Covid-19 Update: The virus has killed the supply chain. We are constantly monitoring and replacing our links. But just in case you can’t find exactly what you want, then we have these live links.
These take you to our favorite dealers, with guns in stock to sell you right now. We limited the searches. So if you can see it here, you can buy it.
- Guns.com – Good guns, but variable prices for Kimber, Colt etc.
- Sportsman’s Guide – A solid selection of guns in stock.
- Euro Optic – Custom 1911s and some household names.
- Sportsman’s Warehouse – The best 45 1911s and plastic pistols.
Now back to the original post on the best 45 ACP carry guns…
The good old 230gr hollow point. For some it’s the only logical last line of defense and the best pistol is always .45 ACP. So what are the best subcompact 45 ACP handguns out there?
Despite 9mm making massive ground in recent years, a bigger and heavier bullet is just a better starting point for some. And 45 ACP ballistics tech hasn’t exactly stood still in the last 50 years.
9mm vs 45 ACP: The War That Never Ends
Stopping Power. There, we said it, once, and we’re done with that tiresome internet debate. You can go have the 9mm vs 45 ACP war on the forums. Or in the comments, it would be good for my SEO…
What is a subcompact handgun? The Definition…
Now we have to lay down some markers, because subcompact 45 ACP is a vague term. So a 3.5 inch barrel or less and a total length of 7 inches allows for a variety of options.
Any less and the choice would be dismal, excluding Officer sized 1911s. So that’s our definition of a subcompact handgun for this class. If you were wondering…
The Best Subcompact 45 ACP Handguns For Sale in 2021
1. Colt Defender
- Price: $1,019.99
- Caliber: 45 ACP Auto
- Barrel Length: 3 inch
- Total Length: 6.75 inch
- Weight: 1.5lb
- Capacity: 7+1
If you want a subcompact 1911 45 ACP carry pistol, you really should take a look at the Colt Defender and the even more extravagant Defender Combat Elite.
This isn’t a cheap handgun, but then you have to be really careful with compact 1911 pistols. Don’t cheap out, only a few of them have a stellar reputation for reliability and contained muzzle flip.
Colt struggled when it chopped down the 5 inch cold hammer forged barrel to 4 inches, so we didn’t even get the Defender until 2000. Now it is perhaps the finest of the breed. Although one or two companies do have something to say about that…
Old School 1911, Shrunk To Fit
It’s a traditional 1911 cut down to size, made from cold hammer forged steel, and it just feels different in the hand. We think the 9mm vs 45 ACP for personal defense is done and relatively dusted.
But personal defense handguns largely come down to the sense of security they impart. If you’re happier with 230gr on your hip, well that’s your call and it’s literally your life. If you want the lighter grain ammunition, you can get a 9mm Defender these days too.
The Series 80 Colt has the internal passive firing pin safety, an important safety feature for a gun that could be pointed directly at your nuts if you appendix carry, and you’re a dude, or identify as one…
Effective, Without Breaking the Bank
Fixed three dot Novak Carry sights are slimline and effective, with that rear sight designed for a smooth draw. This is not a tacticool gun.
You don’t need a strobe light on this, and an RMR would just look wrong without a real solid reason. You do need the deal recoil spring set-up, though, which helps kill muzzle rise in what could obviously be a supremely snappy handgun.
Colt Trigger Pull is Stuff of Legend
The trigger action is legendary, although the Series 70 pistols are generally considered smoother still. It’s a roll, rather than a break, and it will make your shooting technique better by default.
The Dual Spring Recoil System is a big deal for Colt and helps reduce felt
It’s not quite a Glock in terms of reliability, but then nothing is. For
You can opt for a range of Cerakote finishes, polished metal, blued and more. A range of real wood grips mean it comes in just about every flavor and there’ll be a look to suit your mood. Or something….
Colt Defender Combat Elite is the Ultimate
If you really want to spend big on your CCW Colt handgun, then check out the two-tone Colt Defender Combat Elite. That’s a $1,300+ gun, which is hardly an affordable price. But then it is pure
The price difference is insane for that brushed steel and contrasting matte black finish, though. We just cannot justify it when you get most of the actual engineering on the basic Defender.
