In an age when everything plastic rules, a handgun made of steel with a design more than 100 years old still drives the market. We are talking, of course, of the fabled 1911, and a third of the new guns that follow are based on this legendary platform. That’s not to say that there is no interest in itty-bitty pocket pistols, and it’s clear the revolver is not the antiquated firearm many assume. In fact, when it comes to handguns, 2018 is a good mix of old, new, plastic, and steel, with a wheelgun or two thrown in for good measure.
By Richard Mann
Rex Alpha 9
The REX Alpha is the next evolutionary step in the REX handgun family. It is a direct descendant of the REX zero 1 and has inherited its toughness and reliability. Listening to the practical shooters, Arex designed and developed a pistol that excels in competitive practical shooting as well as in tactical scenarios. With the elusive and all important “shootability” being Arex’s primary goal, a steel frame was used in place of an aluminum one. A reengineered grip results in shorter trigger reach and notably higher hand position. An undercut trigger guard and extended beavertail complete the ergonomic transformation. The long slide houses a five inch barrel, providing a longer line of sight for faster and more accurate shots. The slide has been lightened significantly utilizing lightening cuts to accomplish faster cycling. SRP: $1,099
Browning continues to add appealing variations to its reduced-size 1911 lineup. The Black Label 1911-380 Pro Stainless is available in full-size and compact versions, with an accessory rail option. It features a matte-black composite frame with a machined 7075 aluminum subframe and slide rails. The slide is stainless steel, and the barrel has a rust-resistant satin-silver finish. The grips are G-10 composite, and the sights are three-dot combat or night sights dovetailed into the slide.
Supplied with two 8-round magazines, the full-size model has a 4¼-inch barrel. The barrel on the compact model is 3 5/8 inches. SRP: $799 to $909
Here’s a cool take on a .22LR trail gun. It’s called the Buck Mark Camper UFX Suppressor Ready, and it features a 6-inch matte-finished tapered bull barrel that’s threaded for a suppressor. Additional features include Ultra FX ambidextrous grips, Pro-Target rear sight, TruGlo/Marble Arms fiber-optic front sight, and Picatinny rail for optics. SRP: $499
Another suppressor-ready Buck Mark is the Plus Lite Fluted UFX Suppressor Ready model. It has a 5½-inch steel barrel, with an alloy sleeve and fluting in a matte blue finish. The Lite UFX comes with a thread-protector, Pro-Target rear sights, and a TruGlo/Marble Arms fiber-optic front sight. The grips are Ultragrip FX ambidextrous. SRP: $619.99
Just when you thought interest in the AR platform had subsided, there are AR pistols to keep it going. For 2018, Bushmaster has the SD Pistol, which is chambered for the 5.56 NATO or .300 Blackout. It has a mil-spec upper and lower, AAC square-drop handguard, AAC Blackout Flash Hider, SB Tactical Arms brace, Hogue Overmold grip, and ALG Defense fire-control group. SRP: $1,399
The Cimarron Bad Boy is a .44 Magnum revolver built on a pre-war frame, with an Army-style grip and octagonal barrel. It’s ideal for hunting or hitting steel, or for backwoods trapping or living off the grid. Features include a blue finish with smooth walnut grips and a flattop frame with adjustable sights. Available with a 6- or 8-inch octagonal barrel. SRP: $687.70
Also new from Cimarron is the 1851 Navy cap-and-ball six-shooter replica known as the Percussion Peacemaker. This revolver brings you back to the mythic West, with beautiful laser engraving on a case-hardened frame. It’s available in .44 or .36 caliber with a 7½-inch octagonal barrel. SRP: $422.50
CZ added two new variants to the P10C line of polymer-framed pistols. Joining the Urban Grey series of pistols, one new variant wears a mix of flat dark earth and light gray colors. It also has suppressor-height night sights, a suppressor-ready barrel threaded ½x28, and an extended base pad that boosts capacity to 17+1. The CZ P-10 Urban Grey Suppressor Ready is available in 9mm Luger. SRP: $549
