Best 9mm Pistols [Full-Size, Compact, Sub-Compact]

Saying there is a best full-size, compact and sub-compact 9mm is like saying there’s the best pizza.

There are so many fine guns available to shooters today the choices are mind-boggling.

Best Beginner Handguns
Some 9mm Semi-Autos and a .357 Revolver

Before you start stabbing away at your keyboard because we didn’t pick your favorite 9mm pistol…relax.

Take a deep breath. Now, listen: this isn’t the end-all, be-all definition of the only good or best in every possible way, or perfect 9mm handguns.

choosewiselymeme

These are the top 9mm for general purposes, a wide-reaching, and accessible definition. In other words, if you could only have one and needed it to do almost anything decently – these are my top picks.

Table of Contents

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How to Choose

Choosing the right gun for you is a personal choice and not one that is entirely simple. The most important though is how the gun fits your hands. If you’re not comfortable holding it, there is no way you’ll shoot well.

Everything else, like striker-fired Vs. exposed hammer, DA/SA or double action, frame material, single or double stack magazine, all of those are really only something you can answer as to what you like best.

They all have their pros and cons, but going into each and every option is an exhausting and often immaterial process.

It becomes quickly apparent that no one gun is right for every shooter and no matter what a gun writer says is best, someone will likely disagree for some reason. Best is a very subjective term.

So here we go…hang on tight when the comments start rolling in.

angry comments

Best Full-Size 9mm

Glock 17

There is no doubt that Glock is one of the top handgun builders on the planet.

Since the roll-out of the first Glock 17 in 1982 over 5 million Glocks have been produced. Even though the Glock was originally put down as a “plastic gun”.

Newst Generation Glock
628
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It was, and likely still is, the leader in the polymer-framed pistol world. The Austrian military was the first to select the Glock as their sidearm of choice after the 1982 trials.

Since then nearly 50 countries have had Glocks of all shapes and sizes as their favored sidearm for police and military forces.

The Glock 17 was named after the 17th patent Glock secured.  It also uses 17-round magazines. The 17 is still the most widely used pistol worldwide by law enforcement agencies.

Today, there are 5 generations of Glock 17’s to choose from. All variations stem from the original but may have slightly different grip designs, sights, flared magazine wells and such.

Gen5 Glock It Meme
Deleted Scene From the New It Movie

But for a go anywhere, do anything handgun the Glock 17 will do anything you ask of it and keep coming back for more.

In 1990 Chuck Taylor wrote the first of what would become four articles on his Glock 17 100,000-round torture test. By 1995 he had run 100,000 rounds through his Glock and drew from the holster over 100,000.

Glock Safe Action Safety System
Glock Safe Action Safety System

In all that time there were only two malfunctions. No springs or internal parts were replaced. Accuracy remained the same from the first rounds fired.

This alone should be proof that the average shooter will not wear out a Glock over a lifetime of carrying, competing or shooting recreationally.

Why the Glock 17 Rocks

First, the previously mentioned durability. When we spend our hard-earned money on a gun we want a gun that shoots no matter what and that we can trust if called on to protect ourselves or our loved ones.

Second, the Glock polymer frame is nearly indestructible. No rust, no scratches, no dings. You don’t have to baby a Glock.

Good Trigger Discipline Glock 17
Good Trigger Discipline Glock 17

Third, there are only 34 component parts in a Glock pistol. That means fewer pieces to wear out, fewer pieces to break and allows for simple service.

Additionally, Glock components within a specific model are interchangeable pistol to pistol. That means if you have a breakdown you can rob a part from another Glock and get your gun back into service fast.

Fourth, there are lots of aftermarket parts for the Glock 17. You can upgrade the trigger, change the sights, drop in a new barrel or upgrade the whole slide and more!

What’s your take on the G17?

Readers' Ratings

4.83/5 (559)

Your Rating?

Best Compact 9mm

Sig Sauer P320

In January 2014 Sig rolled out the new Sig P320 polymer framed pistol. Three years later the announcement came that the P320 had won the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition and stepped into a new role for our military.

