The Great Defender: You’ll Want This By Your Side When It Hits the Fan

45 acp
[Editor’sNote: Simply put, things can to hell in a hand basket very quickly following a disaster. The widespread breakdown of the social order leads to looting in disaster prone areas which leads to the importance of being able to defend one’s home, family and their preps during a disaster breakdown. Because home defense is such an important consideration, it is important to familiarize yourself with the best firearms and ammunition choices out there. Jeremiah Johnson has been relentless in writing information on this subject and brings up another well informed article on this ammunition choice.]

ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, over the past weeks, we have gone into great detail on firearms, caring and maintaining firearms, and why preppers should diversify their ammunition supplies. This week, we are focusing on the .45 ACP – a worthy cartridge with a long and unique history, and it is also worth your consideration with regard to home defense and survival, for a number of reasons we’ll outline here today.  So, without further adieu, let’s get started!

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The History of the .45 ACP Cartridge

I want to discuss the .45 ACP cartridge.  This information is worthwhile and the cartridge itself has a great deal of history behind it.  In 1898 the Spanish-American War (characterized by Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders) came to a close, but the Philippine insurrection did not.  The Moros (Philippine islanders) were able to take a hit from the .38 handguns and the .30 Krag rifle the Army had in service…and keep coming.  They could not, however, “soak up” the .45 Long Colts and the 12-gauge buckshot used from personally-owned Colts and Winchesters.  Yes, back then, many could carry their own choice of weapons.

Two officers were crucial in determining the choice back in 1904.  At the behest of Brigadier General William Crozier (appointed Chief of Army Ordnance in 1901, a new position created by President Theodore Roosevelt), a board was formed comprised of two men.  Colonel John T. Thompson (Ordnance) and Colonel Louis A. LaGarde (Medical Corps) were tasked with finding the optimal sized cartridge for the U.S. Military.  LaGarde’s report contained the following summary:

“The Board was of the opinion that a bullet which will have the shock effect and stopping power at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver should have a caliber not less than .45[caliber].”

                Shotgun News, November 1, 2011, p. 13; article:

                 “High Standard M1911A1,” by Peter G. Kokalis

There we have the first glimmerings of the beginnings of the .45 ACP, and I must mention the author of the article referenced, Peter G. Kokalis was the Senior Editor for Shotgun News with a lifetime of experience in shooting and reloading, as well as being a combat veteran.  Kokalis summarized the .45 ACP cartridge’s capabilities most eloquently.  In essence, he clears up a lot of misconceptions relating to kinetic energy of a round.  Most people equate high velocity with knockdown power.  For long-range shooting, this holds to be true in many cases.

Short-Range Combat

What we’re dealing with here is short-range combat…where you (the homeowner) are protecting your house and family from a break-in at close ranges.  In such ranges, you will need stopping power.  Here are some terms you need to keep in mind:

  1. Wound Track – the path of the bullet through the body, also referred to as the “permanent cavity.” Three factors influence this wound track:
  2. Yaw – the way the bullet tumbles through the body after impact
  3. Expansion – of the bullet itself, also referred to as “mushrooming”
  4. Fragmentation – the way the bullet disintegrates in the body after impact as it moves through the tissue
  5. Temporary cavitation – the path opened up as the bullet travels through the vital organs…a path that “rebounds,” or bounces back into original position, though not without damage to certain organs

Depth of penetration is the most important factor, as Kokalis outlines here, in this excerpted segment of his article:

“Most important of all, is the fact that penetration is without doubt the single most important parameter in the wound ballistics equation.  It has been determined that in law enforcement and self-defense scenarios, a minimum of 12 inches, and up to 18 inches of penetration will produce the most effective results – required to reach the body’s vital organs.  Once we’ve obtained the necessary penetration, the bullet that makes the biggest hole will do the most damage.

 As a result of the above, there is only one possible conclusion.  The .45 ACP cartridge is the most effective handgun round – among those commonly available – that you can use in a gunfight.  Even anecdotal evidence over the last 100 years has proven this to be so countless times.”

Kokalis went on to explain that a 230-grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) expands (on average) from .45 (that is .45 of an inch) to .65 with approximately 15.5 inches of penetration.  I must add his final words in the article, as they should drive the point home:

“This can be summarized in one sentence: use the largest caliber with the heaviest bullet, propelled at moderate velocity.  In other words, deploy with a handgun chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge.”

To clarify what he meant by “moderate velocity” is that other, faster bullets tend to go right through the target at close distances, whereas the .45 ACP (considered a low-velocity round at – on average – 930 feet per second) has both the penetration power and will “open up” for greater internal damage to the target.

