The Best .45 ACP Pistols

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The .45 ACP is one of the best cartridges ever made, almost as American as apple pie, no gun collection is complete without at least one .45. But what are the best .45 ACP pistols?

In days long past, getting a .45 almost always meant getting a 1911 in some flavor. But these days there are dozens of options out there!

While a good 1911 in .45 ACP will never go out of style, we live in a world filled with amazing alternatives — the best of the best are what we’re going to explore here!

10 Best .45 Pistols
.45 ACP 1911’s, like John Browning intended life to be!

That being said, a pistol in .45 ACP isn’t for everyone. Recoil is stiff and magazines limited. Ammo is also fairly expensive these days. Beginners should beware since the combination of these three factors make for a weapon system that I wouldn’t recommend as your first or only gun.

But for the collector, enthusiast, or because you’ve been bitten by the bug to get one — lets take a look at the best .45 ACP pistols!!

  • Glock 21, Gen 4: An accurate high-capacity pistol that is great for self-defense
  • Walther PPQ M2 45: An elegantly designed pistol that features a crisp trigger with barely any reset
  • Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact Tactical: A highly accurate gun with match-grade design and excellent ergonomics
  • Sig Sauer P220 Legion: A reliable gun for self-defense that will last a long time
  • Beretta Px4 Storm: A sleek design with accuracy and reliability
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 45 M2 Compact: A lightweight pistol with excellent accuracy and ergonomics
  • CZ 97B: A handgun that offers soft shooting with little recoil
  • FN FNX-45 Tactical: A tactical gun with a high round capacity that is suppressor-ready

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The .45 Pistol Buying Guide

Before delving into these guns one by one, we will first discuss what you need to consider when buying a .45 pistol. Feel free to skip this and move ahead to the guns section below.

  • Ergonomics: Look for something that feels comfortable in your hand. You should always consider the grip angle and grip texture. The gun should fit the palm of your hands securely and allow you to get a solid hold on the pistol. You should be able to reach the buttons and the trigger with ease. Moreover, you should also be able to point naturally, get on target quickly and shoot accurately. Luckily, some guns in the market today come with back straps and grip inserts. You can experiment and adjust these until you get that perfect grip you desire.

  • Capacity: This is one factor to consider since .45 rounds are larger and have lower capacity. Some brands offer less than ten rounds, while other brands design pistols that can hold more rounds. Depending on what purpose you’re using your gun for, it’s good to consider your ammo limit. Keep in mind that these rounds are heavy. When 8 rounds are standard, 13 rounds sounds great. But those 5 extra rounds add more than 3 and a half ounces to your total weight.

  • Purpose: Do you prefer a full-sized handgun or a concealed carry pistol? A large, heavy gun is good at absorbing recoil but challenging to conceal. Small pistols, espeshally in .45 ACP, can be hard to control or even painful to shoot.

  • Aftermarket Support: If you plan to customize and upgrade your gun, then look into its aftermarket. Take a look at the barrel length, the accessory rails, the safety, and the sights. Will you be using a light? If so, consider a gun with an accessory rail. What about suppressors? Then, choose a gun with a threaded barrel. And what about holsters? It should fit the holsters available in the market if you plan to use one. If not, you will get stuck with a handgun that needs a custom-made holster. All of the pistols selected for our Best .45 ACP pistols have solid aftermarket support!
  • Handling: You need to spend time at the range. As mentioned earlier, the .45 is not a gun for beginners. If you’re getting a firearm for self-defense, you need to be able to rely on it anytime. Even the best gun in the world won’t be reliable if you don’t know how to use it. So practice, practice, practice. There is no shortcut to this.

NameBarrel Length (inches)Weight (ounces)Magazine Capacity (rounds)MSRP
Glock G21, Gen 44.6129.2813+1$687
Walther PPQ M2 454.2528.212+1$749
Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact Tactical4.5729.128+1, 10+1$811
Sig Sauer P220 Legion4.430.48+1$1,199
Beretta Px4 Storm4.128.210+1$627
Smith & Wesson M&P 45 M2 Compact428.210+1$497
CZ 97 B4.838.410+1$899
FN FNX-45 Tactical5.333.310+1, 15+1$1,219

Now let’s talk about these .45 pistols one by one.

