Best 9mm Pistol Reviews 2021 – Buying Guide

By famsecmatters •  Updated: 10/26/21 •  19 min read

The 9mm Luger, 9×19mm Parabellum, is the most popular centerfire semi-automatic pistol and submachine gun cartridge globally. Designed by Georg Luger in 1902, the 9mm is light-recoiling, sufficiently powerful for most defensive purposes, and best utilized in high-capacity, compact firearms. Although the 9mm was once regarded as inadequate for serious hunting and self-defense, ammunition technology has advanced considerably in the last few decades.

Because of its widespread popularity, the number of available 9mm pistols is staggering. The best 9mm pistols are powerful, with a large ammo capacity for all of your shooting endeavors. 

Best 9mm Pistol Reviews

Editor’s Choice: SIG M17

SIG Sauer P320-M17
  • Winner of the MHS competition
  • Rugged and reliable weapon design
  • Manual safety lever
  • Slide cut for miniature red-dot sights

Top 11 Best 9mm Pistol Reviews

1. SIG Sauer P320-M17: Best 9mm Pistol

SIG Sauer P320-M17

Why you’ll love this:

If you want the latest military semi-automatic pistol, a modular combat handgun chosen over numerous competitors, the SIG M17 is the obvious choice.

What We Liked

  • Modular design — interchangeable grip modules 
  • Integral Picatinny rail for accessory attachment
  • 17- and 21-round magazines
  • PVD black or coyote tan color options

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bore axis may be too high

The SIG Sauer M17 was selected by the U.S. Army in 2017 as the pistol to replace the Beretta M9, adopted in the 1980s. It is a full-size, striker-fired, 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The commercial variant, the P320-M17, replicates the military pistol’s performance. 

The slide is stainless steel and PVD-coated for additional corrosion resistance. Fed from a 17-round magazine, the M17 delivers firepower comparable to other duty pistols out of the box. However, if 17 rounds is insufficient for either your defensive or competitive requirements, SIG also offers 21-round extended magazines

Available in several configurations, the P320-M17 can be purchased with an ambidextrous manual safety lever, providing an extra level of security that some shooters, especially those familiar with the M1911 platform, may desire. 

As a competition or self-defense firearm, the P320-M17 frame has an integral Picatinny rail molded into the grip module, enabling you to attach weapon lights or laser aiming devices. 

The SIG M17 was awarded the Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract, so it had to demonstrate modularity. As a result, there are several interchangeable grip modules that you can choose from, which differ in size to accommodate different hand sizes and are available in different colors. 

If the P320-M17 is still too large for your purposes, the P320-M18 offers a more compact package suitable for concealed carry, substituting a shorter barrel and slide flush with the frame. 

2. Glock 19 Gen 4: Best 9mm Pistol for the Money

Why you’ll love this:

If you want to buy a Glock pistol, the G19 is the best beginner weapon because it is more compact and concealable than the G17.

What We Liked

  • Glock’s legendary reliability
  • Non-snag exterior surface
  • Compact variant for concealed carry or duty
  • Comprehensive selection of compatible accessories 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Glock’s OEM trigger 
  • OEM plastic sights need replacing

Gaston Glock designed the pistol bearing his name to replace the aging Walther P38 that the Austrian Army was still issuing as its primary sidearm. Beating several established firearms manufacturers such as Heckler & Koch and Steyr, the Glock has become one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols in the world due to its almost legendary reliability, simplicity, and rugged construction

In 1988, Glock introduced the Glock 19, the compact variant of its flagship product and the best 9mm carry pistol. Today, the G19 is more popular than its full-size counterpart. It has become the default pistol for law enforcement, military service, concealed carry, and competitive shooting, offering an excellent balance of size and weight. 

A highly versatile pistol, the Glock series benefits from unparalleled customization options due to the sheer number of manufacturers and gunsmiths who cater to this platform. Only 0.67” shorter in overall length than the G17, the G19’s barrel is 4.02” instead of 4.49”. 

