The fate of the 45 GAP seems to be all but determined at this point in history. What was once considered to be the little cartridge that could, has gone the way of the dinosaur. This article takes a more in depth look at the history, uses, and the 45 GAP Ballistics to see if this is the right cartridge for you, or even if it could make a comeback.
What is 45 GAP?
45 GAP, or 45 Glock Automatic Pistol, is Glock’s answer to a problem that some shooters had about having smaller hands but wanting the power of the longer, fatter 45 ACP cartridge. Glock designed a brand new 45 caliber cartridge that boasts similar ballistics to the bigger 45 Auto. The new cartridge was easier for people with smaller hands to shoot since it was shorter and didn’t require as large of a grip to fit bigger rounds.
We go much further into detail below.
45 GAP History:
While some folks scoff at the prospect of the Glock Automatic Pistol (what GAP stands for) cartridge, I have to say that it did fill a hole in the market. That market, specifically, is people who had smaller hands but wanted to use more effective 45 caliber rounds for self-defense.
The problem that many shooters had is that the 45 ACP is a much bigger cartridge than the 9mm and even the 40 S&W is.
This is one of the reasons why the 40 and 9mm Glock pistols are technically the same size frame. You can actually take a Glock 23 in 40 and stick a 9mm Glock 19 barrel and recoil assembly on it, essentially shooting two different calibers out of the same gun.
But you can’t do that with 45 ACP because it requires a bigger frame to fit the fatter, longer cartridges. This extra room needed on the frame’s grip increased the grip size of the 45 ACP guns.
Because the grip was bigger they were harder for people with smaller hands to shoot.
So those people with smaller hands, or just those people who wanted a harder-hitting cartidge for self-defense while being able to control the gun better, were the perfect audience for the 45 GAP chambered pistols.
At first, the GAP received great reviews and wide acceptance. Police agencies across the nation began to adopt it. Even better, is that when the 45 GAP was used to stop an attacker, it worked well.
There was a market for the 45 GAP pistols, and the terminal ballistics were very good. In fact, they achieved very similar ballistics to the standard load 45 ACP. Only, they did so in a much smaller cartridge.
45 GAP Ballistics:
|.45 GAP Ballistics||Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity (FPS)||100 YD Velocity||Muzzle Energy||100 YD Energy LB FT||Bullet Drop 100 YDS|
Common load offerings included a 140, 185, 200, and 230 grain projectile and all were effective at stopping an attack.
45 GAP Issues:
So far I’ve painted a lovely picture of the ill-fated 45 GAP. But there is a reason why it is largely out of use for police and the civilian world, and why nobody really makes guns for it anymore.
There are a few things going on here, let’s tackle them —
One of the main problems with the 45 GAP, and even the 45 AUTO guns is that of limited capacity. What I mean, is that you can take a Glock 39 and stick it right next to a Glock 26 (very similar in dimension), and the Glock 26 holds more ammo. The G26 holds 10+1 rounds of 9mm, while the G39 holds 6+1 rounds of 45 GAP.
Granted, those are the standard numbers, and not the optional counts that are also a viable option, but for the purposes of my point we’ll stick with standard.
As you can see, you get more ammo in the gun with the smaller cartridge. This is due to the fact that the .45 caliber cartridge is fatter and takes up more room in the magazine. There is no way around this without considerable re-designing.
What’s a better sell to a police force looking to stop bad guys? Or, if they’re looking to stop multiple bad guys? More ammo is almost always the better choice, which is why police departments across the country, minus a couple, have moved to 9mm and 40 S&W.
Improvements with other cartridges:
A while ago I mentioned that the technology has improved drastically since the 45 ACP was invented. This was one of the reasons why the 45 GAP was able to achieve such similar ballistics in a shorter cartridge.
This also left room for other cartridges to be improved upon. The most improved upon caliber was the 9mm. Between more consistently expanding bullets and better burning powder, 9mm ballistics have come far since it was originally developed.
Once the FBI began to look seriously at the 9mm again for duty, it all but put the last nail in the 45 GAP coffin. Once the FBI made the switch from 40 to 9mm, there was no question. Many of the other police departments across the country made a similar switch.
Because the 9mm was more effective than it used to be with pistols able to carry a lot more ammo than the 45 GAP guns did, there was no question.
Is 45 GAP still more effective? Yep. Does that matter to most people when you can carry a gun with 17 rounds in it? Not really.
45 GAP cost:
Another stumbling block that any new ammunition faces, is the cost. 45 GAP cost more than the others did on average, which made it hard to justify training. When you can’t justify your training, chances are good you won’t shoot as much.
If you don’t shoot as much, you buy less ammo. If you, and everyone else, buys less ammo the cost of the ammo goes up. When the cost of the ammo goes up, the number of guns sold goes down. It’s an endless cycle.
9mm, on the other hand, was much more affordable at the time.
45 GAP isn’t extinct yet:
At the top of this article I said that the 45 GAP has gone the way of the dinosaur. But that’s not entirely true. Last I heard, there are still a few police agencies who use the Glock 37 (G17 size frame) on duty. As long as the 45 GAP remains in service use, it will never go away.
Besides, there are enough of them in circulation for Speer to continue making ammo for them, at least they probably will once the ammo shortage calms down a bit.
And Glock wasn’t the only company to make them. Springfield Armory also made an XD, and I believe there was another gun manufacturer who made a 45 GAP pistol. They’re out there.
It’d also be nice if, one day when things calm down with ammo, another gun manufacturer came along to make another GAP gun. The main problem with them was capacity, and Glock’s guns are known to not make the full use of the space inside their magazines.
I’d bet money that another manufacturer could make a Glock 38 (g19 sized frame) that holds more than 8 rounds just by designing a higher capacity magazine.
If it’s possible to squeak 12 and 13 rounds in these high capacity micro compact guns like the 365XL or the Hellcat, why can’t they do the same with a more effective cartridge?
The 45 GAP is currently on life support, but not dead. It is very possible that there is a resurgence in this ammo, especially if any other gun manufacturers come on board. This happens sometimes, like with the FN 5.7.
For a long time they were the only ones making guns in that caliber.
Then boom, last year (or maybe the year before?) seemed to be the year of the 5-7. Ruger, Diamondback, and CMMG all released new guns for that caliber in the same year. Thus, the 5.7X28 was given a new birth.
Only time will tell if the 45 GAP gets similar results. Check out our main handgun ballistics page, next.