In Defense of the Venerable .45 ACP for Everyday Carry

.45 ACP for Everyday Carry
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In Defense of the Venerable .45 ACP for Everyday Carry

A few years ago the FBI released a report on their decision to adopt 9mm sidearms except for those chambered for .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammo.

The decision was justified based on the development of “hotter” 9mm ammo, like +P loads, which make penetration and wound channels similar to larger calibers.

And for their agents, that meant the larger pistol size, greater recoil, and lower capacity (in general) of .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammo did not outweigh the benefits of a bigger caliber. 

While that may be a reasonable conclusion for thousands of FBI agents collectively, there are still many good reasons why you shouldn’t rule out a pistol chambered for .45 ACP as an everyday carry (EDC) or concealed carry weapon (CCW).

History on Its Side

When the U.S. Army was looking for something with a bit more punch than the .38 Long Colt, John Browning stepped up with the .45 ACP and its timeless partner, the Colt Model 1911.

For three-quarters of a century, the .45 ACP and Colt Model 1911 sat on the side of American military men and women through virtually every major conflict of the 20th century.

And that’s saying something because, at the rate with which weapon technology renders older weapons obsolete, the military retaining one pistol platform for over 75 years demonstrates what an effective man-stopper the .45 ACP really is.

Size Can Matter

No one can argue that shot placement is the most important factor in stopping a threat, outweighing caliber.

That being said, to insist that caliber is therefore virtually meaningless is absurd.

In the wake of the FBI’s decision to switch back to 9mm (from .40 S&W) due to caliber being ballistically-unimportant, some die hard .45 ACP fans asked, “If it’s all about capacity and caliber is unimportant, why isn’t the FBI arming its agents with pistols chambered for .22 LR ammo?

There are now .22 LR pistols carrying over 30 rounds in a flush magazine.” While placement is without a doubt the most important factor in gunfights, the heftier bullet on a .45 ACP round simply widens the area of effective placement.

Ammunition Upgrades

It’s also certainly the case that the hotter new 9mm +P loads are a ballistic match for traditional .45 ACP ammo.

The penetration, wound channels, and “stopping power” of the two were virtually indistinguishable. (Which, it could be argued, means that a 9mm +P hollow-point expanding, if it expands, has the same stopping performance than a traditional .45 ACP FMJ ball has.)

However, +P loads are now also available for.45 ACP, making the old standby thumper even more effective.

Most importantly, as is so often pointed out, is what works best for you should be the primary deciding factor.

What works better, considering pistol size, recoil, capacity, and so on for a large population of FBI agents doesn't mean it's what will work best for you.

Considering its size, many of its fans find that .45 ACP has surprisingly mild recoil.

So, if you're looking for a caliber with a little extra umph and the tried and true .45 ACP proves a good shooter for you, use it.

