9mm pistols and ammo

Best 9mm Pistols [Guide]

The 9mm cartridge has long held a reputation as a great round for target shooting and competition. But its greatest surge in popularity has occurred over the past 30 years or so as more concealed carriers have adopted it as their favorite. Why has that happened? First, let’s look briefly at the 9mm backstory, then at some of the best guns available chambered for it.

A Little History…

The 9mm round made its appearance in 1902 in the P-08 Luger pistol, designed by Georg Luger. It has been popular in Europe since its introduction (many small arms that were used in both World Wars were chambered in 9mm). And, according to the 2014 edition of Cartridges of the World, it is the most popular caliber worldwide. It came to America in a big way after WWII, when GIs brought back trophy weapons from Germany. Ammunition wasn’t plentiful initially until the ammunition companies realized that the 9 was here to stay and then got into large-scale production.

Law Enforcement Agencies and the Military Adopt The 9mm

Over 20 years post WWII, police agencies started using the 9mm. The Illinois State Police were the first state agency to adopt it, along with the S&W Model 39 semiauto pistol in 1967. Then, in 1985 our military adopted the 9mm and the Beretta M9 as a replacement for the many 1911s in .45ACP that were wearing out. By doing so, they also adopted a round that was a Nato standard.

The FBI and the 9mm

The FBI had a role in the growing popularity of the 9mm, as well. They started using the 9mm when revolvers were phased out but eventually dropped the 9mm in favor of the .40 S&W in 1996 after examining the 9mm’s role in some tragic failures to stop criminals. After ammunition developments helped increase stopping power and lethality, the FBI came back to the 9mm with the Glock Gen 5 pistol just recently.

FBI Badge and Gun

First, a definition or two…

A full-size gun has a 4 inch or longer barrel with a magazine capacity of 16 rounds or more. These guns tend to be used for home defense or as range guns. (Full – size duty pistols for law enforcement is a different article!). Magazine capacity is one of the main reasons a full – size gun is purchased, as the buyer may or may not be considering carrying it concealed. Many people do so, given the proper CCW holster and belt, but they tend to be too much for most of us. Being only 5’6” tall, I would have a tough time concealing, say, a Glock 17 due to its longer grip length. The barrel length really is secondary to grip length in choosing which large-frame pistol to carry, as the longer grip frame tends to “print” more than the barrel, which is hidden away. If you plan on carrying concealed, please give our concealed carry insurance comparison a read, it’s definitely an option you should consider.

A compact gun will have a 3.5 – 4 inch barrel and a magazine capacity of 10-15 rounds. Compact 9mm guns tend to be multi-capable…they are easier than full-size models when it comes to concealed carry, plus they can double as a home defense or truck gun when needed. They tend to have more grip to hang onto and dampen recoil better than the sub-compacts. It’s no wonder that compact models are some of the best-selling 9mms.

A sub-compact gun will have an approximately 3 inch long barrel and hold 5-9 rounds. When entering the world of sub-compacts, we are talking about guns that possess the power of the 9mm cartridge but may be carried in a pocket or inside-the-waistband holster. Do they kick? Some do, more than others. This class of 9mm is most always used for concealed carry. The advantage of carrying a small 9mm over, say, a .380 is the gain in ballistics…the 9mm just hits harder, even out of a short barrel.

Typically, full-size or compact guns will be easier to shoot due to the increased grip area, more weight and the longer sight radius. Sub-compacts will tend to conceal better but most will be a bit “snappier” in recoil due to their lighter weight and lack of a large grip. Most sub-compact guns, with their standard magazines, will leave the pinky finger curled under the magazine yielding, at best, a 2 ½ finger grip. Magazine extensions will help get all three fingers on the grip. Sub-compacts tend to be a more experienced shooter’s gun due to the shorter sight radius, smaller grip and increased recoil. Also, until the trigger can be adequately mastered to eliminate jerking to one side (due to a long or stiff pull), accuracy will, most likely, suffer. The sub-compact increases this negative effect because of its size, for some shooters. A sub-compact gun may tend to be harder for a beginner to shoot well due to the reasons mentioned above, something to keep in mind when selecting a gun. Offsetting this, however, is the fact that the smaller guns are easier to pack for most of us…you will be more likely to have your sub-compact with you more often than the larger gun(s) you have at home. As always, practice, practice, practice – doing so will help you turn that little bucking fire-breather into a trusted companion.

What makes a good pistol?

Let’s answer some basic questions, then we’ll look at some guns. “Best” can mean different things, depending on how you use the gun. So, recommendations are based on answers to the questions below.

