The 5 Best .45 ACP Carbine [Updated 2020]

Today you’ll find the best .45 ACP carbine for you. 

In fact:

I’ve tested over $5,200 worth of .45 carbines. 

The best part?

I’ve sorted each rifle by the use. So whether you’re looking for a home defense carbine or CQB, you’ll find it here. 

Let’s get started!

What Is The Point of Pistol Caliber Carbine?

Here are the 3 top reasons:

  • Recoil Reduction
  • Improved Accuracy
  • Noise Reduction

Plus the ammo is cheaper.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to…

The 5 Best .45 ACP Carbines

In a rush? Here are the 5 best .45 ACP carbines on the market right now (2020):

  1. Heckler & Koch USC 45: Best Close Range Carbine
  2. Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine: Best Home Defense Carbine
  3. TNW Aero Survival 45 ACP: Best Survival Carbine
  4. KRISS Vector Gen II CRB .45 ACP: Best for Close Quarters Combat
  5. Just Right Carbine Gen 3 (.45 ACP): Best for AR-15 Users

1. Heckler & Koch USC 45: Best Close Range Carbine

Heckler-Koch-USC-45

How would you like to hold a military-class weapon in your hands that can stealthily take out a target quiet as a whisper? 

What about a utility carbine that is as powerful as it is beautiful?

Made from top-quality components and a classy, sleek design, the HK USC .45 rifle is the perfect plinker for gun games and home defense. 

Here’s why…


Accuracy

When I opened up the box and pulled out my new USC, I was stricken with just how cool it looked. Gorgeous machining and a sleek body.

But did it shoot as great as it looked?

Heckler and Koch USC 45 full view 1

I took it out to the range for a test run. Here’s what happened:

Without any adjustments, I DESTROYED tin cans at 50 yards. Like, I could have hit them with my eyes closed. Well, almost.

I brought it in to 25 just to see how much damage I could do. A bunch of damage. We’re talking same-hole groups consistently.

While this HK does come with a rear adjustable sight, there is no front sight.

Heckler and Koch USC 45 handle 2

But, throwing on a sight is a pretty easy fix since the USC can be fitted with your favorite Picatinny rail and red dot.

HECKLER _ KOCH USC 45 Aimpoint red dot

Reliability

The USC operates on a blowback system that gives this weapon maximum power and reliability with minimal sound. 

It’s made with quality components like cold-hammer forged steel on the barrel and an all-steel bolt mechanism.

Heckler and Koch USC 45 barrel 4

After years of regular use, this weapon has never once let me down with a misfire or firing issue of any kind. And that’s a big deal since I’ve put just about every brand, grain, and model of .45 ammo through the thing.

Whatever you’re planning on shooting, the USC will feed it through with a punch. Every time.


Handling

Overall, the HK USC is very easy to handle…

Heckler and Koch USC 45 magazine 10

…and ended up being one of the smoothest shooters in my arsenal.

HK touts the fact that the USC has a slim utility stock, but I found the thumbhole style a bit awkward at first. It became like second nature to use after a while, though there was a definite learning curve.

Some claim the high-grade polymer skeletonized stock feels bulky and cheap, but I never noticed these things. 

Heckler and Koch USC 45 buttpad 13

To be honest, once you shoot the USC, you won’t care too much about your first impression of the stock. 

It’s that good for accurate and reliable shooting.


Trigger

The thing that bothered me most about this semi-auto was the heavy and awkward feeling trigger. 

Heckler and Koch USC 45 stock 8

I was pulling 9.5 pounds out of the box and never got the factory trigger much lower than that. It took a long time getting used to.

It does have a large trigger guard, however, so it’s easy to shoot with heavy gloves.


Magazine/Reload

The HK USC .45 Carbine ships with two 10 round magazines. Not a lot of shooting time for a semi-auto. 

Heckler and Koch USC 45 magazine 10

You’ll either want to pick up a few extra mags (retailing around $50) or you can check out a larger 20 round mag like this ProMag.

Reloads are smooth and easy, while magazines drop cleanly from the well. No problems there.


Length/Weight

Here’s where the “utility” part really shines through.

The USC is lightweight and easy to carry at 6.13 pounds. It’s got a barrel length of 16 inches and overall length only tops at 35.43 inches.

Heckler and Koch USC 45 full view 5

Definitely a compact weapon that is easy on the arms, just like my .300 AAC Blackout rifle.


Recoil Management

While the USC does come with a nicely padded rubberized buttpad, it’s not one you’ll want to shoot for hours without more substantial shoulder protection.

Heckler and Koch USC 45 full back view from back 6

The blowback system and higher caliber rounds make for great shooting, but somewhat heavy recoil.


