9mm pistols are the most popular and versatile handguns in the world. They are used by different types of operators for recreational, competition, defensive, military, and law enforcement use.
Many novice shooters and first time gun owners choose 9mm pistols for self-defense and recreational shooting because they are easy to use, very reliable out of the box, and pack a lot of firepower. The average person just cares about how accurate and easy to handle a pistol will be as soon as they purchase it, and how reliable it will be in the future.
There are literally hundreds of 9mm pistols and their variants to choose from. But which are the most durable, easy to use, and accurate right out of the box with no modifications needed? Which 9mm pistols are designed for competitive target shooting, and which are developed with the rugged reliability and modularity required by professional service duty?
This article will give you a comprehensive list of the best 9mm pistols that are very versatile and accurate out of the box. Each pistol in this list excels at what it was designed to do. Some will be more accurate than others, but all of them are accurate enough whether they were engineered for self-defense, range shooting, competition, or law enforcement use.
Not everyone reading this is aspiring to be a professional sport shooter who demands expensive competition-designed pistols. Some of you probably just want a nice reliable firearm that will fit in your favorite piece of gun concealment furniture.
If that was the case then our list would be shorter and outside the price range for most people. We have purposely left out most elite, high end competition pistols and included instead a variety of models that will satisfy most of our readers.
Many people want a versatile weapon that can be stored at home, concealed, and occasionally taken out to the range for target practice (with minimal training or upkeep). That’s because the average person just wants a reasonably accurate 9mm at 25 yards that will protect them and their family at a moment’s notice. Our list of 9mm handguns will satisfy those users, along with serious range shooters, sport competitors, and gun collectors.
This list will feature the best and most accurate 9mm pistols out of box that will come in different shapes and sizes while serving a variety of functions. All of the pistols in this article are semi-automatic because autoloaders are by far the most popular type of 9mm pistols which are designed for accuracy, durability, concealability, rapid fire capability, and high magazine capacity. Revolvers simply don’t provide the rapid firing and high magazine capacity of semi-automatics.
So let’s dive a little deeper into the popularity of 9mm handguns and why you should consider buying one.
The Top Rated 9mm Pistols Right Out of the Box
GLOCK G19 (Compact)
The Glock is a popular series of plastic, short-recoil semi-automatic pistols developed by Austrian firearms maker Glock Ges.m.b.H that has been supplied to armed forces, security, and law enforcement around the world for over 30 years.
Glocks are highly popular firearms for recreational, competition shooting, and home/self-defense right out of the box. They are lightweight, quick firing, and easy to use.
The G19 Compact is the all-round talent of the Glock family of 9mm pistols. It’s ideal for a versatile role because of its reduced size. It’s typically used as a conventional backup service pistol. It’s one of the most compact versions of all the 9x19mm Parabellum variants. It’s a reduced size version of the Glock 17, which was the original 9x19mm model introduced in 1982.
Glocks are considered to be among the most reliable striker-fired pistols due to uniquely advanced features and a cocking mechanism whereby the trigger is partially responsible for cocking the striker. This mechanism reduces the load on the recoil spring and requires less action from the recoil spring, ensuring sufficiency energy is available to replace a new round and achieve full battery under adverse wear and tear conditions like heavy fouling.
The Glock 19 is accurate enough for self-defense and range shooting right out of the box. It’s a very functional pistol known for reliability and handling, but not for supreme competition-level accuracy (because of the way it was designed with looser parts fitted together for customization).
It’s a compromise between sufficient accuracy for self-defense applications and rugged reliability. It’s able to hit 4-inch target groups up to 25 yards (plenty accurate for new gun owners). But shot patterns start to deviate at 50 yards and greater.
What you have with the Glock 19 is high dependability, concealability, and ruggedness out of the box. It’s reliable and simple to use, with minimal recoil, and comfortable in the hand. The Glock 19 has a standard 15 round magazine capacity, but is available with 10, 17, or 19 round versions. All components are interchangeable with the parent Glock 17.
