Handguns > Semi-Auto

AR's Top 10 Handguns

Our choices for the best and most significant handguns on the past century.


What is a handgun? As defined by the U.S. Federal Firearms Act, 15 U.S.C., Chapter 18: “Handgun. (a) Any firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand; and (b) any combination of parts from which a firearm described in paragraph (a) can be assembled.” But a handgun is so much more than that. Handguns or “hand-gonnes” have been a fabric of culture and society as long as “fire-arms” have been with us. Indeed, according to Pollard’s History Of Firearms, the first recorded use of “handgunnes” dates to November 7, 1388. Another early appearance of the term in print dates to 1448 in Archaeologia XXII. 63.

In more modern terms, the allure and importance of the handgun has increased. One of the best explanations for this comes from the late NRA Director Col. Jeff Cooper and his insight from The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning. “The fascination of the pistol lies in the idea of controlling power with one hand,” he wrote. “Aside from its value as a fighting arm and a sporting instrument, the pistol has other areas of utility. Fortunately, there are still times and places in which a man may have need of a firearm and yet find a long gun cumbersome or impractical.” And that sums up the role of the handgun as well as may be done.

Cooper also wrote, “It is interesting to note that the pistol went from a negligible, last-ditch sort of gadget into its present form, almost overnight, historically speaking.” The handgun is a reliable, potent instrument of self-defense. Although there are such anomalies as the Heckler & Koch “Mk 23 Mod 0 Offensive Handgun Weapons System,” the handgun remains primarily defensive in nature. As Thunder Ranch’s Clint Smith says, “[H]andguns are truly at their best when they are used to fight your way to a rifle.” The handgun’s chief advantage is that it is portable enough to always have with you. If you were going to a gunfight, unless you’re a Hollywood action hero, the last gun you’d take is a handgun. I hope never to be invited to a gunfight (it’s unlikely I’d attend, anyway), but belt-fed and 7.62 mm would be elements in my choice of armament. No, it is the portability of the handgun, the fact that it may be unobtrusively carried on the person without undue burden—discreetly or openly—that is the enduring appeal. Why do police officers carry handguns? Because they can—all day every day. They are short, handy, appropriately powerful, and easily and discreetly stored.

But handguns are not just about gunfights or personal protection. They are arguably the most difficult of competition arms to master. Try competing in NRA Bullseye or 2600, and you’ll know. World-class handgunners can turn in groups that even competent riflemen envy. Handy and compact, they have been used effectively as hunting arms for centuries. Think handguns are no good for dangerous game? You might want to Google the word “Howdah.” Large, powerful revolvers in major chamberings are just as appropriate for hunting as they are for self-defense and plinking. The T/C Contender revolutionized handgun hunting, but just missed being on our “Top 10.“ Pistol shooting, whether with a vintage Woodsman in the backyard or Hammerli free pistol in Olympic competition is about harnessing and channeling that power, about the discipline of both body and mind in the attainment of perfection.

There is an almost unhealthy fascination with “Top 10” lists in our culture. In such rankings, something or someone must win, someone or something must lose. “Top 10 Handguns” is admittedly a pretty broad category, and there is no clear delineation between military and civilian arms—with handguns they are one and the same with no line to even blur. Handgun technology through the past 600 or so years spans from a tube in which rudimentary powder and a rock are stuffed down the front and ignited with a piece of smoldering rope to the completely interchangeable, multi-caliber, polymer-frame SIG P250 introduced last year. So we limited the voting to self-contained metallic-cartridge handguns, meaning any cartridge gun after the Lefaucheux Pinfire in 1835.

We looked for technological innovation (in my view the Modello 1889 System Bodeo was a clear winner over the Colt Single Action Army, but for reasons that escape me, cowboys and Hollywood never embraced the Bodeo). Other critical areas included service life, impact on contemporary and subsequent designs, competition use, and military and police use. How many were made and for how long? We placed high importance on what step in the evolution of the handgun was marked by a particular design.

The panel was comprised of Brian C. Sheetz, senior executive editor; Glenn M. Gilbert, shooting editor; Aaron Carter, managing editor; Angus K. McClellan, assistant editor; Field Editors Chad Adams, Wiley Clapp and Mike Humphries; and National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica, Senior Curator Phil Schreier and myself.

Each panelist listed his picks for the “Top 10” from one to 10. A first-place vote received 10 points; a 10th place vote received one. With 10 panelists, the maximum score possible was 100—the top gun received 92, an “A” in most school systems. The 10 handguns receiving the most points were named to the list. In the event of a tie, the guns with the highest-placed votes received the lower ranking.

Any such list is open to compliments or condemnation. That’s kind of the point of such an exercise. Our votes are listed on our website, and there is an online poll for members to weigh in with their thoughts. There will also be a “Top 10” blog for staffers and members to post their thoughts. We will publish the poll results along with comments and insights we deem appropriate in a future issue. The whole point of such exercises is to provide entertainment, to encourage debate and provide education. —Mark A. Keefe, IV, Editor In Chief


No. 1: The M1911, M1911A1 Pistols And Variants, 92 Points

How can this happen? The firearm in question is only two years from its official 100th birthday. On March 29th, 1911, Col. John T. Thompson of Army Ordnance signed a letter to Colt’s president in which he announced the adoption of the Colt .45 automatic pistol as the official service handgun of the U.S. Army. A joint effort of Colt engineers and dedicated Army officers, working with gun genius John M. Browning, the pistol had won out in test trials against a distinguished field—including a damnably persistent Savage entry—to become the official U.S. military sidearm. This is all well-documented history and easy to summarize. It is harder to explain why the gun is still with us almost a century later. It is a complex of both objective and subjective reasons that combine to guarantee a happy centennial birthday for the pistol of the century, the M1911 Government Model.

In fact and fancy, there is much to be said for the M1911 pistol. Objectively, I cannot name a handgun that delivers more mud-and-sand reliability than the Government Model. All of the internal parts are solid chunks of steel, and they last longer than the sheet metal pressings and wire parts used on today’s competing designs. It is an easy gun to maintain and teach to students. I used to regularly detail strip mine in Vietnam to ensure that immersion in rivers and rice paddies had not deposited an unpleasant surprise in the gun’s innards. No tools required. It is accurate enough for personal defense at 25 long steps, often beyond. With the attention of a qualified armorer with premium parts, the pistol shoots under an inch at 25 yds. It is a credit to the basic design that it has been shortened, lengthened, widened and otherwise fooled with, for a host of perceived needs both good and bad, but with no measurable deterioration of reliability. Since the gun was intended for personal defense by service members whose duties precluded carrying rifles or carbines, one must look closely at what the Government Model has delivered in the way of performance. Beyond a doubt, there is no other service handgun made in the lifespan of the Colt .45 that can equal—or even approach—that of the M1911 Government Model when it comes to resolving conflicts, stopping fights, and keeping Americans alive and fighting.

