Home Culture Don’t Settle for Less Than the Best Ammo for 1911 45 ACP

Don’t Settle for Less Than the Best Ammo for 1911 45 ACP

I rarely concealed carry my 1911; it’s still typically close by and is my home defense pistol.

I still argue shotguns are the better home defense weapon due to the lower chance of over-penetration.

However, if the need arises, I won’t hesitate to use my 1911 to protect my family and myself.

So recently, I tested the best ammo for 1911 45 ACP to determine the most accurate, reliable, and reasonably priced 1911 45 ammo.

Below you’ll find my conclusions so that you can make the best decision on your next m1911 ammo purchase.

Recommended Ammo for 1911 .45 ACP

  1. Hornady Critical Defense 45 ACP 185 Grain FTX JHP – Best Overall
  2. Federal Hydra-Shok Deep 45 ACP 210-grain JHP – Honorable Mention
  3. Speer Gold Dot 45 ACP 185 Grain JHP – Best Defense
  4. Federal HST 45 ACP +P 230 Grain JHP – Honorable Mention
  5. Prvi Partizan 45 ACP 185 Grain JHP – Best Plinking Ammo
  6. Fiocchi 45 ACP 200-grain JHP – Honorable Mention

Best Ammo for 1911 45 ACP Overall

Hornady Critical Defense 45 ACP 185 Grain FTX JHP


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 185-grain
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 411 ft-lbs


  • Excellent ballistics
  • Trusted brand
  • Reloadable
  • Accurate


  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

Hornady Critical Defense is one of the most trusted self-defense rounds. These are the brass-cased rounds that I trust in my 1911.

The jacketed hollow point has a polymer tip, which helps with accuracy and expansion to lower over-penetration.

If you think a 185gr bullet is too light, you can try the Hornady Custom 45 ACP + P ammo 230 Grain JHP. This self-defense ammo doesn’t have the polymer tip, but it’s loaded a little hotter to help propel the 230-grain bullet.

Personally, I like the 185gr bullet because it has a little less recoil but plenty of stopping power to stop a threat.

Even though it’s expensive, the ballistics and reliability are well worth the extra money. If you practice with this ammo, you’ll be able to reload the brass to get your money’s worth out of this ammo.

Honorable Mentions

If you find that your 1911 handgun malfunctions less when using Winchester ammo, I recommend buying Winchester USA Ready Defense 45 ACP 200-grain JHP or Winchester Ranger T if you’re in law enforcement.

I like the Ready Defense rounds because they’re a good compromise on bullet weight, recoil, and stopping power.

They’re designed specifically for defense, while the Ranger T ammo is designed with law enforcement in mind.

Federal Hydra-Shok Deep 45 ACP 210-grain JHP is a little less expensive than Hornady Critical Defense and has a heavier bullet.

The heavier bullet means it has a slower muzzle velocity but more muzzle energy, so it’s a harder-hitting round.

Federal Hydra-Shok is nickel-plated brass, which is smoother than brass, so it will help reduce malfunctions if you’re having problems with empty casings getting stuck.

For a budget-friendly option, check out Black Hills Ammunition 45 ACP 230 Grain JHP. The heavier bullet does lower the ballistics of this round. However, the threat you’re stopping won’t notice the difference.

Best 45 ACP Defense Ammo for 1911

Speer Gold Dot 45 ACP 185 Grain JHP


  • Casing: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 185gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,050 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 453 ft-lbs


  • Trusted by many shooters
  • Designed for personal defense
  • Excellent ballistics


  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

Speer Gold Dot 185gr JHP 45 ACP easily made my list of best 45 ACP Hollow Points, so it’s no surprise I’m ranking it high on my list of 1911 45 ACP ammo.

Many concealed carriers brag on these rounds for their reliability and accuracy.

The ballistics are nothing to ignore, but remember that this is a 185gr bullet, one of the lighter 45 ACP self-defense bullets.

If you’re feeling more macho, try the Speer Gold Dot 45 ACP 230 Grain JHP. The ballistics are a little lower, but you get the added benefits of the heavier bullet. Not to mention bragging rights that you can handle the more significant recoil.

Because these rounds are designed for personal defense, many law enforcement officers use them as their everyday carry ammo.

Honorable Mentions

The Remington Golden Saber Bonded 45 ACP 230 Grain BJHP uses newer technology in the bullet design, which means it’s a little more expensive.

However, you might find the nickel-plated brass cycles better in your Remington 1911 and is more accurate because the bullets jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core.