Also, the bigger Government Model and Commander Model Combat Elite compact handgun are the same price. So if you’re going to buy one, don’t buy the smallest. We think…
You can also choose a range of different finishes that might add a little to the overall cost, but don’t send it this nuts. The Colt Defender SS, for instance, gives a Stainless finish for a cool $1000.
If money is no object, get the Combat Elite. If you want value for money, then the basic Colt Defender is probably the best 1911 Officer pistol. And possibly the best Subcompact 45 pistol in the world.
But the battle is getting closer and may already have been lost…
2. Glock G30
- Price: $599.99
- Caliber: 45 Auto (ACP)
- Total length: 6.97 inch
- Barrel Length: 3.78 inch
- Capacity: 10+1
- Weight: 1.43lb
On a purely technical level, this is the best gun here. You know it’s true. By the numbers, this wins just about everywhere and that’s why the Glock is a popular handgun in any caliber.
If you want a super reliable 45 ACP Subcompact pistol that goes bang every time you pull the trigger, requires zero maintenance and can be relied on to survive a nuclear winter, then just save time and buy this Glock now.
Traditional Glock Handguns Strengths Work Here
We are not big Glock fans here, but this is a specific task. Reliability, accuracy
The overall length of the Glock G30 means the barrel isn’t a major issue. In fact it can help with your felt recoil and that other small detail – hitting the target. So we gave the Glock a pass on the barrel length too.
Gen 4 Glock Handguns Need Mods
The only real downer is this is the Gen 4, which had a notoriously mushy trigger pull. So you may end up replacing a connector plate, or the whole trigger group, to get the best gun possible.
No manual safety either, which is something you can cope with or you can’t.
Still, naming anything else as the winner in the concealed .45 cal class just seems contrary for its own sake.
Major Competitors Missing in Best 45 ACP Class
The Glock doesn’t have to contend with the Sig P320 Compact that is a major thorn in its side in other
So unless you want a shrunken 1911 then the Glock G30S just stands out as the obvious choice for personal defense. Yes, it’s the best .45 ACP CCW here, even though muzzle flip is a thing with a light 45 ACP.
It’s your EDC, not your safe queen or Facebook profile picture. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it has to be effective. If you think like that, Glock handguns kind of have to win this.
And the Gen 5 could end the debate.
3. Kimber Ultra CDP – Kimber Custom Defense Package
- Price: $1,099.99
- Caliber: .45 ACP Auto
- Barrel: 3 inch
- Total Length: 6.8 inch
- Weight: 1.6lb
Update: The live link now goes through to a selection on Guns.com. That will give you the option of the Raptor, which is also a great pistol, and a few other options. It’s one of the few reliable sources of Kimbers at the moment, small or full-sized.
Kimber’s makes boutique guns that could easily qualify as jewelry, as well as personal defense. I mean the Kimber Ultra CDP II is definitely
It gets outshone in the pure gun porn stakes by its own stablemate further down the list. But this is the one we want.
It certainly feels like one of the more exclusive carry pistols in your hand.
Just look closely at the ornate slide serrations, the perfect front strap checkering and the way the light dances with the G10 grips and the fiber optic night sights. It doesn’t, obviously, but you know when you have precision engineering in your hands it just feels special…
Kimber vs Colt: Close With Custom Guns
Now Kimber doesn’t quite have Colt’s flawless reputation for reliability in the carry firearm sector. Indeed you don’t have to look too hard for unkind words, rants even, about the Kimber Micro 9. But the user reviews on the Kimber Ultra CDP II are a different story to the 9mm Kimber Micro.
This is a Kimber Custom gun, which means it gets that extra love and attention at the factory that results in a reliable,
Custom Shop Goes to Work on Lightweight Frame
Kimber starts with a KimPro II aluminum frame, marries that to a stainless steel slide and straps some low profile sights up top.
A full length guide rod and recoil spring,
Under the skin, it’s a
You’ll buy it because it’s cool, and you will be right. Kimber Custom’s full size pistols are a sight to behold, too. Check out the full line-up here.
