Top Ten .45 Pistols to Own
Whether you are a recreational gun owner, one who uses a gun for home defense, or a first-time buyer of a gun, you will highly appreciate this article, an in-depth discussion and review the top ten .45 pistols available based on performance, features, and pricing. Each weapon mentioned here has been tested and reviewed carefully to provide you with the most accurate information possible, and to aid you in finding the right weapon for you.
- First, I'll list the top 10 .45s to own, detailing special features and MSRP value for each.
- You'll find a section of things to do and know before you buy a gun, including whether or not a gun safe is necessary.
- Finally, you'll find a section discussing gun laws. Please read and add your opinion to the ongoing (and fairly heated) debate at the end of this article.
Note: While I do include MSRP values for each pistol, you should remember that prices change and that you may find a weapon that is more or less expensive when you make your purchase.
Top Ten .45 Caliber Pistols to Own
Suggested Retail Price
1. Heckler & Koch HK45
Integral MIL STD 1913 Rail
2. Beretta 4x4 Storm
3. Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS
The Novak Night Sight
4. Glock 21
Octagonal Polygonal Rifling
5. Springfield XD(M) 45
Minimal Reset Trigger
6. FNP-45 Tactical Handgun
7. SIG Sauer P220 Match Elite
Short Reset Trigger
8. Smith & Wesson M&P .45
9. Kimber SIS Custom .45
Beavertail Grip Safety
10. Dan Wesson Valor 1911
Hand Fit Match Grade
1. Heckler & Koch HK45
The HK45 was developed as an improvement to the highly-regarded USP45. The Caliber .45 ACP HK45 includes several user-inspired enhancements, including changeable grip panels (backstraps), a Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, better ergonomics, and more ambidextrous controls.
The HK45 was designed as a possible candidate for the Combat Pistol and Joint Combat Pistol program replacement for the widely utilized M9 by the U.S. military. It uses an HK proprietary O-ring barrel for precise barrel-to-slide lockup and optimal accuracy. HK45 barrels are made using the famous HK cold-hammer forging process for superior performance and increased life-span of the firearm.
Suggested Retail Price: $1,147
1. Integral MIL STD 1913 Rail molded into the polymer frame dust cover for mounting lights, laser targeting, and other accessories.
2. Ergonomic Grip with replaceable grip panels to adjust the feel and grip circumference of the weapon and suit it to its owner's hand size.
3. Ambidextrous Controls allow for ease of use with the left or right hand, with dual slide releases and enlarged magazine release.
4. O-Ring Barrel allows for precise barrel-to-slide lockup.
5. Polygonal Rifling allows for longer barrel life and better accuracy.
2. Beretta Px4 Storm
The Beretta Px4 Storm pistol, being as handsome as it is effective, was built with the concept that a pistol can be adapted to different needs and modes of operations without compromising on ergonomics and the renowned Beretta reliability and performance. The Px4 Storm emphasizes power, ease of handling, performance, and reliability. Manufactured in three calibers, the Px4 Storm uses an exclusive Beretta-designed innovative locked breech with a rotating barrel system.
The Px4 Storm is available in three calibers: 9mm, .40, and .45. The Px4 Storm uses a proprietary Beretta design with an innovative locked breech with a rotating barrel system—the strongest action to date. This design is supposed to minimize recoil from each firing, thus increasing the shooter's overall accuracy and producing more accurate shooting during rapid-fire situations. However, while the Px4 Storm was designed for combat, it also makes an excellent home defense weapon and addition to your collection.
Suggested Retail Price: $650.00
1. Accessory Rail. The Px4 Storm frame has an integral Picatinny MILSTD-1913 rail for rapid attachment of tactical lights and laser-aiming devices.
2. Visible Automatic Firing Pin Block that prevents any forward movement until the trigger is pulled completely back. The block is located rearward, far away from the fouling and debris of the breech face, and is visible so that the user can ascertain its proper operation. Even if the pistol falls on a hard surface, the firing pin will not strike the primer.
3. Ambidextrous Safety Lever, easily accessible by the thumb for a right or left-handed shooter, which is spring-loaded so it's either positively "on" or "off." The safety lever also functions as the pistol's decocking lever. When the safety lever is pushed down, the rear part of the firing pin is rotated out of alignment with the front part of the firing pin. An additional hammer drop catch prevents striking of the firing pin unit in case of an unintentional hammer drop.
4. Individual Size Grips in small, medium, or large backstraps to individually fit the hand of each shooter. The backstraps are checkered to ensure a firm grip in both wet or dry shooting conditions. Three backstraps are included with every pistol.
