There are so many good 9mm handguns available to shooters these days and the choices are just humongous.
Going with a full size 9mm handgun for home defense is hard to beat. Combine this with quality loads will give you knock down power and able to rapidly fire accurately is a huge plus. This may be one of the reasons why the FBI have gone back to the 9mm as the primary service pistol for their agents.
Almost hands down 9mm handgun is now one of the most popular self-defense calibers for concealed and open carry. In this segment of full service pistols we’ll look at some 9mm caliber handguns. What makes it a full size is the barrel length. Anywhere near the length of 5 inches we’re stating it as a full size.
Here’s a quick list not the complete list of some of the best full size 9mm handguns:
S&W M&P9 2.0
Glock 19 Gen 5
Sig Sauer P320
Sig Sauer P320 X-FIVE
Sig Sauer P226 Tacops
Springfield Armory XD MOD 2
Walther PPQ Q5 Match
HK VP9 Tactical
The 9mm is a weapon that provides a good balance between ease of firing and stopping power. It is a lightweight pistol that has moderate recoil with less chance of over penetration. Ammunition can be found nearly everywhere and comes in a variety of configurations, FMJ, hollow point and frangible.
Smith&Wesson M&P9 2.0
There have been some changes made to Smith&Wessons M&P pistol hence the new model number 2.0 tacked onto the name. The changes are stronger frame strength, with extra stippling around the grip with a heavy texture, beaver tail has been removed, small front serrations have been added for ease of handling and the top of the slide slimmed down a bit.
Springfield Armory 9mm XD(M)
Priced less than the HK but similar to a Glock it’s a great first gun to buy and a solid performer for a compact.
This handgun is your more bang for the buck. It is packed with features and shoots flawlessly. Pretty fun to shoot with.
Think you all know the G19 reputation for its reliability is off the charts and is by far the most popular handgun in the United States. It is a striker fired polymer frame pistol that other handguns in the same class are compared to and sets the standard for this class of handgun.
The gen 5 Glock 19 can be configured with upgrades to the slide, barrel and grip. It also has a rail that allows a flashlight or other accessories to your desire.
Sig Sauer P320
The Sig Sauer P320 (the chosen one) has been chosen by the army as it’s new serive sidearm. It has a lot of variants so finding something that fits your requirements is simple. The trigger breaks around 6.5 pounds allowing for precise and quick follow up shots.
Beside being an excellent shooting pistol that its known for. Other great features are ease of use, reliability, modularity and accuracy. It is a compact that can be quickly changed to meet your requirements and give you a custom handgun.
Ruger SR9c 9mm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq5ADf28T30
This compact 9mm handgun comes in four versions. The versions differ in color and magazine size with one having a 17+1 round magazine.
Considered the lower end of the price scale but performs well and gives you every thing you need in a compact 9mm handgun. Only one version has the 17+1 round magazine, the other versions have a 10+1 round magazine.
Sig Sauer P320 X-FIVE
Just love the striker-fired Sig Sauer P320 Compact and would recommend it as an EDC to anyone. But this Sig Sauer P320 X-FIVE is something else entirely.
This might be the ultimate custom striker-fired handgun. The metal work on the CZ won the battle, but if you want a polymer pistol taken to the limit then maybe look here instead of an Agency Arms Glock. Some are calling it an apex predator.
This is really a big gun, and it’s been perfectly balanced by the in-house tuning aces at Sig Sauer.
Yes, it’s a blocky snag-free and simple striker fired pistol. The Glock 17 is famously accurate and the grouping at 50 yards is stunning.
But the G34 is another level of laser precision. If cost is a big issue, look to the Glock 17 and possibly some aftemarket parts. If you can buy the best, go with the G34. This was designed for competitive target shooters and that 5.31″ match-grade barrel means its the creme of the crop. You get 17+1 rounds, more if you opt for a John Wick style mag extension, and this Glock is just about the most complete home defense handgun you’re likely to find.
FN FNS-9L Long Slide
With its low price the FN509 is making its mark and it’s giving Glock a run for their money.
The stainless steel slide is serrated in all the right places and it comes with night sights. The grip is just like holding a 1911, especially with the pronounced beavertail that lets you get high up on the gun and close to the bore axis.
The grip does look a little slim at first glance, but you can change out the backstrap for a thicker gun.
This comes with an external extractor, a loaded chamber indicator and a fully ambidextrous mag release and slide stop.
Another polymer handgun, with replaceable steel rails that means this is a cut above the standard plastic pistols. At this price, it’s the right time to pull the trigger if you want to try it out.
Sig Sauer P226 Tacops
Sig Sauer will always be on any top gun list. This P226 Tacops comes with a 20+1 capacity and a DA/SA operation that might suit you.
The Sig comes with a stainless steel slide that has evolved into the perfect companion. Experienced shooters can manipulate the slide and even strip this weapon in their sleep.
This is a fully-loaded version as well. It comes with a SIGLITE rear night sight and a full-on Tritium loaded TRUGLO fiber optic front night sight. Has a Short Reset Trigger too. This is a seriously good handgun, perfectly balanced and suppressor ready.
Springfield Armory XD MOD 2
Springfield Armory makes our favorite CCW in the world and the 5” barrel version of the XD MOD.2 is technically the near-ultimate handgun.
