What is the best .45 ACP for concealed carry?

What is the best .45 ACP for concealed carry?

The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) caliber is a larger bullet than the widely used 9mm, which is why .45s tend to be bulkier to pack. There are some decently compact .45 ACP handguns that work for CCW though.

We’ll highlight the top .45 ACP concealed carry pistols and their most notable features, as well as discuss some of the pros and cons associated with the .45 ACP caliber.

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Why should you choose .45 ACP?

Sig P220 Legion

Glock 36

Charter Arms Pitbull

Springfield XD-S

Kahr Arms CW45

Kimber Ultra Carry

Walther PPQ

Cons of .45 ACP

How to choose?

If you choose to carry your .45 ACP in a KYDEX IWB holster, apply our amazing holster pad and enhance the comfort of your everyday carry!

Why should you choose .45 ACP?

The .45 ACP cartridge has some distinct advantages that make it a top choice for concealed carry handguns.

  • Power. The large .45 caliber bullet has excellent stopping power, especially when using modern hollow point loads. The heavier bullets can effectively neutralize a threat.
  • Manageable recoil. Despite the size, .45 ACP recoil is often described as more of a strong push rather than a sharp snap. This makes it easier to control in compact pistols.
  • Availability. As one of the most popular pistol calibers, .45 ACP ammo is widely available even during shortages so you can always find ammunition.
  • Reliability. With over 100 years of use in military and law enforcement, the .45 ACP is a proven performer.
  • Confidence. Many .45 ACP users cite a strong psychological preference for the caliber. The satisfaction of using a classic American pistol round leads to confidence in their concealed carry choice.

Here are our top picks of the .45 ACP pistols for concealed carry!

Sig Sauer P220 Legion

Sig Sauer P220 LEGION FULL-SIZE .45AUTO

Sig Sauer P220 LEGION FULL-SIZE .45AUTO.

Image source: https://www.sigsauer.com/p220-legion-45.html

Features

Details

Capacity

8+1

Barrel length

4.4”

Overall length

7.7”

Weight (unloaded)

30.4 oz

Height

5.5”

MSRP

$1,349.00


The Sig Sauer P220 Legion is a refined version of Sig’s classic full-size P220 pistol optimized for concealed carry applications. The P220 platform pioneered the double-action/single-action pistol and the Legion enhances this already solid design with upgraded features.

This semi-auto handgun has a stainless steel slide and lightweight alloy frame finished in a proprietary corrosion-resistant Legion gray PVD coating. The grips are textured G10 composite emblazoned with Legion medallions for a positive hold. Sig’s XRAY3 day/night sights provide visibility in all lighting.

Despite the full-size frame, the Legion maintains its concealability. This is aided by a reduced profile beavertail, undercut trigger guard, and dehorning of controls such as the decock lever and slide release to prevent snags. A short reset trigger with custom polished action allows accurate follow-up shots.

The P220 Legion ships with three 8-round magazines. The single-stack configuration helps keep the pistol slim for easier carry while still providing sufficient capacity thanks to the large .45 caliber.

If you want to properly maintain your P220 Legion, get the GunZee universal cleaning kit today and say goodbye to fragile brass cleaning rods!

Glock 36

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.78”

Overall length

6.97”

Weight (unloaded)

19.93 oz

Height

4.72”

MSRP

$589.00


The Glock 36 is a slimline subcompact .45 ACP pistol. Built on Glock’s reputation for reliability and affordability, the G36 packs respectable stopping power into a highly concealable package.

This slim single-stack .45 measures just .77 inches wide, allowing it to disappear under light clothing with ease. The subcompact size also ensures comfortable daily carry, and the polymer frame with textured grip and magazine finger extension ensures solid control through a .45 caliber recoil.

The G36 carries 6+1 rounds in the flush-fitting magazine, providing adequate capacity given the slim profile. Extended magazines are also available for extra capacity, and will add grip length for shooters with bigger hands.