The 10 Best .45 Pistols

Glock G21, Gen 4

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight29.28 ounces
Length8.07 inches
Barrel Length4.61 inches
Height5.51 inches
Magazine Capacity13 rounds

Of course, this list would not be complete without a Glock. They’re reliable, accurate, and durable. In other words, Glocks are handguns that fit just about everyone — be it for civilian or military use.

The Glock 21 Gen 4 has a 4.6-inch polygonal “Marksman” barrel that delivers the power of .45 ACP accurately. It also has a light, manageable recoil due to its dual recoil spring. In addition, it has a sizable 13-round capacity in a double-stacked magazine. The magazine release is reversible.

Like all Glocks, G21 Gen 4 also features a three-safe action system: trigger safety, firing pin safety, and drop protection. Additionally, it has a loaded chamber indicator.

This .45 pistol comes with a modular backstrap design with five grip options. You can adjust the grip to fit your hand size perfectly. Also, its frame is durable and lightweight due to its polymer material.

To summarize, Glock pistols are proven accurate and reliable. Glock 21 Gen 4 is no exception, making it an excellent gun for self-defense. Is this the king of the best .45 ACP pistols? Maybe.

Pros
  • Polymer material makes it lightweight and durable
  • Has a loaded chamber indicator
  • Has a polygonal “Marksman” barrel for enhanced accuracy
  • High round capacity
Cons
  • Has a spongy trigger

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Walther PPQ M2 .45

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight28 ounces
Length7.4 inches
Barrel Length4.25 inches
Height5.8 inches
Magazine Capacity12 rounds

Walther is a German-based company but with extensive manufacturing in the USA also. The company doesn’t fail to produce reliable guns for both military and civilian use.

One of those is the PPQ. If you’ve already tried out its 9mm variant, then you’ve probably fallen in love with it — it is superb. But now, we will focus on the .45 ACP version.

You will no doubt instantly notice this is a Walther gun. This pistol has a unique, elegant design. Its handgrip consists of a curved grip and has finger grooves and a non-slip, cross-direction surface. It also comes with custom back straps which adds to its exceptional ergonomics.

Aside from the grips, the trigger guard is large, facilitating a tactical grip and use of gloves.

You can easily reach the slide stop, magazine release, and its other buttons. It also has three safeties. Plus, a Picatinny rail underneath the barrel with three slots for accessories.

Like other top-quality brands on this list, Walther’s PPQ M2 .45 features an impressive trigger.

The trigger is very crisp and has barely any reset, which makes this handgun remarkably fast.

On top of that, it has an excellent ammunition capacity of 13 rounds and great accuracy. Overall, it’s a superior gun. You can use it for personal defense, everyday carry or as a great range gun.

Pros
  • Crisp trigger with barely any reset
  • Elegantly designed and made of premium materials
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Accurate and reliable
Cons
  • Not a lot of third-party accessories are made for Walther

Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact Tactical

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight29.12 ounces
Length7.91 inches
Barrel Length4.57 inches
Height5.51 inches
Magazine Capacity8-, 10- rounds

The next one is the best .45 pistol on this list, in my opinion.

The Heckler & Koch HK45 is a slight upgrade from the previous USP45 model. To differentiate, the USP 45 has two extra rounds.

Meanwhile, the HK45 has a better trigger. The ergonomics is also much better than its predecessor. It has good capacity with an enlarged 8- and 10- magazine. Both with dual slide releases.

In addition, the HK45 has more functions and features an ambidextrous design. The trigger is designed to be match-grade. It also has an adjustable and oversized trigger stop, facilitating the use of gloves.

It has a long DA pull, but its SA trigger pull is solid. Furthermore, it has a threaded barrel and an accessory rail to add lasers, lights, and many more.

Aside from its trigger, HK45 features outstanding ergonomics. It has interchangeable grip panels that enable you to choose your comfortable fit. Additionally, Its frame is made of reinforced polymer, making this .45 pistol lightweight.

In performance, it runs smoothly because of its solid trigger. It also has polygonal rifling and comes with an O-ring barrel for enhanced accuracy. In addition, its sights come with luminous yellow dots, which are highly visible.

However, its only downside is the high price. The HK45 has top-quality features, making it a highly reliable pistol that can serve almost any purpose. And like I said, this is my favorite of the best .45 ACP pistols!