As Americans, we have come to love this marvelous firearm. Surprisingly, much of that affection is fairly recent. Glancing at the Gun Digest for 1970, we see that there was only one maker of the Government Model: Colt. Today, there are more than I can count. The guns are available in an array of finishes and features, but just about every current maker produces a model similar to the basic gun first fired in anger before World War I. Although part of this recent love affair turns on wide availability, there would be no supply of the guns if there were no demand for them. A good bit of the demand comes from an objective appreciation of the inherent worth of the design, and some of it may be pure nostalgia. More is based on the development of a style of shooting, developed in the late 20th century, which represents the highest and best use of this superb firearm. It is the handgun of the century, made by dozens of makers and in millions of numbers. The late Jeff Cooper best nicknamed the gun when he called it “The Yankee Fist.” It is the “Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911A1.” —Wiley Clapp, Field Editor

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77 Responses to AR's Top 10 Handguns

James wrote:
September 18, 2014

I'll take my Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum revolver over any slide action anytime anywhere. Wheel guns don't jam and you can literally throw a Ruger off a 10 story building and it will still work. And no you don't shoot them sideways with your baseball cap facing sideways and 26 gold chains around your neck all bad*** LOL

RDNK wrote:
March 31, 2014

I started collecting 1911's,esp.Colts about 5 years ago. I think they are the best handgun there is in .45 ACP. I also really like my S&W .357 magnum revolvers and don't think wheel guns are antiquated at all. Time proven both of these fine weapons.

Rick O wrote:
March 20, 2014

Harry P... Paragraphs please!

big tex grisham wrote:
March 17, 2014

Sig sauer P220 preferably in stainless, but as long as its a P220..... Then you be packin the best. Also alot more reliable than a 1911

samsonite wrote:
October 21, 2013

Who has time to read 5 pages let alone write it, GET A LIFE HARRYP

BigFoot wrote:
October 18, 2013

Well HarryP, I'm not going to take on your five pages line by line because you were getting way off into the weeds. Let me just summarize all my posts in this thread and others by saying that my objective has always been to establish that the qualifications for being the 'best self-defense cartridge available' include deep penetration and large holes and more is better than less. Period. If an individual, for whatever reason, wants to water-down those attributes then fine, but that's on him. Choosing a self-defense cartridge is all about choosing your experts and listening to their advice because most of us have not shot enough bad guys to make an informed decision based on our own personal experiences. So who do you know that has shot the most bad guys? That would be the military, the FBI, and the police departments. And what do they like? The military has had a long history of poor stopping power with .35-size bullets, starting with the Moros in the Philippines and continuing through to Afghanistan. They trust the .45 ACP. And as having been addressed ad-nauseam in this thread, the FBI likes the .40 S&W. And the most popular police caliber is the .40 S&W. So if you believe that you would be best armed with a .40 or .45 you would be in good company. But if your hands can't control it or you haven't figured out how to conceal it, then sure, pick a lesser cartridge. But not unless you really have to.

HarryP wrote:
October 18, 2013

5/5 The same is true of your wild and purposely attention-getting, over-the-top dramatizations: “If you were locked in a room with a 300-pound bad guy, dressed in heavy clothing, high on drugs, and wielding a knife, and you could only bring one round of ammunition with you, what would you bring?” If I had a choice as to how to engage an armed, 300lb, drug-fueled, human/brown bear hybrid in a leather jacket and a flannel shirt, I would bring a similarly-numbered 300 (H&H or WinMag) but if more realistically, I was going to the grocery store on a hot summer day and I was concerned about any life-threatening issues there, I would slip a 1911 into my waistband (just behind my strong-side hip) and drape a concealing shirt of some sort over it. But, if like many people, my hand size didn’t allow for me to control such a gun, my hip and waist relationship didn’t permit me to fit a gun of any kind into my beltline, my mode of dress didn’t allow me to wear a successfully covering garment over it, or the drive to the store had me sitting more in the car than standing in the store (and worse yet, maybe sitting in an often wrap-around car seat but always sitting in a car seat with a seat belt), then a different size gun in a different size caliber might well make more sense. And that’s what’s most important here: making sense. What makes sense is to look at everything before making a decision as important as this one. I’ve said from the start that I am a big bore believer. But what works for me, doesn’t work for everybody and it would be wrong for me to discount other’s needs and limitations. Or, worse yet, to imply that those conditions are not valid or even important. We learn ourselves, and we truly help those who need it, by studying all (not just selected) facets of a given problem; by then coming up with potential answers derived by serious study and not biased by dime novel bombast espoused by either individual proponents of a given theory or companies attempting to sell their products; then measuring any success yielded by those solutions against as wide a set of applications as possible; and finally by both offering and adapting (as necessary) those solutions to as many people as possible (while making sure that they still “work”). All that, while constantly studying any changes and improvements against the backdrop of past performance, scientific evidence, historical knowledge, and the hype that often accompanies, and distorts, the actual function of anything new, in the hopes that they will advance those successes even further and for more people than before; always admitting both when they do and when they don’t. To do otherwise limits our ability to improve and, in this case, to perhaps save lives. The Bureau did that with the 10mm when they looked for something better for their people because (sadly) some of their people had died. Smith & Wesson did that with the .40S&W when they worked with Winchester to look for a way (within the bullet-manufacturing limits of that time) to put a greater-than-traditional number of controllable but more effective-than-traditional rounds into a platform that benefitted a greater-than-traditional number of law-enforcing officials worldwide. And it is how in more recent years, the unsung bullet designers and fabricators of today, have created better performing projectiles for the widely used (and sometimes one’s only option) 9mm. Most of us can only hope that in our own small ways, we can somehow contribute as greatly to the safety of others. Good luck to you BigFoot, I hope this discussion has gotten you to see that perhaps there is a bit more to this than you originally thought both in terms of what actually happened (the “lite” 10 coming before the gun and even before the agents in the field were issued it) and that just as with many things in life, that while bigger can be good, the complexities of life sometimes don’t always make it better (for everybody).

