revolver with an outstanding finish. In addition, this revolver has a matte black finish. It sports a scandium frame and a stainless steel cylinder material.

Another great feature of this revolver is its grips. You can choose from either a Hogue’s synthetic rubber bantam grip or a bantam Crimson Trace Lasergrip. The overall appearance of the Governor looks bulky, so it’s not ideal for concealed carry. It’s easy and comfortable to use. Additionally, the single-action trigger breaks crisply. It also has a smooth double-action trigger. However, despite its size, its recoil is quite punchy.

You can reload the Governor using full-moon clips as speedloaders. Plus, it is accurate in short ranges. Its sights are quick to acquire and are precise to boot. Additionally, the front sights utilize a large Tritium front dovetailed post while the rear is a sight groove cut.

Smith and Wesson designed the Governor with brilliant engineering. Its appearance is sleek, and its materials are durable. Lastly, its features make it a versatile and reliable .45 ACP revolver overall.

  • Has Tritium front and the Classic S&W fixed rear sights
  • Has a comfortable and textured grip
  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Has a crisp and smooth trigger
  • Has a lot of recoil
  • Holster of this revolver are hard to find

S&W Performance Center Model 325 Thunder Ranch


Weight30.5 ounces
Length9.5 inches
Barrel Length4 inches
Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity6 shots

The next revolver on this list contains premium features to create an ideal revolver for self-defense. The S&W Performance Center 325 Thunder Ranch also features a sleek aesthetic with its matte black finish. In addition, it’s equipped with tactical ability. 

The 325 Thunder Ranch is made of a scandium frame with a stainless steel cylinder and barrel, making it durable and lightweight. Smith & Wesson designed this revolver for tactical use while delivering controlled shooting. The accuracy of this revolver is exceptional and provides a clean trigger pull. You will feel a bit of recoil when shooting this revolver, but it’s manageable. You can also reload this one fast as it works well with moon clips and speedloaders.

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The Governor includes a removable Picatinny rail. You can easily mount optics under the barrel. Additionally, it features adjustable sights, with an interchangeable gold bead for its front sight. Lastly, operating the 325 Thunder Ranch is a breeze, as mounting and dismounting it is easy.

To summarize, the S&W Performance Center 325 Thunder Ranch is an ideal .45 ACP revolver for self-defense. It features a great appearance and has brilliantly engineered functions with tactical features.

  • Has a removable Picatinny rail for accessories
  • Equipped with adjustable sights
  • Comes in full size which is great for both tactical use and self-defense
  • Made of durable, lightweight frame
  • Has an interchangeable gold bead front and adjustable rear sights
  • Expensive
  • May be challenging to use for concealed carry

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Revolver 454 Casull


Weight44 ounces
Length7.62 inches
Barrel Length2.5 inches
Caliber.44 Magnum, .45 ACP
Capacity6 shots

Since this revolver is bulky, it’s not advisable for concealed carry. However, you can rely on this gun. It’s a Ruger after all. Furthermore, the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan has exceptional accuracy. It’s also chambered in one of the most powerful cartridges available. Reliable, durable, accurate, and powerful. What more can you ask for? Plus, it’s Ruger.

Ruger’s Super Redhawk line is available in different barrel lengths and caliber options. One of the most famous variants is the Super Redhawk Alaskan. At first glance, you’ll notice that it’s from Ruger right away. This .45 revolver sports a heavy-duty and all-stainless steel look. It’s large, rugged, and thick. It’s also corrosion-resistant and made to last.

Now, the Super Redhawk Alaskan can weigh more than 50 ounces when loaded. Therefore, hanging it off your belt is not ideal. It’s better to use a chest harness to carry this one.

The double-action trigger is heavy, yet clean. It allows faster follow-ups. Meanwhile, its single-action is crisp and light as it should be. Ruger designed the Redhawk Alaskan for hunting and wilderness protection. Additionally, it has manageable recoil. No doubt that it can fulfill its purpose with its heavy-duty and tactical design.

The Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan has exceptional accuracy. It’s arguably one of the best .45 ACP revolvers out there. It’s also chambered in one of the most powerful cartridges available. When it comes to durability, accuracy, and reliability, you don’t often go wrong with Ruger.

  • Made of durable stainless steel with brushed satin finish
  • Has clean single-action and double-action trigger
  • Reliable for hunting, tactical use and self-defense
  • Powerful and very accurate
  • Not the best option for concealed carry
  • Weighs heavy when loaded

Charter Arms Pitbull .45 ACP


Weight22 ounces
Length7.38 inches
Barrel Length2.5 inches
Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity5 shots

Last on this list is a snub nose revolver from Charter Arms. The Charter Arms Pitbull is the first .45 ACP revolver that doesn’t need moon clips to hold the cartridges. Instead, it utilizes a patented system to empty cartridges easily for faster reloads. Additionally, this revolver is very accurate, more so when used in short ranges.

This revolver is easy to use and has a total capacity of 5 shots. It has a short 2.5-inch barrel. This revolver is made of premium stainless steel with a nitride finish. This provides corrosion resistance, therefore, making it durable and long-lasting. In addition, it features a dual coil spring assembly located in the extractor. This design allows smooth insertion and retention of the .45 in each of the cylinder’s chambers.

The .45 Pitbull also contains a rubberized handgrip. Its size is best suited for those with medium hands. Despite being a snub nose revolver, it surprisingly has light recoil. It also has a long and heavy trigger pull, but this is typical for most revolvers. In addition, you might also feel a little bit of resistance from the integral rim clip. Lastly, the Charter Arms Pitbull is available in two finishes: brushed stainless steel and Blacknitride.

To sum it up, the Charter Arms .45 Pitbull is a revolver for short-range use only. It’s also one of the best .45 ACP revolvers for self-defense and as a backup for your everyday carry.

  • Features a system that easily empties cartridges
  • Made of durable materials
  • Has light recoil
  • Difficult to grip onto for those with larger hands

Our Final Say

Like other types of guns, revolvers are designed to fit a purpose. The big question is of course, what is your purpose. Whether it’s for self-defense, shooting practice, concealed carry, or competition. Knowing your objectives of getting a revolver chambered in a .45 ACP caliber is essential. If you can figure this out, then hopefully you can find the .45 ACP revolver that’s right for you.

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