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There are hundreds of 9mm pistols out there, but with so many options it can be really intimidating to try and decide what the best one for you is.
While I might not be able to absolutely say what your next 9mm pistol is going to be, I can definitely point you in the right direction!
From classics like the Walther P38 to recently adopted combat pistols like the M17 — we have our picks for the Best 9mm Pistols!
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What Does âBestâ Really Mean
When we say âbestâ, what are we using as our measuring stick? Most power? Best value ratio? Longest service life?
When it comes to what the âbestâ firearm is, it can be a little subjective. What I think is the best might not be the best for you, but it is at the very least one of the best.
Let this list be a guide for you, a starting point, or a road map. Iâll give you the pros and cons of every gun listed so that you can make the best decision for what is right for you.
I strongly recommend that if you can rent or borrow a firearm before buying it, take the opportunity!
What To Look for In Aâ¦
Home Defence Pistol
Dedicated home defense pistols need a weapon-mounted light. I will bang this drum until I die. Really, I think any defensive pistol should have one, but HD pistols need one more than most.
To that end, get one with a rail of some kind so you can mount one.
I also recommend that it be on the larger size, such as a full-sized pistol, and that you have access to extended magazines (if they are legal in your state) so that you can take advantage of the size.
Donât worry about weight, in fact, heavier is better. More weight means less felt recoil and since youâre not carrying this pistol — you can live with a few more ounces.
Again, I recommend a white light mounted to your gun. However, if youâre going for a super small option then that might not be possible or practical. Still, I recommend it.
Weight will be an issue. Iâve carried a full-sized Beretta 92FS in IWB holsters and while it is doable, itâs not comfy for a long day of walking around.
Be honest with yourself about how, when, and why you want to carry — that will help a LOT in looking for the perfect CCW for you.
Are you in the car 95% of the time you want to carry? Then a heavier gun might be a great option.
Do you want to carry while jogging? Something smaller and lighter could be the ticket.
Think about how, where, and why and you can answer a lot of questions about what will make a great CCW pistol.
Range guns should be fun and a lot of fun comes with aftermarket options. Extended magazines, new sights, red dots — the list goes on!
The same can be said for many forms of competition pistol. If you want to trick your gun out and get that little bit more performance out of it, you donât want something no one makes parts for.
That said, reliability and a proven platform are still the most important aspects.
Most gun stores will try to sell you something pink, small, and âlady-likeâ. But that is total horse hockey.
Granted, Iâm not a woman, but I have shot with and trained with a lot of ladies when it comes to firearms.
I strongly recommend a gun that is heavy for its size and that has grips that can be adjusted.
More weight means less felt recoil, this is nice for everyone but especially important for those of smaller stature and less hand/arm strength.
Along with that, you likely have smaller hands than what the average handgun is designed for. Not all of you will, but many might. Being able to switch out the backstrap of a pistol or change the side panels on the grip will help tailor the gun to your hands for a more comfortable and secure grip.
Classic or Collectorâs Pistol
Some guns are just fun to collect. Be it for their place in history or who their past owners were or just because you like them. These guns are special not for their ability to put rounds down range but rather for an X factor that can be hard to define.
Iâll tell you about a few of my favorites, but these might be the most personally subjective options out of the bunch.
The Best 9mm Pistols
Best 9mm Home Defense
Sig Sauer P320
Recently adopted by the US Military under the M17 and M18 names, the Sig Sauer P320 is absolutely one of the pinnacle designs for handguns on the market today.
There is a lot I could say about the grip, the reliability, the ease of shooting, but all of those are expected in a modern combat pistol and really arenât what make the P320 different.
Instead what makes the P320 so good is the legal definition of how the pistol is built.
Normally, the serialized part of a handgun is the frame. Instead, Sig Sauer has designed the P320âs fire control unit as the serialized part.
So legally speaking, the âfirearmâ is the internal trigger pack — not the frame.
This is a game-changer because it allows you to customize what has classically been the hardest part to change of a pistol — the frame itself.
With one P320 trigger pack, you can drop it into a full-size, compact, or subcompact frame with just a few moments of assembly.
Donât like plastic? Aftermarket metal frames are widely available now.
