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7 Best Tactical Pistols: What They Are & Coolest Models

We take a look at tactical pistols, define what they are, and share some of our favorites...from striker-fired pistols to revolvers.

Tactical is a special word these days. It should mean “of tactics,” but we’ve seen it evolve and grow quite a bit in the gun and gear community.

Tactical has grown into a catch-all phrase that describes modern firearms and gear oriented at police, military, and self-defense use.

Glock G43X
Glock G43X

Today we are going to be about the best tactical pistols, which will undoubtedly lead someone to ask…what makes a pistol tactical?

Fair question, and depending on the situation, any gun could be tactical. In his era, George Washington carried a tactical handgun.

(Photo: iFunny)

So, we’ll lay out what a tactical pistol is and run through some models we recommend if you’re interested in all the bells and whistles.

Keep reading!

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Editor's Pick

    Walther PDP

    Feels great in the hand, smooth shooter

  2. Best Ergonomics

    CZ P10-C Models

    Amazing ergonomics, great trigger, and aggressive grip

  3. Best for Suppressors

    FN 509 Tactical

    Suppressor height sights, threaded barrel, perfect for suppressors

  4. Best for Carry

    Sig Sauer P320 XCarry Legion

    High end features, optimal for carry

  5. Best Revolver

    Smith & Wesson Model 327 TRR8

    8 round capacity, .357 Mag chambering

Table of Contents

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What’s a Tactical Pistol?

With that in mind, we will define a tactical pistol or tactical handgun as a modern duty and defensive-oriented weapon that chambers a modern caliber suited for defensive and duty purposes.

Maybe this is too much.

Additionally, the weapon needs to have at least two of the three following features to make this list.

  • Threaded Barrel
  • Optics Ready
  • Picatinny Rail

I figure those features, combined with a modern design, make a modern tactical pistol.

So, let’s dive into the best tactical pistols on the market.

Best Tactical Pistols

1. Walther PDP

Walther has always been a company that innovates and produces extremely well-made pistols, with some of the best triggers known to man.

The Walther PDP continues the PPQ’s legacy of featuring the world’s best stock striker-fired trigger combined with all the modern touches those seeking a tactical pistol would want.

Walther PDPs
Walther PDPs

Walther designed the gun around using red dot sights, which is a novel idea all around.

Besides that, they infused it with the brilliant ergonomics of the PPQ and the excellent Walther trigger we’ve all come to expect. On top of that, you can choose from various sizes for duty, home defense, and concealed carry.

Walther calls it RDS ergonomics and designed the PDP around the idea of using a red dot sight.

Those Teutonic engineers designed the ergonomics to make finding the red dot faster and more natural for shooters. It’s mostly tied to the grip angle, which allows for a natural acquisition of the red dot.

Best Compact 9mm Pistol
649
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The grip is fantastic, thin, and fills the hand well. Walther used a new texture they call the Performance Duty texture. Long story short, it sticks to your hand without being abrasive and painful.

The PDP is modular and allows shooters to swap slides and frames around to fit their needs. I tend to be a fan of the short grip but long slide for concealed carry.

Walther uses a quasi-universal cut that relies on plates for mounting different pistol optics. Across the bottom sits a Picatinny rail for all your light needs. It’s robust, practical, and tactical.

What I don’t like is that I have to request the plate I want for my gun and optic from Walther. They don’t include it, so out of the box, it’s not red dot ready, and that’s annoying.

Walther’s PDP is a big step forward in the tactical pistol world, and seeing a pistol designed around red dot use is great.

We took the PDP for a whirl, so read up on our review here or catch the video below.

2. Glock Gen 5 MOS Series

Glock does innovation slowly, but they often do it well.

The Glock MOS series was one of the first stock guns to leave the factory with an optics cut and accommodation for all manner of optic plates. Glock has always had a firm hold on the tactical pistol world, and that’s not changed.

RMRcc Mount on Glock 43x MOS
RMRcc Mount on Glock 43x MOS

MOS stands for Modular Optic’s System, and it’s Glock way of saying bring your chosen optic to the table. Glock includes four plates with the MOS series, allowing you to mount a dozen different optics. Swapping plates and optics is easy, but don’t be too conservative with the Loc-Tite.

Glock’s plastic fantastic pistols have long proven themselves reliable and own the contracts of countless police and military forces.

