Cheaper Than Dirt! has a customer-review rating system. After purchasing a product, you have the chance to write a review and rate that product. Customer-based product reviews allow interested buyers to get the full scope of how a particular product performs. After writing thoughts about the products, buyers then rate the product based on Cheaper Than Dirt!’s bullet system. One bullet means the product did not perform well for them, while giving a five-bullet rating to the product means it was awesome! I looked at the most popular self-defense calibers in semiautomatics and revolvers to find the top seven customer-rated handguns.
EAA SAR B6 Semiautomatic 9mm, Score: 5 Bullets
A diamond-in-the-rough gun that impresses everyone who tries it is the EAA SAR B6 9mm full-sized semiautomatic. The internals of this tack-driving polymer pistol are cloned from the iconic CZ 75—down to its internal slide rails. Passing torture tests with flying colors, the EAA SAR B6 is right at home as a duty, carry or home-defense weapon. It fires double/single action and holds 16 rounds. You can carry it cocked and locked. The EAA SAR B6 does not have a decocker, nor ambidextrous controls—so lefties tread carefully. The 3-dot sight system provides a clear and quick target acquisition. If plastic is your thing, but Glock is not, try out the EAA SAR B6 9mm.
“This is a great little 9mm CZ type pistol for the price. Shoots accurately and reliably after firing 75 rounds through it so far. No failures of any kind and so well balanced. Really have wanted a CZ or clone for years due to the design, reliability and grip. This is a great deal with chromed barrel, and forged steel slide and frame from Sarsilmaz.”
|EAA SAR B6|
|Barrel Length||4.5 inches|
|Overall Height||5.5 inches|
|Overall Length||8.1 inches|
|Overall Width||1.1 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||28.2 ounces|
Walther PK380 Semiautomatic Handgun .380 ACP, Score: 4 Bullets
Because of its locked-breech and Browning-style tilt barrel operation, the Walther PK380 is heralded for its light recoil and extremely easy to operate slide. Most pocket .380s operate from a blowback design. This makes the Walther PK380 stand out over the rest. The textured, ergonomic robust design of the grip makes it very comfortable to hold and the ambidextrous controls mean it’s lefty friendly. It has a black polymer frame, 3.66-inch barrel and low profile, no-snag 3-dot sights. A loaded chamber indicator allows you to quickly assess if the gun is ready to go. The trigger pull is four pounds in single-action and the eight-round magazine is plenty for self-defense.
“Easy to pull the slide and light on recoil. No slide ‘release,’ but it does lock open when the magazine is empty. You have to pull the slide to release and chamber it. No failures though I shot about 100 rounds, three kinds of brass ammo.”
|Barrel Length||3.66 inches|
|Overall Height||5.2 inches|
|Overall Length||6.5 inches|
|Overall Width||1.2 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||1.2 lbs.|
|Sights||Low profile, 3-dot combat|
Glock 22 Gen 4 Semiautomatic .40 S&W, Score: 5 Bullets
For civilians, the Glock 22 is oft overlooked, with many choosing the classic 17, 19 or 23 for carrying. However, the Glock 22 offers more versatility than any other of the manufacturer’s pistols. With a simple barrel swap, you can shoot .357 Sig or 9mm out of the Glock 22. It’s a beefy gun with a 4.49-inch barrel and 22.75-ounce weight, but this helps absorb the recoil of the harder-hitting .40 S&W round. The upgraded Gen 4 Glock 22 incorporates a larger, reversible magazine release, interchangeable backstraps, enhanced reliability in the dual recoil spring assembly, and a better, more aggressive grip that helps maintain control when your palms are sweaty. Glocks have no external safety lever, but feature what the company calls a “safe action system,” with the safety built into the trigger. Holding 15 rounds of .40 S&W, the Glock 22 is just as much at home at the range, in competition, in a holster or on duty.
For a detailed range report on the Glock 22, read “GLOCK 22 — .40 S&W, .357 SIG, 9mm — What else could you ask for?”
“Purchased the Glock 22 Gen 4 because I have a Glock 23 Gen 3 (both .40S&W) and I liked the idea that I could use the G22’s three 15-rd mags in my G23 and I had purchased a Lone Wolf conversion barrel from CTD too, which allows me to shoot 9mm rounds through the G22. Also, I wanted a new Gen 4 Glock with the dual recoil spring. Makes a big difference and I definitely shoot tighter with the longer barrel of the G22 vs. the G23. Ate all the ammo I could feed it, even the cheap WWB…no issues, none. Less muzzle flip was what I expected and what I got. The G22 gen 4 is perfection.”
|Glock 22 Gen 4|
|Barrel Length||4.49 inches|
|Overall Height||5.43 inches|
|Overall Length||8.03 inches|
|Overall Width||1.18 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||22.75 ounces|
|Grip||Rough Textured Frame|
Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical Semiautomatic .45 ACP, Score: 5 Bullets
With features that contend with high end and much more expensive 1911s, the Rock Island/Armscor series of 1911s are a favorite of fans of this iconic pistol. Like 1911s costing hundreds more, the Rock Island Tactical 1911 has a milled slide, ambidextrous safety and adjustable trigger. A dull finish on the pistol resembles a traditional GI-spec parkerized finish and has no tooling marks or scratches. Firing in single-action, the Rock Island 1911 Tactical has a 4 to 6-pound pull. Checkered wood grips, lowered ejection port and high-visibility Novak-style sights make this gun incredibly reliable and fun to shoot.
