Best 9mm Pistols: The Top 10 Semi-Automatic Handguns
The 9mm is the most popular handgun cartridge in the world. Just about every major gun manufacturer produces various types of 9mm handguns making it tough to pick the best 9mm for your personal use.
Our guide below will help you navigate through the mine field of garbage out there on the web, but first – let’s look at a little history.
- 1 A brief history of the 9x19mm Parabellum (Luger):
- 2 Our Top 10 Favorite 9mm Semi-Automatic Handguns:
- 3 Parting Thoughts:
A brief history of the 9x19mm Parabellum (Luger):
The 9x19mm Parabellum was introduced in Germany by George Luger in 1902 to use in their own firearm, the “Luger” which is where the 9mm luger gets the name.
The 9mm Parabellum gained a considerable amount of popularity during World War I and World War II. It’s now the standard cartridge of all NATO forces. Many members of law enforcement put their trust in the 9mm cartridge every day when their life is on the line, which means that this cartridge should be good enough for just about anyone.
The 9mm has been credited with increasing Semi-Automatic pistol sales to overtake revolvers and has become the world’s most common cartridge used for pistols. This makes the 9mm an excellent choice for any type of survival scenario as the ammunition for a 9mm will be plentiful.
Our Top 10 Favorite 9mm Semi-Automatic Handguns:
Below is a breakdown of our Top 10 favorite 9mm firearms. While the Glock and the CZ are two of the most popular 9mm handguns, there are now many different options on the market that have become popular over recent years.
Let’s jump in.
The Glock 19:
The Glock 19 was not the first pistol Glock produced, but it has gone on to become the most popular model in their lineup. It’s one of the most versatile models that functions perfectly as a concealed carry handgun and a home defense handgun. While it’s no pocket pistol the Glock 19 is a compact pistol with a 4.01-inch barrel and a total length of 7.36 inches.
The Glock 19 features a polymer frame that reduces the weight significantly. This gives you a loaded weight of 30.18 ounces.
The Glock 19 holds a total of 15 9mm rounds, but can accept 17 and 33 round Glock magazines as well. The Glock 19 has an integrated picatinny rail for the attachment of flashlights, lasers, and other accessories.
The Glock 19 has been widely adopted by police and military forces across the world because its reliability and simplicity. The Glock 19 is capable of operation is a wide variety of different environments, and has succeeded across the world.
The Glock 19 is a striker fired weapon that doesn’t feature an external hammer of any kind. This provides a consistent and crisp 5.5 pound trigger pull. The Glock 19’s popularity has guaranteed that accessories and upgrades for it are abundant.
Recoil is minimal and quite comfortable. The newest 4th generation models come with interchangeable back straps that allow the user to tailor the grip to their hand sizes. The grip fills your hand very nicely and is quite comfortable.
There is no manual safety on Glock pistols, but the firearm does have three separate safeties. This includes the most important trigger safety mechanism. This gives the user a simple and intuitive system that allows you to put rounds on target rapidly.
The Glock 19 is a well-made, accurate and extremely reliable pistol that can fill a lot of different roles.
The Browning Hi Power:
The Browning Hi Power makes its way onto the list by being way ahead of its time. Used by more than 90 countries worldwide the Hi Power was one of the first wonder nines. Wonder nines being a term applied to 9mm handguns with a high magazine capacity.
The Browning Hi Power was developed in the 1920s, it was a John Browning Project originally, but he passed before it was finished. FN did move forward to complete one of the most iconic handguns in the world. More than once it was on both sides of a foreign war.
These the Hi Power is still a very popular firearm. The single action only trigger is a throwback to the classic 1911 design. It’s light, smooth and breaks evenly. The reset is very short as well as tactile and audible.
The steel frame is an excellent example of why steel frames are still viable. It’s strong, but light, and makes the weapon thinner overall. The comfort in the hand is top notch and by far one of the most ergonomic designs.