Price and Ammo/Accessory Recommendations

Retailing at $1,500, the USC is not a spur-of-the-moment purchase. You do get what you pay for, though, in accuracy and reliability.

As far as ammo goes, it’ll shoot anything you put through the barrel, but I got my best groups with FAE 230 grain and Magtech rounds.

HECKLER _ KOCH USC 45 Magtech ammo

I went ahead and got a couple of 20 round extra mags and a Picatinny rail setup from HK. As far as sights go, I like the Aimpoint Pro red dot.


Is the HK USC .45 Carbine Worth It?

If you’re looking for a smooth-shooting utility semi-auto that will feed any round flawlessly and punch out same-hole groups with ease, then look no further than the USC. 

With the higher price tag, you’re getting your money’s worth in these features alone:

  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet sound profile

Not only does the HK USC .45 look legit, it’s got the power to back the looks.

Don’t miss out on your chance to get your hands on one heck of a utility rifle that will put your competition to shame and your bogies to rest.


2. HI-POINT 45 ACP CARBINE: BEST HOME DEFENSE CARBINE

Hi-Point-45-ACP-Carbine-Best-Home-Defense-Carbine

A woman defended her home from a 3-man home invasion…alone. 

How’d she pull it off?

She used her trusty Hi-Point. 

Mom Against Invaders with Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine

The end result?

She saved her 2 children and got three thugs imprisoned. 

Watch the full viral story here: 

That video alone should be enough to sell you on the gun.

If you need a bit more nudging, let’s break down why the Hi-Point was so effective at defending her home, starting with…


Accuracy 

The Hi-Point is pretty accurate. 

Take a look at this 50 yard, 5 shot grouping test results

Hi-Point Accuracy

Not too bad, right? Take into account this is pistol ammo. Hitting 3.2” groups ‘out-of-the-box’ is REALLY good.

Hi-Point Groupings

So, how does the Hi-Point do it? It starts with its…

‘Ghost Ring’ Sights

It uses the reliable shotgun ‘ghost ring’ sight…

Hi Point ghost ring

…with a paired front sight: 

Hi-Point front sight

Both will help you hit whatever you’re looking at. But I wish they removed the wings to the side:

(It’s a little distracting.)

That aside, the sights help your eyes focus and are very easy-to-use (especially for beginners). 


Reliability

The gun’s build sturdy. 

The receiver is built from stamped steel while the rest of the gun is practically made from polymer. 

In the video shown earlier, the woman neglected her Hi-Point 45 ACP. 

Mom Against Invaders with Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine

It was rusty and ill-maintained. Yet, it still fired when the time came. That’s because of its simple design:

A blowback semi-automatic with few sturdy parts. 

The result?

A reliable gun that’ll work when you need it most. In fact, I put down 400 rounds through this bad boy and had zero malfunctions

No failures to feed. No failures to eject. Flawless operation. 

Personally, I think that’s why Hi-Point included a ‘no questions asked’ lifetime warranty — their guns just don’t break 😛  


Handling

The ergonomics aren’t elegant. As IV8888 summed it up: 

It’s got the ergonomics of a boat paddle.

That said, the ergonomics get the job done. 

The grip is really nice and comfortable. The buttstock’s a skeletonized polymer. It’s got a thumb safety. Any newbie shooter will quickly learn how to use it without any formal training.


Trigger

I measured the trigger pull at 5.5 pounds.

Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine Trigger Pull

Not bad. 


Magazine & Reloading

The Hi-Point 4595TS uses the same 9+1 round magazine as its handgun variation. 

The magazine releases fast. In fact, they used a button styled magazine release that resembles a pistol. 

Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine Magazine Release

(It’s to the left of the grip.)

When the magazine is empty, the bolt locks back. 


Length & Weight

The weapon is 32” in length. The barrel is 17.5 inches long and weighs only 7 pounds empty. 

Put another way:

It’s as long and heavy as a shotgun (or a .338 Lapua Rifle). This is great for recoil management. 

The 4595TS also comes with a sling, so you can carry it on your shoulder. This makes the 7 pound weight bearable for long treks. 


Recoil Management

The gun is blowback-operated. 

This means the gun relies on the mass of the bolt to handle recoil. 

Put another way:

The gun mostly relies on its weight to handle recoil. Hi-Point also uses a recoil buffer in the stock to absorb recoil. The recoil pad on the back helps, too.

Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine Recoil Pad

This lowers perceived recoil even further.

The end result? 

Recoil isn’t a problem on the Hi-Point.  