Glocks in general are some of the best overall 9mm pistols because they are relatively cheap, very reliable, simple to operate, compact, and accurate. This is why they are so popular with civilians who just need an accurate short range handgun for self-defense.
Springfield Tactical Response (1911 TRP)
The Springfield Tactical Response (TRP) is the modernized version of the legendary Custom Professional Model HRT 1911 that was first developed for the FBI. The 1911 is an American icon and one of the most recognizable handguns in the world. It’s variations have been used by military and law enforcement for most of the 20th century.
The U.S. government accuracy standard for the 1911 was 5” dispersion at 25 yards and 10” grouping at 50 yards, with the pistol zeroed at 50 yards. The 1911 was chosen by the FBI for its ability to perform reliably and accurately. It has a very quick second shot and excellent ergonomics.
Many shooters prefer the battlefield-tested 1911’s unique trigger which is tunable and has a straight, short, and crisp pullback.
The Springfield TRP is the best production 1911 in the world. With a fit forged frame and slide, the TRP series has been tactically proven in the field to be reliable under the worst self-defense and combat conditions. You can use this pistol immediately out of the box without any break-in period. It has one of the most simple, elegant, and accurate designs ever created.
CZ-USA Shadow 2
This semi-automatic pistol is one of the most popular choices on the competition shooting circuit. In fact, CZ-USA pistols like the Shadow 2 are used by elite competitors twice as much as any other brand. Calling it simply accurate would be an understatement.
It’s a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol chambered in 9mm with a steel frame, adjustable sights (fiber optic front), and ambidextrous thumb safety. It’s pretty heavy compared to other 9mm pistols and impractical for concealed carry. That’s why it should be used mainly for target shooting and home defense.
The Shadow 2 has improved all of the best features of its predecessor including having a higher beavertail and undercut trigger that allows the shooter’s hand to situate as near to the bore axis as possible. A contoured slide reduces muzzle flip so you can fire off quick shots in succession with higher accuracy.
New trigger components drastically reduce trigger reset and provide smooth DA and crisp SA. The CZ-USA Shadow 2 has a perfect balance and trigger pull. You can fire thousands of rounds without any issues. It’s a super accurate handgun. Inexperienced shooters who pick up a Shadow 2 will immediately gain better accuracy and start firing tighter groups.
GLOCK G34 Gen5 MOS (Competition)
The GLOCK G34 Gen5 MOS is the pricier flagship variant specifically designed for competitive IPSC shooting, combat, or self-defense. With its extended barrel, longer sight radius, and longer slide dimensions (compared to the G17 and G19), this pistol is all about achieving the best accuracy and target engagement of any GLOCK model.
The Gen5 has the best trigger of any GLOCK model and an improved Marksman Barrel that delivers greater accuracy through polygonal rifling, an enhanced barrel crown, and no finger grooves on the grip. (seen above with reflex sight)
These characteristics are why the G34 is used extensively by elite sport shooters. Also, the G34’s high accuracy, 5.5 lb trigger pull and simple snag-free design are a few reasons why SWAT teams deploy the pistol as a backup weapon. It’s also capable of mounting a Trijicon RMR red dot sight.
The G34 is a simple striker-fired semi auto 9mm with a 5.31 inch match-grade barrel that takes precision to the next level for GLOCK pistols. It is capable of achieving outstanding shot grouping at 50 yards and holds 17 rounds in the magazine (with a loaded weight of 34.57 oz).
The G34 is an exceptional self-defense handgun and target shooter. It’s also easy to accessorize and personalize your pistol to your shooting style.
Walther PPQ M2
The Walther PPQ has one of the best factory triggers for accurate 9mm pistols straight out of the box. The PPQ is a good middle-ground handgun for those who aren’t exactly sure what type of pistol they need but desire a solid, versatile, and accurate sidepiece.
It’s an incredibly comfortable and ergonomic handgun that is highly effective for self-defense. Most critics consider the PPQ M2’s striker-fired trigger to be one of the best on the market.
