Handgun Data Information

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Best 45 Caliber Handguns (non-1911)

The US military was in the process of replacing the M9 standard military pistol (92F Beretta 9mm) with a new combat pistol (in .45 caliber) model, but recently halted the program (no reason given). This doesn’t mean that the M9s are safe. Some branches of the military and police force are refreshing their arsenal with .45 ACP handguns. Some braches of the military/police force are going back in time to the tried and battle-tested 1911 model 45 ACPs. I do like these guns, but to be honest, we need to look to the present/future models being researched and developed by gun makers such as HK, Sig Sauer, S&W, and Beretta (to name a few).

The current model M9s (Beretta 92F) were scheduled for replacement under the Future Handgun System, which was merged with USSOCOM's SOF Combat Pistol program to create the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) program. The JCP winner was specified as having a number of new features; chambered for .45 ACP, an integrated rail, Day/Night sights, and capable of accepting a sound suppressor. In early 2006, the JCP program was renamed Combat Pistol and seemingly split from the Army program.

On March 10, 2006 a modification to the earlier request was made, changing the name from Joint Combat Pistol to Combat Pistol. The number of pistols sought was reduced from 645,000 handguns to 50,000. This basically reverted back to the SOF Combat Pistol program in terms of its scale, as the Army dropped its participation. [1] In Fall of 2006, the Combat Pistol (CP) program was suspended indefinitely.

Many military and law enforcement organizations in the United States continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols because they favor the stopping power of the .45 cartridge and the superior handling of the weapon in close fighting – as tested over the past wars. Marine Force Recon, LA Police SWAT, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (Delta Force) are among the units that use a 45 ACP pistol.

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a requirement for a .45 ACP handgun (the OHWS trials). This resulted in the Heckler & Koch OHWS becoming the MK23 Mod 0 Offensive Handgun Weapon System. On May 1, 1996, the first HK MK 23 pistols were delivered to the US Special Operations Command for operational deployment, making the MK 23 the first .45 ACP pistol to enter American military service since the venerable Government Model 1911A1. This pistol is used by Navy SEALs and the Army Special Forces.

Because of the renewed interest in the 45, I decided to list five top handguns in the market today or soon will be that are non-customized, and are basically off the shelf accessible. I excluded pistols that were high in cost, have a threaded barrel, and are a derivative of the 1911 model.

HK USP (and variants)
This gun is INCREDIBLY accurate out of the box and completely reliable. One of the most important features of the USP is the mechanical recoil reduction system. This system is incorporated into the recoil/buffer spring assembly, located below the barrel. Designed primarily to buffer the slide and barrel and reduce recoil effects on the pistol components, the system also lowers the recoil forces felt by the shooter.

Pros: Incredibly accurate, very well made, very reliable, very comfortable, light and concealable, can handle .45 super, lifetime warranty.

Cons: INCREDIBLY expensive, HK customer dis-service

The NEW HK45

The new HK45 is based on the proven USP45 family, and refinements of the P2000 series as well. The HK45 design was based on the USP45 because of the reilable design which had proven capable of functioning even without lubricant!

Along with the features on the USP45 and P2000, the HK45 features replaceable backstraps to adjust the size and feel to a shooter's comfort, and a ten round magazine. It sports a five inch barrel , and is designed to handle standard pressure and +P .45 ACP ammunition while having a 20,000 round minimum service life.

Production models should be available late this year or early in 2007.

Sig Sauer P220 (and variants)
First introduced in the 1970’s, the SIG P220 is one of the best balanced .45's there is. It is a stagger stack design with an 8 round capacity (a 10 round magazine is available); and it is available in nearly a dozen configurations. There is also a compact version (P245) that is well liked for concealed carry.

The company recently introduced five new variations of the P220 . They include the P220R DAK, P220 Match, P220R Carry Two-Tone SAO, and the P220R Equinox. The newst version is the P220 Combat, available after August 2006. It was designed to meet, and exceed, rigorous military standards. Each pistol features the military’s Flat Dark Earth finish on its alloy frame and SIG’s Nitron over a stainless slide. Internal parts and controls are coated or phosphated for extreme corrosion resistance and reduced friction while the barrel is hard chromed and finished in Nitron which easily passes the military’s accuracy requirements – even after 20,000 rounds. The P220 Combat also passes the military’s 240-hour salt spray corrosion test. Additional features include a true M1913 Picatinny rail, vertical front strap serrations and SIGLITE® night sights.