Weighing just under 20 ounces unloaded, the G36 hits a sweet spot delivering respectable .45 firepower without being too heavy or bulky. Reliable feeding comes courtesy of the 6-groove rifled barrel mated to Glock’s rotary bolt system.

Durability is excellent thanks to the rugged Tenifer finish and combat-ready sights and controls. Available in the classic matte black finish, it’s a great deep concealment and backup weapon for self-defense. For those prioritizing easy carry of a larger caliber pistol, the G36 shines.

“The Glock 43 performs like a Glock, it’s gonna eat anything. It just works, works really well,” says M-Dog in his funny review of the G43.

UGC

Charter Arms Pitbull

Features

Details

Capacity

5

Barrel length

2.5”

Overall length

7”

Weight (unloaded)

22 oz

Height

5”

MSRP

$499.99


The aptly named Pitbull from Charter Arms brings .45 caliber stopping power in a snubnose revolver. This double-action/single-action wheel gun may look unassuming, but it packs a bite.

Constructed from durable aircraft-grade aluminum alloy with a matte black finish, the frame remains lightweight for comfortable all-day carry. The 2.5-inch barrel allows a balance of concealability with sight radius for defensive accuracy.

The Pitbull’s cylinder holds 5 rounds of .45 ACP, which can also safely fire .45 Auto Rim rounds. The moon clips allow rapid ejection and reloading of the rimless .45 ACP ammo. Rubber grips soak up recoil while leaving the iconic diamond-pattern checkering exposed.

“This revolver could be the pet of those who like 45-caliber revolvers and want something they can take for walks — or to work, or wherever. Its design lends great flexibility to a gun collection. The handling is as gentle as other centerfire models, but the caliber lends a big bite.” —Eve Flannigan, Guns

Springfield XD-S

Features

Details

Capacity

5+1

Barrel length

3.3”

Overall length

6.3”

Weight (unloaded)

23 oz

Height

4.4”

MSRP

$539.99


The Springfield XD-S stands out as a slim, single-stack .45 ACP optimized specifically for comfortable all-day concealed carry. The XD-S compact size still packs a serious punch and offers the capabilities demanded of a defensive pistol.

This lightweight, polymer-framed Springfield measures just over an inch wide for easy concealment while still managing a 7+1 round capacity in .45 Auto. The short 3.3” barrel keeps the pistol small while retaining enough sight radius for defensive shooting at typical handgun distances.

The grip frame uses soft touch molding with an integrated standoff device to soak up .45 ACP recoil, keeping the Springfield flat shooting for faster follow-up shots. The aggressive grip texture helps ensure a solid purchase. Standard white dot sights align quickly but tritium night sights are also available.

Standard self-defense and safety features include a loaded chamber indicator offering a visual and tactical indication of a round in the pipe, and a grip safety preventing accidental discharge.

Kahr Arms CW45

Kahr CW45

Kahr CW45. Image source: https://shopkahrfirearmsgroup.com/cw45-cw4543/

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.64”

Overall length

6.32”

Weight (unloaded)

19.7 oz

Height

4.8”

MSRP

$449.99


The Kahr Arms CW45 delivers potent .45 ACP performance in a slim, compact, and very affordable concealed carry package. Built to excel as an everyday self-defense handgun, the CW45 retains the premium features of Kahr’s pricier models at an attractive price point.

This semi-auto pistol measures just over 6 inches long and under 5 inches tall, with a short 3.64-inch barrel. The stainless steel slide rides smoothly on a textured polymer frame that keeps the pistol lightweight and concealed carry friendly.

A sleek 1.01-inch slide width conceals easily, and the 6+1 round single-stack magazine offers adequate capacity. The smooth profile sights are snag-free for a smooth draw from concealment.

Standard white bar/dot sights acquire targets quickly, while the long and smooth double-action-only trigger promotes precision once on target. Robust construction with simple maintenance delivers reliable functioning.

“One of the few guns I won’t part with,” says this reviewer about his CW45.

UGC

Kimber Ultra Carry II

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

3”

Overall length

6.8”

Weight (unloaded)

25 oz

Height

4.75”

MSRP

$980.00


The Kimber Ultra Carry II delivers advanced functionality in a potent yet easy-to-conceal defensive package.

