Is The 45 ACP Caliber Dead?

Are 45ACP rounds a relic?

I love 1911s and with that, I love the 45ACP round. It is a beautifully simple round that is less worried about aerodynamics and more akin to hitting your target with a very large slow-moving hunk of lead. One of my friends at the range joked it was not eloquent, but neither is a brick, and it’s effective if someone is hit with one.

I tend to agree with that sentiment, as did those combat handgun forefathers like the late Col Jeff Cooper and Thunder Ranch’s Clint Smith. While I would highly recommend looking them up on YouTube (be aware of language, especially with Clint), it does leave the question, is the 45ACP starting to become obsolete?

Calibers change in popularity

We see this from time to time with other calibers such as the 30-06, which was immensely popular and effective for most if not all North American game animals, and it has been steadily drummed out by its son the 308 Winchester and now the 6.5 Creedmoor.

The 1911 has been around a long time, and its cartridge the 45 Automatic Colt Pistol, has been there since its inception in 1904.

While I am not a fan of changing things for the sake of change, there have been major improvements since its inception that make its competitor rounds like the 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and the 10mm which may make them more effective to the tasks at hand.

More guns are made in 9mm than any other caliber

I don’t take that initial statement lightly, but the truth is more guns are made in 9mm than any other caliber. Now the 45 is a close second or third depending on your source but let’s examine what it is being used for.  For hunting, it is not considered a good round by and large because it is so heavy and slow-moving.

This realm tends to be more for the 357Mag, 44 Mag, and 10mm from both handgun hunters and backup guns.

There are a ton of target-shooting style 1911s that shoot 45ACP, but still, that realm is heavily in competition with other competitors.

So, we get to concealed carry or self-defense, which is arguably where the 45 was king for a long time. However, with upgraded powders and projectiles not so anymore. None of the U.S. military fields 45ACP, despite some limited use in SOCOM/Marine units as of late. This was done primarily due to recoil and carrying capacity.

For a similar-sized frame, a Glock in 9mm can carry 17 rounds, whereas a 45 can carry 13. While this may not sound like a lot, if you use the platform most synonymous with 45ACP, the 1911, you now are down to 7 or 8 rounds depending on the model.

This means having to carry even more magazines and added weight. Now die-hard fans of the 45 ACP will argue “But one hit from a 45 and they are down versus a 9mm” and there MAY be truth to that, however, they refuse to also accept that in bad situations people will miss, and extra ammo is never a bad thing.

So, do I think it’s dead? No, not yet. Die-hards like me will keep shooting it, as it is a fun shooting round that can smack some serious steel. However, with smaller more capable carry guns coming to market, I foresee fewer and fewer people using 45 for self-defense.

Also, be sure to check out JM4 Tactical for your holster & coffee needs!

Author: Ian Bolser