Get the Best Carry Holsters at the Best Price
Don’t do all this research and spend the money on the right pistol, and then cheap out on your carry holsters. Get the best you can afford from the likes of Alien Gear, Crossbreed Holsters and more.
Try these live links for the best carry holsters in stock right now:
- Palmetto State Armory – Massive range of holsters and pouches.
- Sportsman’s Guide: Alien Gear, Crossbreed Holsters and many more IWB and OWB holsters.
- Sportsman’s Warehouse – IWB Holsters from the big names, and OWB holsters too.
4. Springfield Armory XD Mod 2
- Price: $552.67
- Caliber: .45 ACP Pistol
- Barrel: 3.3 inch
- Total Length: 6.5 inch
- Weight: 1.4lb
- Capacity: 6+1
Update: The Covid 19 price is about double. It is what it is and this is the only one we can find for sale. So there’s that…
Some people scoff at two safety levers. But the Springfield Armory XD Mod 2 is supremely popular with Law Enforcement, private security and more, precisely because of them.
Accidental discharges happen. That’s why the Springfield XD Mod 2 comes with a 1911-style grip and trigger blade safety.
There’s almost no way this gun is going off without you wanting it to and that is a big thing with carry handguns.
Handgun With Great Ergonomics
Aside from that, this black polymer framed pistol has brilliant ergonomics. It’s a true subcompact pistol for a start, which is a competitive advantage in this company.
The metal slide is finished in
The slide stop, magazine release
You could also come out all guns blazing, with a carry pistol in each hand. Before you do that, though, take a moment to ponder what brought you to that point.
Even then, although your life has gone horribly wrong, at least you’ve got a good set of home defense and personal defense handguns to rely on.
Good For CCW
It truly is a subcompact 45 ACP carry handgun and the grip is less than an inch wide. The single stack magazine capacity isn’t great, but then this is a 45 ACP pistol that could slip in a belly band without printing.
The Springfield XD Mod is a small carry firearm, but the palm swell fits even larger hands. An extended magazine capacity can give you a little more real estate to play with, and more rounds. I would do that…
Bigger Springfield 45s Work Better
There’s also another gun to consider, the compact handgun with a 4 inch barrel. Now that is a compact 45 ACP, but it comes with a near ridiculous 13+1 magazine capacity.
There are very few double stack 45 ACPs that come close and it’s our hot tip for this caliber. It’s more accurate, the night sights offer a better sight picture and all you have to contend with is a 4 inch barrel and a 1.8lb final weight.
The XD-S also comes in 45 ACP flavor and is more or less the same compact handgun. Both belong with the standout 45 ACP handguns for sale in 2021.
This family of guns have been regular winners with us in recent years. If you chose the Springfield Armory XD Mod 2 45 ACP, in any form, then you know your carry guns. They crop up as Springfield XDM, Defender and other names, but look for the basic spec and you’ll be fine.
You’ll find more high quality compact handguns on this list here.
5. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0
- Price: $469.99
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Barrel: 3.3 inch
- Overall Length: 6.5 inch
- Weight: 1.29lb
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 is another multi-caliber concealed carry star and this personal defense legend is one of the most compelling
The Smith &Wesson M&P Shield is a slim, lightweight handgun than is easy to conceal without printing. It has just enough detail on the slide to make it easy to work with at the shooting range.
It also has just enough bullets to send most intruders on their way. The safety on this version of the Smith & Wesson Shield subcompact is a nice touch too. And there’s a loaded chamber indicator.
Smith and Wesson M&P Shield is Great in All Calibers
It’s a black polymer special and is designed not to stand out, but the Smith and Wesson is a great little handgun that has proven itself over the years.
The full-sized version and the Smith & Wesson compact aren’t too shabby as
This is version 2.0 and it continues to be a sales sensation for the firearms manufacturer. At this price, it’s certainly one of the best concealed carry 45 ACP handguns here in terms of value, and maybe just outright ability.
6. S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro
- Price: $999.99
- Caliber: .45 ACP Pistol
- Barrel: 3 inch
- Total Length: 6.9 inch
- Weight: 1.6lb
- Capacity: 7+1
The latest S&W Performance Center 1911 could be the best Officer-sized 1911 on this list. It might not have the cache of the Colt in this weight class, but technically it’s a match and more.
