The top three calibers that you should consider for an STHF sidearm are 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP simply because they are the most popular and easiest to find. If you decide that .45 ACP is the caliber you would like in your sidearm, it’s time to do your research on the best specific .45 pistol for you.
While the most famous .45 pistol of all is undoubtedly the 1911, it’s also an older design and has a limited magazine capacity of just seven to eight rounds. These days, there are double stacked .45 pistols that are simpler and hold more rounds. Let’s find out about the advantages to owning such a pistol and then discuss the top five best double stack .45 pistols on the market:
ADVANTAGES TO OWNING A DOUBLE STACK .45
While a double stack .45 pistol is easily going to be bigger than its 9mm counterparts, a .45 round on its own also creates a substantially bigger hole than a 9mm does. The tradeoff you get with a larger and heavier double stack .45 is an overall increase in firepower, which can be a big plus in a home defense or any self-defense scenario.
Double stack .45 pistols are admittedly not the best for concealed carry, especially for people who are shorter or smaller in overall stature. A .45 double stack pistol will instead be best suited to resting on your nightstand for home defense or in an OWB holster on your side as an SHTF sidearm.
All in all, the biggest advantage to owning a double stacked .45 pistol is how it offers greater stopping power than a 9mm or .40 caliber version of the same gun while coming close in overall round count. As an SHTF sidearm, a dependable .45 double stack pistol represents a solid choice.
Next, here are five of the top double stack .45 pistols currently available on the market, presented in alphabetical order:
Do fifteen rounds of .45 ACP sound appealing in a single magazine? If it does, then you should point yourself in the direction of the FN FNX-45. With the highest standard magazine round count of any of the pistols on this list, the FNX should already be one of the .45 double stack pistols you consider. The more rounds in the pistol, the less frequent reloading needed, a major benefit if you have to defend your property or family against multiple attackers.
The FNX-45 is a hammer fired polymer-framed pistol that sports all the features you would expect on a pistol these days. The gun is double action, or single action fired. The first shot is double, and subsequent shots are in single, while you can flip down the decocking lever to return it to double action (which is safer for carrying). The FNX-45 also comes equipped with a loaded chamber indicator, night sights, an accessory rail, and four separate backstraps of different sizes.
As a whole, the FNX-45 is a large pistol, but also one that’s high-quality and loaded with a lot of firepower.
You probably expected to see a Glock on this list, and you were right. The Glock 21 has long been a mainstay in the .45 ACP world because it combines Glock’s simplicity and reliability with 13 rounds of .45 ACP in the magazine.
There are many reasons to own a Glock regardless of the model or caliber. Glock is currently the most popular gun manufacturer in the United States, meaning that spare magazines and accessories are virtually everywhere. The customization options are also endless. Also, Glock pistols are extraordinarily simple and reliable. It is for these reasons that their design has been copied by many other pistol manufacturers.
While the Glock 21 is big and bulky, it’s also not a pistol that’s going to fail you anytime soon. The third and fourth-generation models, which are both available, offers an accessory rail for adding lights or lasers, while the fourth generation gives you the option of replaceable back straps. For many, the Glock 21 represents the gold standard of .45 double stack pistols, and that alone secures it on an automatic place in this list.
HECKLER & KOCH HK45
Just like the USP pistol (still in production) that was made before it, the Heckler & Koch HK45 is a double action single action hammer fired pistol with a polymer frame. However, the HK45 also offers improved ergonomics over the USP. This combined with the fact that the USP-series may be discontinued should HK’s new pistols prove popular, is why the HK45 comes recommended first.
The HK45 has a ten-round magazine, which admittedly is lower than some of the other pistols on this list. Nonetheless, the HK45 is also the issued sidearm for many military and special forces units across the world, and that says a lot.
The ergonomics of the HK45 are like what they offer on their P30 and VP series of pistols. There’s an accessory rail on the front of the frame for adding lights and lasers, while the external frame mounted safety also acts as a decocker to make the weapon safe for carry after firing.
Heckler & Koch is known for making reliable and innovative firearms, and the HK45 is no exception. While accessories may not be nearly as common as Glock, the quality is equal if not even a little superior.
SIG SAUER P227
The SIG Sauer P227 is the only steel-framed .45 pistol on this list. For many years, its ancestor the P220 was the most successful DA .45 pistol on the market, and it remains popular today. But if there’s one thing that people complained about the P220, it’s that the magazine was single stack and only held eight rounds like a 1911. People had long been craving a double stacked version of the P220, and SIG Sauer responded with the P227.
While the P227 is wider than the P220, the standard magazine capacity holds ten rounds of .45 ACP instead of the P220’s eight rounds. A longer magazine with an extended base plate is also available for the P227 and increases the capacity to fourteen rounds. SIG also has installed the P227 with their new and improved E2 grips, which offer far better ergonomics over the grips they used on their previous models.
SIG Sauer is widely regarded as a premium gun manufacturer, and thus the P227 does not come cheap. You’ll have to plan on saving up nearly a grand to purchase a new P227, and while that may sound like a lot for a pistol, it’s an excellent value when you consider the superb craftsmanship that SIG Sauer provides. Plus, if you prefer to have a steel-framed pistol like a 1911 over a polymer-framed one, the P227 is easily going to be your best choice for a double stacked .45.
WALTHER PPQ 45
Last but certainly not least, we come to the newest pistol on this list, the Walther PPQ 45. The PPQ 45 holds the distinction as being the very first .45 pistol that Walther has ever produced. The story behind the PPQ 45 is also simple: Walther released the PPQ in 9mm and .40 S&W in 2011 and updated them with the M2 model (with an American-style push button magazine release) in 2013. A .22 LR version of the PPQ followed soon after, but for two years a .45 version was missing.
Finally, in late 2015, Walther released the PPQ 45 to the masses. You’ll notice right away that it’s bigger than its 9mm and .40 S&W brothers, but this is because the magazine must accommodate twelve rounds of .45 ACP.
While the PPQ 45 is young, reviews have still been overwhelmingly positive as it maintains the excellent ergonomics and superb trigger of its previous incarnations. The PPQ is marketed by Walther as having the smoothest and lightest trigger pull of any striker-fired pistol on the market. It’s up to you to decide if you agree with that, just know that the PPQ 45 has the same light trigger pull as the 9mm and .40 versions do.
Magazines and accessories can be difficult to find for the PPQ 45 since it’s so young, but as it becomes more popular this is likely to change. As it stands, Walther has had difficulty keeping the PPQ 45 on the shelves, which says a lot about it.
A double stack .45 pistol offers you a lot of firepower, but it’s also important that you make sure your money is spent wisely by purchasing a pistol that is reliable, accurate, and comes from a reputable manufacturer. Each of the five .45 pistols that we have gone over in this article fulfill that criterion perfectly, so any one of them represents a solid choice.