There are many elements that need to come together to experience a fulfilling self-defense experience and target shooting session. Ammo and a gun of sound quality form the foundation of this. My personal preference for the best self-defense and target shooting ammo is .45 ACP. From versatility to performance, this ammo packs a punch and has been my go-to during my years of practice.
Make no mistake, self-defense and target shooting are not activities reserved for beginners when it comes to guns. In actuality, they are invaluable skills that need to be maintained throughout every individual’s gun journey—from amateur to professional. Well, we all want to get to a professional standard, right?
Today, I want to talk about why .45 ACP ammo, specifically our pick for the best product, the Winchester 230-Grain, can be your best friend in these scenarios.
At a Glance: Our 5 Best .45 ACP Ammo
- Black Hills Ammunition 45 ACP 135GR Honeybadger: Best Product Overall
- Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP 230GR: Best Value Product
- Hornady Custom XTP JHP
- Blazer Brass FMJ
- Magtech FMC
Table of Contents
If you’re new to this page, let me start by introducing myself. I’m Aidan, a die-hard gun enthusiast and self-proclaimed shooting range know-it-all.
My passion is sharing and teaching all I have learned through my passion for guns which I acquired at a very young age. I now have over 20 years of professional experience in the field. It’s my goal to become a guiding hand for anyone looking to break into the industry in terms of gear.
Through my experience, I quickly realized that the market is so big that it can be overwhelming. It’s saturated with easily accessible variations of ammo, pistols, and accessories. I, too, looked to industry professionals to guide my journey and it’s now my mission to do the same for others.
What is .45 ACP Ammo?
ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol. The .45 ACP was originally a cartridge designed in 1905 for use in a semi-automatic handgun.
After much trial and error through military use, the .45 ACP cartridge was eventually adopted for commercial purposes. It became the standard size cartridge in a range of handguns across the United States and everyone wanted to get their hands on one.
.45 ACP ammo cartridges feature a full metal jacket style casing. It’s most effective for use against human targets as the ammo can deeply penetrate skin and flesh. In turn, this causes extensive damage to the central nervous system.
For these reasons, it’s obvious why .45 ACP ammo would be widely recommended for use during self-defense, target shooting or even law enforcement. This kind of training is usually done with human threats in mind.
Who Benefits from This Type of Shooting?
In my opinion, there isn’t a soul on earth who can’t benefit from self-defense and/or target shooting.
My opinion may be a largely unpopular one. Perhaps it’s my love for guns or the passion I have for the industry as a whole. I do truly believe that in today’s world we all need to be able to protect ourselves in one way or another.
Taking on shooting as a means of self-defense is largely beneficial to anyone seeking to feel a bit safer in their environment. Whether you’re seeking protection from a general threat, a neighborhood or a specific individual—target shooting can help bring that peace of mind.
We live in a world of unpredictability. Every day women and children face more threats than us men tend to realize and require personal defense. It’s our duty to both protect them and encourage them to be able to protect themselves when we’re not around.
For this reason, target shooting becomes a valuable means of self-defense when it comes to guns. The hope is that you will never actually have to use the skills you learn but to be ready should the need arise.
The need for self-defense via a gun with minimal recoil will be less or more valuable to individuals depending on their physical location:
- Some areas are simply much safer than others
- Certain countries are less violent than their neighbors
- One household can be less tumultuous than the next
The goal is to be personally prepared for anything, regardless of the external realities. This is why I stand firmly behind my notion that all human beings should be at least mildly familiar with self-defense and target shooting.
Why This Ammo?
This brings us to our final query: Why this particular ammo?
In short, it gets the job done. The ammo is entry-level and user-friendly enough for even the most inexperienced of shooters to successfully hit their targets. And that is the ultimate goal, right?
The .45 ACP cartridges are affordable to acquire and very easy to load. They’re also lightweight which is good for anyone who does not want to be weighed down by bullets.
Whether you’re using this ammo on a physical target or just during practice, the expectation of experience can remain the same. There’s no need to anticipate drawbacks or scenario changes as with some other more high-tech ammunition cartridges. Simply “load and fire” is how I like to put it.