Now, Ask Yourself…

When considering buying a 9mm handgun, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is its intended purpose?
  2. If its purpose is to carry, how much pistol am I willing to take with me every day, and how will I carry it?
  3. How much do I want to spend?

Here are some typical uses:

  • Something to take to the range or maybe use as a home-defense weapon. A full – size semiauto will suffice.
  • A gun to carry in your car or truck (provided it’s legal to do so). Any of the three sizes mentioned will work, although a full – size gun will be easier to shoot. A gun towards the lower end of the retail price spectrum should fill this need, as you won’t care so much if it gets a little beaten up.
  • Something to carry concealed. This is where preferences matter most, as some folks are comfortable carrying a full – size duty-type pistol and others need a smaller gun.
  • Home defense. Most any gun will suffice in this role, but usually larger, higher-capacity pistols with a rail that you can add a light to work best. From your first reaction to the “bump in the night”, you can grab your pistol and be ready for whatever without having to look for extra magazines, flashlights, etc. Larger is better here.

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Let’s look at some guns.

First, we’ll look at guns I’ve had experience with, then we’ll examine some of the “best of the rest.” I have rounded most dimensions to one decimal place, which is probably close enough for our purposes. One area I reported two decimal places was width…some folks can be pretty OCD when it comes to pistol width and I wanted to be able to compare exact numbers. After all, if you want more detail about any of these guns, there are plenty of manufacturer’s sites you can visit to get more information. All guns listed are polymer-framed and striker-fired unless otherwise noted.

This is a compilation of guns that I consider to be my best-buys in the world of 9mms. These guns are ones that I have owned, shot a lot and reloaded for, and they always did what they were supposed to.

Sub-Compact Guns

Ruger LC9S – My “Personal Best” 9mm

Height 4.5 inches
Length 6 inches
Width .90 inches
Barrel 3.1 inches
Weight 17.2 oz.
Capacity 7 + 1 (9 round magazine available)
MSRP $445

Ruger LC9S 9MM FDE

One of the best small 9mm I’ve owned over the years is the Ruger LC9S. Here are some of the reasons why. First, it a feature-rich pistol with a very attractive price tag. Second, it is reliable and accurate. It tends to go ‘bang’ every time you pull the trigger, and puts even my reloads in the center of the target. Its accuracy is markedly better than many other larger 9mm pistols I’ve owned.

LC9S and target

You have a choice of models with the LC9S – the regular model has a thumb safety, and will not fire unless a magazine is in place. The Pro model does away with both of those safeties but still retains the redundant built-in safeties like bladed trigger, etc. You can get many different finishes, as well (camo frame, yellow frame, bronze slide etc.).

LC9S with bullets and magazine

The LC9S has dovetailed sights (replaceable) with the rear sight windage-adjustable and a very aggressively-serrated slide for racking ease. Ruger’s newest product, the EC9S was designed to give the buyer most of the features of the LC9S but is sold at a lower price. They did it by, among other changes, milling the sights into the slide so they are an integral part of it and can’t be replaced or moved, going to a finish that can be applied on the production line (read: cheaper) and spreading the slide serrations out a bit to save milling costs. They are pretty much identical other than that. The E series guns shoot like their predecessor, though. With the LC9S/EC9s you get a reasonably-priced semiauto, backed by a company that has some of the (personally-experienced) best customer service in the gun universe. You can’t ask for much more than that. That is why the LC9S/EC9s was, at one time, my personal favorite 9mm to carry and shoot.

Street prices for the LC9S/LC9S Pro models vary greatly, depending on where you buy them. I’ve seen them as low as around $240 up to the $350 neighborhood. Shop around, and don’t neglect your local gun shop in your hunt for your gun. You can read my Ruger LC9S review here.

Taurus PT111 G2/G2C

Taurus PT111 G2
I’ve owned two of these, the PT 111 G2 model. With a street price as low as around $220, this is a great value. The G2 (or Gen 2, if you’re into Glockspeak) is an improvement over the previous model. Some PT 111 features include a fully-adjustable rear sight, thumb safety, “dishes” in the frame to park your trigger finger when not on the trigger, a sculpted slide to reduce weight, finger extension magazines (12+1 capacity, two included), a rail for mounting lights/lasers, great ergonomics and grip texturing.

Taurus PT111 G2
Source: usacarry – Pearsol

Taurus G2C

Height 5 inches
Length 6.25 inches
Width 1.25 inches
Barrel 3.25 inches
Weight 21 oz.
Capacity 12 + 1
MSRP $317
Taurus G3c profile left
Gun in profile…the gun is a virtual clone of the G2C.

