.44 magnum vs. .45 ACP: Which is a Better Choice And Why?

A debate on the .44 Magnum vs. .45 ACP would turn out to be an interminable discussion. The comparison between these two can bring up several arguments. Yet, it isn’t easy to decide which one is the winner. The .44 Magnum and .45 ACP both are iconic handguns in history. Both are extremely popular handguns for self-defense and hunting. However, there are some significant differences between them that could make one better than the other for some specific purposes.

In this article, we focused on the main differences between the .44 Magnum and .45. As well as tried to debunk which one might be the better choice for specific purposes. This article will help you decide which one is better when you have a clear idea about both firearms.

.44 magnum vs .45 ACP

45 ACP or 44: Which One Is The Best According To Use Case?

The main focus of this article is .44 Magnum Vs. .45 ACP, and we have collected some personal reviews from the users and did some field tests. The .44 Magnum and .45 ACP are both deadly handguns with amazing features. Each of them has some special characteristics that make the handgun perfect. The better handgun is the one that suits best for a purpose. Let’s see which firearm is the best according to its purpose:

Why Should You Need a .45 Automatic Colt Pistol?

The .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) is one of the powerful handguns that can pierce most body armor. It is also accurate and has a high rate of fire. The .44 Magnum might be more popular, but the .45 ACP is better for self-defense in close quarters. Also, from our test, We found that .45 is more accurate with less amount of recoil than .44 Magnum. So, When you have a sudden encounter with a threat at close range, .45 would be the best for firing multiple times. Hence we can say that the .45 ACP is better for self-defense, while the .44 Magnum is more accurate and lethal at long range.

Why Should You Need .44 Magnum?

The .44 Magnum can be a better choice for hunting for having higher velocity and more power than the .45 handgun. In addition, the .44 magnum revolvers are best for heavy bullets. These factors make it perfect for hunting large game such as deer or bear. 

Self-defense could still be an option if you need to take down an attacker with this gun, but the .45 ACP is better for most people. If you’re looking for a powerful handgun that can handle large games, the .44 Magnum is a perfect choice.

As you can see, according to some specific purposes, one of the firearms suits better than the other one. However, to evaluate a firearm, there are many more things to consider and understand.

What Are The Main Differences Between .44 Magnum and .45 ACP Overall?

If you have to choose between the two calibers, the best way to decide would be to compare the features. The comparison would bring out several differences between the two options. By understanding these differences, you can decide which one ticks all your boxes. To make your decision easier, let’s get straight to the point. 

The following are some main differences between .44 Magnum and .45 ACP:

  • The .44 Magnum firearm is capable of managing 900 to 1500 pounds of energy when fired. On the other hand, the .45 ACP can pack up 400 to 800 pounds of energy.
  • The .44 Magnum has a high recoil method but low accuracy. The .45 ACP has a low recoil method with more accuracy.
  • The stopping power is high in a .44 compared to a .45.
  • The .44 Magnum is good enough for one powerful shot, but the accuracy comes down after one shot. However, you can fire multiple times with the .45 ACP.
  • .45 ACP is great for taking down deer-sized predators. The .44 Magnum can shoot through predators as big as a bear.
  • .44 Magnum firearms have the capacity of producing bullets group that are 3-4 inches at 50 yards with most ammunition. The .45 ACP is good for 4 inches bullets at 100 yards with most ammunition.
  • The .45 ACP is most effective at close ranges. The .44 Magnum is powerful enough for long ranges.

.44 Magnum Vs. .45 ACP: A Comprehensive Guide Based On Specifications

Since differentiating between the two firearms is not enough, it is important to dig into more details. Let’s go back to the time when the .44 and .45 were invented and know a little more about them. The features and specifications are important, and each of these firearms has some pros and cons.

.44 Magnum Overview

The .44 Magnum was invented back in 1954 by Smith and Wesson. This rimmed cartridge was designed for revolvers mostly. People claim that the .44 is very deadly, and there is a famous quote from the movie Dirty Harry that says the .44 Magnum is the most powerful gun in the world. Well, a .44 Magnum is indeed powerful enough to take down four-legged or two-legged predators like the .308 and .3006 cartridges. However, there are more amazing features and attributes of the .44 that prove why this firearm stands out.


The .44 Magnum revolvers are very easy to reload and have a lot of flexibility. This revolver is suitable for different powder ranges, and you can use different-sized bullets. You can adjust your revolver and manage recoil while shooting. The easy reload mechanism will help you take down a threat as huge as a bear from a distance.


There are several 0.44 revolvers that are available now, and model 29 is one of the best ones. This revolver has a capacity of carrying six bullets. A .44 is made of a straight and rimmed case with a bullet diameter of 10.9 mm. The overall length is 41 mm and has a maximum pressure of 250 MPa. .44 revolvers are made of carbon steel, and the one single shot is enough to stop a predator from approaching from a long distance. There are other powerful .44 revolvers. For example, model 69 is less expensive compared to model 29. It has a capacity of holding 5 bullets. Modern revolvers are usually made of stainless steel.

Self Defense

.44 handguns are very effective when it comes to self-defense. Some people had the best experience with a .44 while they had sudden encounters with threats. A .44 handgun is so powerful that it can penetrate through large threats fast. .44 has a heavy recoil but low accuracy upon firing faster. This handgun is not suitable for rapid firing but deadly enough to kill with one shot. .44 guns are loud like the dramatic gunshots in movies. One shot can scare away other predators around.


People often assume powerful handguns are difficult to handle and require good palm pressure while firing. Well, that is not true. Even though .44 has a heavy recoil mechanism, it is easy to fire, and your palm does not require any pressure. It is amazing to realize how a lightweight gun holds high power to kill a big predator.