Supply is limited, demand is high, you know the Covid 19 story of 2021 by now. If you see one of these, don’t sit and think for too long. if it’s out of stock, well we’re doing our best to find more.
In time we might swap them and take the heat. This little beauty from the Smith and Wesson Performance Center is really that good.
This gun gets a full-length guide, oversized extractor and other premium touches. It also packs in one more round than the Colt, which is seriously important. It’s just one more bullet, but it’s also 15% more ammo.
It’s a match for the obvious rival everywhere. The design looks a little more cohesive and aimed at a younger crowd and we could see ourselves carrying one before a Defender.
7. Ruger SR1911 Officer Style
- Price: $869.99
- Barrel: 3.6″
- Total Length: 7.25″
- Weight: 1.94lb
- Capacity: 7+1 Rounds
Ruger might actually deserve to be higher. A triple spring recoil reduction system looks like a real tangible advantage and the standard gun comes with a brushed steel finish that looks just as good as more expensive rivals.
The company then went to town on the finishing touches. The hammer and trigger are skeletonized and those 1911 grips are pure gun porn.
This is a Series 70 1911 Officer size compact pistol with just a little more barrel, without adding too much to the overall weight. We have to be honest this gun is the same length as a Glock 19. But it’s sexier, so much sexier.
A lowered and flared ejection port, a titanium firing pin, checkered mainspring housing and that pronounced memory bump on the beavertail safety show just how far Ruger has gone to incorporate custom handgun touches.
This gun is technically every bit as good as the leading lights. If you can live without the badge snobbery, you’ll save money and arguably finish up with a better gun.
8. Tanfoglio Witness Polymer
- Price: $547.99
- Barrel: 3.6 inch
- Total Length: 7.3
- Weight: 1.75lb
- Capacity: 8+1
We’re pushing the very limits of sub-compact, we know. But if you can handle concealing a slightly larger gun, or indeed prefer to, this is a much more complete defensive pistol than most here.
It’s not just us that really like this thing too.
RIA MAPP Series is the Tanfoglio Polymer, Yes…
In fact it so well designed that Rock Island Armory have bought the rights to reproduce it in 9mm form only so far. You should look out for the RIA MAPP Series, as well as the Italian Tanfoglio.
They’re basically the same gun and one should be about $100 cheaper. You can guess which one… Buy an RIA MAPP Series 9mm here.
It’s a DA/SA pistol that we think outdoes the Glock in ore or less every critical area.
Perfect Carry Gun, From Design to Execution
The ergonomics are world class, borrowing heavily from both 1911s and the company’s competition pistols that have fast achieved legend and Champion status.
The grip design alone makes this gun worth considering and the beveled slide and chopped front are awesome from a quick draw perspective.
A manual frame mounted safety is also a nice 1911 touch brought up to date. Then there’s the double action trigger, that together with a Kydex holster basically eliminates accidental discharges. It even gives you the option to leave the safety off if that’s your thing.
You even get a proper accessory rail. That’s rarely a dealbreaker in this class, but it’s nice to have.
This is a great gun. Arguably it’s the finest concealed carry 45 ACP here and only a conservative nature is keeping it from a podium position. It even gets an additional round compared to some. And there’s no denying more bullets do give you more stopping power.
A solid track record of reliability, and everybody else loving it as much as we do, could change that.
9. Kahr CW45
- Price: $353.99
- Barrel: 3.64 inch
- Overall: 6.32 inch
- Weight: 1.19lb
Kahr Arms has plugged away at the
The single stack Kahr CW45 is a double action only pistol with a locking breech. Some people will love the accessibility and user friendly feel that goes with that. The Kahr CW45 is the point and shoot of the polymer framed pistol world, it’s a soft, none threatening trigger action and recoil is damped too.
Packaging wise, this gun is a minor miracle. We had to give it a pass on the length of the barrel, because the Kahr CW45 actually 3.64 inches. But the whole gun is just 6.32 inches long, so this is a lot of gun in a relatively small footprint. We’re impressed, even though it means the design is a little square.
