The Best Handgun Reviews – Aim for Excellence in 2024

Picking a handgun can feel like choosing a spaceship control panel – tons of buttons and things you don’t quite understand! Even experienced shooters can get stumped by all the different sizes, bullet types, and how the gun works. We’re here to help match your needs with the best handgun reviews.

best handgun reviews

That powerhouse (or sleek beauty) you just saw up there might be a contender, but don’t jump the gun (pun intended) just yet. This blog dives deeper than just showcasing the latest and greatest. 

We understand that the “best” handgun is subjective, depending on factors like experience level, intended purpose, and personal preferences. Here, we’ll equip you with the knowledge to confidently navigate the various types of handguns, decipher the cryptic world of calibers, and ultimately, select the firearm that best suits your shooting style and needs. 

So let’s discover the best handguns of 2024 in this comprehensive guide, which features an array of top selections tailored to suit various needs ranging from concealed carry to home defense. 

Explore a collection of models that stand out for their reliability and performance, each rigorously evaluated to meet your specific demands.

Key Takeaways

  • The article provides an in-depth evaluation of the best handguns for 2024, selected based on reliability, ease of use, and expert opinions from professionals like a SWAT officer and a Gunsite Academy graduate.

  • Top handguns highlighted include the Walther PDP Compact Steel Frame 4-inch and Wilson Combat SFX9 for overall performance, Glock 19 and Sig Sauer P320 for versatility, and Kimber R7 Mako and Staccato CS for concealed carry.

  • Special categories such as best home defense (Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0 and Springfield Armory XD-M Elite), budget options (Taurus G3C and Canik TP9SF), and handguns for women (S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ and Ruger LCP II) are also discussed, emphasizing specific features and user needs.

How We Selected the Best Handguns

Practical considerations such as functionality, dependability, and user-friendliness are paramount in selecting top-tier handguns. Our thorough assessment protocol for identifying these best-in-class firearms included essential criteria like:

  • Uncompromising reliability

  • Simplified magazine loading processes

  • A minimum round capacity of 10

  • There is a variety of frame sizes to choose from

Additional factors considered included the caliber size, ergonomic fit, safety mechanisms, sighting systems, type of firing mechanism used by the handgun, and the grade of ammunition it fires.

To bolster our decision-making process with authoritative knowledge and hands-on experience in this field, we sought guidance from industry experts. These included Matthew Every, a senior editor at Field & Stream; Will McGuire, a seasoned SWAT training officer; and Sebastian Mann, who holds a certification from Gunsite Academy. Their profound insights were instrumental in guaranteeing that our final picks represented nothing less than excellence in firearm selection.

Testing Process

To thoroughly assess each handgun, we didn’t limit ourselves to shooting just a handful of rounds. We committed to firing at least 200 rounds through every firearm, allowing us to understand its sustained performance and detect potential problems that might arise only with considerable use.

Our evaluation went beyond simple target practice. It included various exercises like the El Prez Drill, Failure Drill, and Forty-Five Drill. These activities are designed to replicate actual defensive situations so as to assess how effectively each handgun operates in various stressful conditions, emphasizing the importance of striking targets and maintaining accuracy under different challenging scenarios.

Scoring Methodology

In formulating our scoring system, we balanced quantitative and qualitative factors. Group size metrics offered concrete evidence of each firearm’s precision capabilities. Recognizing that there’s more to a handgun than empirical statistics is essential.

Thus, subjective criteria such as the trigger pull quality and ergonomic design were also considered. These aspects are integral to an enriching shooting experience and greatly influence ease of use and shooter comfort. By integrating both sets of measures, we achieved a thorough evaluation process capable of identifying superior handguns.

Best Overall Handgun

best handgun

Determining the “best overall” handgun involves a combination of factors such as functionality, adaptability, and user-friendliness. The Walther PDP Compact Steel Frame with its 4-inch barrel emerged victorious this year, securing the esteemed Editor’s Choice award. Its superior capabilities shine through in multiple applications—be it for concealed carry purposes, home defense scenarios or practicing at the range. It wasn’t alone in distinction.