The Hi Power actually served as an inspiration for the CZ 75, another 9mm handgun on this list. The Hi Power has inspired dozens of different features on modern handguns and that is why it is the number 1 9mm handgun.
The CZ 75B:
The CZ 75 is one of most interesting designs to come out of the Soviet Union. Typically the Soviet Union designed firearms that functioned with little regard to aesthetics, or personality. The CZ 75 was one of the few that that combines function with form to make an effective and eye pleasing firearm.
What sets the CZ 75 apart from the competition is the fact the slide rails are inside the frame. This positions the bore much lower than an average handgun. This reduce muzzle flip and makes rapid fire easier to control and more accurate.
The CZ 75 is a name attached to a large family of pistols produced by CZ. Like the CZ SP01, it is still a CZ 75, but it features a rail. You are well served by any design based on the legendary CZ 75.
The modern CZ 75 is a favorite pistol across Europe for police and military forces. The weapons are also a favorite among competition shooters around the world. The CZ 75 is a very smooth shooting pistol with very little recoil.
The CZ 75 features an all metal frame that while heavier, does absorb recoil more so than polymer frames. The weapon is hammer fired and can be fired in double or single action. The weapon can feature either a safety or a decocker depending on your personal choice.
One of the best features of the CZ 75 is its absolutely amazing ergonomics. It feels very natural in the hand, and the slim grip conceals a magazine capable of hold 16 rounds of 9mm. The smooth trigger pull gives you a predictable and crisp break, especially in single action. It’s ability to holster easily also rivals the CZ’s cousin – the 1911 with ease of carrying both IWB and OWB.
For those of you that like “options,” the CZ 75 sells a conversion kit that transforms the pistol and allows it to shoot .22LR ammunition, making this an extremely versatile handgun. One of the contributors on the GunBacker.com staff has three different CZ 75’s that he swears by on a daily basis.
The weapon is an excellent choice for home defense and competition. It is a bit large and heavy for concealed carry. The design lends itself well to speed shooting and heavy use. The CZ 75 is a classic design that harkens back to the days of muscle cars and steel handguns.
The S&W Shield:
The S&W Shield is an extension of the S&W Military and Police line. The Shield is unique because it is a single stack firearm designed for concealed carry. The use of a single stack magazine makes the weapon easier to conceal carry by being lighter and thinner.
Size wise the S&W Shield is small and lightweight and allows for extremely comfortable concealed carry. The short 3.1 inch barrel gives you a solid barrel length and good sight radius for a compact pistol. The overall length is only 6.1 inches and it weighs a mere 20.8 ounces.
Even though it’s a small pistol you have the ability to carry 8 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. This gives you enough capacity to deal with 99% of violent situations you may encounter as a concealed carrier.
With the M&P Shield you have the option to have a safety or no safety. This option does give the users who prefer a manual safety an option for a modern concealed carry pistol. The M&P Shield uses both a stainless steel barrel and slide material to resist rust, and ensure durability over thousands of rounds.
The M&P Shield is an easy shooting handgun. Especially when you consider its small size and thin grip. The comfortable recoil makes follow up shots very easy. This means accurate double taps are a breeze to make.
The large three dot sights make getting on target an accurate and quick experience. These three dot sights are the same kind you’d find on a full sized pistol. The bigger the sights the easier it is to get on target and engage accurately.
The M&P Shield is a lightweight, easy handling, and comfortable to carry handgun that has proved its place among the best concealed carry handguns.
Springfield XD(M) Competition Series:
The Springfield XD series is one of the most versatile lines of handguns on the market. The XD(M) line specifically offers a variety of features that makes it one of best 9mm handguns. The Springfield XD(M) series comes in a variety of different sizes and specifically the 5.25 inch barrel Competition model is certainly in the Top Ten 9mms.
The 5.25-inch barrel gives you an excellent sight radius that helps make the weapon easier to shoot, especially at longer ranges. The XD(M) competition model features a set of adjustable rear sight and an orange fiber optic front sight that is bright and easy to see. This bright front sight is incredibly easy to see in both day and low light situations.