In shooting, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. The simplicity of these cartridges saves you valuable time in the field and (hopefully never) in a threatening situation.
I have rated and reviewed my top five .45 ACP ammo products available for your purchase in today’s market. My extensive experience in the industry allows me to easily identify quality products from industry knockoffs. Make use of these breakdowns when looking to purchase your .45 ACP ammo for self-defense and target shooting.
Our Top 5 Product Reviews
Black Hills Ammunition 45 ACP 135GR Honeybadger: Best Product Overall
As that old meme goes, the honey badger doesn’t care. If you are packing 45 ACP Honeybadger ammo, you will also feel safe and secure about your handgun load. While the 135-grain ammo is slightly heavier than what you would usually expect from self-defense ammunition, it has increased stopping power that is very important if you were to ever find yourself in a difficult situation.
The most notable features of the BHA Honeybadger are the following:
- Bullet weight of 135-grain
- Copper projectile
- Near barrier blind
- Optimized Nose flutes
- 20 rounds per case
This ammo doesn’t have a hollow point as it is made for self-defense. The optimized flutes make for a very precise shot at closer ranges, and the mix of weight and design provides excellent would cavities.
It comes in rounds of 20 bullets at a time. This makes it perfect for usage in self-defense situations where you only need a few bullets at a time. A higher quantity of ammo is usually only required while out in the field.
- Consistent, reliable performance
- Most ideal for self-defense
- Lightweight, yet high-performing
- Slightly pricy per round
This is a very fun round to shoot and a thrill for any gun lover to bring to the range. But, the reason why I would arm my loved ones with it is the defensive capabilities rarely seen in other ammo. Slightly more expensive than the competition, it is well worth the price of personal safety.
Overall rating: 10/10
Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP 230GR: Best Value Product
Regardless if you are at a range and just want to have some fun, or in a dangerous situation and need some immense stopping power, the Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP rounds are the best choice you can have in your magazine. With 230 grain-weight, these rounds might be slower at longer ranges, but the sheer devastation they make at close range is well worth this sacrifice.
Features to note about the S&B 45 ACP ammo are as follows:
- Bullet weight of 230-grain
- 50 rounds
- Full metal jacket
The S&B ammo is a great mix of value with results. It is a strong, accurate load, that costs slightly above a quarter per round.
As far as the range goes, this is probably the best option for your daily driver, as it is fun to shoot and relatively cheap, while still giving you a good exercise with a 230-grain weight.
For self-defense, the weight of the grain might make an issue. As the ammo can increase the size of the weapon up to half a pound, it can be an issue for less experienced shooters, as well as those with a smaller stature.
- Excellent stopping power
- Hollow design for precision
- Value for money
- A significant increase in firearm weight when loaded
For anyone on a budget looking to get the most out of their buck, the S&B is the ammo for you. Bulk buying is a common occurrence when it comes to gun-related gear and ammo should be no different. Keep this one closely on your radar.
Overall rating: 9/10
Hornady Custom XTP JHP
Finally, we come to one of my favorite brands in the game. The Hornady Custom XTP is a custom grain ammunition available in as 200 opposed to the usual 230. This brand has longstanding loyalty from gun enthusiasts around the world and for good reason.
Some features worth noting with the Hornady include:
- Muzzle energy of 494ft lbs.
- Bullet weight of 200-grain
- 20 rounds
- JHP type
The packaging of this product is the first thing I want to address. The 20 rounds are laid out neatly and are easy to access. Simple handling comes in handy during a complicated shooting session, self-defense scenarios included.
The solid XTP projectile means the knockdown power of these bullets is considerably higher. This also means that penetration is significantly deeper.
Since the ammo jackets are coated in an alloy, the strength of each bullet remains unmatched. While alloy can add weight to the round, the hollow nature of each bullet allows it to still travel as far as other lighter competitors.
Similar to the product mentioned above, the Hornady is also matched with a +P rating when it comes to overpressure. It should, therefore, only be used in approved firearms that can handle the higher internal pressure.
