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The Best 45 ACP Ammo for Law Enforcement Officers

Best 45 ACP Ammo for Law Enforcement Officers

Though the 45 ACP has lost its appeal amongst many law enforcement agencies, a few LEOs still prefer to carry the time-tested round.

After speaking with several of my LE friends about the best 45 ACP ammo for law enforcement, I found that Hornady TAP, Winchester Ranger T-Series, and Speer Gold Dot are three of the most popular self-defense rounds used by officers.

Below you'll find my top 5 list of 45 Auto ammo for target shooting and self-defense.

Whether you're shooting a Glock or Smith & Wesson chambered in 45 ACP, you can find the perfect carry ammo for your situation.

Recommended Ammo for 45 ACP

  1. Speer Gold Dot 230 Grain JHP - Best 45 ACP Ammo Overall
  2. Federal HST 230 Grain JHP - Honorable Mention
  3. Sellier & Bellot 230 Grain FMJ - Best 45 ACP Ammo for Target Practice
  4. Hornady Critical Defense 185 Grain FTX JHP - Best Medium-Weight Bullet
  5. Sellier & Bellot XRG Defense 165 Grain SCHP - Best Lightweight Bullet

Best 45 ACP Ammo

Speer Gold Dot 230 Grain JHP


  • Bullet Weight: 230gr
  • Casing Type: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Muzzle Velocity: 820 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 343 ft-lbs


  • Trusted by many LEOs
  • Hard-hitting
  • Low chance of malfunctions


  • Expensive
  • Not the fastest

Why We Chose It

As I researched and spoke with my law enforcement officer friends, this is one of the brands that came up repeatedly.

Speer Gold Dot has excellent stopping power with a 230-grain bullet. Thanks to the jacketed hollow point, you don't have to worry too much about over-penetration.

The nickel-plated brass case means you'll have fewer malfunctions because it's smoother than traditional brass-cased ammo.

The biggest downside is that you'll need to pick up a few extra chores the week you buy this self-defense ammo because it's expensive.

If you're a ballistics-focused shooter, then you won't be impressed by the muzzle velocity or energy, but it's good enough to get the job done, according to many police officers.

Honorable Mentions

For ballistics lovers, the Underwood +P Ammo 230 Grain JHP has incredible muzzle velocity and energy at a similar price as Speer Gold Dot.

However, be prepared for more recoil. Since it's +P ammo, you'll get deep penetration during your ballistic gel tests.

Concealed carriers looking for a lighter, faster bullet should look into PMC 45 ACP 185 Grain JHP.

This concealed carry ammo is less expensive and has less recoil than many other rounds.

Sellier & Bellot 45 ACP 230 Grain JHP is another reasonably priced option for personal defense that you don't mind taking to the range for a day of target practice.

Federal Law Enforcement HST 230 Grain JHP


  • Bullet Weight: 230gr
  • Casing Type: Nickel-Plated Brass
  • Muzzle Velocity: 890 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 404 ft-lbs


  • Designed for law enforcement by a trusted brand
  • Low probability of malfunctions
  • Reasonably priced


  • Not the best ballistics

Why We Chose It

Federal made this personal protection ammo for law enforcement officers needing high-quality ammo at a decent price.

It's priced so you can take your handgun to the range for target practice and use it as a home defense round.

This is important because practicing with the same ammo you carry means you can be more confident if you're ever forced to defend your family and yourself.

The smooth nickel-plated brass helps your gun cycle the casings with fewer malfunctions.

While the ballistics are not the best compared to the other 45 ACP rounds, they're about middle of the pack, which should be expected considering the price.

Honorable Mentions

Federal Law Enforcement HST +P 230 Grain JHP is the same ammo as above, except it's loaded a little hotter.

Therefore, it has more recoil but a higher velocity and energy. You'll also pay a little more for the increase in ballistic performance.

If you want to land between the two rounds mentioned above, Federal Premium Hydra-Shok 230 Grain JHP offers similar ballistics but isn't loaded as hot, so you should feel less recoil.

