Competitive Shooting

The Top 10 Handguns of the Past Decade (2010s)

Smith & Wesson M&P EZ 9mm

The past decade has certainly been a golden age for the firearms industry. We have more guns than ever before that are not only reliable, but also bring modern features that many shooters now define as the standard.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 handguns from 2010-19, in no particular order.

(Remember, this is my list, not yours, but I tried to select handguns that are innovative, popular and high-quality. They may not all be my favorite, or yours, but they all certainly hold their weight.)

1. SIG Sauer P320

SIG P320 Full Size
SIG P320 Full Size 9mm 17+1 Rounds

First up, is the SIG Sauer P320 in all its various forms. This is a revamp of the P250 in a polymer-framed, striker-fired package.

The P320 has an incredibly modular design due to an isolated firing control unit that is easily removable from the gun and swappable into different frames.

It recently won the U.S. Army service handgun contract as the M17 and M18, which has certainly boosted its fame.

Additionally, the P320 can be found in competition pistol packages as the X5, one of which— “The Legion”— incorporates a tungsten-infused polymer frame for added weight.

Whichever size you choose, the SIG P320 is a solid choice that won’t disappoint and deserves a spot on any top 10 handguns list.

2. Colt Snake Guns

Colt Cobra
Colt Cobra Exclusive Six-Shot .38 Special +P

Next are the modern Colt snake guns. The Colt Cobra in .38 Special and King Cobra in .357 Magnum are excellent choices for those who still appreciate a good wheel gun.

The Cobra is about the size of an S&W J-frame, but packs an extra round, giving you a distinct advantage. These firearms are also now rated for +P ammunition, making them great for defensive use.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the upcoming remake of the Colt Python. This is a classic revolver with a cult-like following and has previously been discontinued and priced to a point where most of us could only dream of owning one.

This newly released version gives shooters the chance to get in the door and is surely better for actual shooting, as opposed to collecting.

3. Smith & Wesson M&P .380/9 EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P EZ 9mm
Smith & Wesson M&P EZ 9mm

As most of us know, the Smith & Wesson M&P is a solid competitor to GLOCK for those looking for a reliable, polymer wonder-nine.

But there are multiple types of people looking for firearms, many of which, for various reasons, have trouble racking the slide on a traditional semi-auto.

For them, S&W has brought the M&P EZ in both .380 ACP and 9mm to the table.

The EZ pistols include a number of features for those who have trouble operating a handgun, including a lightened pull to rack the slide, grip safety and manual thumb safety. (Read the full review here.)

Smith & Wesson did a great job of targeting a specific subset of the gun community with this firearm by delivering a dependable handgun that basically anyone can use.

4. Budget 2011s

Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra 10mm
Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra 10mm

This next firearm is more of a category that is quickly growing in popularity and that is the 2011.

Though the 2011, a double-stacked 1911, is not a new concept, previous examples that actually functioned well have typically been a few thousand dollars.

With companies like Rock Island Armory and Remington starting to produce more budget-friendly options, the 2011 is starting to become a big hit and for good reason.

You get the crisp, single-action, straight back trigger pull that the 1911 is famous for, along with magazines that hold a standard 15-17 rounds.

If you can get over the increased grip size, these firearms make great choices for competition and plinking.

5. CZ Shadow 2

CZ Shadow 2 Urban Grey
CZ Shadow 2 Urban Grey

One of the more expensive guns on this top 10 handguns list is the CZ Shadow 2. This is an all-steel, double-stacked pistol primarily geared toward competition based on the acclaimed CZ 75 design.

The CZ 75 has always been noteworthy for having a slide that rides inside of the frame, differing from most pistols, and the Shadow 2 is no different. This construction allows for a lower bore axis by placing your grip higher up on the firearm.

That, coupled with the less reciprocating mass of the slide, allows for incredibly light felt recoil helps keep you on target and leads to fast follow-up shots.

The Shadow 2 is a popular option for competitive shooters and goes toe-to-toe with custom 2011s that can cost upwards of twice as much.

6. SIG Sauer P365

SIG P365
SIG P365 9mm 10+1 Rounds

Going down in size, but certainly not value, is the SIG Sauer P365. Though it had some initial kinks, SIG seems to have ironed them out and new production guns should be solid.

Being developed around the magazine, the P365 packs a lot of firepower (10+1) in a small, pocketable package.

If you want higher magazine capacity and a slightly longer barrel, SIG offers the P365 XL that also comes equipped with an optics mount for red dot sights and a flat-faced trigger.

SIG also recently introduced the P365 SAS that includes their anti-snag treatment to round off any sharp edges and Meprolight Bullseye sights sunk into the slide.

Whichever option you decide on, the SIG P365 will be with you when you need it.

7. Full Conceal M3D/M3S— GLOCK 19/43

Full Conceal M3D GLOCK 19
Full Conceal M3D 9mm GLOCK 19

Continuing onward, we have the Full Conceal M3D and M3S. These are unique adaption of the GLOCK 19 and 43 that fold in half for easier concealment.

This is an incredibly innovative approach to concealed carry and I love the initiative. If a folding, pocket knife-style gun is what it takes for you to carry, and carry every day, then, by all means, do it!

The Full Conceal M3D and M3S take all the tropes from GLOCK pistols and wrap them in a folding package for your convenience.

There’s not much else to say about these pistols; if you’ve seen them you either think they’re the coolest thing to hit the market or you completely hate the idea.

