Here's the Best .45 ACP Ammo for Self-Defense

These are our top seven choices for .45 ACP self-defense ammo.

I think you'll agree with me when I say that there are a ton of .45 ACP ammo choices out there that claim to be great for personal protection. But, sorting the good from the bad can be a pretty overwhelming task. After all, you could literally be trusting your life to your ammunition, so it's important to choose wisely.

In today's post, I'm going to talk about why these are the specific loads you should be carrying in your Colt, Glock, Sig or other gun you entrust your life to.

All of the self-defense rounds on this list incorporate some of the most advanced bullet technology in existence and have been thoroughly tested using the FBI standards by Lucky Gunner. They all offer a mix of outstanding penetration, high weight retention and lots of stopping power. These attributes make them excellent choices for concealed carry or home-defense.

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Winchester 230-Grain Ranger T-Series

Honestly, there isn't much to say about the Winchester T-Series because it's just so darn good. It features a hollow-point bullet with a reverse tapered jacket that incorporates six "talons" specifically designed to expand upon impact. At the same time, it's designed to work even after penetrating though barriers or heavy clothing.

Also available in a +P load, the Winchester Ranger T-Series has a strong reputation among American law enforcement officers. It's certainly among the best .45 ACP ammo for self-defense.

Federal 230-Grain HST

The Federal HST is another extremely popular self-defense bullet, and the fact that it's in such widespread use in cartridges ranging from .380 Auto all the way up to the .45 ACP speaks to its effectiveness. Developed to meet FBI and other law enforcement specifications, the HST improved upon the Hydra-Shok bullet that was so popular for many years.

With all that in mind, it's no surprise that the HST is one of the most popular bullets used by law enforcement agencies in the United States. The jacketed hollow-point bullet is also specifically designed not to get plugged up while shooting through heavy clothing or other barriers.

Even though it's not a bonded bullet, the Federal HST is still very well-constructed. It's designed for optimal expansion, reliable deep penetration and high weight retention. In short, it's a fantastic choice for .45 ACP self-defense ammo with plenty of stopping power. 

For what it's worth, Federal also makes the Guard Dog line of ammunition, which is another interesting choice for self-defense. While it expands well in tests, it doesn't penetrate anywhere near as far as the HST ammo. Depending on your circumstances, this might be a good thing, as over-penetration is less of a concern with the Guard Dog ammo.

Remington 185-Grain Golden Saber +P

Due in part to the fact that the Remington Golden Saber features a somewhat-light, 185-grain bullet, it also has the highest muzzle velocity of the ammo on this list. Those JHP bullets hit hard and offer deep penetration in conjunction with reliable expansion. In short, it's a really solid choice for self-defense with minimal risk of over-penetration

Magtech 230-Grain Bonded

Just like the name states, Magtech First Defense Bonded ammunition features a JHP bullet containing a lead core bonded to the jacket. This means the bullet is less likely to experience core-jacket separation after striking a solid object (like a bone). And, it's more likely to continue to penetrate and expand afterwards. Magtech isn't known for producing high-quality .45 ACP ammo for self-defense, but it really seems like they've built a winner with the First Defense Bonded line of ammunition.

Speer 185-Grain Gold Dot

Designed for law enforcement use in the 1990s, the Speer Gold Dot line of ammunition revolutionized self-defense ammo when it first hit the market. The Gold Dot bullets are bonded, which means they're almost immune to core-jacket separation. It also means they have a stellar reputation for high weight retention, deep penetration and reliable expansion. Like the Winchester Ranger T-Series of ammo, the Speer Gold Dot is another favorite type of ammo for law enforcement agencies.

Speer 230-Grain Gold Dot Short Barrel

Similar to the 185-grain Gold Dot described above, the 230-grain Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel load incorporates a heaver-weight bullet designed for optimum performance out of shorter-barreled handguns. This load has all the same advantages of other Speer Gold Dot loads, making it an excellent choice for concealed carry.

Hornady 200gr XTP

Hornady does have an entry on this list, but it's not the Hornady Critical Defense. Instead, the XTP bullet made the cut because of its superior accuracy and more reliable penetration and expansion. Built with serrations in the bullet, the XTP has a strategically weakened jacket that aids in expansion. At the same time, the XTP also has a jacket of varying thickness along the length of the bullet, which controls expansion past a certain point and aids in penetration

Final Thoughts

While it's OK to use full metal jacket ammo for target shooting with your handgun, you should still plan on testing out your chosen defense ammo at the range sometimes, too. Pick one or two these choices to test their accuracy and reliability. Different firearms often prefer different loads and bullet weights. The only way to know how they'll perform in the real world is to spend some time at the range.

Finally, invest the money and the energy into becoming proficient with your chosen self-defense gun. A great handgun shooting the absolute best quality ammunition is useless if you can't hit your target when it counts.

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