Home Culture Top 5 Best 45 ACP Ammo for Target Practice: Obliterate the Bullseye

Top 5 Best 45 ACP Ammo for Target Practice: Obliterate the Bullseye

Congrats on that new shiny 45 ACP pistol you’ve got there! Now that you have obtained unquestionably the best handgun on the planet (because it’s yours), now you need to know what’s the best ammo to feed it.

Although there are A LOT of different options when it comes to practice rounds, we found that the best 45 ACP ammo for target practice was Speer Lawman 230 gr TMJ.

If want more ammo options for your beloved 45 ACP cartridge, then scroll down just a bit and we’ve got our Top 5 list to help you pick the best ammo for your handgun.

If you’re new to the 45 ACP and aren’t sure what to look for in self-defense vs target ammo, check out this Buyer’s Guide HERE. Otherwise, scroll down just a little more for the list…

The Top 5 Best 45 ACP Factory Loads for Target Practice

  1. Speer Lawman 230 gr TMJ
  2. Federal American Eagle 230 gr FMJ
  3. PMC Bronze 230 gr FMJ
  4. Winchester Target & Practice 230 gr FMJ
  5. Sellier & Bellot 230 gr FMJ

Best Overall .45 ACP for Target Practice

Speer Lawman 230-grain TMJ

Speer Lawman 45 ACP ammo for sale

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Specs:

  • Weight: 230-Grain
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Bullet Design: TMJ
  • Muzzle Velocity: 830 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 352 ft-lbs

Pros:

  • Affordable and readily available
  • TMJ bullet is ideal for shooting indoors
  • Accurate

Cons:

  • Not appropriate for personal-defense

Why We Chose It

Speer Lawman is our first choice for the best ammo for target practice. It’s a cost-effective .45 ACP 230 gr round that’s readily available and extremely accurate in all our Colt 1911 and Glock 21 handguns that we tested it with.

Speer Lawman is also the preferred practice ammo of multiple law enforcement agencies across the country. This is primarily due to the total metal jacket (TMJ) bullet, as this reduces lead exposure when shooting at indoor ranges.

This also helps with cleaning, as we found the Lawman rounds to be extremely low residue, making your post-range session cleaning a breeze!

Another huge plus is that this ammo is extremely cost-effective when you buy in bulk. That means you can pick up 1,000 rounds of bulk ammo and not feel like you need to eat Ramen noodles for three months to cover the cost.

The only downside to target ammo like the Speer Lawman is that it is not appropriate for self-defense. However, with all the money you’ll save by practicing with Speer, you can easily afford a few extra boxes of JHP ammo to keep for personal protection.

In our hands we found that Speer Lawman 230 gr TMJ ammo was the most accurate, clean shooting, and inexpensive ammo on the market, solidifying it as our top pick for the best 45 ACP target ammo.

Federal American Eagle 230 gr FMJ

Federal American Eagle 45 ACP ammo for sale

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Specs:

  • Weight: 230-Grain
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Bullet Design: FMJ
  • Muzzle Velocity: 890 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 404 ft-lbs

Pros:

  • Reliable
  • Inexpensive
  • Great for plinking

Cons:

  • More powder residue than other brands

Why We Chose It

If you aren’t acquainted with ammo from the Federal red and black box adorned with America’s symbol of freedom, then you soon will be! Federal American Eagle 230 gr FMJ ammo is a classic target round and always seems to go “bang” when you pull the trigger.

And that’s what you want from a target round, because there’s nothing fun about clearing malfunctions or misfires when you’re punching holes in paper.

Accuracy for American Eagle was acceptable, not exactly match-grade but the low price point more than makes up for that.

The only downside we could detect was that our barrels seemed to be a bit dirtier when shooting American Eagle than with other brands. But an extra patch or two passed through the bore isn’t really something to make a huge fuss about.

Overall, Federal American Eagle 230 gr FMJ ammo gives you everything you could ever want for target practice: reliability, accuracy, and a low cost per round. It’s a great second option if you can’t find Speer or if your handgun just prefers Federal Ammunition.

