When it comes to pistol calibers, 9mm is the most popular option for self-defense, concealed carry, and combat, while still being relatively affordable compared to other defensive rounds. In this guide, I’ll explain why a 9mm pistol is probably a great choice for your needs and give you our picks for the Best 9mm Pistols.
Why Choose a 9mm Pistol (Click here)
Best 9mm Pistols
Here’s our list of the best 9mm pistol manufacturers and the specific pistols we recommend from them, starting with striker-fired options
It might seem like we’re just being lazy listing Glock as our first choice for the best 9mm pistols, but there’s a reason this is the most relied upon manufacturer among worldwide police forces, including up to 60-70% of American police officers.
Created in the 1980s, Austria’s Glock was the first pistol manufacturer to see widespread commercial success with a polymer-framed, striker fired pistol. These design features of Glock pistols give it a number of key advantages over the competition:
Biggest Glock Pros:
- Relative Affordability – Glock’s relatively simple designs and use of polymer has made it more easily mass produced, resulting in it being more affordable compared to traditional steel-framed pistols with alternative action types. While this led to Glock building a huge brand and market share, today there is admittedly no shortage of polymer-framed striker fired competitors.
- Reliability and Durability – Glock’s simple internal designs consist of very few parts. Fewer parts means fewer opportunities for something to break, meaning you can be nearly 100% certain when you pull the trigger it will fire. Glocks have been known to have tens of thousands of rounds go through them without any major issues.
Best Overall Pistol – Glock 19 (Gen 5)
If you’ve decided on a Glock pistol after reading our Glock pros and cons, but you’re not sure which to choose, the Glock G19 is probably the best choice. While not necessarily perfect for all uses, this compact pistol is small enough that it could be used for concealed carry, while still being large enough to fit comfortably in the hands of most shooters when having fun at the range.
Gen 5 Glocks, including the Gen 5 G19, removed the finger grooves of earlier models. They also improved the grip texture. Combined, this makes the Gen 5 G19 a more comfortable fit for a wider range of shooters, when compared to the Gen 4.
For those of you with specific needs, check out the Glock comparison table below. Individuals with a focus on recreational shooting or home defense may prefer the Glock G17. If you’re looking specifically for a concealed carry handgun, the Glock G26 or G43 may be better fit (literally).
Glock Pistol Comparison
|Model||Caliber||Length/(Barrel Length)||Height||Width||Standard Capicity||Weight (Empty)|
|Glock G17 (Standard)||9mm||7.95 in / (4.49 in)||5.47 in||1.34 in||17 Rounds||25.08 oz|
|Glock G19 (Compact)||9mm||7.28 in / (4.02 in)||5.04 in||1.34 in||15 Rounds||23.99 oz|
|Glock G26 (Subcompact)||9mm||6.42 in / (3.43 in)||4.17 in||1.30 in||10 Rounds||21.69 oz|
|Glock G43 (Single Stack, Subcompact)||9mm||6.06 in / (3.41 in)||4.25 in||1.06 in||6||17.99 oz|
Best 9mm Concealed Carry (CCW) Pistol – SIG Sauer P365
For those of you looking specifically for a concealed carry pistol, hold off on buying a Glock just yet.
In 2017, SIG Sauer produced a unicorn of a pistol in the P365. Shorter in length and thinner than the Glock 43, the P365 holds 10 rounds or 12 rounds with its extended magazine, compared to the G43’s 6 rounds. Despite having a double stack magazine, it’s some how thinner than nearly all single stack 9mm pistols.
In my opinion, this alone should be enough to convince you, so long as everything else checks out… which it now does!
As is the case with all SIGs I’ve shot and own, the ergonomics and feel of this gun are amazing. It has a crisp trigger with excellent-feeling travel.
The P365 also comes from the factory with 3-dot tritium night sights, saving you an upgrade I’d recommend all concealed carry pistols have.
SIG Sauer P320
The SIG Sauer P320 is the civilian version of the Army’s new modular M17 and M18 pistols.