Pros
  • O-ring barrel and polygonal rifling enhance accuracy
  • Exceptional ergonomics
  • Has ambidextrous controls
  • Durable and reliable pistol
Cons
  • Trigger pull is long when in DA mode
  • Expensive

Sig Sauer P220 Legion

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight30.4 ounces
Length7.7 inches
Barrel Length4.4 inches
Height5.5 inches
Magazine Capacity8 + 1

Sig Sauer’s P220 was a top-quality pistol, even in the late 1970s. It still is a great pistol today. It’s a classic handgun built to exceed military standards.

This .45 pistol features a barrel made of carbon steel and a slide made of stainless steel. In addition, it has an alloy frame finished in legion gray. This pistol is built to last with its superior materials.

The P220 Legion also has an exceptional flat trigger. It is lightweight and has an incredibly short reset time. This outstanding feature enables better shooting and faster and more accurate follow-ups. In addition, the P220 Legion offers an 8-round magazine capacity.

Another great feature is that this handgun comes with a rail for accessories. You can easily mount a flashlight, laser, or any other accessory onto it. Aside from its mounting rail, it has custom G10 grips that allow easier handling. It’s impressive to the touch with its checkered texture.

Since the P220 Legion is an outstanding gun, it comes, of course, at a high price. But despite that, the Sig Sauer P220 Legion is a reliable gun. It’s guaranteed to be accurate, fast, and ideal for self-defense.

Pros
  • Has an incredibly short trigger reset
  • Made of premium materials
  • Has a mounting rail for accessories
  • Made by a reliable brand
Cons
  • Very expensive

Beretta Px4 Storm

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight28.2 ounces
Length7.6 inches
Barrel Length4.1 inches
Height5.5 inches
Magazine Capacity10 + 1

The Beretta Px4 Storm. Arguably, this pistol is one of the best guns ever made. It’s a top-performing pistol that’s easy to use. Moreover, it has a relatively low recoil despite its small size.

This handgun is lightweight and durable, thanks to its flexible polymer frame and reinforced fiberglass material. In addition, it features a rotating barrel that dissipates recoil and muzzle jump. It also has a smooth trigger and accurate performance.

It’s ambidextrous and comes with a flush magazine with a 9+1 capacity. Additionally, it comes with a Picatinny rail for attaching different accessories. It also has many holster options.

A unique feature of this pistol is its auto-firing pin block safety. It’s visible and prevents any forward movement unless you pull the trigger completely.

Additionally, the Beretta Px4 Storm is easy to assemble/disassemble. Thus, cleaning it is a breeze. Furthermore, it comes with individual size grips so you can choose the backstraps that best fit your hand.

For aesthetics, the Beretta Px4 Storm sports a sleek, elegant look. It also comes in handguns chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W. Ultimately, the Beretta Px4 Storm is a .45 pistol with undoubted accuracy and reliability.

Pros
  • Lightweight, flexible and durable
  • A brand that is known for excellent accuracy and performance
  • Has an ambidextrous design
  • Features an automatic firing pin safety
Cons
  • Some may not like the unnatural feel of the slide-mounted safety

Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight28.2 ounces
Length7.2 inches
Barrel Length4 inches
Height5.6 inches
Magazine Capacity10 + 1

When you see Smith & Wesson, you know you really are getting a top brand pistol. The company’s firearms are famous for their reliability, accuracy, and brilliantly designed ergonomics.

The M&P 45 M2.0 Compact is intended as a police and military pistol due to its powerful .45 ACP caliber and tactical build.

The lightweight polymer frame materials contribute to its lightweight characteristics. It features an ambidextrous option and has a Picatinny rail for light and laser mounting. Its front sight utilizes a white-dot dovetail mount and its rear sight has a steel, low-profile carry.

The polymer chassis material enhances this pistol’s durability. Additionally, it sports a Zytel polymer frame with a stainless steel barrel slide.

Smith & Wesson reinforced this gun with a built-in skeleton underneath the polymer frame. This addition enables stability, especially when shooting rapidly. You can guarantee that this handgun doesn’t break easily. No doubt, durability is one of the characteristics of Smith & Wesson’s products.

