Today, the 9mm Luger is the most popular centerfire pistol round both in the United States and across the world, and it’s not even close.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different options for you to choose from, but to help you out, we’ve narrowed things down to the top eight best 9mm pistols in this article.
Each of the pistols that we have included in this list come from reputable manufacturers and have built up their own reputation over the years for excellent durability, reliability, and accuracy. These pistols will each be good options for concealed carry (though some are admittedly a little large for this role for some people), home defense, as a truck gun, for casual target shooting at ranges, or to have by your side in a major disaster scenario.
Here are the top eight best 9mm pistols and handguns, presented in alphabetical order:
The Beretta 92FS is easily one of the most popular and recognizable pistols in existence. It’s been featured in countless movies and is also the standard service sidearm for the United States Army and Marine Corps since 1985, though it’s currently being phased out in favor of the SIG Sauer P320. The reason for the phase out is because the military desired a striker fired, polymer framed pistol, not because of any quality issues with the Beretta.
The Beretta 92 is a double action single action, hammer fired pistol. It features a safety and decocking lever on the slide. Moving the lever downward will both actuate the safety and safely decock the weapon; the pistol cannot be carried locked and locked. The 92 is also an aluminum framed pistol, which means that the heavier weight helps to reduce recoil.
One of the most distinctive features of the Beretta is the open slide design, which Beretta claims makes feed jams almost impossible and also reduces weight. Standard capacity is 15 or 17 rounds from Beretta, but 18 round magazines from Mec Gar are also available.
There are also many variants of the Beretta 92-series as well, and the 92FS is simply the company’s base model. The M9A1 was adopted by the Marine Corps in 2006 and features a tactical rail under the pistol for mounting lights or lasers. The 92A1 variant also features a tactical rail, but also a more rounded trigger guard. The M9A3 features an improved ergonomic grip for those with smaller hands and a desert tan coloring, and overall has a very similar appearance to the M9A1.
It’s also worth noting that Taurus makes a clone of the 92FS called the Taurus PT92, which comes standard with a Weaver-rail, 17 round magazines, and either a matte blued or polished stainless steel finish. The PT92 sells for a couple hundred dollars less than the Beretta, and also comes with the advantage of a frame mounted safety and decocking lever, which is more convenient than the slide mounted safety on the Beretta and also allows the weapon to be carried cocked and locked, much like a 1911.
The CZ P10C is one of the more recent pistols on this list. The P10C was developed beginning in 2014 and then released to the public in 2017. It represents a striker fired version of the world famous CZ 75, which is one of the single most adapted handguns in the world. The P10C is roughly the same size as a Glock 19, while the P10F and P10S are larger and smaller respectively.
The P10C features a stable polymer frame that has been further reinforced with glass fiber. The grip has three interchangeable back straps. The trigger is also designed to prevent the firearm from having a discharge unless if it has been depressed fully. Additional safety features of the pistol include a firing pin block. There is also no magazine disconnect safety. The trigger has a very short reset, and was designed specifically by CZ to compete directly with the renowned light trigger of the Walther PPQ, which we will talk about later in this article.
The trigger guard is also enlarged in order to accommodate shooters who are wearing gloves. Standard magazine size is 15 rounds, while the P10F holds 19 rounds and the P10S hold 12 rounds. There are also versions of all three versions of the pistol that come optics ready for red dot sights.
Of course you expected to see the Glock 17 and 19 on this list, right? The Glock series of pistols are currently in their fifth generation, featuring flared magazine wells for faster and easier reloads, superior ergonomics than before, interchangeable back straps, and so on.
There is simply no question that the Glock pistol is one of the most influential pistols ever made, and that they have set the standard when it comes to polymer framed, striker fired pistols made today. The Glock 19 is the best-selling pistol in America and one of the most popular pistols worldwide. Not only is it very reliable and accurate, but it’s also a very compact size for concealed carry while also being large enough to get a full firing grip with.