The subcompact variant is an ideal 9mm pistol for concealed carry. It’s lighter and shorter compared to the standard PPQ, which is more ideal for range shooting and home defense (but also capable of concealed carry too). All PPQ variants feel amazingly contoured in the hand, which increases precision for any user.
The Walther PPQ has a very short and crisp trigger pull, comparable to the 1911. Overall, the PPQ delivers outstanding efficiency and performance right out of the box.
Sig Sauer P210
Sig Sauer has always been associated with precision craftsmanship and high quality performance, which is why their firearms are some of the most sought after in the world for recreation, competition, law enforcement, and military use.
The P210 is a locked breech, self loading semi-automatic handgun. It’s sleek, minimal design and walnut wood grip gives it a classic look and feel.
Widely regarded as one of the most accurate and best 9mm Luger pistols in the world, the Sig Sauer P210 is a sleek modernized update to the vintage 1947 model. It has a precision-machined stainless steel slide and frame with a lightweight target trigger (3.5 lb. break). This P210 has updated American controls.
The Sig Sauer P210 is adopted by many sport shooters because of its outstanding accuracy and controls. It only fits an 8-round magazine but those rounds will be on target every time. The trigger is crisp and smooth (like breaking a glass rod), and is arguably the best feature of the pistol.
It’s no surprise that the NRA named the Sig Sauer P210 the 2019 Gun of the Year.
Heckler & Koch P30sk
The P30SK is an extremely well-crafted modern police and security pistol that maximizes function and safety features in an ultra-compact concealed carry design.
Not much needs to be said about Heckler & Koch other than it’s one of the most respected firearms manufacturers for law enforcement and military personnel in the world. If accuracy wasn’t a serious consideration when designing HK pistols, then elite special forces units wouldn’t have adopted HK firearms.
But what sets HK apart from a lot of brands is their utmost commitment to factory testing before releasing to market. The P30 is rigorously test fired for accuracy, function, and proofing to ensure that the pistol will function perfectly out of the box.
This extensive testing of HK pistols like the P30SK is why elite law enforcement and military units admire and respect Heckler & Koch firearms.
However, if all you care about is accuracy, then the P30SK may not be the best 9mm out of the box for your specific needs. This is a sophisticated military grade handgun that specializes in security and function in the worst environmental conditions. It may have too many safety features or modularity capabilities for someone who just needs a casual range shooter.
Having said that, the P30SK has an ideal concealed carry design and a smooth and quick dual-action trigger.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0, like the Glock, is often the choice for first-time pistol owners looking for a self-defense firearm. But it’s capable for sporting and professional use too. The M&P 2.0 is light, compact, reliable, and comes with 17+1 round mag capacity.
It’s a striker-fired, semi-auto polymer pistol with a stainless-steel slide chassis, and a modernized platform that includes innovative features in many aspects of the handgun, including the grip, trigger, frame, and finish.
A low barrel bore axis increases shooting comfort by reducing muzzle rise for faster aim recovery and improved accuracy. The trigger pull is light and crisp. The grip is aggressively-textured and interchangeable.
9mm pistols like the M&P 2.0 and Glock series are popular for having a striker-fired trigger system that is quick and minimizes trigger pull. That’s why these pistols are popular for new gun owners who don’t need competition-level performance. Some shooters think the M&P 2.0’s trigger feels better than a Glock.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 is cheaper than most of the other pistols on our list. It’s one of the most affordable, easy to use, and accurate 9mm Luger pistols out of the box that can be used for a variety of purposes. It’s also great for concealed carry because of its lightweight polymer frame and low profile sights.
Browning is a legendary brand that released the original Hi-Power 9mm pistol in the 1920’s which was way ahead of its time. Like the Springfield 1911, the Hi-Power has one of the most classic designs you’ll find. It’s one of the first “Wonder Nines” pistols (high magazine capacity 9mm handgun).
The Browning Hi-Power has inspired the features of many newer 9mm pistols on our list, such as the CZ 75. This classic design is technically no longer in production, so it’s definitely worth adding to your collection.