Ammo Recommendations

For solid ammo for self-defense, I’d recommend one of two options:

  1. Federal’s 45 ACP 230 gr HST: It has high penetration and expansion. In other words: it’ll stop your target cold. 
  2. Federal’s 45 ACP +P Tactical Bonded LE: This is if you want a bit more ‘oomph’. It penetrates and expands more. The Hi-Point can handle +P rated ammo. 

What about ammo for range practice? 

I’d recommend PMC .45 ACP’s 230 gr cheap brass. It’s dirt cheap and usually available. 


Special Features

There’s one reason the 4595 is a killer home defense weapon…

…it can be fired WITHOUT hearing protection and not make your ears ring. 

Although I always recommend wearing hearing protection, the reality is, when your home is getting invaded you won’t have time for hearing protection. 

So it’s a relief to hear you can use the Hi Point 4595TS without ringing your ears. 

The reason for it?

The long 17.5” barrel. The barrel allowing the gas to fizz out creating less noise. 


Price

The Hi-Point costs less than $300

That’s by far the cheapest rifle I’ve ever come across. But don’t mistake cheap with low-quality. 

It’s not. 

As I’ve mentioned, I threw down over 400 rounds with zero issues. The viral video from earlier showed a rusty, ill-maintained Hi-Point work in times of need. 

In short:

For $300, you’re getting one of the most reliable rifles on the market…at a bargain. 


It comes with a polymer Weaver style rail on the top, bottom of the barrel, and bottom of the forend.

Hi-Point 45 ACP Barrel

It has a boat load of space for tactical accessories like optics and laser sights. 

Here are the accessories I recommend: 

  • The Bushnell TRS-25 Red Dot: Since it excels in close range combat (>50 yards), use a red dot. Bushnell’s TRS-25 is one of the top picks at its affordable price range. 
  • Pro Mag’s 14 round mag: If the 9 round mag is too small for your defense needs, feel free to upgrade. 

Need even more ammo? Here’s a 40 round mag option.


Hi-Point 4595TS .45 ACP Pistol Carbine: Is It Worth It? 

For home defense, the Hi-Point 4595TS is all you’ll need.

Here’s why. It’s: 

  • Reliable (400 rounds no malfunctions)
  • Accurate (3.2” groupings)
  • Low Recoil 
  • Very affordable

In fact: 

It comes with a lifetime warranty. So if your Hi Point ever breaks, they’ll fix it free-of-charge. 

As a bonus: 

The Hi-Point looks straight up cool. Some have described it as coming off the set of ‘Planet of the Apes’. 

1968 Planet of the Apes Carbine

(They’re not too far off).

But what I did notice is the looks are highly attractive to younger shooters. The looks, along with the lower recoil, could help get your kids excited to start shooting. 

It’s also a LOAD of fun to shoot. For less than $300, there’s no reason not to give this affordable self-defense firearm a try. 


3. TNW Aero Survival 45 ACP: Best Survival Carbine

The TNW Aero is the best .45 ACP survival rifle.

It’s lightweight, reliable and weatherproof. 

The best part?

It’s affordable. Let’s break down why the Aero Survival .45 ACP is a must-have survival rifle…


Accuracy

Though it won’t win any sharp-shooting competitions, this weapon will do what’s got to be done.

Namely, put up groups within a couple inches at 50 yards and 3-4 inches at 100.

Since the Aero Survival is all about compactness, the lightweight muzzle is super easy to swing around for quick target acquisition. 

Its Picatinny rail will fit your favorite red dot…

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Picatinny Rail

…and once I found the right ammo (which I’ll cover below), I was hitting the sweet spot with groups of about an inch at close range.


Reliability

Made with aircraft-grade aluminum and high-quality billet, the upper and lower assemblies had no noticeable tool marks and were made to weather any storm.

Plus, it’s made in the USA.  

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Made in USA

Because it’s a direct blow-back system, the Aero Survival doesn’t have any tubes or pistons to get plugged. In other words, it has a longer life-span.

In fact:

I put thousands of rounds through this rifle with only a few jams at the very beginning. Once it was tuned in, the thing shot like a dream with no problems. 


Handling

The Aero has a tubular receiver and an excellent detachable barrel that returns to zero like a breeze as soon as you screw it on.

While the focus of this rifle is compactness, not ergonomics, I found the charging handle comfortable and liked the fantastic SBR P* Grip.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Charging Handle

One unique feature of this gun was the bolt. It didn’t lock open after the last shot, but could be notched back similar to an HK MP5 if you wanted it to.

Let’s talk versatility. You can switch between any major caliber with a few quick adjustments and the appropriate conversion kits. 

