Top 5 45 ACP Self Defense Ammo

The 45 ACP is an excellent self-defense round. It's been in service for the US Military since World War 1. The advantage the 45 ACP has over smaller cartridges like the 9mm Luger is a larger projectile although at a much slower velocity. Most 45 ACP ammo will be between 185 to 230 grains with a velocity between 900 to 1,000 FPS. We've put together our list of the top 5 self-defense 45 ACP ammo, you can check out all 45 ACP ammo here.

Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition 45 ACP 185 Grain FTX Box of 20

Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition was purpose built for concealed carry guns and designed to deliver reliable and controlled expansion regardless of target every time.. Critical Defense Ammunition is loaded with Hornady's  bullet which has a soft polymer insert that delivers superior controlled expansion and large, deep wound cavities over a wide range of velocities. Each round is loaded into a nickel case for increased visibility in low-light situations and premium low flash propellants that deliver proven performance, even in very short-barreled handguns that will not disrupt your vision. This ammunition was designed by Hornady to expand every single time. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.


  • Unaffected by thick and heavy clothing, including denim and leather
  • Bullet delivers superior controlled expansion and large, deep wound cavities over a wide range of velocities
  • Clean burning and efficient propellants reduce recoil in lightweight handguns, and perform consistently at all temperatures
  • Minimal muzzle flash protect night vision
  • Feeds reliably in pistols
  • Bullets are custom designed for individual loads
  • Effective, consistent, reliable self-defense ammunition

Notice From Hornady: Temporary suspension of nickel plated cartridge cases for Critical Defense® Handgun Ammunition 5/25/21

Unfortunately, everyone is faced with production bottlenecks and supply chains are stressed. In particular, the freight system is delayed longer than normal. Our current turnaround time on nickel plating cartridge cases is 4+ weeks. This delay has created a significant bottleneck in the production of ammunition.

Due to these issues, we will suspend nickel plating on all Critical Defense handgun ammunition to help reduce production time. We will resume nickel plating when things return to normal.


What Customers Are Saying

Go To Defense Ammo

This is the absolute best Defensive ammo on the market for most civilian uses. Law enforcement needs barricade/glass penetration but the avg civilian just needs to stop the threat without over penetration. This ammo will do that. I have never had a FTF, FTE, or any problem with this ammo in any of the eight 1911s I have used it in. It also has decent accuracy. Averages 2 inches at 25 yards in most 1911s. In tests on penetration/expansion on water filled one gallon jugs, it penetrated 3 jugs and expanded to 68 caliber. The first jug was completely laid open and the second jug was split clean down the side. The round bulged the back wall of the third jug. That is 18 inches of penetration when fired from 10 yards away. I get the same performance whether it is a 3, 4, or 5 inch barrel. Additionally there is no hollow point on this ammo that can be plugged by denim or leather on initial contact. This stuff always expands due to the polymer tip. I bet my life on this ammo. I also keep the 38 special 110 gr Criti...
- Jim, 10/16/2017

About Hornady

“Ten bullets through one hole” is the philosophy that brought Hornady® Manufacturing from a two-man operation in 1949, to a world-leading innovator of bullet, ammunition, reloading tool and accessory design and manufacture today. Change is their constant and daily challenge. They outperform their competitors by ensuring the products they make are the ones their customers need right now, and accurately predict what they’ll want in the future. They recognize trends, and respect when to leave well enough alone. Their workforce includes an ample number of hunters and competitive shooters, as well as veterans and former law enforcement officers. At Hornady® Manufacturing, ammunition is more than their livelihood. It’s a major part of their daily life.

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Federal Premium Personal Defense Ammunition 45 ACP 210 Grain Hydra-Shok Deep Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 20

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok has proven itself for self-defense since 1989. Hydra-Shok Deep builds off the time-tested platform with design improvements that better meet modern performance measurements. The bullet features a more robust center post and a core design that provides as much as 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and competitor loads. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable nickel plated brass cases.



  • Penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gel—the optimal depth according to FBI standards
  • 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok
  • 70 percent improvement in FBI protocol score
  • Iconic center post design has been improved for better, more consistent expansion through standard barriers.
  • Consistent, specially formulated propellant
  • Extremely reliable Federal primer


What Customers Are Saying

Picky gun likes!

I couldn't help but notice this hollow point has a bit more of a taper to the meplat then most. I have an older picky gun doesn't like most hollow points but it fed these just fine. With that said I would gladly recommend these purely based off of reliability.
- Range Shooter, 7/3/2022

About Federal Premium

Federal Ammunition opened its doors on April 27, 1922. Odds were against the fledgling factory, but the support of shooters like you and the tireless work of our dedicated American workforce carried us through the decades and transformed us into the world’s leading ammunition manufacturer. We use the industry's finest bullets, brass, primers, and propellants; and hold our manufacturing processes to exact tolerances, eliminating any variables that cause inconsistencies, to give you absolutely reliable ammunition that delivers superb accuracy and optimum terminal performance. Our skilled, dedicated craftspeople build the world's best ammunition with a commitment to big game hunters, competitive shooters, law enforcement personnel, upland and waterfowl hunters, and anyone who relies on their ammunition to win.

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Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 45 ACP 230 Grain V-Crown Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 50

SIG V-Crown defensive rounds combine perfected material specifications and fine-tuned design innovations, including a stacked hollow point cavity, to deliver exceptional on-target energy with maximum weight retention and optimal expansion for ultimate stopping power. SIG V-Crown ammunition creates a consistent V-shaped main cavity on top of a deep narrow trail with superior weight retention, maximum expansion, optimal penetration depth time after time. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer-primed, reloadable nickel-plated cases.