The Hi-Power is a single action with a light, smooth trigger and quick reset. Nothing too fancy about this pistol other than being highly accurate in the hands of a competent operator. It really represents an ideal balance of handling, size, and power.
A single action trigger is preferred by most professional shooters and the Hi-Power’s trigger break is clean and crisp.
It has a machined steel frame and slide that is strong, light and thin. The handle has an ergonomic design that will feel comfortable in any sized hands. The natural pointability of the Hi-Power makes it simple and accurate for anybody right out of the box.
Springfield XD-S Mod.2
The Springfield XD-S Mod.2 is an excellent concealed carry weapon (CCW) with high accuracy right out of the box. In fact, the XD-S Mod.2 was designed specifically for CCW aficionados who desire a small and powerful single-stack pistol for self-defense.
The XD-S Mod.2 9mm is part of Springfield’s high performing XD series of feature rich competitive shooting pistols that’s engineered into a slim, single-stack polymer frame with multiple available upgrades and sight options.
It’s higher hand position, thin slide, enhanced ergonomics and grip texturing make the XD-S a very comfortable and advanced pistol for CCW operators at a respectable price. It’s a bit longer and taller than a Glock 43 Compact, but 0.09” thinner and comes with 7 or 9-round mag capacity.
The Springfield XD-S Mod.2 is a striker-fired 9mm most suitable for concealed carry or self-defense. It’s very similar to it’s tactical and competition-level sisters like the XD-M and XD-M Elite.
The XD series are some of the best striker-fired polymer pistols with solid and crisp trigger pulls for accurate shooting and low muzzle rise.
CZ 75 B
Originally developed in 1975 by a Czech manufacturer, the CZ 75 B is a DA/SA hammer-fired pistol and one of the most copied 9mm handgun designs in the world. It has been highly popular among law enforcement personnel since its inception. Many modern variants were developed based on the original design of the 75 B.
One of the original “Wonder Nines”, the CZ 75 B combines form and function into a durable, reliable, and accurate 9mm handgun. It just has this sleek, classic, yet modernized look. It’s bigger and heavier compared to other pistols (all-steel frame). This added weight improves the pistol’s accuracy, but doesn’t make it very suitable for concealed carry.
The CZ 75 B is really a performance bargain with unique design features. It’s accurate, durable, reliable and ideal for home defense, range shooting, or combat. It holds 16+1 rounds with a very comfortable grip and offers great accuracy out of the box.
Beretta 92 FS
For over 25 years the Beretta 92 FS has been one of the best 9mm tactical pistols for military and police forces around the world. It’s been serving the U.S. Army as the M9 since 1985.
The 92FS is simply one of the most durable, accurate, and reliable DA/SA semi-automatic handguns on the market. It’s easy to use and delivers superb firepower. It’s exceptional accuracy is due in part to an open-slide, short-recoil delayed locking-block system.
With these innovative designs you can expect to unload thousands of accurate rounds effectively, with fast and flawless cycling, and never experience “stovepipe” malfunctions.
In terms of accuracy out of the box, the Beretta 92 FS surpasses the U.S. military’s standard requirement of a 10-shot group of 3” or less at 55 yards. That’s super accurate. The 92FS is manufactured to extremely precise tolerances to maximize accuracy for any shooter or shooting style.
For civilians, the 92FS is ideal for sport shooting, target practice or self-protection. It’s made from an all-metal alloy framework and is exceptionally lightweight for its size at 33.3 ounces. It’s robust design and reduced slide weight easily absorbs the recoil of 9mm rounds and reduces muzzle flip, thus making the Beretta 92 FS a good option for beginners.
This is another polymer-framed, double-action striker-fired autoloader designed for law enforcement, military, and commercial use. It has a cold hammer-forged stainless steel barrel, Picatinny rail, polished chamber and feed ramp, loaded chamber indicator, and fixed 3-dot sight.
The FNS-9 comes in several variants such as the “Longslide” (introduced in 2012) or compact. It offers reliability, accuracy, and speed. The FNS-9L (Longslide version) has been relentlessly tested in every type of shooting event from high speed USPSA/IPSC to 3-gun matches and precision bull’s-eye competition.
