It’s important to maximize the performance of your gun during a survival situation. Choosing the right ammo is part of that process, which means that it is vital to choose the best 45 ACP ammo for self defense. Reliability ranks above all other concerns, but the ammo should also be powerful enough to stop an attacker and cheap enough to make regular practice affordable. It can be hard to sort through all of the options, so we’ve done the work to build a list of the top ten choices for most home defense situations.
10. American Eagle 45 Auto Full Metal Jacket
American Eagle offers the best 45 ACP ammo for self defense on a budget. It uses many of the same primers and brass components as other Federal Premium products, so it remains reliable in spite of the low price. This is a full metal jacket round, so while it does have enough power to stop an attacker, it is more likely to leave the attacker’s body without depositing all of its energy than a hollow point. Consider this option if you want to take advantage of the low price to practice regularly with your defensive ammo.
9. EBR Frangible
|Manufacturer||Engel Ballistic Research|
EBR Frangible ammo uses compressed copper dust instead of a traditional lead bullet. That causes the bullet to break up into dust when it hits something harder than itself, but it still has the power of a normal bullet against softer targets. It breaks quickly against metal targets, but it can penetrate some wood and other materials before breaking apart. This limits penetration and prevents ricochets in most buildings, but not in ones with soft or weak walls. Consider this ammo in environments where ricochets are a concern, or in a home with reasonably strong walls.
8. Federal Premium Guard Dog
Guard Dog is an unusual round, but it’s also the best choice for use in the home. It’s a full metal jacket round without a hollow point, but it still expands on contact. That happens because it includes a blue polymer that gets deformed on impact and forces the metal to expand. This happens even when it hits a wall, unlike hollow points that sometimes clog and fail to expand. That makes this ammo unlikely to penetrate through a wall and harm bystanders without sacrificing stopping power. Try this ammo if you expect to fire your gun indoors.
7. Remington UMC
Next on our best 45 ACP ammo for self defense list is this UMC ammo which makes a reasonably affordable ammo, especially when purchased in bulk. Also, it is reasonably reliable, although some shooters do report problems with specific guns. It’s also accurate enough for most shooters, but it isn’t as accurate as the top of the line options. It’s a fairly good choice for people who want functional ammo with a balance of good features or to buy their ammo in bulk, but people who want to squeeze every last bit of performance out of their weapon should look at other options.
6. Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown
V-Crown uses a variant on the traditional hollow point design. It stacks a shallow, V-shaped hollow point on top of an additional cavity to provide improved expansion and consistency. Sig Sauer chose a low flash propellant for this ammo, which preserves night vision after firing. The whole package is wrapped in a nickel casing that makes feeding and extraction more reliable. This blend of features makes it a solid choice for people who want something versatile and reliable, especially for nocturnal use.
5. Barnes TAC-XPD
TAC-XPD bullets are made entirely out of copper, which saves on weight and helps to reduce felt recoil. The ammo does have a hollow point, but the cavity is larger than normal, so it can go through plenty of materials while still expanding enough to cause damage to a human. The manufacturing quality is excellent, which combines with a special coating to make sure that they feed and fire reliably. Choose this ammo if you want to combine light weight with respectable stopping power and high reliability.
4. Winchester Ranger Bonded
Ranger ammo is marketed primarily towards law enforcement, but it’s also a great choice for self defense. It’s a hollow point round with a permanent bond between the jacket and the core, so the ammo is unlikely to separate and cause problems. The ammo is optimized for penetration, to the point where it can break through auto glass. That’s an asset in some defensive situations, but it can also lead to collateral damage in a home. Consider using it in environments where that penetration is desirable, but always weigh it against the potential for excessive damage before picking it.
3. Hornady Critical Defense
|Manufacturer||Hornady Manufacturing Company|
Critical Defense ammo excels in low-light environments, but it’s also a good choice for general use. The rounds are designed to have as little muzzle flash as possible, so firing them won’t damage night vision. Their nickel plating also reflects enough light to boost visibility. The ammo has fairly low recoil, but it can still stop an attacker. It’s also a reliable choice, largely due to the Flex Tip design that cuts down on clogging and leads to more consistent performance. Consider this ammo for use at night, or even as a balanced choice for other scenarios.
2. Federal Premium Hydra-Shok
Hydra-Shock is the best 45 ACP ammo for self defense for shooters that have trouble with heavy recoil. The lower recoil will boost accuracy, but it won’t significantly decrease the stopping power of the round. The penetration is sufficient to pierce through weak walls at close range, so this is a better choice for a carry gun than for one that is kept in the home. Consider this ammo if you want to be sure that you can keep your gun under control, even if you have to take a second shot.
1. Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection
Gold Dot ammo is the best 45 ACP ammo for self defense due to its reliability. This hollow point ammunition uses a unique bonding process to bind the jacket to the core, which prevents the separation that causes inferior rounds to lose power or fail entirely. Reliability can get a further boost from the point’s cavity, which is made in two stages to offer more control over performance. It’s also cheaper than many other options, so most shooters can afford to practice frequently. Choose this if you want to maximize reliability and get predictable performance.
Making The Right Choice
Choosing the best 45 ACP ammo for self defense can make all the difference in an emergency situation. The differences between the options are subtle, but they are still significant enough to justify spending some time on the choice. If you are looking for ammo for other types of guns, you can also read about the best 12 gauge home defense ammo. If you have tried an option that didn’t get a spot on our list, or if you know something about any of our choices that you think we overlooked, feel free to share it with other shooters in the comment section.