To add my own words to Mr. Kokalis’, I have used other calibers, such as 9mm Luger, .38, and .45 Long Colt.  The .45 ACP is an excellent round that is also multipurpose when using different types of ammunition.  The +P rounds (in brands such as Buffalo Bore) turn your cartridge into a super-penetrator that can and will defeat body armor.  It is also a good round to protect against large and ferocious predators.  You can pick up the standard FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) rounds at 230 grains for under $40.00 for a box of 100 at your friendly Wal-Mart for target shooting.

A Frugal Ammunition Choice

They’re easy to reload, and economical: the .45 ACP will not bankrupt your savings while giving you that large caliber round with the stopping power you need.  As to the piece you wish to throw it out of, take your pick.  The 1911 is tried and true (in my humble opinion one of the finest handguns ever made), and has served our military nobly throughout its existence.  So, .45 ACP?  Try it, you’ll like it: the round will serve your needs well, and at a price you can afford.  Keep that powder dry and don’t store it with your primers!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 6th, 2017
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  • Novice

    No doubt the .45 is a very nasty round…when you hit your target. All other things being equal, you’ll get more out of a .45 wound than most any other handgun round. The cons, however, may negate that effectiveness. The .45 has quite a bit of recoil. Many shooters (especially those not used to the round) will have a tendency to flinch prior to firing and miss the target all together. As with anything in the world of shooting, practice can absolutely overcome this con but, unless the shooter is proficient with the round they may be better off sticking to a .380 or 9mm. Less recoil, more rounds for follow up shots, etc. As I’ve always said, the answer to the question, what is the “best” round or caliber is…it depends.

    • Mikial

      Agree with your statement that, ” . . . unless the shooter is proficient with the round they may be better off sticking to a .380 or 9mm.” The answer to that is to become proficient. Granted there may be some shooters who have very tiny frames or hands, or who are elderly or infirm, who simply, physically cannot handle a larger round than a .380 or 9mm. But most healthy, average sized human beings of either sex can learn to shoot a .45 ACP well. We’re not talking .44 Magnum here. My wife, who has only been shooting for about 6 years, loves her 1911 and shoots it very well. Admittedly, she does carry a 9mm Beretta because she likes it and likes the extra ammo capacity, but that has nothing to do with her capability to shoot her 1911 very well.

      • Novice

        Practice would indeed solve the issue of proficiency but, not everyone has the time, funds, desire or ability to become proficient. UNTIL they can become proficient they would still be better off with the .380 to defend themselves in the meantime.

  • A Arizonian

    I carried two at all times for 5 1/2 yrs in Nam. I agree JJ like the saying goes “Why use a 45? because shooting twice is silly!

  • emmanuelozon

    A .45 is a little bit too large for my hand; my choice is a 9mm loaded with G2 RIP ammunition.

    • Mikial

      .45 caliber handguns come in many sizes. You could find one that fits your hand id you want one, but it is always the shooter’s choice about what they want to carry and what they are comfortable with.

  • AtomicMetroid

    I’ve always said: If you wanna stay alive carry a .45

  • EgbertThrockmorton1

    My wife loves shooting my 1911 .45 pistol, says the recoil is “easier” on her carpal tunnel. When I’m traveling for work, she usually has the .45 as her companion along with extra magazines, flashlight, and the two large very protective canines.
    I don’t get to shoot it as much as I would like to, since she has appropriated it.

    • Mikial

      Easy solution, we got his and hers 1911s. She isn’t crazy about my two Glock .45s, so no worries there.

  • Intim Idator

    IDK they made 230 JHP. I know there is 230 grain FMJ and 181 JHP. Yea it’s my favorite.

  • J_in_TX

    You have to remember the .45 in the Judge is not .45 ACP being discussed in the article.

    • Bobby Hopkins

      judge shoots the 45 long colt.

      • DefenderofTruth

        Whereas obtaining the Smith & Wesson “Governor” will give you the ability to fire the .410 ; the .45LC ; and with moon clips you will also be able to fire the .45acp.

  • Why would it make a difference if it penetrates at 15″ or mushrooms at 18″ if the target you are shooting is 12″ thick? These stats make no sense…unless you are shooting a fat man in the gut! If you are looking at a normal sized human, 12″ penetration might be too much! I mean, what is JJ shooting at, anyway?

    • Mikial

      It has to do with penetration of the body cavity in light of the effects of heavy clothing or a barrier of some kind.

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