The Best 9mm Pistols

Updated: March 12, 2022

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The 9mm pistol is the staple handgun for many Americans. These weapons are versatile, affordable, and easy to learn even if you don’t have any shooting experience.

However, there’s no doubt that some 9mm pistols are better than others. Additionally, sifting through the glut of 9mm pistol models, sizes, configurations, actions, brands, etc. has led more than one aspiring handgun owner to abandon their search altogether.

No need to stress. Below, you’ll find a quick overview of what you should look for when you need a new 9mm pistol (or if you’re buying your first one). Plus, we’ve collected the top 9mm pistols currently on the market. Let’s dive in!

9mm Pistol Comparison

Below is my list of the best 9mm pistols for 2022. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.

Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of pistols.

NameSelectionWeightCapacity
Best Overall
18.3 oz
7/8+1
CCW
21.69 oz
10+1
CCW
28 oz
16+1
CCW
23.99 oz
10+1
CCW
25.3 oz
15+1
Home Defense
33.3 oz
15
Home Defense
29.28 oz.
20+1
Home Defense
25.5 oz
15
CCW
21 oz
8
Range
24.97 oz
17
Range
23.63 oz
15
CCW
18.70 oz
10

What to Look for in a Quality 9mm Pistol

Look for known brands and you'll rarely be disapointed.
Look for known brands and you'll rarely be disapointed.

Not all 9mm pistols are made alike. Focus on the following factors and you’ll be able to narrow down your search to a great 9mm handgun that works for you.

  1. Name Recognition
  2. Mature Design
  3. Aftermarket Support
  4. Fit with Your Purpose
  5. Action
  6. Grip Quality
  7. Size & Weight

1. Name recognition

While the caliber started slow, typically just seen in German-made Lugers and Mauser C96 pistols across the first 30 years of the cartridge’s career, the 9mm today is the most popular chambering for modern semi-automatic pistols.

In 2018 alone, some 2 million 9mm pistols were made in the U.S., more than any other caliber– a figure that doesn’t include pallets of guns coming from overseas.

With so many horses in the race, it is always a better idea to bet on an experienced thoroughbred who knows the course instead of an untried newcomer or unsteady nag.

Dropping the horse metaphor for plain talk, the odds you will get a quality pistol from a company like Glock, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, or FN– who have made thousands of them over the course of decades to near-universal acclaim– are much better than grabbing some oddball from who knows where.

There’s a reason why Glock Fanboys and HK Diehards exist — those brands have created some of the best firearms in the history of mankind.

Sure, the price difference between, say a Glock and a “Fly by Night 9” may be just $150 or $200, and they may look and feel mostly the same, but when it counts, is your life worth that extra cash?

2. Mature design

The instantly recognizable Beretta 92 is more than a classic design -- it's one of the most proven 9mm pistols in the world. No list of the best 9mm pistols would be complete without it.
The instantly recognizable Beretta 92 is more than a classic design -- it's one of the most proven 9mm pistols in the world. No list of the best 9mm pistols would be complete without it.

Everyone loves the newest thing. When a customer is offered a choice between a solid design with a good reputation that has been on the market for years, or the just-released gee-whiz carry gun that is an ounce lighter, has a cooler finish, and carries two extra rounds for the same price, it isn’t hard to forecast what will likely sell.

However, there has been a nasty trend among new handgun models to come out with issues that are only discovered after they have been in circulation for a few months.

Even top-notch companies are not immune to such problems in beta models. For instance, take the primer/striker drag issues with the early Sig P365 or the more recent recall on S&W Shield EZ, a gun that reportedly tended to go full-auto.

When evaluating choices for a 9mm handgun, or any firearms for that matter, it may be a wise idea to select something that has already gone through its teething problems.  

3. Aftermarket support

The M&P has some fantastic aftermarket options, like these extended mags.
The M&P has some fantastic aftermarket options, like these extended mags.

One of the worst thorns an owner of a new (or at least new to them) handgun can run into is to find out that their new 9mm has very few holsters available to fit them, extra magazines cost $75, and there are no options to replace the kind of creepy trigger or sometimes hard-to-see sights.

To skirt problems such as these, either go with an established design– one that has been in production for several years– or double-check to make sure the new model under consideration is supportable. If possible, do a quick search for replacement magazines, triggers, extended mag and holster options to get an idea of life cycle costs before committing to a pistol.

Aftermarket support means you can get extended mags and specific shapes that will help with control and comfort.
Aftermarket support means you can get extended mags and specific shapes that will help with control and comfort.
I struggle to get a firm grip with the factory mags on my SR40, so the extended options really are a much better shooting experience for me.
I struggle to get a firm grip with the factory mags on my SR40, so the extended options really are a much better shooting experience for me.

See if a given 9mm pistol includes any iron sights out of the box.

Sights allow you to better hit your target at a distance. You should also see whether the sights are adjustable (to allow you to compensate for different variables), fixed, and day/night sights which will help increase the lighting situations in which your sights remain useful.