The G2C has taken the place of the PT 111. The G2C is almost identical to the PT 111 – they have virtually the same specs. Three features are different, however. First, there is no key lock in the frame like most other Taurus guns have. Secondly, the grip texturing is more aggressive and raised a bit. The last change is that the laser engraving on the barrel has been downplayed and minimized. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same gun.

Back to the currently-available PT 111…it fit my hand very well. I was able to shoot any load through it and could adjust the rear sight up-down/left-right to compensate. Taurus started using a brightly-colored magazine follower a few years ago…other makers have jumped on that particular bandwagon. It makes sense, as it’s easy to see when you’ve run dry. Taurus has had a somewhat checkered reputation in the quality control department, but with the company under new leadership, those issues have lessened. A company not to sit on its laurels, Taurus recently brought out many new designs that push the bar higher for other makers. For a street-priced $220 sub-compact with 25 rounds available on your person (carrying both magazines plus one in the chamber) that is reliable and concealable, you could sure do worse. Let’s not forget that Taurus offers a lifetime warranty on most guns and a free year’s membership in the NRA as icing on the cake. Speaking of warranties, please note that Taurus has changed its warranty policy. Guns designed before January 2017 will carry the lifetime warranty (PT 111 G2), while those designed after that date will have a one-year warranty (G2C). This should be made clear. In any event, either one is a good buy. You can read my Taurus G2C reviw here.

Taurus G3c

We know now that the G2c did replace the PT111, and has itself been replaced by the G3c. Such is the way of gun manufacturers – something better always around the corner. Basically an upgraded G2c, this pistol exhibits some changes. You can read my Taurus G3C review here.

Taurus G3c profile right

The upgrades include Glock-compatible steel sights, no Taurus integrated safety lock, an improved trigger and a Tenifer finish on the slide. You can buy, in addition to the three 12-round magazines that come with it (yes, three) either 15- or 17-round ones for it. These larger ones are designed to fit this gun’s compact-size big brother, the G3. But, as with most of Glock’s double-stack 9mm magazines, the Taurus ones will perform double-duty. The G3 would be at home on your belt, in a purse or on a nightstand. The G3c is meant for carry, and it fulfills that role admirably. I have a Concealment Express kydex IWB holster that I got for my G2c, but it works well with the upgraded model.

Taurus G3c

Another plus is Taurus’ lifetime warranty. The company seems to be making some strides towards better quality control, a practice we can only hope will continue. The G3c is, most likely, the most popular semi-auto Taurus sells (alongside the PT92, the Beretta look-alike. This is one reliable gun, as well).


Height 5.5 inches
Length 7.2 inches
Width 1.29 inches
Barrel 4 inches
Weight 22.7 oz.
Capacity 16 + 1
MSRP $379
S&W SD9VE – Compact
Source: thetruthaboutguns.com

Derived from the S&W Sigma pistol, this gun is a bargain. The SD9VE (Self Defense, 9mm, Value Enhanced) is a great seller not only to those on a budget, but to anyone wanting a lesser-expensive 9mm. S&W took some of the look and feel from their M&P series and created a pistol that is eminently reliable, has only the controls necessary (some may argue that a thumb safety is necessary but I’m not an adherent to that philosophy; in any case, the 9VE doesn’t have one) and then combined it all in an affordable package. I‘ve owned two of these and they both ran like champs. They both were consistently reliable, feeding any and all ammo I put through them including my powder-coated cast-bullet reloads. They were accurate and had very useable sights. Like many of its more expensive brethren, this pistol comes with two stainless 16-round magazines (not to mention the stainless slide) – quite a feat at this price point. The trigger tends to be a bit heavy, but with a $20 Apex trigger kit (or, in my case, a few hundred dry-fires), it lightens up considerably. Real-world prices tend to hover between $275-$300.

KelTec PF9

Height 4.3 inches
Length 5.8 inches
Width .88 inch
Barrel 3.1 inches
Weight 12.7 oz.
Capacity 7 + 1
MSRP $356
KelTec PF9 - Sub-Compact
Source: u/nerdburg

Not everyone has $500-$700 to drop on a gun…the lower end of the 9mm price range is well represented by companies like Kel-Tec. A single-stack pistol with a long, stiff trigger pull isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect carry weapon, but the PF9 pulls it off. A lot of folks consider a stiff trigger to be a type of safety, since most modern guns with built-in redundant safety features can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled. But the stiff, long trigger was a distraction for me. The PF9 will fit in a pocket holster. (Side note: DO NOT carry any gun in a pocket unless it’s in a holster). It also has a respectable magazine capacity and ergonomics. Manufactured in Cocoa, Florida, the PF9 is made by a company that is known for innovation in its designs. Add to that excellent customer service and a $225-$250 street-priced gun starts to sound pretty appealing.