A difference in height of 0.43” may not sound like much, but it causes the pistol to print less through clothing, which helps maximize concealment. As a compact variant, the G19 only loses 2 rounds of magazine capacity — 15 instead of 17. However, that’s standard. If you need more rounds, 9mm Glock magazines holding up to 33 rounds are compatible with this model.  

The Glock 19 remains a highly affordable pistol and an excellent choice for beginners or experienced shooters. This is why it’s widely considered to be the best 9mm pistol for home defense.

3. Beretta M9: Best Full-Size 9mm Pistol

Beretta M9

Why you’ll love this:

If you’re interested in a 1980s classic, which served the U.S. armed forces for more than 30 years, the Beretta M9 is worth the investment.

What We Liked

  • One of the most recognizable pistols in the world
  • Reliable and accurate military sidearm
  • Double- and single-action operation
  • 15-round magazine capacity

What We Didn’t Like

  • No way to conveniently attach accessories
  • On the large side

Introduced in 1975, the Beretta 92 series is one of the most visually recognizable semi-automatic pistols on the market due to its depiction in classic action films, such as Die Hard and the Lethal Weapon series.

In 1985, the United States military adopted the Beretta 92F as the M9, replacing the venerable .45-caliber M1911A1 that had served the U.S. since the year of its namesake. This represented the need for NATO standardization because the M9 fired the 9mm cartridge, and had a higher ammunition capacity — 15 rounds instead of 7. During its service history, the M9 has proven itself to be a reliable, rugged weapon.

A double- and single-action pistol, the Beretta has a safety/decocking lever on the left side of the slide. When you engage the manual safety, it automatically decocks the hammer. If you’re interested in carrying the pistol cocked and locked, this is a disadvantage. 

However, this is in keeping with other DA/SA pistols that came to prominence in the 1980s. When you draw the pistol, whether the safety is engaged or not, your first shot is double-action. All subsequent shots are single-action as the slide relocks the hammer. 

Featuring an open-top slide, the Beretta uses a linear recoil operation, comparable to that of the Walther P38 because the barrel reciprocates in a straight line rather than tilting. Some find this improves the weapon’s inherent accuracy, and the Beretta M9 has consistently demonstrated its ability to achieve tight groups at over 25 meters.

4. CZ 75 B: Best Steel-Framed 9mm

CZ 75 B

Why you’ll love this:

If you’re interested in a classic all-steel 9mm semi-automatic pistol, the CZ 75 B offers high capacity, superb reliability, a decent trigger, and cocked-and-locked capability right out of the box.

What We Liked

  • All-steel construction for increased strength
  • 16-round magazine capacity
  • Firing-pin safety ensures pistol is drop-safe

What We Didn’t Like

  • Minimal gripping surface on slide

The CZ 75 B is an affordably priced, steel-framed alternative to the Glock 17. One of the original so-called Wonder Nines, the CZ 75, was designed in the 1970s for export, becoming an international success and the most popular semi-automatic pistol in its native Czechia

It is double- and single-action, common in the ‘70s and ‘80s among new handgun designs. However, the CZ 75  B also features a manual safety lever that you can engage with the hammer cocked, which is unusual in DA/SA pistols.

This allows you to carry the pistol in Condition One, cocked and locked, like the famous 1911. Unlike many DA/SA pistols where the trigger pull is heavier for the first shot due to the long double-action trigger pull, the result is a consistent trigger pull from the first shot through the last.

Fed from a steel 16-round detachable box magazine as standard, the 75 B offers sufficient capacity for most applications, whether defensive or competitive, comparing favorably with the Glock 19. However, extended magazines are also available for circumstances where 16+1 proves inadequate. 

The designation “B” denotes that the pistol has a firing-pin safety, which the company incorporated in the 1990s. Unless you squeeze the trigger deliberately, a pin physically blocks the firing pin from moving forward, ensuring that the pistol is entirely drop-safe

5. Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator: Best 1911 9mm

Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator

Why you’ll love it:

If you’re interested in owning a 1911 but prefer the 9mm, consider the Range Officer. This pistol is a modern take on the design suitable for competitive shooting or self-defense.

