When I set out to pull together information for this article, the one thing I wanted to do was get in some of the cool stuff and test it. After all, what would be the point of writing if I didn’t get to play with some cool toys? So when Smith & Wesson offered up one of their new M&P .45’s, I eagerly said yes. Add to that H&K willingness to supply one of their new .45’s and I was chomping at the bit to get to the range. And just then, Taurus dropped off a new stainless model of their new 1911. For gun guys, this was “it.”
Out of the Box
The first thing I noticed was how each gun felt in my hand the moment I picked it up for the first time. The Taurus felt like a 1911 should, very slim and with classic, dare I say graceful lines. The H&K felt much like a Sig Sauer to me. Comfortable, but not quite perfect. The Smith M&P fit my hand right off the bat.
Now the 1911 has a plethora of grips available to customize the fit. Both the H&K and the M&P had exchangeable back straps that came with each gun that could work to fit the shooter’s hand. The standard grip on the M&P was my favorite, while I did swap out the H&K’s grip. All three fit very Ill and I had no real complaints there. If I were to pick one as the best for my hand, it would be the Smith.
In This Corner:
Heckler & Koch HK45
The HK45 was developed to meet the needs of the most distinguished, elite U.S. military operators. The HK45 is available in any one of the 10, HK specific variants, including the double-action and single-action Law Enforcement Modification known as the LEM. Left, right and ambidextrous control levers provide safety and/or de-cocking functions and can be fitted to the pistol by simply changing parts.
An internal mechanical recoil reduction system reduces the recoil forces imparted to the weapon and shooter by as much as 30%, improving shooter control during rapid firing.
Some of the numerous features of the HK45:
- Ergonomical grip profile
- Replaceable grip panel
- Integrated Picatinny rail molded into the polymer frame dust cover
- Enlarged ambidextrous magazine levers
- Improved ergonomic control levers (safety and/or decocking)
- Low-profile, drift adjustable, 3-dot sight
- Contoured and radiused slide with forward grasping grooves
- Ambidextrous slide release
Overall length 7.52″
Overall height 5.83″
Overall width 1.42″
Barrel length 4.53″
Sight radius 6.61″
Weight w/ magazine 1.73 lb
Magazine 0.20 lb
The Taurus 1911
The Taurus 1911 offers hammer-forged -not cast- ordnance grade steel frames, slides and barrels. They machine each and every part to tolerance levels that surpass even today’s industry standards. They then hand-fit and tune each gun, using quality parts that are built 100% on site. Then they mark the slide, barrel and frame with matching serial numbers.
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5″
Finish: Blue Steel or Stainless
Grips: Checkered Black
Weight: 38 oz
Front Sight: Heinie
Rear Sight: Straight-8
Trigger Type: Ventilated
Rate of Twist: 1:16″
The Smith & Wesson M&P
The M&P’s feature a reinforced polymer chassis, superb ergonomics, ambidextrous controls, and proven safety features. In the design of the M&P, S&W considered the needs of military and law enforcement from every conceivable angle.
The M&P 45 is available with or without a thumb safety, and in several variants to meet the needs of Law Enforcement, Military and the shooter.
Capacity: 10-14 Rounds
Action: Striker Fire Action
Barrel Length: 4″
Front Sight: Steel Ramp Dovetail
Rear Sight: Steel Lo-Mount Carry
Overall Length: 7 1/2″
Weight: 27.7 oz. (Empty Mag: 3.0 oz., Full Mag: Approx. 10 oz.)
Grip: (3) Interchangeable Palm swell Grip Sizes
Material: Stainless Steel Slide & Barrel
Finish: Black Melonite®, 68 HRc
Extras and Do-Dads
Each gun came with two magazines, although the 1911 being a single-stack handgun, the ammo capacity is reduced. To be honest, I didn’t really notice all the much. I found the 1911 magazines to be the easier to load and the Smith’s to be the more difficult if I had to make a choice.
The H&K and the M&P both have a built-in tactical rail for mounting a light or laser sight. The 1911 didn’t, although Taurus does offer it with a tactical rail. I would like to play with one of those one of these days. For testing sake, I used Streamlight’s awesome TSR-2 light/laser combo. I have used several of these combo light/sights before and think this one is the slickest unit out there. Not too big, not too small and incredibly easy to use. They have more switching options than any other light I’ve seen either.