The Best Of The Rest

Of course, there’s also a world of guns out there that I’ve just had a lot of experience with. I’ve shot most of these guns below but haven’t “lived with ‘em.“ But I’m always looking, learning and dreaming…

Based on what I’ve uncovered through conversations with gun owners, from reading countless magazine and online articles, and from delving into the realm of YouTube videos when I can pry the remote out of my grandkids’ hands, these guns are also 9mms to be revered. So, in no particular order, are The Best of the Rest…

Glock 43

Height 4.25 inches
Length 6.25 inches
Width 1 inch
Barrel 3.4 inches
Weight 22.4 oz. loaded
Capacity 6 + 1
MSRP $499

Glock 43

The Glock 43 is the single-stack 9mm that a lot of people thought Glock should have made way earlier than they did. At a time when every manufacturer of note, it seemed, was coming out with polymer-framed single-stack 9mm pistols, Glock had nothing to offer.

Glock 42 Muzzle

The Model 26 was popular, but it is a double-stack; it’s wider and heavier than a single-stack. So, when the G43 was introduced, it sold like proverbial hotcakes. It is still among the top-sellers the Austrian company produces.

Glock 43 Grip

You will find this little gem in many holsters, carried by civilians and law enforcement personnel alike. I have a good friend on a local police force who had carried a Beretta Nano as a backup gun but when the G43 came out, he bought one and never looked back. I believe it goes almost everywhere with him. The G43 was late to the game but it hit a homerun when it got there. You can read my Glock 43 review here.

Sig P365

Height 4.3 inches
Length 5.8 inches
Width 1 inch
Barrel 3.1 inches
Weight 17.8 oz.
Capacity 10 + 1
MSRP $599
Sig P365 – Sub-Compact
Source: Sig Sauer

A gun supposedly designed around a magazine, the P365 was introduced in late 2017. Once available, it made big waves in the concealed carry world. Many YouTube videos show the P365 held up next to almost every other popular small 9mm (and a few .380s) to illustrate just how small this gun is.

SIG P365 Left side

What sets the P365 apart from others in its class is the fact that it ships with two “stack-and-a-half” ten-round magazines, with finger-extension 12-rounders available from Sig. (One review I read said, in the author’s opinion, that with the four extra 12-round magazines the author had for his P365, it was almost like carrying a Glock 19, only lacking three rounds per magazine).

SIG P365 and magazine

Most other guns its size only hold 6-9 rounds. Coupled with X-RAYS day/night sights©, great ergonomics and Sig reliability, the P365 has become one of this summer’s hottest-selling guns, period.

SIG P365 in holster

As of right now, you’re usually in for a wait if you order one from your local gun shop but that situation is getting better.

Compact Guns

Glock 19 – Compact

Gen 4 Specs
Height 5 inches
Length 7.3 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 4 inches
Weight 24 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1
MSRP $499.00 (Gen 5, $559.00)

Glock 19 Gen 4

The Model 19 is the best-selling Glock, period. It is the yardstick used to measure compact 9mms. Read almost any review of a compact 9mm and eventually you’ll find a statement similar to “dimensionally, it is very close to the Glock 19”.

Glock 19 Gen 4 Slide

A great balance of capacity, barrel length/sight radius, grip length and versatility, the compact 19 has a lot going for it.

Glock 19 Gen 4 Muzzle

The newer 19x and Gen 5 models have been released and are now available in most areas, which gives Model 19 lovers even more options.

Glock 19 Gen 4 Grip

To me, this gun just naturally points right – the sights come up to the target easily with my eyes closed which only happens for me with a few guns. No wonder it is so popular. We can add in the variants to the Glock 19, the Glock 19x and the Glock 45. I have reviewed each of these; follow the links to read about them in more detail.