5. Reversible Magazine Release. Multiple-sized and reversible magazine release buttons allow for customization to the individual's hand size. Small size comes standard on the gun, while medium and large buttons are available as accessories and easy replacement. Each size may be positioned for right-handed or left-handed use.
6. Simple Field Stripping which is extremely quick and simple. Dis-assembly latch does not remove from the gun, preventing accidental dropping and loss. Reassembly is easy and any accidental incorrect assembly of parts is prevented by the distinctive design.
7. Light Techno-Polymer Frame, which is light and durable, employs modern thermoplastic technology through the use of corrosion-resistant fiberglass reinforced polymer.
8. Rotating Barrel. The Px4's unique rotating barrel and locking system dissipates recoil energy radially, reducing felt recoil and muzzle rise. This is the strongest Beretta pistol action. Chrome-lined barrels provide extreme corrosion resistance, as well as ease of cleaning. Barrels also feature a deeply recessed combat muzzle crown to protect the rifling. (NOTE: Sub-Compact models feature tilt-barrel locking system and stainless steel construction.)
3. Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS
The Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS was developed through direct feedback from Special Forces teams stationed around the world. It is one of the most advanced firearms in the history of pistols. Built to meet and/or exceed all requirements laid down by USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) for its new sidearm, this extreme duty pistol offers unprecedented reliability, durability, accuracy, and ergonomic functionality.
The 24/7 .45 ACP OSS is capable of firing thousands of failure-free rounds in virtually any environment, whether it be jungle humidity and mud, desert heat and sand, or arctic cold and ice. Its versatility is definitely undeniable. It is packed with features that real-world professionals were asking for and is available in three calibers, .45 ACP, .40 cal., and 9mm.
Suggested Retail Price: $686.00
1. The Novak Night Sight is a self-luminous sight. This feature is proven to give shooters five times greater night fire accuracy, with the same speed as instinctive shooting.
2. The Taurus Security System operates with a key and is hardly noticeable. It is accessed by a very small round screwhead above the thumb safety on the right-hand side of the slide, and can be rapidly activated and de-activated. In the locked position, the firearm will not release the safety.
3. Ambidextrous Thumb Safety. Even after the 24/7 is striker fires, it can be carried cocked and locked by moving the thumb safety up from firing to safety position. If the thumb safety is pushed all the way up, it is de-cocked. When the safety is in the cocked-and-locked mode and pushed to the firing position, the trigger pull is approximately 6 1/2 pounds; if the pistol has been de-cocked, it can still be fired by moving the lever to the firing position, however it then requires considerably more than 6 1/2 pounds to fire. If for some reason it fails to fire, the pistol is now in the de-cocked mode and the trigger can be pulled again for another chance at a recalcitrant cartridge.
4. Checkered Polymer Grip allows an aggressive, glue-like purchase on the gun, even with sweaty or bloody hands.
5. SA/DA Trigger System. Taurus' revolutionary Single Action/Double Action trigger system fires normally from a smooth single action mode, but if a primer fails to ignite, it provides a life-saving second try at firing, a feature offered by no other pistol on the market.
4. Glock 21
The "big bore" .45 caliber belongs to the United States like stars and stripes. Americans have always had a very special relationship with this timeless caliber. The Glock 21 gives you everything you would expect from a .45 pistol. Countless law enforcement units swear by this superior pistol for more than just its above-average magazine capacity of 13 rounds.
Suggested Retail Price: $598.00
1. Octagonal Polygonal Rifling provides a better gas seal in relatively large diameter rifled bores, since an octagon resembles a circle closer than a hexagon.
2. Internal Locking System (ILS) is a manually-activated lock located in the back of the pistol's grip. It is cylindrical in design and each key is unique. When activated, the lock causes a tab to protrude from the rear of the grip, giving both a visual and tactile indication as to whether or not the lock is engaged, and rendering the Glock un-fireable and impossible to disassemble.
3. Loaded Chamber Indicator. When a cartridge is present in the chamber, a tactile metal edge protrudes slightly just behind the ejection port on the right side of the slide.
4. Lightweight & Superior Durability. The Glock's frame, magazine body, and several other components are made from a high-strength nylon-based polymer called Polymer 2, invented by Gaston Glock. This plastic was specially formulated to provide increased durability and is more resilient than carbon steel and most steel alloys. Polymer 2 is resistant to shock, caustic liquids, and temperature extremes where traditional steel/alloy frames would warp and become brittle.
