Recently, I decided I “needed” something with a little more oomph! I wanted a handgun and landed on the 10mm Auto. I considered getting another Glock 20 (to replace the one I foolishly sold a few years ago when I wanted that next shiny new pew). Before committing, I wanted to see what else was out there.
Part of me wanted to track down an old school Smith & Wesson 1006 or a Colt Delta Elite. However, I wanted to stick with modern options that are still readily available so there would be no trouble getting spare parts, magazines, and holsters. I would also prefer a higher capacity option with a double-stack magazine.
Why 10mm Auto
Before getting into these awesome pistols, I’ll take a minute to cover why I landed on the 10mm round. I’m sure you are aware, but if not, let me inform you. The 10mm is a pretty powerful round. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still talking about a handgun caliber here, but compared to the 9mm, .40 S&W, and even .45 ACP, there’s no comparison.
I’ll save you the often repeated story of Jeff Cooper, the Miami Dade FBI shootout, and the subsequent 10mm round. I’ll also skip past the FBI agent’s lack of recoil control leading to the .40 S&W (short and weak). Just know, if you’re looking for power in a semi-auto pistol, the 10mm with full-house loads is what you need.
Just as an example, the common 124-grain Speer Gold Dot 9mm travels at around 1,260 fps from a 5-inch barrel. That produces around 437 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. In contrast, Buffalo Bore 180-grain 10mm hits around 1,400 fps from a 5-inch barrel, yielding 783 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle. Of course, foot-pounds don’t kill people, but it is a good data point leading to real-world results.
Starting with Glock as a baseline, there are three models, the G29 compact, G20 full-size, and G40 long-slide. All are reliable and rugged, as we would expect. When it comes to 10mm, barrel length plays a key role in your ballistics. If you want to get the most from your full-house loads, I’d recommend sticking with the two larger models. Both accept 15-round magazines and are built off of the same frames as the .45 ACP Glocks.
They’re thick, chunky, and clunky… What’s more to love? No, they won’t win any beauty pageants or disappear on your hip like a concealed carry micro 9, but these utilitarian 10mm Glocks absolutely perform at the range and in the field. I think the biggest benefit to going with the Glock is that the design has been tested for years by real shooters, in real world scenarios and training.
Recently, it seems more manufacturers are coming to the table with a 10mm. SIG brought its A-game with the P320 XTen. This striker-fired 10mm gives you all the modularity of the popular P320 series used by military and police in a more powerful package.
The XTen is optics-ready, and designed to be used with the SIG ROMEO2 optic (Trijicon RMR footprint). It features the X-Series grip and flat trigger, which gives the pistol an almost custom feel. The 5-inch barrel helps you get a bit more velocity out of your 10mm round compared to standard service pistols.
It’s important to note that the XTen is built on a larger frame size than 9mm P320s, so there’s no grip module or holster compatibility between the two.
SIG P220 Legion
Although it’s a single-stack design with an 8-round magazine, the classic SIG P220 is too great not to put on this list. The P220 design is one of my favorites and is well known for its extreme durability and lasting reliability. It’s been a favorite for law enforcement and military units for decades. The 10mm version ups the power of this standard .45 ACP, but the full-length frame rails can take it.
The 10mm P220 features a couple design changes from the standard — specifically with the steel frame (as opposed to alloy) and longer 5-inch barrel. It’s available in both single-action-only and double-action/single-action versions. Currently, SIG only offers the 10mm P220 with their Legion package. This means you get top-of-the-line features but you pay for it, usually a few hundred dollars more than the standard pistols. Legion features include an optics-ready slide, trigger guard undercut, X-Ray night sights, and exclusive G10 grips.
Springfield XD-M Elite
Another popular duty gun that’s had a modern 10mm facelift is the Springfield XD-M. I think this hidden gem is far too often overlooked. There’s even a compact model geared toward everyday carry. The full-size pistol incorporates a 4.5-inch barrel and 16-round magazines, while the compact model sports a 3.8-inch barrel and 11-round magazines. Both are optics-ready and feature a metal trigger with a crisp pull that allows you to squeeze the most accuracy out of your pistol shot after shot. Springfield calls the trigger the META, or Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly. It does not disappoint. Another key feature of the XD line is the addition of a grip safety for added security, which many shooters find comforting.
S&W M&P M2.0
Smith & Wesson also introduced a modern 10mm in its M&P series. Offering three different sizes, a 4-inch barrel, 4.6-inch barrel model, and upgraded Performance Center model with a 5.6-inch ported barrel, there’s a version of the M2.0 for everyone. Models are also available with or without manual thumb safety.
