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10 Most Underrated Handguns [Guide]

We take a look at some handguns that deserve some love, but are often overlooked. Come see which models made the list!

I love weird and unappreciated handguns. As such, it’s high time I’ve put together a list of my favorite underrated handguns.

Yeah, Glock is cool and all, but we’re not interested in the cool crowd today.

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.

Effective Range 1911 Pistols
1911 Pistols

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.

1299
at Guns.Com

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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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.

FN Browning Hi-Power
FN Browning Hi-Power

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.

(Photo: Atlantic Firearms)

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.

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at Kentucky Gun Co

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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.

Walther P99C
Walther P99C

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.

579
at Sportsman's Warehouse

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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.

Walther P99C
Walther P99C

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!

(Photo: Pibwl)

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.

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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.

Wick’s P30L

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

(Photo: ATF)

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.

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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.

PHLster Floodlight IWB CZ P09
CZ P09

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.

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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.

PHLster Floodlight OWB CZ P09
PHLster Floodlight OWB CZ P09

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.

(Photo: Sig Sauer)

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.

492
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

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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.

(Photo: Beretta)

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.

520
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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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.

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (38)

Your Rating?

Final Thoughts

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.

Walther P99C
Walther P99C

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.

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28 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jack Toffmore

    I have a PX4 and I can confirm it is a very nice piece. Smooth racking and trigger, easy teardown and straightforward operation. I will say the downside is lack of aftermarket support and expensive magazines and replacement parts. I get why so many people love their Glocks when everything is so easy to get for them.

    August 6, 2022 10:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim

    Or you could get a FEG R-9, which is half hi power half smith.

    July 8, 2022 3:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    NY'er

    The P85/89 were rock solid performers. The best bang for the buck. Back in the early 90s I shot plenty of rounds with no issues, but I went with the P90 instead for the .45 ACP.

    As far as the rest of those pistols, the HK P30 is an awesome build. You can't go wrong. I feel the VP9 trigger feel is better, but if you like a true hammer with SA/DA the P30 is great.

    The Beretta is definitely underrated. It's a great shooter as well.

    July 8, 2022 6:43 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Evan Seelye

    It's hard to improve on excellence. The High Power is still a solid, reliable 9 with a great capacity. Nice to shoot too. John Moses had his sh_t together! A Genius is an understatement.
    My comment is about the first picture shown under - ''1. Browning High Power' - showing a 1911 (also by John M Browning) and an AMT 'BackUp' (anyone know who came up with it?) - That's what caught my eye. Mine is in .45 ACP and is a super compact "Hand Full" to shoot. A 9mm in the AMT would be a nice 'back up'.

    July 6, 2022 12:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Greg Patarini

    Still carry my p85, more accurate than I can shoot and fits my hand perfectly. Love it! Thought about another carry pistol, but this darn gun is a tank!

    July 5, 2022 8:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Barry

    I would trade my Springfield 1911 for any of guns on this list.

    July 5, 2022 6:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Christian John Novak

      What do you have? Your 1911 I mean.

      July 5, 2022 8:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bemused Berserker

    A Ruger P85 was my first venture into Semi-Auto pistols. It was everything the author says it was, except accurate. Even in a Ransom Rest, we could never get the gun to print under 3 to 4 inches at 50 feet. I finally concluded that they just didn't lock up tight enough to be accurate guns. You'd give it a shake and you could hear it rattle.

    July 5, 2022 6:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave Norton

    I have a .45 cal. Sig P220 that I bought new about 10 years ago. Don't know how popular they are/were, but I've NEVER run into anyone who even knows what a P220 is, never mind own one. I'd be curious as to what the rest of the world thinks about my baby, if there are any thoughts at all. Probably will never know... Thanx for letting me speak my piece... Keep up the great work my friends!!

    July 5, 2022 5:41 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John F

      P220 is my carry gun. Accurate, reliable, easy to shoot, and easy to carry for a full-sized gun. DA/SA with a decocker. And it's a 45.

      July 6, 2022 5:43 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Dave Norton

        I don't carry mine, or anything for that matter. I live in Maryland - 'nuff said... Thanx much for your comments - truly!

        July 7, 2022 10:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Hovater

    I'm 100% with you on the P99. I carried on on duty for a bit in 2001 or do. It is everything that Glock will never be.

    July 5, 2022 5:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Christian John Novak

    Back in the early 90s working at a mid Michigan PD we went thru automatic transition training. Given the choice of a PD issued Glock 19 or buy your own I choose the 5906. I stood on the firing line waiting for the Glocks to stop jamming with the cheap reloads we practiced with while my Smith functioned flawlessly. So bad in fact the instructors took my magazines to load for me with .380 rounds staggered so i could "tap and rack" like everybody else. I get the Glock is a good gun but have not nor will i ever let my life depend on one. Carried that Smith with confidence for years and still have it.

    July 5, 2022 5:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ronald Wilson Cash

    I have the Sig SP2022 and the CZP09 would never sell either, would love to own several others on the list!

    July 5, 2022 4:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    AC

    I love Berettas and I really love my PX4s. I have a full size 9mm and .40 and a compact .40 is my carry gun. I've upgraded all of them with Langdon Tactical parts and my fullsize has the LTT custom red dot slide cut. It's weird people don't like them, I guess they don't like the looks.