It has 4 standard safety features (trigger, firing pin, drop, and out-of-battery). This is a premium service-quality 9mm at a reasonable price that’s been competition tested and will be highly accurate out of the box.
Pardini GT9 5″
This is a high-end competition pistol designed in every way for elite target shooting. The first Pardini rimfire pistols were designed in the 1970s and used heavily in Olympic rimfire target shooting events.
The Pardini GT series is designed specifically for IPSC shooting and open carry self-defense, having been introduced in the late 90s/early 00s for bullseye and action shooting sport. The GT9 is the 9mm chambered variant with a 5” barrel length (the shortest in the GT family).
The GT9 5” is a semi-automatic single action trigger, with an adjustable trigger mechanism, and a geometric short barrel recoil locking system. It has a slant angle handgrip (swept backwards) that keeps the bore axis very low and a short trigger reach. A beavertail allows a high grip position.
These ergonomic features give a clean and easy shot with perfect recoil control. The fully adjustable trigger pull mechanism is simply incredible for competitive shooting. Trigger travel to break is less than 0.3mm, second stage break has virtually no movement, reset is 3mm, and the pull weight is 2.2 lb.
Pardini pistols come with a hefty price tag because they’re elegant, elite competition shooters with exceptional craftsmanship that are guaranteed to operate flawlessly.
An excellent alternative to any GLOCK, the APX is Beretta’s first full-size, striker-fired pistol designed specifically for military and law enforcement duty. This means the APX has been extensively tested to deliver superior durability and reliability under the harshest use conditions.
The Beretta APX is simple to disassemble and has a removable chassis that can be modified with replaceable polymer grip frames and interchangeable back straps. The ergonomics, trigger, and modularity are all outstanding features. Slide serrations make it stand out from other polymer striker-fired pistols.
The APX is all about “extreme duty use” and function over form for CCW operators. The pistol is really designed to be accurate, durable, versatile, consistent, and low maintenance in order to satisfy as many service professionals as possible (in a police department for example). You can fire thousands of 9mm rounds with the APX and it will never malfunction. It has a striker deactivation safety so you can easily disassemble the pistol without having to hold down the trigger like other striker-fired pistols.
The Beretta APX has a fantastic hand grip. It’s trigger is also really good out of the box (one of the best features). It’s affordable and cheaper than other modular service-grade 9mm pistols. It’s very accurate, reliable and can be used out of the box for range shooting or self-defense. Solid pistol designed for hard work.
The Lionheart LH9 is a compact, light and versatile semi-automatic 9mm pistol that was originally designed for law enforcement and military service use in South Korea. The original model was manufactured by Daewoo Precision Industries and introduced in 1989 as the K5. It was carried by commissioned officers in the South Korean military.
In 2011, Daewoo partnered with Lionheart Industries and reintroduced an updated version of the K5 in American markets, known as the LH9. It features a redesigned hammer, wider slide serrations, optional Picatinny rail, and redesigned hand grips. The pistol also has a three-dot iron sight.
What makes the LH9N (‘N’ for Novak) so unique is its “fast action” trigger mechanism that keeps the mainspring compressed while the hammer is de-cocked. This mechanism is known as Triple Action or double action/single action, and marketed as Double Action Plus+. This innovation essentially allows the pistol to have a trigger travel of a DA and the trigger weight of a SA. The lighter trigger pull allows for a much more accurate first shot.
The frame is forged in 7075 aluminum alloy. The barrel and slide is made from 4140 steel. There is a more compact version called the LH9CN, which is Lionheart’s lightest and most compact Novak model — ideal for CCW operators.
The LH9N is an elegant and reliable 9mm handgun. It’s perfectly suited for range shooting, concealed carry, and home defense. It has superb target acquisition capability and can be upgraded with fiber optic 3D sights.
