Others have eluded to it - I'll just start off offering it as a .38 Special cost/recoil with the .45 Colt's large bore - the .45 ACP. You can buy 250 rounds of 230gr FMJ 'ball' ammo - in brass cases - for ~$85 at WallyWorld... on a Sunday afternoon - that's $17/50 - cheaper than a lot of .38 plinkers!
The best bargain in a .45 ACP, hard to believe when you see the price, is the S&W 625JM. The 4" full-lug large frame revolver is easy to shoot and comes with some important 'extras'. It's 43 oz weight eats up much of the recoil, although some 1911 shooters claim it bounces a bit more. You can use .45 ACP plinkers - or load .45 Colt loads, if you wish, loaded in .45 ACP cases - or, if you don't like the required moonclips, load the .45 Auto Rims, which don't require moonclips. Just a thought!
PS A nutdriver style demooning tool is <$18 (Brownells) - and Ranch Products will ship you blued steel moonclips for $35/100.