There are dozens of makers of handguns today, and the variants and subvariants number well into the hundreds.
While other calibers have their place, the single most popular pistol cartridge is the 9mm Luger. This potent number is everyone’s cartridge.
It isn’t the most powerful or the least expensive, but the 9mm Luger cartridge works well for target shooting, competition, personal defense, home defense, training and even some forms of hunting.
The 9mm is practically a universal service cartridge with the police and military.
Those looking for a first centerfire handgun often gravitate toward the 9mm Luger.
By the same token, very experienced shooters often choose the 9mm for personal defense and service use.
Background and Criteria
The following report is a look at 15 of the best 9mm pistols.
These include service-size, competition handguns, compact and subcompact handguns, and a couple that may squeak by as pocket pistols.
This was a difficult report to put together. Not due to a lack of information, but rather due to the overwhelming number of these popular handguns.
I kept moving the pistols around, trying to be fair, to cover a lot of ground, and to provide a good list of pistols that offer great performance.
This isn’t a fluff piece filled with manufacturer’s images of pistols I have never fired.
There isn’t a pistol in this report I do not have extensive experience with and have fired at least 1,000 rounds through in testing.
Some have been in use for many years, while others, like the SIG P320 Legion, are relatively new pistols.
The 9mm Luger cartridge is very efficient. It’s a high-velocity and high-pressure round, developing good velocity even in relatively short barrels.
Some of the best handguns in the world chamber the 9mm. I divided the report into service-size, compact, subcompact and even pocket size.
There is some overlap on size. These are good handguns well worth their price. In some cases, I would be about as happy with one as the other.
As an example, there are many CZ 75 fans, but the Beretta 92 and SIG P226, in a tactical sense, will achieve the same thing.
Differences in handling and handfit mean a lot to some us and it is best to get the pistol you prefer.
If you cannot get exactly what you want, there are a number of alternatives. Be sure to check out our guide on how to pick your first handgun if you need some help.
Most of us will own as many of these handguns as we can afford. The pistols covered, in their respective niche, are excellent firearms.
Best 9mm Handguns
1. SIG Sauer P210
The original P210 is a classic, well-made and very accurate handgun. It’s also a terribly expensive pistol.
The modern SIG P210A is reliable, affordable, and at least as accurate, if not more so, than the original.
There are several versions including an all-out target version. The standard model is the author’s favorite.
This is a pistol you will not be disappointed with.
2. SIG Sauer P320 XFive Legion
I waited six months for the XFive Legion. It’s a heavy, but fast-handling 9mm handgun.
The polymer frame is combined with tungsten — you would swear it’s a steel frame.
This is a competitor’s dream, optics-ready, with a crisp trigger action and excellent sights. The balance is exceptional.
This is a pistol that top-notch competitors rave about. The pistol is supplied with three 17-round magazines.
I am developing a great affection for this soft-shooting pistol.
3. Sarsilmaz SAR 9
The SAR 9 comes in at a very good price for a pistol offering Walther-like performance.
The pistol bears a resemblance to the Walther polymer-frame handguns, while the trigger action feels more like a GLOCK.
The pistol handles well and has proven reliable with a wide range of ammunition.
A handgun adopted by the Turkish military must be a pistol to bet your life on!
I like the SAR 9 and especially the SAR 9X. A full-size 9mm with a 17-round magazine is attractive for home defense.
4. Beretta 92
What can you say about the Beretta 92?
Superbly well-made, reliable, more accurate than most realize, and a war winner, from the 92 Compact to the Beretta/Wilson Combat pistol, the Beretta 92 has continually given good service.
I cannot recall a malfunction with any of these pistols.
An oscillating wedge supplies lockup, while the open-top slide prevents bric-a-brac and grit from tying the pistol up.
Magazines and holsters are readily available, including 20-round 9mm magazines.
5. SIG Sauer P320/M17
The Army’s new pistol is the M17, a military version of the P320. SIG has given us a modular, polymer, striker-fired pistol with good combat ability.
The pistol has proven reliable and more than accurate enough for personal defense.
The P320 features SIG reliability and may be used in several frame sizes simply by changing the easily replaced grip frame.
This is a thoroughly modern pistol that is just now becoming appreciated by professional handgunners.
After all, the pistol is seen often in the winner’s place at pistol matches.
6. CZ 75B
The CZ 75B is a classic old-world pistol available today at a fair price.
You don’t have to go to the gun show and scrounge up a 1970’s pistol to find this type of quality, it’s for sale right here at Cheaper Than Dirt!
The pistol screams quality without putting a crease in the wallet.