Because the Lionheart LH9N is an innovative 9mm designed for professional service use, and combat-tested for over 20 years, you can expect this guaranteed accuracy out of the box to come with a higher price tag.
The Ruger SR9 is a solid, compact, and accurate semi-auto 9mm Luger that’s affordable and easy to use out of the box. The SR9 is a striker-fired pistol that is short recoil operated with a locked breech, stainless-steel slide, and low-reflective finish. It is lightweight and slim.
The SR9 is comparable to the Glock and other 9mm polymer-framed pistols, making it a simple and effective choice for beginners wanting a concealed carry or self-defense weapon. It’s one of the thinnest double-stack pistols on the market and is used as a backup weapon for law enforcement.
The striker-fired Ruger SR9 has a pre-set trigger, like the Glock’s “Safe Action” system, that partially cocks the striker when the slide is cycled and then fully cocks and releases it when the trigger is pulled. This creates a moderate to heavy trigger pull that is preferred by law enforcement professionals, but not necessarily for competition shooting.
The SR9 comes with multiple safety features like an ambidextrous thumb safety, a loaded chamber indicator, a cocked-striker indicator, and firing pin block safety. The pistol also comes with open iron sights with 3 dot enhanced contrast, drift and elevation adjustments.
Chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum with a 17-round mag capacity, the SR9 is a solid and economical pistol best suited for concealed carry and self-defense. It’s a rugged, low-maintenance, and reliable handgun that’s comfortable to carry and quick to use.
Wilson Combat EDC X9
The EDC X9 is another high-end competition shooter that’s among the most expensive 9mm pistols on our list. This is a recoil operated, tilting barrel semi-automatic pistol that combines the performance of the classic 1911 design with increased reliability, concealability, and high capacity performance.
The 1911 is one of the most accurate 9mm pistols ever designed, and the Wilson Combat EDC X9 is all about providing shooters with that 1911 match-grade accuracy plus advanced features out of the box. The EDC X9 is a full-size long barrel CCW pistol that is extremely reliable with a double-stack magazine holding 15+1 rounds.
Get some new grips and make it a pink pistol for your wife!
The EDC X9 is basically a modern hybrid of the EDC 9 1911 slide assembly and a new X-frame for high capacity. You get the accuracy, ergonomics, and trigger pull of the classic 1911 pistol design. The modernized X-frame is a high capacity 1911 frame that’s similar in size to the classic, compact single-stack 1911.
If you like double stack custom 1911’s, single action 1911 cocked and locked carry, and 1911-style triggers, then you should check out the EDC X9. It’s about the same size as a GLOCK G19 but just a few ounces heavier when loaded. It has very thin grips that slide in dovetails into the aluminum alloy frame, which is held in place by a one piece backstrap. Customizable trigger length options are available.
The Wilson Combat EDC X9 delivers superior ergonomics, 1911-style accuracy, concealability, and reliability. It’s truly a superior and versatile pistol for everyday carry, and one of the best 9mm pistols out of the box.
Sig Sauer P320
The Sig Sauer P320 is one of the best striker-fired 9mm pistols in the world. It was adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2017 as the M17 and M18 (compact variant).
If you’re looking for modularity along with accuracy, then the Sig Sauer P320 should be one of your top choices. The P320 platform is highly innovative with 12 different modular variations available in 9mm Luger. The P320 XFIVE LEGION, for example, is an ideal balance of added weight and features that creates one of the top shooting pistols on the market. All of the striker-fired P320 pistols are unmatched in durability and reliability.
Some versions, like the P320 RXP XFull-Size, come with the newest reflex optic technology. The P320 XFULL variant is designed for serious shooting pros. It’s a full-size model with a 4.7” slide and barrel that delivers supreme accuracy, usability and comfort while still being practical for concealed carry.
The Sig Sauer P320’s compatible grip module comes with an extended beavertail design and deep undercut for high grip and enhanced recoil control. If you want a compact, modular, military-grade 9mm handgun with high accuracy out of the box then definitely consider the Sig Sauer P320.