Consider whether you’ll need a 9mm pistol with a mounting rail. Some pistols allow you to slot new attachments, like red dot sights or other optics, to the top of the pistol or beneath the barrel on an abbreviated Picatinny rail — a perfect home for a pistol light — while others eschew this feature in exchange for affordablility.

The G3C's under-barrel rail gives you room for a light, laser, or other accessory.
The G3C's under-barrel rail gives you room for a light, laser, or other accessory.

4. Purpose

Foremost in the mind of handgun shoppers looking into 9mm pistols is to evaluate the intended use of the firearm. Inside the caliber, there are duty/home defense guns, which are generally full-sized with a barrel length of 4-inches or longer — often with a double-stack magazine offering a capacity of 13 rounds or more.

Such full-sized guns made in the past 20 years will typically have an accessory rail on the frame to accommodate a pistol light and/or lasers and offer more recoil control than smaller pistols. Many guns made in the last few years in this size envelope will often have the provision to mount optics such as micro red dot sights, but are more geared toward the concealed carry world than combat or recreational shooting. 

US Marine fires at targets with a Glock 19 pistol
US Marine fires at targets with a Glock 19 pistol

More compact guns, with a barrel length under 4-inches but still with an accessory rail and a double-stack magazine, are ideal for carrying outside the home but can still be used for home defense. 

A subcompact pistol — or micro-compact, often deletes features such as double-stack magazines (in place of a smaller, single-stack mag carrying fewer cartridges) and accessory rails for the sake of making a more “melted” design, often making them some of the best concealed carry pistols available.

However, these shorter pistols, with their truncated barrel length, also give up sight radius, making them inherently less accurate at distance, and can be less comfortable to shoot due to their tendency to have a snappier recoil and more pronounced muzzle rise as they have less mass to eat up that impulse. 

5. Action Type

All 9mm pistols will be either single or double action, which refers to the number of actions a single trigger pull will perform.

Single-action pistols will only fire when you pull the trigger. The hammer is released, starting a chain reaction that results in the bullet leaving the barrel. This is the landscape of striker-fired pistols.

Double action pistols’ triggers actually perform two actions: they both pull the hammer back and release the hammer to fire a bullet.

There are advantages and trade-offs to both types. Single action pistols have lighter trigger pulls (meaning you have to put less finger weight on the trigger to squeeze off a shot), but you have to pull the hammer back manually in between every bullet.

Double-action triggers require additional pull but might allow you to more easily squeeze off rapid fire shots since you don’t have to pull the hammer back yourself every time, making a great concealed carry pistol or home-defense option.

6. Grip Quality

The FN 509 has a fully customizale palm swell and multple mag options to extend the grip for those who need it.
The FN 509 has a fully customizale palm swell and multple mag options to extend the grip for those who need it.

Many of the best 9mm pistols will have fantastic grips with textured surfaces or ergonomic shapes. Textured surfaces are great since they make the pistol easier to hold, even if your palm is sweaty.

Meanwhile, ergonomic shapes are more comfortable to hold and will prevent your hand from cramping. This is mostly useful if you’re practicing with a 9mm and have to hold it for long sessions at the gun range.

Also, removable replaceable grips make for a customizable shooting experience and can improve hand feel, control, and shooting comfort.

7. Weight and Size

Of course, some 9mm pistols are bigger and heavier than others. In general, larger and heavier pistols will have larger magazines and offer bullet capacities. They may also have more accessory rail, allowing you to add optics or other attachments to the weapon. That additional weight also helps increase control, reducing muzzle flip and helping to maintain a solid grip when firing.

On the flip side, smaller and lighter 9mm pistols are the preferred choice if you don’t want to lug around a heavy weapon or concealment is your primary objective. Smaller pistols are a better choice for concealed carry weapons, as they fit more comfortably in a wider variety of concealed carry holsters and carry positions.

Smaller pistols, in direct contrast to a full sized gun, can be more difficult to control thanks to less grip area and shorter barrels — creating have more muzzle flip than their larger counterparts. 

The Beretta APX family has a size that's right for everyone. From left to right: the full-size, compact, and sub-compact APX.
The Beretta APX family has a size that's right for everyone. From left to right: the full-size, compact, and sub-compact APX.

Our Top 9mm Pistols

1. Smith & Wesson M&P

$669

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0

Specifications:

  • Weight: 18.3 oz
  • 7+1, 8+1 capacity
  • Length: 6.1”
  • Sights: front and rear white dot
  • Finish: stainless steel and armornite

Pros

  • Very affordable with two magazines

  • Good finish for most major parts

  • Comfortable polymer grip

  • Has good sights

Cons

  • Stock trigger safety makes for a mushy feel

Smith & Wesson edged out their Reservoir Dogs-era metal-framed “wonder nines” in 2012 with the new Military & Police series of the now famous polymer pistol.

It’s no surprise that Smith & Wesson top this chart with a relatively new member of their M&P series: the M&P Shield 2.0 Compact. This lightweight, easy-to-use 9mm pistol has a lot to like, including a steel frame and stainless steel Armornite finish for both the barrel and the slide.

One of the top dogs in the 9mm pistol game since 2012.
One of the top dogs in the 9mm pistol game since 2012.