PMC Bronze 230 gr FMJ

PMC 45 ACP ammo for sale

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Specs:

  • Weight: 230-Grain
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Bullet Design: FMJ
  • Muzzle Velocity: 830 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 352 ft-lbs

Pros:

  • Easy to buy in bulk
  • Perfect for reloading
  • Extremely reliable

Cons:

  • FMJ bullets might not be allowed at your indoor range

Why We Chose It

When you’re picking the best 45 ACP ammo for your favorite 1911, Glock 21, or Sig Sauer P220, you want a round that is inexpensive to shoot, has low recoil, and goes “bang” every time you pull the trigger. PMC Bronze 230 grain FMJ ammo fits that bill to a “T”.

One of the best things about PMC ammo is that it typically is sold at a lower overall cost per round than many of their competitors. This makes for excellent range ammo because you can buy it in bulk and won’t feel bad about blasting through more than one box at a time!

The only downside to PMC Bronze is that they use a traditional full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet instead of a total metal jacket (TMJ). Some indoor ranges require TMJ ammo to minimize lead contamination, so if you plan to shoot indoors it would be a smart move to call ahead and ask what type of ammo is permitted.

However, the low cost per round more than makes up for the standard FMJ bullet and I found this ammo to be 100% reliable in all my semi-automatic handguns.

Another positive aspect of PMC brass cases is that they have always been exceptional for reloading. Although every round on our top 5 list can be reloaded, I’ve personally found that PMC brass seems to last a bit longer than some other brands.

Overall, PMC Bronze 45 ACP 230 grain FMJ ammo offers an incredibly high-quality round that is great for target practice and maintaining your marksmanship skills for concealed carry.

Winchester Target & Practice 230 gr FMJ

Winchester USA 45 ACP ammo for sale

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Specs:

  • Weight: 230-Grain
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Bullet Design: FMJ
  • Muzzle Velocity: 835 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 356 ft-lbs

Pros:

  • High availability
  • Perfect for buying in bulk
  • Reliable and accurate

Cons:

  • Not great for self-defense

Why We Chose It

Ah, classic Winchester White Box ammo…I can almost remember the smell of the burnt powder from when I put the first 50 flawless rounds through my new Kimber TLE Custom II 1911 oh so many years ago. Winchester has rebranded their classic range ammo into new packaging, but don’t kid yourself, this is the classic white box ammo many of us grew up shooting.

In multiple range trips, we found this ammo to be an excellent choice for punching holes in paper targets. It’s inexpensive, accurate, clean-burning, and has low recoil, making it a perfect choice for your next trip to the shooting range.

The full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet is also exceptional at exploding cheap 2-liter soda bottles, popping tin cans off fence posts, and clanging steel targets with insanely boring regularity. FMJ’s are great for working at the range, but a poor substitute for jacketed hollow points when it comes to self-defense.

However, when it comes to practicing with your CCW pistol, Winchester Target and Practice 230 grain FMJ ammo cannot be beaten for its accuracy, value, and reliability.

Sellier & Bellot 230 gr FMJ

Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP ammo for sale

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Specs:

  • Weight: 230-Grain
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Bullet Design: FMJ
  • Muzzle Velocity: 853 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 371 ft-lbs

Pros:

  • Accurate
  • Inexpensive
  • Consistent shot-to-shot velocities

Cons:

  • Seems to have slightly snappier recoil

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking for an extremely consistent target ammo, Sellier & Bellot (otherwise known as S&B) is an excellent alternative to Federal, Winchester, PMC, and Speer.

In our range testing, we found that S&B ammo to be extremely accurate and a great choice for target practice and general plinking.

S&B bullets are slightly different as they are adorned with a brass full metal jacket as opposed to traditional copper FMJ bullets used by our other selections on this list. This did not seem to affect the overall function of the rounds in any way but made them visually different and easy to spot.

One minor downside to Sellier & Bellot ammo is that it seems to be slightly snappier in our .45 cal handguns compared to other target loads. This is not atypical for European ammo manufacturers, as they will typically load their rounds slightly hotter than their USA-based counterparts.

However, as S&B ammo is less expensive than Winchester, it makes a great alternative target round for boring out the bullseye.

Parting Shots: We’ll See You at the Range

Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of the article. By now you should be nothing short of an expert in all things 45 ACP ammo and know EXACTLY which target loads you should be loading into the mags of your favorite .45-caliber pistol.

To check out all the 45 ACP ammo we have in stock, check out our full 45 ACP ammo page or keep scrolling if you’d like to read our buyers guide to 45 Auto ammo. Otherwise, we’ll see you out on the range!