Mossberg MC2c

Weight:21 oz., unloaded; 29 oz,. loaded
Capacity:One 13-round flush-fit and one 15-round extended magazine included, Glock-compatible
Safety:Integrated trigger blade
Trigger:Flat profile, 5.5 lb. pull weight
Sights:Steel, Sig-compatible 3-dot, drift-adjustable rear. Night sight version available from the factory
Barrel:3.9” stainless DLC
Slide:stainless DLC
“Real-World Price:$399

Mossberg MC2c

The Mossberg MC2c is a relatively new model. Released last year and brought out in a subcompact model, the Mossberg MC1sc, the gun has enjoyed a measure of success. The compact size model came out shortly thereafter. The design is feature-laden. From the Sig-compatible sights (Sig #8) to its Glock magazine interchangability, the gun was well-thought-out from the beginning. I enjoyed shooting the subcompact version, and this slightly-larger version promises even more. This gun hits the “sweet spot” in terms of self-defense semi-autos… it is small enough to conceal easily, but large enough to provide enhanced controllability, recoil reduction and sight radius. For your $400, you could do worse.

S&W M&P 9C

Height 4.3 inches
Length 6.7 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 3.5 inches
Weight 21.7 oz.
Capacity 12 + 1
MSRP $569

Smith & Wesson M&P 9C 2.0

The 9C is the compact version of the full-size M&P 9 listed above. It is a very popular pistol, one that fills many holsters.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9C 2.0 Muzzle

Having the same build quality that the full-size 9 boasts, the 9C is a gun that fulfills many needs. The features are similar between the compact and the full-size models.

Ruger Security 9 (Hammer-Fired)

Height 5 inches
Length 7.24 inches
Width 1.02 inches (Ruger mentions slide width only)
Barrel 4 inches
Weight 23.7 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1
MSRP $379

Ruger Security 9

Ruger listens to the shooting public and responds to what they want. Responding to marketplace feedback, two of their new pistol models, this one and the EC9S were designed and built with several goals in mind, one of which is to be able to sell them at a lower price point.

Ruger Security 9 Rear Sight

There’s a lot to be said about providing a new, high-quality pistol that the budget-bound shooter can afford – this strategy should help attract folks to shooting that otherwise may not have been able to ante up to participate. The new Security 9 is basically an upscaling of Ruger’s popular .380, the LCP II. This pistol presses all the right buttons…the right size (most dimensions are almost the same as of those of a Glock 19), a 15+1 capacity with two magazines, ease of use, simple take-down and the affordable price, and Ruger’s vaunted customer service.

Ruger Security 9 Grip

This is not just a beginner’s pistol…many experienced shooters are buying these for second guns or for a primary carry piece. With a real-world price of under $300, a quality compact 9mm is within the reach of most shooters. If the gun is too large for you, try the compact version. It carries very well, in my experience.

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Full-Size Guns

CZ 75B (Hammer-Fired, Steel Frame)

Height 5.4 inches
Length 8.1 inches
Width 1.4 inches
Barrel 4.6 inches
Weight 35.2 oz.
Capacity 16 + 1
MSRP $612
CZ 75B Full - Size
Source: thefiringline.com

The CZ line of pistols originated in the Czech Republic in 1975. It was one of the first “wonder 9s” and was built with a SA/DA trigger, different than bladed-trigger striker-fired guns of today. This type of trigger may take some getting used to – I never did – but the quality of the build and its heavier steel frame made this gun handle recoil more easily. The thumb safety, which doubles as a decocker, is a keeper. When the hammer is cocked and the thumb safety is pressed down, the decocker drops the hammer to a safe position. This is one of the safest ways yet devised to lower a cocked hammer. The ergonomics of this pistol are very good. I have a medium sized hand and the CZ fit me well. I truly appreciated the highly-visible sights on this model (tritium sights are available) as it allowed me to acquire a sight picture very quickly. (CZ is now making polymer-framed guns if you are looking to save a few ounces. The newest compact model poly-framed gun is the CZ P-10, which is striker-fired). These guns were originally popular in Eastern Bloc countries, and are imported by the U.S. subsidiary of CZ, CZ-USA, for sale in the U.S.

Glock 17

Gen 5 Specs
Height 5.5 inches
Length 8 inches
Width 1.34 inches
Barrel 4.5 inches
Weight 32 oz. loaded
Capacity 17 + 1
MSRP $559.00 standard sights
Glock 17 Gen 5
The Glock 17 was the first gun that Gaston Glock produced. It was used by the Austrian military and adopted in its Gen 5 form by the FBI. Reliable, light, easy to operate, this full-size duty pistol has a lot going for it. As you can see, this is no pocket pistol but is very popular among law enforcement agencies and civilian shooters. My experiences shooting a Glock 17 revealed this large gun really soaks up recoil and settles down quickly back on target. Like most Glocks, it has a decent trigger in the 5.5 lb. neighborhood (which I appreciate, since I’m not pulling off target due to fighting a long, hard trigger). The Gen 4 version has finger grooves on the grip frame which fits my hand very well. I am not a stranger to Glock finger grooves – I own a Model 30 .45ACP Gen 3 with grooves that fit me perfectly. But if you’re not a fan of having to place your fingers where Glock says you have to, the new Gen 5 Model 17 comes without them.