This striker fired 9mm pistol is not just accurate but, seriously accurate. You get 16+1 rounds if you take the extended mag, it’s lightweight, pared down and clean. It isn’t quite as monolithic as the Glock, but it is definitely understated and every piece of the form has followed the function.
This gun is thin, just over an inch wide at the controls, and the widest part of the gun is the double stack magazine.
Walther PPQ Q5 Match
Performance benchmark, it is up there with the best 9mm handguns in the world. The Walther PPQ Q5 Match is capable of taking your home defense duties and if you own one, you will learn to love it just like HK fanatics and Glock fanboys love their chosen weapons.
If you are into custom Glocks, as most of us, then the Walther PPQ Q5 Match should make sense to you. That slide is about as light as it could get, the barrel is Walther’s best match-grade unit and you get a lot of bullets.
The Walther is a big chunky gun, with a slide that is serrated front and back for easy manipulation.
In a way, this gun offers better value for money than the bigger names and the other leading 9mm guns in its class.
CZ 75 B
If you didn’t know most CZ Shadow is expensive, this one is cheap.
The CZ 75 B is a break from the striker-fired routine. This really is a stripped down and evolved 1911 with a proper hammer fired action and everything.
Its not a 1911, but It’s a fresh design and clearly resembles a lot from the classic 1911.
This is not just one of the best 9mm pistols right now, it’s one of the best handguns on the market.
It’s a steel-frame gun with a double-stack magazine, which means it can mix it with the best plastic pistols here in terms of magazine capacity. You get a 16+1 round set-up that weighs in at 2.2lb. Yes, its heavy, but it’s a metal gun, and that’s a big deal for the heavy metaller.
HK VP9 Tactical
HK is no stranger to striker-fired pistols, but it’s been a while since they’ve designed a new one — close to four decades. The VP9 Tactical fit is really comfortable.
HK engineers focused on designing a better trigger system for the VP9 than competitive polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols.
The Heckler & Koch VP9 Tactical is accurate and absolutely reliable with several types of ammunition.
As we stated earlier, this isn’t the complete list of full size 9mm handguns. If you’re a newbie this should help give you an idea of what to start with and take it for a run. For the seasoned carrier, doesn’t hurt to look at other toys while you’re at the gun (candy) store.
Overall, these newer generation of polymer guns are quite durable, accurate and you can custom tailor to your content. And, they are very fun to shoot.
The story of this carbine goes back to 1997, when Kel-Tec introduced the Sub-9 carbine. In general, it was a conventional blow-back gun with the magazine inserted through the hand grip. Designed during the high-capacity-magazine-ban years, it used popular and available pistol magazines, but the Sub-9’s claim to fame was its unusual folding form.
When folding or collapsible stocks were not legal, the Sub-9 worked around that concept by creating a carbine that folded in half at the chamber, halving its overall length for storage and transport.
The folding is initiated by pulling down on the back of the trigger guard, which allows the front of the gun to swing up and back eventually locking the front sight into a recess on the butt-stock.
In 2001, the machined aluminum receiver was replaced with a plastic clamshell, resulting in a lighter and less expensive Sub-2000 model, and since it was made to fit several makes of pistol magazines, in 9mm Luger and .40S&W, this carbine became extremely popular.
Kel-Tec Sub-2000Mk2 (Mark 2). An upgraded version of the Sub-2000 but very similar mechanically and incorporates many improvements that were requested by users but often supplied by after-market accessory makers.
Features and Upgrades
It is 29.1 inches long when deployed and folds down to 16.1 inches.
It has a higher standard of fit and finish, which shows immediately in the smoothness of cycling and accuracy.
The plastic front-sight tower, with its ring-post protector, has been replaced by a machined, non-glare metal tower with protective ears around an AR15-compatible post.
Windage and elevation adjustments are now repeatable, and the red-dot sight-picture is clearer than before.
The muzzle now extends past the sight tower and provides threading for a suppressor or flash hider.
The butt stock is now adjustable for length-of-pull with three positions, and the buttpad is smoother and almost twice as wide as the original; this has considerably reduced the recoil effects.
There are now loops for two types of slings, and the forend is more rigid, slightly less bulky and endowed with Picatinny rails on the top and bottom.
Cooling vents on the sides double as an M-Lock accessory slot, and the pistol grip has been reshaped for better ergonomics.
The unloaded weight with a magazine is only 4.4 pounds.
Performance has improved. Racking the bolt is easier, although the two-finger extended charging handle from Twisted Industries would still be a useful addition. The barrel appears to have improved as well. The old Sub-2000 ranged from 5 to 6 minute of angle while the new one shoots 2.6 to 4 MOA with the same red-dot sight. The top rail even allows the use of magnified optics, since the carbine itself is accurate enough to justify them. Cantilevered AR-15 scope mounts should be used because the top rail only covers the front two-thirds of the forend.
DEAD FOOT ARMS
The gun ran reliably with all types of ammunition, except 50- to 60-grain hyper velocity loads. Point of impact changed considerably from load to load and as much as 3 inches diagonally at 25 yards. For serious use, it’s best to find one load that shoots well and stick to it.