Glock 19 and 17 gen 5 MOS
Concealed or duty carry, the G19 MOS (left) and G17 MOS (right) have you covered.

Their popularity is fueled by reliability, durability, and the fact that they just work. For the average gun owner, they offer an excellent pistol with a proven track record of success.

The modern Gen 5 MOS guns improved ergonomics considerably by moving the finger grooves and including a slight beavertail at the rear of the gun. Its slide stop is now ambidextrous, and of course, the magazine release has been reversible for a few generations.

Glock makes all their popular calibers in the MOS series, including the G17 and G19 guns.

620
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

A rail at the bottom offers you all the necessary room to mount your favored goodies. Heck, get a Glock brand light, and it almost matches the frame.

What does suck about Glock and the MOS Series is the terrible sights they continue to stick with. Their cheap, plastic, and break easily.

Once you swap the sights, you’ll have a very competent and reliable tactical pistol. Luckily finding new sights takes no effort.

Glock G43X Shooting
Glock G43X Shooting

What do you think of the Glock MOS series? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (31)

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3. CZ P10C – Optics Ready and Suppressor Ready

The CZ P10C series of pistols frustrates me. They are great guns, well made with amazing ergonomics, a great trigger, and an aggressive grip, and they could take the top spot on this list.

CZ makes optics-ready pistols, and they make suppressor-ready pistols. Both hit the nail on the heady for tactical pistols.

CZ P10C and a box of 9mm
The CZ P10C OR is an optics-ready compact 9mm designed for EDC.

The downside is that CZ has never combined the two to make a top-tier tactical pistol. Give me an optics-ready gun with suppressor height sights and a threaded barrel, and they’ll be cooking with gas.

C’mon, CZ, I know you have the ability, so make it happen!

That said, the P10C shares a flat-faced trigger that’s ultra-smooth and consistent in its grit-free pull. Grip angle is fantastic, and the trigger guard undercut, and the slight beavertail at the rear provide a nice high grip on the gun.

Best Ergonomics
499
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Plus, the grip features one of the most aggressive grip textures on the market.

Both guns wear Picatinny rail systems that can fit both compact and full-sized lights. We also get rock solid metal sights designed for duty use, which are fantastic.

The optic’s ready model comes with plates for a Trijicon RMR or a Deltapoint Pro, so you have compatibility with several optics.

CZ P10C red dot mounting
A blank filler plate holds the place of a red dot, and a variety of model-specific plates are being designed by CZ.

With the suppressor-ready model, we get suppressor height sights and a threaded barrel for suppressors and beyond.

4. FN 509 Tactical

It has tactical in the name. It has to be on the list! Surely the 509 Tactical exemplifies the modern tactical pistol, right? Of course, it does!

We get a modern pistol with a modern design, paired with all the modern features we’ve come to know and love.

FN 509 Tactical Midsize (Photo: FN via Facebook)

FN’s 509 Tactical was FN’s entry into the Army’s MHS contest, and while it didn’t win, FN knew it had a winner.

It’s a 9mm handgun with a polymer frame and striker-fired design. What the tactical does differently is add an optic’s ready slid complete with suppressor height sights and a threaded barrel. It exemplifies the tactical pistol through and through.

FN’s patented low-profile mounting system is compatible with 10 different optics that drop in without issue.

(Photo: FN via Facebook)

The suppressor height sights allow for co-witnessing with the optic or looking over a mounted suppressor. A threaded barrel makes it easy to mount a can, compensator, or whatever other accessories you want.

Those taller suppressor height sights even feature a set of wings that act as a guard to protect the sights from snagging. Yep, no surprise we have a rail, but what is a surprise is the included 24-round magazines for packing more ammo than most.

The FN 509 Tactical lives up to its name wholeheartedly.

Best for Suppressors
899
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

5. FN FNX 45 Tactical

Yep, another FN with tactical in the name. In all fairness, the FN FNX Tactical is the OG of tactical pistols.

As far as I can tell, it was the first factory pistol to ship with an optic cut and several tactical features we weren’t seeing released back in the early 2000s. This was our proof of concept that likely helped propel what we picture as the modern pistol.

FNX-45 Tactical
FNX-45 Tactical

The FNX 45 Tactical is a .45 ACP pistol, and unlike most .45 ACP pistols, it doesn’t hold back in terms of capacity. We see 15 rounds, and the choice of .45 ACP was made to compete in the Army’s Joint Handgun Project.