Smith and Wesson M&P 9 M 2.0

Height 5.5 inches
Length 7.6 inches
Width 1.38 inches
Barrel 4.3 inches
Weight 24.2 oz.
Capacity 17 + 1
MSRP $599
Smith and Wesson M&P 9 M 2.0 – Full Size
The S&W M&P 9 2.0 has a solid following among shooters. An improvement over the original M&P, the 2.0 is able to be custom-fitted to the hand by using one of the included interchangeable back straps. Upgraded sights, upgraded grip texturing, an 18 degree grip angle, tough Armornite finish and aggressive cocking serrations help make this a great bargain indeed. The improvements in grip texturing (almost feels like stippling) made the gun sit, and stay, in my hand better than the 1.0 models I’ve handled in the past. New forward slide serrations also help with press-checks.

Sig P226 (Hammer-Fired)

Height 5.5 inches
Length 7.7 inches
Width 1.5 inches
Barrel 4.4 inches
Weight 34 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1 (factory mag; 18 or 30 available)
MSRP from $1087
Sig Sauer P226
The Sig Sauer P226 has earned quite a reputation among special forces and shooters who demand the best. One of the few DA/SA hammer-fired guns listed, it is a workhorse. If you are looking for one of the very best examples of a 9mm pistol, this is it. There are several variations available.
Sig P226 Controls
For purposes of comparison I am describing the P226 Nitron Full-Size model. To me, this gun just feels big & solid…professional, for lack of a better word. After handling it I could understand why it is so popular with military special forces and police agencies worldwide.
Sig Sauer P226 Slide

Springfield XD(M) 9mm

Height 5.75 inches
Length 7.6 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 4.5 inches
Weight 29 oz.
Capacity 19 + 1
MSRP $624
Springfield XD(M) 9 Full - Size
The XD(M) is a large pistol, but it boasts some of the best ergonomics in the game. This pistol is the only one listed here with a 1911-style grip safety. Great sights (including fiber-optic front), a 19-round magazine capacity, and an ambidextrous magazine release make this a gun fit for competition or other uses right out of the box. The grip safety and fiber optic front sight on a similar Springfield model (XDs) I owned were features I truly appreciated. The light, little XDs in .45ACP handled very well; the full-sized XD(M) 9mm is a sweetheart to shoot.

The XD series includes many different models. Mentioned above is the XDs and XD(M) … there is a new player on the field – the XD(M) Elite. Basically a ”tactically-enhanced” gun, the Elite series uses the META (Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly) flat-faced trigger, a removable flared magazine well, increased capacity (up to 22 rounds), enhanced slide serrations and an ambidextrous slide stop lever. This is in addition to the M series features that include a loaded chamber indicator, match-grade barrel and grip safety. Some models have adjustable sights and threaded barrels.

Springfield XDME

If you want a 9mm you can load on Sunday and shoot ’til Tuesday, here’s your huckleberry. I’ve owned XDs before –they are top-drawer, in my opinion. Very well-built, reliable and accurate. Read my review of the Springfield XD(M) Compact to see how Springfield solved the problem of .45 ACP models not feeding semi-wadcutter bullets – it’s ingenious and it works. I like these guns – they work when they’re supposed to.


The selection of a gun is a personal thing. After all, there are hundreds of guns to choose from and each one has its followers. But the questions listed above remain all-important; make sure you have solid answers for them before you buy a gun, whether new or used. Whatever gun you choose, buy an assortment of ammunition to shoot at the range to see which brand/load your gun prefers. If you are going to carry your gun as a CCW, definitely test several self-defense loads to see which load is the most reliable and accurate. Ammunition that functions 100% in your new gun is the goal. Allow some sort of break-in period (that will vary depending on which gun you buy) and shoot, shoot, shoot! Practice at least weekly with a variety of ammunition to keep your skills up. Clean your gun regularly – do not think that it will only need cleaned every 500 rounds or so as some videos and articles propose. What’s the “Best 9mm”? Ultimately it’s the one you shoot the best and fits YOUR needs!