Overall, the gun favors lighter-weight ammunition. The absolute winner in the accuracy department is the all-copper 100-grain OATH Halo with a consistent 2.6 MOA. A mild load with 1,250 feet-per-second velocity also produces minimal recoil and expands reliably.
One hundred and fifteen-grain Corbon JHP and, surprisingly, Winchester’s “white box” FMJ are almost as good with 3 MOA. Remington Golden Saber 124-grain is less accurate with 4 MOA, but works well up close with 1,350 fps velocity. Winchester 147-grain JHP lagged at 4.5 MOA, but would be accurate enough for its intended short-range use with sound suppressors.
Although 60-grain Liberty ammunition did not cycle, it did reach 2,550 fps and could be used for varmints out to nearly 100 yards.
The trigger pull is about 6.5 pounds and not very smooth, with a gritty second stage and some over-travel. Fortunately, the wide trigger guard allows for a safe addition of a trigger shoe designed for a P11 pistol. This wide shoe improves the feel of the trigger and gives it better control. This carbine uses an internal hammer with a sufficiently energetic pin-strike which makes misfires unlikely. In fact, I’ve had no malfunctions of any kind, even with over 300 rounds of mixed-type ammunition.
The bolt does not stay back on the last shot, but the difference in the feel is sufficient to tell when the gun is empty, and the charging handle can be locked back to show a clear chamber. This carbine fits 17- or 33-round Glock magazines and works well with 50- and 100-round drums; all drop freely when released. Smith & Wesson M&P magazines are the next in line for production after the Glock-compatible model.
In practical terms, it’s a competent companion to a center-fire pistol. Its main advantage over the pistol is improved practical accuracy and some increase in muzzle velocity. Folded, it can safely fit into a laptop case with a loaded magazine in the grip. While ballistically weaker than a true rifle, the Sub2000Mk2 is also lighter and quieter. For firing indoors, the reduction in concussion is very helpful, not to mention many ranges do not permit 5.56mm and other rifle calibers. –AmSJ
Note: Some of the photos for this article show a pre-production version of the Sub2000mk2 carbine without the threaded muzzle. All production guns will have a threaded muzzle.
With the introduction of the American Pistol Compact, Ruger’s line of Patently Patriotic Firearms expands and shrinks at the same time.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
Bill Ruger would have turned 104 years old in 2020, and even though he is gone I believe that he would have been quite impressed with the innovative ﬁrearm designs that continue to appear on pages of his namesake company’s annual catalog. Unlike Colt, Smith & Wesson, Remington and Winchester, which were all operating in the 1800s, the Ruger brand is relatively new. But in just over 60 years, Ruger guns have earned a spot near the top of all American gun manufacturers. In ﬁrearms manufacturing terms that’s a meteoric rise, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing.
The pistol is a polymer-framed, striker-ﬁred semiauto, and is available in 9mm (shown here) and .45.
The American Compact enters the most competitive arena in gundom, and is the most recent combatant in the ﬁerce battle for carry-gun supremacy. And while Glock may have brought life to the polymer frame/striker-ﬁre gun category, they are hardly the only game in town anymore. Virtually every major handgun manufacturer has some sort of gun that ﬁts this mold, and more are coming.
For the past few years, Ruger has launched several products under the American name (which is ﬁtting, since these guns are made in the U.S.), most recently adding the American Pistol to round out their patriotically themed rimﬁre and centerﬁre riﬂe families. The Ruger American is a polymer-framed, striker-ﬁred semiauto available in 9mm and .45. It offers many of the same features you’ll ﬁnd on competing guns, such as interchangeable grips, a bladed trigger, and an accessory rail tucked under the gun’s muzzle. The price is one that any hard-working American can afford: $579 MSRP, with lower prices around for bargain shoppers.
The author tested the model version with an ambidextrous manual safety.
The standard American has a 4.2-inch barrel in 9mm and a 4.5-inch pipe in .45. With a full magazine, the 9mm version offers an impressive 17+1-round capacity, and while the gun is great fun at the range, it’s a bit big to break into the main channel of the concealed carry market.
But Ruger was one step ahead, planning (and now offering) a compact version of the American semiauto pistol.
It’s not as though Ruger needed another compact gun, truthfully. This is, after all, the brand that brought us the LCP and LCP II, LC380, LC9s, SR9/SR40C, and they also now offer a 1911 Commander as well. But the concealed carry market continues to grow, and having a full portfolio never hurts, so they have added the American Pistol Compact to that mix.
THE 9MM COMPACT VERSION of the American (the full-sized model is called the Duty) sports a 3.55-inch barrel (3.75inch in .45) with a length of just 6.65 inches. Designing a carry gun is always a give and take with regard to overall size; small guns are easy to hide and carry, but they aren’t as comfortable to shoot or as accurate (in most cases) as larger, longer-barreled guns. The American Duty pistol is a very comfortable gun to shoot at the range, with great sights and an excellent trigger that mate well with its grip geometry and control layout. But it’s big; too big for most people to carry.
The front and rear Novak sights provide good target acquisition, even in dim light or for those with poor eyesight.
The Ruger trigger has a good deal of take-up and breaks at six pounds, but the reset is positive and short, so you can deliver fast follow-ups.