While we're on the subject of +P ammo, Hornady Custom +P 230 Grain JHP offers the same ballistics as Federal HST +P. So if you're a Hornady fan, this is the ammo for you.

However, it is more expensive and uses brass-cased rounds instead of nickel-plated brass.

Sellier & Bellot 230 Grain FMJ


  • Bullet Weight: 230gr
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Muzzle Velocity: 853 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 371 ft-lbs


  • Inexpensive
  • Great target ammo
  • Same bullet weight as most carry ammo


  • Need to buy in bulk to get the best deal
  • Below average ballistics

Why We Chose It

Sellier & Bellot manufactures ammo trusted and loved by shooters needing a budget-friendly target shooting option.

These FMJ bullets aren't designed for self or home defense, but the bullet weight is identical to most defense bullets. Which means it will have similar ballistics when you're training.

However, the ballistics don't perfectly match all carry ammo, so you'll still need to train with your defense rounds incrementally.

The low price of this ammo allows you to buy and shoot more rounds without refinancing your home. To get the lowest price, you'll need to buy in bulk, which isn't a big deal unless you don't have anywhere to store it.

Honorable Mentions

For better ballistics, purchase Federal American Eagle 230 Grain FMJ. However, be prepared to pay a little more for the increase in performance.

45 Blazer Brass 230 Grain FMJ is another affordable target shooting round with decent ballistics and boxer primers. You'll need to buy in bulk to get the best price, and the ballistics won't be as good as most high-quality law enforcement ammunition.

The Browning 230 Grain FMJ is slightly more expensive and has a higher velocity than some of the other practice ammo, so if you find that the other brands aren't working well in your short-barrel handgun, try these training and practice rounds by Browning.

Hornady Critical Defense 185 Grain FTX JHP


  • Bullet Weight: 185gr
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 411 ft-lbs


  • Trusted brand
  • Designed for self-defense
  • Excellent ballistics


  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

Hornady is one of the top ammunition manufacturers, especially when it comes to crafting personal defense ammo.

Critical Defense was designed so concealed carriers could have an accurate and dependable round with top-notch ballistics.

The medium-weight JHP bullet has a higher muzzle velocity and muzzle energy than heavier bullets which is needed to counteract the loss in bullet weight retention.

The biggest con is the price of these rounds because they have a polymer-tipped hollow point; they're one of the most expensive rounds on the market.

Speaking of price make sure to check out our stock of Hornady 45 ACP ammo for more options.

These are the rounds I choose to carry in my Springfield 45 ACP pistol.

Honorable Mentions

Winchester Silvertip 185 Grain JHP offers similar ballistics as Hornady Critical Defense but at a lower price.

The bullet grain is the same, so you shouldn't see much change in performance, and I appreciate that they're made in the USA.

Though Sierra Outdoor Master 185 Grain JHP has slightly lower ballistical performance, the much lower price more than makes up for it.

You can take these rounds to the range for training and use them as your carry ammo without draining your bank account.

Prvi Partizan 185 Grain JHP will be the best option for law enforcement on a tight budget. The ballistics don't quite measure up, but they're even less expensive than Sierra 185gr JHP.

Sellier & Bellot XRG Defense 165 Grain SCHP


  • Bullet Weight: 165gr
  • Casing Type: Brass
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,148 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 483 ft-lbs


  • Fast
  • Lower recoil
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Reasonably priced


  • Less bullet expansion

Why We Chose It

If you're in an area that doesn't allow lead core bullets, you must pick up these Sellier & Bellot rounds.

The solid copper hollow point bullet means lead was not used to make these bullets.

This is better for the environment since the lead won't get into water supplies, and animals won't accidentally ingest it.

The lighter bullet means a lower recoil, but it also means it doesn't have as much stopping power. However, 45 ACP rounds have plenty of knockdown power, no matter the bullet weight.

The ballistics are absurdly high, which is to be expected when compared to much heavier bullets.

The main problem with this ammo is that SCHP bullets are known to expand less than traditional lead hollow-point bullets because copper is more rigid than lead.

