The Best 45 ACP Handguns for Those Who Like Thick Bullets

Last Updated on January 12, 2021.

Let’s skip the caliber debate for this one. You’re here to read about the best 45 ACP handguns. You already decided on which caliber you’re into.

Let’s stick to talking about the best 45 ACP handguns, since those guns shoot the round you like.

Our Best Choice

Glock G21


This is a tried and true .45 ACP handgun.


  • Super simple operation.
  • Outstanding reliability.
  • Large enough for a 13 round magazine.
    •  Easy to control for multiple shots.

SPOILERthe Glock G21 came out at the top of the pile of the best 45 ACP handguns. It’s reasonably priced, simple, and super reliable. That’s about as good as it gets for a handgun in any caliber.

However, there are other options. And we’ll talk about those. Keep reading to find what you’re looking for.

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The overall best 45 ACP handgun will be reviewed first. The other best 45 ACP handguns will be presented in order of price.

Need the most affordable handgun? Read the first reviews.

Looking for the best 45 ACP handgun ever, regardless of price? Read the reviews near the end.

Time to rack a round or two.

1. Glock G21 - Overall Best 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Glock G21
  • Barrel length: 4.6 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 13 rounds
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

Many people might put some sort of 1911 in the overall best slot. But Occam’s Razor tells us that the simpler (and less expensive) solution is the best solution. So the Glock G21 wins.

The Glock 21 has two things that some other .45 auto handguns don’t: reliability and simplicity.

This gun will shoot whenever you press the trigger. And all you need to do to get it to go bang is move your finger to the trigger and press. It’s about as simple as handguns get.

Now, this is a full size gun. So it may not be the best option for concealed carry.

But, the large frame gives you 13 rounds in the magazine and an ample grip that makes this gun easy to controlThis model is just about perfect as a home defense, recreational, or competition gun.

Sadly, Glocks are not known for their amazing trigger. The trigger is a bit heavy. And the break could be more crisp.

But the trigger is totally manageable. Ultimately, this gun wins the best overall title because it’s a simple and affordable solution if you need to shoot .45 caliber bullets from a handgun.

2. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 - 45 ACP Handgun for Concealed Carry

  • Model: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0
  • Barrel length: 3.3 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 7 rounds
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 is, in many ways, the best 45 ACP concealed carry gun you can get. It’s affordable and incredibly well-designed.

The main thing about this gun is how comfortable it is. When people do fit and feel checks on concealed carry guns, a majority of them find this to be the most comfortable option. The grip is just so well shaped.

The grip texture can be a bit aggressive. But it does give you an incredibly secure grip on your gun, even if your hands are oily or sweaty.

Additionally, the trigger on this model is better than many competing striker-fired handguns. It’s not THE BEST trigger ever. But it’s pretty good.

Then, this gun holds 7 rounds in the magazineThat’s actually really good for a .45 caliber gun this small.

Also, there’s no manual safety, which makes this model as simple as possibleYou’ll never get the dreaded user-induced malfunction when you get your gun out of your holster.

This isn’t the ideal choice for a home defense or competition gun. But this S&W model is an excellent option if you need a concealed carry gun that’s easy to conceal, simple to use, and very well priced, to boot.

3. Springfield Armory XD-S MOD.2 45 ACP - Subcompact 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Springfield Armory XD-S MOD.2 45 ACP
  • Barrel length: 3.3 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 5 rounds/6 rounds with extended magazine
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

The Springfield Armory XD-S MOD.2 45 ACP is about as small as you can get in 45 ACP without getting to the point of being unshootable.

In terms of dimensions, this gun is less than an inch wide. And the grip is about 2 fingers long. This gun is super small. Most people will have no problem concealing this gun.

However, the size comes with certain limitations.

The flush fit magazine holds just 5 rounds. You can get extended magazines that hold 6 and 7 rounds. And this gun comes with a 6 round extended magazine.

Also, the barrel is just 3.3 inches long. That’s pretty normal for a concealed carry gun, though.

The upside of this gun is that it’s surprisingly easy to shoot for such a small gun. It’s got a dual captive recoil spring with a steel guide rod that does a great job of absorbing recoil force and reducing muzzle flip.

Additionally, the stock sights are solid. This gun comes with a high visibility fiber optic front sight with a serrated black rear sightIt’s about the best sight combination that you can get for most types of shooting.

The thing that most people will notice about this Springfield Armory gun is that the trigger is on the heavy side, even for a striker fired gun. The movement is smooth and the break is very crisp. But it takes about 6.5 pounds to get to that break.

But, like other triggers, this one is totally manageable. And it comes in a gun that’s super small, but much more shootable than most similarly sized guns.

4. Walther PPQ - Versatile 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Walther PPQ
  • Barrel length: 4.9 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 12 rounds
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

Walther has a strong reputation as a handgun manufacturer. Their striker fired guns don’t have as much history behind them as the more traditional Walther pistols. But the Walther PPQ is a superbly comfortable gun with an incredible trigger.