The Glock 17 holds 17 rounds of ammunition, and the Glock 19 holds 15. There are additional versions of the Glock 9mm as well, such as the 26 (a smaller version of the 15 with 10 rounds of ammunition or 12 rounds with a magazine extension), the 43 (a single stack version with 6 rounds of ammunition or 7 or 8 with extensions) and the Glock 48 (another single stack with a longer grip and 10 rounds).
Another big reason to go with Glock is, because of their immense popularity, the aftermarket support for them is virtually unparalleled and only rivaled by the 1911 series of pistols.
The HK USP series of pistols are, without question, some of the most thoroughly torture tested pistols in existence. Heckler & Koch began developing the USP in 1988 as a replacement for their unique but also aging P7 series of pistols. The USP finished development in 1993 and the 9mm and .40 caliber versions were released to the public in 1994. The .45 ACP followed suit in 1995, and the Compact models in all three of those calibers as well as .357 SIG was released in 1996 and afterwards.
The USP series of pistols were subjected to incredibly harsh testing by HK, being run through dirt, mud, rain, sleet, and snow without any hiccups. In addition, HK ran over two hundred thousand rounds through the weapons, then switched all compatible parts between the tested guns, and then continued firing without issue. Finally, a bullet was inserted into the end of the barrel, and then the gun was loaded, chambered, and fired, and the bullet was shot out without any damage to the pistol.
The USP is a very large and chunky pistol, but it’s also one of the most thoroughly tested and battle ready handguns that the market has to offer today. The prices reflect that, as it’s not uncommon for USP pistols to be sold at or near a grand.
The USP full size in 9mm holds 15 rounds of ammunition and utilizes a polymer magazines. Meanwhile, the Compact version (which is essentially the same gun as the full size only with a shorter and thinner grip and a shorter slide and barrel, as well as a squared off front trigger guard) holds 13 rounds of ammunition in a metal magazine. These round counts are certainly smaller in contrast to other comparable pistols, but HK claims that the smaller round counts increase the spring life in the magazines.
Other HK 9mm pistols that would be worth considering include the HK P2000 (which is an updated USP Compact with superior ergonomics), the HK P30 (a Glock 17-sized hammer fired pistol with 15 rounds) and the VP9 (essentially a striker fired version of the P30).
The SIG Sauer P226 almost won the United States Army’s contract for the official sidearm selection in 1985, and only lost to the Beretta M9 because the Beretta came in at a slightly lower price point. That being said, the P226 was still adopted by the United States Navy SEALS as their official sidearm (designated as the MK 25) for the next three decades, and the P228 (designated as the M11-A1) was adopted by the United States military as a secondary service handgun in addition to the Beretta M9.
The P226 holds 15 rounds of ammunition in the magazine, although MecGar manufacturers 18 round flush fitting magazines as well). The P229 is a more compact version of the P226, and also holds 15 rounds. Finally, there is also the SIG Sauer P225 model, which is essentially a slimmer, single stacked version of the P229, but otherwise has identical controls. The P225 has an eight round capacity in the magazine.
The SIG Sauer series of guns are double action single action, metal framed, hammer fired guns. They are heavier than some of their competitors, but the added weight also helps to reduce recoil and muzzle flip. The guns do not feature external safeties, but do have a decocking lever on the side of the frame.
SIG pistols are considered to be premium guns, and as such as they command a higher price point of close to a grand. But they are also well known for their accuracy and reliability and overall high build quality, so you will certainly be getting what you pay for.
The Smith & Wesson M&P pistols were designed as Glock’s answer to Glock. Previously, they manufactured double action single action semi-automatic pistols with safety and decocker levers very similar to the Beretta M9, and the Smith & Wesson Sigma series, which were very lowly regarded in the firearms industry and gained a reputation for being poorly made.
Fortunately, Smith & Wesson redeemed themselves with their M&P pistols, available in .22 LR, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .45 ACP, and these pistols have been adopted as the official sidearms for innumerable law enforcement agencies across the country.
The M&P is a striker fired handgun very similar to a Glock, but with a takedown procedure that does not necessitate pulling the trigger on an empty chamber as a Glock does. Standard capacity is 17 rounds for the full size, but the Compact 2.0 Model holds 15 rounds.
