Poor .45 Automatic: if there is a card that suffered from the power creep the most, it's most likely this one. At least assets like knife were always complete trash day 1 and only got worse with each expansion, but this automatic started out solid from the core set (if with pretty vicious competition) and found more rivals that managed (more or less) to fit niche playstyles or were more versatile than the gun itself (then again, the .45 DOES remain a superior pick to other level 0 guardian weapons)
The main issue I find with this weapons that hampers its playability compared to competitors is that it just is slightly overpriced for what it does: getting 4 attacks with a +1 fight and +1 damage for a one-handed weapons it's pretty bad for a guardian card, and there is no way around it. If this was +2 fight (like its leveled up version) or just had a cost of 3 resources, then this card could actually compete with the weapons introduced in the later expansions, but right now it's stuck in a limbo where it's not as bad as .32 colt, blackjack or trench knife to never see play outside specific builds, but cannot hold a candle to reliable one-handed melee weapons of the same level
At least, back in the Night of The Zealot, the .45 Automatic did complement the machete pretty well: while you be equipping and using the later almost immediately, the .45 does make for a good off-hand weapon when Roland or Skids get engaged with more than one enemy, which would lead to the machete losing its bonus damage, allowing them to remove the weaker threat with the bullets and wailing on the one with more health using the melee weapon.
But right now, there is little to no reason to take this gun over some other weapons of the same level and I will go on detail why I feel every other weapon outclasses the automatic and where the .45 is stronger compared to them
1)Machete: As mentioned before, the Machete was already competing pretty effectively with the Automatic from day 1: they have the same accuracy, but Machete has no ammo limit, a lower cost at the exchange of its bonus damage being conditional. On paper that sounds balanced and make both weapons good respsonses for different situations, in practice Machete more often than not outclassed the Automatic from the getgo because of how enemy spawning works, making it VERY unlikely for an investigator to be engaged with more than one monster in one mythos phase. As long as whoever wields it can kill an enemy in the same round they spawn, they are good to go to take out another next round. As metioned before, where the Automatic shines is when you are engaged with multiple foes, maybe because you didn't manage to take out an enemy after a bunch of unlucky auto-fails, but also to take a shot as at an enemy engaged with another investigator without having to spend another action engaging it, as the damage bonus of the machete only triggers if it is engaged with YOU; but that is a very risky use of the weapon given it can cause friendly fire on a miss.
Because of that, the Machete overshadowed the Automatic for the longest time as the best level 0 guardian weapon, to the point it got a taboo at some point that limited its immediate accesibility by slapping a 2 exp cost on it (which in my opinion, didn't fix much when you are just one in the thick of it from getting it at the start), but that taboo has been lifted recently anyway, and while the Machete isn't quite the same perfect starting weapon that was a mainstay in every combat deck that has access to it, thanks to the introduction of other solid weapon assets, the damage to the .45's viability was already done.
There is however one situation where the gun beats the sword though: Dream Eaters! Because of the mechanics of Swarm enemies, you are considered to be engaged with multiple ones even if there is only one foe of that type in your threat area as long as there are other cards attached to it. Because of that the +1 damage to the machete won't trigger, but the .45 Automatic can still make short work of them.
2)Survival Knife: Survival Knife has the same to hit bonus as the gun, but not the bonus damage on the action, but it allows you to resolve an extra attack, that gets +2 fight and +1 damage during the Enemy Phase after resolving the attack of one enemy by exhausting it. While preferably you want to defeat monster BEFORE they deal damage and/or horror to you, Guardians have on average such ludicrous high health pools and access to so much health (and also sanity sometimes!) healing (some better than other options) and allies to tank for them, that taking damage for essentially an actionless attack that deals +1 damage is almost always worth it, and the card itself synergises incredibly well with this good boy. The main weakness of this card is that sometimes you may not want to take the attack (mostly because it does more horror than damage and Guardians usually have low sanity) and that it's significantly better when an enemy engages another investigator than yourself, because then you are free to take other actions without worrying about attacks of opportunity before engaging and maybe attacking it to get it in "kill range"; otherwise, if it is enaged with you, most of the time you are forced to swing at it, dealing one damage until it dies, hopefully, or you can get it low enough to be killed with the counter attack, as evasion is usually not an option given guardians poor agility. The .45 Automatic is better at dealing with threats actively, rather than passively
3)Enchanted Blade: Now this is the part where the Automatic is truly left in the dust: this weapon is so good, it actually manages to rival the Machete pretty effectively. This cost 3 asset combines the best of the two apsects of the machete and the automatic: it gives a +1 fight for attacks any time and then you can spend a charge to get another +1 to your accuracy and +1 damage, the drawback? Only has one less charge than the Automatic, (but remains useful without "ammo"!) and tales an additional slot most guardians do not care about (but mystics admitedly may). Indeed, the Enchanted Blade might be one of the best melee weapons in the game by a longshot. The thing that actually that saves the automatic from being seen as completely outdated is that the upgrades are level 3 instead of 2, so the Automatic's upgrade is easier to access by Investigator with off-class access to Guardian cards. Whoop-de-doo!