I’m first to admit the double-action first-shot pistol isn’t going to win competitions, but for daily carry and home defense, the DA/SA makes a lot of sense.
The CZ 75 has an enviable reputation and is available in a number of variations that are some of the best 9mm pistols.
7. FN 509
Moving into compact versions of service pistols, we have the FN 509.
A striker-fired, polymer-frame, sure, but with unique features making it a formidable choice for personal defense.
The FN 509C compact version came optics-ready. The sights are well regulated for 124-grain loads as issued.
I like the character and performance of this pistol. It isn’t everyone’s polymer pistol and offers real performance.
8. SIG Sauer P229 RX
The P229 RX isn’t just optics-ready, it is optics-equipped from the factory.
The SIG P229 9mm is a great handgun, well-balanced and reliable. Many SIG fans regard the P229 as the best balanced of the P-series handguns.
I agree. Take a step up with the P229 RX by adding a ROMEO1PRO red-dot sight and you have a very fast-handling optics-equipped pistol.
This is the handgun I learned how to use a red dot with. This isn’t an inexpensive pistol, but it is a very good handgun.
SIG quality, reliability and accuracy are evident in the P229 RX.
9. GLOCK 45
The GLOCK 45 9mm is a superlative example of the polymer-framed striker-fired handgun.
Building on the popularity of the GLOCK 19X, the GLOCK 45 features the GLOCK 17 full-size grip and the shorter GLOCK 19 slide.
The result is a pistol that clears leather quickly. The pistol features GLOCK reliability and an excellent heft and balance.
Instead of the FDE finish on the GLOCK 19X, the pistol features the standard black finish and also adds forward cocking serrations.
GLOCKs are incredibly well-loved and are some of the best 9mm pistols.
10. Beretta APX
The Beretta APX 9mm certainly has a unique appearance. The APX doesn’t feature forward or rear gripping serrations.
The slide is covered in serrations!
Beretta may have been late in the polymer-frame/striker-fired/modular handgun race, but they have given us a very reliable and useful firearm.
The APX is available in several sizes. The Centurion (what Beretta calls their compact) seems ideal for balance and usefulness.
Subcompact 9mm Handgun Options
11. Ruger MAX-9
Subcompact 9mm handguns are popular. The pistols are light and useful for all-day carry.
They aren’t difficult to conceal.
Some are based on service pistols and have compromises inherent in cutting down a full-size design.
Recoil is greater and you cannot make hits as quickly and accurately as with the full-size pistols, but they are not duffers!
The MAX-9 is a product of proven principles, but owes little to other handguns. The pistol remains controllable despite its modest weight.
The MAX-9 is a high-capacity handgun, with a 10-round standard magazine and an extended 12-round magazine. The MAX-9 is a game-changer.
12. SIG Sauer P365
The P365 9mm is famously SIG reliable. The pistol is well-made of good material like all SIG products.
A flush-fit 10-round magazine provides a good balance of firepower — which I prefer to call reserve of ammunition — and concealed-carry comfort.
The P365 is the pistol to beat in a high-capacity subcompact, and is one of the best 9mm pistols.
13. Springfield Armory Hellcat
The Hellcat, with its standard 11-round and extended 13-round produced a sensation when it was introduced.
A fresh design that owes little to other pistols, the Hellcat is not only light and compact, it shoots well.
The Hellcat may have rendered quite a few handguns obsolete, but arguably was the impetus for the introduction of other high-capacity subcompact pistols, such as the Smith and Wesson Shield Plus and Ruger MAX-9.
The Hellcat has been the base for other introductions, including the new optics-equipped Hellcat handgun.
Quite a few experienced shooters are enthusiastic, considering the Hellcat and its performance.
14. Taurus GX4
To the best of my knowledge, the Taurus GX4 is the most compact of the new generation of slim high-capacity 9mm handguns.
The pistol features 11-round flush-fit magazines, an advantage over most of the subcompact 9mm pistols. A 13-round magazine is an option.
The Taurus shoots like a larger pistol. Control is good to excellent. The pistol features a good trigger.
The sights are compatible with aftermarket GLOCK units, a big advantage in a new introduction.
15. Bond Arms Bullpup 9
This is perhaps the most unique pistol in this review. The Bond Arms pistol features a unique action that demands the magazine to feed from the rear!
The double-action-only pistol may be slipped into a jacket pocket or crews pocket and be instantly ready for action.
The bullpup design applied to a pistol results in a very short pistol with a reasonably long barrel.
The Bond Arms pistol is well-made of good material and offers excellent protection in a light, compact package.
It’s definitely unique, and one of the best 9mm pistols.