Most Versatile
530
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The key feature of the Sig P320 is its modular design.

The fire control unit is the part with the serial number and the part the ATF is most concerned with when it comes to the purchase of the firearm.

Sig P320 Fire Control Unit
Sig P320 Fire Control Unit

This stainless part is interchangeable with all grip size configurations and calibers including 9mm, 40 S&W, and .357 Sig. Once you own the fire control unit you can literally put together any combination of grip size, slide length and caliber you want.

It’s kind of like Legos for big kids.

To ensure you find a gun that fits your hand you can choose from four chassis sizes and three grip sizes.

The caliber exchange kits consist of the barrel, slide, recoil assembly, and magazine. With the modularity of the P320 system, your favorite compact 9mm could also become your favorite sub-compact 9mm, but we’ll discuss that later.

407
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Before we go into why the Sig P320 kicks ass, we should mention the glaring issue with it…

Shortly after Sig won the military competition, they issued a “voluntary upgrade program” (that’s corporate lawyer for “recall” but to be fair, the upgrades did make a better gun) of the Sig p320.

The short version of what happened is that under some fairly rare situations, a P320 had the chance to discharge when dropped.

sig p320 meme
The internet is not a place for the thin-skinned.

Since even a small chance of that happening with a modern firearm is generally deemed unacceptable, Sig tweaked the design a bit and fixed the problem.

Assuming you’re buying your P320 new, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. Sig stopped production while they fixed the issue and all new production guns have had the upgrades done from the start.

The added upside to the “upgrades” is that by changing the design slightly, they made a better gun. Not only safer but improved the trigger pull as well.

Why the Sig P320 Rocks

First, the modularity of the system. The ease with which you can change calibers, frames and grip sizes gives you a lot of options.

For those in states where buying handguns is a less than enjoyable experience this gives you some choices without filling out a bunch of paperwork and playing waiting games.

Second, it’s a Sig! Sigs are known for reliability, accuracy, and is easy to shoot. The P320 is no different.

950
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This is a great gun for carrying, informal shooting and plinking, and personal defense.

Third, the polymer frame and stainless fire control group and slide make this a pistol ready for anything you or Mother Nature can dish out.

The P320 also comes with metal magazines. Most of today’s polymer guns come with polymer magazines. The Sig mags load easily and slip out of the gun when empty smoothly.

Still not sure? Check out our Complete Sig P320 Review!

Best Sub-Compact 9mm

Springfield XD-S

I’ll confess, I like Springfield Armory XD Pistols. I think there are at least 3 in the safe right now.

There is something about the grip design that just feels better in my hand than Glocks. Remember, the best gun for you is different than the best gun for me. It’s all subjective.

480
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Springfield Armory XD-S 3.3” Single Stack 9mm makes the cut for my list as the best sub-compact 9mm.

Back in 2012, the XD-S line launched with the introduction of a sub-compact 45 ACP. It quickly became obvious that there was a niche for this type of concealed carry gun and Springfield followed up the 45 ACP with models in 9mm and 40 S&W.

Today’s 9mm single stack offering is big on features, including the ability to carry it daily and literally forget you have a gun on your belt.

Like our other two 9mm’s, the XD-S is a polymer framed gun with a steel slide.

One of the features I really like about the XD pistols is the grip safety. It gives a little extra margin of safety for concealed carry with a Condition-One gun.

The pistol also comes with two grip backstraps so you can tailor the fit for your hand. You will also find two stainless steel magazines with the gun; a flush-fitting 7-round magazine and an 8-round Mid-Mag X-Tension™ magazine.

Why the XD-S 9mm Rocks

First, it is a very controllable and comfortable gun when shooting. Yet, it is easy to carry and conceal and every day.

Second, the gun comes with two magazines, two grip backstraps and a great 3-dot sight system with a fiber optic front and white dot rears. You also have the added peace of mind of the grip safety.

Third, a durable polymer frame and steel slide with a Melonite finish mean this gun is ready for any carry and use conditions you can dish out. The fit and finish on these guns are excellent as well.

Final Thoughts

This brief look at some of the best 9mm handguns available is meant to give you a place to start in your search for your perfect handgun.