Our attention was also captured by the Wilson Combat SFX9 due to its impressive proficiency not only in hidden carry contexts but equally when engaged in defensive practice routines. This model has rightfully earned its place among the premier options for concealed carry pistols available today.

Glock 19

Glock 19

The Glock 19 is distinguished by its reliability, simple maintenance, and adaptability. It is a compact pistol that has garnered widespread popularity among many individuals.

The Glock 19 stands out for its dependable operation, enhanced with features such as front slide serrations for an improved experience.

This pistol excels particularly in the context of concealed carry due to its trustworthy functionality and substantial capacity. Versatile enough to suit multiple purposes, the Glock 19 provides a perfect combination of dependability and flexibility appealing equally to experienced marksmen and those new to carrying concealed weapons alike.

Sig Sauer P320

Renowned for its modular construction, the Sig Sauer P320 enables users to personalize both the grip size and caliber according to their preferences. The ease with which components can be interchanged lends itself to exceptional adaptability tailored to individual requirements.

Sig Sauer P320

Beyond its modularity, the intuitive design of the P320 renders it an ideal selection for novices seeking a handgun that evolves alongside their growing expertise. This versatility positions the Sig Sauer P320 as a prime option across diverse contexts including self-protection and sport shooting competitions, solidifying its prominence in our catalog.

Best Concealed Carry Handgun

best handgun for concealment

In the realm of concealed carry, the emphasis is on compactness and dependability. Recently, two models have stood out for their exemplary performance in these areas: the ultra-compact Kimber R7 Mako with its effective grip texture and commendable sights, alongside the Staccato CS which has garnered attention for its top-notch components, precision accuracy, and manageable recoil.

Both proving to be superior options for a concealed carry gun, yet selecting a suitable pistol is only part of successful concealed carrying. 

Ammunition caliber also plays an integral role. For those wielding a concealed carry pistol, 9mm rounds remain preferred due to their optimal balance between size and stopping power. 

Critical is choosing how to carry your firearm—with inside or outside waistband holsters (IWB/OWB) or alternatively using off-body methods such as in purses or bags serving as typical choices when concealing your weapon.

Above all else though stands one essential consideration: the holster you select must offer secure retention of your pistol while simultaneously ensuring trigger protection at all times it remains sheathed inside.

Sig Sauer P365

In the realm of concealed carry firearms, the Sig Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops emerges as an exceptional option. This 9mm pistol is remarkable for its:

  • Outstanding ergonomics

  • Minimal recoil

  • Ease of concealment (ultra-slim design)

  • Ample magazine capacity – accommodating not only a standard 10 rounds but also compatible with larger-capacity magazines holding up to 12 or 15 rounds

  • Dependability in operation with no jamming issues

The combination of compactness and ample ammunition storage positions the Sig Sauer P365 at the forefront among choices for individuals seeking a discreet yet capable firearm. It delivers an optimal mix of ease-of-carry, firepower, and consistent performance that appeals both to those experienced in carrying concealed weapons and novices alike.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus is remarkable for its high-capacity capabilities, offering 10+1 and 13+1 round options. This feature positions it as a top-tier choice for individuals who prioritize substantial ammunition capacity in a concealed carry weapon. Its slender and sleek design Facilitates effortless concealment and carrying.

For daily carriers, the Shield Plus’s approachable features significantly augment its attractiveness. The gun benefits from an optimal grip texture that promotes better control and ergonomic ease during use—qualities that make handling the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus both comfortable and practical for regular usage.

Best Home Defense Handgun

best handgun image

When it comes to selecting a handgun for personal protection and home defense, the importance of reliability and longevity cannot be overstated. In situations where your safety is at risk due to a threat in your home, having a dependable firearm is critical. 

This rationale has led us to recommend the Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0 along with the Springfield Armory XD-M Elite as top choices for home defense firearms. Both models offer an excellent combination of functionality and affordability, with special recognition going to the Springfield Armory model that earned our Great Buy award for 2024.