Pros: Extremely well made, great fit and finish, great balance, very accurate, very reliable.

Cons: Stock magazine only hold 8 rounds.

S&W 990L
Closely related to the Walther P99, the Smith & Wesson SW99 (introduced in 2005) is a joint venture between S&W and Walther, who produces a modified receiver in Germany, and Smith & Wesson, who fabricates the slides and barrels in the USA. (Walther doesn’t offer a P99 in .45 caliber). It’s a flawless performer, accurate, and comfortable to shoot.

When S&W created the new M&P, they took many attributes from the 99 and incorporated them into the M&P. The company invested a lot of R&D into the M&P, and when it is offered in the 45 ACP, it will be considered a top three handgun. Click HERE to view the M&P in action.

Pros: A great combination of American and European gun makers. Well made, great balance, very accurate, very reliable.

Cons: Waiting for the M&P to be 45 ACP.

Glock 21
I’ve included the Glock because you really can’t ignor it. Because of its large frame size, its grip is too large for many people but is well suited for those with larger hands. The GLOCK 21 has undergone 3 major revisions since its introduction and current models are called 3rd generation GLOCK 21s. I personally don’t like the look of it, its too blocky and needs to revised again.

Pros: Well made (though often rough always functional), accurate, EXTREMELY reliable, 10rd capacity.

Cons: Rough finish (but tough), heavy, VERY bulky, and slightly unweildy, trigger, plastic, and ugly.

CZ 97B
Introduced in 1997, this is a big gun, built like a tank with fit and finish like a SIG. Superb accuracy and low recoil (due to its size). Because it was designed around S&B hardballs, there have been some cases of the weapon being ammunition selective, meaning its jams with some hollow point rounds, but once you break it in, this problem should not re-occur.

Pros: Well made, accurate, great fit and finish, price.

Cons: Selective ammunition.


  • I really injoyed this web sight. It has really tought me a whole lot more about a good brand of gun. I just want to thank you for shareing this info......

    By Blogger Randolph, at 1:26 AM  

  • Outstanding! Finally, a definitive work for the top five pistols non 1911. Helpful, useful excellent information. Thank you.

    By Blogger Boone, at 4:50 PM  

  • I think Kimber should be added to this list.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 PM  

  • A very educational firearms information I got.

    Very informative

    By Blogger sansindio, at 2:53 AM  

  • I have the 97B and it is an absolutely great shooter. It is wider and larger than others so be sure it fits you, but recoil is extremely manageable and is a very accurate .45 ACP.

    My first choice was the Sig P220 but the 97B just felt and shot better for me .. and it ended up being quite a bit cheaper. Easy to convert to a very nice SAO trigger if you want to. Great pistol.

    By Blogger Paul, at 3:23 PM  

  • I own the HK USP .45 and I love it. I dont have any other semi's but I cant imagine liking any other hand gun more. I have shot a glock and a Berretta. If you are looking to buy a gun H&K is a great way to go.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:53 PM  

  • Glock 21 is NOT heavy. It's lighter than the SIG and M&P, for example. And it holds 13 rounds as opposed to what, 10?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 AM  

  • I own and carry the SW 99 and I LOVE it. I have shot a wide variety of hand guns and have not given a second thought to swapping out. The only downside is the lack of accessories for this gun. Apparently S&W didn't market it well, so didn't bother with extras. No high cap mags(yet), speed-loader, etc. Grip is extremely comfortable, 2nd only to Taurus 24/7. Great decocker. Pretty accurate. Feeds everything I put in it wad/ball/hollow. Highly recommend

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:14 PM  

  • I ditto the thanks. Now I have to sell A 9mm USP & Springfield Arms XDM
    with 400+ rounds. Once you'all touched on stopping power...that did it!
    Well, once I sell the 9mm's then what do I do? Kimber sure is a dandy.....I'll appreciate any thoughts.