Narrow Gun, Which Prevents Printing
The width is the maddest thing here. This gun is an inch thick at its widest point and that means it stows like a dream. The longer barrel certainly feels more accurate while range shooting and the stippling fits your hand just right.
You can get high up on the grip, the bore axis of the gun falls into place and recoil fades as if by design.
The Kahr Arms PM45 is the classic 45 ACP Subcompact Concealed Carry polymer frame handgun. That is another multi-caliber pistol that covers everything from 9mm right through to 230gr .45 Cal.
The Kahr Arms PM45 is still available on Guns.com and you can pick one up for just over $300. There isn’t much else in that price range at all. We prefer the newer gun, though, and think the Kahr Arms PM45’s time has come and gone now.
10. Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 Undercover
- Price: $949.99
- Barrel: 3 inch
- Total: 6.85 inch
- Weight: 1.61lb
- Capacity: 6+1
Magnum Research, the company behind the infamous full-sized Desert Eagle .50, also does a rather splendid line of 1911 handguns. This subcompact 1911 CCW is absolute gun porn, and the finishing touches hint at a custom gun.
The adjustable rear sights, checkered front and back straps, flared magwell and high-ride beavertail grip safety really do look the part.
The frame is machined from billet aluminum and the slide is carbon-infused steel. The aluminum trigger, skeleton hammer and G10 grips are all quality items and this gun stacks up pretty well against the Colt in the looks department.
This subcompact 1911 has a lot going for it and, like the Desert Eagle .50, we think it’s going to be a sales sensation.
11. Remington 1911 R1 UltraLight Executive
- Price: $1,046.99
- Caliber: .45 Cal ACP
- Barrel: 3.5 inch
- Overall: 7 inch
- Weight: 1.75lb
- Capacity: 7+1
Remington doesn’t get that much love on these pages with its 1911s, but we’ve noticed that personal bias and we’re doing our best to address it. Here is Remington’s application for your subcompact 45 ACP concealed carry holsters, and we kinda like it.
The truth is that Remington has become a real niche handgun brand, but when you look at the designs and the tech on each individual model then you struggle to see why it isn’t a bigger force generally.
This is an aluminum framed 1911 45 ACP designed to fit into a small footprint, hence the rounded heel for CCW that helps keep a gun with a relatively long barrel stay at 7 inches long exactly. That’s decent packaging for a 45 ACP Subcompact.
You get a match-grade barrel, Tritium sights, a drilled out trigger and hammer and a few other neat touches. The Remington is pretty sexy, too, it has to be said. But we just don’t see them out in the wild. Try one, you might genuinely like it.
12. Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact 1911
- Price: $862.50
- Barrel: 3″
- Total Length: 6.8″
- Weight: 1.56lb
- Capacity: 7+1 Rounds
We went with the Kimber CDP up top, because we think we should. But man the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra is a pretty little gun.
It’s cheaper, too. Just…
The front sight is an accent touch in itself, as well as providing excellent sights. They sit atop an alloy frame and some of the most seductive 1911 grips in this whole post.
We would still take the CDP, because that’s a full Kimber Custom Shop gun and we get the impression this single stack is a halfway house. It looks like a designer gun, built to a price point.
The Kimber Aegis is achingly beautiful, though, and we could see why you’d choose this as an EDC.
13. ATI Firepower Xtreme Titan 1911
- Price: $429.99
- Barrel: 3.1 inch
- Total: 6.93 inch
- Weight: 2.2lb
- Capacity: 7+1
At first glance, the ATI Firepower Xtreme Titan 1911 looks exactly the kind of budget 45 ACP carry pistol you should avoid.
It’s cheap, and it looks like one of those pistols you might regret buying in a moment of weakness. When it fails…
But then you see the user reviews of this subcompact pistol. The 4.5 star rating and more than 70 positive reviews show that this is a great gun in the Rock Island Armory mold.
It’s a budget shooter that simply overdelivers on the engineering and gives up a few finishing touches.
The frame is engineered from 4140 Steel, and there’s a stainless steel guide rod and spring. You also get a proper grip safety and frame mounted thumb safety.