Spend some time at the range with some rental guns and find the gun that fits your hand perfectly, points naturally and is easy for you to operate.

One thing you will notice is all of these guns are polymer, striker-fired systems. We have come a long way since Glock rolled out the first ‘plastic gun’. Gone are the days of having only revolvers and blued steel semi-autos to choose from.

The newest generation of polymer guns are durable, accurate, customizable, come in all sizes and they are fun to shoot.

This might be the opening of Pandora’s Box but, what are your top picks? Let us know in the comments! Or if you want to know the Best Handguns for Beginners (including revolvers).

43 Leave a Reply

  • maurice garlick

    easily the most heavily marketed pistols available, automatically makes them the best, right?

    1 month ago
  • Ernesto

    Ruger American Pistol full size 9mm no match for price and quality.

    2 months ago
  • Eddie8888

    You surely missed the boat for leaving out the CZ line of firearms and in particular the CZ Po9 and CZSpo7 models for absolute accuracy and a quality all around absolutely dependable work horse of a daily carry and home defense product loved more then Glock products but are all to often overlooked.

    8 months ago
    • Brian taylor

      1000000000000% . My P07 Duty is severely accurate and videos of torture testing are insane. Its Crushes a lot of the more popular and commercialized firearms.

      3 weeks ago
  • Terry

    The Glock is way overpriced for what you get. Lousy sights to me the sight picture is terrible and come on Glock, for what you charge you should have switched to iron sights years ago. Plus your triggers are absolutely inexcusable. Though the Generation 5 is better, it is still lousy. Especially when other manufacturers are producing just as reliable pistols with iron sights and far better trigger systems at a lower price. After what Springfield Armory did I will never have one ever again. Especially considering there are so many excellent firearm choices on the market.

    8 months ago
  • MDpolo

    Nice discussion - thank you. As for me, I own several in each category that you listed. However, my favorites are: Steyr L9-A1, Sphinx SDP and Sig P365. Cheers!

    8 months ago
  • Virgil

    Ya never cared for glocks . Don’t like the look or feel. Have a p89 that I like . SW MP, then just recently bought a Sig 226 which now I wish I would have bought one sooner. Never shot a glock so cant make my judgement. Friends like theirs .for me have to like the way it looks /feels as part of my purchasing decision.

    10 months ago
  • jp64

    All strong choices. I own or have owned Sig, Springfield, SW, Tanfolglio, Kahr (an unsung hero which rarely gets mentioned in these lists much like the Tanfoglio Witness series), Bersa, Taurus, Kel Tec etc but not a Glock. Never cared for them for some reason. My favorite it SW MP/Shield followed closely by Kahr but to each his own. Always interesting to see what others favor and why

    1 year ago
  • Kevin B

    There are alot of great guns out there I dont down any of them. The gun you have on you when you need to defend yourself and or family is the best gun for you. I do however love my Glock 17 Gen5 with Ameriglow night sights and wouldnt trade it for any of the rest. It is very accurate and very highly dependable, it will take anything you put it through and ask for more

    1 year ago
  • John R Autio

    Ratings are good for narrowing down the research, but getting to feel it, look at it and compare it to others at a gun store is one thing. Firing it at a range is another. I love my Walther PPQ and PPS.. Both are accurate and fun to shoot. My son bought a Glock only because he's left handed. He likes it.

    1 year ago
  • Albert

    Slow times in PEW PEW land; today there are so many 'good' 9mm pistols the 'choices' are mind boggling.; better article would be 'the BEST woman'...............

    1 year ago
  • Dan Marion

    What about the Sig Sauer P365?

    1 year ago
  • Karen

    Glock all day long! I love my 19 G4 but this spanking new 43 is perfection for my EDC.

    1 year ago
  • Bill

    You gave points to the Sig P320 for it's "modularity". For the nominal sum of $407 you can convert to another caliber, frame or length. However, for the price of one Sig, and one Sig conversion kit, you could buy a Glock 17 and G-19, and purchase after market match grade barrels for each in 40 cal and 357 Sig, AND have the choice of going threaded, along with some dime a dozen 40 cal mags.This would give you six GREAT guns, for the cost of 2. Sigs... No brainer for me!