HarryP wrote:
October 18, 2013

4/5: BigFoot, the most important “fact” in all this is that the FBI 10mm loading was not the result of the Agents having trouble in the field but of a pretty sharp crew within the Firearms Training Unit that recognized early-on that while the bigger hole was desirable as were the depth and displaced tissue volumes, all of that could be achieved without the hard-to-control power you seem to place above all else. Next, and as a separate matter, it should be recognized that the 10mm, while abstractly related to the .40S&W by people who had been involved in a series of different projects at different places and at different times, is not really “its parent”; nor is the .40S&W merely “a shorter cased cartridge based on the 10mm”, for there was a lot more to it (in terms of the long-term histories of many of those other commercially unsuccessful projects and the specific engineering of this one) than just shortening an existing brass “can” to fit into a smaller platform. And as to your comment that the .40 S&W became popular “due to the ability to chamber the shorter cartridge in standard frame automatic pistols designed initially for the 9mm Parabellum”, I think that I said that myself the last time (“…while initially being promoted in terms of power alone, the .40S&W was then almost immediately presented by Smith itself as something that again offered ‘performance’ in a platform that could be handled by a wider range of hand sizes than the 10mm/.45 platform, while only slightly reducing the capacity in the beefed-up 9mm-sized firearm in which it was introduced than the 9mm cartridge itself offered in the same size gun.”). It wasn’t that the Bureau didn’t see this; it is because that at the time of their research, it (the .40S&W) just wasn’t there. So they worked with what they could get at the time: the 10mm. They worked with 10mm in a way to make it more controllable while still yielding the performance they demanded for their Agents. They worked with it by downloading it. Later, other agencies saw the advantage to the .40S&W when it came out: “performance” balanced against “controllability”, where “controllability” (manageable recoil among other things) was further enhanced for the overall law enforcement community by the ergonomics of a platform that better fit a wider range of hands. And BigFoot, in addition to my hope that in the future you will be more wary of internet rumor and or the web’s tendency to selectively edit for effect, that’s my other suggestion to you: try and look at the big picture. For your offhanded dismissals and almost snide comments (“Forget a little hurt in your hand, forget about depending on multiple shots…”) undercut what I am sure is your sincere attempt to get your point across. For some people cannot adequately “grip” or control certain handguns due to their hand size, previous hand and/or finger injuries, and certain conditions like arthritis. Other people actually have either tangible or perceived issues with recoil itself for reasons far too numerous to debate here. And almost all of us have to get used to what happens when a higher performance pistol is discharged (in terms of noise, flash and gun movement) to either better control the weapon at the time of firing or to prevent past experiences with it (past shots from the same or other occasions) from affecting our next exposure to it (the next shot from either the same or future occasions). And no matter how better-performing some (not all) bigger bullets might be, the fallacy of threat-ending, one-stop shots is a far bigger danger to the success of one’s personal defense up close with a handgun than “depending on multiple rounds”. For anyone who is being realistic about such matters knows that if reaching the right depth more often within the right portion of the body (creating even more structural damage or more displaced tissue volume than offered by a single round) by firing multiple rounds in short time frames wasn't a valuable technique or practice, we wouldn’t have even big-bore guru’s long recommending the use of “Controlled Pairs”, “Hammer” drills and generic “Double Taps”, let alone the now often-recommended practice of not shooting wildly but shooting repeatedly until the threat has been stopped, negated or removed.

HarryP wrote:
October 18, 2013

3/5: Assuming that the unknown-reason-for-being “FBI 10mm Notes”, attributed to retired Special Agent Patrick that you appear to have used (knowingly or unknowingly) for at least part of your response to me are both valid and correct (although in a brief review of them online as I write this tonight, I see that there still appears to be at least one chronological typo within it), let me use it to explain why I believe that you are not correct or “setting the record straight” as you believe. In Section “6.” [[]‘FBI Actions Resulting’], Subsection “A.” [[]‘Developed 10mm 12/88’], Points “1)” [[]‘Commercial offerings too high pressure, too high velocity’] and “2)” [[]Originally seen as potential solution to controversy between big bullet advocates (.45) and high capacity advocates (9mm)] of that document, it seems that the reduced level 10mm round they ultimately chose as a duty load, might have been decided upon before test firearms from Smith & Wesson had even been obtained, but certainly before their gun was selected as “the gun” for the Agency, and definitely before any of the purchased guns were issued to agents about whom you say: “…. The sharp recoil of the 10mm Auto later proved too much for most agents to control effectively, and a special reduced velocity loading of the 10mm Auto round was developed…”. It appears there was no “later” in their decision-making: it was the lighter load right from the beginning. This is further supported in that same paper you quoted from, where it refers to ammunition tests conducted by the Bureau (involving their 158gr .38Special +P, a 9mm 147gr Subsonic, a 185gr JHP .45ACP, and what they call the 180gr “10mm FBI Load”) in December of 1988 and January of 1989 and indicates that the round they tested and then used right from the start was what you (in your post) refer to as “10mm Lite”. There are other reports and statements available (at least one attributed John Hall too) that also indicate that the Unit’s early-on (pre-gun) ammo research regarding the original 10mm commercial loading showed that it could be problematic (in terms of “heavy recoil and muzzle blast”) for LE applications (something that was unfortunate for a cartridge that was accurate; as of then relatively unexplored in terms of experimentation, advancement and long-term potential; and maybe a political middle-ground in regard to the then hot button topic of capacity) but it was felt that those issues could be addressed by a “lighter” load that still gave them the penetration and displaced tissue volumes they desired. Again, all of that being done/determined even before the 10mm “cartridge”, let alone a 10mm “firearm” was officially selected (or issued). The .40S&W (at Smith & Wesson) was a different project and a different program altogether. And it involved a different gun platform and a different ammunition manufacturer than had been involved (with the FBI and not the Factory) in the development of the lessened FBI 10mm load. In fact, with the .40S&W, this different-from-the-FBI-project ammo company worked with the gun company in the startup of a new (not just refined) commercial cartridge and not with a specialty user (albeit a very credible one) in the modification (in essence, something like what car enthusiasts used to call “detuning”) of an existing round. There are all kinds of stories and self-promotion out there about who did what in regard to how it came about but in a different incarnation, the then unnamed and undeveloped .40S&W was something that Paul Liebenberg had worked on before coming to S&W’s Performance Center in the late 1980’s and something that ironically, or at least amusingly, had a lineage to a still-different cartridge that John French, Paul’s co-worker in the PC, had been involved with in the early 70’s. And it was something that Paul’s friend, S&W's top pistolero and good will ambassador Tom Campbell got Steve Melvin, Smith’s then-President, to look at when it was thought a .45-like performer in a 9mm-like platform could, like so many other important ammunition developments of the past, be linked to, and named after, the company. It was not a Federal Agency project. It was not linked to a Federal Agency. And it was not developed as a replacement of sorts for a Federal Agency. In fact, two of the first important adopters (after the concept had been formally introduced) were a State Patrol and a Metropolitan Police Department. Additionally, the FBI and S&W (and as a result, the more responsible members of the gun press) referred to their original handgun efforts as being chambered in 10mm while the California Highway Patrol and the Charlotte NC PD (and S&W) referred to their guns as being manufactured in .40S&W. Finally there were a variety of reasons (many of them also misreported and some even made up on today’s “World Wide Web”) that led the FBI to move away from the 10mm and S&W and go back to the 9mm in a platform from another firm. Still later (1997 or so; the .40S&W was introduced in 1990), the Bureau then went from the 9mm to the .40S&W in another gun made by yet another company.

