By the Numbers: America’s Top 5 Pistols

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

If there is one thing I love, it is a good debate over which gun is best. The regulars all make the list, and that is fine, but the creativity and opinions of the readers is really what’s eye opening and makes it a good a read for me. That being said, this list is strictly based on the numbers, so it is perfect fodder for a good shredding—do your worst.

Instead of personal bias or past experiences, you—technically all buyers across the nation generated this list, but I am sure each of you contributed. Online sales and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFEs) June 2016 annual report were crunched to come up with the most popular firearms in America.


Pistols have been popular for decades, but with the relaxation of laws—mainly due to challenges of unconstitutional laws that infringe on the Second Amendment—concealed carry is here for the masses, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that semi-automatic handguns top the list. According to the ATF, more than 3.6 million semi-automatic handguns were produced in 2014. Here is the top five pistols by the numbers.

Glock G19 MOS pistol left side with spare magazine

The G19 has always been a good conceal carry option, with the Leupold Delta Point reflex sight mounted on the G19 Gen4 MOS it is an excellent defense option.

Glock G19

The Glock 19 chambered in 9mm Luger has earned a legendary reputation as one of the most reliable handguns on the planet thanks in part to decades of service in the most grueling conditions. With an upgraded grip texturing and a universal mounting rail, the Glock 19 is well equipped for whatever situation you might find yourself in.

Gaston Glock changed the semi-auto pistol market as we know it thanks to innovative design of the Glock 19, space-age materials and reliability that has defined the Glock name. Embraced worldwide by shooters in both professional and civilian circles, the Glock 19 has gained universal acceptance.

Shooters all over the world turn to the Glock 19 for it’s robust, reliable design that continues to perform in even the most demanding of environments. Featuring a large 15-round magazine capacity that rivals even the full-size service pistols, the Glock 19 has more than enough firepower to be used as a standard sidearm while retaining a compact and concealable form factor for plain clothes officers and concealed carriers.

Specifications and Features:
Glock 19
9mm Luger
Striker Fired
Polymer Frame
Black Finish
Standard Glock Sights
15-round Magazine
Hexagonal Rifling
Cold Hammer Forged Barrel
4.02″ Barrel
7.28″ Overall Height
1.18″ Width

SIG Sauer P238 semiautomatic subcompact pistol with black frame, wood grips and rainbow titainum slide

Both the SIG P238 .380 ACP and P938 9mm are small, thin, lightweight and extremely comfortable and easy to carry. These traditional single-action only semaiutos both have a 2.7-inch barrel and hold 6 rounds of ammo.

SIG Sauer P938

The SIG Sauer P938 is one of the very best options for concealed carry. The SIG Sauer P938 is an excellent single action semi auto that has an excellent reputation for being reliable, durable, and extremely well made. Some versions come with SIGLITE night sights for added versatility, and a Beavertail/Thumb Safety for safe carry. This pistol is extremely easy to conceal, carry, and will earn its way into your carry rotation in short order.

Specifications and Features:
SIG Sauer P938 Semi Automatic Pistol
9mm Luger
3″ Barrel
6 Rounds
Alloy Frame
Rubber Grip Panels
Nitron Finish
SIGLITE Night Sights
Single Action Only Trigger
5.9″ Overall Length
Beavertail Safety and Thumb Safety

Springfield’s slim, compact 45 ACP XD-S was introduced earlier this year to compete against pistols like the Glock G36, Kahr Arms’s PM4543, the SIG Sauer 250SC, and others.

Springfield’s slim, compact .45 ACP XD-S was introduced to compete against pistols such as the Glock G36, Kahr Arms’s PM4543, SIG Sauer 250SC, and others.

Springfield XD-S

The Springfield Armory XDs is one of the very best options available for the discerning Concealed Carry Permit holder looking for a reliable, durable, and accurate pistol and now the XD-S is approved by the NYPD for off-duty carry. Using the same attention to detail combined with excellent ergonomics and utterly reliable functionality ensure that when you need it, the Springfield Armory XDs will be ready to make short work of the task at hand. This is one of the easiest sub compact carry pistols to shoot available on the market place today. Pick up a Springfield Armory XDs and discover how easy it is to conceal a legitimate powerhouse conceal carry pistol.

