What is the best .45 pistol? The .45 ACP (11.43×23mm) (Automatic Colt Pistol), also known as the .45 Auto by C.I.P. or 45 Auto by SAAMI, is a cartridge designed by John Browning in 1904, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic .45 pistol and eventually the M1911 pistol adopted by the United States Army in 1911.
Recently the US Army decided to replace the Cold-War era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun that also meets the needs of the other services. A key requirement the Army had was that the new calibre has to be durable, long lasting and does not wear handguns down prematurely. Apparently the Army was not keen on the 9mm ball ammunition and so instead decided to go with .45 ACP as their default calibre for handguns. However, there are many great .45 calibre handgun options out there…so which one is the best .45 pistol?
Detonics MTX/STX system
Bob Owens from Bearingarms.com believes the best .45 pistol for the Army is the Detonics MTX/STX system from Detonics Defense Technologies. The gun is designed to be modular ,offering easy customizing to fit different hands as well as different missions. The product page for the MTX series of pistols says that these pistols are designed with ergonomics in mind, with the grip providing the best possible feel. The MTX barrel length comes in 3 available configurations, namely
- Full-size: 4.24″
- Hybrid: 3.5″
- Government: 5″ (available on custom order)
In Bob’s article, he really liked the grip of this pistol. The pistol uses double-stack STI 2011 magazines, with the grip angled so that it results in a lower bore axis and much lower felt recoil. Bob goes on to say: “Shots fired from an MTX in .45 ACP feel more akin to shooting a soft 9mm, and the pistol comes back on target faster for follow up shots.”. Interestingly this gun uses an internal striker instead of a visible external hammer. One thing that stands in the way of this pistol though is Detonics’ production capacity. Detonics is a small company based in Milstadt, Illinois and currently does not seem to have the capacity to manufacture on a scale comparable to some of the big names in the industry. So it will be interesting to see what happens to this pistol and whether it will be selected by the Army as their new handgun. If you want a gun that is a bit unique and modern, then the Detonics MTX could be the best .45 pistol for your needs. It is a little pricey though, with a MSRP of $1,500 stated on Detonics’ website. The Glock 21 was retailing at $547 on GlockStore.com at the time of the writing of this article
Smith & Wesson Performance Center 1911
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center 1911 made it to #2 on Handgunsmag.com’s 2013 list of best handguns. It is certainly eye-catching and looks the part! It is a single action pistol that has a capacity of 8 rounds, with a 5″ barrel. The frame and slide are made from Stainless Steel, while the grip is made from G10 custom wood. Features of this pistol include adjustable rear sight, dovetail-fitted front, lowered ejection port and external extractor. Besides these features, it also has some small things that give it that “cool factor”, such as the S&W Performance Center logo laser-engraved on the slide and something called lightning cuts, which is also on the slide. Apparently these cuts are not for cooling (as one would assume) but rather to make the slide a little lighter…but also to make it look good! While this pistol looks great, it might not be as practical as some other pistols out there. Handgunsmag.com points out that the grip of the pistol is maybe a bit too textured, which results in the pistol shredding your clothes if you wear it concealed/close against your body. Also, it is a big heavy gun that weighs in at 40.5 oz and measuring an overall length of 8.7″. As a comparison, the Detonics MTX (full size model) above weighs 27 oz and measures in at 7.95″. If you want a good looking weapon to take to the gun range, this is possibly the best .45 pistol for you. However if you are looking for a convenient gun to carry, there are better options out there.
Heckler & Koch HK45
What would a list of the best .45 pistol options be without some German made handguns?! The Heckler & Koch HK45 (Heckler & Koch, .45 ACP) is a semi-automatic pistol designed by the German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. The HK45 was designed to meet requirements set forth in the U.S. Military Joint Combat Pistol program which had the purpose of arming the U.S. Military with a .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol instead of the 9mm M9 pistol.
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. It has some user-inspired enhancements, including changeable grip panels (backstraps), a Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, better ergonomics, and more ambidextrous controls.
If you want a light, well made gun from a reputable manufacture HK 45 could be the best .45 pistol for you.
This pistol is a polymer-framed, short recoil operated, locked breech semi-automatic pistol designed and produced by Glock Ges.m.b.H., located in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria.
Glock pistols chambered for the .45 ACP calibre feature octagonal polygonal rifling rather than the hexagonal shaped bores used for models in most other chamberings. Octagonal rifling provides a better gas seal in relatively large diameter rifled bores, since an octagon resembles a circle more closely than a hexagon.