Buyer’s Guide: What Makes for the Best 45 ACP Target Ammo

Welcome to our buyers guide for 45 ACP ammo! Selecting the right 45 Auto ammo can be a daunting task with so many different options at your fingertips.

As the sidearm cartridge of choice for the US military from WWI through Vietnam, the 45 ACP has a combat pedigree that few other handgun rounds can boast. Carried by multiple law enforcement agencies and civilians alike, the 45 ACP is an excellent choice for home defense, concealed carry, and duty use.

In this guide, we are going to take a quick look into what qualities you should look for in the ammo you plan to use for EDC and what’s best for target practice. We’ll also touch on the backstory of the 45 ACP and share some tips on how to save money when you’re buying ammo.

Well, let’s get to it!

Why is the .45 ACP Good for Target Shooting?

Ask any 1911 owner why the 45 ACP is good for target practice and you’ll get a monologue about how our Lord and Savior, John Moses Browning, was commissioned by the Almighty himself to create the greatest handgun round the world had ever seen. The 45 ACP was that round and rumor has it that each box of 45 that leaves a USA-based ammo plant is anointed with Holy Water before it’s sold.

All joking aside, the 45 ACP is an exceptionally accurate round that offers shooters a wide variety of bullet styles to fit their shooting needs. It’s a relatively low-pressure round for its caliber (I’m looking at you 44 Magnum!) that provides for an enjoyable shooting experience especially when fired from a 1911 or full-sized handgun like a Springfield XD45 or Glock 21.

Accurized 1911’s firing 45 ACP have won countless bullseye, USPSA, IPSC, and Steel Challenge competitions across the globe. Trust me, it’s accurate enough for you.

Plus, there’s something deliciously satisfying about boring out the X-ring of a paper target firing the might 45 ACP. It’s a majestic round that has a rich history and is relatively inexpensive to shoot. The 45 ACP is an American classic and is still going strong well after a century of faithful service.

Why Do We Carry the .45 ACP?

Because it’s a freaking 45, that’s why! What other reason could you possibly want? Ok, fine…Here’s the non-sarcastic answer.

The 45 ACP has proven itself as an effective personal defense round for well over a century. It fires a very wide 0.452” diameter bullet that typically weighs between 185 and 230 grains. Combined with an expanding jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullet, the 45 ACP leaves an absolutely devastating wound track that is extremely effective at neutralizing any would-be attacker(s).

Compared to the three most common self-defense handgun rounds, namely the 9mm Luger40 S&W, and 357 Magnum, the 45 ACP fires the heaviest and widest bullets of the bunch. This gives it an incredible amount of stopping power and is trusted by law enforcement officers and civilian CCW permit holders even to this day.

Although the 45 ACP does fire heavy bullets, it doesn’t have oppressive recoil like the 44 Magnum or 10mm Auto. Many shooters describe the recoil impulse of the 45 ACP as a pushing sensation, strong by manageable. On the other hand, most magnum rounds are described as having snappy recoil which is a lot harder to control.

Ammunition for the 45 ACP is readily available and virtually every firearm manufacture has multiple handguns chambered in 45 ACP. The ammo is easy to buy in bulk, meaning you can save on ammo but still get to the range to keep your marksmanship skills high.

From a ballistic standpoint, the 45 ACP self-defense rounds have been shown to be extremely effective in the FBI ballistic gel testing.

FBI ballistic gel testing requirements state that a personal-defense round should penetrate to a minimum of 12 inches without exceeding 18 inches to be deemed an effective round. To put it simply, 45 ACP does this extremely well.

No matter how you slice it, the 45 ACP is about as American as apple pie. It’s a mainstay in the shooting community, beloved by many and an integral piece of American history. You simply can’t go wrong if you decide to EDC a 45 ACP!

What’s the Difference Between 45 ACP and 45 Auto?

Although they have different names, the 45 Auto and 45 ACP round are the same.

Let me explain this a bit further as it might not make sense as to why there are two identical cartridges on the market with different names.

In 1904 the 45 ACP was released under that name. From that moment handguns were manufactured with 45 ACP stamped on the barrel. Just so you’re aware, ACP stands for “Automatic Colt Pistol”.