In fact:

All it took for me to switch to 9mm was virtually a few twists of the barrel. Very fast and lots of conversion options available with this rifle.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Grip and Trigger

You probably wouldn’t go to the Aero as your first pick for regular range shooting.

Instead, you’d want an all-around rifle. But for a boat, plane, or truck gun, its survival-made features will win hands down.


Trigger

The only “mayday” moment I had with this gun was the trigger. 

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Bolt Safety and Trigger

It was creepy and HEAVY. 

I’m talking close to 10 lbs, though you can get it reset closer to 6 if you take it into the shop. It wasn’t rounded and felt clunky.

Good news though: 

It was super easy to take apart and you can upgrade to your favorite trigger assembly.


Magazine/Reload

Coming with a 17 round KBI Glock compatible magazine, the Aero will fit any Gen3 or Gen4 magazine. The mags dropped smoothly from the well.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Magazine

I loved the simple rounded release button that was found to the left of the well.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Release Button

I’ve heard through the grapevine that this style was a bit difficult to master if you’re used to shooting AR’s.

With a little practice, though, it becomes second nature.


Length/Weight

The Aero Survival rifle has a 16.25-inch barrel, bringing the overall length of the weapon to 29.5 inches. 

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Length

Unscrew the barrel, and you’ve got a super easy-to-pack-in-a-bag tool.

This thing is extremely lightweight, a necessary feature for a survival weapon. Overall weight came in at 6.4 pounds.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Weight

When I had it in a backpack, I barely noticed the weight.  


Recoil Management

I found the recoil to be moderate and easily manageable. One of the heaviest components of the gun is the spring assembly that soaked up a bunch of the recoil.

Honestly, it felt like I was shooting my regular 22 hunting rifle.


Price and Ammo/Accessory Recommendations

One of the best valued survival rifles on the market, this TNW retails at around $550. Conversion kits to different calibers average around $200.

Like any weapon, the Aero had its preferences when it came to ammo.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Ammo

I had my best shots with Hornady Critical Duty rounds as well as Liberty Civil Defense 78 grains. These were giving me groups closer to an inch at 50 yards while other rounds were closer to a 2-inch average.

Since this rifle doesn’t generally come fitted with sights, I recommend going with a lightweight red dot like the Burris Fastfire III or Vortex SPARC 2.

TNW AERO SURVIVAL 45 ACP Vortex SPARC 2

I also love to pack a few medical necessities (including my LifeStraw) and make this a great bug-out bag to throw in the truck.


TNW Aero Survival 45 ACP Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for an all-in-one survival rifle, then I highly recommend the TNW Aero .45 ACP. 

Here’s why. It’s:

  • Reliable
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate at close range

So, if you want to yell “LET’S DO THIS!” instead of “OH, CRAP!” when you start to go down (or more likely scenario: if you want to have a great gun to throw in the truck or use for home defense), then pick up a TNW Aero Survival.


4. KRISS Vector Gen II CRB .45 ACP: BEST FOR CLOSE QUARTERS COMBAT

KRISS Vector Gen II CRB 45 ACP Best for Close Quarters Combat

The Kriss Vector Gen 2 CRB is one of the best CQB pistol carbines on the market. 

In fact: 

It’s the only weapon system that makes recoil a joke. 

Because of this, you may have seen the Kriss everywhere. From Divergent…

Divergent KRISS Vector

…to Call of Duty.

Call of Duty KRISS Vector

But the question is:

Is the Kriss Vector worth its $1500 price tag? Or is it overpriced garbage?

Let’s find out…


Accuracy

The Kriss is bullseye accurate:

Kriss Vector Grouping

Matter of fact, it won in a head-to-head accuracy comparison against the Hi-Point and the civilian UMP (USC .45 ACP Carbine). 

Kriss Vector Head to Head Comparison

(It’s called the Kriss Super V.)

As you see, the average grouping is 2” for a 50 yard range. 

And get this:

If you use better ammo — the Remington USC 230-gr MC — you get even tighter groupings (or improved accuracy):

Kriss Vector Head to Head Comparison Remington USC 45 ACP 230-gr MC

(Average of 1.6”!)

That’s crazy. But what’s the secret to the Kriss’s unparalleled accuracy?

Two things:

  1. Kriss Super V Recoil Reduction System
  2. Trigger/Barrel Alignment

Let’s break down the first…

Kriss Super V Recoil Reduction System

This is what makes Kriss Vector special.

Here’s how it works: 

While most guns send the recoil backwards to your shoulder…

Kriss sends most of the recoil downwards:

This makes the perceived recoil and barrel climb (or missed shots) significantly less. 