HarryP wrote:
October 18, 2013

2/5: You then go on to “Quote” the FBI, which people here can find and (re)read by scrolling down these pages in this thread. Those “quotes” in your Part 1 of 3 appear not to be taken from the official report on the FBI’s “Wound Ballistic Workshop, September 15-17, 1987 9mm vs. .45 Auto”; although to be honest I am not near my copy and wasn’t able to double check. Nor do they seem to be from the FBI’s “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” by Special Agent Urey W. Patrick, then of the Firearms Training Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia back on July 14, 1989. Instead they appear to be from an undated document that is often reproduced “online” and generally referred to “online” as the “FBI 10mm Notes”, which again, “online”, are attributed to the same former (now-retired) Special Agent Patrick but whose original intent or purpose-for-being-written is unknown to me and whose official-looking-badge-watermarked-pages are from what is (or was) a private business and not a law-enforcing agency of any kind. The badge is the company’s logo and they state along the bottom of those pages that these “Notes” are a “Historical Document Reprinted with Author’s Permission”. I don’t know if that is the case or not (although I do know that there is often a big difference between “historical” and “official”) but as you apparently went with it, for the sake of argument here, I’ll go with it too. Especially as I would assume that there would be a disclaimer floating around somewhere else “online” if Mr. Patrick objected to its accuracy or his name being attached to it for I doubt that a man of his good character would have changed over last twenty-something years. I say that because several decades ago when at least some of this work/research was underway, I had the opportunity to meet him on a few occasions and he was not only a decent and honorable man but also a very intelligent and well educated one who knew guns and ammunition. He was also John C. Hall’s right hand man when Hall was the Chief of the Firearms Training Unit. For the record, I also met with then SSA Hall a few times back then as well. BigFoot, as I said, I just don’t have the time to respond line by line to the rest of your 3-Part response to me so in using the aforementioned Urey Patrick-associated, “online” “FBI 10mm Notes” that you seem to be selectively quoting from as correct, I will jump to your own singular follow-up post from 28sep13, which appears to be entitled “SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT” (capitalization yours). I am sorry to say that you are not (setting the record “straight”). I won’t comment on the devastating Miami shootout in 1986 but I am afraid that I must point out that you are wrong in the chronology of, and the reason for, the events that followed it in regard to the development of the 10mm as a Federal Law Enforcement cartridge. You are also incorrect in your portrayal of how S&W viewed things with them (and at the time in general), for they developed the .40S&W separately from their work with the FBI and not as part of it. And once again, your use of the word “ultimately” notwithstanding, you are being somewhat misleading (or at least confusing) in both how the Bureau finally got to the .40S&W in their by then, twice different guns and, separately, in your original posts to me by your constant interchanging of the terms/designations “.40” and “10mm” (or, more accurately, in your use of the term “.40” in place of “10mm”) for while their bullet diameters are the identical and their bullet weights can sometimes be similar, they are much different rounds. And in terms of the FBI and S&W in the late 1980’s and early 90’s (before and after the introduction of the “.40”), these different cartridges were never referred to in a manner that implied (by repeatedly using the terms interchangeably like you do) that they were the same or somehow parent and child; regardless of how the ballistics of certain loadings might have been comparable in terms of velocity and energy. To my knowledge, the only times the Bureau ever openly used the .40 (caliber) designation in regard to their work was early on when the 10mm was described that way in an effort to better describe (or picture in the minds of others) its potential role as a peacemaker in what appears to have been a difference of opinion (at the Agency?) regarding the then ¾ century-old battle between 9mm (.355) and .45ACP (.452) advocates. For you couldn’t find a better middle ground approach than one that dimensionally (.400) was all but half in-between.

HarryP wrote:
October 18, 2013

1/5: BigFoot, I must apologize for not responding sooner but my work has kept me busy. Furthermore, my schedule will also make this my last response on this matter for I just can’t take anymore time away to continue what you called (and I agree is) a “Good debate”. You asked me rhetorically (in your Part 1 of 3) “where to start” in regard to my initial remarks. I think that you should start either by looking more closely at what I did say (perhaps I was not clear enough) or by not misrepresenting it (as I believe you might have also done with other items in your first post that resulted in my previous response). You say that you “think that the essence of your (my) posting is that big is better but big doesn't allow fast follow-up shots.” I am sorry if I was not successful in my earlier attempts to present things in a manner that was understandable BUT THE ESSENCE OF MY POST WAS NOT WHAT YOU HAVE STATED HERE. Instead, I attempted to point out that like many things in life, the choices made about a defensive sidearm are about more than one thing (in this case, either caliber or power; depending on which argument you are making as you have made both somewhat interchangeably). I believe that they are, in fact, about a balancing of several things. That’s why I opened my initial comments in this thread by attempting to point out that such a decision and the selection of both a life-protecting cartridge and the platform from which to launch it was “… about more than just ‘power’. It’s ‘performance’ balanced against ‘controllability’…” and I later reiterated that in my 3-Part reply from several different perspectives (broken up that way only because I didn’t know the size limits imposed by this great NRA Forum) included this more all-inclusive statement where I detailed my belief that for folks trying to decide on a carryable personal defense sidearm that “…starting out with as big a bullet as one can successfully control, adequately place into the threat that requires such a response, and carry with them in whatever role they play in life and how they dress daily for it, is probably the best route they can follow…”. I still believe that. You then went on to say: “And yes, modern ammunition has made the small bores better but it has also made the big bores even better. I have quoted Buffalo Bore that the problem with making small bores expand is that you limit penetration and penetration is the number one criteria in bullet performance. Why? You don't seem to believe much in the FBI but until something better comes along, I'll take their word on handgun performance.” BigFoot, I must again point out (here, perhaps, more emphatically than elsewhere, that I NEVER SAID THIS. I never said that I didn’t believe much in the FBI. In fact, what I did say was that “…your mentioning of the FBI’s ammo change-outs (starting back in the 1980’s when the infamous incident in Florida spurred a number of changes at a point in time when I believe that their primary round was still something you put in a revolver and the 9mm was an option allowed only for certain people and applications) were much more varied and involved than you make it sound. In the case of the long road from the 9mm to the .40, the switch doesn’t really have as big an impact on capacity as you indicate.” For it was, in fact, your editing of the facts and/or your selective retelling of them in your first posts that I don’t believe in. As once again, I felt it really doesn’t convey all of what was actually going on back then even as publicly reported by certain members of the agency itself.

teddy kincaid wrote:
September 29, 2013

What about my stainless steel jennings 25 acp???. I even have a hi capacity magazine that holds 7. This list is a joke.

BigFoot wrote:
September 28, 2013

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: The 1986 FBI Miami shootout was a gun battle that occurred on April 11, 1986 in Dade County in south Florida between eight FBI agents and two serial bank robbers. During the firefight, FBI Special Agents Jerry L. Dove and Benjamin P. Grogan were killed, while five other agents were wounded. The two robbery suspects, William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt, were also killed. The incident is infamous in FBI history and is well-studied in law enforcement circles. Despite outnumbering the suspects 4 to 1, the agents found themselves pinned down by rifle fire and unable to respond effectively. Although both Matix and Platt were hit multiple times during the firefight, Platt fought on and continued to injure and kill agents. This incident led to the introduction of more powerful handguns in the FBI and many police departments around the United States. The subsequent FBI investigation placed partial blame for the agents' deaths on the lack of stopping power exhibited by their service handguns. The FBI soon began the search for a more powerful caliber and cartridge. The Smith & Wesson 1076, chambered for the 10mm Auto round, was chosen as a direct result of the Miami shootout. The sharp recoil of the 10mm Auto later proved too much for most agents to control effectively, and a special reduced velocity loading of the 10mm Auto round was developed, commonly referred to as the '10mm Lite' or '10mm FBI.' Soon thereafter, Smith & Wesson realized the long case of the 10mm Auto was not necessary to produce the decreased ballistics of the FBI load. Smith and Wesson developed a shorter cased cartridge based on the 10mm that would ultimately replace the 10mm as the primary FBI service cartridge, the .40 S&W. The .40 S&W became more popular than its parent due to the ability to chamber the shorter cartridge in standard frame automatic pistols designed initially for the 9mm Parabellum.