In a nutshell, this provides the weapon with an excellent aesthetic and protects it from corrosive and abrasive damage – so the weapon should last for a long time to come.

Moving on from hammer-fired DA/SA pistols to striker-fired guns, the new M&Ps had to slog it out against Glock, which had already carved out a big part of the LE market, but the fact that they had better triggers and sights while sporting the same sort of reliability and a “made in USA” cache bought the Smiths lots of room to maneuver.

Today, the second generation M2.0 variants, particularly the Compact version, is about the closest thing to a “Glock killer” for the G19. Plus, the M&Ps of all generations have a take-down lever and sear deactivation system that allows for disassembly without pulling the trigger– something most other polymer guns lack.

The S&W Shield has been spun out in a variety of offerings, from the EZ (as in "Easier to Rack") and various chamberings, like this example in 30 Super Carry.
The S&W Shield has been spun out in a variety of offerings, from the EZ (as in "Easier to Rack") and various chamberings, like this example in 30 Super Carry.

For those looking for something in the M&P2.0 neighborhood, there’s also a single-stack subcompact companion to the M&P, the Shield, beating Glock’s 43 series gun by several years.

The Shield 2.0 has a more aggressive grip texture and a hinged trigger safety.
The Shield 2.0 has a more aggressive grip texture and a hinged trigger safety.
The most contentious aspect of the Shield has aways been the trigger, which has been resolved with the flat faced trigger found on the Shield Plus. Also note the scaled back grip texture.
The most contentious aspect of the Shield has aways been the trigger, which has been resolved with the flat faced trigger found on the Shield Plus. Also note the scaled back grip texture.

Designed with performance and safety in mind

It also offers a full-size frame and comes with an easy-to-access external safety, which is easier to use than a number of compact 9mms which mount safeties a bit too close to the slide for comfort.

Other benefits include both front and rear sights that use white dots for added visibility, even in brighter environments.

You get a lot of value out of this striker-fired pistol as well, since it comes with two magazines out of the box. Ultimately, it’s a durable and serviceable metal-framed pistol that fires the reliable 9mm luger at works well for training, self-defense, and concealed carry.

We break the Shield 2.0 down even further in our hands-on review.

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact stripped. Note the aggressive grip texture.
S&W M&P M2.0 Compact stripped. Note the aggressive grip texture.

2. Glock 26

Glock G26 Gen 5 9mm

Glock’s also very well known for their 9mm pistols. The Glock 17 is a classic, and Glock 19 is the standard for law enforcement agencies. These polymer-framed pistols will usually last for a very long time even with consistent use.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 21.69 oz
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • Length: 6.42”
  • Sights: Front and rear iron
  • Finish: nDLC (diamond-like carbon)

Pros

  • Crisp trigger pull

  • High capacity for a gun of this size

  • More comfortable grip than competitors

  • Easier to shoot than other options

Cons

  • Small magazine release

  • Some issues with inserting the magazine

  • More expensive than other options

Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’

Indeed, the Glock 26 pistol is perfectly representative of a Glock’s tendency to keep on trucking even after you put it through a lot of punishment.

It’s an extremely durable and safe weapon through and through, with a lightweight polymer frame that still allows the weapon to be lightweight at 21.69 ounces.

Nice touches throughout

In addition, it’s a compact but tough 9mm pistol that can deliver unparalleled accuracy thanks to its polygon rifling and the improve the barrel crown. You’ll be able to use this for close-quarters self-defense just as well as long-distance target shooting.

We also really like the removable finger grooves for the grip, so you can choose how the grip feels depending on your comfort.

It also comes with an ambidextrous slide, so it’s a good weapon for both left and right-handed users. The lacks a manual safety, so if that’s a requirement for your selection there are other options which include manual and external safeties.

3. Springfield XD

Springfield Armory Defender

Springfield Armory’s XD 9mm pistol is an excellent example of a well-rounded 9mm pistol. It features a special melonite barrel finish that protects it from damage and corrosion.

But most importantly, the Springfield XD comes with a double and/or single-action system that allows you to swap between both styles of firing on the fly.

Want a lighter trigger pull, or do you want to ignore the need to pull back the hammer in between shots? It’s all up to you!

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact OSP
Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact OSP

Specifications:

  • Weight: 28 oz
  • Capacity: 16+1
  • Length: 7.7 inches
  • Sights: Fiber optic front sight, white dot rear
  • Finish: Melonite

Pros

  • Excellent aesthetic

  • Durable finish

  • Effective front & rear sight combo

  • Grip safety

  • Works as a double and single-action pistol

Cons

  • Capacity could be a little better

  • Grip material texture is hit or miss

A beautiful example of Springfield craftsmanship

The Springfield Armory XD is also just a good looking pistol. The sleek frame is only 1 inch wide, so while it’s not the thinnest pistol on the marker you’d be hard-pressed to find handguns much thinner.

Low effort slide

It also comes with a low effort slide, requiring about 27% less effort on average to cycle compared to many other striker-fired 9mm pistols.