5. Springfield XD(M) 45
Moving beyond comfort and fit, Springfield Armory explored new ground in tactile response. With the introduction of the M-Factor, Springfield's reputation in ergonomics, intuitive operation, and handling is taken to an all new level. Also, with the XD(M), you get more custom choices for a personalized fit right out of the box.
Suggested Retail Price: $685.00
1. Minimal Reset Trigger has shorter travel than any currently available polymer pistol, along with similarly short reset which keeps you on target with greater ease for faster, more accurate follow-up shots.
2. Match Grade Barrel takes precision manufacturing to a whole new level, and allows for +P, +P+, and BMT APLP round firing.
3. Melonite. Traditional black oxide finishes are a few millionths of an inch thick and offer no corrosion resistance, but the Melonite finish on the XD(M) is a salt bath nitriding process that leaves a thick, corrosion-resistant, hard surface.
4. Minimal Error Disassembly. By removing the need to pull the trigger during dis-assembly, the process is now easier and faster.
5. Multi-Adjust Rail System: A triple-position Picatinny rail readily accepts lights, lasers, or other accessories. More importantly, it allows them to be adjusted to the shooter's hand position.
6. Mould-Tru Backstraps are interchangeable and add to the comfort and customized fit of the XD(M). Choose one of three backstraps for personalized fit.
7. USA Trigger System guards against accidental discharge from dropping or bumping by locking the gun's trigger in place until direct, rearward pressure is applied.
8. Loaded Chamber Indicator allows the shooter to verify visually, or by touch, to ascertain if there is a round in the chamber.
6. FNP-45 Tactical Handgun
Developed for the U.S. Joint Combat Pistol Program (JCP), this pistol offers .45 ACP performance and a host of unique features that no other handgun can match. The checkered polymer frame is offered in Flat Dark Earth and has a low bore axis for reduced recoil and enhanced operator control. Two interchangeable backstraps to quickly customize the grip feel come standard. All operating controls are fully ambidextrous for ease of use. The 5.3" stainless steel barrel has a threaded muzzle to accept sound suppressors, compensators, and other accessories. The FDE stainless steel slide has high-profile combat sights and includes two mounting bases to accept multiple styles of optional red-dot electronic sights.
Suggested Retail Price: $1000.00
1. Threaded Barrel. The 5.3" threaded barrel allows for attachment of compensators or suppressors onto the weapon.
2. Mounting Rail. The weapon has a MIL-STD 1913 accessory mounting rail, allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.
3. Fully Ambidextrous Design for de-cocking/safety levers, slide stop levers, and magazine release button.
4. SA/DA Trigger System. Double-action/single-action (DA/SA) operation with decocking/manual safety levers (MS).
7. SIG Sauer P220 Match Elite
The SIG Sauer P220® is defined by its accuracy and reliability in a .45 ACP. But many SIG shooters have asked for a P220 with a longer slide, one that would compete head-to-head with other five-inch-barreled 45s. The result? The first P220 Match prototype went to our testing range, where it shot an eight-round group measuring 0.64" at 20 yards. After extensive review, our engineers concluded that this was a good starting point.
The P220 Match Elite adds the most sought-after features to the P220 Match: Beaver-tail stainless frame, front strap checkering, adjustable target sights, SIG's innovative Short Reset Trigger (a DA/SA trigger system with a 60% reduction in trigger reset), and black anodized aluminum grips.
Suggested Retail Price: $1,100.00
1. Short Reset Trigger is a newer feature, with a 60% reduction in trigger reset, keeping you on-target with greater ease for faster and more accurate follow-up shots.
2. Beaver-Tail Stainless Frame. This feature was in high demand from 1911 owners wanting the same classical feel in a modern weapon with advanced features.
3. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail, allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.
8. Smith & Wesson M&P .45
Meet the M&P from Smith & Wesson which is CA Compliant, comes with three interchangeable Palmswell grip sizes, and has a reinforced polymer chassis, superior ergonomics, ambidextrous controls, and proven safety features. This is the new standard in reliability when your job is to serve and protect and your life is on the line, as well as for home defense.
In the design of the M&P, they considered the needs of military and law enforcement from every conceivable angle. No other polymer pistol offers this combination of versatility, durability, and safety. Plus, the weapon is backed by the Smith & Wesson Lifetime Service policy.
Suggested Retail Price: $790.00
1. Ambidextrous Design for decocking/safety levers, slide stop levers, and magazine release button.
2. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.
3. Interchangeable Backstraps add to the comfort and customized fit of the weapon. Choose one of three backstraps for personalized fit.
4. Lifetime Service: Smith & Wesson has a lifetime service policy that ensures they will repair any defect in material or workmanship without charge for as long as the original purchaser owns the handgun.