    1 year ago
    • Kent Reeves

      I think your math is WAY off. How exactly are you turning 2 Glocks into 6 guns with extra mags for about $900? I'm a Glock fan but I know my Glocks aren't magical. And I understand you meant buying caliber conversion barrels.... hopefully but you would need to have bought .40 Cal guns not 9mm versions. And those barrels aren't cheap. Even then you have 4 guns not 6.

      1 year ago
      • Kent Reeves

        I just saw the 357 Sig part, That would give you 6 guns. You would still need 2 .40S&W Glocks, 4 match grade conversion barrels, and 9mm mags for $900. And you won't have normal Glock reliability with all calibers. Fun range toy, but not a good idea for defense or serious training. I have a surplus Glock 22 with a LW 9mm conversion barrel and it's fun.

        1 year ago
  • Brandyn

    Cz P10c hands down

    1 year ago
    • Robert

      I like hammer fired HKs with LEM triggers. As for pizzas you can't beat De Lorenso's in Trenton NJ.

      1 year ago
  • Connor H

    Seems you took the three most popular modern striker fired pistols (arguably M&P would beat out Sig in the U.S.) and listed one of them for each size. Not complaining, just pointing it out. Also, I would've put the XD Mod 2 3" as the subcompact, and the Shield 2.0 as the single stack. Unfortunately, "subcompact" has come to encompass everything from an XD 3" or G26 to an LCP; manufacturers have not been consistent in their small gun classification.

    1 year ago
  • John Cavanaugh

    My favorite 9mm was a H&K P9S. Easy to carry and very accurate in my hands. I now carry a Sig 239 40.

    1 year ago
    • jp64

      Had one in 9mm. Very solid but i switched to a light gun for edc.

      1 year ago
  • Mike

    All great guns. For what is considered a "compact" pistol, my Ruger 9E has a couple thousand rounds through it with zero malfunction. It is a great pistol that shoots straight and, at 17+1, has smoke capacity. Subcompact-wise, I have the XD Mod.2 in 9mm. So I'm with you there. It just for well in my hand and still packs 13 rounds into the flush fit, double-stack magazine

    1 year ago
  • George

    I just went to the range with my new Sig P320 XCarry. A little more money than a basic 320 compact or carry, but well worth it. The short slide (3.9 in. barrel) combined with the full size grip, but slender with a higher beavertail and cut-out under the trigger along with 3- 17 round mags make this a perfect commando self-defense platform. Oh yeah, I almost forget to mention the XRay3 night sights, flat trigger, no grit and little take-up, that fires at vertical position. My first outing with this gun, I blew through almost 100 rounds ( 115, 124 round nose & hollowpoint ammo) with no malfunctions and plenty of "bulleyes" (and I'm a disabled senior). Rumor has it the ICE will be using the XCarry soon

    1 year ago
  • Indianray

    Any gun that is not plastic would get a first look from me. My choice is the 2nd gen. Remington R51. And yes, mine goes bang every time I pull the trigger. It's all metal (except the trigger), it looks way better than any plastic gun I have ever seen, and it is the most streamlined looking and feeling 9mm gun I have ever expereinced. Very old school cool. This gun can easily be pocket-carried, yet it grips and shoots like a bigger gun. At 7 yards it is as accurate as any of my 1911s, my CZ and my Bersa. HANDS DOWN, THE BEST IN MY BOOK.. Now, let the yelliing begin. Thank you.

    1 year ago
    • Connor H

      First favorable mention of an R51 I've seen in quite some time.

      1 year ago
  • Jack H.

    Most manufacturers hate us southpaws, and it seems they’re willing to give up the 12.5% market share to prove it. H&K is my go to company, which covers all of my needs, from the P30sk, VP9, USP .40, and SP5K.. IMHO, the Springfield EMP Contour Carry is nice too, if you’re a 1911 type. I think smart manufacturers should think about making their products ambidextrous. It makes perfect business sense.