The XD-E pistol can also be carried “cocked and loaded” with the safety on, meaning you can have the hammer ready to go for quick-firing at the drop of a hat.

Even better, when you set the pistol to double-action, it requires a longer and more deliberate trigger pull to increase your safety if you plan to use this pistol for concealed carrying or just when walking around with it in your holster.

4. Heckler Koch P30K

Heckler & Koch P30K

The HK P30K 9mm pistol is impressively lightweight and easy to conceal, making it a great choice if you need a concealed carry self-defense pistol.

With a full length of only 6.42 inches and 24 ounces it’s one of the smallest 9mm pistols you can find – but it offers an impressive 10 round capacity, making it’s great for regular duty carrying as well.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 23.99 ounces
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • Length: 6.42”
  • Sights: Front and rear
  • Finish: black nitride

Pros

  • Loads of models available

  • Great for ambidextrous or left-handed users

  • Great for concealed carry

  • Customiz able grip

Cons

  • Pricey

  • Trigger guard-mounted mag release

Adjustable grip for customization & control

It features a completely adjustable grip, including interchangeable backstraps and lateral grip panels. So you can customize the grip according to your hand shape and size.

Furthermore, the pistol is available in several trigger firing modes. You can even choose a special double-action “law enforcement modification”, which requires more finger weight for your initial trigger pull for added safety.

Double action or single action combo option

You can also choose a double action or single action combo pistol, plus a model with dual ambidextrous manual safeties on either side of the frame.

Additionally, different slide and magazine release levers are available depending on the exact model you choose. As you can see, this 9mm pistol is very customizable. The only downsides are its relatively high asking price and the trigger guard mag release, which will take some getting used to.

5. Sig Sauer P320

Sig Sauer P320 Compact 9mm

The Sig P320 9mm pistol is another great choice, particularly if you want great factory sights. The Sig Sauer P320 Compact has both front and rear sights, with the rear sights offering contrasting illumination so you can use the pistol even in low light or nighttime shooting situations.

Developed to both compete for the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract and offer a more forward-looking alternative to their P-200 series pistols, Sig Sauer introduced the P320 in 2014.

Ditching the common frame and slide format that almost every other semi-auto pistol used, the P320 instead uses a fire control unit that can be swapped out between different grip modules to quickly allow the user to move between full, carry, compact, and subcompact sizes.

The modularity of the design made it a shoo-in for the MHS program, and the military is currently fielding the gun as the M17 and M18 pistols, respectively. This is truly a 21st-century combat pistol.  

The P320's grip modules enable you to personalize the firearm to your heart's content.
The P320's grip modules enable you to personalize the firearm to your heart's content.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 25.3 oz
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Length: 7”
  • Sights: Front and rear (night)
  • Finish: stainless steel and nitron

Pros

  • Pretty durable overall

  • Has a set of excellent sights

  • Good size and weight

  • Smooth, consistent trigger pull

  • Good magazine capacity

Cons

  • Grip could be a bit more comfortable

  • A big gun relative to other options

15 round capacity

Furthermore, it puts many other pistols to shame in the capacity department, featuring an impressive 15-round capacity, so it’s great for squeezing-off multiple shots at the shooting range or taking down a threat with certainty.

Its striker trigger action ensures a crisp, light trigger pull and stability with every squeeze. You’ll also appreciate that the barrel material is durable but lightweight carbon steel, and its low bore axis help with recoil control.

A stainless steel finish for the frame and a Nitron finish for the slide protect the pistol from corrosive damage. It should last for a long time to come.

The P320 platform has served Sig well -- both in terms of the base series  as well as more custom options, such as the P320 Spectre Comp.
The P320 platform has served Sig well -- both in terms of the base series as well as more custom options, such as the P320 Spectre Comp.

6. Beretta 92

$599

Beretta 92FS 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 33.3 oz
  • Capacity: 15
  • Length: 8.5”
  • Sight radius: 6.1″
  • Finish: Bruniton

Pros

  • Incredibly proven performer

  • Many varients to choose from

  • Solid magazine capacity

  • Tons of used 92s floating around

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Large pistol

  • Tough to determine country of manufacture

One of the most venerable double-stack 9mm pistols on the market, the steel-framed Beretta 92 has been around for almost 50 years.

There is a reason for that: it just plain out works, and as we detailed in our historical look at the Beretta 9mm pistols, the 92 really was a watershed moment in handgun design. We went way deep on the 92 if you’re interested.

The Beretta 92X -- with its external hammer and steel sights -- in the wild
The Beretta 92X -- with its external hammer and steel sights -- in the wild

While they’re certainly one of the most recognizable handguns anywhere, they’re not the lightest, easiest to operate, nor do they offer the most firepower, but the 92 is a true classic that delivers on performance and looks.

Adopted by dozens of militaries worldwide, including the Pentagon who has used it for the past four decades, this “Back to Back Gulf War Champ” is a great pistol and still very relevant today in its third generation, the Vertec 92X series.