Despite being called a “plastic” gun, the Glock is made from sturdy materials. The frame, magazine body, and several other components are made from a high-strength nylon-based polymer called Polymer 2, invented by Gaston Glock. The polymer is specifically designed to provide increased durability and is more resilient than carbon steel and most steel alloys. It is also resistant to shock, caustic liquids, and temperature extremes where traditional steel/alloy frames would warp and become brittle.
If you want an affordable and well know handgun, then the Glock 21 might be the best .45 pistol for your needs.
Beretta Px4 Storm
Italians are known for making beautiful things, and the Beretta Px4 Storm is no exception. The Beretta Px4 Storm is a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Beretta of Italy. The Px4 uses the same short-recoil, rotating barrel action as the Beretta 8000 models and uses the same trigger and safety system as the M9/92/96 series.
The Px4 Storm features light-weight polymer construction with steel inserts, a modular trigger group, fully enclosing slide, Picatinny rail, and changeable backstrap options for the grip. The Px4 Storm uses a proprietary Beretta design with an innovative locked breech with a rotating barrel system. 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.
If you want to get a “tacti-cool” looking handgun, the Px4 Storm SD (Special Duty) might be the best .45 pistol for you. The Special Duty versions has a desert tan frame color, PVD coated magazines and internal firing control assembly, double recoil spring, specially roll marked slide and a longer barrel to facilitate the use of a suppressor.
If you want a beautiful handgun that is trusted by law enforcement and military units across the globe, then the Beretta Px4 Storm is the best .45 pistol for your needs.
If you decide to get yourself a Beretta Px4 Storm, be sure to check out our article that looks at 5 Beretta Px4 Storm holsters.
|Gun||Material||Weight (oz)||Overrall length (In)||Rounds Capacity|
|Detonics MTX||Hard Anodized Aircraft Grade Aluminum||27||7.95||10|
|Smith & Wesson Performance Center 1911||Stainless Steel||40.5||8.70||8|
|Heckler & Koch HK45||Polymer||27||8||10|
|Beretta Px4 Storm||Polymer||28.2||7.68||10|
The Detonics MTX is an innovative gun that will offer the Army what it wants in terms of modularity. It also looks pretty cool! However for the average Joe in the street it is just too expensive. Hopefully if the Army does decide to adopt it as their standard handgun, mass production of the gun will result in prices coming down.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center 1911 is a nice gun…but practically cannot compete with the other .45 pistols on our list. It is too big and heavy.
For us, that leaves the HK 45, Glock 21 and the Beretta Px4 Storm to duke it out for our choice of best .45 pistol. All three are made from Polymers, all three have great safety features, all three are well made and respected across the globe. So for us the difference between the three is looks (and of course what is good looking to one person might not be to another). The Beretta Px4 Storm is a beautiful handgun. If we had to choose a .45 pistol today…we would quite probably end up getting the Beretta Px4 Storm (although both the HK 45 and Glock 21 would be very appealing!).
Other .45 ACP Options
Needless to say there are more than just the 5 options we discussed above. Below are only a few other .45 handguns that might be considered among the best .45 pistol options.
Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS
This pistol was originally designed and built as a .45 ACP to exceed all requirements originally set forth in 2005 by the U.S. Special Operations Command for an intended procurement of a new military .45 ACP service pistol. However it appears that this pistol was discontinued, and as such cannot be a contender for the best .45 pistol. Some users also complained about problems they had with their pistols, which you can read here.
SIG Sauer P220
The SIG Sauer P220 is a semi-automatic pistol made by SIG Sauer and is manufactured in Eckernförde, Germany. It uses the Browning linkless cam short recoil action of self-loading with a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger mechanism.
Springfield XD(M) 45
The Springfield Armory XDM (X-Treme Duty, the M is for the match grade barrel and match grade trigger) is a semi-automatic pistol that is polymer-framed and striker-fired. Manufactured in the city of Karlovac, Croatia by HS Produkt (formerly I.M. Metal), the Springfield Armory XDM is the marketing name for the weapon, which is licensed and sold in the US by Springfield Armory, Inc. Like most of the handguns on our list of the best .45 pistol options, it is made from a Polymer frame. Total length comes in at 7″ and it weighs 27 oz.
What do you think – What is the best .45 pistol?
Listing the best of something always tends to get some debate going…sometimes people even get quite passionate about it! But we would love to hear what you think the best .45 pistol is. If you have an opinion on the topic of what the best .45 pistol is, please share it in the comments section below.