What we liked

  • Light-recoiling 9mm round 
  • 9-round magazine capacity for extra firepower
  • Fiber-optic front sight for faster sight acquisition 
  • Picatinny rail for accessorizing

What we didn’t like

  • Some may prefer a checkered front strap

The 1911 is traditionally chambered in .45 ACP, but the 9mm offers several advantages relative to the big-bore round. The Springfield Armory Range Officer benefits from the lower recoil of the 9mm, which reduces sight recovery time, allowing for faster follow-up shots. 

Other than recoiling more softly, the Range Officer has a 9-round magazine, increasing the total capacity to 10 rounds for increased firepower. This represents a capacity increase of 1 or 2 rounds relative to the .45-caliber Government Model. 

As with other modern 1911-pattern handguns, the Range Officer has an upswept beavertail safety with a memory bump to ensure reliable activation, a skeletonized hammer to reduce weight, and a checkered backstrap for additional traction. For charging from the front of the slide, you’ll find an additional set of serrations.

The Range Officer also features a fiber optic front sight to increase visibility during the day, combined with a low-profile combat rear sight for a fast draw. This accompanies the match-grade stainless steel barrel, which improves inherent accuracy. For attaching accessories, the frame’s dust cover has a Picatinny rail.

Built using a forged slide and frame, the Range Officer is a tough firearm that should fulfill various roles, from shooting bullseyes to defending your life.  

6. SIG Sauer P365: Best 9mm Pocket Pistol

SIG Sauer P365

Why you’ll love it:

If you want a lightweight and ultra-compact 9mm pistol for concealed carry that doesn’t sacrifice magazine capacity, the SIG P365 is the perfect choice.

What we liked

  • Lightweight and compact carry gun
  • Same dimensions as the Glock 43
  • 10-round magazine capacity
  • Light, crisp trigger 

What we didn’t like

  • May produce snappy recoil with +P loads

Whether you call it a pocket pistol, a subcompact, or a micro-compact, this category encompasses highly concealable firearms for personal defense. When carrying a concealed handgun, the priority is to avoid printing, which happens when the pistol produces an identifiable outline through your clothing. Unfortunately, many concealable handguns are also either low capacity or difficult to control due to the lack of gripping surface. 

The SIG P365 is a notable exception. SIG’s engineers managed to fit a striker-fired semi-automatic pistol, and a 10-round magazine, into a package roughly the same size as the 6-round Glock 43

The weight is only an ounce more, but this sleek weapon more than makes up for it with a lighter and more crisp trigger pull. With a smooth exterior and a flush-fit magazine, this weapon keeps printing to a minimum.

If 10 rounds still aren’t enough, the P365 also accepts 12- and 15-round extended magazines. You can increase the capacity as needed, delivering full-size service pistol firepower in an ultra-compact carry gun.

As concealed-carry weapons may have to be used at night or in low-light conditions, it pays to have sights that you can see in the dark. SIG’s contribution is a set of X-RAY3 day/night sights as standard. Consisting of a tritium front sight paired with a white-dot rear, the night-sight functionality lasts for about a decade.

For these reasons, the SIG P365 is also the best compact 9mm pistol on the list.

7. Ruger Security 9: Best 9mm Pistol Under $500

Ruger Security 9

Why you’ll love it:

If you’re on a strict budget, the Ruger Security 9 is an affordable, reliable 9mm handgun that serves as an excellent introduction to the 9mm pistol market.

What we liked

  • Affordably priced entry-level handgun
  • Front and rear slide charging serrations
  • Loaded-chamber port in slide
  • Picatinny rail for accessories

What we didn’t like

  • No ambidextrous controls

You don’t have to spend a fortune to purchase a reliable semi-automatic 9mm pistol for self-defense or recreational target shooting. The Ruger Security 9 is a perfect example of why. This pistol produces a footprint roughly equivalent to that of the Glock 19, so it’s a viable weapon for concealed carry.

While the Security 9 is hammer-fired, the hammer is recessed and concealed in the slide, so you can’t manually cock it. However, the pistol uses a trigger safety system similar to that of the Glock series. 

Besides the Secure Action fire control system, the Security 9 has a loaded-chamber port in the slide. You can see whether there’s a cartridge in the chamber without opening the slide, and it has a manual safety lever on the right side. When you engage the manual safety, it locks the trigger, hammer, sear, and slide. 