When compared head-to-head with the 9mm Heckler Koch MP5, the Kriss .45 ACP produced 60% LESS perceived recoil and 90% less barrel climb.  

The result?

No recoil to screw up your shots. And that’s especially true when you combine the second feature…

Kriss Vector’s ‘Perfect’ Barrel Alignment 

They aligned the barrel with the trigger nearly perfectly:

Kriss Vector Barrel Alignment

So whatever you’re aiming at, you’ll hit it dead center. And that’s truthfully the reason why the Kriss is so expensive (and accurate). 

Everything else is icing on the cake like these Magpul’s flip-up polymer MBUS sights. 

Kriss Vector Backup Iron Sights

These sights allow you to quickly transition from a red dot to iron…with no visual obstruction. 


Reliable

The Gen II CRB is very reliable.

In fact:

I fired more than 700 rounds through it with zero failures. 

Why so effective? Its construction. 

The receivers are nitride-treated steel. That makes it rust-resistant. Then, they sandwiched the receivers in advanced polymer coated in Cerakote. 

This makes the entire gun almost rust-proof. 

With all that said, the gun isn’t indestructible. In fact, if your gun malfunctions, it can damage the polymer ejection port housing like it did for GYG’s gun:

The solution? 

Swap the ejection port housing for metal. But that’s not really needed.  As I’ve said, I’ve fired over 700 rounds through mine and had zero malfunctions. 

Even if it does malfunction (as it did with GYG’s gun), the gun still functions perfectly. But just something to keep in mind. 


Handling 

I’ve gotta admit:

The Kriss Vector feels weird. And it’s no surprise why:

The gun’s design is weird. But you get used to it after a few shots. 

Some things I liked: 

The fast, ambidextrous safety switch:

Kriss Vector Safety Switch

Along with the M4-styled stock. This makes it easier to shoot for AR boys (like myself :P). 

However, the Vector has got one flaw: 

The magazine release button.

Kriss Vector magazine release button

It’s positioned in the same place where you keep your support hand. This leads to accidental misclicks (especially problematic for lefties). 

To overcome it, I installed a vertical fore-grip and it resolved the issue along with a few other ergonomic issues. The recommendation for the forward grip is in the accessories (attachment) section below. 


Trigger

The trigger pull was measured at around 6.3 pounds. That’s similar to the glock trigger pull. 

KRISS Vector Trigger

(It even feels like it.)

My favorite part? 

The crispiness of the trigger pull. 

It makes a audible click sound when it breaks. And does so cleanly with no overtravel (or extra trigger extension).


Magazine & Reloading

The Vector CRB Gen II uses a double-stack 13 round Glock 21 magazine. 

Since they share the same magazine, you can seamlessly swap magazines with your Glock. This saves you time and room when it comes time to reloading. 

More good news: 

The KRISS also comes with a side folding charging handle and bolt release: 

Pull the charging handle back and press down the bolt release. And boom — the gun is locked and loaded. 

The great part?

You can do this even with gloves on. 


Length & Weight

The Vector CRB is around 38.25” inches with a barrel length of 16”. It also weighs 7.8 pounds empty — a bit heavy but the recoil mitigation makes up for it. 

Kriss Vector Length

Is the gun a bit too long for you?

Get a foldable stock.

Kriss Vector Foldable Stock

It can shorten the gun enough to fit in most range bags.


Ammo Recommendations

For CQB ammo, I’d use the Remington UMC 45 ACP 230-gr MC. It produced 1.6” average group…with the smallest group of 0.9”. 

But what about practice?

I’d use the Aguila 45 ACP 230-gr ball. Produced a 2.0” average group. It’s quite cheap and fairly accurate. 


Special Features

Here’s the coolest thing about the Vector:

You can use multiple calibers. Seriously.

50 Centerfire Pistol Cartridges

Let’s say you wanted to use a 9mm in your Kriss Vector. You can do that easily by simply detaching off the lower receiver…

Kriss Vector Upper and Lower Receiver

…and putting on the 9mm lower receiver.

The awesome part?

This process doesn’t require ANY tools and only takes seconds to do. Just press four pins and its separated: 

Kriss Vector 4 pins

This same feature extends to the following calibers: 

So, in a way, you can think of the Kriss Vector as being multiple guns in an all-in-one package. 


Price

I will admit:

The Kriss Vector’s $1500 price tag isn’t for everyone. Fact is, I personally wouldn’t recommend it for people looking for a practical firearm (self defense). 

There are much cheaper guns on the market that do the job…for a whole lot less. However, if you love to shoot CQB and want a gun that’s INSANELY fun to shoot — the Kriss is for you. 