The aluminum alloy frame keeps weight at just 25 ounces unloaded for comfortable all-day carry. Slim rosewood grips accent the satin silver finish while aiding grip and ergonomics. Despite compact dimensions hovering around 1.25 inches wide, capacity stays at 7+1 with the included single-stack magazine.

Topping the stainless steel slide lies fixed low profile sights offering a crisp sight picture thanks to the enhanced 4.8-inch radius. They align quickly on target assisted by front and back slide serrations for positive manipulation. The 3-inch match-grade ramped barrel promotes accuracy through a 16-inch left-hand twist bore.

Further enhancing the streamlined snag-free design is a polished and tuned single-action trigger breaking cleanly at 4-5 pounds.

Walther PPQ M2

Features

Details

Capacity

15+1

Barrel length

4.3”

Overall length

7.4”

Weight (unloaded)

28.2 oz

Height

4.75”

MSRP

$699.99


The Walther PPQ M2 brings the ergonomics and trigger system of the PPQ platform to the potent .45 ACP caliber in a full-size handgun that still carries reasonably well. Equipped for defensive applications, the PPQ45 delivers Walther’s signature accuracy and handling with stopping power to spare.

The polymer frame features a Picatinny accessory mounting rail and an interchangeable backstrap system allowing custom fitting to the shooter’s hand size. This promotes comfort, an ideal grip angle for recoil mitigation, and a consistent trigger press. Ambidextrous controls ensure accessibility for all shooters.

Tritium night front and rear sights acquire targets rapidly, and glowing tritium inserts enhance low-light visibility. A generous 15+1 round capacity equips the PPQ with substantial firepower for self-defense situations.

“The excellent ergonomics allow for a high grip and the angle at which the trigger guard contacts the front strap is easy on the middle finger. The ergonomics of the frame took a long time to evolve and in our opinion, Walther got them right on the PPQ 45.” —Tom Beckstrand, Guns & Ammo

Add another level of comfort to your everyday IWB carry with GunZee’s memory foam padding

What are the cons of .45 ACP?

Here are some potential downsides to consider with the .45 ACP cartridge:

  • Reduced magazine capacity. The large diameter bullets limit how many can fit in a magazine, typically 8-10 rounds. This gives operators fewer shots before needing to reload.
  • More difficult to shoot accurately. The increased recoil compared to smaller calibers makes rapid, accurate follow-up shots more challenging.
  • Slower velocity. With lower muzzle velocity than certain calibers, the .45 ACP has less range and penetration than other options. However, this is not typically a major factor for self-defense distances.
  • Increased weight. The heavier bullets mean increased pistol weight compared to smaller calibers. This is a consideration for comfort and concealability.
  • Higher cost. On average .45 ACP ammunition costs more per round than other concealed carry calibers.
  • Snappier recoil in small guns. The stout recoil is amplified in very small .45 pistols, requiring more shooter strength and competence to keep control.

Overall the .45 ACP's advantages seem to outweigh the downsides for most concealed carriers. However, knowledge of the tradeoffs can help choose the right caliber for each person's needs.

How to choose the right .45 ACP concealed carry gun?

The .45 ACP is an excellent concealed carry caliber choice, offering proven stopping power in a range of compact pistols. When evaluating .45s for concealed carry, consider these key factors:

  • Size. Look for subcompact and single-stack models for easier concealment. The slimmest and lightest .45s are around 1” thick and weigh 25 ounces or less.
  • Capacity. Typical capacities range from 6+1 to 10+1 rounds in a concealable .45. This is less than smaller calibers but is generally acceptable for self-defense purposes.
  • Recoil. Modern hollow points have reduced recoil but the .45 still has a stout push. Try out different pistols to find one you can control well.
  • Weight. Heavier guns can soften recoil but can be cumbersome for EDC. Find the right balance for your needs.
  • Ergonomics. The pistol must point naturally and fit your hand well to shoot accurately without fumbling, especially under stress.
  • Manual safety.  This feature is preferred by some shooters of a concealed carry weapon for added peace of mind. Try pistols with and without manual safety.
  • Accuracy. Expect combat accuracy around 3-5 inches at 7 yards. Test potential pistols to ensure good accuracy at defensive distances.
  • Reliability. As a defensive arm, any .45 ACP pistol must feed hollow points flawlessly. Seek designs from major manufacturers with pedigrees in duty use.

