This is your definitive guide to 9mm pistols.
Pistols come in all shapes and sizes. Naming the best can be like saying there is a best ice cream flavor (Strawberry). Sometimes it may feel difficult to find the right one for you. Today we will focus on pistols that shoot 9mm, one of the most popular and versatile calibers.
We will tag them by function (conceal carry weapon “CCW”, competition and so on) and also by category (budget friendly, reliable) and finally by size (micro-compact, compact, carry, full size.) This post will give you everything you need to know about 9mm pistols. In the buyer’s guide, we will dive in deep to help you select brand, ammo, magazine capacity and even the best sights for you.
Table of Contents
[Budget, CCW] Probably one of our best selling pistols of all time. It is affordable with decent capacity. We did a complete article and review if you want more information. For a budget 9mm it is hard to beat.
[CCW, Reliable] Glock has become the standard that all others are measured against. The compact 19 has been the best seller for years. It is no wonder the majority of our staff carry this gun.
[CCW, Deep Concealment] The Sig P365 has won handgun of the year two years in a row. The micro compact (add link) has become a popular size option as other manufacturers have followed this award winning concept.
[Competition] This is the flagship pistol of the Sig 320 line. The tungsten-infused grip module helps increase the weight and reduce recoil. The skeletonized trigger has 30% lighter pull than the traditional model helping you shoot faster and more accurately. A great option for the weekend warrior or competition shooter.
[CCW, Micro Compact] Smith and Wesson came out with their new concealed carry weapon in the Shield Plus in 2021. It comes with an upgraded trigger, grip texture, and a whopping 13+1 capacity in a package similar to the original shield. With a name like Smith and Wesson this gun makes it a dependable choice that holds its own in regards to features in the micro-compact category. From your standard gun to your performance center models you will not be disappointed carrying this new Shield Plus.
[CCW, Micro-Compact] The Springfield Hellcat from your standard hellcat models to the featured packed WASP model coming in with a compensator and optic cut gives you all the features you would want in a concealed carry pistol. All models come with a great grip texture, small micro-compact size, and a 13+1 capacity. The Hellcat makes for a fierce concealed carry option.
[CCW, Compact] Built on the popular Taurus “G” model, the G3c is a popular choice for everyday carry. It has a lifetime warranty. It is affordable price and performs well.
[CCW Micro-Compact] In Sig Sauer’s second installment of the P365 series they built an improved pistol in line with their X-Series handguns The P365XL gives users even more capacity that more resembles compact handguns like your Glock 19. Holding 13+1 with the option for extensions up to 15 rounds you get compact capacity while maintaining the slimness and concealability of the original P365 handgun. The X series upgrades for this model include a flat faced trigger, longer slide, and the ability to mount optics. If you want the compactness of the P365, but with more rounds and the ability to mount a red dot, then this is the gun for you.
[Compact, Budget] The SCCY CPX2 9mm comes like a Glock with no safety. If you need a safety get the CPX1 model. Most reliable gun for the money. They come in a bunch of different colors like orange, tiffany blue, green, brown ect. You can also get crimson trace red dot mounted from the factory. A budget game changer.
[CCW, Micro-Compact] In January of 2019, the 43X became Glock's first submission into the micro-compact pistol category. The 43X gives you all the great features of a Gen 5 Glock, but in a slim single stack package. This firearm is a perfect gun for concealed carry due to its reliability and thin footprint aiding in concealability. It comes in with a 10+1 capacity that won’t let you feel outgunned and makes it legal for carry in states with magazine restrictions.
[Full Size] The Beretta M9 is known worldwide for its usage in militaries across the world. It is a tough, accurate, and safe handling pistol. Military arms enthusiasts and movie buffs alike love to collect the Beretta 92 due to its military lineage and movie stardom from its usage in blockbuster hits like Diehard and Lethal Weapon. Whether you are a collector or a protector you cannot go wrong with the Beretta 92.
[Polymer, Subcompact to Full Size] The APX gets Beretta into the striker fire game. The super aggressive texturing on the slide gives this pistol a unique look. It also helps grip the gun when loading another round. MSRP is $399 making this an excellent option for an affordable 9mm EDC pistol.
The CZ P10s falls into the subcompact category along the lines of a Glock 26 or a FN 509C. It is a double stack pistol with a 12 round flush fit mag capacity, making it a little wider than the newer micro compact pistols. The advantages from the double stack magazines allow the user to use full size CZ P10 magazines. Having the capability to use the same magazines as your larger gun in a smaller package make it a perfect back-up gun choice or concealed carry option carrying a larger spare magazine.