The Kriss’s got a full length MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny top rail: 

Kriss Vector

It’s also got a lower rail, too: 

Kriss Vector Lower Receiver

Need more rails? You can install more on the receiver.

With these 2 (or 3) rails, you can throw on any size optic, flashlight, or laser of choice. 

Here are the top Kriss Vector CRB accessories:

  • Aimpoint Pro Red Dot: Since Kriss excels at close range (>50 yards), you need a red dot. The Aimpoint is fast and has really long battery life (3 yrs.).
  • Folding StockThis makes your Kriss Vector fit in most carry cases and increases maneuverability.
  • Troy Vertical Foregrips: This fixes almost all of the Kriss Vector’s ergonomic issues. 
  • Glock Extended Mag (30 rounds): The Kriss Vector’s rate of fire will eat up a 13 round magazine in a second. A 30 round mag solves this. 
  • Surefire E1B 80-Lumen Tactical Light: This is the same light Kriss includes in its ‘TacPac’. Great for CQB operations. 

Kriss Vector .45 ACP Carbine Review: Is It Worth It? 

It’s true: 

The Kriss Vector is the best CQB weapon on the market. It beats almost ALL of the carbines in a head-to-head CQB test (including the beretta cx4 storm): 

It’s also got:

  • Excellent Accuracy
  • Highly Maneuverable
  • Virtually ‘Zero’ Recoil
  • Multi-Caliber Compatibility
  • And much more.

That’s why the Kriss is almost ALWAYS sold out. If you’re lucky enough to find one, I’d snag it…ONLY if you’re trying to take your CQB game to the next level. 

Otherwise go for a more affordable gun like the Hi-Point or the next gun…


5. Just Right Carbine Gen 3 (.45 ACP): BEST FOR AR-15 SHOOTERS

Just Right Carbine Gen 3 45 ACP Best for AR-15 Shooters

The Just Right Gen 3 is nearly identical to an AR-15.

In fact:

It uses the same mil-spec parts and handles nearly identically. 

The main difference?

It uses standard glock magazines. 

But is it worth getting? Read on to find out. 


Just Right Carbine Gen 3 Vs. AR-15

It’s no secret: 

The Just Right and the AR-15 look like twins:

They even use the same parts. So, the question is: 

Why would you get a JRC over a standard AR-15? 

Here are 4 reasons why:

  • Cheaper: To convert an AR-15 to a .45 ACP chambering costs over $700 on top of the purchase of the AR-15.
  • Less Mag Bulk: Just Right uses the same magazine as a Glock 17. Great for self defense. 
  • Less Restrictions: In gun-restricted states or countries (like Canada), Just Right passes where the AR-15 fails. 
  • Young Shooter Friendly: Low recoil, cool designs, and simple controls. appeal to younger shooters. This would be a great gun to get your kid into shooting.  

If any of these reasons appeal to you, then read on to find out what else this pistol caliber carbine can offer. 


Accuracy 

At 50 yards, I was nearly dead center. 

At 100 yards, I scored about 3” groupings with a quality optic. Honestly, I believe the JR can go up to 150 yards with solid accuracy.


Reliability

The JR carbine used to be highly unreliable. 

That was until Gen 3 was released. It fixed all the kinks out, so now it’s as reliable as an AR-15

In fact: 

I’ve fired over 700 rounds through it …with zero malfunctions. No failures to feeds. No stovepipes. Impeccable operation.

The secret to its reliability? 

Two reasons:

  1. Simple Blowback Design: This means fewer parts for the gun to screw up on. 
  2. Gun’s Rugged Construction: Uses mil-spec AR-15 parts and aircraft-grade aluminum receiver. 

The end result?

The gun will always work when needed. 

However, the JR has a small problem… 

A loose fore-end.

I’ve found under repeated recoil, the fore-end slowly loosens and unscrews itself. 

The good news? Fixing it was easy. 

All I had to do was use some Loctite and it held on tight. I’m guessing the problem only exists within my specific gun. I don’t know. I just wish they fixed this at the factory level. 


Handling

The Just Right handles similarly to an AR-15.

Why is that? 

It’s got an AR-15 grip: 

AR-15 Trigger:

And even a similar AR-15 styled safety:

So it handles very similar. But there’s two parts that handled differently: 

The charging handle and the bolt hold open. 

Let’s start with….

The Charging Handle

In my opinion, it’s a bit small and oddly textured. 

However, I quickly learned that wrapped the handle in duct tape made it usable.

As for the…

Bolt Hold Open

You get used to it. 

Sure, the bolt doesn’t open once the magazine is finished, but it operated smoothly. 