Rather than traditional feed ramps, the Beretta 92 series is almost direct fed into the chamber, allowing a more reliable loading and extraction process and making a more dependable gun. They eat just about any kind of factory-spec ammo.
Rather than traditional feed ramps, the Beretta 92 series is almost direct fed into the chamber, allowing a more reliable loading and extraction process and making a more dependable gun. They eat just about any kind of factory-spec ammo.

While originally a full-sized pistol with low recoil, the 92 is also produced in shorter Centurion and Compact variants. 

Beretta 92 disassembled via Beretta
Beretta 92 disassembled via Beretta

7. Canik TP9SFX

$549

Canik TP9SFX 9mm Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 29.28 oz.
  • Capacity: 20+1
  • Length: 8.27″
  • Barrel Length: 6.2”
  • Width: 1.38″

Pros

  • Great balance

  • Class-leading capacity

  • Competition-grade trigger

Cons

  • Canik not a household name

  • Large

  • Competition focused feel

  • Turkish origin may concern some

The TP9SFX pistol packs an absurd amount of value into a pistol that can often be found for less than $500. Beyond the Warren Tactical sights and multiple adapter plates, the gun is completely ambidextrous, featuring a unique ambidextrous charging handle that sits on the rail and a customizable magazine catch button.

When you purchase a Canik TP9SFX pistol, it comes with a cleaning kit, a retention holster, two magazines, a speed loader, interchangeable backstrap options, four mounting plates, and additional sizes of magazine release buttons.

The TP9SFX includes a milled slide & optic mounting plates. The unique charging handle is geared towards competition shooters.
The TP9SFX includes a milled slide & optic mounting plates. The unique charging handle is geared towards competition shooters.

In addition to all the features on offer, the pistol also has a serious capacity. It’s a large pistol, at just over 8 inches in length, so you can count on higher capacity than a concealed carry gun or polymer pistols, but for home defense or the aspiring competition shooter there’s little to complain about with 20 rounds on tap.

The TP9SFX has a fantasic trigger right out of the box, making it approachable and easy to shoot.
The TP9SFX has a fantasic trigger right out of the box, making it approachable and easy to shoot.

The single-action trigger is a feature that stands out with the Canik TP9SFX (and really makes it competitive with other higher-end pistols). The short reset and consistent break make it a pleasure to shoot in any context, but it excels in competitive shooting.

If you’re focused on a pistol that offers a great deal (and aren’t someone who turns their nose up to Turkish firearms), the TP9SFX is a true needle in a haystack. For more details, check out our review of the TP9SFX.

8. FN 509

$699

FN 509 Compact 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 25.5 oz.
  • Capacity: 15
  • Length: 6.8″
  • Barrel Length: 3.7″
  • Width: 1.35″

Pros

  • Optics ready

  • FN quality

  • Railed

  • Adjustable palm swell

Cons

  • Expensive

Designed to compete for the Army’s Modular Handgun System program, more than a million rounds were put into the development and testing of the pistol series that was introduced in 2017 as the FN 509.

FN 509 Compact FDE
FN 509 Compact FDE

A versatile polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm, it is available in a long slide (LS) Edge variant for practical/competition shooters, standard-length models, Tactical variants with extended magazines and threaded barrels, and Compact options ideal for concealed carry.

Don’t let the fact that it is kind of a sleeper on the market, those who know, know. 

The FN 509 in the wild.
The FN 509 in the wild.

9. FN 503

$549

FN 503 Subcompact 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 21 oz.
  • Capacity: 8
  • Length: 5.9 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.1″
  • Width: 1.1″

Pros

  • CCW friendly

  • Super compact

Cons

  • Limited capacity

  • No rail

FN’s first subcompact single-stack pistol since the Model 1910 (Browning Model 55) went out of production in 1983, the FN 503 is ideal for concealed carry, especially in a deep-cover or non-permissive environment where printing could be inconvenient.

Slightly smaller than a Glock 43, this modern 9mm is a hidden gem for protection outside of the home.

10. Glock 17

$699

Glock 17 Gen 5 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 24.97 oz
  • Capacity: 17
  • Length: 7.95 in
  • Barrel Length: 4.49″
  • Width: 1.18 in

Pros

  • Classic style

  • Beginner friendly

  • Easy to shoot

  • Fantastic capacity

Cons

  • Large

  • Looks like every other Glock

  • Limited slide serrations

One of the most legendary striker-fired 9mm Glock pistols, the G17 launched the Glock empire when it arrived on the market in the early 1980s. The first successful polymer-framed pistol, it overcame an initial uphill fight– nobody likes change– and has encouraged a crop of imitators.

The G17, Gaston Glock's 17th patent, still in production 40 years after hitting the market, has three internal safeties (trigger, firing pin, and drop) and is immediately recognizable and iconic.
The G17, Gaston Glock's 17th patent, still in production 40 years after hitting the market, has three internal safeties (trigger, firing pin, and drop) and is immediately recognizable and iconic.

Boasting a 17+1 shot capacity, this full-sized combat handgun has gone on to be the most adopted in Western military service worldwide, with countries ranging from Britain and France to South Korea and Singapore trusting it.