This beefy beast features an optic cut across the top with two mounting plates to mount several different optics, including old hands like the Trijicon RMR, the Leupold DPP, and the Vortex Venom series of optics.

The front of the gun offers us a threaded barrel, which is great for the naturally subsonic .45 ACP cartridge.

1299
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

You’ll have no problems aiming the gun with the included suppressor height sights.

I can’t help but think every optic’s ready gun should have followed FN’s example and included suppressor height sights with their optic’s ready guns.

The FNX 45 is big, heavy, and thick, and that won’t appeal to everyone. It’s not a great choice for concealed carry, but it’s still a solid example of a tactical pistol.

It set the standard for modern tactical pistols. (Psst, check out our review here!)

6. Sig Sauer P320 XCarry Legion

Sig Sauer’s P320 series of guns represents a massive line of various firearms in several different configurations.

Plenty of them could easily fall into this list and be considered tactical pistols. With that in mind, the Sig P320 XCarry Legion is the ultimate example of the P320 Tactical.

As a Legion pistol, it’s the best in terms of features and design. It comes with the best trigger and best grip module – it’s feature-filled.

Since it’s a Carry model, it features a full-sized grip module combined with a compact slide.

This particular grip module is the TXG Carry module, complete with tungsten weight to help reduce recoil and decrease your split times.

The weight can be removed if you so choose. It’s an X-Grip series grip module with the X series trigger guard undercut and extended beavertail.

Best for Carry
999
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Combine that with the weight, and you get a nice high grip that results in a controllable pistol. A rail at the end allows you to use all manner of accessories and is a standard feature across all P320s.

The slide is where the magic happens. We get an optic’s ready design setup for Sig’s sights, as well as the Trijicon footprint and Leupold DPP.

Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro

A set of co-witness-ready iron sights sit ready for action, and a threaded barrel makes it easy to outfit your gun with whatever muzzle device appeals to you.

The combination of Legion features, X series features, with all the modern tactical features we established earlier make this gun the number one tactical pistol on the market. Sadly, the price might scare some away, but that’s the nature of the best.

7. Smith & Wesson 327 TRR8

Revolvers might seem somewhat outdated, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t completely off the books.

Legend has it that S&W designed the TRR8 for police shield units who were worried the slide would interact with the shield and cause a malfunction with an automatic. With that in mind, S&W pushed the revolver into the modern world.

(Photo: Smith & Wesson via Facebook)

This massive .357 magnum pistol offers you almost all the required checkmarks for tactical pistols.

We got a capable fighting round, plenty of room for accessories, and several modern tweaks to make this the most tactical revolver ever.

First, the .357 magnum round is a proven man-stopping round for gunfighters. It’s powerful and well suited for defensive and duty use. It’s the right mixture of recoil and power.

.357 Magnum Round
.357 Magnum Round

In a gun like the 327 TRR8, the .357 magnum is a soft shooter. It weighs over 30 ounces and has a 5-inch barrel.

Eight rounds of .357 are nothing to laugh at, and S&W designed it to use moon clips for rapid reloads.

Under that barrel is the ability to mount a rail for lights and lasers and across the top sits a length rail for tossing on optics. Unlike automatics, you can toss on almost any sized optic, including full-size Aimpoints.

Trijicon SRO Vs RMR
Trijicon SRO and RMR…grab yourself an optic!

It’s big, powerful, and outfitted with all the bells and whistles S&W has in its Performance Center. This includes the Performance Center trigger and tuned action.

The downsides are the massive price and the fact it’s still only eight rounds in a world where 15 to 19 are standard.

These powerful rounds won’t let you down if you can make them count. Smith and Wesson’s Model 327 TRR8 certainly takes the cake as the top tactical revolver and earns a spot on this list.

Best Revolver
1419
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Thoughts

The modern tactical pistol is versatile and can be used for various purposes. It can be a duty pistol, a defensive pistol, and even a concealed carry option. Heck, it can even be a solid competition pistol.

Walther PDP Holster Mags

Versatility is the name of the game with modern gun design, and these guns check that box.

Do you own a tactical pistol? Let us know in the comments below. For more home defense style pistols, check out our guide here!