Trigger

I measured the trigger pull weight at around 7 pounds. It broke clean. 

No problems with the trigger. 


Magazine & Reloading

Just like the Kriss Vector, this pistol caliber uses the same standard 13 round Glock mags.

(Speaking of Glocks, check out my Glock 32 .357 SIG review)

This is great for two reasons:

  • Less Mags: You can now share mags with your rifle and pistol.
  • Glock Reliability: Glock mags are battle proven reliable. 

But there’s something I didn’t like…

The mag release position.

JR positioned the mag release on the left side of the magazine — similar to the Glock. 

Personally, I would’ve liked a right side position for right-handed operation. But despite that, it worked surprisingly well and was pretty ergonomic

A quick pro tip to keep in mind:

Don’t reload hard like John Wick:

You’ll end up jamming the gun like I did at first. 

Instead: 

Reload it carefully until the magazine locks in place and that’s it. No need for excessive force.


Length & Weight

The gun’s about 31” collapsed…

…or 34.25” when extended. 

The barrel is 17” long. This gives the bullet a 150 FPS velocity boost. This means better accuracy. 

The barrel’s also threaded, which allows you to install any AR-15 muzzle brake, flash hider, or sound suppressor of your choice.

But honestly, you don’t need any of these accessories. The muzzle flash is nearly non-existent and muzzle rise is minimal. It doesn’t make much sound, either. 

It weighs about 6.8 pounds empty. This is pretty standard for most AR-15 rifle carbines nowadays.

In short: 

It’s almost identical to an AR-15 carbine in length and weight. 


Recoil Management

The JR carbine uses a simple blowback design.

This means:

It handles recoil just like my SIG P226 pistol. And since its heavier than a pistol, the recoil is similar to a .22. 

Simply put:

Recoil isn’t a problem on this gun. 


Ammo Recommendations

For accuracy, use HPR 45 ACP 230-gr. full metal jacket. 

(It got 2” groupings @ 25 yards)

That being said, a quick word of caution:

Do not use +P rated ammo in JR. It damages the weapon.


Special Features

The Just Right is left-hand configurable (ambidextrous). 

Simply unscrew the charging handle…

…and move the ejection port cover to the side of choice.

And you can now shoot left-handed. 

Another thing I liked was the Just Right’s construction. It mostly uses AR-15 parts. 

That means:

You can customize your JR carbine using AR-15 parts. This leads to some crazy AR-15 builds on your carbine. 

The last thing I liked is the caliber interchangeability. You can fire 9mm or .40 rounds from your carbine. 

How? 

  1. Buy one of the Just Right conversion kits ($250) 
    • 9mm
    • .40
  2. Get a compatible Glock mag

And you’re switched! 


Price

The Just Right is priced at around $700 MSRP

That’s about the same price as a standard AR-15. 

But keep in mind: 

To convert an AR-15 to a pistol carbine usually requires expensive parts — like this $730 MAG-AD9 conversion kit — and special tools.

With the Just Right carbine, you get that entire costly (and time-consuming) process done for you…out-of-the-box. Pretty sweet deal. 


The Key-Mod model has a full length Picatinny top rail. 

And a quad rail at the end:

This allows you  to equip optics, lasers, and even flashlights. 

But which accessories should you get?

These are the best JR Carbine accessories: 

  • Glock Extended Mag: JR carbine drinks bullets like water. Get an extended mag for less headaches and more fun. 
    • 17 round extended mag
    • 33 round extended mag
    • 50 round extended mag
  • UTG Foregrip: This adds a lot more stability to your rifle. It even comes with a built-in flashlight. 
  • Magpul Backup Sights: This is an AR-15 standard. Serves as a ‘battery-free’ backup for your red dot (or to co-witness).
  • Primary Arms 1-4X Scope: This scope serves as a red dot, ACOG, and LPVO (scope) in one package. This makes close-range and ranged (100 yard) shots easy.  
  • Magpul Stock: An AR-15 standard. This helps you handle recoil better. 

Just Right Gen 3 Carbine Review: Is It Worth It? 

If you want an AR-15 in a .45 pistol calibers form, the Just Right Gen 3 is what you’re looking for.

Here’s why:

  • AR-15 Feel
  • AR-15 Customization
  • Accurate (2” groupings @ 50 yards)
  • Glock Mags
  • Multi-Caliber Compatibility

The gun’s also cheaper than the AR-15. It comes with a 2 year limited warranty. So if your JR carbine ever breaks on you, they’ll fix it for free. 

So if you like what you see, then feel free to check it out. 