8. Silencerco Maxim 9

Silencerco Maxim 9
Silencerco Maxim 9 Integrally Suppressed 9mm

The next pistol takes a bit more paperwork to procure. The Silencerco Maxim 9 features an integrally suppressed barrel in an almost space-age-looking-yet-holsterable package.

Now, you’ll need to fill out some extra paperwork for the ATF, pay for a tax stamp and do a whole lot of waiting, but this is an awesome concept. The Maxim 9 gives you all the benefits of an external suppressor with a shorter overall length.

Shooters are also able to shorten or extend the overall package by adding or removing modular sections at the muzzle which contain the baffles.

If you have any interest in suppressors and want a James Bond-style of gun, you should definitely take a look at the Silencerco Maxim 9.

9. H&K VP9/VP40

H&K VP9
H&K VP9 9mm 15+1 Rounds

H&K has been in the business of making polymer handguns longer than anyone and they haven’t changed their ways. The H&K VP9 and VP40 are two of their newest options with incredible ergonomics and a crisp trigger.

Available in both 9mm and .40 S&W, the VP series are striker-fired pistols that do an excellent job at competing for GLOCK’s share of the market.

Many shooters prefer the grip shape, texture and angle, and find the trigger to be much smoother without modification.

The handguns feature interchangeable backstraps to fit the grip to your hand and have paddle-style magazine releases that are completely ambidextrous.

The VP series also includes SK (Sub-Compact) versions for those looking for a more concealable package for carrying. Either way, they are rugged handguns.

10. SIG Sauer P210

SIG P210 Legend, Top 10 Handguns
SIG P210 Legend 9mm

Finally, we have my favorite gun on the top handguns list, the SIG Sauer P210. Now, this is another reintroduction of an older, previously discontinued gun, but it sure is cool.

The P210 is a single-stacked 9mm pistol with a single action trigger primarily set up for target shooting, though it was initially designed for service use.

It shares some similarities with the CZ 75 design, in that, the slide rides inside the frame. In fact, SIG did it first.

This setup and the full steel frame make this pistol incredibly shootable, and the long sight radius allows for long-distance shooting.

The P210 utilizes a manual thumb safety similar to a 1911 and can be purchased in either the classic looking legend edition or a target model.

Either one is an absolute tack driver capable of shooting 1” groups at 50 yards and has high-quality components with tight tolerances.

Bonus: AR Pistol Braces

SB Tactical AR Pistol Brace
SB Tactical AR Pistol Brace

One last consideration isn’t a firearm at all, but an addition to one.

Pistol braces have substantially increased the popularity of short-barreled ARs in the past decade.

Previously, shooters would either have to register the firearm as a short-barreled rifle to add a buttstock or deal with the bare buffer tube which limited their appeal.

Modern alternatives from SB Tactical and Maxim Defense give you the same basic function as a stock while keeping your firearm legal and tax stamp free.

Did we leave one out? What was your favorite handgun from the past decade? Let us know in the comments below!

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 (10)

  1. I think you missed the SCCY CPX-2. The heavy trigger pull can be fixed with a few after market parts, and it’s small frame fits my hand perfectly. Reliable, and accurate – it’s limitations are generally due to the nut at the back of the stock. 🙁

  2. I would dispute the Full Conceal, unless you just included it as a nod to creative thinking. I tend to think that if you have time (and two free hands) to fish it out of hiding and unfold it, you still have the option to avoid the trouble. I consider a carry pistol to be an “oh CRAP!” emergency response to something you should have seen coming, but didn’t. I wouldn’t carry a pistol with an empty chamber – I certainly wouldn’t carry one I had to assemble mid-fight.

  3. In a column that lists “favorites” of anything, there will be endless rebuttals of people touting their own favorites. And it is typical of these rebuttals to season their retort with a bit of a superiority air brought on by some perceived hurt derived from the absence of their favorite in the list. So: let’s get started:
    While I am impressed with the list that is there and wish that in my restrictive state of New York, that I could get that Silencerco pistol [that is just plain cool], my only wonderment was at the absence of Springfield Arms XD series, specifically the XDS in 9mm or 45auto. The 3.3″ barrel length and small profile of this handgun make it a great EDC piece and it is marked at a price point that even a tightwad like me can justify it. I am not so revved about the new Edge that Springfield released, so I was not really dismayed by its absence, but the XDS?? C’mon!
    But its okay, you can redeem yourself easily by placing the XDS in the Favorites Addendum!

  4. You are right, it is your list. I wouldn’t own or rely upon most of the firearms you have listed. Thanks but I’ll stick with time-proven 1911’s, Springfield XD & XDS, Beretta 92’s and S&W revolvers.

  5. I think the growth in popularity of 80% firearms is worth mention. With modern machining and interchangeable parts, the potentual for these home machined firearms has grown exponentially. Both pistol and rifle platforms have benefited. The abilty to construct and build custom machines is really a welcome step to me.

  6. It is interesting that revolvers still have a market. I like both semi auto and wheel operations. The Smith model 60 is probably the best ccw for women. With a 90 gr defense round it can definitely sting like a bee. Key to any handgun operation is training and cleaning.

  7. I own & shoot CZ 75 TSO 9mm Also my SIG SAUER P229x9mm & P227x45 cal. All are excellent pistols. Never had a problem with either. I did repolish feed ramp on the 45. The TSO is a great range pistol , it has good weight & minimum recoil. I carry the p 229, 26 years old & never fails.

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