BigFoot wrote:
September 26, 2013

PART 3 of 3 Power has always counted. Bigger holes. Deeper holes. Bullets that can plow through clothing, outstretched arms holding a weapon, skin (did you know that skin is equal to 4 inches of soft tissue in penetration tests?) and bones, all before the bullet even starts its trip through the soft tissue. (There ought to be a law that ballistic-gelatin bullet-penetration tests include the bullet passing through heavy clothing, skin, and bones BEFORE they start counting inches of penetration.) If you can make head shots, bring a .22. If you are like the rest of us, bring the biggest and baddest thing you can shoot. And maybe even a little bigger. After all, tests have shown that people underestimate their ability to withstand recoil (big-game hunters are very aware of recoil when shooting off the bench but hardly ever remember it when shooting at game). If a big bore is just out of the question due to recoil intolerance or some physical limitation, then sure, buy a small bore. But don't buy one because you think it's as good as a big bore. Good debate Harry, too bad we can't share a few beers. Like you, I enjoy shooting powerful guns. My handguns are chambered in .22, .357 Magnum, .40, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .45 LC, and .454 Casull. Some are light weight like my Kahr P40 (now there's a handful), my .41 Taurus Titanium Tracker (better keep your middle finger tight against the grip or it gets wacked by the trigger guard) and my .454 Ruger Alaskan (it flies through the air but doesn't hurt your hand). Over the years, I have found that the first thing you do is define the problem and then choose the best cartridge that solves that problem. Not a smaller cartridge that doesn't hurt. The best one to solve the problem.

BigFoot wrote:
September 26, 2013

PART 2 of 3 The 9mm with proper ammunition is not a bad round. It is just nowhere as effective as the .40 and .45 offerings, and the disparity between it and the larger calibers has remained a constant throughout all the testing we have done over the past two years. (So, big is better than small-BF)' I have shared the experiences of a person who worked in a morgue and his observation of autopsies over the years. His bottom line was that light bullets have a tendency to hit ribs or the sternum and veer off course, missing the intended objective whereas heavy bullets were very likely to follow their intended path. I won't get into the military version of the 9mm vs. the .45 argument because the 9mm fans will claim that the FMJ bullets used void the argument. But, doesn't that prove the fact that bigger holes win? The evidence is overwhelming that the large bores are superior to the small bores and the only argument for the small bores is that quick follow-up shots are more likely possible (and probably needed). Question: When a person chooses their self-defense handgun, do they plan on the worst case scenario or the best? If you were locked in a room with a 300-pound bad guy, dressed in heavy clothing, high on drugs, and wielding a knife, and you could only bring one round of ammunition with you, what would you bring? A .22, .380, 9mm, .40, or .45? Or maybe a .44 Magnum is starting to look really good. It's times like this, when your butt is REALLY on the line, that stopping the bad guy is the only thing that counts. Forget a little hurt in your hand, forget about depending on multiple shots, forget about all those magic-bullet advertisements that turn mouse guns into elephant killers.

BigFoot wrote:
September 26, 2013

PART 1 of 3 HarryP, where to start? I think that the essence of your posting is that big is better but big doesn't allow fast follow-up shots. And yes, modern ammunition has made the small bores better but it has also made the big bores even better. I have quoted Buffalo Bore that the problem with making small bores expand is that you limit penetration and penetration is the number one criteria in bullet performance. Why? You don't seem to believe much in the FBI but until something better comes along, I'll take their word on handgun performance. From the FBI: '1) Only two ways to incapacitate human target a) Hit central nervous system and b) Loss of blood. 2)Penetration of vital organs is critical. 3) Given desired penetration, only way to increase effectiveness is to make hole bigger.' As you mentioned, Miami changed everything. Feeling that the 9mm and .38 had let them down, they started with a clean sheet of paper to fine the 'best' round and change to it. The .40 and .45 won but, since they wanted a new platform anyway, they decided to go with the .40. In their remarks: 'Are you saying the 9mm is no good?' 'No. We are saying it is as good as the .38 Special, which has served us for a long time. It has severe limitations, which we are not willing to accept. It is woefully inadequate for shooting at people in cars, for example, and over half of our shooting involve vehicles. (No, we probably don't need to shoot at bad guys in cars but then...-BF.) It is a marginally adequate wounding agent. We have had a number of 9mm shooting over the past couple of years, and if you define a good shooting as one in which the subject stops whatever he was doing when he gets shot, we have yet to have a good one, and we are hitting our adversaries multiple times (there's those follow-up shots, right?-BF). We have shot half a dozen dogs in the past year and have not killed one yet, although we have run up a significant veterinary bill.

Rich W. wrote:
September 26, 2013

I just want to clarify my post below. When I said about most .45 ACP handguns being over $1k I was specifically referencing 1911s. I know there are many polymer guns out there in that caliber but I prefer Browning's venerable design for that loading. The couple polymer .45s I have fired didn't feel as comfortable as the 1911s.

HarryP wrote:
September 26, 2013

Part 3 of 3: Bigfoot: just so you know, in my writings, my teaching and my work, I have been a big bore enthusiast for 40 years. My first self-purchased centerfire handgun was a Colt Combat Commander in .45acp and it was closely followed by a Charter Arms Bulldog in .44Spl. Shortly thereafter, a Dual Cylinder Ruger Blackhawk in .45Colt and .45acp allowed me to plink, target shoot, and hunt with the same gun. Several 5” Colt’s in .45acp accompanied me on numerous trips to the Chapman Academy and elsewhere for training. And I still recommend that caliber to anyone who will listen. But I usually try to give them real reasons for it and not hyperbole and folklore. I also am very honest with them that today’s non-military, 9mm personal defense rounds offer performance that didn’t exist 20-25 years ago when people were justifiably driven to the .40S&W for just that reason (a lack of performance in the 9mm). And while I personally think that the recoil of the .40 isn’t that bad, I can fully understand why some people do and why they will never be convinced otherwise. And I know that while I am comfortable with 8 rounds in a Lightweight Commander along with a spare mag or two, a lot of people aren’t. So if they want to carry twice that in a 9mm, with today’s ammo, it is hard to argue against it. For just as you opened your own argument here in your preceding post: “It is said that whoever shoots the other guy first usually wins the gunfight”, if people’s hands won’t fit, and therefore can’t control, a larger platform, they will violate another theorem you proposed and that is they will fail in making their “first hit…meaningful”. Additionally, as I believe that for many (most?) self-defense, deadly force situations, single shot responses might not get the job done in the timeframe required, not only is the size of the platform an issue but so is recoil for it can certainly effect shot-to-shot recovery and placement. In fact, the anticipation of recoil (one of those things that some people cite in regard to the .40 when compared to the 9) can also affect that first shot and “meaningful” first hit as well; although I think that in truly reactive fighting situations that can be overstated so I will not emphasize it here. Instead, I will merely say that while I have been emphasizing that starting out with as big a bullet as one can successfully control, adequately place into the threat that requires such an action, and carry with them in whatever role they play in life and how they dress daily for it, is probably the best route they can follow, in this somewhat golden age of ammunition (giving us 9mm rounds that were all but unthinkable when the .40S&W was developed and the limitations of the .45 itself were great) and of guns to put them in them (when the US Military went to the 9mm in the 1980’s the capacities, weight-savings, and user-tailored ergonomics of today’s polymer service pistols did not exist nor did the true “Mini9’s” of the past ten years that, in theory, have done much to eliminate the overall need for the .380 and .25auto; except for reasons of recoil intolerance or extreme carrying limitations), we have more truly viable (and not just marketing-driven) defensive options available to us than ever before.