Admittedly, the P320 has been subject to tremendous controversy after some of them sold to law enforcement agencies were reported to have safety defects. Notably, the firearm failed drop tests that took place after multiple police officers had been shot after dropping the pistol.
Following these reports, SIG announced its “Voluntary Upgrade Program.” Though SIG Sauer still maintains that all configurations of the P320 are safe, if you buy a new P320, it should be the upgraded version. There have been no reports of safety defects from the upgraded versions of the P320 that I’m aware of.
With that said, here are my thoughts on the SIG Sauer P320, as an owner of the “upgraded” full size P320 RX.
Best Overall Factory Pistol – SIG Sauer P320
SIG Sauer’s P320 is my choice for the best overall stock pistol. For roughly the same price as a Glock 17 or 19, you get a better trigger (in my opinion) and all models come with SIGLITE steel night sights or steel contrast sights. The ergonomics of the P320 also feel far better than Glocks or most of the other pistols on this list.
Though the P320 got off to a bit of a rocky start, the Army’s continued support of the pistol goes a long way for SIG Sauer’s reputation. New models of the P320 come with a lighter trigger and slide-disconnect notch, fixing the early issues of the handgun.
Unlike the competitors on this list, the P320’s modular design allows you to swap its frame assembly into a variety of modular kits. This lets you change the size and caliber of your pistol without dealing with an FFL.
All in all, this is a great-looking pistol that’s also great to shoot. See the table below for a comparison of different sizes and models.
IG Sauer P320 RX
The P320 RX includes all the features of the regular P320, while also coming with a ROMEO1 Reflex Sight. The P320 RX also includes elevated steel front and rear night sights for co-witnessing.
The ROMEO1 red dot sight comes pre-mounted and has its battery located at the top of the sight, meaning it’s easy to replace. Additional features of the ROMERO1 include:
- Adjustable for windage and elevation.
- Adjustable brightness settings.
- Motion activated for enhanced battery life.
- Very lightweight.
- Waterproof for immersion up to 1 meter (IPX-7 rated).
My full size P320 RX is one of my favorite guns to shoot.
SIG Sauer P320 X-Series Pistols
In addition to Sig Sauer’s P320 RX series, there’s one other variation of P320 pistols I want to cover – The X-Series.
X-Series P320s all have:
- Improved ergonomics and recoil control thanks to the XSeries grip, extended beavertail, and high undercut trigger guard.
- Flat X-Series trigger upgrade with a straight 90 degree break.
- Optics ready, with slide cuts.
SIG Sauer P320 X-Compact
Though a bit on the larger side, the P320 X-Compact is another excellent choice for concealed carry. In addition to having the same modular design as all P320 models, it has the X-Series features we just covered.
Unique to the X-Compact is a low profile internal magwell.
Though I personally prefer to carry a super slim pistol like the P365, I’m considering adding this to my concealed carry rotation. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for a compact pistol with the ability to easily mount a red dot sight to it.
- Length – 7″
- Barrel Length 3.6″
- Height – 5.3″
- Width 1.3″
- Standard Capacity – 15 Rounds
- Weight – 25.3 oz
I started this list with arguably the most popular choice among gun owners for best pistol, but now it’s time for one of my personal favorites that flies under the radar: Walther’s PPQ line of pistols.
Personally, I love the Walther PPQ lineup because of their fantastic triggers. Their grips also fit my hands perfectly.
Best Out of the Box Trigger – Walther PPQ M2
Of all the stock pistols I’ve shot, the Walther PPQ has my favorite trigger from the factory. This includes the PPQ M2 4″ (barrel) shown to the left, as well as the rest of the PPQ lineup.
I’d compare the 4″ barrel PPQ M2 to the Glock 19, in terms of being a good middle-ground pistol for those of you not entirely sure what you’re looking for. It’s similar in its size (see the comparison table below for exact dimensions), making it comfortable to shoot at the range, though approaching the upper limits of what most people could comfortably concealed carry.