Federal Premium Law Enforcement HST 45 ACP +P 230 Grain JHP isn’t for the faint of heart. The +P means it’s loaded hotter than typical factory ammo, so it’ll have more recoil.

The heavier bullet and hotter load mean it’s also more powerful than other 45 ACP rounds that don’t have as much powder in the case.

Despite being premium ammo, it’s less expensive than other +P 45 ACP ammo.

The Underwood 45 ACP +P 230-grain JHP rounds have a high muzzle velocity and tremendous muzzle energy at a similar price to other defensive ammo.

This is partly due to the increase in powder, which translates to more recoil. Though the ballistics stand out compared to other +P ammo, it’s more expensive than Federal HST.

Best 1911 Pistol Ammo for Practice

Prvi Partizan 45 ACP 185 Grain JHP


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 185gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 935 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 359 ft-lbs


  • Inexpensive
  • Practice with the same ammo you carry
  • Solid ballistics
  • Designed for self-defense


  • Lesser known brand

Why We Chose It

Using the same ammo for target practice as you carry is best, but that can get expensive.

That’s not the case with Prvi Partizan 185gr JHP; these rounds are inexpensive and designed for personal defense.

They don’t offer the best ballistics, which is expected when you’re saving this much money, but if you’re ever forced to stop a threat with them, neither you nor the bad guy will notice the difference.

Prvi Partizan 45 ACP 230 Grain FMJ is slightly less expensive because they use full metal jacket bullets instead of the JHP bullets.

For target shooting, these are perfectly fine, but I wouldn’t carry FMJs. They tend to over-penetrate and have less stopping power because they don’t expand on impact, like a hollow point.

If you prefer well-known ammo brands, this isn’t the ammo for you; however, Prvi Partizan has an excellent reputation.

For the price, you can’t beat the Prvi Partizan 185gr JHP for practice and carry ammo.

Honorable Mentions

Federal American Eagle 45 ACP 230-grain FMJ is not the cheapest ammo on the market, but if you prefer to use an ammo brand with a household name, these are the rounds for you.

Shooters have trusted Federal American Eagle rounds for decades. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, especially when the full metal jacket bullet’s ballistics are comparable to the jacketed hollow point bullets.

Though Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP 230-grain JHP doesn’t have the ballistics as other high-end JHP ammo, it’s nearly half the price. So you’ll be able to practice and carry this ammo without breaking the bank.

The Speer Lawman 45 ACP 230-grain TMJ is designed to perform similarly to defense or law enforcement rounds without having the increased price of a JHP bullet.

I had to mention the Fiocchi 45 ACP 200-grain JHP because these are in the sweet spot of price point and bullet weight. They’re not too heavy, and they’re not too light.

How to Choose the best 45 ACP for 1911

Deciding which ammo is best for you is daunting, with many options and things to consider.

However, it doesn’t have to be when you narrow the considerations down to three of the most important; budget, reliability, and recoil.


Setting and staying within your budget is critical. It’s silly to buy ammo but not the essentials like food, water, and shelter.

At Ammo.com, we offer quality ammo in all budget ranges, so you’re sure to find the rounds that work for your situation.

Hollow point bullets are more expensive than full metal jacket bullets; however, hollow points are the better option for personal defense, so they’re worth stretching the budget a tad.


This is the most crucial consideration, in my opinion. If you can’t trust the rounds to go off and not jam, don’t trust them with your life.

That’s why it’s critical to test multiple brands and bullet weights with your ammo. You’ll find that Colt 1911s shoot a specific brand and bullet weight better than other brands of ammo.

The same can be said for all brands of 1911s, whether it’s a Springfield, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, or Glock.

Find out which ammo is most reliable in your 1911 and stick with that ammo.


Recoil should be considered because it drastically affects how accurately and quickly you can get a follow-up shot off, two significant things in a self-defense situation.

You can call me a wimp, but I prefer as little recoil as possible because I’m more accurate and can get back on target quicker with a lighter recoil round.

However, don’t go so light of a recoil that you’re drastically sacrificing knockdown power. There’s a happy medium to find; once again, test out several brands, bullet weights, and powder loads to determine which works best for you.

How to Save Money on 1911 Ammo

Ammo is expensive and will only get more costly as demand continues to increase.

There are a few ways to save money when buying ammo, but they typically require a more significant investment upfront.


reloading press

Reloading is a skill worth having, and it doesn’t require a gunsmithing certificate. You can reuse your spent brass and save money on factory ammo.

Reloading takes time to figure out and dial in, but once you get everything set to how you like it, you can quickly pump out several hundred rounds in your spare time.