HarryP wrote:
September 26, 2013

Part 2 of 3: That “today’s world” inclusion in my previous remark is important. For your mentioning of the FBI’s ammo change-outs (starting back in the 1980’s when the infamous incident in Florida spurred a number of changes at a point in time when I believe that their primary round was still something you put in a revolver and the 9mm was an option allowed only for certain people and applications) were much more varied and involved than you make it sound. In the case of the long road from the 9mm to the .40, the switch doesn’t really have as big an impact on capacity as you indicate. In fact, while initially being promoted in terms of power alone, the .40S&W was then almost immediately presented by Smith itself as something that again offered “performance” in a platform that could be handled by a wider range of hand sizes than the 10mm/.45 platform, while only slightly reducing the capacity in the beefed-up 9mm-sized firearm in which it was introduced than the 9mm cartridge itself offered in the same size gun. And when the FBI’s initial move away from the revolver and the 9mm pistol to the 10mm was made in the late 80’s/early 90’s (well before any thought was given to the .40), it was made more because of the amazingly dated design/construction and limited performance of the 9mm projectiles (bullets) of that era to successfully penetrate to adequate depths within the body (again something akin to the 12-14” level I have already mentioned), than it was anything to do merely with the “power” associated with them. Interestingly, that situation was borne out back then, in the FBI’s original choice of a lighter 10mm loading to issue to their people – and not for the incorrect “story” that many believe and that is routinely repeated and sadly reinforced on the Internet, where people falsely believe that the Agents were supposedly unable to shoot the 10mm ammo that was originally issued – because the real reason is that before anything was issued, it was discovered/decided that the Bureau could achieve the “depth” they wanted inside the body without all the “power” (and unnecessary recoil) of a full-house load; something which seems to run counter to your power-above-all-else argument. But perhaps even more interestingly, that situation is also being borne out today, in that there seems to be, in some circles (and for now, in “some circles” only, as it is perhaps too early to tell how far it will go), a move away from the .40S&W in the Uniform Duty Sidearm and back to the 9mm because with today’s expanding bullet technology and, separately, the ability of many 9mm loadings to pass thru those previously mentioned intermediate barriers and achieve the consistent levels of penetration in the human-tissue-simulating-material I also discussed, certain departments are looking at cost, supposed .40caliber recoil issues involving the average officer that some feel reduce officer performance (usually expressed in terms of officer accuracy), .40caliber recoil issues limiting the average officer’s ability fire effective multiple shot strings, and finally, a return to the slightly higher capacities that drove the shift to pistols in the 80’s and 90’s in the first place (where increases in 9mm capacity over the 6 shot revolver could be substantial).

HarryP wrote:
September 26, 2013

Part 1 of 3: Bigfoot, with all due respect, it’s about more than just “power”. It’s “performance” balanced against “controllability”. Controllability that hopefully allows for rapid, multiple shot placement within whatever applicable targeting zone (on a deadly force threat that) presents itself. For one shot alone from a handgun can never be counted on to nullify such an opponent; regardless of the caliber employed. You’re romanticized descriptions of actual performance notwithstanding (for outstretched hands and forearms can deflect even conventional, slow-moving, 230gr .45auto bullets, which aren’t necessarily all-lead anyway), the use of a firearm’s bore (and not the projectiles it launches) to somehow win life-affecting battles is the stuff of hard-boiled fiction, while counting on “pain” to cease a life-threatening attack within the time-frames generally necessary to survive is, at best, foolish and, at worst, foolhardy. There are also issues with your comparing of Law Enforcement ammunition performance (especially modern-day Law Enforcement ammunition performance) to Military ammunition performance. For regardless of why the “Military” may or may not have gone to a larger capacity 9mm Pistol in the 1980’s and why some (far from all) units might be returning to a .45acp today (and I think that there might be more to both ends of that story than you imply), comparing the hardball (Full Metal Jacket/FMJ) 9mm and .45auto ammo that the “Military” is often (generally?) limited to, against the amazingly wide range of reliably expanding (and more importantly, reliably penetrating) currently-manufactured 9mm, .357Sig, and .40S&W commercial projectiles (that will also feed reliably through the firearm), almost borders on an apples-to-oranges comparison. In fact, when you state that “these guys know something you don't”, I would say if they know anything, it’s probably more about the limitations of a probing-then-piercing (rather than a cutting), generally non-deforming, and perhaps not optimally propelled FMJ bullet than it is, in today’s world, something about a well-designed and properly manufactured projectile that penetrates consistently to what is considered by most to be that optimum 12-14” depth in ordnance gelatin (that has been properly mixed and calibrated to compare in some ways to human tissue) after it has already passed through one of a number of standardized intermediate materials often found in real life (the civilian world), while truly cutting and not merely stretching, tearing or pushing its way there.

Brody wrote:
September 25, 2013

The most serious lacuna from the list is the S&W 59/659/5906 series. It was the very first 9mm pistol to combine a double action trigger with a double column magazine. Every double action, high capacity pistol--in 9mm or any other caliber--is a descendant, and how many of them are there? You could make room on the list by dropping the Volcanic pistol. It was influential in the development of rifles like the Henry or Winchester more than in that of pistols.

Rich W. wrote:
September 21, 2013

@Cuban Pete: While the CZ75 (and its offspring) is a good pistol at its heart beats the Browning Hi-Power. It's essentially a refined version of Browning's design using the same linkless cam locking system and manual safety. Where the CZ75 improved on the design was adding the ability to fire it in double action. I wouldn't include the CZ75 basically because it is the offspring of the Hi-Power and by extension is therefore included already.

Rich W. wrote:
September 21, 2013

@Bigfoot: This is one of the reasons I like the .40S&W round. It gives firepower almost as strong as a .45 ACP, especially if using 180 grain rounds, while having capacity similar to the 9mm. I personally love the .45 ACP as well but limited ammo capacity is limited ammo capacity. There are high capacity .45s out there but most top the $1000 mark and the very good ones from STI (based on the 1911 that they call the 2011) approach $2000. My personal carry weapon is a HK USP 40 that I got very cheap, well for a HK it was cheap anyway, at just over $650. It gives me around twice the ammo of the 1911 but with ballistics that smash a 9mm's.