For a detailed range report on the Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical, read “Rock Island 1911A1 and Tactical .45—Range Report.”
“This weapon is one of the most accurate .45 cal handguns I have shot. There is very little recoil due to the fact the weapon is a heavy hunk of metal. The rail is great for many accessories, as well as helps keep the barrel down. The sights are basic, but you are able to upgrade them much like everything else on a 1911. Weapon took minimal cleaning after shipping, was not shipped in the thick preservative. Remember, this weapon is not a major name brand with a major name-brand price. However, do some research and you’ll see Rock Island has a great relationship with a famous military brand that everyone knows. As a weapon user, rather than collector, I will not hesitate to take this weapon out in the field and rely on it to protect myself and my family against an unwanted guest at the camp sight or on the trail. I have yet to have a jam (knock on wood), nor has a friend of mine who has the same weapon but without the rail.”
|Rock Island 1911 Tactical|
|Barrel Length||5 inches|
|Overall Height||5.5 inches|
|Overall Length||8.75 inches|
|Frame||Black steel frame|
Smith & Wesson Model 686 Performance Center Revolver .357 Magnum, Score: 5 Bullets
Nothing beats the quality, reliability and the reputation of a Smith & Wesson revolver. In particular is this piece of beauty—the Model 686 Plus which comes out of S&W’s Performance Center. Firearms that come out of the company’s Performance Center have all the standard features of the original model, however, include performance enhancements to create that much more gun. Like the hand-cut and hand-fitted unfluted cylinder, chrome teardrop hammer, chrome trigger with stop, precision crowned 2.5-inch barrel, and PC-tuned action. The Model 686 Performance Center is made in the U.S.A. and has wood grips, glass bead finish and a bright red, easy to see front sight. Overall, it is 7.5 inches long and has a stainless steel frame and cylinder. For such a compact size, it holds plenty of firepower given its 7-round capacity. The S&W Model 686 Plus weighs 34.6 ounces.
“Ordered two of theses revolvers, one for my wife, and one for me to celebrate our 50-year birthdays. The guns were all they were talked up to be, excellent fit and finish. The double action pull was smooth, consistent and broke crisply.”
|S&W Model 686 PC|
|Barrel Length||2.5 inches|
|Overall Length||7.5 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||34.6 ounces|
|Sights||Red ramp front, adjustable rear
Charter Arms Off Duty Revolver .38 Special, Score: 5 Bullets
Everything about the Charter Arms Off Duty double-action revolver makes it one of the most comfortable and easiest revolvers to conceal and carry. It is the lightest weight .38 Special on the market at 12 ounces. It has an internal hammer, so there is no snagging when drawing from a holster. The fixed sights with a ramp front and wide and deep-notched rear makes aiming easier than many other snub-nosed revolvers. Recoil is snappy, but the hard rubber grips with deep finger grooves, gives you a good purchase and firm grasp on the revolver. The Charter Arms Off Duty has a 2-inch barrel, aluminum frame and steel cylinder and barrel. It holds five rounds of .38 Special ammo. This $356.56, made-in-the-U.S.A. revolver is often compared to Smith & Wesson’s more expensive Model 642 and stands on its own in side-by-side comparisons.
“Bought this for my wife. She had a Taurus Ultralight and wanted something lighter. Charter off duty one of the lightest revolvers on the market she loved it and shot a pretty good grouping the first time out.”
|Charter Arms Off Duty|
|Barrel Length||2 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||12 ounces|
|Grip||Black rubber combat|
Smith & Wesson Model 69 Revolver .44 Magnum, Score: 4 Bullets
Introduced in 2014, the Model 69 is the first time Smith & Wesson chambered a revolver in .44 Magnum on another frame other than the classic N-Frame. The new Model 69 sits on the medium-sized stainless steel L-frame. Redesigned for optimal frame strength so the revolver stands up to the repeated beating of .44 Magnum loads, S&W chose to go with a two-piece barrel. Deciding to go with this frame means the Model 69 isn’t so big you can’t carry it. The 37-ounce empty weight helps, too. The Smith & Wesson Model 69 .44 Magnum has a 4.25-inch barrel and holds five rounds. It will shoot .44 Special, as well. It has red ramp front and target white outline rear sights that are adjustable and a black rubber grip that helps absorb the punishing recoil of magnum loads. Lighter than some 1911s, the S&W .44 Magnum makes a good trail and hunting gun—especially where open carry is legal.
“Very nice gun, a little light for a full day of .44 Mag, found .44 Spcl a little more pleasing to shoot.”
|S&W Model 69 Revolver|
|Barrel Length||4.25 inches|
|Overall Length||9.75 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||37.2 ounces|
|Sights||Red ramp front, white outline adjustable rear|
For comparison’s sake and because there are always questions—here are the seven handguns in the same categories with the lowest scores according to customer reviews:
- S&W M&P9C Talo Edition semiautomatic 9mm $493.92, Score: 3 bullets
- Taurus 738 TCP semiautomatic .380 ACP, $246.42, Score: 1 bullet
- .40 S&W semiautomatic—no bad reviews
- Taurus Model 1911 semiautomatic .45 ACP, $547.83, Score: 1 bullet
- .357 Magnum double-action revolver—no bad reviews
- .38 Special double-action revolvers—no bad reviews
- .44 Magnum double-action revolvers—no bad review
Do you agree with the reviewers’ assessments? Tell us why or why not in the comment section.
Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!
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