The checkering not to your liking? New polymer frames are easy to get and install.
This opens up a lot of room for customization! It also, if you really wanted to, lets you have one pistol for CCW, home defense, and competition all in one.
The options are only limited by your budget really.
While the P320 comes in several flavors, for home defense I recommend the full-size version. If you are thinking of using the P320 for home defense and CCW — get the compact.
Another awesome gun that was born in part by US Military looking for a new service pistol, the CZ P-09 was updated to meet the trial requirements, although, in the end, CZ did not submit it.
But that doesnât mean this isnât an awesome pistol. Personally, I love it to bits.
Get it with iron sights or a red dot mount, this is a beast of a gun. You also have extended magazines galore at your fingertips and more aftermarket parts are coming out every day.
Incredible reliability, a full-sized frame, and interchangeable ambidextrous controls — this is a gun that simply wonât disappoint.
One of the classics, maybe even the gold standard for polymer pistols, the Glock 17 Gen 5 is too many the perfect firearm.
I have gotta say thoughâ¦ itâs not my perfect gun.
One of the strengths of the Glock platform is that itâs good for everyone, but perfect for very few right out of the box.
And yet, with so much aftermarket support for it, itâs pretty easy to make it perfect for you if you want to make some changes to it.
Even without any changes, it is one of the most reliable and durable firearms ever made. That alone makes it an incredibly attractive option for new and old shooters alike.
Best 9mm EDC CCW
Second to the market in the world of sub-compact, high capacity CCW firearms the Hellcat was about to raise the bar a little and deliver a gun that almost everyone loves.
Available with and without a red dot, the Springfield Hellcat is a great little shooter that puts 11+1 rounds in your hand with one of the smallest form factors you can get.And yet, it doesnât feel like a tiny pistol in your hand. The grip has enough meat on it and the slide has enough grip to it that shooting it feels barely different from a compact pistol like the Glock 19.
This is a huge difference and a major advancement in CCW technology.
It isnât the only option that does this, but it is one of the best. Personally, I like this next option slightly more…
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Sig Sauer P365
The first gun to radically change the CCW world since the Glock 19 was introduced in 1988. Before the P365 a sub-compact 9mm never had more than 7 or 8 rounds in the magazine, that changed when Sig Sauer designed a new magazine and pistol that was finally able to hold 10+1 but still maintain such a small footprint.
With the stunning success of the P365, nearly all of the major firearm manufacturers came out with their own version of a high-capacity sub-compact 9mm within a few years. Thus were born the Springfield Hellcat, Glock 43X, and Mossberg MC2c.
Sig Sauer followed the P365 with several different versions, such as the XL and the SAS. The SAS is specially designed as a pocket gun version and the XL has a slightly larger grip and comes standard with a slide that can mount red dots.
A classic gold standard for CCW, the Glock 19 is a bit larger than the latest generation of sub-compact pistols. Really, the G19 is about as large as it gets without being annoying to carry.
Not perfect for everyone, but a solid option for anyone, the G19 is also one of the most customizable pistols ever made.
If you want a small and simple CCW, the Glock 19 delivers with a 15+1 standard magazine and solid sights.
Or if you want to really max it out, you can do something like what I carry — a Glock 19 frame, custom slide, red dot, extended magazines, and a Modlite weapon-mounted light.
Best Range & Competition 9mm Pistols
CZ Shadow 2
One of the best competition pistols ever made, the CZ Shadow 2 is one badass gat.
Based on the legendary SP-01 the Shadow 2 has a huge list of upgrades that most people will get done custom to their SP-01s. The Shadow 2 lets you skip sending it out by including them as factory upgrades.
From a flared magazine well to better grips to better sights and more, the Shadow 2 is ready out of the box to kick ass at matches.
It even comes with extra magazines!
There isnât a lot to say about the G34 because itâs really just a G17 but with a longer slide and barrel.
This is better for competition since it gives you a better balance and allows for faster follow-up shots. If youâre shooting irons only it also raises your maximum possible precision.
It has a ton of aftermarket support and takes a lot of the same parts as the Glock 17 does.
The G34 starts out as a great production pistol and a great way of getting into shooting sports — but unmodified you may quickly outgrow it.