    By Blogger ak49er, at 1:22 AM  

  • The Glock 21 carries 13 in the mag, and 1 in the chamber. 'Plus 2' magazine extensions are readily available and cheap. It also has a light rail, and has for years..I have large hands I guess- so I like it. But, I'd challenge any (even the HK) to be as reliable, and you can't argue with it's capacity!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:35 AM  

  • For the money its hard to beat the Ruger P90.Good feel and super accurate.

    By Anonymous hemingway, at 3:33 PM  

  • For the money its hard to beat the Ruger P90. Good feel and super accurate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:36 PM  

  • SIG P220 .45 Cal is better that the rest but Remington 1911R1 and Para GI Expert are exceptional.

    By Blogger Dayan, at 7:55 AM  

  • Beretta PX4 Storm should be on the list as well

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:35 AM  

  • Thank you so much, I have spent weeks trying to find the right .45 for me, thanks to your web sight I have finally picked the Sig Sauer P220. Thanks:)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 AM  

  • Thank you for all this information, I'm looking into buying my first Self Defense piece and wanted the raw stopping power of a .45 so this information will greatly influence my decision.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 3:53 PM  

  • What about FNP45? That should be up there with the USP and Sig

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:32 AM  

  • I was a small voice in the Armed Forces trials for a new 45 back in 06. The S&W 99 came closer than any of the others to be addopted. All that work and the Beretta contract got renewed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:17 PM  

  • FNP 45 is another great .45

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:48 PM  

  • Someone forgot the FNP .45

    By Blogger BP, at 4:05 PM  

  • I carried a SW 686 and loved it. I got the glock 21, changed to Bomar barrel and tritium sights, a light in the rail, and fell in love all over again. As a fed game warden, I need the rugedness, the hi cp mag, and it is so dmn reliable. I have big hands but the 21 fits perfect, double taps 5/8 at 25 yards, and take rain, mud, and snow anytime with little care. I have used it in battle, and it gives a great sense of confidence. I have another for homr defence.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 PM  

  • I am alive today due to the 1911, .45 ACP. I shot a full magazine into an enemy solider at approximately 8 yards with a 9mm hand gun. Suddenly, my right ear become deaf as my radio operator drew his issue 1911 and fired one round. The impact of the round picked up, the falling back ward enemy solider who fell to the ground dead.
    Later in the day, I obtained a 1911 .45 ACP. I carried it and used frequently during my combat tour. It saved may life many times. One round proved quite enough time and time again.
    I own and carry several .45 ACPS: Ruger 1911, Sig Sauer 1911 XO, Colt Government Combat , Citadel Offiecers Model, Springfield V10 ,and 1911 A1-Remington Rand. I rate them as the Best.

    By Blogger Boone, at 1:21 PM  

  • I added a 1911 Ruger ACP to my ACP rack. I found it very accurate and a wonderfully comfortable fit for my hand.
    It is close to the Sig Sauer 1911 XO...but only close!

    By Blogger Boone, at 1:41 PM  

  • True the FN is a great weapon! Thanks for the reminder.

    By Blogger Boone, at 1:42 PM  

  • ok you are just 1 mans opinion? ruger p 90 45 very good.and i can name more. most of the time you are buying the name..if it is reliable and works good for you why go and pay a lot of money for a pistol just buy the name.all of the guns to day are production mad.so lets look at this. glock and all the others are made in larg amounts and cost very little for the manufacture to make. i would say a glock 21 45 acp would cost the manufacture about 25.00 when you make thousandsa week. i no i have cnc machines... thank you

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:52 PM  

  • I own the 45 glock...love it...great site..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:18 AM  

  • Im sure this is an older thread but you are seriously underestimating the Glock 21 here. The Gen4 and SF 21's solve the grip size issue. As for looks they are in the eye of the beholder because it is a masterpiece to me. They are proven to be super reliable with little to no recoil in the 45 round. At least in my experience. I understand this is an opinionated list but it needs to be stated as such because you do have some issues here that clearly are opinions and not matter of fact. Good list otherwise.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:02 AM  

  • I'd go with the beretta Px4 storm it's really accurate and feels great in your hand and it comes in 9mm 40s&w 45acp you can't go wrong with it

    By Blogger beretta, at 3:02 AM  

  • what about a BARAK cal .45 acp made by IMI, is it reliable? need answer pls.. tnx.

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