The Compact, on the other hand, does a great job balancing on that middle ground that makes it just the right size for everyday concealment. It weighs right around 29 ounces (a little more or less depending upon whether or not you opt for a manual safety) and measures – again depending on your safety option – just under or over an inch and a half wide at the controls. It utilizes a double-stack magazine that gives you 12 shots in 9mm, unless you live some place that forbids that amount of ﬁrepower, in which case you’ll be deducted a couple shots.
Concealed carry is indeed a numbers game, and the American Compact has the data required to be a serious player. But to do a proper evaluation on any carry gun, we need to take a close look at all the features and see how they stack up against the competition.
Dead Foot Arms
I put about 200 rounds of 9mm ammo through the American Compact I was testing, and although it’s hardly torturing the gun, that many rounds offers plenty of feedback on what this gun will do. I used three different loads for the test – Hornady’s American Gunner with 115-grain XTP bullets, SIG Sauer’s 124-grain Elite Performance V-Crown, and Nosler’s Defense Bonded Performance 124-grain +P load. It wasn’t any accident that I chose these loads, either, for they’ve all proven to be effective and accurate, and I’d stake my life on any of them.
The American Compact ﬁeld strips quickly and easily.
There are some striker-ﬁred semiauto carry guns that seem to eat anything you feed them, and the Compact is one of them. I fed it magazine after magazine, ﬁred from the bench at 15 yards and from standing and kneeling positions. I did draws, drills, and double-taps, all in an effort to see if this gun runs. And, in fact, it does. It feeds nicely, the magazine is well built and easy to use with springs that function well but don’t exhaust the hands when loading (if your mitts do get tired, there’s a mag loading tool included with the gun, though).
In 205 rounds tested there were 205 proper feeds, proper extractions, and proper ejections. The only inconsistency was that the slide didn’t stay open once, but when you’re talking about roughly 40 magazine changes over the course of the test I don’t consider that an issue. In short, the American Compact will function well with good loads. It isn’t particularly ﬁnicky, and it functions well.
I PLACE CONTROL DESIGN AND LAYOUT near the top of my priority list when evaluating a carry gun. Over the course of the last decade, controls on carry guns have been consistently shrinking – in some cases, disappearing altogether – with the idea being that fewer controls are less likely to hang up when drawing and less confusing when shooting. I suppose that there’s some validity to this, but I’ve drawn dozens and dozens of test guns over that same time period and I have yet to have a slide stop or safety hang-up when I was doing my part. What I have had happen – and what seems to happen with some regularity – is that I have tested striker-ﬁred guns with such Lilliputian controls that I have to fuss with a teeny tiny slide stop during a reload.
The pistol was on target with a variety of loads, including these Nosler Defense rounds.
I offer this lengthy thought to laud praise on the American Compact. I tested the version with an ambidextrous manual safety in large part because a lot of people who carry concealed want a manual safety (if you just rolled your eyes, there’s a version called the Pro Model for you). At its most basic level, the Ruger’s safety operates like that of a 1911 in as much as you press the lever down to ﬁre and elevate it to activate. It’s fairly narrow but easy to ﬁnd and manipulate, a good combination on a carry gun. There’s no ﬁddling with a tiny, heavy button – one swipe of the thumb and you’re ready.
The ambidextrous slide stop is fairly small but functional and, like the safety, shouldn’t hang when drawing. The takedown lever remains tucked out of the way on the front of the frame, but it makes disassembly a cinch. A subtle depression and polymer bump keep the shooting hand thumb in place, and just below that you’ll ﬁnd the triangular magazine release button. If you choose the Pro Model and eliminate the manual safety, it’s a clean but functional control landscape, and even with the safety lever this gun is easy to holster, draw and hide.
Triggers on striker-ﬁred guns range from pretty good to terribly sloppy, and you simply can’t expect the same performance you’ll get from a single action. That being said, the Ruger trigger is on solidly the plus side of striker guns. There’s a good deal of take-up and the trigger breaks at 6 pounds, but the reset is positive and short, so you can deliver fast follow-ups.
The author tested the gun with Versacarry’s new Commander OWB (shown here) and Quick Slide OWB/IWB holsters.
THIS GUN IS MEANT TO BE CARRIED, so for eight days the Ruger was my traveling companion just about everywhere I went. I tested it with Versacarry’s new Commander OWB and Quick Slide OWB/IWB holsters, opting for the Commander when I was wearing a jacket or wasn’t as concerned about concealing the gun and switching to the Quick Slide when I wanted to be sure the gun was out of sight.
The double-stack magazine makes the American Compact slightly wider than the ultrathin single stacks from Ruger and others, but with a maximum width of just 1½ inches with the manual safety this gun isn’t terrible hard to conceal, and at 30 ounces it rides well in both holsters without the need for a really heavy belt. It’s also worth noting that the grip angle promotes a positive, high grip when drawing the gun, so it’s easy to be consistent when engaging a target.