Those intending to concealed carry, may instead prefer the PPQ Subcompact.
For home defense and recreational shooting, the PPQ M2 can also be found in a 5″ barrel version. We’ll also be covering the Q5 Match, which is another great option for these purposes.
Very Accurate and Best Looking Pistol for the Money- Walther Q5 Match
Looks aren’t the only thing the Q5 Match has going for it, but it’s a great place to start. The ported slide of the Q5 goes a long way in the coolness factor of this handgun. Personally, I think it’s one of the best-looking pistols for the money.
The Q5 Match comes standard with iron sights (including a fiber-optic front sight), but also includes three optic mounting plates for Trijicon, Leupold, and Docter optics. The one frustrating thing about the Q5 setup is that the rear sight will be removed when swapping out mounting plates.
Aside from this issue, you’d struggle to find anything negative about the Q5 match in online reviews. Instead, it’s often praised as being the most accurate polymer-framed stock pistol among competitors. This makes it great for the range and home defense. It’s also one of the best 9mm pistols out of the box for competitive shooting at a relatively affordable price.
Great 9mm for CCW – Walther PPQ Subcompact
The Walther PPQ Subcompact provides the benefits of the PPQ, like its incredible trigger and ergonomics, at a smaller size made for concealed carry.
The PPQ SC pictured to the left comes with both a flush 10-round magazine (shown left) and an extended 15-round magazine. The extended magazine fits perfectly with the grip (pictured here), making it nearly identical to a standard PPQ.
Regardless of which magazine you choose to use, the PPQ SC is shorter than the standard PPQ in both barrel (3.5″) and overall length, making it easy to be concealed carry for most people.
Walther PPQ Handgun Comparison
|Model||Caliber||Length/(Barrel Length)||Height||Width||Standard Capicity||Weight (Empty)||Optic Ready?|
|Walther PPQ M2||9mm||7.1 in / (4 in)||5.3 in||1.3 in||15 Rounds||24.05 oz|
|Walther Q5 Match||9mm||8.1 in / (5 in)||5.3 in||1.3 in||15 Rounds||27.9 oz||✔|
|Walther PPQ Subcompact||9mm||6.6 in / (3.5 in)||4.4 in W/ Flush Mag||1.30 in||10 Rounds (flush)15 rounds (extended)||21.02 oz|
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
Aside from Glock pistols, the S&W M&P 2.0 seems to frequently be the most recommended pistol to first time owners. Like Glock pistols, M&P’s aren’t really a favorite of mine, but they too are a great option for others.
On a positive note, I will say M&P 2.0 pistols are likely to be one of the most affordable lightweight pistols you can find, while also being highly confident in their reliability.
Affordable American Made Pistol – Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 offers an American-made modern polymer pistol at a more affordable price than many competitors. I love the grip angle, as well as the texture.
Another great feature is that it comes stock with steel sights, unlike some of the other pistols on this list.
The biggest issue I have with this pistol is its odd trigger. With that said, its affordable price leaves more money left over for an aftermarket trigger. We recommend the Apex M&P Trigger Kit.
For each size and caliber, you can choose between pistols with or without a thumb safety.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Comparison
If there’s a third-most-commonly-recommended line of 9mm pistols behind Glock and M&P, I feel that it’s likely Springfield Armory’s XD-S and XD-M pistols.
Of these three manufactures’ offerings, Springfield pistols are my favorite.
Springfield Armory XD-M Mod.2
I don’t know what it is about the Springfield XD-M, but they’ve always felt fantastic in my hands. Perhaps it’s that the grip angle is modeled after the 1911.
Speaking of 1911s, the XD-M also shares a grip safety in common with them. As always, not everyone is a fan of external safeties, particularly for concealed carry pistols. In my opinion, the biggest benefit of the grip safety is that it makes accidental discharges potentially less likely when holstering or unholstering.
I’ve found that I naturally shoot very well with the XDM, at least partially due to its trigger. Not the absolute best, but fairly short and crisp.