The trigger is aluminum and drilled three times for weight saving, while the tech is topped off with real mahogany grips and you get 7+1 rounds in an impossibly small microcompact 1911 package. It’s really a skill.
Cheap Subcompact 1911 45 ACP Caliber Pistol
It’s a kind of fusion recipe with firearms, but ATI has delivered a reliable and solid subcompact 1911 45 ACP for less than $500. We have nothing but admiration for that feat and the user reviews are nothing short of ecstatic for this price range.
Cheap guns that massively overdeliver tend to be the only ones to elicit that mad gun review love. We saw it recently with the Taurus G2C, the DPMS Oracle and this shrunken 1911.
There’s normally a reason for this kind of internet heat, so if you’re in the market for a subcompact .45 1911 then take a good long look at the American Tactical Innovations ATI Firepower Xtreme Titan and get ready for a surprise.
14. Charter Arms Pitbull Revolver
- Price: $481.99
- Caliber: .45 Cal ACP Auto
- Barrel: 2.5 inch
- Total Length: 6.5 inch
- Weight: 1.38lb
A carry revolver is an interesting choice of compact handgun to begin with. If you then opt for a 45 ACP subcompact concealed revolver in your carry holsters, you’re surely just messing with people…
44 Magnum rules the roost when it comes to revolvers, with 357 Magnum a close second. A 45 ACP subcompact is not even on the radar of most serious revolver shooters. It really is a round that was designed for semi auto handguns.
But it works here and it works well in the multi-caliber revolver that is the Charter Arms Pitbull. You can find this handgun in the usual calibers, and oddities like this one and 9mm. Why? Because people buy them and seem to like them.
It’s a large caliber oddity, a curiosity and yet it’s certainly an option if you’re looking for an alternative carry gun and the usual Glock rival pistols just don’t do it for you.
15. Sig Sauer 1911 Ultra-Compact
- Price: $949.99
- Barrel: 3.3 inch
- Overall: 6.8 inch
- Weight: 1.8lb
- Capacity: 7+1
Most of Sig’s great 1911s don’t even come close to the size restrictions here. But this Sig Ultra Compact 1911, or micro-compact 1911 to give it a more useful name, is an absolutely stellar gun.
Yes it’s expensive, but we covered this before. Making a small 45 ACP Cartridge 1911 cycle reliably is a feat in itself and in review, Sig Sauer has earned a nigh-on perfect reputation. It’s one of the few that could challenge the Colt on the absolute basics.
This single action 1911 from Sig Sauer is simply a shrunken 45 ACP handgun with all the requisite features. They include a thumb safety and a traditional grip back-up.
Trigger is Crisp and Clean, Like a Winter’s Day
We love it for that, and the near perfect trigger, and a lot of other things. Those real Rosewood grips, the Hard Anodized Finish and Cerakote coated frame are the cherries on a pretty tasty Sig Sauer cake.
Sig Sauer smashed it out the park with the 1911 Ultra-Compact. It isn’t cheap, but it is perfectly formed and finished. If you’re a Sig Sauer fanatic then you already know this, and you’re probably here just to buy one.
We wish we could show you more subcompact pistols from Sig Sauer, but the P229, the compact 1911s and even the plastic fantastic Sig P320 Compact are just too big to fit this particular list. This is the best 45 ACP Subcompact from Sig Sauer that fits the description.
What about the most famous 45 ACP carry guns?
Most 45 carry guns are too big for the subcompact class and even we were surprised by just how few of the established 45 ACP subcompact pistols from the likes of Sig Sauer and the likes of the H&K USP Compact came even close to the self-imposed size limit here.
We expected the Springfield Range Officer to star here, as well, but we just couldn’t justify it. It’s not close. So the Springfield Range Officer will have to wait for another post. Along with the Ruger SR45.
And we really did want HK represented here. We like Heckler & Koch, but the USP compact has a 4.4 inch barrel. So yeah, there’s that…
The simple fact is that there are precious few
If you want the Sig P320, the H&K USP Compact and the legendary carry 1911 pistols, or even a Beretta PX4 Storm in your Alien Gear holster, check out our list of the 25 best compact 45 ACP gun reviews here.
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