    1 year ago
    • Dakota

      Nearly all modern CZs are either stock ambi or optional side ambi. Mine has full ambi controlls minus the mag release, though when I'm training southpaw it's less than a five minute change over.

      1 year ago
    • Connor H

      Slide lock on both sides can be an issue functionally, although I'd argue the slide lock is only needed for takedown/clearing out of conflict. XDs also have ambi mag release, and both external passive safeties are ambi.

      1 year ago
    • Treasa

      I'm a southpaw too and I totally agree! HK VP9, both the full-size and the sub-compact, is my number one pick!

      1 year ago
  • Wayne G

    I have and carry a Springfield xd mod 2 sub compact 9mm. The 3 inch barrel makes it comfortable for me to carry aiwb, and the grip safety makes me feel safe to carry ready to fire. I really have wanted an xds, but could not try one at my local gun range so I shot, and bought a Smith and Wesson m&p9 shield. I like how it shoots and feels good in my hand, and when I want to go thin, I carry it. It has the external safety and I use it. I'm currently waiting for the xds mod 2 9mm to come out and when it does, I will probably buy one without trying it first. I like my other xD that much.

    1 year ago
  • D Mc

    Well I just started shooting last November 2017. By Christmas I wanted and got a Taurus PT111 Pro. I know the talk about the older ones was not great but since I got mine I'm glad I did and since the range didnt have any to practice with I went by research and never touched it till I got it. I have only shot it 4 times at the most since getting it delivered in Jan 2018 and I still need to learn to hold it since my practice gun at the range was always a Canik 9S I think it was called and even though I never held the PT I knew by pictures I wanted it. Yes I have learning to do and yes the recoil shocked me compared to none for the Canick but I am not sorry I got this cutie not in the least.

    1 year ago
    • Connor H

      I agree, the Taurus PT111/140 G2 are great firearms. Extremely accurate for a subcompact, reliable, ergonomic, and 12 rounds in a package barely larger than an 8 round shield. Strongly revommend.

      1 year ago
  • Terry Nixon

    I have to agree about the Springfield XDS. I own one in .45 and am purchasing one in 9mm. I also have an XDM. It is literally the most-accurate handgun I have ever fired right out of the box. I have never owned a Glock, no need with the Springfields......

    1 year ago
  • Chip Burnette

    I do not like the grip angle on any of the glocks - but most folks who like one glock, love the whole series. My choice for full size is the Springfield XD-M 5.25, for a compact, I have a Hudson H9.

    1 year ago
  • Fran

    The XD-S is nice but the XD-E rocks, better grip, hammer versus striker etc.

    1 year ago
  • Samuel H

    No M&P Shield? I own a shield and my brother in law owns an xd-s. Hands down I think the shield is a better carry gun. To each their own.

    1 year ago
  • David

    This might be the opening of Pandora’s Box but, what is your top picks? Your absolutely right, …. there is no way that the Glock 17 Gen 5 even comes close to the New Q5 Match 9mm from Walther. I guess it's like what kind of car is the best, what kind of guitar is the best etc, etc ……….. I do like your picks with the Sig & Springfield. I enjoy your site, always informative, never judgmental, on top of the heap …………. for gun enthusiast.

    1 year ago
    • Kent Reeves

      Nice pistol but kind of a different category. A closer comparison would be a Glock 34 MOS. And Walther doesn't have the great availability that Glock has for aftermarket customization.

      1 year ago
      • Terry

        Glock needs all those customizations just to make it a good gun. Walther with far better ethos and triggers doesn’t need customization to make it a great gun

        8 months ago
  • Paul S.

    Like the XDs but switched to M&Pc’s myself.

    1 year ago
  • Jeff

    No mention of the H&K VP9 vexes me. That is all.

    1 year ago
  • Bruce W

    Look like plastic wins here.

    1 year ago
  • Linda Pulskamp

    I completely agree with your choice of the Sig P320 as the best compact pistol. Love mine. It shoots the same great way over and over and over. I’ve changed out the grip assembly and not have a lovely two tone pistol. Great gun!

    1 year ago
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