  1. I love reading your articles and have relied upon your wisdom before every weapon related purchase I’ve made since the day I first discovered your works. This is also the first (and only) article thus far featuring a grammatical error, but at least I now know your are human. Thank you for all you do, Mike.
    -Cam Caveman Frye
    U.S. Army Special Operations (Ret.)

    1. Cameron,
      Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for your service to our country! I’m glad I could help you. I strive to put good information out for all to read, and I’m always glad when something I write is beneficial. So you bought specific guns based on my articles? That’s awesome…again, I aim to help in these decisions and I’m glad I could help with yours. I’ll have to re-read the article to find the error – I’m picky about such things! 🙂 Thanks again!

      1. The paragraph under “let’s look at some guns”. “Some folks are can be pretty OCD”. Ironic lol.
        Thank you for your reply, sir. As a writing enthusiast myself, I look forward to many more great articles in the future!

        1. I will do my best to keep you reading, and, yup, sometimes I can be OCD myself! (You should have been in on my decision as to which .45 ACP to buy…ended up with the XDM. THAT was an experience, even for me!)

  2. Just read your article about the G2C and clicked over here after reading the recommendation to do so. I must admit I’m surprised to not see the Sig 938 here. I also checked the “best single-stack Subcompact” article and saw it as an honorable mention at the very bottom. I think your articles are great and we are all entitled to our opinions, but I personally think the 938 is the best subcompact pistol on the market with only 1 draw back. Price! I got mine on sale out the door for $500. That’s cheap for a 938 but still ALOT of money imho. I also have always been a big fan of the 1911 platform, and when I was a “first starting out shooter” I had some issues with accuracy when it came to double action only and even some striker fire guns. I like the little to no travel and very light triggers. I have since remedied that, but only after I got my 938.

    Regardless, I have put hundreds and hundreds of rounds (probably getting close to 1000) through my sig and never had any issue. Not one! I also have carried it every day for the past 4 years both in the waste band, out, and in the pocket. It’s amazing! I can make one 3-4 inch hole in a target at 7-10 yards and put 90% of my rounds on a silhouette at 25 yards. I have had a glock 26 and 27, RM 380, S&W Shield, Ruger EC9S and sold or traded all of those. (good guns, don’t get me wrong, but I kept my 938 through all of that).

    Anyway, I don’t know if you have a lot of experience with the 938, and if that’s the case, I’d encourage you to work with it and maybe even give us a review! It’s definitely top of it’s class (in my experience).

    Thanks for what you do!

    1. Ken, first thanks for writing. I always value what readers have to say. As for the 938, I really haven’t had much experience with one. I hold just about everything Sig makes in very high regard and the 938 is no exception. I’m glad you’ve had such great results with yours – they are a quality piece, no doubt. I was just trying to write about mostly striker-fired guns in that article since those are what are hot right now. I love 1911s – I’ve written an article or two on them and have owned a few – but I was just trying to narrow it down a bit. Who knows…maybe I can do a review on a 938 at some time! Thanks for your comment!

  3. The best 9mm?
    That works 24 7 365 10years..
    Because you will not need it 9 years, but then the one moment…
    My Cz p10? Sig 226? a rubbish 9mm Revolver?

    I prefer the old Walther ppk cal 32, ( my Ruger Gp100 44 S is antitank but…)
    And here in Austria many don`t like the Glock-marketing, sorry but there was a
    Styer much better, but not the big dope show. ( Like my Porsche 991t is and not
    the glimpi pimpi supa hefti..you know, WORK LIVE BALANCE)
    And for all this,we all do not want to kill, but have the save, if, we do not must…
    Fine your articles are made in real solid, because ERGONOMICS is it.
    If not, my stone old Colt Walker would do it, loud and..” one Moment please, bad guy with your B&T 223..

    Fine Side of what works.

    1. Joseph, interesting take on things. I look upon the Sig 226 and just about any CZ with great respect – they make very good guns. (I own a variant of the CZ compact). As for the Walther PPK, it is good in any caliber. I understand the .32 is probably more popular in Europe than over here – the PPK is an excellent example. Also, your comments about Glock marketing are very interesting – you’re coming at it from the standpoint of them being fairly local, unlike in the U.S. where we do have a Glock presence, but not the headquarters. And – you really own a Colt Walker? THAT was a handgun! Thanks for writing!

  4. Taurus® now offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty on their G2c pistols.

    “The following Taurus handguns, previously covered under a one-year warranty, will now be covered under a Limited Lifetime Warranty:
    Taurus® G2c, G2s, TH series, Taurus TX22, 1911 Commander, 1911 Officer, Taurus Spectrum®, Raging Hunter®, 856, and 692 revolvers.”