Adopted by the US military in 1985 the Beretta 92FS/M9 has been serving police, military, and civilians worldwide for over 30 years.
It has also cemented itself in pop culture by being the pistol of choice for action stars since it was released. Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Robocop just to name a few.
This is a rock-solid platform with an alloy frame, DA/SA trigger, 15+1 standard magazines, and a safety/decocker mounted on the slide.
These days the 92FS/M9 can feel a little outdated and it definitely shows its age. But while it might not be the most universally ergonomic pistol on the market, it is one of the most reliable and battle-proven.
The alloy frame adds weight to the pistol and absolutely eats recoil. A DA/SA trigger takes some getting used to, but the Beretta is smooth and consistent.
Be it for range fun or using for a production class competition pistol, this is one of the best and one of my personal favorite.
Best 9mm For Women
Smith & Wesson M&P EZ 9
Due to the nature of how firearms work, there really isnât a lot of difference in how difficult the slide is to work manually assuming other factors like caliber and action are the same.
The EZ 9 turns that on its head though by being magically easy to pull back without sacrificing anything in durability, reliability, or range of ammo it can handle.
For most people, working the slide is more a matter of technique than raw strength. But the EZ 9 being so incredibly easy makes technique almost irrelevant.
Thatâs the secret spice that makes the EZ 9 awesome, but in every other way, itâs still a solid gun with one downside.
The magazine capacity is kind of crummy at only 8+1. Thatâs a major downside that is hard to ignore, but a gun that you can always operate is better than one that you canât.
Glock 17, Gen 5
Yes, the Glock 17 was already on this list — but gens 3 and 4 donât really stand out as Gen 5 does.
Gen 5 has a wide range of options for changing out the backstrap for different sizes to accommodate almost any hand size. That combined with all of the other benefits of the G17 makes for an outstanding option for women who might need to change up how a gun fits.
Best Classic or Collectorâs 9mm Pistols
One of the greatest pistols ever made, period. Designed mostly by the legend John Browning, the design was unfinished at the time of his death.
DieudonnÃ© Saive from FN would complete the design and incorporate a number of changes over the years after patents sold by Browning to Colt for the 1911 expired during the 30s and 40s.
A 13+1 magazine, single action, hammer fired, steel frame pistol — the Hi-Power is, in my opinion, the first âWonder 9â.
After you use a Hi-Power you can instantly see why dozens of military units around the world have adopted it as their primary firearm and why nearly every 9mm pistol design since its introduction has taken major design cues from it.
Plus, there is a wide range of types and sub-designs for you to really dig into if you want to collect them.
If you squint and cross your eyes a little, it looks like a 92FS. And for good reason, the M1951 is basically the grandfather or great-grandfather of the 92FS.
Produced from 1956 until the 1980s and adopted by about a dozen militaries around the world, the M1951 isnât the most flashy of classic 9mm pistols — but it is a great starting point for collectors.
Batches of these have come into the USA over the years so that it is fairly easy to find, but not incredibly common either.
Chambered for 9mm means itâs easy to get ammo, but magazines can be hard to find.
As long as you have a magazine for yours, these are fairly cheap pistols that are great shooters.
It feels like a 92FS in a lot of ways, but different enough to not feel like a copy either. The largest change to get used to is the single-action trigger.
Totally overshadowed by the P-08 Luger, the Walther P38 really doesnât get the respect it deserves.
In its day the P38 was a cutting edge design that put 8+1 9mm in your hand.
A standard-issue pistol during WWII the P38 is a combat pistol built on a budget by master gunsmiths.
With tens of thousands of them out in the wild, itâs pretty easy to pick up and normally not a wallet-breaking price either.
If you want to get into the weeds with it, there are a dozen or more sub-variations of the P38 that you can really get into for collecting.
For over 100 years the 9mm Luger has been protecting us in our homes, on our persons, and in our wars.
The above is a great selection. However, there are dozens of other pistols I could also recommend that are all chamber this awesome ammo. What makes them all so good is, of course, that they are built on a cartridge that is so versatile and almost perfect.
9mm might not be able to do every job, but it can do most of them.