.45 ACP stopping power?

Hello, I'm just wondering if the .45 ACP cartridge is considerd a good personal defense round out of a 1911 pistol. How reliable is it at stopping an aggresor? I know the military switched from the .45 to 9mm in the 80's, does 9mm have better stopping power?

Any personal stories or tests of the .45 ACP's stopping power would be appreciated. I just would like to know if I can rely on the .45 ACP to get me through a desperate situation, and if it is considered a potent cartridge.


10 Answers

  • Chris
    Lv 5
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    It is an excellent cartridge and its stopping power is only beaten by a few handgun calibers. It shoots smooth and allows pretty rapid follow up shots. But there is always give and take. What you gain in stopping power, you lose in magazine capacity. 2 shots center mass with a good JHP 9mm round is often better than 1 shot with .45 ACP.

    In my experience, military shooters in units that train and train to shoot people in buildings often prefer .45 ACP, even with the lower magazine capacity. Because as shooters, they are very well trained and incredibly accurate. So they have a low miss rate under pressure. More than that, they are only drawing their pistol because their rifle has gone down. Though I have had buddies finish clearing a building with their 1911 because they were not satisfied with the speed 5.56 green tip dropped a guy. That is an intense experience and it is hard to be objective about it though. Finally, we never go anywhere alone, so if we need to reload, there is someone next to us that can cover us.

    So the short answer to your question is "yeah 1911's are great in my experience, go get one".

    But you might want to consider 9mm for the following reasons: It is unlikely somebody is going to pay for you to shoot hundreds of thousands of rounds under pressure, in the dark, while running through a building at moving targets. Without that practise, you could easily miss with every round in a 1911. Reloading with no one to cover you, while in a shooting situation, is basically a death sentence. Training yourself with 9mm is a lot cheaper than with .45, and having more rounds means you can can get away with a little less accuracy under pressure.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    7 years ago


    But with regards to a 1911, you have to know what you're buying. Some of them are built to tight tolerances and won't feed hollow points well, some of them are built to loose tolerances so that they will feed everything.

    If you're not experienced with it, I would let someone who is experienced with 1911s help you out when purchasing one.

    Brands like Rock Island Armory are always a safe bet. Springfield Armory is what I own and carry. I have a couple Colts and two custom builds as well but I don't carry them.


    Yes the .45 ACP is a proven stopper.

    The military switched over to 9mm because of NATO, not because 9mm was better than .45. The 1911s they were using at the time were also 40 years old at least and most of them were worn out and needed rebuilds and the people at the top thought it better to spend the money on a new pistol - the Beretta 92F.

    I carry a .45 90% of the time, and a 10mm Colt Delta Elite the other 10%, but the 10mm is a much snappier recoil to it.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    It's stopping power is almost legendary. In the period between 1892 and 1911, the U.S. Army switched from the .45 Colt to the .38 Long Colt. This lackluster cartridge couldn't stop the drugged-up Moros in the Phillipine Insurrection. But the .45 ACP could. It practically ranks beside a .357 magnum in effectivness. Loads deliver anywhere between approximately 350 to 500 foot pounds in muzzle energy. These figures are based on velocity and bullet weight.

    One reason the U.S. ilitary switched to 9 mm was lower costs and universal availability of ammunition A LOT of other countries in Europe use 9 mm in their military sidearms. The .45 ACP is superior in every way to the 9 mm.

    Your issue here is persoanl defense, but as a side note, a .45 ACP could probably drop a small deer at very short range, if shot in the conventional manner. The 9 mm could too, but it's a sure bet it might take more than one shot with this particular round. That comparison might serve to give you some idea as to how effective it is.

  • 7 years ago

    There's no such thing as "stopping power". It's a cartridge. It has a set weight of the bullet, and velocity. That can measure the force on impact at various ranges. That's about it.

    As for putting an aggressor down, let me put it this way. 1 well placed .22LR will do much more to stop a person than 8 poorly placed .45ACP shots from a 1911.

    The 9mm is a good defense cartridge as well, with the right load. It generally has less recoil, making a follow up shot quicker to take.

    As for the military, they switched from the 1911 .45 ACP to the Beretta M9 (92FS/92A1) because of rounds. The 1911 is a single stack that only holds 8 rounds, while the Beretta is easier to field strip, field clean, and carries 15-17 rounds from the factory (aftermarket flush fit magazines can hold up to 18 or 20). That means if you carry 1 mag in the gun and say 4 extra magazines on your belt in the military, with a 1911 that would amount to 40 rounds, with the Beretta 9mm that would be 75 rounds.

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  • Mr.357
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    The military used to us a .38 pistol and switched to the .45 ACP because it was hard to knock down the Philippians or who ever we were fighting around that time. No one is sure why they switched to the 9mm which is similar but a little more powerful than the .38 that was not powerful enough.

  • 7 years ago

    This is covered in probably 10s of thousands of references on the Internet. The .45 ACP delivers a bigger and heavier round with more momentum and slightly more energy than the 9x19mm NATO cartridge, which will yield a bigger hole, more penetration, and less likely to be deflected by bone. I don't think there is anyone on the planet that would say it is a weaker cartridge than the 9x19mm, especially if you are using FMJ ammo. That's why many US special forces still use modernized M1911A1s.

    We switched to the 9mm because it was believed to be adequate, it had larger capacity, it was believed easier to shoot, and it was the standard pistol cartridge for all our NATO allies.

    While the military is restricted to use ball (FMJ) ammo in combat, unless you live in NJ, US civilians have options for more powerful +P JHP 9mm ammo (and .45 ACP as well). I have no qualms about using a 9x19mm pistol with 124 or 147 gr +P Speer Gold Dots or Federal HSTs or Winchester Ranger-Ts.

    Here is an informative discussion on the subject: http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ...

  • 7 years ago

    The military uses ball ammo and I still wonder why they switched from .45acp to 9mm ball. The 9mm is a high volocity fast moving smaller diameter round and more than likely to pass through then to knock them off their feet, The .45acp is a slower moving larger diameter round and usually wont pass through, It's better and transfering its kenetic energy than the 9mm.

    Hallow points are a little different, I carry both 9mm and .45acp so I'm going to be non biased, but with the right kind of ammo the 9mm has just as much energy as the .45acp. 90% of the 9mm handguns will have about twice the capacity of a .45acp handgun giving the 9mm the advantage of firepower. I use Hornady Critical Defense and both cartigages will get 14-18 inches of penetration.

    Like a tell everyone it doesn't really matter what you carry, the most important factors of self protection is being comfortable firing the handgun you carry and shot placement, shot placement is key!!!

    Source(s): CCW permet holder, Carry Glock 26, Glock 19C and Springfield Operator 1911
  • 7 years ago

    * Yes with the right type or designed bullet in the 1911.* However the Best No-nonsense Man-stopper that has been tried, true, tested, and proven to be the Best of the Best is the 357 Magnum.* I have both of them.*~~ No the 9mm is inferior compared to the .45 or the 357 Magnum.*

    Source(s): * Run like a Deer.*.................Fly like an Eagle.*~~
  • 7 years ago


    Yes, it works. The tons of other gun choices beyond the 1911 for it today. The Kahr Cw 45 for example.


  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Gearhead never read Evan Marshall. I suggest you *both* do just that.

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