Since they’re the standout features, I’m going to talk about the grip and the trigger.

First, the grip is incredibly well-shaped and well-textured. The grip has super subtle finger grooves that actually help with getting a consistent grip, without being uncomfortable for those who have especially thick or thin fingers.

On the backside, the grip has an impressively comfortable palm swell. The palm swell fills your palm almost perfectly and helps distribute recoil forces to minimize felt recoil.

Then the grip texture is both mild and effective. When you first feel it, the grip texture feels super minimal. You might think it wouldn’t give you a very secure grip.

But the grip texture is great for helping you keep a secure grip on your gun, even when your hands are oily or sweaty. And it’s still comfortable after shooting tons of rounds.

Now, for the trigger.

This gun has one of the best triggers that you can get from a striker-fired gun.

The movement is incredibly smooth. And the break is cleaner than almost any other striker-fired pistolThe trigger on this Walther gun is about as close to a single-action trigger as you can get without using a single-action only gun.

If you want the reliability of a striker fired gun, with ergonomics and a trigger that match or beat almost any gun on the market, this is an excellent option.

5. Smith & Wesson M&P45 M2.0 Compact - Compact 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Smith & Wesson M&P45 M2.0 Compact
  • Barrel length: 4 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

The Smith & Wesson M&P45 M2.0 Compact is the big brother of the M&P Shield. It’s just as comfortable and reasonably priced as it’s little brother.

First, the grip on this gun is even more comfortable than the smaller M&P handgun.

Since the grip is bigger, the palm swell is more pronounced and there’s an indexing tab at the bottom to help you get a consistent firing grip and keep your firing hand in place as you fire multiple shots.

The larger grip also holds a 10 round magazine. It’s not quite as many rounds as you’d get in a full-size gun. But it’s good enough for most types of shooting.

Additionally, the longer grip comes with a longer barrel. The barrel on this gun is 4 inches long, which is as long as the standard that ammunition manufacturers use for testing. So the longer barrel helps ensure that defensive ammunition will function as intended when fired from this gun.

Lastly, the trigger on this gun is pretty decent.

The movement is smooth, the break is relatively crisp, and the pull weight is not too heavy. Yes, there are striker-fired guns with better triggers. But the trigger on this one is certainly not terrible.

Overall, you get a lot of comfort and features from this gun for a really reasonable price. And that’s always a good deal.

6. Springfield Armory XD(M) 45 ACP - Home Defense 45 ACP Handguns

  • Model: Springfield Armory XD(M) 45 ACP
  • Barrel length: 4.5 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 13 rounds
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Frame: Polymer

The Springfield Armory XD(M) 45 ACP is a full-size handgun that takes maximum advantage of the larger size.

I’ll get the basic details out of the way real quick:

The barrel is 4.5 inches long.

The magazine holds 13 rounds.

The longer barrel and more rounds in the magazine are the basic benefits of a larger framed gun.

However, this handgun has a few added features to help you make the most of the full frame.

First, the recoil spring is a captured spring with a steel guide rod. There’s plenty of spring up front to absorb as much recoil force as possible. And the steel guide rod helps minimize muzzle flip.

Additionally, the front sight is a high visibility fiber optic front sight. And the rear sight has a simple pair of matte white dots. It’s a relatively simple sight configuration that helps you find and focus on your front sight quickly, if you need to use your sights.

I prefer a flat black rear sight. But the stock sights on this gun work very well.

Lastly, the trigger is pretty good. The pull weight is a tad on the heavy side. But the movement is smooth and the break is really clean for a striker fired handgun.

This isn’t the least expensive handgun on the market. The price is near the middle of the price spectrum. But the performance is impressively highThis is an excellent option if you need a home defense, recreational, or competition gun.

7. CZ 97 B 45 ACP - Competition 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: CZ 97 B 45 ACP
  • Barrel length: 4.53 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds
  • Action: Double action/single action
  • Frame: Aluminum

The CZ 97 B 45 ACP is the .45 ACP version of the venerable CZ 75. The unique design makes this gun incredibly easy to control through multiple shots.

The basics of this gun are that it’s a double action/single action gun. The barrel is 4.53 inches long. And the magazine holds 10 rounds.

Additionally, the sight configuration is a high visibility front sight with a flat black rear sight. It’s probably the fastest and easiest-to-use sight configuration you can get.

Those are just the basic facts, though.

The best features of this gun are the trigger and the slide.

First, the trigger is super smooth. Even the double-action trigger press is incredibly smooth. There’s a reason that this gun is one of the most successful designs in the competition world.

Then, the slide is designed with the slide rails molded into the frame, instead of the slide. So the slide sits very low in the frame. This gives you a lower bore axis, which translates to less felt recoil and more control.

Now, you may want to get an extended magazine to up the capacity to more than 10.