There are two options for magazines; one with a ﬂat bottom and another with a ﬁnger extension. Measuring 5¼ inches from top to bottom with the ﬁnger extension magazine installed, the gun is compact enough that you could easily carry with either mag. In fact, I carried with the ﬁnger extension in place the whole time and never had any issues with printing, although it was winter and I wore a light jacket almost everywhere I went. As previously mentioned, Ruger built this gun with speciﬁcations that allow it to be carried relatively easily (though it won’t vanish under light clothing like the LCP II), yet it’s fun to shoot at the range.
The American Compact feels more like a midsized pistol – Ruger’s American Duty or SR9, a Glock 19/17 or Walther PPQ – than a singlestack ultracompact 9mm.
Sometimes shooting a compact pistol on the range is a real chore; recoil can be excessive when shooting ultralight pistols with narrow grips coupled with hot defensive loads. The American Compact is much more subdued, feeling (at least with the ﬁnger extension magazine, which you’ll probably using at the range anyway) more like a midsized pistol – Ruger’s American Duty or SR9, a Glock 19/17 or Walther PPQ – than a single-stack ultracompact 9mm. The three rounds tested performed well (see chart) and groups around 1½ inches were the norm when ﬁred from 15 feet off the bench while using sand bags.
The gun comes with three interchangeable grips (small, medium and large), and there are two options for magazines: one with a flat bottom and another with a finger extension.
But the real test for this gun was how it handled off the bench, and it performed quite well when delivering double-taps, performing lateral and horizontal movement drills, and when drawing and ﬁring. The trigger, as previously mentioned, has a short reset, and that high grip and a relatively low bore axis helps keeps recoil manageable for quick follow-ups. Those Novak sights are a nice touch, too, and even in dim light or with poor eyesight you’ll be able to see the white dots.
The American comes with three easily interchangeable grips, so if you want to change the feel of the gun, it’s easy to do. There’s also a Picatinny rail, so if you want to add a laser or light that won’t be a problem either.
In closing, the Ruger American Compact is a great gun for those who appreciate its simple-to-use design, good trigger and reliable engineering. It’s a crowded and tough market out there, but the American deserves a spot on your short list when comparing 9mm carry guns. AmSJ
The Ruger American Pistol Compact is an excellent addition to the company’s patriotic line of U.S.-built handguns and riﬂes.
There are many great 9mm pistols of the past and present out on the market. But, which ones are really accurate right out of the box without any customization.
We’ll be straight up with you. We did not test fire all the 9mm pistols (except a few) from the list below. The following sentiments were collected from shooters in various gun community.
We also understand these sentiments are subjective and not objective (scientific). You can take our suggestions of the most accurate 9mm pistols with a grain of salt.
As most of you all know the “Indian” is always the variable factor that has to do with accuracy and not the “arrow”. From the groups that have shot these 9mm pistols are the Joe average with maybe some military or law enforcement background. None of these shooters are newbies or of elite status like a Rob Leatham. Rob can pick up just about any pistol and be accurate with it.
As we stated earlier these reviews are not true gun benchmark from Smith&Wesson or Sig Sauer. These perspective are not from a defensive or combat shooter stand point either, just from the plinker/recreational shooter. In retrospect, if these were competitive shooters doing this accuracy test. Our list of 9mm pistols could be different or more 9mm’s added to this list.
The following are two 9mm pistol lists, the first is from shooters who just went out and shot targets without any purpose just on a “feel and where the bullet hits on target”.
The second group are the same type of shooters just different person. This group actually thought of ways to reduce human error as much as possible. For example shots were fired from a hand rest or sandbags. There were no warm-up firing, all shooting was done cold from the line. Atlanta Arms 115 grain 9mm FMJ match bullets were used. Shots were fired from 12 and 25 yards. Another thing to note, some pistols had optic sights mounted. This can affect accuracy as you find out later in the result section.
The course of fire was 5 shots at the 12 yard line and three 5-shot groups from the 25 yard.
After the smoke had cleared, the grouping is looked at to determine the accuracy of the pistol. For example, 1 inch groupings from 12 yards.
Here is the first list of most accurate 9mm pistol out of the box:
Swiss AT 84 S
Considered a CZ75 clone but many shooters feel this is more accurate.
Browning Hi-Power 9mm
The name and reputation speaks for itself.
Straight out of the box accurate
Sig Sauer P210
See the results from the test below.
This shouldn’t have surprised you.
These 9mm pistol are really accurate, reliable and available in most local gun stores.
In the second list some of the 9mm’s are not your regular pistol that you’d see at the local gun store, they are quality target pistols for competition shooting. I think the rationale was to see how the regular pistols and higher end target pistol compares.
S&W Performance Center 5906 PPC 9mm
Sig Arms P210-5 Heavy Frame 9mm
Sig Sauer P210 Legend Target 9mm
Sig Sauer P226S X-Five Enhanced Classic 9mm
CZ 75 Tactical Sport 9mm
Pardini GT45-II 9mm
Beretta 92 Combat 9mm
Glock 17L 9mm (3rd gen)
Based on the best group sizes, nearly all of the pistols performed well. Nearly every single pistol was capable of a group of less than 2 inches at 25 yards and less than 1 inch at 35 feet (11.7 yards). Despite the good performance, there was a clear stand out winner, the X-Five.