    July 5, 2022 4:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Taco

      I have and love the PX4 storm in 9mm. I also have the 9mm CX carbine, love them both. I was trained on a 92s and have 5 of them. my carry is the Wilson/Beretta Tactical. Learn to use a gun and buy as many of those as you need,dont fall for slick marketing.

      July 6, 2022 10:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Clyde M.

    Ruger P85 was my first pistol, which I bought about 25 years ago. It was also my first concealed carry, which is large, but it worked fine in a fanny pack. I don't carry it anymore, using other smaller pistols. I think I paid $250 for it, and it has been well worth it. I have never had a misfire with it. When I taught my daughter to shoot it, it finally misfired, caused I believe by her thumbing the slide. I see they're going for about $400 now, I'll keep mine!

    July 5, 2022 4:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark J

    I had the Ruger P85 for 30 years until I sold it last winter. It was an awesome pistol with a trigger so sweet that double-taps sounded like one shot. But, it was 30 years old and I had the opportunity to sell it for more than I paid for it, so away it went. I currently have a Sig SP2022 in .40 that I purchased as new/old stock originally purchased by a gentleman in the late 2000’s and put away for 15 years or so. I purchased it as used but unfired and the pistol is fantastic. After 500 rounds or so without any hiccups at all, it has become a primary carry pistol - the DA/SA feature is key with regards to appendix carry.

    July 5, 2022 3:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Lew

    My Department used SIG 2022s when they were still called the SIG Pro. We thought they were great guns. Then we found out our firearms officer was disassembling every single one that came in and then reassembling them with custom fitting and polishing. They were junk until he fixed them. Buyer beware.

    July 4, 2022 10:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ronald Wilson Cash

      mine has worked flawlessly out of the box...buyer happy

      July 5, 2022 4:55 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        C Mac

        Same here, my first handgun purchase was the SP2023 in 9mm and it’s still one of my favorites.

        July 7, 2022 8:16 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    C. Haynes

    Mossberg Mc2c. Near perfect compact 9. Capacity of 15+1, no trigger pull disassembly, perfectly placed serrations and finger rests. I have a couple thousand rounds through it without a single problem. Great carry weapon. Sub $500.

    July 4, 2022 10:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    LazrBeam

    I’ve got a CZ RAMI. I really like the way it feels in my hand and it shoots very nice….WHEN it shoots. It has a habit of double feeding and, subsequently jamming. I’ve already sent it back to CZ once but I cannot get through two mags without at least one, maybe two, jams. I really really want to like the gun but, unfortunately, it’s been relegated to a range toy. I don’t trust it for self defense. I’ll keep taking it to the range and maybe, just maybe, after several hundred more rounds it’ll iron out. In the meantime it’s the P365 or the Shield Plus for EDC.

    July 3, 2022 8:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Andrew L

      Interesting, I've had a Rami for several years and had few if any reliability issues.
      Though I did make the initial mistake of shooting it without cleaning it first (gotta get that factory grit off, I guess). But totally agree - reliability must come first in a carry gun.

      July 6, 2022 4:05 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    That guy from Washington

    I have a Walther P99. Fits my mits like no other handgun I’ve fired. Plenty accurate considering my middling pistol skills. I have a few other handguns, the only two semi autos that have never had any kind of malfunction are my Glock (relatively few rounds) and my P99 (that I inherited and even in the second generation and lots of rounds through, runs like a Swiss time piece)…I’m no pro…but that Walther is a great design

    July 3, 2022 8:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Thought Criminal

    You mentioned the Ruger P Series to my delight!
    I have had 'a few' P95DCs (polymer battle tanks)and loved all of them!
    The Stainless Steel Slide is a thing of beauty atop that black glass filled polymer.
    The dual recoil spring and big ol' heavy steel slide make it a soft shooter.
    My favorite is 25 years old, had thousands of rounds and the polymer that contacts the slide looks new.
    I've replaced the barrel once because i found a brand new one, not from excessive wear.
    The DA trigger has a loooong hammer pull cycle but the SA reset is crisp and consistent and trigger whipping hasn't been an issue since i figured it all out.
    The barrel probably weighs as much as my LCP 1- fully loaded.
    Its +p rated and eats anything you feed it, Liberty 50g +p ultra light Civil Defense hollow points, 210g Callaway FMJ, 124g Always Save FMJ, 70g Federal light practice rounds and Red Army Brand steel ammo made from melted down T34/85s.
    It cares not. (Munch munch)
    Its big and bulky, the DeCocker levers and sights catch on everything, expensive holsters can't quite contain it, the grip grooves are barely adequate for sweaty hands and a Houge grip makes it too bulky even for my ham fisted hands but I'd trust my life on it in The Moment.
    To me its the perfect Pew Pew Palace and Bug Out Piece because it will take any 9x19mm you put in it and its shoot out the lights accurate.

    July 3, 2022 5:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Peter Ratner

    Springfield Armory is making a BHP clone now.

    July 3, 2022 4:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      AC

      I was surprised they didn't mention the SA-35, which appears to be a very popular and good quality gun.

      July 5, 2022 4:46 pm
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