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Joel Girgenti
I have 4 boxes of federal +p+ 9mm what can I fire it in? It was stored correctly.
rodney martinez
David Schuette
I'd have to say any full sized pistol chambered in 9mm. Most companies that produce compact or sub-compact pistols caution against using ammunition other than standard pressure. As it could be harmful to the firearm or the shooter (You). I'm sure that the ammunition you have will work in any rifle chambered in 9mm
Tom Etchberger
First, find a barrel that will withstand the HIGHER case pressure that +P+ ammo produces. Once you have matched your barrel and recoil spring to your ammo you should be able to fire your +P+ ammo.
John wyland
High points love it
Glock and Sig are fine with the +P+. I fire +P+ in my Glock 17 and S&W M&P. Doesn't cause excess wear and tear.
Glock 19/17 M&P9
You can shoot it in most fire arms . If you own glocks make sure you upgrade your barrel that can support the pressure +P’s create.
The official answer is contact the firearms manufacturer. They are the end all when it comes to what can safely be fired in you particular firearm. Many police departments use +p+ ammunition in their service pistols. If you were to check the owners manual on some of these pistols, it would state standard or +p is permissible. A phone call to the tech department may get you a response that, occasional use is okay, but a steady diet will wear out the gun prematurely. Federal isn't in the business of wrecking guns. If they were, they wouldn't be in business very long. Regardless, play it safe and make those tech department calls.
Ed Burns
Always check with the guns manufacturer to see if it is rated for +P ammo if that is not stated in the owners manual. “Most” modern firearms are but not all.
Charles E Moore
Springfield Armory told me that 50 rds. per day in my XD9 Mod. 2, 4.0" was perfectly fine. You should be good with any Ruger as well, as they are over-built.
9mm pistol
Ford Prefect
Hi-Point C9. Cheap, big, heavy, clunky, will shoot anything, and virtually indestructible.
First I'm going to get over the disclaimer about +P+ not being sanctioned by SAAMI specifications. Ok, now that's out of the way, I'd say that any pistol that can accept +P ammunition will also do fine with +P+. So your Glocks and M&Ps will be fine. But remember +P and +P+ are not target ammo, yes its good to take a couple shots maybe a clip or two to make sure those rounds will function and cycle your action appropriately. They are not meant for everyday range shooting, as they can put extra stress and wear on your firearm. But done in reasonable quantity shouldn't cause any adverse effects. When looking for an appropriate firearm to shoot hot loads through, check your manufacturer's specifications or call their resource center and ask. Hope this helps.
Adam Maday
I'd have to say any full sized pistol chambered in 9mm. Most compact or sub-compact pistols caution against using anything more than standard pressure ammunition.
Have you test the Liberty Ammunition? The 45cal, 78 grains, 1900 fps, 625 fps., these rounds are devastating and the wound channel is 3.5 inches.
Liberty is gimmick ammo. Penetration is BAD, as the bullet breaks up all over in many pieces , and the core (being that it is only 78 gr to begin with) ends up weighing about 40 grains. No thank you...
Frank Stabler
I have had a .45 ACP for my EDC weapon for over 40 years. It’s on my hip right now. I carry and trust the 1911 style firearm.
Dave Elzinga
What I have seen the 9mm +p still fall short of the basic .40 cal though not by much I still do prefer the good old .45 acp for every day carry
Robert Lynn Meleady
My EDC weapon is the Springfield Armory XD-E in .45 ACP with 165 grn Hydra Shock JHP ammo.
Jerry Erwin
MAKE SURE you only fire it through barrels that are rated for it. I actually once blew-up the barrel on a Glock Mec-Tech 9mm Carbine Conversion (had a 50-round drum inserted at the time). Mainly because it was a carbine-length barrel, which was holding a lot of pressure (I found out later my barrel was only rated for 9mm +P). Both HK and Glock claim their pistols can handle 9mm +P+. Probably true, since a lot of the gases are burning outside the barrel, not in it. European 9mm is traditionally hotter, anyway. Any made for export to the U.S. is usually lightened-up.
I agree mostly with the comments in this article, however the writer makes it sound like +p ammo is new. It’s been around since the early 1990’s if not before then. I have fired numerous 9mm +p and .45 +p rounds. I will take the .45 every day of the week! As a retired LEO, ( 13 years as a Crime Scene Detective), I have observed hundreds of people shot with mainly 9mm, .380, and .45. By far more 9mm and .380. Lots and lots of multiple hits from 9mm or .380, which resulted in a lot of survivors. Hits from the .45’s did not result in many survivors. To clarify I’m talking about center mass or torso wounds that should incapacitate an attacker. I don’t have numbers, just going by my memory and impressions. Yes, my duty weapon was an H&K USP, chambered in .45 for over half of my 29 year career. I am a believer in the .45 and don’t really believe anything put out by today’s FBI. Just my opinion.
Dave R.
I have long carried a Citadel .45 ACP Officer's Model. Many years on various Navy command pistol teams during my 20 year career, followed by competitive and range shooting, I've become very comfortable with the heft and weight of a .45 ACP.
For many years I carried nothing but .45. Back in those days.40 wasn’t even thought of yet, and bullet technology wasn’t what it is today. I switched to 9 when the bullet design improved significantly, not because it’s a better round than .45, but because I can shoot twice as much 9 than .45, which means I can practice more. As for the +P 9s, I load standard pressure rounds like the Federal HST or the Winchester Ranger T. My thought is if I have to go to a +P or +P+ , I am shooting an ineffective caliber and should move up to a .40 or .45. Standard pressure 9mm works just fine.
Brian David Foye
Ammo stored correctly. That is in the sane enviorment as that in which you live has a tremendous shelf life. No extreme heat or cold exposures means years of longevity.
Ollen Burnette
I carry .45 daily, in a Colt 1911 Government model. Yes, It does not have as many rounds in the gun, but I carry extra magazines. This pistol fits my hand, and I am more accurate with it than anything else I have ever shot. It works for me, YMMV.
Oh-IDK, other than anything chambered 9mm.. nothing
9mm +P afford similar stopping power while also providing fire supremacy if needed - my Beretta M9 holds 20 rounds per mag vs. 7-8 .45 ACP - in many situations more bullets means more than individual round energy
Richard Russ
I am alive today because I carried a 1911 in 45ACP. I still carry a 45 ACP as my EDC. I carried a 9 mm with 124gr Federal hydra shock +P For decades as a Police Officer. I personally wouldn’t rather have stopping power than capacity. I train for rapid magazine changes and carry extra magazines
I have carried 9mm 40cal 45cal. I like the 45 as to very less over penetration. You own that bullet till it stops.
A Glock
Johnny Clare
Any 9mm Glock
What's to defend! :) I've been carrying my HK USP .45 Compact for 18yrs and or some sort of 1911 sure I've got a G19 gen 3 and it holds a few more rounds. But if you practice and actually shoot. My HK's recoil is nice, just like a 9mm and it's typical load of 230gr is 830 fps for about 355 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
my edc is .45 acp SA XDE. i would not trade it for any 9, 380, or 44 for that matter... regardless of how hot the load packed in it. i shelter it in a micro owb holster while wearing just a t-shirt and often find myself in a somewhat quick draw motion to check if i remembered to pack it when i left the house that's how light and comfortable the rig is. god bless America and all of my fellow 2nd amendment supporters.
Scott Puckett
As a retired Law Enforcement officer who must qualify yearly to maintain his Federally mandated Retired Officer CCW permit, I qualify with both a 9mm and a .45acp pistol. I find them equally capable.
I do carry a .45. M&P Compact, with 185 grain +p Underwood Gold Dots for warm weather, and 230 grain for cold weather.
I like a 1911 for carry (Commander) but the little undersized polymer ones are kind of hot to handle. When I need a little one, the 9 mm is more suitable. Anything smaller than a Glock .45 turns your hand to hamburger during a box full of practice ammo. And if you are not shooting a box full, you really aren't practicing. With a small 9, you can chose a practice ammo that is easier on your paws.
Don Neal
I dont care what the article/s have to say .45 ACP has more knock down power than a 9 or 40 been proven too many times in combat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I carried a compact .45acp w a 10rd magazine for about 12years (not many of those). It more than met my needs. I’ve recently switched to a 9mm w a 13rd magazine mostly because I’ve gained some weight making the former a bit less than “concealed” w/o a jacket or coat. .45acp is my preferred round though for self defense.
Anything beyond about 10-15 feet in almost all cases is no longer self-defense territory. .45 ACP with very low grain bullet weight is just as accurate as a .22 cal at close range....the gun hardly kicks. Best of both worlds.....accuracy and tremendous stopping power.