Shut Up and Pull the Trigger
With clips loaded with Hornady TAP ammo, Ray Ban eye protection and Howard Weight’s awesome Impact Sport ear protection, it was time to pull the trigger. I fired a three-shot group from each gun at a 15-yard target. I seemed to shoot about the same with the 1911 and the M&P. The H&K was very close though. The next volley was a three-shot rapid-fire test. Now the M&P and the H&K Ire almost identical, while the 1911 was just a hair off. The H&K’s recoil reduction system was nice and was noticeable. It easily won the recoil war.
The Smith seemed to have the best trigger for us. No creep and a crisp break. The H&K has an excellent trigger as Ill, but I felt the pull was a little longer, and the H&K has a hammer that can be cocked for better trigger action in single-action style shooting. The Taurus 1911 has one of the best triggers I’ve used in a production 1911 and it made me check and recheck the suggested retail price to see if I were reading it right.
The day wore on; the ammo piles dwindled, and I was glad that recoil doesn’t have a negative effect on me for the most part. The bottom line is this. If you’re hoping I can say which of the three was the best, I can’t. They were each very good, solid guns. Do I have a favorite? Yes, I are partial to the Smith M&P. But I would happily carry either of the other two with no doubt whatsoever. Every round of ammo fired and hit the target pretty much where it was aimed. Each gun was flawless in action and just plain fun to shoot.
The Late Entrants
After I did the initial test and the initial story was written, two more guns showed up on the doorstep that you should be aware of. Glock sent in a Model 21 and FNH sent over one of their FNP 45s.
The Glock 21 is, well, a Glock. Glocks are the original and standard of the polymer pistol crowd. They have a strong following and are known the world over for reliability and functionality. This handgun was no different.
Contrary to conventional, the trigger is the only operating element. All three pistol safeties are deactivated when the trigger is pulled -and automatically activated when it is released.
As for the finish, Glock provides their hi-tech surface refinement for barrel and slide. Apart from optimum corrosion protection and anti-reflective finish, a degree of hardness of 64 HRC – close to that of a diamond – is achieved.
The polymer frame is corrosion resistant, tougher than steel and still 86% lighter. More than 20 years ago, Glock pistols were the first industrially manufactured handguns with high-tech polymer frames.
Caliber: .45 acp
System: Safe Action
Weight: 745 g / 26.28 oz.
Loaded: 1085 g / 38.28 oz.
Length: 193 mm / 7.59 in.
Height: 139 mm / 5.47 in.
Capacity: Standard: 13
Width: 32.5 mm / 1.27 in.
Barrel: 32 mm / 1.26 in.
Trigger pull: 2.5 kg / 5.5 lbs.
Travel: 12.5 mm / 0.5 in.
Barrel: 117 mm / 4.60 in.
Length of twist: 400 mm / 15.75 in.
The FNP-45 features traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) operation, a high-capacity polymer frame with interchangeable backstrap inserts, accessory rail and ambidextrous frame-mounted decocking levers and magazine release. The FNH-45′s barrel is hammer-forged and the stainless steel slide has a hard, matte black Melonite finish for added durability, or is available with a stainless steel slide, which is what I tested. The FNP-45 also offers a loaded chamber indicator on the external extractor. A variety of standard and night sights are available. All FNH pistols come standard with three magazines and a lockable hard case.
Model FNP-45, DA/SA, USG
Caliber / Ga. 45 ACP
Metric Designation 11.43x23mm
Magazine Capacity 14
Barrel Length 4 1/2″
Overall Length 7 7/8″
Weight 32.4 oz.
Operating Principle DA/SA
Stock Finish Polymer Frame
Stock / Grip Interchangeable arched and flat backstrap insert
I ran both of these pistols through their paces and came away with mixed feelings. It had to be me, and my hand, but the Glock didn’t fit well. And a gun that doesn’t fit well won’t shoot well. This is in no means a slight against Glock, so Glock fans can stop writing that flaming email right now. It just didn’t work well for me.
The opposite could be said for the FNH. It fit me very well and therefore shot very well. The trigger was superb and the gun never missed a beat, or a target for that matter. I ran several loads through it from several manufacturers and never once experienced anything out of the ordinary.
All five of these 45 caliber autos were top notch and it shows that when it comes to a .45, there are many great choices on the market. Get the one that fits you best and go to work.