In the world of firearms, the 9mm pistol is by far the most important and versatile for anyone looking to purchase a new firearm. 9mm pistols are compact and easily concealable while 9mm ammunition is cheap and readily available making it the perfect self defense firearm.
However, one issue we all face is that there are simply way too many options so today we’ll be sharing what we think are the best 9mm pistols and handguns on the market today.
Best 9mm Pistol / Handgun
Glock 17 / Glock 19
It’s impossible to start a list of the best 9mm handguns without starting with Glock. First introduced in 1982, the Glock 17 and Glock 19 are some of the most popular handguns in the world used by police, military, and civilians alike.
For decades, the Glock 17 set the standard for polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols. Many have even referred to Glocks as the AK-47s of the pistol world due to their incredible reliability, ease of maintenance, and low cost which ultimately made Glocks immensely popular with the military and law enforcement community.
The Glock 17 and Glock 19 are now on their 5th Generation which comes with several new additions including a flared mag-well making it easier to insert a magazine, ambidextrous slide stop lever for more comfortable use by both left and right handed shooters, and the removal of the not-so-popular finger grooves from the grip in the previous generation.
The Glock 17 is Glock’s full-size 9mm pistol which holds 17 rounds of 9mm ammo. It features a barrel length of 4.49-inches and a total length of 7.32-inches. For those looking for something a little more compact for concealed carry purposes, the Glock 19 is Glock’s compact-size 9mm pistol which holds 15 rounds of 9mm ammo. It features a barrel length of 4-inches and a total length of 6.85-inches.
Those who want something simple, reliable, and inexpensive will find the Glock 17 and the Glock 19 an excellent choice.
If polymer-framed pistols aren’t your jam, the Beretta 92FS is your best bet. First introduced in 1975, the Beretta 92FS is the latest iteration of the Beretta 92 series handguns and is easily the most popular Beretta firearm ever made.
Since 1985, the military variant of the Beretta 92FS, the Beretta M9, has been in service with both the US Army and US Marine Corps as the sidearm of choice. According to military testing, the Beretta M9 will continue functioning even when buried in sand or snow, dropped on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt, and is capable of functioning in temperatures as low as -40 F and as high as +140 F. It’s also capable of firing as many as 35,000 rounds of commercial ammo before a failure.
The Beretta 92FS is a double action, single action hammer fired semi-auto pistol. It features a decocking and safety lever on the slide, reversible magazine release, and a maximum capacity of 15+1 9mm rounds. The Beretta 92FS is also unique in that it can be identified by Beretta’s unique open slide design, which prevents double feed jamming from occurring in the Beretta 92FS.
Those who want a reliable, battle-tested 9mm handgun will find the Beretta 92FS an excellent choice although it may be a bit large for those looking for something for concealed carry purposes.
Sig Sauer P226 / P229
If you have the money, the Sig Sauer P226 and its compact variant the Sig Sauer P229 are another examples of excellent 9mm pistols worth taking a look at.
The Sig Sauer P226 was introduced back in 1984 in order to compete in the XM9 Service Pistol Trials held by the US Army to find a replacement for the aging M1911. The Beretta 92SBF and the Sig Sauer P226 both successfully completed the trials, but due to the higher price of the Sig Sauer P226, the Beretta 92SBF which ultimately became the Beretta 92FS / Beretta M9 won out. However, this didn’t stop the US Navy Seals from adopting the Sig Sauer P226 as their sidearm of choice despite the entire US military adopting the Beretta M9.
The Sig Sauer P226 is a double action, single action hammer fired semi-auto pistol with a decocking lever, but no safety beyond that. The Sig Sauer P226 features a barrel length of 4.4-inches, a total length of 7.7-inches, and a maximum capacity of 15+1 9mm rounds. The Sig Sauer P229 is the compact version of the Sig Sauer P226 featuring a barrel length of 3.9-inches, a total length of 7.1-inches, and a maximum capacity of 15+1 9mm rounds.
Those looking for something incredibly high quality with great accuracy and reliability will find both the Sig Sauer P226 and Sig Sauer P229 worth a look.
Sig Sauer P320 M17 / P320 M18
The Sig Sauer P320 is a newer entry into the polymer frame, striker-fired 9mm pistol market, but it’s quickly becoming well known around the firearms community as one of the best.
In 2017, Sig Sauer P320’s military variant, the Sig Sauer M17 and Sig Sauer M18, won the US Military’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition as the best of twelve firearms that were entered into the competition, and has subsequently been adopted by all branches of the US Military starting with the US Army. The competition tested various features of the handgun including accuracy and dispersion out to 50 meters, terminal performance, modularity, reliability, and durability.
While the Sig Sauer M17 and M18 hasn’t had the long term battlefield testing its predecessor the Beretta 92FS has, the vote of confidence from the US Military should definitely provide a reason to take a second look.
Heckler & Koch VP9 (HK VP9)
Heckler & Koch (HK) is one of the most well known firearms makers, with a number of battle tested firearms including the HK MP5 series submachine gun and the HK USP series pistols which are used by Law Enforcement and Military forces around the world.
The HK VP9 was introduced back in 2014 as HK’s response to Glock, Springfield XD, and other polymer frame pistols. As its name suggests, the HK VP9 utilizes the 9mm x 19 round (9mm) and typically comes with mags of 10 round, 15 round, or 17 rounds of capacity. It also features a cold hammer forged barrel which helps improve accuracy and extend barrel life.