Now on paper the two weapons seem to be sharing the same value per use, as one cost 3 and gets 3 charges and one cost 4 and gets 4 shots, but the problem this is not true because Enchanted Blade can be swung without spending the charge (or when without charges) to deal one damage and it still at least gets +1 accuracy to the attack, this is important because there are MANY enemies with odd value of health and with high fight you might have to waste the extra damage given by a weapon on to hit them. Well, with Enchanted Blade, that's not the case: slap an overpower to an attack without a charge against an enemy with 3 health and kill it next action with a charged attack!
The .45 doesn't help you landing attacks without shooting, which is incredibly bad, because, ironically, while damage is definetly an important stat on a weapons (which is why blackjack and trench knife are so garbage), accuracy is also what allows you to land the attack to begin with (which is why most weapons that give bonus damage but not accuracy like .32 colt, switchblade and knuckleduster are considered to be just as rubbish).
Now it is true that a whole volley of bullets from the gun will do more damage in total (8 against 6), but the problem is, you need to just draw an autofail once while wielding the .45 to deal the same amount of damage as the Enchanted Blade, if not less. That's not the case for the Enchanted Blade: even if a charged attacks fail, if you end landing multiples chargless attack with it, you are still getting repaid on your investement at end of the day, if to a lesser extent, while missing a shot with the guns hurts FAR MORE without things like extra ammunition.
Unlike any other weapons, I genuiely cannot see someone pick the Automatic over the Blade if they have access to either level 0 weapon
4)Blessed Blade: Thankfully for the Automatic, the blessed blade doesn't instantly overshadow it, in fact I will say on most builds, the gun is far better than this weapon, as weapons with conditional damage are usually REALLY bad unless you build to "narrow" its randomness or remove it all toghether. The fact is, you do not take the Blessed Blade because of its combat capabilities, you take this specifically because you are building a deck focused around bless tokens, either in putting them consistently in the chaos bag or sealing them for various effect, and this weapon allows you to generate one token per round as long as you can attack something
In conclusion: as I explained, I do not think the Automatic now is just there to complete a collection, but it suffers from lacking specialisation compared to other assets of the type. Want to kill something without spending too many actions? Survival Knife is for you. Need a reliable weapon to duel weak enemies without having to worry about ammo? There is Machete! Need a weapon that can deal good burst damage with high accuracy and can also aid your basic 1 damage attacks? Take Enchanted Blade. I can see the .45 being used for gun-centred builds that are more thematical than optimal, perhaps as a target for Custom Modifications, but given the cost of 3 resources of that card, combine with 4 for the gun, that is prohibitively expensive: you might as well slap it on the .32 Colt instead so you can actually hit something with it!
Also, a small add-on on its upgrade: .45 Automatic (2) is a significantly better upgrade to the weapon, mainly for getting the +2. In all honestly however, it's again overpriced, this time in exp, for what it does. For 2 points, beside the extra fight bonus, you get only 1 fight icon to commit and the abilty to ignore retaliation. The later ability sounds a lot better than what it is, because, while retaliate is a decently common keyword, if you are playing a campaign for the first time, you will have no idea in which scenario enemies that retaliate show up and when. It's only worth its price on replays, to be honest, when you know when you want to put down the .45. I feel like it would be significantly better if it would cost only 1 exp, and that's without getting how this is a non-level 0 weapon: comparing that to others guardians can access is a whole 'nother story for another time not worth getting into detail right now (though I will say, there are still worse ways to spend your experience)