The M&P 2.0 is an improved version of the M&P original generation, and features a greatly improved trigger with a shorter reset, as well as grippier texturing on the grip to make it easier to hold onto the gun in wet and slippery conditions.
In addition to the M&P line, there is also the M&P Shield, which is a thinner version featuring a staggered magazine and either a 7 or 8 round capacity depending on the magazine that you go with. The Shield has currently sold over one million units in the United States alone and is one of the most popular concealed carry handguns since its release back in 2012.
If you are looking for a budget 9mm pistol, one of the best options will be the Taurus G2C, a further refinement of the already very popular Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 pistol. The G2C is a double stacked, compact, striker fired pistol, and is priced at only around $200. Despite that, the pistol has also gained a reputation for quality and reliability, and is not cheaply made.
The G2C is polymer framed and features a large number of features despite it being a budget oriented handgun. For example, it has a double restrike capability. This means that if you fire the pistol on a live round and it goes click, rather than have to rechamber another round you can simply fire the pistol again to fire a shot. This could save your life in a self-defensive scenario.
The magazine holds 12 rounds (the .40 version holds 10) and has a yellow follower to instantly indicate to you that the pistol is empty. The pistol also features a bladed Glock-style trigger safety, a thumb frame mounted safety, stippling on the grip, and a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide.
The original PT111 G2 featured an internal safety lock and a provided key that would lock up the gun and render it inoperable, but this feature has been removed on the G2C. The Taurus internal safety lock was praised by some people to make the gun safe when left alone at home, but others saw it as a liability since it meant that the gun could be locked up when you needed it most.
All in all, if you need a high quality budget pistol, the G2C represents a very good and affordable option. It’s small enough to be conceal carried and yet large enough to be a viable fighting handgun with a full firing grip as well.
The Walther P99 is easily one of the most unique pistols on the market today. This is because it’s a striker fired handgun, and yet is also double action single action. In other words, the first trigger pull is a long double action, while all subsequent rounds fired will be in the short single action mode. However, the P99 also features what is called the AS mode. This is where the pistol’s trigger is in the double action position, and yet has the same lighter pull of the single action. It’s achieved by loading a magazine and then racking the chamber. If you decock the weapon with the decocker safety feature on the left hand section of the slide, you only need to pull back the slide a quarter of an inch in order to reactivate the AS feature.
The AS mode exists because carrying the gun in single action is very unsafe since very little force or travel is necessary in order to shoot the weapon. At the same time, the initial double action shot is very long, and many people simply don’t like that and want their first shot to be shorter(practice with a shot timer) in emergencies. This is why the AS mode exists, it gives you a lighter trigger pull on your first shot and yet it’s much safer to carry
The P99 holds either 15 or 16 rounds depending on the magazine, and has a paddle magazine release. It is the standard service sidearm of numerous militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world. The Compact model is basically a chopped down version and features a ten round magazine.
There is also a variant(and newer replacement) of the P99 that is very popular called the PPQ. The PPQ is essentially the same gun as the P99, except it features a more consistent trigger pull like a Glock. The trigger on the PPQ is also world renowned for being one of the lightest and crispiest striker fired pistol triggers on the market today. The PPQ also features forward slide serrations, improved ergonomics, and the M2 model features a push button magazine release (the M1 has a paddle magazine release like the P99, and also accepts the P99 magazines).
There are of course many other 9mm pistols on the market besides these ones, so by no means should you be under the impression that you are limited to the guns on this list. But if you are searching for a new 9mm pistol, any of the above options will be a great place to start.
Additional pistols that were not included in this list but would be worth taking a look at include the Ruger American, Ruger SR series, Walther PPS, Walther Creed, Canik TP9 series (a clone of the P99 and PPQ), Springfield XD, Smith & Wesson XD series, and the SIG Sauer P320 series to name a few. So again, don’t think that just because these pistols were not included in our list of the top eight that they are not viable defensive options, because they certainly are.
As a final word of advice, actually go to a shooting range that will allow you to rent, handle, and fire guns for a fee and see which one fits your hand best and that you personally enjoy shooting the best. This is the number one way to truly discover which handgun will be the best option for you.