Right behind the front sight you’ll notice a section of the slide has been removed. This is known as a lightning cut, and it reduces the weight of the weapon, and the weight of the slide. This reduced weight slide allows the weapon to cycle faster and reduce felt recoil from a lighter reciprocating slide.
This makes shooting the weapon very comfortable to shoot for extended periods of time. Even if you aren’t looking to jump into the competition world the XD(M) is an excellent choice for self-defense and home defense. The weapon holds 19 rounds of 9mm in its flush fit magazine.
The Springfield XD(M) Competition is a striker fired weapon with a solid trigger pull. The reset is quite noticeable and you both hear and feel the trigger reset. Out of the box you’ll notice outstanding accuracy, which is a big product of that match grade 5.25 inch barrel.
The XD(M) is an amazing weapon, and for a full sized polymer frame firearm it is hard to beat.
The Sig P226 is a legendary 9mm handgun. After barely losing to the Beretta M9 to become the United States Military’s sidearm of choice it bounced back as the choice of the elite Navy SEALs. The Sig P226 is an all metal frame, double or single action semi-automatic handgun.
The SIG P226’s all steel construction makes recoil an absolute non-issue. The SIG P226 soaks it up like a champ and allows you to rapidly fire the weapon accurately. The SEALs recognized the potential for this weapon when they adopted it.
Modern Sig P226’s come equipped with a picatinny rail to attach accessories, and some are now even coming from the factory with red dot sights installed. Sig has continued to update the P226 over the years and keep it relevant for the tactical user.
The Sig P226 does not rely on a manual safety, but relies on the long initial double action trigger to prevent accidental discharges. The Sig does have a prominent decocker that allows you to lower the hammer safely and instantly and set the gun into double action.
The weapons feel amazing in the hand, and both the double action and single action triggers are smooth and predictable. The single action is remarkably crisp and delivers a short, and tactile reset. Reliability is off the charts and the weapon is well known to work around the world regardless of the harshness around it.
The weapon is very accurate and the excellent trigger contributes to the user’s ability to hit the target. Most models come with Sig’s excellent Sig Lite night sights which are combat oriented and effective regardless of the light level. The weapon can handle anywhere from 15 to 20 round magazines to give the appropriate amount of firepower when needed.
The Sig P226 is an outstanding combat handgun and will continue to serve far and wide. From the frontlines to the guarding the front door the Sig P226 has you covered.
The Walther P99 AS:
Walther is most famously known for providing James Bond’s sidearm throughout the film and much of the book series. The Walther P99 served in several films with Bond and company. Outside of the Bond films the Walther P99 is easily one of the top 10 9mm handguns.
The Walther P99 is a striker fired handgun with a unique action. Instead of a partially cocked striker the Walther P99 uses a double and single action design. This is common with hammer fired weapons, but certainly unique with striker fired guns.
This is one of the few striker fired handguns that would allow the user to restrike if the round doesn’t ignite immediately.
The Walther P99 also has what is done as the anti-stress, or AS, trigger. The Anti stress trigger creates what is effectively a single action, two stage trigger. This allows you to carry the weapon in single action while reducing negligent discharges due to stress.
The weapon can also simply be carried in double action mode. Once the first shot is fired the trigger will be a single action for all follow-ups. The single action trigger is by far one of the most sensitive, and lightest stock triggers I’ve ever felt.
On top of the light and crisp single action trigger you get a rock solid double action that is light, slightly long, but very consistent. The reset is about an 1/8th of an inch. It seems as soon as you let go of the trigger it’s reset and ready to go.
The Walther P99 AS uses a polymer frame that reduces weight and makes the weapon comfortable to carry. The P99 also features a decocker button on the top of the slide that is large and easy to use. The weapon’s magazine release is an ambidextrous and is not the traditional push button.