9. Kimber SIS Custom .45
Meeting excessive expectations: In 2002, LAPD's SWAT selected a Kimber 1911 .45 ACP as their duty pistol. In 2005, SWAT Team members put Special Investigation Section (SIS) detectives in contact with Kimber, and the detectives requested that Kimber create a duty pistol that met their high standards. They got what they were hoping for.
These pistols have specialized features including slide serrations and lightweight SIS Hammer™ SIS Night Sights™ have a cocking shoulder that allows the slide to be cocked or released with one hand if necessary. All SIS pistols have flat top slides, along with a premium gray KimPro II finish that is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to the elements, salt, and moisture. Models with five inch barrels have short or military-length guide rods. A beavertail grip safety with pronounced bump and memory groves, serrated mainspring housing, ambidextrous thumb safety, and special partially-stippled Kimber logo grips are standard. A solid match grade trigger is tuned to break between 4 and 5 pounds.
Suggested Retail Price: $1,316.00
1. Beavertail Grip Safety was one of the top safety features for 1911 pistols, and it is no different here.
2. Match Grade Trigger with a 4-5 pound break.
3. KimPro II Finish is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to the elements, salt, and moisture.
4. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail, allowing for flashlight, strobe, laser, or any other desired attachment.
5. Cocking Shoulder allows the slide to be cocked or released with one hand.
10. Dan Wesson Valor 1911
CZ-USA has been listening to customer demands again and this gun is the realization of all of their desires in a full-sized, defensive style 1911. This gun has everything you need and nothing you don't. The Valor has a stainless steel base with their new "duty" matte black ceramic coating that has set the standard for all coating tests.
Other features include forged frame with 25 LPI checkering and undercut trigger guard, adjustable defensive night sites, and Slim line VZ grips, as well as all the other premium small parts you have come to expect from Dan Wesson.
Suggested Retail Price: $1,577.00
1. Hand Fit Match Grade with hand fit match grade components throughout.
2. Ceramic Based Coating provides excellent corrosion protection, outstanding abrasion resistance, extreme hardness, and unmatched durability.
3. Adjustable Night Sight is a self-luminous component. (Night sights are proven to give shooters five times greater night fire accuracy with the same speed as instinctive shooting.)
Test Before You Buy
These are the top ten pistols, according to my research. However, each and everyone has their own experience with every gun model, so I highly recommend that you test shoot any weapon before buying.
Since I learned to shoot with a .45, I find firing it to be easy and comforting. However, someone who learned with a 9mm may find it to be a little too powerful for their liking. I highly recommend that you find a local gun range that will rent you these models and test each of them for yourself before buying.
Do I Really Need a Gun Safe?
Gun safes are a necessity! The safety of your children is paramount. Having a safe should be synonymous with having a gun. Yes, guns have come a long way in regards to safety and often include a lock that will lock the safety of a gun in place. However, children are just as intelligent and industrious as we were at their age. If they can get their hands on the gun and the key, they will.
There are some gun safes available that will allow you quick access to your weapon(s), as well as keep them safe from your children. Keep your family safe, buy a safe, and pay heed to the following:
1) For combination safes, use a combination that your children cannot figure out. (No familiar numbers or dates!)
2) Never open your safe when your children are present, unless it is an actual home invasion emergency.
3) While the safe needs to be accessible to you, ensure that it cannot be removed and carried away from its location. This will help to minimize gun thefts, keeping your guns out of criminal hands.
4) Educate your children in gun safety and apply strict punishment if you find them trying to gain access to your firearm(s).
Note: I also highly recommend that you practice getting your weapon(s) out of your safe from time to time to ensure that you can do so in a timely manner should you wake up to a home invasion.
- Remember, when purchasing or owning a weapon, you must abide by gun laws within your state as well as those at the federal level. Be sure to educate yourself.
- Keep your ownership paperwork and identification in order and up-to-date.
- Immediately report any lost or stolen weapons to the police.
- Practice proper gun safety whenever carrying, cleaning, or firing your weapon at the range. Most accidental shootings are self-inflicted and due to the fact that the owner assumed that the chamber was empty, then mishandled the weapon by not engaging the safety and keeping the weapon pointing away from them or down-range.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
If you have your concealed weapons permit, is it okay or not okay to have your weapon showing?
It depends upon the state. Some states allow you to do both open or concealed, and others only open or only concealed. Re-read your state’s policies and abide accordingly. Concealed is always best not seen, or someone may call law enforcement on you.Helpful 6