.45 ACP Revolvers, Why You Need One in Your Arsenal

Sam Hoober of Alien Gear Holsters and Bigfoot Gun Belts makes the case for a softer-shooting big-bore wheel gun, .45 ACP Revolvers.

. 45 ACP Revolvers
. 45 ACP Revolvers
Sam Hoober
Sam Hoober

USA –-(AmmoLand.com)- Despite the .45 ACP cartridge normally being associated with semi-autos and in particular the 1911, there are a lot of good reasons to look at . 45 ACP Revolvers.

While it’s not necessarily a handgun hunting round in the same class as the .357, .41 or .44 Magnums, good old .45 ACP is a fantastic big-bore plinking and defense round.

It’s also – and here comes the juicy part – cheaper than .45 Colt or .44 Special to shoot, even the +P ACP loads. You also don’t lose much in terms of performance, with obvious exceptions of the full-power .45 Colt loadings.

.45 ACP vs .45 Colt Ammunition

The .45 Colt cartridge shouldn’t be overlooked, as it’s one of the most versatile rounds in existence, comparable only to .30-06 in terms of how diverse it’s uses are. Low-pressure, low-velocity rounds are popular for target and cowboy action shootings, but the round can be loaded to .44 Magnum performance in terms of velocity and muzzle energy, and with less chamber pressure to boot.

However, most . 45 Colt ammo loads are closer to the 800 to 900 feet per second velocity of plain jane .45 ACP hardball. Up until boutique ammunition manufacturers started producing the uber-hot .45 Colt loadings, only handloaders were really aware of its capacity in that regard; even the defensive loadings were (and many still are) barely any different from .45 ACP +P.

.45 ACP Ammunition
.45 ACP Ammunition

In short, outside of the really hot stuff…the only difference between .45 ACP and .45 Colt is case length, expense and a bit more chamber pressure in the shorter round. That can make .45 ACP Revolvers ideal for people who want a large-bore revolver but don’t necessarily want to deal with the muzzle flash and recoil of a large magnum. As it happens, many .44 Special loads have similar performance to the .45 ACP in terms of velocity and muzzle energy but are likewise more expensive.

Besides, it’s not like your local gun store has .455 Webley laying around. Or a Webley for sale.

Available . 45 ACP Revolvers

Unfortunately, only a few companies currently make a . 45 ACP revolvers, though a few make revolvers with cylinders machined to accept .45 ACP with moon clips as well as .45 Colt.

The most notable at present is Smith and Wesson, which offers two versions of the Model 625 (one is the Jerry Miculek signature model, the other an S&W Performance Center model) and the Thunder Ranch 325. These revolvers are based on the N-frame, so they’re too large for concealed carry but are perfect for big-bore plinking, open carry and as a home defense gun. S&W’s Governor pistols are also compatible with .45 ACP with moon clips, as well as .45 Colt and .410 gauge shotshell. The S&W Model 25, unfortunately, is not compatible.

However, the Model 625 and 325 both require – you guessed it – moonclips, which is a hassle but not the worst thing in the world.

Beckham Design S&W Revolver Rimz Speedloader
Beckham Design S&W Revolver Rimz Speedloader : https://goo.gl/aAyr0Q

Taurus made .45 ACP Revolvers (the Tracker 455) but it has been discontinued.

Ruger does make a Blackhawk Convertible model that can fire ACP and Colt alike with a swappable cylinder, as one cylinder is machined for moonclips and the other is not. They also make a Redhawk model that can fire both – though, again, with the clips.

As for compact revolvers, the Charter Arms Pitbull is chambered for 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, but the difference between the Pitbull and basically every other gun mentioned so far is that it doesn’t require moon clips. Charter Arms designed a special extractor to hold rimless cartridges without needing them.

Using moon clips in . 45 ACP Revolvers is definitely an inconvenience, but if you’re willing to put up with them, any one of the above guns would be a fantastic big bore plinker, open carry or home defense pistol without the expense of the larger revolver cartridges, or the recoil and flash of a magnum

… a . 45 ACP revolver would be absolutely ideal.

About Sam Hoober

Sam Hoober is a contributing editor at aliengearholsters.com, as well as for Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also writes weekly columns for Daily Caller and USA Carry

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Cjb Iv

I don’t think the Ruger Blackhawk uses moon clips in its .45acp cylinder.

Michael Pomarico

If there more people with the concern of using moon clips, maybe they should write Smith & Wesson and ask them if they could make the 45 acp revolver using the same set up they used on the Smith 547 , which was a 9 mm, back in the day, way before Charter even had the idea. It came with a 3 inch round butt or a 4 inch square butt , and it didn’t require moon clips, the cylinder had a star set up in it , so when you push the ejection rod, the tip of the star… Read more »


I picked up a CA Pitbull .45 ACP at local pawnshop and fell in love. Shooting White box hardball 230 gr at 5 yds same hole at POI single action. Golfball sized groups in double-action. At 15 yds inside 4-Inch circle every time with the same percieved recoil of a 44 special….. For 250 bucks OTD I got a great shooter that’s got a lifetime warranty and American Made !


