Making A Modern Case For .45

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the two calibers I carry on duty are either .45 ACP and 357 Sig. While the .45 has been a long used cartridge with a decorated history, it’s being overshadowed by the current age of the Wonder 9s. There’s a lot of outdated thinking and needless caliber debates going on, and as a direct result it’s difficult to find actual input on why .45 might be better than 9mm, so I’m going to expound on why I carry a .45 over a 9mm. This won’t be a four part post in the same vain as my other articles, just me rambling and trying to do some myth busting.

And let me say: This is NOT a case for .45 being objectively better than 9mm. It’s simply why .45 is better for me.

I see a lot of boomers holding up their old slapper 1911s going “this is the gun that John Browning intended” which is already missing the entire point of John Browning’s work. He intended for his designs to be improved upon, leaving room for that in all his work. (He even improved upon his own design, with the Hi-Power being a better design than the 1911.) In the case of the .45 ACP, he left a lot of room for powder in the casing, the bullets being inherently subsonic and thus not needing a jacket can be cast from a variety of different metals, and the dimensions of the case allow it to fit in many revolver cylinders. The round has been around for over 100 years and had a variety of improvements done to it, even in times when ballistics was touch and go and firearms technology wasn’t up the standards it is today. The .45 has always proven to be reliable in several roles.

The hollow points I carry when I’m on duty, the 230gr Speer Gold Dot and 220gr +P Hornady Critical Duty out of my Glock 21

If you look closely, you can see the inherent strength of the .45 ACP: Versatility

There are plenty of quality hollow points available in .45 ACP, not as many as 9mm and not as cheap as 9mm, but still a completely viable and sustainable option. The tradeoff here is that in order to meet the requirements of robust duty loads, many .45 hollow points are loaded to +P pressures. The exception being the 230gr Speer Gold Dot. Due to this increased pressure, it makes the .45 more of a beast to handle. Even those of us used to it can shoot 9mm loads a lot faster and more accurately. And if you plan on going for a gun to be used solely for duty/defense oriented purposes the 9mm is your best bet. But if you plan to use your guns for more than that, this is where .45 shines.

The first and biggest place .45 shines is trail defense. Plain ol’ .45 hardball is great for dangerous game. There’s also .45 hard cast solids, as well as .45 semiwadcutters and .45 Xtreme Penetrator. (A lot of people drink the Kool-Aid on the Xtreme Penetrator bullets. When they see the damage done to gel, they incorrectly conflate that with damage done to a human body. Most of the “permanent” damage you see in gel is temporary in real life, because gel doesn’t repair itself like human tissue does. Remember: the purpose of the gel is consistency for measurements. Where the Xtreme Penetrators excel however, is in the outdoors and hunting. This is a lead free bullet that penetrates thick animal hides with virtually no deformation, it can easily be reloaded. It is a high velocity lead free alternative to hard cast lead ammo.) If you want to see this topic expounded upon more, this video here is worth a watch. A lot of people won’t get the perspective and resources I have available to me, so this guy and TNOutdoors9 are going to be the closest thing they can get.

I work in private security and I plan to do this for the rest of my career. (Though I am currently in the process of becoming a reserve patrol officer with the police force as well.) I’ve worked in places like zoos and I’ve patrolled some semi-remote areas of Texas, which invariably means dealing with lots of animals. I like .45 because I can carry hollow points for people, but I can also carry a mag of hardball or hard cast solids in case I need to shoot an animal. Say a chimp escapes at the zoo or I have to deal with coyotes, because fuck coyotes.

There’s also been a lot of XTP usage among hunters because those hollow points also penetrate animal hide deeply enough, I’d have similarly no issues with running those for the purpose of both animals and people. My Glock 21 has eaten everything I’ve run through it and asked for more. I’m not a huge fan of Glocks, but the Glock 21 is one of the single best balanced stock .45 ACP pistols I’ve ever shot. (This stands in stark contrast to the .40 S&W Glocks which have been some of the worst balanced pistols I’ve ever shot.) I actually find that the modularity and durability of the Glock compliments the versatility of the .45 ACP perfectly. Glock is the Toyota Corolla of the gun world- it’s simple, reliable, it just runs, and if you lust after its design you are insane.