Specifications and Features:
Springfield Armory XDs XDS9339BE
9mm Luger
3.3″ Barrel
7 Rounds
Polymer Frame
Black Slide Finish
Essentials Package
4.4″ Height
.9″ Width
Forged Steel Slide
Fiber optic front Dovetail Rear sight
Hammer Forged Barrel
6.3″ Length
23 oz

Picture shows the compact Ruger LCP semi-automatic handgun.

Winning handgun of the year in 2008 and 2011, the LCP remains a top seller.

Ruger Lightweight Compact Pistol

The Ruger LCP semi auto pistol is a compact pistol designed to be concealed just about anywhere. From a small purse to a pocket the Ruger LCP will be by your side at all times. Designed with both male and female shooters in mind the LCP is as affordable as it is reliable. The LCP is Ruger’s smallest pistol frame with an overall height of just 3.6″ and an overall length of just 5.16″. The Ruger LCP is the natural choice for an individual in search of a dependable backup or primary personal defense carry pistol. Additionally the Ruger LCP is lightweight checking it at just 9.6 oz ideal for all day carry and easily at hand when you might need it most.

Specifications and Features:
Ruger LCP Semi Auto Pistol 3752
2.75″ Alloy Steel Barrel with Blued Finish
6 Groove Rifling
1:16″ Right Hand Twist Rate
6-round Magazine
Through-Hardened Alloy Steel Slide with Blued Finish
Integral Fixed Front/Rear Sights
Checkered Grip Frame with Secure/Comfortable Grip
Flush/Finger Grip Extension Floorplate for Magazine Included
Hammer Recessed within the slide
Overall Length 5.16″
Overall Height 3.60″
Overall Width .82″
Overall Weight 9.6oz
High Performance Glass Filled Nylon Polymer Frame
Matte Black Finish

Smith and Wesson M&P45

The Shield is accurate, shoots well, comfortable to grip and produces 2-inch groups with quality ammo—and those are only a few of the resons why this handgun is America’s top seller!

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield 9mm takes the crown for the best-selling pistol; anyone who owns one knows why.

Smith and Wesson has a long history as one of America’s premier firearm manufacturers and the S&W Military and Police Compact Handguns are some of the best handguns on the market today. The M&P Shield sports proven and reliable features, a reinforced polymer frame, scalloped slide serrations and a positive grip texture. This model does not include a thumb safety. The polymer frame has an 18 degree grip angle for a natural point of aim. This pistol has a 3.1″ barrel and is chambered in the hard hitting .40 S&W cartridge. Tritium night sights will give you that tactical advantage when seconds count, no matter what the conditions are. Law Enforcement and lawfully armed citizens rely on Smith & Wesson M&P’s every day for personal protection. The compact size of the M&P Shield is ideal for concealed carry, CHL/CCW holders and legally armed citizens everywhere. The M&P Shield may just be the perfect firearm for any self defense application!

Specifications and Features:
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 10214
Compact Semi Automatic Pistol
No Thumb Safety Model
.40 Smith & Wesson
3.1″ Barrel
7 Rounds
Striker Fired
Tritium Night Sights
Polymer Frame
Overall Length 6.1″
Height 4.6″
Width .95″
Weight 19 Ounces
Black Finish

Give us your top five picks in the comment section.


Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business,, and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (51)

  • Ron


    Errrrrrr….. that’s NOT a Shield pictured in the article.


  • Barry


    Dayuuum!! Finally someone’s opinion I can agree to. We (my wife) own an LCP and (myself) a couple of XDs. One XD is a 40S&W and the second is a .357 SIG conversion. I’ll say that if you don’t own an XD with a Diamond .357 SIG barrel, you are missing a treat.


  • Hasaf


    This article would have been significantly more interesting if you had included the actual numbers sold.


  • Brian


    I own a Taurus 709 Slim, 9mm Luger, and love it. I also own an M&P 2.0, but that is a more full size handgun than it’s Shield counterpart, and the Taurus as well. Have not had one issue with the piece. Shoots straight, easy to clean, it’s a fantastic CC option, a reliable one in my opinion, and the price is the cherry on top.


    • Barry


      Agree with Brian. Taurus is the most underrated firearm in the business today. They work just fine irrespective of the crappy way of their service department.


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