What is the best 9MM pistol?
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 across online markets can be tiring and confusing.
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 5 9mm pistols currently on the market. Let’s dive in!
Quick List: The Best 9MM Pistols for Any Budget
- Weight: 18.3 ounces
- 7+1, 8+1 capacity
- Length: 6.1”
- Sights: front and rear white dot
- Finish: stainless steel and armornite
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 9mm pistol has a lot to like, including a stainless steel Armornite finish for both the barrel and the slide.
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.
Designed with performance and safety in mind
It also comes with an easy-to-access external safety, which is easier to use than a number of compact 9mm pistols 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 pistol as well, since it comes with two magazines out of the box. Ultimately, it’s a durable and serviceable metal-framed 9mm pistol that works well for training, self-defense, and concealed carry.
- Very affordable considering you get two magazines
- Good finish for most major parts
- Comfortable polymer grip
- Has good sights
- Many 9mm pistols have better capacity
Most Durable 9mm:
- Weight: 21.69 ounces
- Capacity: 10+1
- Length: 6.42”
- Sights: Front and rear iron
- Finish: nDLC (diamond-like carbon)
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. These polymer-framed pistols will usually last for a very long time even with consistent use.
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.
- Crisp trigger pull
- High capacity for a gun this size
- More comfortable grip than competitors
- Easier to shoot than other options
- Small magazine release
- Some issues with inserting the magazine
- More expensive than other options
Best for Experienced Shooters
- Weight: 28 oz
- Capacity: 8/9+1
- Length: 7.7 inches
- Sights: Fiber optic front, white dot rear
- Finish: Melonite
Springfield Armory’s XD-E 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 pistol 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!
A beautiful example of Springfield craftsmanship
The Springfield 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.
- Excellent aesthetic
- Durable finish
- Effective front & rear sight combo
- Works as a double and single-action pistol
- Designed for safety
- Capacity could be a little better
- Grip material texture is hit or miss
Best for Concealed Carry
- Weight: 23.99 ounces
- Capacity: 10+1
- Length: 6.42”
- Sights: Front and rear
- Finish: black nitride
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.
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 downside is its relatively high asking price.
- Many model specifications available for your choosing
- Great for ambidextrous or left-handed users
- Size and shape make it great for concealed carry
- Grip can be customized for your comfort
Best Factory Sights
- Weight: 25.3 oz
- Capacity: 14+1
- Length: 7”
- Sights: Front and rear (night)
- Finish: stainless steel and nitron
This last 9mm pistol is another great choice, particularly if you want great factory sights. The Sig Sauser 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.
15 round capacity
Furthermore, it features an impressive 15 round capacity, so it’s great for squeezing-off multiple shots at the shooting range or for taking down a threat with certainty.
Its striker trigger action ensures a crisp trigger pull and good stability with every squeeze. You’ll also appreciate that the barrel material is made of durable but lightweight carbon steel.
A stainless steel finish for the frame and a Nitron finish for the slide ensure that the pistol is protected from corrosive damage. It should last for a long time to come.
- Pretty durable overall
- Has a set of excellent sights
- Good size and weight
- Smooth, consistent trigger pull
- Good magazine capacity
Grip could be a bit more comfortable
How to Choose a Perfect 9mm Pistol for Your Needs
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!
Single or Double Action?
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. 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 more of a finger pull but might allow you to squeeze off more shots rapidly since you don’t have to pull the hammer back yourself every time, and are great for concealed carry or home-defense.
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.
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 higher bullet capacities. They may also have a bigger accessory rail, allowing you to add optics or other attachments to the weapon.
On the flip side, smaller and lighter 9mm pistols are better if you don’t want to carry a weapon that weighs too much or you need to conceal. They’re a better choice for a concealed carry weapon specifically, as you’ll be able to fit more comfortably in a variety of concealed carry holsters if it’s more compact.
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.
Lastly, 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, while others lack this functionality in exchange for being more affordable.
The Smith & Wesson is the gun that stands out the most to us, but the others are not far behind it. Any of the options here should serve you well as a concealed carry option.
However, Smith & Wesson’s M&P M2.0 Compact has the best blend of reliability, accuracy, concealment, and weight. It’s simply a good option for almost every shooter out there.
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