The X-Five shot the overall smallest group at 25 yards as well as the overall smallest average group at 25 yards and at 35 feet. This consistency, however, was likely driven by the unfair advantage of the Aimpoint T-2 red dot sight. Other pistols had excellent groups but could not get the consistency. This variability in the other pistol groups seemed highly affected by the type of iron sights particularly those used in the older pistols. Regardless of the unfair advantage, the X-Five turned in tiny group after tiny group including that 25 yard group of well under an inch.
The runner up was the S&W PPC9 6 inch. With that long sight radius, that hand built Performance Center fit, Briley bushing and excellent single stage trigger, the PPC9 excelled at accuracy. Its consistency nearly won the day. It may have been a closer race if we had mounted a red dot to the PPC9 instead of the irons.
The performance bargain was the CZ75 Tactical Sport. The TS ran competitively with pistols costing many multiples of its price and even beat many pistols costing far more. The sight radius, light trigger and weight make this a joy to shoot. For the shooter on a budget, the TS is an outstanding choice.
As noted earlier, in a better test, they would have shot three to five 10-shot groups at each range with each pistol for more statistically significant results. They couldn’t do so due to time, fatigue and other human constraints.
They began this test by trying to ascertain the most accurate pistols in this group test of high quality target pistols. They did our best to remove the human factor by shooting over support. Despite their best efforts, they ended up constrained by a very human factor: our vision and our ability to see each respective set of sights.
We hope this test was in some way helpful, but we stress that all these results should be taken with a grain of salt. This is a sample set of one of each pistol with one type of ammunition and one set of shooters. Your results may vary.
Best 25 Yard Groups
Sig Sauer X-Five Classic w Aimpoint T-2 0.893
CZ 75 Tactical Sport 1.029 inches
S&W 3566 1.381 “
Sig Arms P210-5 HF 1.622 “
S&W 5906 PPC9 6″ 1.628 “
Pardini GT45-II 1.796 “
Sig Sauer P210 Legend Target 1.829 “
Glock 17L Gen 3 2.155
Beretta 92 Combat 3.422
Best 12 Yard Groups
S&W 5906 PPC9 6″ 0.421 inches
Sig Sauer X-Five Classic with Aimpoint T-2 0.441 “
Glock 17L Gen 3 0.63 “
CZ 75 Tactical Sport 0.719 “
Sig Arms P210-5 HF 0.789 “
S&W 3566 0.866 “
Glock 17L Gen 3 0.88 “
Pardini GT45-II 0.906 “
Sig Sauer P210 Legend Target 1.002″
Beretta 92 Combat 1.181″
Other Pistol Notes S&W 5906 PPC9 6″ By virtue of consistency the PPC9 came in second place in our accuracy test. It did not have the overall second smallest 25 yard group at 1.63 inches but it did have the overall second smallest average 25 yard group at 1.92 inches.
In addition the PPC9 has the overall smallest 35 foot group of 0.42 inches and the overall third smallest average group size at 35 feet of 0.89 inches. The 35 foot average was thrown off by a single bad group of 1.6 inches. Sig Sauer P210 Legend Target The P210 Legend was very consistent. The best 25 yard group was a poor 1.83 inches but the average 25 yard group was a third best 2.02 inches.
The best 35 foot group was 1.00 inches and the average 35 foot group was 1.25 inches.
These were solid but not exceptional results from the German P210 and it appears that the Swiss P210 might have a slight edge on it based on best groups. Sig Sauer P226S X-Five Enhanced Classic The X-Five had the unfair advantage of the Aimpoint T-2 red dot sight. This was reflected in the sheer consistency of group after group. We did not have the broader swings in group size at 25 yards that we had with other pistols as we settled into each new set of iron sights.
The X-Five achieved stunning accuracy. The smallest 5-shot group at 25 yards was 0.89 inches and the average 25 yard group (average of five groups) was a best overall 1.31 inches. These were both the smallest overall. The X5 also achieved the overall second smallest 35 foot 5 shot group of 0.44 inches and smallest 35 foot average group of 0.54 inches.
Even the worst groups were excellent. The worst 35 foot group was 0.65 inches and the worst 25 yard group was 1.63 inches.
The X-Five was the clear winner coming in first in nearly every metric, but we should have either equipped the other pistols with red dot sights or removed the red dot sights from the X-Five to keep the competition fair. CZ 75 Tactical Sport The CZ Tactical Sport was the clear price to performance ratio winner.
It had a second best 25 yard group of 1.03 inches but was let down by a 2.30 inch average 25 yard group. The other four groups ranged from 2 to 3 inches.
It also had a 35 foot group of 0.72 inches and the second best average 35 foot group of 0.89 inches.
Although it did not outright win, the CZ kept up with pistols costing many times as much.
Story and photographs by John Johnston of BaLLISTIC RADIO
Here’s why using 9mm ammo for personal defense is a good choice:
When I used to work at a gun store I was frequently asked what caliber was best for any given situation. It would have been nice if there had been some sort of magic death ray that I could have suggested, but there isn’t, and most people have a pretty flawed understanding of what actually happens when a bullet interacts with a human target.
For starters let’s examine a couple of concepts that don’t actually exist in the scientific world but everyone talks about anyway. I’m going to regurgitate the work from those better than myself, and the information is worth paying attention to.