The type of ammunition you choose for your personal protection weapon holds significant weight in its effectiveness during critical scenarios. Hollow point bullets are favored because they deliver substantial stopping power while reducing chances of over-penetration—this helps maintain efficacy yet decreases unintended harm beyond the intended target area.

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite

The Springfield Armory XD-M Elite is a superior semi-auto pistol distinguished by its large 22-round magazine capacity. This feature sets it apart from many other pistols within its category.

 This model boasts an accessory rail that facilitates the addition of tactical enhancements such as lights and lasers to Improve its effectiveness for protecting your residence.

Beyond offering ample ammunition storage and customization through accessories, the XD-M Elite promises consistent dependability. It delivers unwavering performance so you can trust in your firearm’s functionality in critical situations when reliability is paramount.

Beretta 92X

When discussing home defense, dependability, and sturdy build are essential. The Beretta 92X stands out by meeting these criteria, particularly with its option for extended magazines, which ensures a generous supply of ammunition in scenarios requiring home protection.

Beretta 92X

The blend of the Beretta 92X’s durable construction and extended magazine capacity assures that it is user-friendly during urgent situations at home. In moments where time is of the essence, you can rely on the efficiency of the Beretta 92X.

Best Budget Handgun

`You don’t have to spend a fortune to obtain a trustworthy handgun. The Taurus G3C and Canik TP9SF stand out for their exceptional reliability and notable features while being budget-friendly. For example, the Taurus G3C provides dependable performance frequently at a cost below $300.

Conversely, the Canik TP9SF is recognized for its superior quality that comes without an exorbitant price tag. It boasts significant attributes such as an excellent trigger system, distinguishing it within the economical firearm segment. These handguns are perfect for those mindful of their spending or newcomers in search of substantial value without sacrificing quality.

Taurus G3C

The Taurus G3C presents an economical choice that still offers a host of features. With the inclusion of three magazines upon purchase, it delivers additional value for its affordable cost.

The firearm boasts a compact framework with an overall length measuring 6.3 inches and a barrel stretching to 3.2 inches while maintaining a light presence at just 22 ounces.

Incorporated within this budget-conscious handgun is an accessible flat-faced trigger complemented by both a safety mechanism and guard, affording minimal trigger reach and enhanced command over the weapon. 

It also sports front serrations on its slide for simplified racking operations and check procedures prior to pressing into service. Despite being wallet-friendly, the Taurus G3C does not neglect convenience-centric characteristics like offering configurations that accommodate threaded barrels.

Canik TP9SF

The Canik TP9SF provides remarkable value, offering features that exceed expectations for its price range. 

A highlight of this firearm is the short, smooth and reliable trigger pull it offers. With an ample 18+1 round capacity, the pistol stands out in terms of performance.

This model holds great appeal not just for those purchasing their first gun, but also for experienced shooters in search of a cost-effective secondary weapon. Despite being easy on the wallet, the TP9SF doesn’t compromise on reliability or functionality – making it a dependable option worth considering.

Best Handgun for Women

For female shooters, the best handguns are those that prioritize comfort and simplicity in operation. Handguns ideal for women often feature a slender design to fit their grip comfortably and are lightweight enough to be carried concealed without inconvenience. 

A preference is usually shown for smaller caliber rounds, as they tend to produce less recoil when fired. Among the leading choices for women are the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ and Ruger LCP II.

The S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ stands out with its slide that’s easy to rack along with a simple disassembly process, catering especially well to ease of handling requirements. On the other hand, renowned for being exceptionally light is the Ruger LCP II. Both models offer an excellent combination of functionality and user-friendliness suited perfectly for female users who value performance but do not want it at the expense of convenience in using their handgun either on or off-range.

S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ

S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ

Incorporating both high performance and a design that caters to ease of use, the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ is particularly well-suited for female shooters. It stands out with its slide, which is effortless to rack, and its straightforward breakdown process, ensuring accessibility even for novice users.