The latest variant, the Gen 5 model, includes upgrades such as the Glock Marksman Barrel, which is extremely accurate and easy to shoot. If you want all the details on the G17 check out our hands-on review.

Stacking the G19 and G17 side-by-side, the Glock 19, in general, is 0.67 inches less in overall length than the Glock 17, generation over generation, while standing 0.43 inches shorter.
Stacking the G19 and G17 side-by-side, the Glock 19, in general, is 0.67 inches less in overall length than the Glock 17, generation over generation, while standing 0.43 inches shorter.

11. Glock 19 Gen 5

$649

Glock 19 Gen 5 FS 9mm Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 23.63 oz
  • Capacity: 15
  • Length: 7.28 in
  • Barrel Length: 4.02 in
  • Width: 1.26 in

Pros

  • Lengendary reliability

  • Larger mag release button

  • Ambidextrous slide stop

  • Reversible magazine catch

Cons

  • No finger grooves

  • Only includes 2 backstraps

A more compact version of Gaston Glock’s G17 design, the Glock 19 for many, is the perfect multipurpose handgun.

The Glock 19 is a fantastic multi-purpose handgun.
The Glock 19 is a fantastic multi-purpose handgun.

With a standard 15+1 round capacity, the G19 stands ready for use in home defense, is enjoyable to shoot on the range (there are documented specimens still ticking with well over 100,000 rounds fired), has more aftermarket support than just about any other firearm ever produced shy of the AR-15, and, when using the right holster for the right person, is a great gun for concealed carry.

The simplicity and safety of the Glock platform also make the G19 an approachable option for novice shooters looking for a first gun that will be simple to maintain and easy to use.

There is a reason the G19 consistently tops the best-selling pistols list. Go for the Gen 5 model for the most current set of features — and for a deep dive, take a look at our review of the G19.

On the fence between the G19 and G17? We break down the differences in our comparison guide.

The Gen2-4 Glock 19 grip includes finger grooves, which were done away with on the Gen5 iteration.
The Gen2-4 Glock 19 grip includes finger grooves, which were done away with on the Gen5 iteration.

12. Glock 43

$469

Glock 43 Single Stack 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 18.70 oz
  • Capacity: 10
  • Length: 6.5 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.41 in
  • Width: 1.1 in

Pros

  • Smallest 9mm Glock

  • Very light

  • Available in 43 and 43x variants

Cons

  • Limited capacity

  • Small grip does not like big hands

The smallest 9mm handgun that Glock makes, the “slimline” Glock 43 was introduced in 2015 and was an instant hit.

Providing a 6+1 capacity pistol that was smaller than some of the most compact .380s and .32s on the market, the G43 soon became the choice of many for concealed carry, be they the average CCW holder or off-duty police.

Hitting the scales at just 20 ounces when fully loaded, the gun is one of the few 9mm pistols that can be ankle carried comfortably. We dove deep into the G43 in our review of Glock’s concealed carry masterpiece.

The Glock 43 Vickers 9mm
The Glock 43 Vickers 9mm

For those who would prefer a few more rounds, the Glock 43X still has a slim profile but offers a 10+1 capacity and is just three ounces heavier, making for an effective concealed carry weapon with a little more on tap.  

13. Ruger EC9s

$299

Ruger EC9s 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 17.2 oz
  • Capacity: 7
  • Length: 6 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.12 in
  • Width: 0.9 in

Pros

  • Super slim

  • Very light

  • Incredibly compact

Cons

  • Very light trigger

  • Snappy recoil

  • Heavy slide for a small pistol

Ruger introduced their hammer-fired Lightweight Compact 9mm, or LC9, a decade ago and it had a lot to like. However, once the company switched to a striker-fired version with more economical fixed sights a few years later, the Essential Compact 9mm (striker-fired), or EC9s, brought a bit more to the party and for less cost.

Offering a 7+1 capacity in a compact frame just 6-inches long overall and 17-ounces in weight, making the small gun ideal for concealed carry, the EC9s has a few minor improvements over the Glock 43 while costing less.

On the downside, it doesn’t have the same aftermarket support, with fewer options for holsters and no options for upgrading the basic sights. It’s also short and light, meaning it’s snappier than larger pistols, which can make follow-up shots more challenging.

However, for a few dollars more one can get a Ruger Security 9 Compact model which is only a couple ounces heavier but offers 10- and 15-shot magazines and the ability to swap out sights.

14. Ruger Security 9

$379

Ruger Security-9 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 23.7 oz
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Length: 7.24 in
  • Barrel Length: 4.0 in
  • Width: 1.02 in

Pros

  • Great capacity

  • Good grip for larger hands

  • Good factory trigger

Cons

  • Slide needs to be broken in

  • Requires regular maintenance

  • Non-reversable controls

A fundamental replacement for the company’s chunky old P-series pistols of the 1980s and 90s, the striker-fired polymer-framed Security 9 series is much more contemporary.

Lightweight but with a 4-inch barrel and 15+1 capacity, the gun is compact in the same way that the Glock 19 is, but costs less and offers a similarly high magazine capacity.