This doesn’t actually exist. If a bullet had enough force to knock down an individual, it would also knock down the individual firing the gun. People do not go flying through the air when hit by a bullet, contrary to what the movies and television would have us believe. Newton’s Third Law and all.
On the back of a box of ammo, manufacturers list the foot-pounds of energy (ft-lbf, or foot-pounds of force/energy) that their rounds have. Well, that doesn’t actually matter. The terminal performance of a projectile is determined solely by how much tissue it cuts, crushes or tears. While it has been advocated by many-a-misinformed-gun-counter commando that some sort of energy transfer occurs between a projectile and its target, this has been rejected by everyone I respect who studies terminal ballistics for a living.
9MM IS FOR GIRLS AND SISSIES
How often have you heard, “If you’re not carrying a caliber that begins with the number four and ends with the number five, you’re doing it wrong”? This almost makes sense if we were limited to nonexpanding ammunition, but most of us aren’t. When we compare modern hollow-point rounds in popular service calibers, there is, on average, one-tenth of an inch of difference in expanded diameter between a 9mm and a .45ACP. Grab a ruler and look at a tenth of an inch. It doesn’t seem like much, does it? That’s because it’s not.
In autopsies of gunshot-wound victims, the wound track created by a 9mm is indistinguishable from that created by a .45ACP.
The only advantage that a larger caliber is going to offer you, in my mind, is slightly better performance through intermediate barriers. Probably one of the more commonly encountered intermediate barriers is the front or rear windshield of a car. That’s not to say that the smaller caliber doesn’t perform well through those same barriers; it’s just that the larger ones perform only slightly better. Tempered auto glass has a nasty tendency to deflect bullets from their original course, as well as separate metal jackets from their lead-core bullets. It’s for this reason that .40S&W gained so much popularity in law-enforcement circles during the early 1990s.
The nice thing is, with modern designs, most service ammunition is going to perform pretty well through barriers, and it is for this reason that a lot of larger law enforcement departments are switching back to or have been using 9mm all along. Some notable examples are the NYPD and my very own Cincinnati Police Department, which is using the 9mm 147-grain Ranger T series fired from their Smith and Wesson M&P9s. The PDX1 Bonded ammo line is the civilian version of this round with the only difference being price.
So, since I’m happy with the 9mm’s performance through barriers, and all handgun calibers suck anyway (editor’s disclaimer: the views of the author are not necessarily the views of the world at large but his determination, confidence and delivery is inspiring), here is why I like 9mm:
An H&K P7M13 with 9mm 147-grain Federal HST expanded ammunition.
“Damn, I wish I hadn’t had so much ammo” is not something I’ve ever known anyone in a gunfight to say after the fact. The phrase “If you can’t get it done in six, then it ain’t gettin’ done” is asinine, and something that I hear so often it makes me want to rip out what remaining hair I have. None of us are mind readers, and if we could predict beforehand how many rounds we would need to stop a threat, then why the hell wouldn’t we just avoid the threat entirely in the first place? More rounds are a good thing; if you think differently, I’m going to have to politely disagree with you, and think nasty thoughts quietly to myself.
Can I shoot a .40 or .45 as quickly as I can a 9mm? Sure I can. Can I shoot a .40 or .45 as quickly and accurately as I can a 9mm? I wish I could. There are some people who can, but I’m not one of them. Whether I’m shooting strong or weak hand, my accuracy only gets worse. In every force-on-force exercise that I have ever participated in, someone always seems to get shot in the hand. So with that in mind, being able to put rounds on a target quickly with one hand seems important to me.
IT’S CHEAP! (Relatively)
Nine millimeter ammunition is cheaper than any of the other service calibers. Cheaper equals more ammo. More ammo equals more practice, and obviously more practice equals awesome. Since I’m a fan of awesome, it all works out pretty well for me.
So there you go, the logic behind why I’ve chosen 9mm as my preferred handgun caliber. Obviously the choices you make are going to be determined by your circumstances and personal preferences, but hey, at least you know why 9mm gives me the warm and fuzzies that is does. For a more detailed and intelligent take on this subject, check out Service Caliber Handgun Duty and Self-Defense Ammo by Dr. Gary Roberts. ASJ
Editor’s note: John Johnston is the owner and host of Ballistic Radio, a weekly show and podcast dedicated to topics about self-defense, firearms and training with a touch of humor thrown in for good measure. See the cover story of American Shooting Journal’s June 2015 issue. John Johnston is on the cover.
Here are some top 9mm’s ammo for self-defense:
[su_heading size=”30″]Does it really matter?[/su_heading]
The debate over the 9mm and .45 ACP is one of the most talked about in the firearms community.
Both handguns/calibers have a huge following thanks to their popularity and success in the field.
So which one is better you ask?
9mm vs .45 ACP Match Ups
One of the biggest mistake that most people make is taking a black-and-white stance (only looking at ballistics stats) on the .45 ACP and 9mm.
Many will say that the .45 is better because it shoots a bigger caliber bullet, or that the 9mm is better because of its higher magazine capacity.
Both points are spot on and provide good reasons to prefer one over the other.
Even if you think more bullets is better, you have to admit having bigger bullets with more bullets on tap are both worthy considerations when choosing one gun over the other.