The pistol comes equipped with a flat-faced trigger featuring an integrated safety mechanism, which reduces the length of pull while enhancing handling precision. Front serrations on the slide facilitate smoother racking as well as press checks. These attributes contribute to making the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ not only easy to operate but also dependable — qualities that solidify it as a preferred firearm among women.

Ruger LCP II

The Ruger LCP II is a superior option for women seeking self-defense due to its exceptionally light build. At just 12.3 ounces, it provides ease of carry over extended durations.

Its diminutive stature notwithstanding, the LCP II maintains an uncompromised level of reliability. 

Ruger LCP II

It serves as a trustworthy tool for self defense with its blend of comfort, efficiency and user-friendliness that caters to both experienced markswomen and those new to shooting alike. The Ruger LCP II stands out as a dependable and comfortable choice for women’s self-defense needs.

Best Handgun for Beginners

Entering the realm of handguns can be daunting due to the vast array of options. For novices, we recommend the Glock 17 and Ruger SR9 as top handgun selections. Each model provides dependability and an intuitive design that caters well to those who are just getting acquainted with firearms.

Renowned for its consistent reliability and simplicity, the Glock 17 stands out as a perfect starter handgun. Conversely, the Ruger SR9 boasts features like an ambidextrous safety feature and a customizable grip system which elevate its appeal by prioritizing safety considerations and accommodating users of all preferences.

Glock 17

Known for its dependable performance, the Glock 17 presents an excellent choice for novice shooters without compromising on functionality. 

Its reputation for reliability makes it a favored option among those who are new to shooting. 

The uncomplicated and easy-to-maintain design Enhances its appeal to individuals who may not be familiar with the intricacies of handgun upkeep.

The Glock 17 offers a simple mechanism that is ideal for beginners who could find more intricate firearms daunting. It delivers both reliability and ease of use, making it an optimal selection for newcomers embarking on their path in firearm proficiency.

Ruger SR9

The Ruger SR9 stands out as an exceptional option for novice shooters. It is equipped with a manual thumb safety that is ambidextrous, accommodating users regardless of being left or right-handed. The reversible backstrap offers customization options to improve grip fit and comfort, which benefits those who are new to shooting.

Ruger SR9

The SR9 includes a loaded chamber indicator that delivers both visual and tactile signals when a round is in the chamber, thus improving safety measures. Given its combination of user-friendly safety components, adjustable grip comfortability features, and dependable operation. The Ruger SR9 represents an outstanding firearm selection for beginners.

Best Competition Handgun

In the realm of competitive shooting, accuracy, superior trigger performance, and the ability to tailor one’s firearm are paramount. This is precisely why competitive shooters often favor models like the CZ Shadow 2 and Walther Q5 Match. The CZ Shadow 2 excels with its seamless operation and sharp trigger response, while the Walther Q5 Match boasts commendable accuracy coupled with a user-friendly ergonomic build.

Both firearms strike an exemplary balance between high-level functionality and adaptability to shooter preferences—key aspects for competition purposes. Whether you’re deeply experienced in competitive shooting circuits or just venturing into this demanding sport, both the CZ Shadow 2 and the Walther Q5 Match stand ready to provide the essential precision mechanics as well as opportunities for personalization that can propel you towards victory.

CZ Shadow 2

The CZ Shadow 2 is highly regarded in the competitive shooting arena, thanks to its exceptionally smooth and refined trigger action.

It’s particularly favored by competition shooters for this reason. The firearm boasts a versatile double action/single action trigger mechanism that enhances its adaptability during various shooting competitions.

This model is equipped with a fine-tuned 1mm fiber optic front sight coupled with an adjustable rear sight which improves aiming precision. The Shadow 2 can be obtained in a specially hand-fitted ‘Orange’ version that features a barrel bushing reminiscent of those found on classic 1911 models. Offering high accuracy, customization options, and an outstanding single-action trigger system – plus compatibility with night sights – the CZ Shadow 2 emerges as an elite choice for competitors seeking excellence in their sidearm.