  • Designed to match Sig Full Metal Jacket ammunition
  • High Quality components
  • Reloadable nickel-plated brass cases


Note: Due to availability of components, this ammunition may or may not be shipped in nickel plated brass.

About Sig Sauer

In our world-class facilities, we build the toughest, most precise rifles, pistols, suppressors, optics, ammunition, and airguns, while offering the finest firearms training — all as a fully integrated system. We do this because we share the same drive to be the best, the same love of freedom, the same unwillingness to compromise — as those who choose our brand. SIG SAUER--NEVER SETTLE

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Underwood Ammunition 45 ACP 174 Grain Lehigh Maximum Expansion Lead-Free Box of 20

While taking advantage of state of the art testing equipment, this high performance ammunition by Underwood is field tested using popular, real firearms that customers are most likely to own out in the real world with all the elements you would experience. If for some reason Underwood Ammunition fails to meet performance expectations, Underwood stands by their product 100% and will make sure the customer is satisfied with every purchase. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable nickel plated brass cases.

Lehigh’s Maximum Expansion Technology is used to produce projectiles that create the largest wound channels of any bullet you can buy. These cavernous hollow points are designed to expand upon contact with a fluid-based medium through hydraulic energy. They do not expand on dry mediums like wood, drywall, bone, or sheet metal. The expansion process of Lehigh’s Maximum Expansion technology is very different than that of a traditional lead jacketed bullet that expands when it comes in contact with a hard surface – we designed these bullets to expand where the expansion is needed and that is in the vital zone of your intended target. Lehigh Maximum Expansion bullets expand with razor sharp petals positioned and maintained at the largest diameter to provide the greatest cutting surface. Contrast this with a traditional jacketed bullet that expands and quickly mushrooms the nose back along the bullets shank once again reducing the diameter down to a less effective size. Through design and testing, we can move the expansion point and maintain the expansion diameter exactly where required providing the optimum terminal performance. All of Underwood Ammo rounds utilize flash suppressed powder so that your vision will not be compromised if it becomes necessary to use your firearm in low light.

The Underwood nickel plating process provides several key benefits including; improved feeding in all actions of firearms, enhanced corrosion resistance over traditional brass, improved cosmetics, and ease of cleanup during reloading. Nickel plated casings will not tarnish like brass during storage or when in contact with foreign materials such as leather, moisture, and other metals. Until the development of the Ducta-Bright 7a process, nickel plating casings often limited the number of reloads as compared to raw brass. It was claimed that nickel plated brass casings embrittled the brass therefor making it less desirable for reloaders despite the ease of cleanup that nickel plating offers. In addition, ammunition engineers raising concerns of using nickel plating in very hot +P or magnum loads found that traditional nickel plating often cracked deep-drawn cases, or worse, lead to a total failure. This new process eliminates any concern, to the shooter or reloader, of hazard or ability to re-use the brass.


  • Reduced recoil
  • CNC machined from solid copper to overcome barriers to penetration
  • Large wound channel

What Customers Are Saying

Underwood 45 ACP 174 Grain Lehigh Maximum Expansion

I was hesitant to try a New Defense Round. I loved my Proven and reliable HST's. So I decided to do a head to head comparison test. I tested these new Rounds using my FNX .45 Tactical and S&W M&P .45, I tested this for function and against several barriers including 2 layers of drywall, 1/2 in plywood,Laminated Auto glass,Car door into a pork rib and Ballistic Gel back stop, and WOW... long story Short this is my New Everyday Carry round, i will shoot up my supply of HST for practice and start using these. Simply out of this world amazing, see for your self just using 3 1 gallon water jugs filed with water or Jello. I have never seen my Bullet look like the advertized Perfect Expanded round seen in pictures, these really do!!! Largest "gel" wound channel other than a .300 win mag that i have ever seen.
- Crazy Med1c, 4/10/2017 Shop Now

Winchester USA Ready Defense Ammunition 45 ACP 200 Grain Hex-Vent Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 20

Winchester USA Ready Defense ammunition is a select grade of ammunition and components, designed for personal defense. Made in the USA, it offers the ideal combination of stopping power, penetration and reliable expansion. The unique Hex-Vent Rigid Insert shields the hollow point from obstruction while channeling material flow for positive bullet expansion. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in reloadable nickel plated brass cases.

What Customers Are Saying

I will purchase more.

Tested Winchester 45 acp USA ready 200 grain defense ammo for function & accuracy in my Kimber ultra crimson carry 3 inch barrel. Function was perfect, however this gun shoots everything without issue , including reloads of all configurations. Grouping was good & recoil was about equal with Hornady critical defense 185 FTX. Also equal with the Hornady 185 FTX ammo, in this gun point of impact at 15 yards was about 2 inches above point of aim . Yours may differ. I have not tested in my kimber pro carry 4 inch yet. So far, it's a keeper. There is several brands of good defense ammo available, it's difficult to choose. Fact is , shot placement is what will save your life ! Just my personal opinion, be safe.
- Quigley, 12/19/2022

About Winchester

A world leader in delivering innovative products, Winchester is The American Legend, a brand built on integrity, hard work, and a deep focus on its loyal customers. Considered one of the world’s leading ammunition manufacturers, Winchester has built its reputation on delivering innovative ammunition products, providing top-shelf customer service and demonstrating industry leadership. Our legacy in servicing hunters and shooters, law enforcement and U.S. warfighters runs deep, with decades of support at the highest levels including delivering technologically advanced products. From our research and development efforts to our manufacturing processes, we understand the value of product quality and performance. With a reputation steeped in tradition, we have earned the moniker, ‘The American Legend’ by delivering on our commitment to excellence in everything we do.

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