In addition, it has interchangeable palmswell grip inserts, allowing you to select a comfortable grip based on your hand size. Finally, the best part is that it comes with a limited lifetime warranty and a lifetime service policy.

Pros
  • Made of premium materials; guaranteed to last
  • Exceptional ergonomic design
  • Has interchangeable backstraps
  • Offers a lifetime service
Cons
  • Annoying to disassemble/ assemble

CZ 97 B

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight38.4 ounces
Length8.4 inches
Barrel Length4.8 inches
Height5.9 inches
Magazine Capacity10 + 1

Introduced in 1997, the 97B was designed by CZ especially for the American market due to our love for .45 ACP.

You may have heard about its flagship CZ 75B pistol. It became one of the most trusted home-defense pistols because of its notable characteristics and mid-range price. The 97 B is an upgraded version of the previous 75B. The main difference is that the 97B is larger and chambered in .45 ACP.

This pistol features a safety with no decocker. You can carry the gun safely even when it’s cocked during SA, but you cannot safely drop the hammer to carry in DA.

Furthermore, this handgun sports fiber optic sights that pick up rapidly. Plus, it can hold 10+1 rounds in its double-stacked magazine.

It has thick grips, even for those with large hands. So if your hands are small, you might have a hard time getting a good hold on this one. Another thing to note is that the CZ 97B is made of steel, including its frame.

Although the materials make the gun heavy, its weight is essential to reduce recoil, enabling a more manageable and comfortable shooting.

In short, CZ 97B offers soft shooting and easy handling. The trigger in double-action mode is ridiculously long and heavy.

However, its single-action trigger is crisp and has a short reset. In addition, its recoil impulse is soft and smooth. Not to mention its highly exceptional accuracy.

Pros
  • Delivers comfortable shooting with less recoil
  • Made of durable steel materials
  • Accurate and reliable for self-defense
Cons
  • Some folks might find this pistol too large or heavy
  • Not a great option for those with small hands

FN FNX-45 Tactical

ActionSemi-automatic
Weight33.3 ounces
Length8.6 inches
Barrel Length5.3 inches
Height6.5 inches
Magazine Capacity10-, 15- rounds

Finally, the last best .45 pistol on this list is the FN FNX-45 Tactical. This 33.3-ounce pistol is large, heavy, and looks like a beefed-up version of the CZ 97B.

Plus, this gun doesn’t have the tactical in its name for nothing. The FNX-45 is designed for the military, so this handgun screams tactical overall. It’s too large to conceal, so it’s best suited for combat, self-defense, and duty use.

The FNX-45 Tactical sports a stainless steel slide and a threaded barrel, making it durable and suppressor-ready.

Moreover, it packs plenty of rounds with its 15+1 magazine capacity. It’s ambidextrous. The night sights are raised for easy use in case you have suppressors attached. Additionally, it has two mounting bases that have a red dot mounting.

It has excellent ergonomics, providing a natural grip angle. But because of this gun’s large structure, those with small hands might have a hard time operating it. In addition, the trigger is longer than usual.

Its double-action pull is heavy at 10 pounds. In contrast, the single-action trigger pull is much lighter. However, both triggers have a far reset which may slow you down.

Overall, in terms of reliability and accuracy, the FNX 45 Tactical won’t disappoint. It also comes in two finishes: Flat Dark Earth and Black.

Pros
  • Made of durable materials
  • High magazine capacity of 15+1 rounds
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Accurate and reliable pistol
Cons
  • Heavy and large, which can be difficult to conceal
  • Long trigger reset

Conclusion

There are a lot of .45 pistols out there, and each has its unique purpose. From concealed carry to tactical handguns, most brands have them all. If you are interested to know the best .45 ammunition, read our article: Best .45 ACP Ammo. 

Take note that before choosing a .45 pistol, head to the range and try out different firearms. Shooting practice is an essential step to determine your gun preference.

Getting used to how the gun operates will also make you feel more confident in your selection. At first, it may be intimidating to find the best .45 pistol that is right for you, but I hope this list of the best .45 pistols made it easier for you to choose a viable option.

You might also like to read more about .45 ammo in our 10mm vs .45 ACP – Cartridge Comparison.

If you need to narrow your list of possible .45s a bit read our Best .45 ACP Pistols [Excluding 1911s] guide.

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