BigFoot wrote:
September 16, 2013

POWER VS. NUMBER OF ROUNDS: It is said that whoever shoots the other guy first usually wins the gunfight. Of course, that assumes that your first hit is meaningful enough to preclude the other guy from returning fire and hitting you. But if shots are missed by both parties, wouldn't the guy with the most ammo win – eventually? So what is more important, power or number of rounds? The FBI addressed this problem and gladly gave up quantity for power when they cashed in their 9s for .40s. Police departments saw their wisdom and followed suit. Now the Marines, like other elite military units, have given up half the magazine capacity of their 9s to have .45 power; do these guys know something you don't? When the military adopted the 9mm pistol in 1985, it was because the rest of NATO used it and pistols were then carried mostly by officers and support personnel, not combat troops. But over the years, as the pistol became more important in warfare, the 9mm fell out of favor because its lack of stopping power was getting soldiers killed. While close counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, close can get you killed when a smaller diameter bullet misses the nerves, blood vessels, and organs that a larger diameter bullet would have taken out. There's nothing like 230-grains of lead to smash through outstretched arms, skin, and bones before it starts its 12-inch journey through the soft body tissue. And yes, the intimidating power of a .45 hole in the end of your barrel counts when shots are avoided. Finally, don't forget the pain factor when that big .45 slug hits.

Cuban Pete wrote:
September 14, 2013

Glock? M1911? PPK? All eclipsed by the brilliant CZ75!!!

Rich W. wrote:
September 09, 2013

That is quite an arrogant attitude you have there,STW. There are many situations where the first shot is not going to find the target no matter how good of a shot you are. This is one of the reasons you see the military and police forces using high capacity firearms. In a fire fight the amount of rounds you can carry and fire before reloading can matter just as much as your marksmanship.

STW wrote:
September 09, 2013

If you need 20 in the mag just to hit your target than maybe you should leave the guns to those of us that hit the first time.

HarryP wrote:
September 03, 2013

While I fully understand the difficulties in creating a list like this as expressed by Mr. Keefe and knowing that everyone can find something they like or don’t like about anything, I would suggest that rather than having selected the Walther PP “family” (No. 7 in the article), that when it comes to “technological innovation”, “impact on contemporary and subsequent designs”, “military and police use” and the placing of “high importance on what step in the evolution of the handgun was marked by a particular design” (all points made by Mr. Keefe himself), I would have picked Walther’s P-38 “family” instead. Today, it is all but acknowledged that its service pistol “double action” trigger mechanism with a slide mounted safety & decocking lever (also seen on the PP and its offshoots) was a major influence on Smith & Wesson when they created their first production 9mm service pistol in the 1950’s. Beretta too appears to be influenced by this same firearm, as the locking mechanism of their M1951 (which predates the Smith) is very similar to that seen in the P-38 and it carries on into some of their guns today; including the widely produced Model 92 “family” & its offshoots (one, the M9, is our Country’s official military sidearm). And while a good portion of the world was still making pistol grips from wood or hard rubber (or was experiencing difficulties with the early plastics even our nation used) in the 40’s, the Bakelite-grips employed on the wartime P-38’s were stable as a material, rugged in the field, and very cheap to make. When things got worse toward the end of the war, these plastic stocks were replaced by even simpler and less expensive metal ones. Fact is, when it comes to “simpler and less expensive”, the reliable P-38 is a marvel of design engineering working with manufacturing to make something quickly & for less money; especially when compared to the nightmare that was the Luger that preceded it. The gun lived on well after the war in various government & commercial incarnations including numerous military & police models. And while I thought those were finally phased out in the 80’s & 90’s, it was recently brought to my attention that some were used in such roles until well after the turn of the century and I noticed that someone has just imported another batch of such finally-retired P1 versions recently. So respectfully, all of these reasons make me think the P-38 outdoes the PP in terms of your own criteria.

Kevin wear wrote:
September 01, 2013

Love my Springfield 1911A1 45 ACP

Mike L wrote:
August 22, 2013

Thompson Contender - I cannot believe this iconic gun is not mentioned. This revolutionized the target pistol and it is still unlike any other out there.

Jim Macklin wrote:
August 09, 2013

The 1911 is only 100 years old on paper, The has been modernized beginning in the 1920s with the A1 modifications. After WWII the 1911 spawned gunsmiths who accurized and made superb target pistols for NRA bullseye. Other gunsmith began to chop, cut and weld frames, slides and barrel lugs to get a proper fit from a cheap war surplus barrel. Aluminum and other exotic alloys have made the gun smaller, it never was thick, even an all-steel gun can be carried IWB if your waistline is high enough so the barrel/slide doesn't dig into the chair. The 3 and 3-1/2 inch guns particularly with a 6 round butt and both hand filling and compact. I've been carrying a steel Colt Officers ACP everyday and rarely take it off. My son and my new daughter in law have Kimber Ultra CDP. The only gun that seems to generate as many quality parts is the Ruger 10/22 and maybe the AR. Even Ruger builds a fine SR1911 in both 5 and 4-1/4 inch versions. I'm hoping they build an Officers size gun in all stainless and an aluminum frame version.

todd wrote:
August 02, 2013

To mebthe list is right. The 1911 as no uno doesnt suprise me. There are three things that Ithink are lost on the 'younger' generation. One the safeties was and are foolproof. Two, reliability in any condition and three the simple tool free take down and replacement of parts for common person. W even today the 1911 can be broke all the way down and replaced. The one lost to a lot is the 'high power' this was the next great leap in pistol technology and as all JMB inventions still reliable. IMO

garry m wrote:
July 23, 2013

If it aint broke don't fix it . 1911 45 acp's still get the job done.

John O'Neil wrote:
July 22, 2013

I think many of the people commenting on this article do not understand that placement on this list is based mostly on historical significance and not on magazine capacity, or popularity, or 'coolness'

Vigneshwar wrote:
June 09, 2013

Desert eagle has a good muzzle velocity yet it is nowhere in the list

Adam Schmidt wrote:
April 04, 2013

The only real problem I have with this list is the 1911 listed as #1. the 1911 (although was extremely successful and revolutionary) has been left behind as far as future technology is concerned. If anything I think the Glock should be #1 due to its enormous effect on the market today. The fact that so many pistols on the market today are trying to compete with the glock is a really good indication of it's success. however with the 1911 (although I love it) it is heavy, big, and holds very limited rounds. there are better #1choices than that

dirty dave wrote:
March 12, 2013

These are clearly a list of the guns that revolutioned the gun world in the last century. Sorry all your knock offs didn't get listed. I enloyed this article.

josh wrote:
February 22, 2013

I just don't see the appeal to the 1911, if I'm going to have low capacity I'll stick to a revolver and not worry about jams or losing brass, list needs a Beretta

AlexColt1911RailGun wrote:
February 15, 2013

The one who wrote that Walther doesn't belong in the top ten. You have no idea what you're saying. You're embarrassing yourself the Walther is legendary

Your NameDennis Brodeur wrote:
December 22, 2012

Comments...Not just because I own one,The Dan Wesson (Granson) produce a pistol or revolvers with interchangeable barrels from 2' to8' in a number of calibers should be mention.Otherwise I enjoyed your article,it was very informative.