The HK VP9 has a barrel length of 4.09 in and measures 7.34in in length, 5.41 in in height, and 1.32 in in width. It’s comparable to the Glock 19, Springfield XD, and Sig Sauer P320 in terms of size and can be configured up to 27 different ways with its swappable grips and backstraps to ensure a comfortable and perfect fit for shooters of all hand sizes.
Those looking for a solid polymer framed pistol that can be customized to all different hand shapes and sizes while still being backed by HK’s legendary firearm manufacturing legacy should definitely take a look at the HK VP9.
If you’re looking for something a bit more compact for concealed carry, but don’t want to sacrifice magazine capacity, the Springfield Hellcat is one to look at.
The Springfield Hellcat was released in late 2019 as a response to micro-compact pistols from Glock, SIG, and others. As a micro-compact pistol, the Springfield Hellcat has a barrel length of just 3 in and an overall length of just 6 in by 1 in respectively.
What’s special about the Springfield Hellcat is its unique magazine which have ammo capacities of 11+1 with the standard magazine (18.3 oz) or 13+1 (18.6 oz) with the extended magazine. It also comes out of the factory with Tritium sights for quick target acquisition in low light.
Those looking for a great concealed carry option that’s both light and compact without needing to sacrifice on ammo capacity should take a close look at the Springfield Hellcat.
9mm Pistol / Handgun Buying Guide
What is the 9mm cartridge?
The 9x19mm cartridge, commonly referred to as 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Luger, was originally designed in 1902 by Georg Luger for the Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken (German Weapons and Munitions Factory). It derives its name from the diameter of the bullet and the length of the casing. Each 9mm round features a bullet that measures 9.01mm in diameter and a case length of 19.15mm. The 9mm Parabellum round is commonly found in three common bullet masses which include 115 grain, 124 grain, and 147 grain.
The 9mm round has become one of the most popular pistol and handgun cartridges in the world alongside the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP thanks to its mass availability and relatively cheap prices. Currently, 9mm Parabellum FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) can be regularly found for ~$0.20 per round.
Hammer-Fired vs Striker-Fired
When it comes to 9mm handguns, there are generally two designs on how the primer is struck which causes a chain reaction ultimately leading to a bullet exiting the firearm.
The hammer-fired design is a type of handgun design which has a spring loaded “hammer” which when released will strike the firing pin, which strikes the primer and lead the the complex series of events that ultimately leads to the bullet leaving the firearm. This type of design is widely glorified by Hollywood movies. If you’ve ever seen a movie where some action hero “cocks” a weapon prior to going into a gunfight, they are using a hammer-fired pistol. However, with most modern handguns, cocking the firearm is not necessary.
The striker-fired design a is a type of handgun design where the hammer is eliminated. The spring sits within the slide and the firing pin is now striking the primer on its own by using the tension of the spring inside the slide. Thus, the firing pin is now called the striker which is where the name striker-fired comes from.
Both designs has its pros and cons however, the striker-fired design has become very popular with compact and sub-compact handguns as it’s significantly less complex and contains fewer parts, leading to firearms that are lower weight, lower cost, and more compact in terms of size.
What to Consider When Buying a 9mm Pistol or Handgun
When buying a 9mm pistol or handgun for the first time, it’s important to consider the use case then decide what type of features you’ll want to have in your firearm.
The most important consideration when buying a 9mm handgun is its size. If you’re planning to carry it concealed, you’ll want to ensure that it can be hidden somewhere on your belt, inside your jacket, or wherever you plan to place it. Obviously, the smaller the handgun, the easier it is to ensure it doesn’t print (it isn’t visible from outside your clothing). The best way to find out if a gun is appropriately sized is to visit a gun store and if the store allows, try putting the gun in different pockets and on your waist (preferably with a holster you intend to use).
Along with size is weight. If you plan on concealed carrying a handgun, it may not make sense to carry the 15lb one made of pure steel with two additional magazines with 40 rounds of ammunition as the weight may make it uncomfortable to carry around all day. On the flip side, if this is the handgun you plan on using at home, the additional weight of a heavier gun may be beneficial in dealing with recoil, so consider your use cases and buy accordingly.
If you don’t plan to carry your handgun concealed and plan to use it only for home defense, you’ll want to consider how much ammunition capacity it has. Generally speaking, larger 9mm handguns will have more ammunition capacity, but this is not always the case. The worst thing you’ll want to have happen when faced with a bad guy in your home is the slide locking back and no ammunition in the magazine.
Ammo capacity is also a reason why you should buy a 9mm handgun over a .40 or .45 handgun. 9mm handguns typically carry far more ammunition than a .40 or .45, which will help keep you in the fight longer, potentially saving your life.
Getting the perfect shot is always a combination of practice, but ergonomics can sometimes play into it as well. If you’ve got small hands, buy something a little smaller like a compact and if the handgun has interchangeable backstraps or grips, definitely try changing those to get a better feel. This will help optimize grip and trigger distance which will help you shoot better and more accurately. Ultimately, the handgun should be a natural extension of your body and if it doesn’t feel that way, buy something else.
When deciding on a new handgun or any weapon system, one factor to consider is ammo availability. 9mm is easily the most common handgun cartridge you’ll find on the market and it will likely be for a long time. This means it’ll be easy to purchase from stores, purchase from private parties, and if you reload, it’ll be super easy to find reloading materials for it. Additionally, if you already own a stockpile of 9mm, it only makes lots of sense to have other weapon systems utilize the same ammo.