The Mighty .45

The Mighty .45ACP

“I carry a .45 because I only want to shoot the guy once.”

“One shot with a .45 is worth 5 shots with a .380”

“I don’t need to carry extra magazines… I carry a .45”


Many of us that carry .45’s have given that round mythical characteristics.

“Go ahead and stand behind that cinder block wall moron… my .45 can go through the wall, through, dry wall, a 2×4, and still have enough knock down power to finish the fight.”

“I used to carry a 9mm… but I got tired of having to carry thirty two magazines full of ammo, so now I just carry my 1911 with one Wilson Combat with eight rounds of .45ACP.”

Lets dial it back to reality for a bit.

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Last week I was at Gunsite in Pauldin Arizona taking their Advanced Vehicle Defensive Tactics Class.

(I brought my 1911, because… well… it is my standard carry gun, and if an angry vehicle tries to attack me, what better to stop it than the mighty .45?)

Our instructors impressed upon us that for certain portions of the class, shooting through the windshield was going to be necessary.  Along with that came the knowledge that for the first round to go through the windshield it would be almost impossible to predict where exactly it would land.

The text book states that any round hitting a plane of glass will alter its flight pattern to follow a line perpendicular to the barrier that it penetrated.

Unless it doesn’t.

It also presupposes that the projectile actually makes it through the glass in the first place.

One of the more interesting ballistic anecdotes came during one of our shooting from cover exercises.

We had a steel target set up about ten feet behind a F-150.  We took a “cover position” about seven feet in front of the F-150.  The side mirrors were collapsed in towards the truck, and our “mission” was to pie out to the left and shoot the steel target through the 3 inch gap between the mirror and the passenger side window.  It was a small shooting lane but one that would force us to keep the majority of our body behind cover.

I began my drill and slowly moved into a shooting position.  I focused intently on my front sight and pressed the trigger.

Unfortunately, between me and that narrow little opening was the radio antenna. 

Focusing as intently as I was on my front sight the antenna completely disappeared.

At least until I shot.

That mighty man killer the .45 ACP, fired from seven feet hit one of the weakest appendages of the vehicle and….. bent it.

Did not break it… merely bent it.

Worse… it caused the round to ricochet.

The antenna altered the flight path a good twelve degrees and forced the round to slam into the windshield.

But the mighty .45 it went through the windshield, through the seats, out the back and still hit the steel right?


The bullet didn’t even make it through the glass.

It damaged the window to be sure, but the glass was still air tight after the event was over.

What would have happened had I been shooting a .9mm, or (God forbid), a .380?

Maybe the smaller caliber would have missed the antenna completely.

We will never know.

What we do know is that a “perfectly placed round” may not be a perfectly placed round.

I still love the .45… make no mistake.

But we have to acknowledge that in the world of ballistics, there are a whole lot of variables that can effect flight pattern and terminal performance.

Enjoy the yarns people spin about how their rounds can stop an Abrams Tank… but know your firearm, your ammunition, and the limits of your own performance capabilities.


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