The HK P30S comes in at a compact size similar to your Glock 19 with a 15+1 capacity. The P30S is most often noted for its extremely ergonomic design with modular backstraps that will make this pistol fit like a glove in any hand. With its ambidextrous controls including its paddle release it makes for a very easy to operate pistol with German quality you can feel in your hand. It is extremely reliable and safe with its double action/single action hammer fired operating system making it great for concealed carry, duty, and home defense. Models come complete with a Picatinny rail to mount flashlights and other accessories for serious defensive use. This pistol is a perfect do all gun for the more sophisticated customer with European tastes.
[Competition] The CZ Tactical Sport orange comes ready out of the box for your next competition. The light single stage trigger makes rapid fire easy and the weight from the all steel CZ 75 frame makes for an extremely flat shooting gun. From the experienced competitor to the noob wanting to break into the action shooting game, the CZ Tactical Sport Orange is a perfect choice.
[Competition, CCW] Zev Technologies got famous from their incredible glock custom jobs, developing triggers, slide, barrels, and custom frame work. In 2019, Zev released their own polymer framed pistol with the OZ9. Out of the box the OZ9 gives you all the upgrades you want to do to your glock at a better price than aftermarket custom work. The frame is stippled and gives more of a 1911 grip angle for pointability. The custom Zev trigger comes in light with a distinct wall and clean break. As for the slide, you can get it in many configurations that will fit any and all tastes making it a more aesthetically pleasing and high performance 9mm pistol. The Gun comes in a shapes and sizes allowing you to buy one for your everyday carry and for your next competition at the local USPSA match.
Here are some important things to consider when purchasing a 9mm pistol.
What are the plans? What do you plan to do with your pistol? Will you shoot competitions or conceal carry? Do you want something small and light weight or do you prefer larger magazine capacity? Once you determine your function you will need to check your wallet. What is your budget? “Panic buying” from the pandemic, civil unrest and stimulus checks have driven prices up over the last year and half. However more inventory has come on the market recently making it a better time to buy.
Some are loyal to companies they know or have a good history with.
Ammo Selection / Bullet Type*
While there are many bullet types it typically comes down to Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and Hollow Point (HP). FMJ is cheaper and used for target practice while hollow point is more expensive and used for self defense. You can purchase training ammo in bulk or by the 50 round box. Self defense rounds may come in 50 round to 25 round boxes or less. 9mm +P ammo has more power and your gun needs to be rated for it.
9mm ammo at the range Source who_tee_who
Other bullet types
9mm +P ammo has more power and your gun needs to be rated for it.
Frangible: break apart on impact. For shooting steel targets
Rat shot: it is filled with tiny BBs that spread apart after exiting the barrel . People use them for shooting snakes and rats.
Shop 9mm Ammo here.
Federal CCI Speer Remington USA
PMC South Korea
Video from CEO of Hornady
American manufacturers are at max capacity and have huge back orders. This has led to an increase in ammo importation.
*During 2020 and 2021 ammo has been in short supply due to the pandemic and civil unrest. Suppliers have had a hard time getting supplies and staffing required for manufacturing. So while demand has been at an all time high manufacturers have had a difficult time with supply.
Can you spot the 9mm brass? Source who_tee_who
Most 9mm pistols will hold 6-15 rounds in the magazine. The single stack thinner magazines that fit guns like the 1911 or S&W shield hold less ammo while full size double stack mags have a higher capacity. Some competition pistols hold much more. If you really want a lot of shots get an extendo mag (33 rounds) or drum (50 rounds)
Some states limit magazine capacity.
California requires a gun be on their roster and it must hold 10 rounds or less. Colorado requires 15 rounds or less. New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and a few others have strict rules on magazine capacity. The laws change on a regular basis so you will need to check before making a purchase.
Contrast sights are white dots painted on to the rear notch and front nipple. Night sights will glow in the dark making it easier to acquire your target in low light. Red dot sights or RMRs are becoming popular also. Red dots require a slide cut (a place to mount the optic to the slide and varies by brand)
There are many variations between these options.
If you are on a budget, contrast sights are the cheapest option. They generally come as white dots but sometimes they are green or red paint. They are common on entry level budget handguns. As long as you are in a well lit environment they will be fine. These are the cheapest options.
Night sights are generally a $70 to $200 upgrade. They provide a huge advantage in low light situations. Most Sig Sauer pistols come with an option for night sights. You will need to determine if the extra cost is justified.
Red Dot sights have been all the rage lately. They are generally less than $200 to over $600 depending on the brand. Trijicon, Holosun, Vortex, Leupold and Aimpoint are all popular options. Red dots add weight and take up more room but many people feel they acquire their target quicker and shoot more accurately. This is the most expensive option for pistol optics.
There are many great options on the market. Hopefully this guide has helped you narrow down the best 9mm handgun for you. Please leave a comment or question below.