Walther Q5 Match

Renowned for its exceptional accuracy, the Walther Q5 Match is a dependable selection for numerous shooting competitions. 

Its ergonomic construction bolsters both comfort and command for shooters while engaged in contest situations.

Walther Q5 Match

The Walther Q5 Match boasts remarkable adaptability to accommodate various competitive shooting styles. It supports enthusiasts across the spectrum of speed and precision disciplines, ensuring that whether your focus is rapid-fire or pinpoint accuracy, this firearm meets your needs.

Best .22 Handgun for Plinking

Engaging in the sport of plinking can be greatly enhanced by selecting the appropriate.22 caliber handgun, with both the Ruger Mark IV and Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory distinguishing themselves through their precision, user-friendliness, and dependability.

Regarded as a top contender within its class for target shooting due to its straightforward construction, pinpoint accuracy, and steadfast performance, the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 model has garnered favor among enthusiasts. Contrastingly, praised for contributing significantly to shooting enjoyment thanks largely to its striker fired mechanism along with an impressive magazine capacity exceeding 20 rounds and a customizable trigger system, is the Sig Sauer P322 pistol.

Ruger Mark IV

The Ruger Mark IV series is highly regarded for its precision, earning it favorability among enthusiasts for both leisurely target practice and hunting small game. 

Its remarkable feature of an extremely easy-to-use takedown mechanism significantly simplifies the disassembly process, allowing shooters to maintain and clean their firearms without hassle.

In particular, the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 variant boasts a grip styled after the classic 1911 design which enhances comfort during modern two-handed shooting techniques. This model comes equipped with safety levers on both sides. 

Users have the option to remove the lever on the right side according to personal preference. The Ruger Mark IV serves as an excellent firearm that combines accuracy with user-friendly operation and dependable performance whether you are experienced in shooting sports or new to firing range activities.

Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory

The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory is celebrated for having a highly respected barrel system that enhances its accuracy and overall shooting capabilities. 

This firearm provides various customization options to cater to casual recreational use as well as intensive training sessions.

The remarkable attributes of high precision make the SW22 Victory from Smith & Wesson an outstanding selection for those seeking pleasure in target shooting or ‘plinking.’ It caters perfectly to both experienced marksmen and novices, delivering a combination of top-tier performance and an enjoyable experience that stands out in its class.

Summary – Best Handgun Reviews

The selection of an appropriate handgun depends on the intended use, whether for self-defense, competitive shooting, or recreational purposes. Options range from the reliable and easy-to-use Glock 17 to the CZ Shadow 2, with its exceptional trigger designed for competitors. We intend that this guide has made it easier for you to discern among the varied offerings in handguns.

It’s essential to remember that a high price tag does not define the best handgun. Rather, it’s about finding one that meets your unique requirements and tastes. Whether you are an experienced marksman or just starting, grasping subtle differences between various handguns will aid you in choosing wisely and securing a firearm that’s ideal for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best overall handgun?

Renowned for their outstanding performance and adaptability, the Walther PDP Compact Steel Frame with a 4-inch barrel and the Wilson Combat SFX9 are among the top handguns overall.

What makes a handgun suitable for concealed carry?

A firearm appropriate for concealed carry should be both compact in size and reliable.

Top choices to contemplate include the Kimber R7 Mako and the Staccato CS.

What are the features to look for in a home defense handgun?

When selecting a handgun for home defense, prioritize models known for their dependability, robustness, and ample magazine size. Options such as the Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0 or the Springfield Armory XD-M Elite should be considered.

What are the best handguns for beginners?

The Glock 17 and Ruger SR9 handguns are excellent choices for those new to shooting, thanks to their dependable performance and designs prioritizing ease of use. These firearms are suitable for beginners embarking on their journey in marksmanship.

Which .22 handguns are best for plinking?

For plinking, where accuracy, simplicity in operation, and dependability are prized qualities, both the Ruger Mark IV and Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory are highly endorsed as exceptional handgun options.

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