Instead it is a lever placed on the trigger guard that is accessible by the thumb or trigger finger of the firing hand. It takes some training to do effectively, but once mastered can be quite fast and handy. The Walther P99 AS is an interesting and unique design that gives users a modern 007 handgun.
The Beretta 92FS:
The Beretta model 92 has long been Beretta’s flagship handgun. It beat out the SIG P226 to become the United States military’s general issue handgun and has served since 1985. In that time it’s traveled around the world and served in severe and horrid conditions, but has always functioned.
The Beretta 92FS is the most common model of the Beretta 92, but several variations do exist. Outside of the military the Beretta has served with numerous police forces not only in the United States but around the world.
The Beretta 92 is a heavy duty all metal handgun that soaks up the recoil of a 9mm cartridge without issue. It’s an excellent handgun for beginners because the recoil is utterly low, even with +p ammunition this gun is a kitten. The design of the Beretta 92 is unique with the open slide design which the weight of the reciprocating slide.
This reduced slide weight also helps with recoil and muzzle rise, making both slightly softer. The Beretta holds between 15 to 17 rounds with flush fit magazines depending on the magazine manufacturer you choose, and Beretta even makes factory 32 round magazines that function flawlessly.
Beretta produces a wide variety of different finishes for their firearm, including a beautiful Inox variant, and a features a hardened bluing a standard. The Beretta M9, a military variant of the 92, features a finish designed to deal with humid jungles, arid deserts and salty oceans. The M9 finish will basically stand up to anything short of a cutting torch.
The Beretta 92 is one of the most reliable handguns on the market today. It averaged 17.500 rounds between stoppages during military testing. Most people on average will not fire 17,500 rounds through a single handgun.
Heckler and Koch VP9:
The Heckler and Koch, or HK, VP9 is a 9mm handgun that’s more on the bargain side of the HK lineup. The first thing you notice are its sleek lines and graceful appearance. You’ll also notice the ridiculously ergonomic handle that feels great.
There’s a slight bulge on the handle, which is designed to squeezed inward, which cocks and readies the weapon to fire. The weapon cannot fire without this portion being squeezed into the grip. This results in a safe, ready to carry and ready to fire single action handgun.
The trigger is light, crisp and short, and making shooting accurately an absolute breeze. Accuracy wise the VP9’s barrel has polygonal rifling and a fixed cold hammer forged barrel. Saying this thing is accurate is an understatement to say the least. It’s easily one of the most accurate firearms you can buy, making it a great pistol for anyone just starting out.
The VP9 also features a unique gas retardation system that significantly reduces the felt recoil when firing the gun – harkening back to the original HK that made HK famous – the P7. This also makes shooting with a fixed barrel more comfortable. Overall it’s a handgun that’s tough to go wrong with and scores well with many fans – almost as much as the legendary P7.
The Ruger SR9 is a relative newcomer to the 9mm semi-auto market. It’s made of a lightweight, polymer frame that is an excellent option for concealed carry. It’s well balanced, comfortable, and easy to shoot.
The Ruger SR9 has a remarkably smooth trigger pull that has yet to be rivaled by many of the competitors that have been around for a while. It has two safties, a manual safety and a trigger safety. Both have to be disengaged to fire, making this an excellent and simple choice for conceal carrying. Concealed carry and simplicity walk hand in hand together.
The SR9 was Ruger’s answer to the last several generations of shooters that have become more accustomed to shooting Glocks and other 9mm polymer pistols. The cost point of usually around $400-$500 makes this a pretty solid bargain, especially among new shooters that may be just starting out.
Ruger manufactures in their Prescott Arizona facility, making this a great firearm for those individuals that want to stay true to the American brand and buy something American made.
9mm, it just works. More and more people are going back to the classic 9mm cartridge. Defensive ammunition is bridging the gap between 9mm and other larger calibers, and even government agencies are going back to the 9mm cartridge.
The 9mm round is nothing new, and has been around for decades. However, it seems like what’s old is new again and the 9mm cartridge may very well be the round of the future.