The 9mm XD-M is available in 3.8″ barrel, 4.5″, and 5.25″. They also have threaded barrel options at 4.5″.
Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2
The XD-S is Springfield Armory’s 9mm single stack pistol offering. Like the XD-M, the XD-S also has a grip safety.
Compared to the Glock 43, it’s a little bit longer and taller, but it’s also 0.085″ thinner. This may not sound super significant, but any reduction in width can make concealed carry more comfortable.
Another plus to the XD-S over the Glock 43 is its capacity. The XD-S has 7-round and 9-round magazine options available, compared to just 6 rounds in the G43.
The 9mm Best Hammer Fired Pistols
As mentioned above, striker-fired pistols are the go-to firearms for most police and civilian concealed carry holders these days.
While they’re sometimes thought of as being old school, there’s no reason you can’t use a hammer fired 9mm pistol for the range, home defense, and even concealed carry.
Here are our picks for the best 9mm hammer fired pistols.
This Czech firearms manufacturer and their U.S. subsidiary CZ-USA have a cult following among firearms enthusiasts.
Those of you who play the video game Counter Striker: Global Offensive will also recognize the “CZ 75” name, as you’ve undoubtedly cursed the “broken” CZ75-Auto. We of course won’t be covering any full-auto versions on this list, but will be covering some semi-autos.
If you are familiar with CS:GO, you can tell I’m not a fan of the CZ75-Auto based off my “StatTrak” number. This is largely due to it’s terrible accuracy for anything more than a few feet away. In real life though, the CZ75 semi-automatic pistols we’ll be covering are quite the opposite—having even been used by competitive shooting champions.
CZ 75 B
The CZ 75 B is where it all started for CZ. From this original design, an entire line of pistols was created with a lot of unique variants.
Something notable about the CZ 75 B compared to the striker fried pistols covered above is its all-steel frame. The weight caused by this, combined with the size of the pistol, makes it an unlikely choice for concealed carry. It does, however, make it a lot easier to shoot, as heavier pistols reduce felt recoil. This combined with its 3-dot sights and crisp SA trigger make it incredibly easy to put rounds down range accurately.
I view the CZ 75 B as more of range gun, home defense gun, open carry gun, or combat pistol.
It’s considered one of the original “Wonder Nines,” 9mm pistols with a large magazine capacity. The CZ 75 B’s magazine holds 16 rounds.
CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical
The CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical is an improved version of the CZ 75. As the “Tactical” in the names suggests, this 9mm pistol would be great for combat, as a “SHTF pistol,” or just as an incredibly accurate, easy-to-shoot range toy, home defense gun, or car gun.
It comes equipped with an ambidextrous de-cocker, improved ergonomics, rubber grip panels, 1913 Picatinny accessory rail, cold-hammer-forged (CHF) barrel, fixed tritium night sights, and an extended beavertail—all improvements over the original CZ 75 B.
The Italian made Beretta 92FS is good enough for the U.S. Military, so it’s good enough for you. As mentioned above in the history section of this guide, the 92 FS 9mm pistol, designated as the M9, was used by all branches of the U.S. Military since 1985. Just recently, the U.S. Army decided to adopt the SIG Sauer P320 as a replacement, but the 92FS is still more than capable of getting the job done.
Like the CZ-75, this all-metal Beretta is on the heavy side, though is a bit lighter than the CZ. With that said, its size and weight still make it best for combat, range shooting, and home defense. Its standard magazine holds 15 rounds, though extended magazines are available.
In addition to the benefits of just being heavier overall, the 92FS has a lightened slide weight and short-recoil delayed locking block system to further reduce recoil and make this gun incredibly easy to shoot.
There’s a lot of great options for those looking for 9mm pistols. These days, there’s easily at least 10 manufacturers making handguns I’d be confident to own for serious use like concealed carry or home defense.
If I had to narrow it down to one particular all around best 9mm pistol I’d choose the SIG Sauer P320.
The original article can be accessed at GunPros.
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