However, in 1926 everything changed with the founding of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI). The stated goal of the organization was to standardize the shooting industry.

This is a good thing, as it means that ammo purchased from Remington must be manufactured within the same set of parameters as ammo produced by Hornady, Winchester, Federal, or Sig Sauer.

Although the founding of SAAMI was a very good thing for the firearms industry, one thing that wasn’t so helpful was that they refused to have any type of trademarked name in their database. This was done to avoid any potential legal issues.

As the 45 Automatic Colt Pistol was trademarked, SAAMI refused to certify the cartridge under that name. Therefore, an identical cartridge with the exact same specs as 45 ACP was submitted under the name of “45 Automatic” or 45 Auto for short. This design was accepted and is the reason why we have two names for the same cartridge.

If you want to read more about the story of the 45 ACP and 45 Auto, check out this article: 45 ACP vs 45 Auto.

So, if you are looking at making an ammo purchase for your 45 ACP handgun and all you see is 45 Auto, then you don’t need to worry because they are the exact same thing.

FMJ vs JHP Ammo: Understanding Everyday Carry (EDC) vs Target Ammo

As a general rule, full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo is used for target practice while jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammo is used for self-defense and CCW. But what is the difference between these two bullet types and why does it matter? Let’s talk about it.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullet is exactly like it sounds. It is a bullet that has a lead core which is encapsulated by a metallic outer coating or “jacket”. Typically, these jackets are made from copper but other materials can be used.

FMJ bullets are great because they are simple and inexpensive to manufacture, making them ideal for plinking and general target practice due to their low cost per round.

The downside to FMJ bullets is that they do not expand when they encounter soft tissue, which means they will likely pass through a bad guy in a self-defense situation and retain most of their kinetic energy instead of transferring it to the target. This is where jacketed hollow points come in.

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) bullet is designed for self-defense and to minimize overpenetration. Hollow point rounds have a soft lead core and are surrounded by a metallic jacket (typically copper), similar to FMJ bullets. However, the main difference in a JHP bullet is that there is a divot or “hollow” at the tip of the bullet that will expand when it encounters soft tissue.

The expansion of the hollow point allows more kinetic energy to be transferred to the target and slows the bullet down tremendously. These rounds are touted as self-defense rounds because they are designed to (ideally) not leave the bad guy.

As the bullet expands, it creates a larger wound channel that increases the odds of the bullet contacting vital organs. This is the main reason that hollow point ammo is considered the best choice for defense ammo, as it will stop a threat with fewer rounds and decreases the potential for overpenetration.

Although JHP ammo is great for self-defense, it’s also more expensive as it costs more to engineer and manufacture hollow point ammo than it does for FMJ rounds.

If you’re looking for JHP self-defense ammo, then we’d recommend that you consider these factory loads:

What’s the Best Bullet for .45 ACP Target Shooting?

Let’s get down to brass tacks; regardless of if you’re going out plinking, working on your marksmanship skills, or maintaining proficiency with your EDC pistol, you probably want the cheapest .45 ACP available in bulk.

Most handgun enthusiasts recommend a good FMJ round for target shooting. They’re less expensive than JHP ammo, readily available, and do a wonderful job at punching holes in paper targets.

Typically, the most common 45 ACP ammo fires a 230 gr FMJ bullet. This was the standard issue load for the US military and virtually every ammo manufacturer produces it. They are inexpensive, reliably feed in most all 45 ACP handguns, and do an excellent job at maintaining your proficiency with your handgun.

However, it’s also important to train with your chosen self-defense ammo to ensure proper function in your handgun. The 1911 can be picky when it comes to reliably feeding hollow point ammo, as it was originally designed to fire the 230 gr FMJ round.

Therefore, we advise you to always put a box of personal-defense ammo through your chosen EDC handgun at least once every-other range session, because you don’t want to find out that your pistol doesn’t like your JHP ammo when it matters the most!

Although 45 ACP 230 grain FMJ ammo might be the most common bullet for target practice, that doesn’t mean it’s the best.

Generally hollow point ammo will be more accurate since it fires a more aerodynamic bullet and is typically loaded for higher velocities. However, JHP ammo is expensive, so what is a shooter to do?

