How To Make Your .45 Shoot As Smoothly As Your 9mm


When you shoot firearms with different calibers, you notice differences in the way that they feel. Obviously, you are going to notice differences based upon the amount of powder in the ammunition, but other factors matter to the feel of shooting the ammunition, too.

Still, many people may wish that they had a firearm with the power of a .45 but the smoothness of shot of a 9mm, which has a smaller gunpowder load than a .45 and, therefore, less recoil. And there is a way to make that happen, but it may not be in a way that would immediately occur to you.

Fortunately, someone writing under the pseudonym of New Jovian Thunderbolt has some interesting thoughts on this:


I think I am a different shooter than I once was.  Before all the training.  Before I got better at it.

If you put a .45 and a 9mm on a bench and let me try both of the, the 9mm felt easier to shoot.  Gentle.  Almost like a .22 compared to the larger caliber.  Well, maybe not that gentle, but noticeable.

Now?  One of my biggest disappointments about getting a heavier 9mm pistol was that its recoil felt no gentler than a standard 1911.  I was expecting easier recoil control leading to faster accurate shots.  It just feels about the same. Same with other 9mm pistols, not just that first one.

I don’t know.  Maybe getting better made the .45 seem gentler because of improved shooting technique and the 9mm is as gentle as it ever was.

Did you catch the answer in there? The answer, to be clear, is not that the .45 actually becomes any smoother to shoot, and it’s not some simple mental trick. The answer is that you have continued to put in the deliberate practice at the shooting range and through dry fire so that you become so comfortable and effective with your .45 that it shoots just as smoothly to you as a 9mm.

The answer is just that simple and just that hard (because deliberate practice is difficult work over an extended period of time). Now, go put in the work.



  1. Having had considerable experience firing both calibers in full size service type pistols in competition, a properly made 45ACP already does function smoothly.

  2. Very well put, Alan! Unless one is considering the aging military issue 1911 .45 ACP pistols, those for sale now function very well. Had I not come down with a disease that made me non-deployable, I would have taken one of my personal 1911’s in .45 ACP; authorization would have been included in my orders based on my rank.

  3. Having shot a 1911 for over 20 years I find shooting a 1911 in 9 mm disappointing. I tried my .357 magnum wheel gun and it is on a par with the’45. I think smooth is in the brain of the shooter.

  4. I have carried a 1911 in .45 daily for 48 years, and put thousands of rounds through them. For me nothing points like a 1911. I can walk into a dark room and if there is a sound I can draw and point the 1911, turn on the lights and across a 20 foot room I might be off somewhere around an inch. If I can catch the gleam of any metal or glass, across the same room I can shoot and hit it at least 80% of the time. I’ve never fired a 1911 in 9 mm, a hold over from the days when the 9 was ineffective. I read that the improvement of the bullet design has brought the 9 up to par with the .45. My theory is, if it ain’t broke why fix it? So far the .45 in 1911 ain’t broke. As I get older I may have to go to a lighter recoiling gun, but not yet.

    • Absolutely right ! The design of the 1911 molds to gun to your hand, it doesn’t roll or wobble after a shot, and pointing the gun is as easy as pointing your index finger. The .45 ACP is the Gold Standard of stopping power for a commonly used combat handgun while the 9mm was developed for a more decorative sidearm carried as a status symbol by officers and not indented for combat. There are some light loads in .45 , I think is made by COR BON

  5. I have a Ruger Blackhawk convertable with a cylinder for 45 ACP and another for 45 Colt. I load both cartridges to the same 900 fps velocity but use 215 grain lead for the ACP and 225 for the Colt. I was amazed at how much snappier the ACP is vs. the Colt. I have to put it up to the difference in case capacity and the different burn characteristics of the two loads. Kind of like CRACK! against a WHOOM!

  6. i am amazed that this 9mm vs 45 acp debate continues….Combat reports from ww1 onward tell us that 9mm is marginal in stopping power. the 45 acp was created to have a more effective round in military handguns….TRUE that bullet design has changed greatly since ww1 and now you can get many other designs besides FMJ for your bullets….but reports coming back from our mid east engagements told us that the 9mm was NOT STOPPING the bad guys….The only reasons that 9mm was adopted by our military are 1) its common to nato……as if we are really ever going to exchange ammo with them in a real war….2) the smaller cartridge allows the shooter to “spray and pray” that one of his many shots down range will connect with the target and and the conflict. This is similar to the “spray and pray” mentality that came over the army when they left the 308 winchester round and went to 5.56 mm…I will take a 45 any day…knowing I can down 7 bad guys with the seven shots in the clip…….thanks..

  7. I agree with all you guys …but I’ve been trying to get my 9mms to shoot as smooth as my .45’s. My favorite is my Colt New Agent. Been shooting .45’s regularly since 71 in the Navy and since then. My Dad let me shoot an old retired military Colt when I was 10 years old. Life long love affair with caliber. Great replies fellas thanks.

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