.45 ACP FAQ

What does ACP stand for?

ACP stands for "Automatic Colt Pistol". The name refers to the original .45 caliber cartridge designed for Colt's M1911 semi-automatic pistol adopted by the U.S. military.

Does .45 ACP penetrate better than 9mm?

The .45 ACP is known for its effective stopping power and reliability. In terms of penetration, the .45 ACP may not penetrate as deeply as the 9mm, which can be an advantage in certain self-defense situations, as it reduces the risk of over-penetration.

Is a .45 ACP a good self-defense gun?

The .45 ACP is considered a good choice for self-defense due to its stopping power and reliability. It delivers a substantial amount of energy upon impact, making it an effective option for personal defense and law enforcement. Its manageable recoil and accuracy also make it a popular choice for those who prioritize precision.

What is the best caliber for EDC?

The 9mm cartridge offers a good balance of power, capacity, accuracy, and shootability in compact everyday carry pistols for most people's needs. The .380 ACP is found in small and slim firearms that still provide adequate stopping power with modern defensive ammo.

Why did the military stop using .45 ACP?

The military transitioned from the .45 ACP to the 9mm due to several factors, including the ability to carry more 9mm rounds, reduced recoil for faster follow-up shots, and the development of more effective 9mm ammunition. The 9mm was also found to be more cost-effective.

What .45 ACP pistol has the highest capacity?

Several .45 ACP pistols offer high capacities, but one notable example is the Glock 21, which can hold up to 13 rounds in a standard magazine. There are also extended magazines available for certain .45 ACP pistols, further increasing their capacity.

Which is better: 40 cal or 45 ACP?

The choice between .40 caliber and .45 ACP depends on individual preferences and needs. The .45 ACP is known for its stopping power, while the .40 caliber offers a balance of stopping power and capacity. Both calibers have their own advantages, and the decision should be based on personal requirements and proficiency.

What is the most accurate .45 ACP round?

The Wilson Combat ETM line of .45 ACP ammunition stands out for exceptional accuracy according to many shooters. These premium rounds utilize a jacketed hollow point bullet engineered for optimal expansion and weight retention upon impact. Multiple reports praise the match-grade precision delivered by the ETM loads when fired from quality .45 Auto pistols. 

Do .45 ACP pistols have adjustable triggers?

Most .45 ACP pistol triggers have a preset pull weight range and travel distance. However certain competition-oriented models such as the EAA Witness Hunter Tanfoglio or SVI Infinity feature an adjustable trigger to customize trigger pull preference from 1.5 to 4 pounds.

What handguns use a double-action trigger in .45 ACP?

Traditional double-action operations with a longer and heavier trigger pull and shorter, lighter subsequent shots are not very common in .45ACP handguns. However, they can still be found on some all-metal .45ACP pistols, such as S&W’s 4506, Kimber’s Custom II family, or Sig Sauer’s P227 TacOps. The double action system provides the safety of a heavier first trigger pull combined with improved precision on follow-up shots once the action is pre-cocked.

What is the typical ammo capacity for .45 ACP concealed carry handguns?

Firearm enthusiasts who choose the iconic .45 ACP caliber gun often prefer sacrificing extra rounds for the larger bullet diameter and better stopping power. Single-stack magazines in slim concealment oriented .45s generally hold 6-8 rounds, although extended magazine options may add 1-2 more rounds.

Further reading

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The best CCW holster for micro-compact handguns

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What is the most comfortable CCW holster?

What is the easiest pistol to conceal?

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What is the best EDC holster?

What is the best compact pistol for appendix carry?

Concealed carry revolver vs semi-auto