This ammo is difficult to top for the price, whether you're at the range or on the job.

Honorable Mentions

For a slightly heavier bullet, look into the Hornady American Gunner 185 Grain XTP JHP. Because of the increased weight, the bullet has a lower muzzle velocity and energy.

This is also a lead core hollow point, so you won't be able to use it in places where lead bullets are banned.

Remington Golden Saber Bonded 230 Grain BJHP is much more expensive because of the bullet type. The bullet uses newer technology to help increase accuracy and even expansion.

For more ammo options, check out our Remington 45 ACP ammo collection.

However, this is a much heavier bullet; therefore, the ballistics will be lower, and it will have more recoil.

I wouldn't use Barnes VOR-TX 185 Grain TAC-XP as plinking ammo because it's expensive, but the ballistics are solid, and it uses a medium-weight bullet so that the recoil won't be terrible.

How to Choose the Best .45 ACP Defense Ammo

Choosing the best 45 ACP ammunition is based on personal preferences and firearm choice. Below you'll find the three things I used to make my picks, and you can then use them to pick the ammo you believe to be best.

I will add a disclaimer; all three do not carry equal weight. I prefer reliable ammo over cheap ammo, but the price does factor in a bit.


Take time to determine how much you can spend on ammo without taking food off the table or selling feet pics on the internet.

Buying in large quantities is a smart decision; take a look at our extensive selection of bulk 45 ACP ammunition.

Recoil & Ballistics

While anyone shooting a 45 should expect some recoil, you'll find some rounds have more of it than others.

You might also be willing to give up some ballistic performance for a lower recoil round.

Reliability & Accuracy

I believe reliability and accuracy are the two most important factors to consider when buying ammo.

The problem is that you need to buy the ammo and test it before you know how reliable and accurate it is in your firearm.

I will gladly pay more for ultra-reliable and accurate ammunition.

How to Save Money on the Best 45 Caliber Ammo

If budget is your main concern, don't worry; there are a few ways to save money when buying ammo!

Buying in Bulk

You get a discounted price per round when you buy bulk 45 ACP ammo. Yes, you spend more initially but pay less each time you pull the trigger.


Reloading your spent brass is another way to save a little money. You can craft the perfect bullet for your gun at a lower price than factory ammo.

You'll need to purchase all the reloading equipment and supplies, but you'll be able to cut costs and use the best bullets for reloading 45 ACP.

Combining the Two

When you combine the two methods mentioned above, you can exponentially increase your savings.

Reload the spent brass you bought in bulk, and you'll be able to tell your significant other that you got the rounds on sale, so it was a deal you couldn't pass up.

Standard Bullets Used in 45 ACP Ammo

When searching for ammo, you'll see several different bullet types used. Some are more expensive than others because they have more uses or use newer designs and technologies.


The full metal jacket bullet is best for target practice. It's one of the cheapest bullets you can purchase, so don't expect much as far as ballistics go.


The total metal jacket is similar to the FMJ, except the metal jacket completely surrounds it. They're a little more expensive than FMJ bullets, but the uses are identical.

TMJ bullets are better than FMJ bullets for indoor shooting ranges because they don't emit vaporized lead.


jacketed hollow point bullet has a concave nose that allows the lead core to expand on impact with the target.

A JHP bullet is one of the best for self-defense; however, newer technologies have come out that have made JHP bullets even better.


bonded jacketed hollow point is a JHP bullet that the jacket and the lead core are chemically bonded together.

This process helps the bullet maintain accuracy and expand uniformly on impact. They are more expensive than traditional JHP bullets.


solid copper hollow point is used in place of a JHP bullet, where lead bullets are banned.

These bullets are often lighter than lead bullets and don't expand as well, but they're more accurate because the bullet maintains its shape while flying.

Parting Shots

While the best 45 ACP ammo for law enforcement depends on your personal preferences, most officers agree that Speer Gold Dot is the top choice.

Wes Littlefield
Written by
Wes Littlefield

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