With drift-adjustable front and rear sights, charging serrations in the front and rear of the slide, and grip texturing akin to skateboard tape, this pistol boasts several features typically seen on more expensive firearms. Another notable feature is the 4-slot Picatinny rail molded into the glass-reinforced nylon frame, which is useful for attaching a variety of accessories.  

As the Security 9’s exterior surface is smooth and the sights are relatively low profile, the pistol has a non-snag surface that works well for concealed carry. Altogether, these features contribute to the Security 9 being the best cheap 9mm pistol.

8. EAA Tanfoglio Witness Elite Stock II: Best 9mm Pistol for Target Shooting

EAA Tanfoglio Witness Elite Stock II

Why you’ll love it:

If you want to shoot competitively or simply want a high-end target pistol in 9mm, the Witness Elite Stock II is a tack driver that’s well worth the price.

What we liked

  • Adjustable rear sight
  • Front strap checkering and beavertail frame
  • Front and rear charging serrations
  • Chrome finish and walnut grips
  • 17-round magazine capacity

What we didn’t like

  • May be too heavy for everyday carry

For shooting targets, especially in a formal competition setting, a stock duty pistol can deliver satisfactory service. However, for optimum performance, a dedicated competition handgun is best. The EAA Tanfoglio Witness Elite Stock II is based on the CZ 75 design but modified. While the Witness Elite Stock II is a beautiful handgun featuring a brushed chrome finish and walnut grips, it’s also highly functional. 

Double- and single-action like the CZ 75, the Witness Elite has a heart-shaped skeletonized hammer and an over-travel-adjustable trigger

The CZ 75/Witness slide doesn’t provide much gripping surface, so EAA machined charging serrations into the front and rear. EAA has also aggressively checkered the front strap, so you’ll never experience the weapon slipping out of your hands. To help you apply a firm firing grip and a high hand position, the trigger guard has an undercut to accompany the frame’s upswept beavertail

Although chambered in 9mm, this pistol is not light. A steel frame with a full-length dust cover increases the weight to 43 ounces — more than an M1911A1 — which makes this the best low-recoil 9mm pistol. In a competition weapon, the extra weight helps reduce recoil and sight recovery time so that your follow-up shots are fast and on target.

The company didn’t skimp on ammunition capacity, as this pistol’s magazine holds 17 rounds in the 9mm variant. 

9. FN 509 Tactical: Best Suppressor-Ready 9mm Pistol

FN 509 Tactical

Why you’ll love it:

If you’re in the market for a suppressor-capable and optics-ready modular handgun for competition or more serious work, consider buying the FN 509.

What we liked

  • Suppressor-height night sights can co-witness with optics
  • Threaded muzzle for attaching a suppressor
  • 12-round magazine capacity
  • Front and rear charging serrations for increased grip
  • Replaceable back straps 

What we didn’t like

  • Elevated sights are more likely to snag

Fabrique National submitted a pistol to the Modular Handgun System competition based on its FNS. Ultimately, SIG was awarded the MHS contract. Not to be deterred, FN returned to the drawing board and developed the 509 from the MHS design. The result is a highly modular, durable, and reliable firearm that suits both the competition shooter and self-defense practitioner. 

Available in suppressor- and optics-ready configurations, the 509 Tactical variant combines both into a combat- and competition-capable package. 

Featuring FN’s Low-Profile Optics Mounting System, the 509 Tactical’s slide is cut to accept adapter plates for a variety of 10 miniature red-dot sights.

The Tactical has a threaded muzzle, covered by a thread protector with an integrated O-ring for attaching a suppressor. To ensure that you’re able to gain a proper sight picture over the suppressor’s outside diameter, the Tactical has suppressor-height night sights, which can co-witness with an MRD. When an optical sight is installed, it can co-witness with these sights. 

The 509 features replaceable back straps so that you can tailor the pistol’s exterior dimensions to suit the size of your hands, front and rear charging serrations (also known as grasping grooves) on the slide, and a textured pistol grip. 

As with many other modern duty weapons, the 509 is fed from a 17-round magazine.