The next big advantage of .45 is twofold: shooting suppressed and hand loading. Because the .45 is inherently subsonic, you can run pretty much any ammo through it. (This is the reason why my favorite gun, the De Lisle Carbine, was invented. The .45 is inherently subsonic and 1911 magazines were readily available at the time this gun was invented.) Similarly, since the bullet is subsonic there’s less friction acting on the bullet and thus it doesn’t need a jacket. I’ve seen a variety of metallurgy in .45 ACP and .45 LC, such as those Buffalo Bore Deer Grenade bullets which are soft cast lead, no jacket.

This is also a pretty good segue into the always underrated .45 LC caliber. Which has a wide variety of applications, as it can be loaded up or down to nearly any threshold. I’ve seen it loaded down to .45 ACP velocities for self defense roles and I’ve seen it loaded up to butt stompin’ nuclear hot .44 Magnum velocities. There’s a lot of different versatility you can get off this caliber without annihilating your wrists on magnum loads. Similarly, I’ve seen the .45 Super which is a much more juiced up .45 ACP in case you want subsonic sneaky beaky stuff or your supersonics to hit with the hammer of god. I’ve seen a lot of .45 LC and .45 Super rival and even surpass stuff done with 10mm and .44 Magnum. (This isn’t a mark against 10mm or .44 Magnum, either. Those are some of my favorite calibers, especially when pushed out of carbines.)

On that note: Fuck the .500 S&W Magnum. I would implore any serious shooter to get a .454 Casull or .460 S&W revolver and run .45 LC/ACP through it. This way you have a fun range toy or gargantuan handgun caliber for hunting if needed, but you can get a lot of mileage out of those guns running the more common handgun loads. It won’t just collect dust in your gun safe when you aren’t running those monstrous bullets.

I also want to shout out Wilson Combat ammo. They have some of the best .45 ammo that I’ve ever used and it (unsurprisingly) cycles finicky 1911s flawlessly. I have no idea why they’ve not been bigger, especially since Wilson Combat is a legendary name and they’ve been loading ammo for nearly a decade now.

And while we’re talking Wilson Combat, I would implore people to watch the old legendary gunfighters of WC, Ken Hackathorn and Bill Wilson, discuss .45 vs 9mm

And again, this isn’t a post shitting on 9mm. I carry 9mm in my personal life, when I first got my CHL (here in Texas it’s the LTC for License To Carry) I carried a CZ-75 for years. I currently also run a .380 for summer carry, which is a CZ-83, and I have a .38 Super +P built on a CZ design (Tanfoglio Match Pro). I have carried a variety of CZ and Glock personally and professionally, the .38 Super Automatic is my hoser gun that I use for IDPA shooting but it fits in a lot of holsters for my CZ-75 so I can EDC this for winter carry. What I’m getting at is: You can absolutely make a case for running 9mm, just as you can make a case for running .40 S&W in the line of duty, just as you can make a case for .357 Magnum in the line of duty. Besides, they’ve all failed to do their job at some point. Just as they’ve all gotten one shot stops at some point.

If I had to run 9mm in the line of duty, I have recently fallen in love with the FN 509 LE Tactical pistol. Though I have no qualms shooting a Glock 17 or Walther PPQ or even a Walther P99AS (the first striker pistol I truly fell in love with). And as much as I loathe the .40 S&W, if I had to run it I would have no qualms picking up an M&P40 and running 180gr Winchester Ranger-Ts on duty and 165gr PDX1s for conceal carry. There’s something out there for everyone and while people love to go back and forth, at the end of the day what matters is that you train on it and understand its limitations. Firearms are subjective after all, everyone varies in what they find comfortable, what their circumstances are, and what they need out of a gun.

The person who made this doesn’t realize that Samuel L. Jackson is in fact using a 9mm in Pulp Fiction. That’s the Star Spanish knockoff 1911, which are chambered in 9mm.

For further reading, I’m NOT going to link the tons of dry academic material on ballistics research. Those do exist, and believe me I’ve ‘spurged out reading them. Instead I’m going to simply link to where you can buy Wilson Combat ammo. Because it’s good shit and those people deserve your business. I’m too poor for Wilson Combat guns, but I’ll stan their ammo all day.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Craig says:

    I was at a range where a Toyota pickup was being used to test ammo on.
    When a gal started shooting the Toyota with her .40, we ALL saw the bullets bounce off.
    Even my target .45 ACP ammo passed through the thin Toyota metal.
    Tells you a lot.

  1. October 3, 2019

    […] of esoteric information. At least not in this article. If you do want to see that, however, I wrote about it here.) Be it .45 ACP or the always underrated .45 LC, this caliber is the best way to get maximum […]

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