These new M&P 10mm pistols come optics ready from the factory with suppressor-height sights to co-witness with your red dot sight. Furthermore, S&W has carried over all the great features that come standard on the M2.0 series, such as the flat trigger, improved grip texturing, and high grip-to-bore axis. This makes for one smooth-shooting powerhouse.
Tanfoglio Stock II
The Tanfoglio Stock II is another Italian-made, sleek design that’s popular overseas. Similar to the CZ 75 and SIG P210, the slide rides inside the frame, resulting in a low bore axis with a very high grip. This makes for excellent recoil control and accuracy. This is further aided by the solid steel frame.
Additionally, the pistol features a manual thumb safety, allowing the pistol to be carried either in single-action cocked and locked or hammer-down with a double-action first shot. There are a few different versions of the Stock II, but I like the stainless steel one. With wood grips and adjustable sights, it’s as attractive as it is functional. There’s also a compact polymer version that would be great for carry.
RIA 1911 Double-Stack
RIA has frequently come to the market with affordable and reliable 1911 pistols, and the 10mm Rock Ultra does not disappoint. With a wider grip that accommodates 16-round double-stack magazines, this 1911A2 (as RIA deems it) packs a lot of power in a fast and accurate platform. RIA doesn’t disappoint when it comes to upgrades, and the enhanced magwell, aggressive G10 grips, extended ambidextrous safety, and fiber-optic sights are welcome additions.
Of course, RIA also offers a standard single-stack 1911 option for traditionalists and those who live in magazine restricted states. It performs just as well, without the increased capacity.
Although the 10mm Auto is a rimless cartridge and therefore typically chambered for semi-auto pistols, it has made its way into a few revolvers. The Smith & Wesson 610 follows the same design as the classic double-action N-Frames, but accepts the moon clips to run the 10mm Auto. The larger bullet diameter requires this size to fit a full six rounds.
The added weight and grip length makes recoil control a breeze. You get the famous S&W revolver action, and that crisp single-action trigger really allows you to get the most accuracy out of the round. Remember, you will need to run moon clips for proper extraction, otherwise reloading will take some time, as the star extractor will not grab the individual rounds.
Hi-Point does a great job at producing an economical firearm for the masses. The JXP 10mm is a great gateway 10mm to help show you the ropes. The single-stack design does limit magazine capacity, but with the base model coming in around $200, that’s nothing to complain about. You still get a solid 10 rounds in the magazine.
Hi-Point really stepped up the game with its new JXP, incorporating a 5.2-inch threaded barrel, aggressive slide serrations, and an optics-ready slide. If you choose to run the gun without a red dot, the standard 3-dot iron sights serve just fine.
The cost savings comes in the simple, yet reliable, blowback action. Hi-Point is known for doing this and doing it right. The pistol requires a heavy slide and stiff recoil spring to slow the cycling time and tame the higher pressure of the 10mm cartridge. This is not great for those with weak wrists or who have trouble racking a slide, but can be managed by most shooters.
Another new introduction to the 10mm scene is the FN 510. This striker-fired pistol is similar to the popular 509 series, but chambered in 10mm Auto. In typical FN fashion, the pistol is offered in both standard and tactical models, with either all black or FDE finish. The pistol’s barrel features a polished feed ramp and chamber for ultimate reliability, and both are optics-ready from the factory.
Lefties rejoice, the FN 510 incorporates fully-ambidextrous controls, including the slide release and magazine release. Additionally, it comes with a flush-fit 15-round magazine, as well as an extended 22-round mag. Grip texture is similar to what’s found on most FN pistols — larger bumps that feel relatively smooth until you grip down and put pressure on them, after which they lock into the hand and provide a secure fit.
Bonus: Kriss Vector
Though it’s not exactly a handgun, the Kriss Vector is technically a pistol. The Vector SDP G2 is a semi-automatic pistol version of the popular Kriss Vector submachine gun. Featuring a 5.5-inch threaded barrel, and top and bottom Picatinny rails for mounting optics and accessories, this tactical firearm is ready to set up right out of the box. A QD sling swivel and low-profile flip-up sights round out the package.
One of the most notable features of the Vector is the Super V Recoil Mitigation System, which works well at maintaining reliability and diminishing any felt recoil of the 10mm round. And the best part? It takes Glock mags (full size G20/G40 15-round).