Heckler & Koch VP9
Heckler & Koch’s VP9 is class leader in trigger performance and ergonomics. It is HK’s latest and most successful 9mm design. Like all HK pistols, the VP9 is rigorously designed for consistency, repeatability, and performance. It’s a military-grade pistol that’s popular among civilian range shooters.
The VP9 was influenced by HK’s hammer-fired P30 pistol, but integrates a unique striker firing system instead. It has a very light trigger pull. The VP9 is basically a P30 frame with an advanced striker-fired slide design.
The trigger quality is among the best you’ll find in any striker-fired pistol. It has a short, light take up and a solid SA break followed by a quick reset. The VP9 has a high strength polymer frame and ergonomic, adjustable hand grips which are meticulously designed to fit any human hand.
The HK VP9 also has a proprietary captive flat recoil spring to reduce recoil force and improve shooting control during rapid fire, as well as a cold hammer forged barrel and polished feed ramp.
The 2020 version will come with a 17-round magazine, new sight configuration, and optics-ready cut with cap. The VP9 is an expensive military-grade 9mm out of the box but you’ll get the accuracy and performance that you pay for.
The History of the 9mm Cartridge
Admired for being compact and easy-to-use, the 9mm handgun is the most popular type of pistol in the world and provides an excellent balance between stopping power and firing capacity, making it one of the best personal concealed or open carry self-defense weapons available.
There are so many reasons to choose a 9mm pistol, which is why it’s the most popular handgun in the world. Essentially, 9mm pistols are respected for their portability, reliability, fast firing speed, high magazine capacity, as well as their robust, high tech modular designs.
Check out shotgun history here.
9mm handguns are very versatile. They can be used for concealed carry, range shooting, competition, or home defense. They are widely adopted by law enforcement and military forces worldwide. They are designed to be lethally effective at up to 55 yards while combining a flat trajectory with moderate recoil.
9mm pistols are relatively lightweight handguns with moderate recoil that are ideal for many situations because they won’t over-penetrate targets like more powerful handguns, but they can still unleash a lot of firepower quickly and effectively.
The 9mm is the most widely used military handgun and submachine gun cartridge in the world. These pistols owe a lot of their form and function to the cartridge they were designed to accommodate. The 9mm is a very special cartridge that has evolved and gained in popularity over its long history, and handguns have been continuously enhanced to maximize the potential of this legendary cartridge.
Let’s take a look at how the 9mm cartridge became so widely used today.
Why Choose a 9mm Handgun
The 9mm cartridge has reinvented itself over 115 years. During that time it’s been used in various types of pistols, revolvers, carbines, and submachine guns. The 9mm cartridge is known by several names, all referencing the same thing: 9x19mm Parabellum, Luger, 9mm, 9mm NATO, 9 mil, 9×19 etc. There are other variants of the 9mm with slightly different dimensions but we are only referring to the 9x19mm Parabellum/Luger.
Here’s an interesting thread on why.
The 9x19mm Parabellum was developed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 for the Luger semi-automatic pistol (aka the 9mm Luger). Interestingly, the word “Parabellum” is derived from the Latin motto of the German manufacturer of the Luger pistol, meaning “prepare for war”.
Demand for a caliber that was larger than the 7.65x21mm (or the 9x17mm/.308 ACP pistol round that assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand) increased the international popularity and adoption of the 9x19mm cartridge around the start of WW1.
After WW1, the 9mm became a highly popular caliber for pistols and submachine guns for military and law enforcement forces worldwide, especially in the United States. Thus, many variants of the 9mm started to be developed by the Germans.
The second half of the 20th century saw the 9mm explode in popularity as projectile design improved alongside more efficient gunpowders and the ability for magazines to carry more rounds. People started realizing that the 9mm was ballistically superior to other rounds like the .38 Special.
The early 80’s to mid 90’s saw a big rise in the use of semi-automatic pistols in the U.S. (particularly in the civilian market), led by the adoption of the Smith Wesson Model 39 by the Illinois State Police in 1968 and the Beretta M9 by the U.S. Army in 1985. Revolvers were being replaced by 9mm semi-autos that had larger magazine capacity and could fire much faster.