Do you live in a gun-restricted state (like California)? Here’s the JR versions you should buy:

  • California
  • Restricted
  • SAFE Act
  • Canadian

Which of These Carbines Is Best For You?

1. Looking for a close range carbine?

You have two options:

The HK USC .45 and the Kriss Vector Gen II.

Personally, I’d go with the Kriss Vector. However, most of the times it’s unavailable. That’s why I’d go with the USC. It’s just as good and usually in stock 🙂

Heckler-Koch-USC-45

2. What is the Best Carbine for Home Defense?

The Hi-Point Carbine is hands down the best. It’s affordable, reliable, and accurate.

Hi-Point-45-ACP-Carbine-Best-Home-Defense-Carbine

3. What is the Best Carbine for Survival?

You’re looking for the TNW Aero Survival rifle. After all, the word ‘survival’ is in its name.

TNW-AERO-SURVIVAL-.45-ACP-Rifle

4. What about Close Quarter Combat?

The Kriss Vector Gen II CRB is what you need. It’s bullseye accurate and has virtually zero recoil 

KRISS Vector Gen II CRB 45 ACP Best for Close Quarters Combat

5. What about an AR-15-like carbine?

Go for the Just Right Carbine Gen 3. It handles, looks, and shoots similar to an AR-15.  

Just Right Carbine Gen 3 45 ACP Best for AR-15 Shooters

Whatever option you choose, you’re bound to hit a good, reliable gun. I’ve fired more than 500 rounds through each of these carbines with no issues. 


Now It’s Your Turn 

I hope you enjoyed my pistol caliber carbines guide. 

Now I’d like to hear from you: 

Which of these carbines will you choose? Maybe the Hi-Point or the Kriss Vector? 

Whatever your choice, let me know in the comments down below. I’m also open for suggestions for future updates. Speaking of future updates, I’m currently working on a a Thompson “Sub Machine Gun” update. 

That’s right: 

I’m gonna add a semi automatic Tommy Gun to the list for the Godfathers out there. I’m even thinking about reviewing the beretta cx4 storm as well.

Either way, stay tuned.

10 thoughts on “The 5 Best .45 ACP Carbine [Updated 2020]”

  1. I like to see reviews of 45 ACP carbines.
    CMMG Banshee/Guardian, HK USC/UMP, B&T APC45, LWRC SMG-45. These are all pricer than any of the three tested above but are all legitimate candidates. The CMMG uses Glock mags too.

    Reply
  2. I own the JRC 45 marine take down model. In the 3.5 years of ownership and greater than 4,000 rounds I can’t say enough great things about this PCC. It’s dead on accurate, reliable, easy handling and just fun to shoot. Build quality is perfect and nothing has broken or needed replacing. Built very heavy duty. I prefer the takedown model, barrel and fore grip removal take a couple of seconds. I like the side charging handle better than an AR15 handle. For the magazine release, it’s fast and easy to grab the magazine and use the thumb on the same hand to hit the release button. Extended 26 round magazines function perfectly. My favorite long gun, rather shoot this than my AR.

    Reply
  3. I personally own the High Point model in .45, and, all the comments are spot on. Its inexpensive. Stupid accurate and reliable, built like a tank. But, the one thing I do not like about the High Point is it’s maintenance breakdown for cleaning. It’s a nightmare. You have to use a special tool to disassemble a lot of stuff. It’s overly complicated and time consuming. I have similar complaints about the AR as well. If the Highpoint were easier to breakdown and clean, it would be a clear winner.

    Reply
    • Agreed!

      Maintenance isn’t actually too bad. Personally, I do a ‘light’ cleaning after every trip to the range.

      (Running a very lightly oiled boresnake through the barrel, lube accessible action components, clean the mags and finally, clear everything out with a compressor).

      However, after 1,000 rounds or so, I’d do a full disassembly.

      And you’re right Charles: It’s a pain in the ass…for the first time or so. But after that, it gets MUCH easier 🙂

      Reply
      • Yep, I concur Chris…When I was active duty 1977…we all took our rifles and tore them down and everything went into a HOT soak-n-soap bath after 2 days at the range and a 1000 rounds later…but light shooting…yeah, you just get an air nozzle and some good gun oil…and getter-done! and put to bed.

        Reply
  4. Do you have a catalog with process that we could look at. With the state of the country, we just wanna feel more safe. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. For the Kriss Vector, you mention there is an upgrade to swap out the ejector port housing with a metal one.

    I don’t see such a part on Kriss’ website. I tried doing an internet search, but no (too many unrelated results — all have something to do with the Kriss Vector but not this part). Or I get no results at all.

    Can you suggest a manufacturer for this part? Or a part number? Thank you!

    Reply

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