I love weird and unappreciated handguns. As such, it’s high time I’ve put together a list of my favorite underrated handguns.
These firearms don’t get much play in the mainstream but deserve their moment in the spotlight.
So, finally, let’s talk about the handgun world’s middle kids of the handgun world…finally.
Most Underrated Handguns
1. Browning Hi-Power
How can the Browning Hi-Power be underrated when so many countries adopted it for military service?
That’s fair, and to be honest, the Hi-Power is only underrated in the United States. Here we cling to the 1911 while ignoring the superior Hi-Power because…well, I have no idea why.
The Browning Hi-Power is extremely influential and helped create the wonder nine as we know it. Guns like the Glock 17, Beretta M9, and, well, most modern pistols have all had influence from the Hi-Power.
The Hi-Power is a semi-automatic, magazine-fed, single-action only 9mm handgun. It premiered in 1935 and hit the world hard with a 13-round magazine.
To this day, the Hi-Power is still a very effective pistol, and modern Mec-Gar magazines extend the capacity to 18 rounds. It’s all-metal, so it’s not the lightest pistol, but it’s one of the easiest to shoot.
It’s super accurate, and the trigger is often good but not excellent. That silly magazine disconnect safety mucks it up, and removing it makes the trigger a bit better. Although, only have a trained gunsmith do such a thing.
It encapsulates the Browning tilting barrel design well known and used by most modern handguns.
The Hi-Power is sadly out of production by Browning, but EAA is importing affordable Girsan models of the gun that are worth a peek.
2. Steyr M9
Steyr might as well say, “Come for the rifles, and hey, we also make pistols…”
The Steyr AUG Scout rifle is well known and well respected in the rifle world; however, the M9 handgun languishes in obscurity.
This series is now in its fourth generation and has proven to be outstanding pistols throughout the years.
It’s a polymer frame, semi-automatic, striker-fired pistol with a very low bore axis. This design helps keep the weapon a bit more controllable, or so they say. What I’ve always been drawn to are the weird trapezoid sights.
They work surprisingly well and make it very easy to get rapidly on target. Drop the triangle inside the other triangle and start banging away. They seem rather weird at first, but in practice work well.
Additionally, the Steyr pistols might have the weirdest manual safety ever. It seems more suited for long-term storage than carrying and is located above the trigger. It’s a push lever that moves up and down and seems to sit nearly flush with the frame.
Even so, it’s really fun to shoot and has a very space gun-like aspect. It’s reliable, has excellent ergonomics, and only suffers from expensive extra magazines.
3. Walther P99
Walther’s whole catalog outside of the PPK could fit on this list. They seem to have had more luck with the PPQ than the P99, though.
The P99 came to be in a fun time known as the 90s, where it was carried by Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond and a few European police forces.
Even though striker-fired, polymer-frame pistols were the hotness, the P99 never took off.
Oddly enough, I love the P99 and own two clones of it- the SW99C and the Magnum Research MR9. The early Canik models were also clones of this underappreciated pistol.
What’s fascinating is that this is a striker-fired pistol with a DA/SA action. Walther fitted the P99 with a button decocker at the top and a trigger mode known as the anti-stress mode. The anti-stress mode features a two-stage trigger with the weight of a single-action trigger backed by the length of a double-action trigger.
The trigger is truly magical. Its double-action is smooth and consistent.
In single-action, the trigger is comparable to a highly tuned competition gun. Actually, I would say I’ve yet to feel even the most expensive Glock competition gun having a trigger this nice.
Not to mention the ergonomics are absolutely fantastic. It’s a gun that meets your hand and feels oh so natural in it.
Sadly, the Walther P99 isn’t nearly as well recognized as it should be.
4. CZ 2075 Rami
The CZ 75 used to be a gun that occupied lists like these all the time, but as of late, the CZ 75 has gotten the love it deserves.
One gun that has never seen its rightful respect is the CZ 2075 Rami. This Glock 26-sized pistol gives us the subcompact CZ 75 we’ve always wanted!
Or not, because it doesn’t seem nearly as popular as other subcompacts.
The 2075 Rami uses CZ 75 magazines and comes with 10-round magazines and an extended 14-round magazine. It keeps the same DA/SA action as the CZ 75 and all-metal frame. (Polymer frame models existed at one point.)
A metal frame adds extra weight, which seems silly for a concealed carry pistol. Well, it seems silly until you start shooting it.
The Rami delivers a much smoother, low recoil experience than subcompacts like the Glock 26.
A low bore axis paired with a metal frame delivers a controllable and comfortable shooting subcompact pistol. We get a great trigger, safety or decocker, and big, easy-to-see sights.
Sadly, all models were discontinued, and the used market is the only place we can find Rami’s at this time.
If you got one, hold onto it.
5. HK P30
The HK P30 couldn’t be saved by the hands of John Wick. For some reason, everyone focuses on the USP, Mark 23, and of course, the VP9.
The VP9 is just a striker-fired P30, so I’m not sure why this gun gets less love than the P2000.
Anywho, maybe it’s because only cultured shooters can appreciate a rock-solid DA/SA design that the P30 utilizes.
Speaking off, the P30 has the best docker design ever in the V3 model of the P30. Instead of a side-mounted decocker like Sig, we get a button located by the hammer. Just reach up with your thumb and press it, and the hammer drops safely and securely.
Like most HK products, the P30 is very well made, extremely reliable, and quite accurate. The trigger isn’t bad, and the single-action stands out.
The interchangeable grip panels make it very easy to fit the gun to your hand regardless of its size. A massive rail makes mounting accessories easy, and HK dropped the silly proprietary rail with the P30.
The P30 is Glock 19-sized and well suited for duty, concealed career, and home defense.