Using drift adjustable sights, the Security 9 is also offered in a Pro version that comes standard with Tritium night sights. For those wanting something smaller from the same line, there is the Security 9 Compact variant. 

15. Sig Sauer P229

$929

Sig Sauer P229 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 34.4 oz
  • Capacity: 15
  • Length: 7.1 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.9 in
  • Width: 1.5 in

Pros

  • Incredibly stylish

  • Hollywood’s Cop Gun

  • Good factory trigger

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Surpassed by newer designs

  • Only expensive Legion variants available new

Just as the Glock 19 is seen as a more perfected sequel to the preceding G17, Sig Sauer’s P229 was introduced in 1992 following almost 15 years of feedback on other Sig P-200 series pistols.

With a flush-fitting 13-round magazine in its 9mm variant– Sig retired the .40S&W option last year– the P229 has a smaller capacity than a lighter weight G19 but for fans of metal-framed double-action/single-action hammer-fired pistols with an exposed hammer, it is preferred over contemporaries such as the Beretta 92.

In short, the P229 is kind of like the gun version of a Cadillac: it may not be the fastest car on the road, but it will get you there in style. 

The Sig P229 is a bit like a DA/SA Cadillac.
The Sig P229 is a bit like a DA/SA Cadillac.

16. Sig Sauer P365

$649

Sig Sauer P365 9MM Pistol

Specifications:

  • Weight: 17.8 oz
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • Length: 5.8 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.1 in
  • Width: 1.0 in

Pros

  • Fantastically small

  • Super concealable

  • Decent capacity for a pistol this size

Cons

  • Intermittent failure to return to battery

  • Small grip a challenge for support hand

Sig kind of broke the carry gun market with their P365, the lead entry of a line of pistols that are now considered “Micro 9s” as they are very small, rivaling single-stack subcompacts such as the FN 503 or Glock 43, but have a modified double-stack magazine giving them a 10+1 or 12+1 capacity.

Sig's game changing P365 carry pistol
Sig's game changing P365 carry pistol

Since its initial introduction, Sig has expanded the P365 series with larger XL and XL Spectre models as well as a melted SAS model and the largest of the bunch, the XMacro.

They have also sparked a whole line of imitators that are trying to keep up; however, most of those other Micro 9s, for now at least, should probably still be in the beta test first-generation stage.

Sig's P365 XMacro has all the build quality you'd expect from a Sig.
Sig's P365 XMacro has all the build quality you'd expect from a Sig.

We took the P365 XMacro out for a spin, and while it’s a newer, larger take on the P365 series, it shares the same DNA as the previous models but still makes for a sweet concealed carry handgun.

Sig's P365 XMacro
Sig's P365 XMacro

17. Taurus G3C

$299

Specifications:

  • Weight: 22.0 oz
  • Capacity: 12+1
  • Length: 6.3 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.2 in
  • Width: 1.2 in

Pros

  • Shockingly good value

  • Great entry-level pistol

  • Competitive capacity

Cons

  • Less than stellar history

  • Long trigger take-up

  • Blocky slide design

Brazilian gunmaker Taurus has been working for the past quarter-century on its semi-auto 9mm game and the G3 series, as you may figure from its name, is the third generation of that effort.

The G3C in the wild
The G3C in the wild

A fun gun that’s affordable to the point of being eschewed by many of today’s more aristocratic gun shoppers as too cheap to be any good, it is almost impossible to find a negative review of these bad boys.

Taurus G3C 9mm - Right Profile
Taurus G3C 9mm - Right Profile

Plus, with a 12+1 capacity and a size just shy of the Micro 9 category, they check a lot of boxes for those looking for a good carry gun. We put the G3C through its paces in our hands-on review.

The Taurus G3C Stripped
The Taurus G3C Stripped
A 9mm hollow-point mushrooms with the best of them.
A 9mm hollow-point mushrooms with the best of them.

Introduced by Georg Luger around 1900 for use in the toggle-action semi-automatic military pistol that carries his name, the 9mm Parabellum– also seen as 9×19, 9mm Luger, and 9mm Para– became popular initially in Central Europe.

Then, by the early 1940s when handguns like the Astra 600, Browning Hi-Power, Poland’s Radom VIS, and the Finnish/Swedish Lahti were in circulation, it started to become a more worldwide cartridge. Shortly after World War II, it was the staple cartridge in use with Western military combat as well as law enforcement duty pistols, spreading to America by 1954 with the Smith & Wesson Model 39.

Within a few decades, the light-recoiling 9mm, which still provided effective ballistic performance with appropriate bullets, had largely replaced both lighter rounds such as the .380 and .32 ACP, as well as toppling the vaunted .45ACP in popularity.

In 2017, the FBI tapped it as its standard duty caliber for handguns, a move that cut the legs out from under the .40S&W which had long been billed as splitting the middle ground between 9mm and .45ACP.

There are more load options available for the 9mm than any other handgun caliber today.
There are more load options available for the 9mm than any other handgun caliber today.

In short, today’s 9mm now stands atop the mountain when it comes to modern pistol calibers as it is controllable for both novice and experienced shooters, is typically available in a diverse range of loadings — from target to defensive ammunition to hunting uses — and its short overall length allows it to performs as advertised in a full-sized or compact pistol.