If you’re just going to the range to practice then FMJ ammo will do just fine. However, if you’re going to shoot a match or need top levels of accuracy, then you could look at picking up some inexpensive JHP’s like Hornady XTP or Magtech JHP ammo.

What Bullet Weight Does the 45 ACP Shoot?

The 45 ACP typically comes in three different bullet weights: 185 gr, 200 gr, and 230 gr. The 230-grain bullet weight is the most popular, by far, with the 185-grain bullet being the second-most popular option.

Typically you’ll find target practice 45 ACP ammo loaded with 230 gr FMJ bullets as this is the most popular loading for the round. The 185 and 200 grain bullets are more common in self-defense JHP ammo although there are still more options available for 230 grain JHP bullets.

Although FMJ and JHP bullets are the most common, the 45 ACP can be loaded with total metal jacket (TMJ), round nose flat point (RNFP), bare lead bullets (one without a jacket), and semi-wadcutters (SWC) bullets.

How can you save money buying 45 ACP ammo?

The best way to save money on ammo is by buying bulk 45 ACP ammo.

When you purchase bulk ammo, your upfront costs will be higher than buying one box at a time, but your overall cost per round will be lower. This means it will cost you less every time you squeeze the trigger, and that’s a good thing!

Buying bulk 45 Auto also means that you’ll always have ammo when you’re ready to hit the range. No longer will you be at the whims of supply chain disruptions or whatever your local shooting range has available. Instead, you’ll have tons of your favorite 45 ACP ammo at the ready whenever you want to practice with your favorite 45 Auto pistols.

Some popular brands that are available in bulk 45 Auto are CCI Blazer Brass, Magtech, Winchester, PMC, Federal, and Speer.

Make sure to check out our bulk 45 ACP ammo page to see all your bulk purchasing options to ensure that you’ve always got tons of target practice ammo on hand!

A Brief History of the 45 ACP

The 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) was developed by the renowned American firearms innovator, John Moses Browning, in 1904 and is still one of the most popular handgun cartridges in North America well over 100 years later.

Designed initially as a military cartridge, development of the 45 ACP began out of necessity.

During the Philippine-American War, the US Cavalry became displeased with the lack of stopping power provided by their .38 Long Colt sidearms. The US military concluded that bigger bullets with more stopping power were required, and that the ideal caliber for this duty was .45 due, in part, to the success of the 45 Long Colt.

Prior to this development, John Moses Browning had been working in tandem with Colt to develop a new 41 caliber for consideration. However, when this new order came from the US Military, Colt and Browning increased the caliber to .45.

Initially the new 45 ACP cartridge was designed to fire a 200-grain bullet at 900 fps. However, after some modifications by the Frankford Arsenal, Union Metallic Cartridge, and Winchester, the finalized version was adorned with a 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) fired at 850 fps.

The final version of the 45 ACP mimicked the ballistic performance of the 45 Schofield and the 45 Long Colt but was significantly shorter.

In 1906, Colt (using Browning’s design) and 5 other firearms manufacturers submitted handguns for consideration. Only Colt and Savage Arms made the final cut in 1910.

The resulting testing run by the US Military showed the Colt submission experiencing zero failures while the Savage sidearm had 37 stoppages. The Colt handgun was selected as the Model 1911.

The Colt 1911 and the 45 ACP served in all branches of the US Military for the next 70+ years as the standard issue sidearm and ammo. It carried us through World War I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. It was not until the 1980s that the military decided to update their service pistol and opted to move towards the Beretta M9 and the 9mm Luger cartridge much to the chagrin of 1911 lovers across the USA.

In general, the 45 ACP is a low-pressure round with SAAMI specs citing a maximum pressure of 21,000 psi (considerably less than 35,000 psi for 9mm). It is naturally subsonic, which makes it ideal for use with a suppressor/silencer or submachineguns.

Your standard, off-the-shelf 230 grain full metal jacket (FMJ) Winchester ammo will have a muzzle velocity of 835 fps and muzzle energy of 356 foot-pounds.

The 45 ACP is truly America’s cartridge, and it has a huge following both in military, law enforcement, and civilian shooting circles across the USA.

Back to the Best 45 ACP Ammo for Target Practice

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what the 45 ACP has to offer, let’s get back to our Top 5 List by clicking HERE!

Top 5 Best 45 ACP Ammo for Target Practice: Obliterate the Bullseye 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.