The other variant is the CZ P-10 C FDE White Nitride 9mm pistol. The white nitride used on this slide offers the same hardy surface protection as the standard black nitride. Combined with a flat dark earth frame, this two-toned pistol is affordable and classy. SRP: $539
Now available with an OD green frame and a set of metal night sights, the new CZ P-09 full-size and compact variants carry all the features that make the P-09/P-07 series pistols desirable. SRP: $539
For those wanting a braced pistol package out of the box, CZ-USA has added the SB Tactical folding arm brace to the Scorpion pistol. This pistol is ideal for those who already own a 9mm suppressor because most 9mm cans fit inside the carbine forend. SRP: $999
A blue/gray and OD green color variant was also added to the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 9mm line. SRP: $899
The Cadet kit, which allows a 9mm pistol to fire .22LR ammo, is an overlooked item in the CZ line. These conversion kits are amazingly accurate and easy to install. Now CZ has two new kits—one for the longer frame of the Shadow 2, the other for SP-01 models with a full-length frame. Both come with two 10-round magazines. SRP: $431
For 2018, Dan Wesson increased its line of 1911 handguns by 10. The most exceptional is the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition. This glorious 1911, chambered for the .45 Auto, is adorned with engravings on the frame and slide and has a set of ivory-looking G10 grips embossed with Dan Wesson logo medallions. Produced in limited numbers, this is an all-stainless gun, finished in a high-polish nitride. SRP: $2,999
The new Vigil series of 1911s are built on checkered aluminum frames with stainless-steel slides. They offer an affordable entry into the Dan Wesson line of handguns. With four variants, the Vigil can be had in sizes from CCO to government, and in suppressor-ready form. A tritium front sight, serrated rear, rounded butt, and Shadow cocobolo grips are standard. SRP: $1,298.99 to $1,397
Suppressor-ready pistols are an industry trend—one that Dan Wesson has fully embraced. The Wraith is a threaded-barrel government-size 1911 available in .45 Auto, 10mm, or 9mm and clad in a distressed version of the Duty finish. High night sights are standard. SRP: $2,077 to $2,375
The distinctive Discretion 1911 gets a commander-sized little brother for 2018. The Discretion is a purpose-built suppressor host, and the lightening cuts in the slide help negate some of the weight of the can. SRP: $2,142
The bull-barreled officer-sized 1911 known as the ECO now can be had in an OD green variant. SRP: $1,662. There is also a parkerized variant of both the Government and Commander DW A2 pistols (SRP: $1,363), and a distressed 9mm and .45 version of the Specialist (SRP: $2,012)
It appears Remington is after the lion’s share of the 1911 market, as it is introducing nine new models. The R1 1911 Limited 9/40/45 Double Stack, which has a capacity of 19, 18, and 16, respectively, is a 41-ounce 1911 with a 5-inch barrel, wide cocking serrations, LPA adjustable rear sight, fiber-optic front sight, extended beavertail, and VZ G10 grips. It comes with two stainless-steel magazines. SRP: $1,399
For those who really like the features of the Limited Double Stack, but do not like the wide grip, there’s the 38-ounce R1 1911 Limited 9/40/45 Single Stack. The features are the same, but the capacity and price are less. SRP: $1,250
If you have a little more change in your pocket going jing-a-ling-a-ling, and if you want something a bit more refined for racing, there’s the R1 1911 Limited 9/40/45 Tomasie Custom. These pistols have 5-inch barrels, wide cocking serrations, an LPA adjustable rear sight, extended beavertail, adjustable skeletonized trigger, VZ G10 grips, and a stainless-steel slide and frame. The weight is 41 ounces. Each is also inspected and test-fired by action-pistol champion Travis Tomasie. SRP: $1,650
In the fighting-pistol category, Remington is offering the R1 1911 Tactical .45 ACP Double Stack. It has a 5-inch barrel, wide slide serrations, Trijicon sights, extended beavertail, PVD DLC finish, VZ G10 grips, accessory rail, and a capacity of 15+1 rounds. SRP: $1,275
It’s also available with a threaded muzzle, and a single-stack version retails for $25 less.