Jim wrote:
December 01, 2012

What about my Hi Point?

Rick wrote:
October 19, 2012

Cant believe we are atill hearing that Obama is taking our guns . Worse thing for our sport so far has been the lack of ammo and price increaes due to the phoney Bush wars

Aviel Luis wrote:
October 16, 2012

I suggest every one here to grab as many as you can afford of all these good hanguns if Obama will be relected. Obama is an attorney, right. What is an attorney? Which are the arms used by attorneys? They are evils which develops the laws; and use them after to quit the rights of those who like freedom and liberty.

Steve wrote:
October 10, 2012

Did your gun rights or ammo availibility change with Obama in office? No? Then watch out for the change!

Paul wrote:
October 04, 2012

Why Isent the sig sour p238 in here it's one of the best pistols I've ever shot it has a really crisp trigger and I ve never had problems with Cycling

Johnny M wrote:
September 25, 2012

With so many good handguns out there a top 20 would be better.So you can get your Beretta M9,S&W model 29,Sig Sauer P226,Cz 75,9mm Luger,P-38,HK-USP9,.40,.45,Colt-Python,S&W 500,1911A1. ,

Doug Kelly wrote:
September 11, 2012

Are all you armchair critics paid up NRA members? I hope so. November election is near. Support Mitt and Paul !

Art Robinson wrote:
September 08, 2012

I shot competitivly in the USMC and practiced with Bill MacMillan in the 50's. I think the CZ75 has to be thrown in the mix.Was Rifle & pistol Marksmanship instructor.

Ralph Isaacson wrote:
September 04, 2012

I would rather have any of the other mentioned models. Browning should discontinue the two piece barrel for the high power. High end gun with low end character.

Phil Beeson wrote:
September 03, 2012

I have owed most of these handguns and I couldn't agree more on the choice of the number one selection. However, the position of the Hi-Power pistol in my view should be ranked much, much higher.

John Morgan wrote:
September 02, 2012

The colt45 is just where it belongs #1. The stopping power saves our Service Men and Women everyday for 100 years. Thank You

Bill Aycock wrote:
August 28, 2012

Where is the Colt Python?

1st classman wrote:
August 28, 2012

I agree S&W revolvers are the best, but to use up so many picks with essentially the same gun seems wasteful. Antecedent guns like the volcanic and 1858 Remington are also interesting but wouldn't make my bucket list. Here are mine: 1911A1, Sig 226, Glock 22, P-35, CZ 75,P-7PSP, USP40, Ruger .22 Mark II,S&W M29,Beretta M9

Doc wrote:
August 26, 2012

Obviously, 10 is not enough! Add Colt 1851 Navy, Remington 1858, Colt Lightning, Colt 1903, Colt Woodsman, Sig 210, CZ 75, Ruger Mark II, Ruger Single Six, Ruger Blackhawk and Beretta 92 fs. But the King is still the Model 1911 in .45acp.

joseph cerra jr wrote:
August 26, 2012

you picked the right guns but you guys are stuck on that 1911 the glock can outshoot all of the 1911 for any amature shooter and its easer to carry

Mike wrote:
August 24, 2012

The title is 'Best and most significant' not your favorite. Beretta 92? What is significant other than it was picked over much better choices. Just ask an SF operator. I do believe the Ruger semi-auto pistol or the Ruger SA would have been a good choice too but then that would be on my bucket list, not the authors.

John Huskins wrote:
August 23, 2012

Where is the Lugar? or the P-38. I would take a Sig or m-9 over a browning. What about a CZ? S&W's are good but three of them? Get real. For wheel gun buffs where is a Ruger?

Jeffrey Brown wrote:
August 23, 2012

What about the S&W 500 & S&W460?

Cullen Leigh wrote:
August 22, 2012

Ones that also deserve honorable mention: Python, Woodsman,S&W41,S&W52,RugerBlackhawks,H&KP7,and High Standards just to name a few.

Ron Carpenter wrote:
August 21, 2012

Owned a 357 Magnum in the past and regret selling it. Excellent range and controllability. Can't believe people are calling it antiquated in any way for what is out there today. Looking to buy another one soon.

Matthew wrote:
August 21, 2012

I agree whole heartedly about including the Colt Python, as I feel it is the best wheel gun ever made.

Jim boatwright wrote:
August 21, 2012

Any list of '10 best' will provoke controversy. I don't necessarily agree with the list but have owned a High Power and a S & W Model 19 , and they are certainly in good company.

Tom Hodges wrote:
August 21, 2012

Yes, the S&W #1 is the "granddaddy" but the S&W New Model #3 is the pinnacle of single action target revolvers and deserves precedence. While Colt appriated the name "Bisley" for target versions of their Single Action Army, actually S&W #3s were the top shooters at the matchs at Bisley (England) through three decades of competition in the late 1800s. Tops for accuracy, precision machining, and aesthetic appeal--it's the King of Single Action Revolvers, and its .44 Russian cartridge sparked the precision revolver shooting we enjoy today.

Bill Stoker wrote:
August 20, 2012

Really, the volcanic instead of Colts Patterson or the1860 Army

spkrmakr wrote:
August 19, 2012

Ross, can't disagree more on the Walther. I promise, your wife won't be commenting about the .380 on your femur when she pulls it out of your temple! Not smart my friend, only ignorance! What do you want? I also have a Moss 12G for those who like artillery!

Spkrmakr wrote:
August 19, 2012

What kind of list is this without a Sig or H&K? Are you guys on drugs?

chuck wrote:
August 18, 2012

no list is complete without a sig

Dan Wag wrote:
August 15, 2012

Terrible list. Just... Just terrible...

Ross wrote:
July 19, 2012

Walther. You absolutely must have put this "paperweight" on this list to get email. In addition to being an anemic caliber, as my wife, an ER supervisor says when she gets a patient who just had a .380 bounce of his femur), the thing weighs more than many larger caliber, conceable guns. This gun being on this list proves the power of Hollywood. 'Nuff said.

Ray Shaw wrote:
May 28, 2012

So where is the Colt Python?

Ray O'Reilly wrote:
May 18, 2012

I agree. The CZ 75 and Beretta M1 should be up there with the famous 1911.

Chris wrote:
April 23, 2012

No berretta 92 fs? Come on seriously?

Tony wrote:
March 31, 2012

NO CZ 75? NO P38? NO P08? NO M9/92F?

Foust wrote:
March 06, 2012

I fail to see how the Beretta M9/92 gets no recognition on this list.

Larry Smithart wrote:
February 26, 2012

Comments...How does the .475 Weldie magnum compair in the top ten handguns and how do I find out more about this gun also which is more powerful the .475 Wildie magnum or the .50 cal Desert Eagle

Glynn wrote:
December 10, 2010

very interesting article

Byron Hicks wrote:
August 19, 2009

Why no Colt Python? Smoothest double action revolver ever.