    Read more at https://www.taurususa.com/taurus-limited-lifetime-warranty-2/

    1. K. O., Taurus is really upping their game. The warranty is a big part of their upgrade. Customer service is better, too. I appreciate your comments-thanks!

  5. I REALLY appreciate the photography on this website when it comes to close-ups of the guns! I have been through some professional photography training and also shoot a lot of close-ups and ultra-fine detail shots for my job, so I know what makes a good photo. Whoever does these pictures is great about getting us shots of guns that the manufacturers don’t always show us!

    Example: The last photo above of the M&P 9C shows me the manufacturing seam line of the polymer lower, going right down the center of the rail and back to the trigger guard. Now that doesn’t make it a bad gun by any means, but I guarantee that S&W also would never publish a photo like that because it shows the very slight manufacturing mark/line in the polymer, which lets you know it simply isn’t a $1,000 gun. This is what I like about this website- Good, Honest reviews that don’t hide anything.

    1. Ed, thanks again for the kind words. Usually, if a photo has a “snipercountry” watermark, it’s one I took. I use a Canon DSLR. I’ve been into photography for many years, but today’s equipment makes getting good pics easier than before. I do try to get the best shots I can – sometimes that works better than others – but I want to show that detail you talked about so folks can see the “whole truth”, or at least what the thing looks like up close. Thanks again for writing!

  6. Years ago now I was looking for a semi-Automatic 9MM. I knew nothing about them, since my only handgun I had was a classic S&W .38 Police Special that my Dad bought some time in ’64 or ’65. Since he passed away in Oct. 1966, it is practically new.
    I kept it in a drawer and I’d get it out and clean it just for fun.
    The semi-auto I purchased was a low cost SW9VE. The next thing I knew the SD9VE came out and the SW9 was like leprosy, nobody wanted them.
    So now, I seem to have a pistol that is dangerous and I can’t sell it.
    What is wrong with it? Thanks

    1. Chaplain, I’m not sure that the SW is dangerous, I don’t see why it would be. It might have had some reliability issues (mostly magazine-related) and a less-than-perfect trigger, but those issues were fairly easily fixed. I owned 2 SD9VEs and they worked well, and were based on the SW. I don’t know why you can’t sell it, unless your gun exhibits some malfunction you haven’t mentioned…check gunbroker.com for some prices. Thanks for writing!

    1. John, interesting mix. I like the Rugers – I reviewed the P90-series .45 on this site. The Hi=Points tend to be very reliable, as well. Appreciate your comments!

  7. I love all your articles!! I’m looking to buy more guns but I’m curious as to what you think of the canik tp9 elite sub compact. I’ve never fired this gun but it feels great in my hand! You guys are detailed! Thank you!!

    1. Jim, I really like Canik guns. I owned another Turkish-made gun, a Sar K2P – the review is on the site here. Politics aside, the gun is well-made, for not a lot of money, If you get one, reply back and tell us how you like it. Thanks for writing!

  8. I picked up a KelTec P11 at a gun show years ago that apparently was a law enforcement turn-in. I never got a feel for it and ultimately let it go in trade for a PT111 G2C, which I absolutely love! In fact, my son had one that became a dust collector after he fell in love with Glocks, so I bought it from him. They are great pistols right out of the box, and I’ve never had a problem with either one of them. With the G2 and G3 models now, and people’s fascination with the latest model of anything, a PT111 would be a good buy and a great addition to anyone’s collection, as well as a good carry gun.

    1. Max, you are right. I owned 2 G2cs and now have a G3c. The trigger is better and the sights are steel but otherwise it’s pretty much a G2c. Glad you like yours- thanks for writing!

  9. Great read. Have you had the opportunity to handle and fire the Walther PPQ pistols Mike? The trigger is a unbelievable. It remains the only gun I can consistantly double tap with. I own the .40 S&W, my son owns the 9mm version and his department’s armorer signed off on him using it as his off duty carry.
    If you get the chance to try one, I’d like to hear your take.
    The SIG P365 you covered is my CC weapon now. Though I tried SIG’s proprietary ammo designed for the gun, Hornady”s Critical Duty was superior for accuracy and functioned flawlessly, so that’s what I use.
    Keep up the good work

    1. Bemused, yeah, I’ve shot the PPQ – I reviewed herein. I really liked it. It is a daily carry gun for a good friend – he shoots it well. Thanks for writing again!

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Hi! I'm Mike, one of the oldest writer of Sniper Country! If you have any feedback or question about my articles, please submit it here, it's always appreciated!

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