Red Ramp Front Sight

The .44 model 69 has a special feature that makes it easier to shoot. It comes with a pinned red ramp front sight which is adjustable. New revolvers have fun features for easier shooting. However, nothing beats the classic model 29.


  • Durable with solid construction.
  • Looks classy and aesthetic.
  • Good accuracy and power.
  • Lightweight and easy to manage.
  • Best choice for hand loaders.
  • Suitable for long ranges.
  • Supports full-length-sized cases.


  • The ejector rod does not come out completely, so you have to pull out the case to make room for the next bullet.
  • Not suitable for beginners.

.45 ACP Overview

The .45 Automatic Coil Pistol was invented in 1905 and designed by John Moses Browning. The .45 pistols were popular among law enforcers, but now they are a good choice for hunting too. The .45 ACP goes way back to World War 1, so we can tell how majestic this pistol is. Even though modern handguns have new features, the .45 ACP stands out because of some great features.


The .45 ACP is easy to reload and shoot at close ranges. This pistol is versatile, and the easy reload mechanism makes it great for rapid-fire. You can take multiple shots with ease. The .45 ACP is one of the smallest pistols and lightweight. Even though it looks small, it can cause some serious damage.


A .45 ACP can hold up to 8 rounds. Similar to .44, a .45 is made of the rimmed and straight case. The bullet’s diameter is 11.5 mm, and the overall length is 32.4 mm. With a maximum pressure of 135 MPa, the .44 ACP is great for multiple shots at once.

Capacity and Recoil

.45 ACP is powerful with high recoil. The shooting accuracy is high when it comes to rapid firing. The capacity to stop any threat is high, according to several users. This pistol is still popular among the military because of its high performance, even though there are modern pistols on the market.

Self Defense

Similar to a .44 magnum, a .45 ACP is also very effective for self-defense. This pistol is excellent for close quarters and easy to grab and fire. You can cope with sudden attacks or close encounters with predators without having recoil issues.


  • More ammunition options.
  • Easy reloading.
  • High accuracy upon multiple firing.
  • Suitable for modern bullets.
  • You can use it as a conceal and carry the weapon.
  • Easy recoil mechanism.


  • The firing pin wouldn’t work without a moon clip.
  • Not suitable for beginners.

Our Field Test Between 45 ACP and 44 Magnum:

Velocity Testing:

We loaded 45 ACP with Speer And 44 Magnum with underwood for our testing. Both are gold dots and 200 grains of ammo. Also, we used Smith and Wesson M&P and S&W Model 29. We fired about 5 rounds each from a distance of 5 yards with no malfunctions.

After shooting several shots with both firearms and getting the velocity measured in chronograph on an average, we can see that the 44 magnum comes in at about 1385 fps while the 45 ACP falls a little bit short with 795 fps. However, despite this difference in muzzle velocity, the recoil was notably higher with the 44 Magnum. This might be due to its larger size and power.

In terms of FPE, the 44 magnum comes out ahead with 890 compared to 324 for 45 ACP. This is likely due to the increased power and round size of the .44 magnum cartridge.

44 mag vs. 45 ACP Ballistics Test

For this test, we set a one and three-quarter inches of ballistic baloney pack covered by five layers of denim to simulate pectoral muscle. After the baloney pack, we set a one-quarter inch of medium density fiberboard to simulate the ribcage.

The distance between each jug was three inches. So from the baloney pack to the first jug, it was nine inches. The second jug was at 12 inches and so on.

From our test, we found that the 44 magnum bullet penetrated 5 of the 6 jugs, while the 45 ACP penetrated 4 of the 6 jugs. The 44 Magnum also expanded its bullet much more than the 45 ACP – spreading it out over a larger area inside each jug.

We believe that this is due to its hollowpoint design which allows for better penetration through barriers.

However, we were surprised to see how perfectly the 45 ACP expanded at penetration time, achieving a diameter of 0.667 inches at 795 FPS. The 44 magnum 200gr bullet expands more than 45ACP, which is around 0.800 inches, but the expanding shapes are not uniform like the 45 ACP.

We also run the gel block ballistic test to see how the bullets perform after they penetrate a dummy. We found that the 44 mag bullet penetrated and expanded more than the 45ACP. The 44 mag wound channel was wider, and the bullet retained more of its energy after penetrating. The 44 penetrated almost 3/4 of the way, nearly 20″ into the gel block, while the 45ACP penetrated 16″ but with less energy.

These are some main differences between the two firearms, but we still cannot conclude which one is the winner. If one of them has a specific feature better than the other, another feature might bring the other one back in the game. The comparison will go on when both the firearms are excellent in their way.

Things To Keep In Mind Before Choosing a Handgun:

  • Performance may depend on the type of gun.
  • Velocity and energy depend on the type of bullets.
  • Beginners should use a specific type of gun only.
  • Not all guns require the same handling.
  • Not all guns are available everywhere.
  • The size and weight of the gun matter.
  • Always choose a moderate one which is suitable for you.
  • Do not go for appearance; focus on suitability.


The .44 Magnum Vs. .45 ACP debate is popular among handgun owners, yet there is no proof of which one is better. Well, you can only decide when you try to match one of them with your requirements. For example, if you live in the woods, the .45 ACP would be more suitable for facing predators. And if you plan on going for a hunt from a long distance, the .44 Magnum would be a perfect choice. This is how you get to have an opinion on both firearms and figure out the better one for yourself. So, which one do you think is a better option for you? Hopefully, this article will help you get an answer!

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