.45 ACP is a great round for the range, competitions, and of course for self-defense. It is not only a proven manstopper, it is also a rather big cartridge. However, there are some compact guns chambered for it, and you can always carry something bigger. In the end, the truth is that everybody wants to carry a smaller gun but fight with a bigger gun. If you do want to have a bigger gun in your hand when it comes to a fight, get used to carrying one. So, here are some of the best, big and compact.

10. FN FNX-45 Tactical

The FN FNX-45 is not necessarily one of the more compact handguns in .45 ACP, but it brings 15 rounds in the magazine to the table. Add to this one round in the chamber, and you should come out on top in every fight.

The overall length is 8.6 inches with a length for the barrel of 5.3 inches. That gives the round a nice velocity, and the gun some accuracy. The weight is a tad over 2 pounds. The FNX-45 is an upgrade of the FNP which was developed for the US Joint Combat Pistol program. It is optimized for combat and stopping threats reliably. That is what you are looking for to defend yourself or your home. Granted, for concealed carry, there is a challenge involved, but there are solutions to be found.

The barrel is cold hammer forged and very durable. You can train and train with it and still hit targets at some distances when you have to. The barrel is threaded to accept a suppressor which goes great with the .45 ACP which is in its standard loads subsonic, reducing noise even further.


The capacity of 15 rounds for its magazines is impressive, however, it comes with the downside that the grip is on the larger side of things. Keep this in mind and try this gun before you buy it to avoid negative surprises.

The trigger is single and double action. The frame is made from polymer, and the bore axis is reduced for a better recoil control. The night sights are high-profile and easy to acquire. It is also optics ready.

9. HK 45 Compact V7 LEM DAO

The HK 45 Compact V7 LEM DAO is 7.24 inches long with a barrel length of 3.94 inches. It uses magazines with a capacity of 8 or 10 rounds. It weighs 1.78 pounds. The proprietary O-ring barrel is cold hammer forged for better durability and is very precise thanks to the barrel to slide lockup. Of course, it is very accurate as well.

If you want to shoot this gun suppressed, you can swap out the barrel for a threaded one. Interesting is that this variant is double action only, and it comes with an internal mechanism that reduces the recoil by up to 30%. The ambidextrous controls make it perfect for lefties and righties. In the box are 2 magazines for 8 rounds each.


8. Glock 21SF

The Glock 21SF comes with a barrel length of 4.61 inches and an overall length of 8.07 inches. It weights a little less than 2 pounds, and has a capacity of 10+1 rounds with standard magazines. The frame is made from polymer and very durable. The barrel is cold hammer forged and sports a nitrite finish.

This gun is one of the most reliable on the market. Also, it is California compliant if you live in this state. The Gen 3model features a molded grip for finger placement making it better to shot for those with smaller hands.


7. Glock 36

The Glock 36 is one of those .45 ACP pistols that is on the lighter and smaller sights of things. For that, it just weighs 22.4 ounces and has an overall length of almost 7 inches. However, for this small size, you pay a price. That starts with a shorter barrel of only 3.78 inches costing you performance and a capacity that is just 6+1 rounds.

Despite its size, this handgun features a rail allowing you to attach a laser or a light making it great for concealed carry. Also, its slimline design makes it fit your hand very well which is an important prerequisite for recoil management.

Glock 36

Right out of the box, it comes with 2 magazines, and it sports fixed Glock sights. It is reliable and performs well.

6. Rock Island M1911 GI Standard

Rock Island`s M1911 GI Standard comes with a normal capacity of 7+1 rounds. Its barrel length is 5 inches and the weight is almost 2.5 pounds. However, what makes this pistol stand out is that it is on the budget friendly side of things.

It comes with a non reflective parkerized finish and beautiful wooden grips which are also very comfortable. The sights are low profile to allow for a snag free draw and holstering. This gun is well balanced, which together with is very good trigger gets you great accuracy even when shooting .45 ACP.


5. Rock Island BBR 3.10

The Rock Island BBR 3.10 in .45 ACP is small and light yet features a high capacity for this big bore round. It has a barrel length of 3.1 inches and a weight of 2 pounds. Its magazines hold 10 rounds. Being a Rock Island Armory product, this gun is also budget friendly.

The G10 grips give you a good control, and they are comfortable. The grip safety makes it save to carry, and the beavertail protects you against slide or hammer bite. This handgun comes with dovetail fiber optic front and adjustable MPS2 rear sights. The frame and slide are both parkerized to increase their durability.


4. Springfield Armory Garrison

The Springfield Armory Garrison is a true 1911. As such, it comes with a thumb safety that in this model is extended to make it easier to manipulate. It is very positive with a distinctive click when engaged or disengaged. Also, it can be used as a lever to increase the recoil control. Also, it features a grip safety and a beavertail to avoid slide or hammer bite.

The capacity with standard magazines is 7+1 rounds, but there are extended mags available. The overall length is 8.6 inches. That makes this a rather large gun, but do not forget that it is a true single stack 1911. That means, it is very slim making it easier to conceal even with its length. The barrel itself has a length of 5 inches, and the total weight of this gun is 2.31 pounds.

As a 1911, its trigger is great right out of the box. It is skeletonized to safe weight, and it sports a commander style hammer. The grip features wood panels with the logo of Springfield Armory. Texture at the front and back as well as on the panels get you a good hold of the gun making it together with the barrel super accurate to shoot.


You aim with low profile combat three dot sights. That gives you a great sight picture that is fast to acquire. When it comes to .45 ACP and 1911 pistols, you cannot go wrong with the Springfield Armory Garrison.

3. Springfield Armory XDM Elite Compact

The XDM Elite Compact from Springfield Armory is easy to carry concealed. For that, it has an overall length of 6.75 inches and a weight of 22 ounces. It still manages to have a capacity of 10 rounds. You can also use full size magazines with a capacity of 13 rounds.

First and foremost, it must be said that this gun just looks gorgeous. The barrel is hammer forged and sports a Melonite finish giving it great durability and longevity. When you order this gun, it does come with the included HEX Dragonfly optics making it super easy to shoot accurately.


The HEX Dragonfly sports a lens that is scratch resistant. It has an aluminum body, and a 3.5 MOA red dot sight for enhanced target acquisition. There is a rail on this gun for installing a laser or a light.

2. Kimber 1911 Stainless II .45 Auto

This 1911 from Kimber comes with a barrel length of 5 inches and a weight of 2.38 pounds. Its capacity is just 7+1 rounds. This gun is very reliable and accurate. The frame is made from stainless steel with a satin silver finish. The barrel is made from carbon steel and comes with a match grade bushing for more accuracy and less recoil.

The trigger is match grade as well with a pull of less than 5 pounds. Sporting a double diamond checkering, the synthetic grips are low profile, and allow you to manage the recoil very well. Aiming is done with 3-dot white sights for quick target acquisition.


1. Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield

The M&P45 Shield from Smith & Wesson is small with a weight of 1.28 pounds and a barrel length of 3.3 inches. The price is a reduced capacity of 7 rounds, but given this small package, that should be fine.

This gun is a thin, compact, and reliable package that is comfortable to carry every day all day. The grip feels naturally in the hand, and the controls are designed to avoid snagging. The barrel is made from stainless steel featuring an Armornite finish. The three-dot sight provide an excellent sight picture. You get all of this with the Smith & Wesson lifetime service policy.


If you want to get an .45 ACP handgun for self-defense, home-defense, range or competition, these are the guns to go to. If you think we forgot one, let us know in the comment. Do not forget to include the features, and of course, let us know what makes it so great that it belongs on the list of the 10 best .45 ACP pistols.

Leave a comment