If you look at the bigger picture is that neither gun has a total advantage over the other one, and your own preferences will play a lot in determining which handgun is for you.
Let’s take a look at the major points of each caliber to help you decide.
Manufactured will pitch it as being compact and easier to handle than its .45 ACP counterpart which may be the many reason why the 9mm has become one of the most popular rounds in the gun world.
Just like the .45ACP, the 9mm have served the U.S. military gloriously for more than 30 years.
Yes, even the FBI dropped their .40 S&W pistol in favor of the 9mm.
Here are some of the advantages that the 9mm has over the .45 ACP:
9mm Luger outperforms most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
A question to consider for the pro .45ACP carrier, is carrying bigger necessarily better?
The 9mm also has a higher muzzle velocity than the .45 ACP because it uses lighter bullets. Which has caused further debates within the firearms groups over which is better, a fast/light cartridge or a heavy/slow one?
The .45 ACP
If you like the idea of shooting a gun with a lot of stopping power – you’re not alone.
With its heritage engraved in history the trusted Colt M1911 to the modern .45 Glocks, it has always been a most reliable caliber for the gun owners.
Many of us handgun lovers believe that bigger is better and love everything that the .45 ACP has to offer. Here are some of .45ACP’s best features:
.45s stopping power makes it a great home defense gun
Over-penetration isn’t as much of a problem
Battle tested for over 100 years which have produced some very powerful .45 ACP bullets
On a irrelevant side note, the .45 ACP is a very cool handgun.
Looking at the Two
The advancement of technology has improved the 9mm cartridge, it didn’t get better than the .45s. But, that the 9mm capability caught up to the .45 ACP.
What the experts are saying is that the modern 9mm is just as powerful.
Take a look at these pics highlighting rounds that opens up to create possible nasty wound channels that can stop an attacker:
147gr Federal HST Expansion
That is some serious expansion from the 9mm rounds.
But don’t forget developments for the .45 is also available with FMJ.
Winchester 230 gr Ranger T-Series 45 ACP
While the 147gr Federal HST expanded from 9mm (roughly .35cal) to an average 15mm or .61″, the .45 ACP expanded from (again, roughly) 11.5mm to 25mm (.45″ to 1″)
They both doubled in size…and since .45 ACP is bigger to start with, it became humongous in the end.
Not Breaking the Bank
Affordablity, is something that the 9mm is in favor for the average shooters.
Boxes of 9mm Luger are cheaper than the .45s ammo.
When you’re spending some long range time, the 9mm isn’t going to break the bank.
Velocity – Suppressed
We have to mention this because there are folks that love shooting their .45s suppressed. The .45 is a subsonic bullet, because it fires slow and its a heavy bullet, the muzzle velocity is lower than the 9mm which makes it damn near-whisper level.
This is mainly for military and LEO’s but you could be faced with similar situation, if needed.
Most of these folks have gone with the 9mm because they wanted the deeper bullet penetration.
For home defense only, go with the .45 ACP for less penetration, you won’t have to worry about hitting innocent bystanders.
What you choose to go with depends on your budget and life style.
Each caliber has it good points, sometimes it depends on the owner.
Are you a good shooter that can work that gun well? Or, are you just one that only wants to have a gun and never think of practicing with it.
Maybe you’re the tactile person thats into the feel of a handgun.
Some like the heavier weight with a decent kick.
While others prefer the lighter recoil for rapid shots.
Will you be carrying for open or concealed? For CCW, most will go with the 9mm because of the smaller profile. Again, its up to you.
The good news is that which ever you choose, manufacturers has them for you to choose from. You’ll find the 9mm and .45 ACP for home defense, EDC, SHTF or just plinking papers.
Which caliber do you prefer?, Let us know below.
Greeley, PA – Kahr Arms is happy to announce that three of their popular CW9 9mm models are now California legal. These models include the CW9 in a Black Carbon Fiber frame, standard CW9 with front night sight and the very popular Cerakote Burnt Bronze.
The three CW9 models all feature a 3.6” barrel with conventional rifling, an overall length of 5.9”, and a height of 4.5” and each pistol weighs just 15.8 oz. All three models offer a trigger cocking DAO, lock-breach, “Browning-type” recoil lug, and a passive striker block with no magazine disconnect. Capacity is 7+1.
The attractive CW9093BCF is one of Kahr’s newest finishes in a classic Black Carbon Fiber print. This textured weave provides a 3-D dimensional appearance to the 9mm while also providing a textured grip that has a tacky feel in your hand. MSRP on the CW9093BCF is $495.00.
Next in the line-up is the CW9093N which features a stainless steel slide and a black polymer frame. It also features a drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight and a pinned in polymer front night sight. MSRP on this model is $495.00.
Last in the group is the CW9093BB. The Cerakote Burnt Bronze has been a popular finish for Kahr Firearms Group having introduced it in both the Kahr and Magnum Research product lines. The attractive brushed bronze finish always turns a few heads at the gun range and has proven to be the top choice of many shooting enthusiasts. The MSRP on that model is $482 and is now available for California gun dealers to buy from authorized Kahr Firearms Group wholesalers.
For more information about these three models, please go to www.kahr.com or check with your local gun shop.