- Extra strength
- Well packaged
- Impressive brand quality
- +P rating makes it only suitable in certain firearms
Keep this ammo by Hornady on your list when selecting the right .45 ACP for your shooting needs. It’s both a quality solution and affordable one for anyone looking for a decent target shooting experience.
Overall rating: 8/10
Blazer Brass FMJ
The Blazer Brass ammunition is renowned for being one of the most economically friendly bullets on the market. This is due to its very low manufacturing and selling costs.
Features to note about the Blazer Brass are:
- Muzzle energy of 365ft lbs.
- Bullet weight of 230-grain
- 50 rounds
- FMJ type
Satisfied users report the Blazer Brass to be one of the best ammunition products for target practice usage. It has a low probability of misfiring or jamming, making it ideal for this purpose.
Impressively, these bullets are coated in brass casings. This makes them completely resistant to rain or water because the substance simply can’t rust. This further strengthens my view that the Blazer Brass units are some of the most durable .45 ACP bullets on the market.
The heavy jacket of these rounds gives way for deep penetration into a target. This is ideal when using them for self-defense purposes.
It’s important to note that .45 ACP Blazer Brass ammo is only useable in small pistol primers, not large ones.
- Bulk rounds
- Less prone to misfiring
- Not compatible with large pistol primers
When it comes to self-defense and target shooting, Blazer Brass ammo is a worthwhile investment both in terms of experience and the economy. It’s always beneficial to cut costs where possible and Blazer Brass allows you to do that right from the start of the manufacturing process. Protecting yourself shouldn’t hurt your budget.
Overall rating: 8/10
If we’re going to get into target shooting, then we have to address it from the point of view of the absolute beginner. And what do all shooting beginners need an abundance of? Ammo!
The Magtech FMC comes in unbelievable rounds of 1000 units each. They’re neatly divided into the packaging of 50 rounds a piece and are extremely ideal for the beginner shooter who is ultimately going to burn through packages fast while they practice.
Buying in this kind of bulk is advantageous during target practice or self-defense training. The goal of the sessions is not to save ammo; they’re to get the shooter as well prepared as possible. Having peace of mind that you’re not about to run out of ammunition is hugely beneficial when in this type of training.
The most notable features of the Magtech FMC are the following:
- Muzzle energy of 358ft lbs.
- Bullet weight of 230-grain
- 1000 rounds
- FMC type
Gun enthusiasts report Magtech as a popular and reliable brand in today’s industry. It should also be noted that the brand produces its own primers, brass, powders, and projectiles which further contribute to more consistent & sustainable quality.
These .45 ACP rounds by Magtech are made of lead and then covered in a thin layer of copper. This makes them both economical as well as giving you a much cleaner shot when compared to other bullets of similar nature.
The material used to make this ammo is so smooth that the potential for jamming or misfiring is significantly reduced. This makes them reliable resources for beginners in action who are just learning the ropes of target shooting.
- Affordable and bulk buying possible
- Well-trusted brand
- Economically produced
- The FMC range is new to the scene and there isn’t much feedback available compared to other .45 ACP units
I believe that any product by a brand as reputable as Magtech is at least worth a try. Since the FMC bullets are part of a new concept, there isn’t much information available in terms of personal experience. I’d encourage shooters to try these for themselves. The great thing is having them in such bulk makes practice times easy.
Overall rating: 7/10
The winner of this roundup in the best .45 ACP ammo for self-defense and target shooting remains the trusted favorite: The Winchester 230-Grain.
In terms of performance and bullet construction, the ammo remains unmatched. I wasn’t able to find another bullet of this affordable and high-performing nature that featured exploding talons as a design standard.
For self-defense purposes, the Winchester is shooting perfection. 20 rounds are really all that is needed because the accuracy of each shot almost guarantees to be on target first time—which is imperative in a self-defense encounter.
While there were obvious competitors for the title of the best overall product, the Winchester prevails. It’s the ammo I would personally have on me for both self-defense and target shooting purposes, regardless of the context.
Take my word for it and be prepared for anything: invest in your self-defense gear today!