Polymer frame, DA/SA pistols never seem to do well, and the awesome P30 is a testament to that continual rejection.
6. Ruger P85 (and 89)
Ruger’s auto pistols, in general, don’t get much love. They are typically well-made and affordable firearms that are robust and reliable. But they rarely do anything that stands out.
Whenever someone asks about budget handguns, I never suggest Taurus, Rossi, or Bersa; I suggest Ruger. The Ruger P85 started this trend, and a few updates later, it became the P89. The P89 was basically just a rebranded P85 MK2.
Ruger produced the pistol from 1987 to 2009 with minimal changes. The dang thing worked and did so at a low price point.
It’s the trailer park of underrated pistols. An all-metal frame with a DA/SA action was nothing new in 1989, but the 15-round magazine it packed was nice for the time.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The P89 is the most produced variant, and as such, it’s the most common. Our little DA/SA blaster featured a safety that doubled as a decocker and is massive. It’s one of three slide-mounted safeties I find that work well.
While the P89 might’ve been affordable, it was rather nice. The trigger is surprisingly smooth, reliability is shockingly good, and the guns work for years and years without issue.
Fun fact, the Ruger P89 is one of the many Iraqi Military service pistols.
If I was Ruger, I’d cash in on the 80’s madness and bring back the P89.
7. Smith & Wesson 5906
I could list basically any 3rd Gen Smith & Wesson weapon. The 4506 is sweet, as are the 6904s. However, I’m partial to the 9mm 5906.
This all-metal frame, DA/SA gun is Glock 19 sized and outfitted with a 15-round magazine. These guns and most 3rd Gen S&Ws were popular for duty carry. They make great duty guns because they are freaking tanks.
These big, heavy beasts rejected the polymer frame madness at the time and a direct competitor with that newfangled Glock pistol. Glock might have won out, but the S&W 5906 gave guys who hated the plastic fantastic a modern option in the 1990s.
Out of the box, the triggers kind of sucked but wore in as the shooter dry fired and fired the gun. They could smooth out nicely, and you can easily see when one has been fired a ton just by the double-action trigger pull.
Its single action was okay, but the magazine disconnect ate the trigger’s potential.
The 5906TSW even tossed a rail on to modernize the design before the polymer frame craziness took over.
These hefty pistols were reliable and proved themselves well in many police officers’ holster.
8. CZ P09
Another day, another internet gun writer calling another CZ pistol underrated. The CZ P09 is an interesting experiment and a bit of a risk for CZ.
CZ fans like their DA/SA metal frame pistols. Glock (and similar pistol) fans like polymer frames with a striker-fired action.
CZ brought forth the CZ P07 and P09 that mixed a DA/SA design with a polymer frame. CZ’s P07 was Glock 19 sized and saw some real success.
The P09 was a full-sized model and seemed to languish. People didn’t see a need for such a big pistol, and cops didn’t rush out to replace their Glocks or M&Ps with the P09.
That’s sad because it’s a great freaking gun.
P09s featured a 19-round magazine that could easily be extended to 21 rounds with the included +2 baseplates. Users could easily pick from a manual safety for cocked and locked carry or a decocker-only mode.
CZ retained the low slide with a low bore axis.
All the normal accouterments, like replaceable backstraps and a Picatinny rail for accessories, were included.
It’s a sweet pistol and uses the Omega trigger system that allows for replacement triggers, and mine has the super sweet Cajun short reset trigger that is fantastic.
The P09 might be big for concealed carry, but it’s a super awesome pistol for home defense and duty use.
Sadly, it seems like CZ abandoned it for the new P10 series.
9. Sig Sauer SP2022
Prior to the P320, Sig Sauer was all about its metal-framed P series pistols. Polymer and Sig weren’t best friends, but that doesn’t mean they ignored polymer entirely…
The company brought forth the SP2022, aka the Sig Pro line. These pistols were developed with military and police contracts in mind and offered a more affordable option than the traditional P series pistols.
This attracted contracts from underfunded police forces around the world. Unfortunately, the SP2022 premiered and never took off in America.
It offered a DA/SA pistol chambered in .357 Sig, 9mm, and 40 S&W with varying magazine capacities. The gun falls into the compact arena of firearms and is well-sized for various tasks.
They are honestly awesome little guns that are fairly affordable and could directly compete with the likes of Glock and S&W at the same price point.
Yet again, another DA/SA polymer frame pistol that never took off.
10. Beretta Px4 Storm
Last but not least, we turn to one of my favorite manufacturers, Beretta.
The American firearms industry has seemingly ignored the Beretta Px4 Storm series, and that’s a shame.
As you know by now, DA/SA guns with polymer frames don’t do well, even when they are as awesome as the Px4 Storm.
Beretta utilizes a rotating barrel, first pioneered with the Beretta 8000 series pistols. This rotary barrel reduces recoil and helps make the help more controllable. It works, but it’s not a revolutionary break in recoil reduction.
Worth noting that the recoil reduction is prominent enough that it makes the 9mm a very soft shooting pistol. However, be warned the subcompact model doesn’t keep the rotary barrel function.
Beretta does a fantastic job with triggers, and that’s also present here.
The DA is average, but the single action is extremely nice. A variety of Px4 storm pistols were produced with various safety and decocker configurations as well as various sizes.
Sadly, the Px4 series were largely ignored and left in the shadow of the APX and Beretta 92.
It’s an abandoned middle child, and as a middle child, I feel its pain.
What do you think of the Px4? Rate it below.
Though guns like the Px4, SP2022, P09, and P85 guns aren’t part of the popular crowd, they’re still decent guns worthy of attention and praise.
What’s your favorite underrated handgun? Let us know in the comments below. If you want to continue skirting the norm, check out our recommendations of the 6 Best Non-Glock Polymer Frame Handguns.