In 1990, the world of the .45 ACP cartridge was turned upside down. For more than seventy years the domain of the Colt 1911, a new Austrian handgun, dared to use the venerable old bullet in a modern design that included, of all things, a polymer frame. Glock’s adoption of the .45 ACP in the new Glock 21 likely saved the cartridge—and all of its users—from obscurity, and made the big bore cartridge a mandatory offering for a new generation of handguns.
Invented in 1911 by prolific firearms inventor John Moses Browning, the Colt 1911 pistol used the .45 ACP cartridge—also invented by Browning. Together the pistol and cartridge were meant to address a lack of handgun stopping power in the U.S. Army first noticed during the Philippine Insurrection, when existing Army .38 Long Colt handguns proved unable to stop Moro insurgents in their tracks. The U.S. Army adopted as the M1911, and later the M1911A1, Browning’s pistol served until the early 1980s.
The .45 ACP cartridge proved considerably more effective than the .38 Long Colt used by the Army during the Insurrection, with more than twice the energy in foot pounds at the muzzle. The .45 ACP/1911 combination gathered considerable cachet over the years, and despite being dropped by the Army in the 1980s the 1911 platform still has a loyal following thirty years later.