The upfront cost is substantial because you have to purchase reloading equipment and ammunition supplies.

The money you save depends on how fast you can crank out rounds.

Buy in Bulk

Buying bulk 45 ACP ammo is an excellent way to save money per round.

The more rounds you buy at once, the more money you save per round.

500 Rounds of Browning 45 ACP 230 Grain FMJ costs much less per round because the manufacturer offers better discounts when you purchase more rounds at a time.

That’s why many shooters buy bulk ammo instead of 20 or 50 rounds at a time.

Combine the Two

If you have the time and money, combining the two tips mentioned above is best.

When you buy bulk ammo, you get the bulk discount; then, you can reload the spent brass to increase your savings even more!

Buy Aluminum Casings

Buying steel or aluminum-cased ammo is another way to save money.

These casings are much harder to reload, so I don’t recommend trying to reload the spent casings, but rounds like Blazer 45 ACP 230 Grain FMJ are cheaper than other 45 ACP ammo because they use a more affordable metal for the case.

Common Bullets Used in 1911 45 ACP Ammo

Bullet selection is critical when choosing the best ammo for a 1911 45 ACP. The first step in selecting the best bullet is knowing what each one was designed for and understanding how that fits into your situation.


The full metal jacket bullet was designed in the late 1800s for military rifles. It’s now primarily used for target practice.

It gets its name from the lead core encased by a harder metal (typically copper), which helps the bullet keep its shape and leave less residue in the barrel. However, the lead bullet is not entirely surrounded by the metal jacket.

They’re less than ideal for self-defense because they can easily penetrate multiple people since they don’t expand like a hollow point bullet. This means even if you hit the bad guy, you could accidentally strike an innocent bystander with the same bullet.


The only difference between a total metal jacket and a full metal jacket is a total metal jacket completely encases the lead core.

TMJ bullets are safer at indoor shooting ranges because you don’t get the lead vaporization as with an FMJ.


jacketed hollow point is what most concealed carriers use.

They have better stopping power and are less likely to over-penetrate than an FMJ or TMJ.

However, they’re more expensive and illegal in some places.


A bonded jacketed hollow point is the same as a jacketed hollow point, except the jacket has been chemically bonded to the lead core.

This helps the bullet hold its shape during flight and evenly expand on impact.


SCHP bullet

solid copper hollow point is made from copper instead of lead. These bullets better hold their shape than lead hollow points during flight.

However, they don’t expand on impact as well because copper is a more rigid metal.

Parting Shots

While the 1911 is one of the greatest guns ever made, it’s nothing more than a paperweight without the best ammo for a 1911 45 ACP.

That’s why I buy Hornady Critical Defense 185 Grain FTX JHP for my 1911. It’s some of the best personal defense ammo on the market.

There’s no sense in putting your family or yourself at risk any longer; pick up a box or ten today!

Don’t Settle for Less Than the Best Ammo for 1911 45 ACP originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

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Sam Jacobs
Sam Jacobs grew up in Southern New England, probably the part of the country with the weakest gun culture. However, from a young age he believed firmly in the right of self defense and the right to keep and bear arms. This, coupled with 12 years of education in public schools and an argumentative nature, meant that he was frequently getting into debates with his teachers about the virtue of the Second Amendment. A precocious student of history and the Constitution, Jacobs became interested in both the practice of armed self defense throughout history as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Second Amendment. Jacobs has an affinity for the individual and the common man against centralized forms of power and elites, whether they be in the government or the private sector. In particular, he is interested in the ways in which private companies work to subvert the legislative process and to undermine American freedoms outside of normal legal channels. He considers the resolution of how corporate power can hem in Constitutional freedoms to be the most pressing political question of our age. The private sector and the public sector are increasingly indistinguishable from one another, both because of behind-the-scenes corporate chicanery that undermines the legislative process and because private companies are rapidly becoming far more powerful than the federal government. Thus, it is more important than ever to both fight the incursion of private companies into our government and to become independent and self-reliant enough to make it difficult for private companies to hem in your rights. So Sam believes. Jacobs is the lead writer and chief historian with Ammo.com, and is the driving intellectual force behind the content in the Resistance Library. He is proud to see his work name-checked in places like Bloomberg, USA Today and National Review, but he is far more proud to see his work republished on websites like ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell and Sons of Liberty Media. You can catch him on Quora and Parler as well as on our very own Resistance Library podcast. How many firearms does Sam own and what’s his everyday carry? That’s between him and the NSA.