But, between the sights, the trigger, and the low bore axis, this CZ gun has everything you need to get the precision you need, as fast as possible. That’s what makes this an outstanding competition handgun.

8. Sig Sauer P220 Legion SAO - Single-Action 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Sig Sauer P220 Legion SAO
  • Barrel length: 4.4 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
  • Action: Single-action only
  • Frame: Steel alloy

Single action handguns may not be the best handguns for everything. But that doesn’t mean that you should never own a single action only gun. And if you’re going to get one, you might as well get the best single action only gun.

You were probably waiting for a 1911 to pop up on this list. But I think the Sig Sauer P220 Legion SAO is a better single action option. It’s more modern and more capable than most 1911 pistols.

The first area where this gun outpaces the 1911 is magazine capacity. The flush fit magazine holds 8 rounds. That’s just one round more than most 1911 handguns. But more bullets is always better.

Second, the grip is more ergonomic. It’s one of the most comfortable handgun grips in the world. There’s a nice finger groove for your middle finger and an indexing tab at the bottom of the grip.

Both of these make the grip more comfortable and help you get and maintain a consistent firing grip.

Additionally, the safety is stupidly easy to actuate. The safety has an incredibly short throw. And it takes very little pressure to move, though it’s not light enough to pose a safety issue.

Then, the trigger is outstanding. The factory trigger is as light and crisp as some aftermarket 1911 triggers. It’s a hard trigger to beat.

This gun might be more expensive than a budget 1911.

However, most of the 1911 handguns that cost less than this gun would require quite a few upgrades to match the performance of the Sig P220. So the ultimate price is about the same.

If you want an incredible single action only gun that’s actually pretty fairly priced, this Sig Sauer model is the perfect gun for you.

9. Sig Sauer P320 Nitron Compact - Versatile 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Sig Sauer P320 Nitron Compact
  • Barrel length: 3.9 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 9 rounds
  • Action: Striker fired
  • Frame: Polymer

The Sig Sauer P320 Nitron Compact is one of the most innovative striker fired handguns to be released in recent memory. This gun has a couple design features that you can’t find on any other gun on the market right now.

All the special aspects of this handgun are related to the trigger mechanism.

First, the trigger mechanism is the serialized part of the firearm.

Essentially, the trigger mechanism is the gun. The frame, the slide, and everything else can be replaced without purchasing anything that requires a background check.

The cool thing about this is that you can buy one P320 trigger pack, and get every frame size available. That way you truly have one gun for everything.

There’s more good news about the trigger, though.

The trigger itself is actually really good. The movement is smooth and the pull weight is about as light as you can get for a duty or concealed carry gun.

The break is just a tiny bit spongy. But the trigger still makes it easy to get precise hits.

There’s just one downside to the trigger pack design: the bore axis.

The barrel on this gun rides a bit higher than most other striker fired handguns. Yes, the higher bore axis causes a bit more felt recoil. However, most shooters won’t notice the difference between this and a gun with a lower bore axis.

In the end, this model is pretty affordable, considering that you can get additional frame sizes for using a single gun for multiple shooting contexts. This is an outstanding option for anyone who wants one gun for everything.

10. Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact - Double Action 45 ACP Handgun

  • Model: Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact
  • Barrel length: 3.9 inches
  • Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
  • Action: Double action only or double action/single action
  • Frame: Polymer

There aren’t a ton of double action only guns left out there. But there are a few. And the Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact is one of them.

It should be noted that this model is also available in a double action/single action variant. If you prefer that configuration, you can get it in this handgun.

But the double action only (DAO) model is one of the best DAO guns that’s being manufactured today.

Obviously, with a DAO gun, the trigger is the star of the show.

Even though this is a double action only pistol, H&K has managed to keep the trigger press at around 7 poundsThat’s pretty light for a double action trigger.

And the trigger movement is incredibly smooth. H&K knows how to do a trigger job.

Then, when the gun fires, the recoil is super manageable. This gun runs a bit on the heavy side. But that makes for less movement when the slide reciprocates.

Last bit of good news: this gun is also incredibly versatile in terms of the size. If you’re inclined to carry a DAO gun, this gun is compact enough that you can conceal it.

On the other hand, if you need a home defense or recreational gun, this gun is capable and comfortable enough to do it.

This gun runs near the top of the price line. But the quality and performance is outstanding. Even if there were more competition in the DAO handgun market, this Heckler & Koch gun would probably still come out on top.

Loading Up The Big Boys

.45 ACP may not be the darling it once was. But it’s still a viable round for self-defense and other types of shooting. And many shooters prefer it.

Glock G21

If .45 ACP is your jam, you probably want one of the best 45 ACP handguns that you can get. If that’s the case, get yourself a Glock G21. It’s affordable, simple, and reliable. That’s about as good as guns get.

Now that you’re schooled up on the best 45 ACP handguns, it’s time to pick one up. And start slinging big lead.

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