I cut down 45 long colt brass to 45 acp spec. works grate in my 455 tarus. no more moon clips

Ron H

I have a plethora of S&W revolvers from J, K, L, N, & even an X-frame M28 predating the N-frame. I have carried most of them over the last 50+ years. They have been retired. My daily carry is a FNH FNX-45 Tactical pistol. Its OAL dimensions are more compact than the S&W 625JM. Its empty weight is 8 oz. lighter than the 625 JM, but it holds TEN more rounds of .45ACP. Age has slowed that instant front sight picture. I put on a rmr red dot sight, problem solved. Add an IWB holster for an all day, easy… Read more »


@Colin – The .45 ACP headspaces on the case mouth. The .45 Winchester Magnum has a longer case which also headspaces on the case mouth. Properly made .45 ACP revolver cylinders have stepped chambers which engage the case mouth. A .45 Winchester Magnum should not fully enter any chamber of a properly made .45 ACP revolver cylinder. There have been reports of Colt 1917 revolvers with chambers drilled straight through. A .45 Winchester Magnum fired in one of those old Colts would probably result in a catastrophic event?

Colin Henthorne

It seems to me that a Blackhawk with the ACP cylinder should also be able to handle the .45″ Winchester Magnum case.


anyone that thinks moon clips are a hassle has never seen Jerry Miculek blast through 6 reloads in 10 to15 seconds or has never learned to use a speed loader.


well said. People who bitch about moonclips have never really thought it through.

gregory schuett

I believe the Redhawk uses a unique moon clip. Not the same as a S&W or Colt.


Most likely the ‘Cadillac’ of .45 ACP revolvers is the Smith & Wesson 1955 Target Model (AKA the Model 25).

Roy D.

So why did you remove my post pointing out that someone could not discern between 9mm ammo and 45 ACP ammo? The fact that you have now posted a correct picture does not negate the point of my post. You made a mistake. Admit it and rectify it. Don’t cover it up.


I am a big fan of the S&W 625. I preload my moon clips before going to the range. I find loading and unloading this firearm much faster than using a firearm with speed loader type.


I own an S&W 625-8 that CAN be loaded without moon clips but it may not fire every round if the cases are not the correct length. I have 30 moon clips and I just fill them @home before going to the range. Tools are available to load ammo into the clips AND remove the casings from the clips. You REALLY NEED the removal tool but it isn’t too difficult to load clips by hand. MY fingers are 78 and I can load by hand! People who load their own can buy .45 Auto Rim casings that are just .45… Read more »


I have 3 S&W 45ACP revolvers and they are a blast (ha ha) to shoot.
You can load a few moon clips (40) before going to the range and shoot & shoot VERY easily and quickly.

Gary Laffoon

Well, he did make a couple of mistakes in the article. But in general it’s ok. One other Ammo option for the Smith & Wessons, at least, is the .45 AutoRim cartridge. Some of the boutique Ammo makers load some really useful loads. For those that think Moon Clips are a hassle. I happen to like using the moon clips.

Colin Henthorne

Me, too. Faster than any “speed” loader.


With the right ammo, large bore revolvers make excellent home defense tools. I think the ideal .45 ACP revolver home defense load would be an upsized version of the old .38 Special reversed hollow base wadcutter, possibly improved with a gas check, and definitely loaded with a modern “low flash” powder. Velocity of 900-1000 ft/sec from a 4″ revolver ought to be readily achieved for a standard slug weighing in at 200 – 230 grains or so. Swaged of relatively soft lead but with modern lubrication (thin copper plating or maybe something like the “Nyclad” coating Federal used to produce)… Read more »

Bob Shell

There is such a bullet for the 45’s It resembles a HB WC loaded backwards & was used by the British many years ago. They are available from Bob Hayley @ 940-888-3352 & they come in various calibers so you can call & check it out

Chris Mallory

The convertible Blackhawk does not use moon clips, which would make the pistol impossible to load using the loading gate.

Bill R

Exactly. Just swap cylinders and load. A wonderful 45lc/45acp revolver.


My 1873 has a second cyl gor 45acp and no clips needed.


Thank you for posting your comment regarding “Moon Clips” for the Blackhawk .45long-Colt & .45acp Convertible model .I’m glad I kept reading the comments . I have this exact gun in .357mag/9mm . As fate would have it there’s a gun show that’s in town , and I intend to visit the Gun-Show and purchase a N.M.Blackhawk Convertible in .45l.c. / .45acp .
I got a little worried there when the use of moon-clips for this gun popped-up. You’re right …..there’s a loading gate in S/A revolvers which make-it impossible to use .
Thanks for the reminder !


As an alternative for collectors, find a Colt 1917. It does not require moon clips, but the fired cases must be pushed out from the front of the cylinder. This is only a minor inconvenience unless you’re in, or going into, combat. And the value of the Colt 1917 keeps going up.


I have an old Model 1917 S&W and what you said about the Colt applies here as well.

2War Abn Vet

Many Webley Mk VIs (in fact, most of those found in the US) were converted to fire .45 acp.

rog starkey

With my S&W 1917 I find that I can pick fired factory loads right out of the cylinder, of course if the cylinder is rough/dirty I suppose a push from the front would be necessary.