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14 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    A. Davis

    Not even sure how you could narrow this down without upsetting multiple people. Just off the top of my head I'm thinking the Zev P365XL fits the bill (rail and optic ready) and the entire updated Staccato line does as well (both the C and P series). Not to mention all the new Wilson Combats? Plus just about every standard pistol on the market has a threaded barrel option... either direct from the manufacturer or 3rd party (Lonewolf?). Maybe you should change your article name to "best tactical AND AFFORDABLE pistol under $800 MSRP" :)

    August 23, 2022 5:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Old270

    An RDS is a huge advantage on a fighting pistol, but the caveat is; you MUST get training and learn how to run one. Take a class and practice. If you don’t then it is worthless. But you need to understand what it (RDS) does, doesn’t do and how to leverage the advantages while mitigating the potential downsides.

    August 22, 2022 6:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Anthony Ellison

    Best tactical pistol? CZ75 SP-01 TACTICAL , shoot its even in the guns name? I like the CZ P10 but it can't hold a candle to its big brother! I definitely agree about optic ready and threaded barrel. CZ Ned's to think about that with several of there pistol models.

    August 22, 2022 4:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Yogi

    I completely disagree with your definition. Optics are USELESS in a gun fight, period! Threaded barrel, what can you put on it that is not a suppressor? Which, by the way, are very expensive and NFA items. My definition of a "tactical" hand gun: ANY pistol you have, at the time you need it, and can shoot it well enough to hit your target!

    August 21, 2022 5:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      William

      Threaded barrels also support compensators.

      August 21, 2022 7:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tom J

      I agree. I have Glocks, HKs and a CZ SP01 and when I’m firing at targets as though I’m in a gun fight, I don’t even notice the sights as it all happens so fast. I’m certainly not looking for a red dot.
      It’s different if you are shooting slow and checking for accuracy.
      My pocket pistols basically have no sights so those get the same treatment.

      August 22, 2022 5:24 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kelly B

    I hate to be a negative "Nate" but I was at the range the other day and another shooter had "optics" on his pistol that failed... one failure, in my book, means adios to that piece of equipment. Yes, he shoulda checked the battery, shoulda, coulda, woulda equates to a dire situation. I don't like flashlights on pistols, it is a target in the dark for a bad guy to aim at- same thing with a laser sight. The 357 magnum is a fantastic round and it was abandoned by law enforcement primarily due to the noise level followed by recoil. Shoot a 357 mag in a car or a small confined area and prepare to lose your hearing... possibly forever. As to threaded barrels, for most of us a silencer is a wish and a wet dream. All the pistols that you referenced are excellent choices for EDC and home defense. Learn how to shoot off of "iron sights", no batteries, no failures, basically, no F***ups! Keep your flashlight in your weak hand, preferably a foot or more away from your body. This means practice shooting with a one handed hold on your strong hand. If the recoil is too much, gear down to a smaller caliber that you can control. Just my opinion from 47 years of experience.

    August 21, 2022 5:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Shawn85206

    Have the PDP C4 with a Holosun 509T, what a beautiful gun to shoot, even without the RDS. 25 yards right out of the box was easy, I regularly practice at 50-100 yards with the RDS.

    August 21, 2022 5:04 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Patrykus

    Nice to see the FNX-45-Tactical make the list. This has been my bedside gun for a while now. Equipped with a Holosun 507-C and a Surefire X300 light, I'm fairly confident that it could sit idle for several weeks and I could still wake from a deep sleep in a dark house and quickly engage an intruder. Loaded with 45+P, it also doubles as a good backwoods/ camping gun...and if S ever HTF then it will likely be indispensable. Well worth the price tag, in my opinion.

    August 21, 2022 4:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve S

    Was hoping to see the new Beretta M9A4G on this list. Great article otherwise.

    August 21, 2022 4:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    russ

    VP9

    August 21, 2022 4:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Alastair

      Agreed! I’ve got a threaded barrel on mine and often run it suppressed. I was surprised not to see it on this list. The Walther may have a slightly better trigger, but the difference is negligible, especially when compared to the Glock. Ergonomics are the best for me.
      VP-9 all the way.

      August 21, 2022 6:28 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Phil

        Agreed. I have the VP9L OR. HK also makes the VP9 Tactical OR. Long slide with suppresor-height sights and threaded muzzle.

        August 23, 2022 7:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Marriott

    Good article.

    August 21, 2022 3:04 pm
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