10. Heckler & Koch VP9: Best Ambidextrous 9mm Pistol

Heckler & Koch VP9

Why you’ll love it:

If you want one of the best striker-fired pistols on the market suitable for either competitive target shooting or self-defense, the VP9 is an excellent all-around choice.

What we liked

  • Ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop
  • Front and rear charging serrations and charge supports
  • Replaceable grip panels and backstraps
  • Loaded-chamber and cocked-striker indicators

What we didn’t like

  • Some may not like the paddle magazine release
  • Bore axis is high relative to competitor handguns

Introduced in 2014, the HK VP9 is the latest striker-fired semi-automatic pistol offered by the German manufacturer. Although the Glock is often thought of as the first semi-automatic pistol to feature a polymer-composite frame, HK’s VP70 predates it by more than a decade. The VP9 continues that tradition. 

Available in 9mm or .40 S&W, the VP9 contains several unique characteristics. HK’s signature ambidextrous paddle magazine release is a standout feature. Rather than a horizontal push button, the pistol’s magazine release is a paddle that you can press down with either your thumb or index finger. When using your index finger, as some shooters prefer to do, you’re able to maintain a full firing grip.

Besides the front and rear charging serrations on the slide, which are standard on many handguns, HK has added 2 charge supports. These appear as polymer fins that help you acquire a firm grip when retracting the slide. 

To accommodate different hand sizes, the HK VP9 comes with 3 replacement grip panels and backstraps — small, medium, and large — allowing you to adjust the grip’s width and length to suit your anatomy.

While not a substitute for the strict observance of firearms safety rules, the VP9 features both a loaded-chamber indicator and a cocked-striker indicator visible through the rear of the slide. 

11. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1: Best 9mm Stabilizing Brace Pistol

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1

Why you’ll love it:

If you’re interested in having all the advantages of a pistol-caliber carbine in a weapon that’s legally considered a handgun, the EVO 3 S1 is one of the best examples.

What we liked

  • SBR characteristics in a civilian-legal “pistol”
  • 11” Picatinny rail for optics and long sight radius
  • Ambidextrous controls and swappable charging handle
  • 20-round standard magazine; 30- and 35-round options

What we didn’t like

  • On the expensive side

The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 is a 9mm, blowback-operated carbine and submachine gun (A1) in use by militaries and police forces around the world. In its standard layout, it’s regulated as a short-barreled rifle in the United States. However, the commercial variant, the EVO 3 S1, is considered a pistol. Functionally, you can use it as either a large handgun or a carbine, depending on the configuration that you choose. 

What appears to be a buttstock is, in fact, a detachable stabilizing brace, which is intended to be worn around the dominant or strong arm. You can press the brace against your shoulder, which allows you to aim and fire the EVO 3 S1 as a pistol-caliber carbine. The stabilizing brace is also foldable, reducing the overall length for convenient storage and transportation

Despite its being a pistol, it features a 7.75” barrel, which increases the muzzle velocity of 9mm ammunition relative to conventional handguns. For attaching optics, the EVO 3 S1 has an 11” Picatinny rail, increasing the sight radius for backup mechanical/iron sights

The EVO 3 S1 is fed from a proprietary 20-round translucent polymer magazine, delivering sufficient firepower for most practical and sporting purposes. However, if you want more, 30- and 35-round magazines are also available. 

For left-handed shooters, the EVO 3 S1 features a non-reciprocating charging handle that can be swapped from one side to the other. In addition to the charging handle, the magazine release and safety lever are also accessible for either side. 

Best 9mm Pistol Overall: SIG P320-M17

SIG Sauer P320-M17

The winner of the Modular Handgun System competition, and the U.S. armed forces’ new sidearm, is also our best 9mm overall — the SIG M17. Fed from a 17-round magazine as standard, the P320-M17 can also accept 21-round extended magazines for additional firepower

Crafts from stainless steel, the pistol is still relatively lightweight for a full-size combat handgun at 29.6 ounces. Equipped with a slide cut for optics, a Picatinny rail for accessories, the SIG M17 is also compatible with grip modules to accommodate different hand sizes.

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