Why 9mm Pistols Are Still So Popular Today
The idea behind the development of the 9mm was to create a round that had sufficient stopping power but wouldn’t be so big that it would limit the magazine capacity of firearms. So the 9mm has always been a perfect balance of defensive stopping power and firing capacity. This characteristic is probably the biggest reason why the 9mm has been so widely adopted by civilians, law enforcement and military units around the world. People want something that can reliably stop a human or hit a target at close range, not necessarily down a rhinoceros or catch a squirrel.
9mm pistols are used for self-defense, sport shooting, target practice, or military and law enforcement purposes. They are easy to use, versatile, accurate out of the box, low maintenance, with light to moderate recoil and clean/crisp trigger pulls. These are some of the characteristics that make 9mm handguns so popular with civilians and professionals alike.
There are a variety of 9mm variations with slightly different dimensions. We are going to focus on pistols that are chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum/Luger. All of these pistols are going to embody the characteristics just mentioned in some shape or form including being plenty accurate out of the box.
A Few Things to Consider
For example, the hand grip shape is an important consideration for the average user. Hand grip has an effect on recoil control. You want a grip that fits perfectly in your hand. Some grips are angled, others are straight, while some are curved and contoured. Competition shooters may want a grip that’s angled (swept backwards) with a beavertail.
The trigger system is another important factor, especially the weight and distance of the trigger pull. Some triggers require a lot more force to pull than others or have a farther distance to travel. As a novice shooter, you may want a lighter and shorter trigger pull to fire more accurately and quickly. Competition shooters tend to prefer single-action trigger mechanisms, for example. Law enforcement personnel need heavier and longer double-action trigger pulls so they don’t easily discharge the handgun in the wrong situation.
The weight of a pistol is yet another important consideration. Some competition shooters are considerably heavier than a compact, concealed carry weapon for example. Ergonomics, weight, and trigger pull are things you should consider. Some 9mm pistols have lower muzzle rise (aka muzzle flip) than others, which is also important if you’re a beginner who struggles with maintaining accuracy.
The Overall Benefits of 9mm Handguns
The 9mm is more popular than ever especially among civilians and service professionals. Many 9mm pistols are marketed to bridge the gap between civilian and professional service use. They are the simply the most versatile handguns in the world.
Our concealment coffee tables house multiple 9mm pistols and still leave room for a rifle or two!
There are so many reasons to own a 9mm handgun. They have light to moderate recoil, relatively low muzzle flip, cheap ammunition, and higher magazine capacity. 9mm pistols are relatively lightweight, easy to use, and ideal for self-defense, concealed carry, or recreational/sport shooting. They are modular, ergonomic, and have incredibly innovative trigger mechanisms.
It’s really hard to provide a definitive ranking of the most accurate 9mm pistols because experimental tests are only as good as the operators firing the weapon. Having said that, these pistols have been proven to be among the most accurate field-tested 9mm pistols in the world for casual, service, and competition use.
Practically speaking, the most accurate 9mm handgun out of the box is the one you’re most comfortable using and capable of firing effectively. All of the pistols on this list are well-designed and highly accurate (some are the most accurate in their class). It’s the operator, not the handgun, that has the biggest impact on accuracy.
People usually assume that pistols with longer, full-size barrels tend to be more accurate because they have a longer sight radius between the front sight and rear sight. In reality, the difference in barrel length doesn’t significantly impact the accuracy of the pistol for targets under 55 yards (unless the barrel is snubbed, which isn’t the case for any pistol on this list).
Some of the fancy long barrel 9mm designs for competition shooters are also the most expensive, often reaching 4-5x the price of a competent all-round service pistol that’s designed for durability, accuracy, and concealability in mind. Most of the pistols in this article match those basic descriptions while being between 400-$800 and offering excellent accuracy out of the box.
Having said that, there are handgun features to take into consideration that affect accuracy, especially if your a first-time gun owner or novice shooter.