The R1 1911 Enhanced Double Stack 15 .45 features a 15-round double-stack magazine, 5-inch stainless match barrel, adjustable rear sights, fiber-optic front sight, VZ G10 grips, adjustable trigger, extended beavertail grip safety, skeletonized hammer, and front and rear cocking serrations. SRP: $999
A lightweight 1911 Commander is a coveted carry pistol, and Remington has now introduced its take on this classic. The R1 1911 Ultralight Commander has an aluminum frame, weighs 31 ounces, and has a 4.25-inch stainless-steel match barrel, an adjustable rear sight, a fiber-optic front sight, laminate grips, adjustable trigger, extended beavertail, front and rear cocking serrations, and a skeletonized hammer. SRP: $849
For those seeking a bit more refinement, the R1 1911 Executive Commander just might be for you. It has an aluminum frame, a 3½-inch stainless-steel match bull barrel, Trijicon front and rear sights, bobtail frame and mainspring housing, G10 grips, adjustable trigger, extended-grip safety, and skeletonized hammer. It weighs 28 ounces. SRP: $1,250
Remington is also offering the 41-ounce R1 1911 10mm Hunter FDE. It has a 6-inch stainless-steel match-grade barrel, Cerakote flat dark earth finish, accessory rail, wide front and rear cocking serrations, LPA adjustable rear sights, extended beavertail grip safety, adjustable trigger, and VZ G10 grips. SRP: $1,340
For little-gun lovers, Remington has added the RM380 Micro Carry Blue. This all-steel semi-auto is chambered for the .380 Auto and has a smooth DAO trigger, ambidextrous mag release, interchangeable grip panels, optimized grip angle, and easy-to-rack slide. As for the color, it’s blue—Robin’s Egg Blue, to be exact. SRP: $348
The R51 is still with us because it is an excellent protection pistol. The R51 Subcompact Smoke has a smoke-colored frame and weighs only 22 ounces. This +P-compatible pistol utilizes the Pedersen block design, has an ambidextrous mag release, and comes with two 7-round magazines. SRP: $408
The striker-fired Remington RP45 pistol (15+1 capacity) has the smallest full-size grip circumference of any pistol in its class. Other features include an ambidextrous slide release, a smooth, light, and crisp trigger, an accessory rail, an optimized grip angle, and a loaded-chamber indicator. Ten-round versions are also available. SRP: $418
Ruger tends to launch new products anytime it feels like it, but here are a few notable mid-year introductions you might have missed. The 3-inch-barreled LCR in .22 WMR should be a great trail or kit gun for the camper. It weighs only 17.8 ounces and holds six .22 Magnum cartridges. The same revolver is also available with a more compact 1.87-inch barrel. SRP: $579
If you’d like a bit more punch to your compact revolver, Ruger has you covered there, too, with the six-shot .327 Federal Magnum LCR. It has a 1.87-inch barrel and is chambered for one of the most versatile revolver cartridges of all time; it can fire .32 Auto, .32 Short, .32 Long, .32 H&R Magnum, and .327 Federal Magnum cartridges. This is a little powerhouse. SRP: $669
In the semi-auto line, Ruger has introduced a LaserMax-equipped LC9. It has a 7+1 capacity, a 3.12-inch barrel, weighs only 18.6 ounces, and is only 6 inches long. The LaserMax laser, which is mounted forward of the trigger guard, incorporates the patented LaserMax GripSense technology, and the unit includes a light as well. This is a lot of personal protection coolness for only $679
Smith & Wesson
The compact M&P Shield 2.0 is fitted with a dedicated Crimson Trace laser that offers ambidextrous activation. These itty-bitty pistols come with a 7- and 8-round magazine, weigh 18.8 ounces, and are only 6.1 inches long (3.1 inches of which are barrel). Four laser-equipped variants are offered in 9mm or .40 S&W, with or without a thumb safety (SRP: $499)
The same four versions are offered without the laser sight (SRP: $479)
The Shield has set the standard for an affordable and reliable compact defensive handgun, and these new models add to its legacy. The Smith & Wesson Performance Center is offering three new models, two of which are revolvers. The Performance Center 686 is a 4-inch-barreled .357 Magnum all-stainless-steel six-shot revolver. SRP: $966
The 3 seven-shot 686 Plus has a 5-inch barrel. SRP: $966
The 9mm subcompact SW1911 has an eight-round capacity and a 3-inch barrel, making it ideal for covert carry. $1,330
Nighthawk Custom Firearms
The new 6-inch Echelon 1911 is touted as the pinnacle of modern manufacturing technology. Guns in this platform with 6-inch slides are notoriously heavy and difficult to make run consistently using lighter-recoiling 9mm ammunition, but Nighthawk engineers worked for two years to find the perfect balance that will allow 115-grain round ball and +P ammo to function perfectly. The Echelon has a single side safety and 10+1 capacity. It weighs 43.8 ounces and has an overall length of 9.65 inches.
Since 1985, Magnum Research has diligently worked to introduce new products to its iconic pop-culture Desert Eagle series. New for 2018 is a classic case-hardened finish on the .44 Magnum, .50 AE, and .357 Magnum Desert Eagles. Each features a 6-inch barrel, and the case-hardened finish is protected with a clear coat. SRP: $2,278
The Desert Eagle series now features a case-hardened finish on the .44 Magnum, .50 AE, and .357 models.
The Steyr RFP is a .22LR rimfire pistol with a single-action trigger and synthetic grip frame. The RFP also has a trigger safety, magazine safety, and drop safety. The action is a recoil-operated blowback system, and a 10-round detachable magazine feeds the pistol. The RFP weighs 1.33 pounds and has a 4-inch barrel, with an overall length of just under 7 inches. SRP: $425
The RFP .22 utilizes a single-action trigger. The action is a recoil-operated blowback system.
Which new Handgun for 2018 are you excited about? Share your answer in the comment section.
Reporting by SHOT Business Daily, reprinted with permission. SHOT Daily, produced by The Bonnier Corporation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, covers all facets of the yearly firearms-industry show. Click here to see full issues. Product pricing and availability are at of time of publication and subject to change without notice.