(Edit: Added thoughts about Enchanted Blade and viable characters)
I was a big fan of this card.
For a brief time during Carcosa this card was alone in its niche, as a medium/high ammo gun with a respectable bonus to . You could really smack around some basic enemies and deliver Vicious Blow with this thing. It was an arguable upgrade over just a Machete but this thing shot up in stock upon the release of the taboo list.
Since those barbaric times, Timeworn Brand has been released, literally taking over the niche of 1-handed minion slaying weapon that surpasses .45 Automatic via infinite use and that brutal 1 / scenario special attack. Sure the XP cost is more then doubled but the effect also booms exponentially.
To make matters worse there's also .45 Thompson which does the minion killing specialist role even better than Timeworn Brand. While Timeworn Brand is a stronger all around combat tool, .45 Thompson can be used to blow up minions and then immediately pay for a Lightning Gun to blow up a boss. .45 Automatic does just the minion killing thing and much less efficiently then Timeworn Brand.
Finally, Enchanted Blade is a thing that exists now, and it completely takes over the niche of "sidearm / backup weapon". 1 Charge less is easily made up for by the infinite use +2 usage and the combined horror heal and card draw makes it so that Enchanted Blade totally overwrites .45 Automatic for anybody who can field 3-xp weapons.
To be more particular about what .45 Automatic brings to the table, gaining +1 to hit and Retaliation immunity is relatively fine for 2 xp, and getting 2 of them for 4 Xp isn't bad, semi- characters like "Skids" O'Toole and Diana Stanley actually ought to consider it (And I know I had fun with it in William Yorick before Timeworn Brand came out). The real issue is the card slot. Why spend 2 card slots on this weapon, when you could go big and get Timeworn Brand? Especially if you're trying to be the squad's fighter, in which case 4 shots from .45 Automatic will last little time indeed, but then if you're trying to be the fighter then why not .45 Thompson? It takes 2 hands? Then there's Timeworn Brand again! See the problem here?
.45 Automatic is not a bad card. If you want to fight and can take XP weapons, and don't want to overspend XP on the combat role and/or want to have a hand free, then thats the exact current niche that .45 Automatic fills. It's the main combat weapon for someone who doesnt intend to fight a lot. It's not bad, especially in solo, but it's kind of too-balanced to really shine.
Right now the current folk who might want to try it:
- A Roland Banks who is trying to balance clues and combat, this would be a 3rd weapon after Enchanted Blade.
- A "Skids" O'Toole who is using Lockpicks, this would be his go-to alongside Lupara.
- A Diana Stanley deck, this one is legit not bad as a main weapon, especially if you can tuck it under Diana Stanley by shooting a retaliate enemy when you have no (or perhaps just 1) ammo left.
- William Yorick might want one to tide him over until he can afford XP to swap a different weapon for Timeworn Brand. The way William Yorick interacts with Knife however undercuts this point.
- Joe Diamond has few options for upgraded weapons and he rather likes guns.
Note that only one of those decks is a .