Why the 9mm?

Boxes of  9mm ammo
Boxes of 9mm ammo

First and foremost, the 9mm is a widely available cartridge. While things might get a little dicey depending on political panics here in the U.S., it is still one of the easiest cartridges to find.

You can likely get up from your desk right now and find 9mm for sale on a shelf right now within a 20 min drive of your current location. Since it is so easy to get when compared with, for example, .32 ACP, it stands to reason that people will keep using firearms in ammunition types that they can get access to quickly.

A U.S. Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, fires his Glock 9mm handgun during weapons training Feb. 21, 2018.  The pararescuemen train with their secondary weapon to ensure they remain capable of firing in the event their primary weapon becomes ineffective or runs out of ammo. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, fires his Glock 9mm handgun during weapons training Feb. 21, 2018. The pararescuemen train with their secondary weapon to ensure they remain capable of firing in the event their primary weapon becomes ineffective or runs out of ammo. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

Secondly, 9mm is relatively affordable. Again, this will change with the times and ammunition has been creeping up in cost overall through the past several decades. With that said, companies have been making 9mm for a century at this point, and they have to compete with one another to some degree. Thus, it is still feasible for most people who want to get into the hobby of shooting to pick up a 9mm handgun and some ammunition for a cost that is at least somewhat palatable. Ideally, prices will come down in the future, but 9mm is still one of the more budget-friendly rounds.

These days, the most reliably handguns that you are likely to find are in 9mm.

Take Glocks, for example. With millions of units sold, military contracts, police use, and so on, the company has a lot of incentive to make their guns run well and a lot of user data to back up their research.

9mm pistols, like the Glock 19, have such tremendous aftermarket support you can even find conversion kits that enable you to transform them into PDWs.
9mm pistols, like the Glock 19, have such tremendous aftermarket support you can even find conversion kits that enable you to transform them into PDWs.

That’s why so many 9mm platforms have been iterated over several generations, and they tend to get more reliable over time. For us, that means guns that tend to go bang when you want them to and not to go bang when you drop them by accident.

Firearms in 9mm also tend to have more modern designs that allow for a lot of customization from the perspective of a relative handy user.

Today, it’s not awfully difficult to take a stock handgun from several manufacturers and make it exactly how you want it in terms of lights, magazine sie, slide length, optics, and so forth.

The ability to tailor a firearm to a specific user, in our view, is a great thing that will keep people shooting firearms in that caliber. Older designs are a lot harder to work on, and so new 9mms are likely to stay popular for the time being.

Shooting 9mm rounds with the PSA PA9 PCC fitted with their AR9 upper.
Shooting 9mm rounds with the PSA PA9 PCC fitted with their AR9 upper.

Finally, the 9mm has proven itself to be exceptionally adaptable in terms of its usage. You can fire them out of rifles, submachine guns, and several flavors of pistols. No matter what, they seem to work well, maintain decent accuracy, and can be loaded for everything from long-range to use with a suppressor.

This adaptability in terms of usage, format, and bullet type gives us, as shooters, many reasons to stick with the caliber, even if it would be possible to make others good at one or two things.

What you get for your money

For under $200, it is still possible to get some used, quality 9mm handguns. Some of the sweeter deals in this space will be police trade-in Glocks and similar that you can sometimes find at local gun stores or through online gun deals. As it phases out, you might be able to get some surplus M9 pistols from the military as well, but that’s more of a pipe dream at this point. Some new models from budget-focused manufacturers can also be had at this price point.

At around $400, you can get a newly made, relatively stock 9mm pistol that is striker-fired, reliable, comes with available and affordable magazines, and possibly a stainless steel barrel. These are the bread and butter of the pistol world, and they work well for a wide variety of shooters.

At the $1000 mark, you’re into the territory of custom models of striker-fired guns, or newly made classics like the new FN Hi-Power that came out earlier this year. These are expensive, but often awesome guns that are either collector’s pieces or ready to head out to the competition. You’ll find options like a threaded barrel, suppressor-height irons, and optics support almost as standard at this price point.

At $2000 or more, you’re talking really special guns. Sometimes you’ll see gold-plated custom models, or, for those looking for something more practical, hand-tuned race guns that are tailor made for you as an individual.

Since 9mm is such a popular caliber, you can largely spend as much or as little as you like to get into the caliber. For us, starting cheap and used was the way to go, and a police trade in Glock is a great self-defense firearm if you can snag one at a local store or online.

Conclusion

The 9mm handguns of today represent the cutting edge of firearms development, with over a century of lessons learned coaching along that evolutionary process to its current pinnacle.

With so many designs offered, there is something to fit every need and personal preference for those looking for a quality pistol that can last a lifetime. Do your research and choose wisely, and the odds of being disappointed are slim.

Further Reading

  1. Shooting Industry, Firearms Sales Report
  2. Smith & Wesson, Shield EZ Recall
  3. YouTube, Sig Issues
  4. ATF, Firearms Commerce Report

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