Col Ben’s Best 9mm Pistols by Category (2018 Edition)

Col Ben's Best 9mm Pistols by Category (2018 Edition) - USA Carry

Can you match the specific 9mm pistols above with their category? The answers are given below within each category table.

I want to share my opinions about what I consider to be the “Best” 9mm pistols, based on my ten criteria and my reviews of the 62 pistols below which I have studied and tested at the range over 2018 and the past couple of years. I thoroughly reviewed each of them, comparing them to my criteria and my personally-preferred features, and shot every one of them. I own and shoot all of the pistols below, except the five marked with a **. But, I am still saving my allowance to consider them.

And every year the “latest, greatest, and best” innovative 9mm handgun comes out. Of course, my ideas and opinions of the “Best” will probably differ from yours and that is fine and expected, but at least what follows is my list of my top-rated 9mm handguns at this time to help you get started and save you time to build your favored 9mm list and narrow down the many hundreds of 9mm pistols. Of course, you do want to consider how you will use the 9mm, either for concealed carry, home defense, personal protection, competition, or fun plinking, as well as how you will handle and carry the gun.

As you certainly know, the criteria and preferences for pocket carry significantly differ from your expectations for a 9mm home defense gun. And specialization and unique needs usually dictate a specific gun with certain features and functions for a given purpose, so you can own more than one 9mm pistol, and one may not meet all needs or purposes. Be sure and tell this to your spouse, roommate, or significant other. This helps for my justification to my wife’s purse.

As the Scottish Political Economist Adam Smith said in his book “The Wealth of Nations,” growth and progress is rooted in the division of labor and specialization concepts, which recognize the necessity of using the right tools and resources to get the right jobs done. We may need a pistol with a 3″ barrel, shorter height, only 7 rounds of capacity, that weighs just 16 ounces to easily and comfortably fit in our pocket. Or, we may need to use a longer 5.3″ barrel pistol that weighs two pounds to help with accuracy and felt recoil, with sufficient height that allows 17 rounds to handle multiple attackers in our home. It depends… on you and your needs, goals, and preferences.

Well, what follows are my favorite 9mm pistols by selected categories of frame size, barrel length, weight, height, and capacity. I wanted to present a variety of frame sizes to help you decide on a 9mm pistol for a given purpose you may have, which is usually very much related to these factors. So I include Ultra Sub-Compact, Sub-Compact, Compact, Mid, and Full-Size frame 9mm categories.  These are just some of my criteria, albeit important ones, to help you decide. My other criteria, like accuracy, reliability, trigger, press, quality workmanship, etc. are all present in all of these 9mm handguns, in my opinion. You can reference my in-depth opinions and reviews for the pistols and my criteria in my reviews on this website, other websites, and in my book “Concealed Carry and Handgun essentials for Personal Protection.”

Best Ultra Sub-Compact 3″ Pistols of 2018

HandgunBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Height (in)Capacity
Kimber Aegis Ultra 19113254.758
Springfield EMP 3 191132759
Sig 365 - #
Smith-Wesson M&P Shield - #
Sig 938 19113163.97
Kimber Micro 9 19113.1515.64.106
Sig Ultra Compact 19113.3284.88
Springfield XDS3.3234.47
S&W Pro 1911326.258
Ruger LC9S - #23.1217.34.57
Taurus Millennium G23.2225.1212

Best Sub-Compact 3.5″ Pistols of 2018

HandgunBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Height (in)Capacity
Dan Wesson ECO 1911 - #53.52558
Walther PPQ M2 SC - #13.521.24.410
Ruger SR19113.627.258
FNS 9-C3.623.44.3812
H&K VP9SK - #93.3923.074.5710
Sig 320 SC3.5524.94.6712
Smith-Wesson M&P M2.03.625.9515
Glock 433.39184.256
Smith-Wesson M&P Cpt3.521.74.312
Ruger SR9-C3.523.44.6117
RIA Tac Ultra CS 19113.62362.128
Ruger American Compact3.5528.74.4812
Steyr C9-A13.6274.817

Best Compact 4″ Pistols of 2018

HandgunBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Height (in)Capacity
Springfield EMP 4 Contour - #134315.510
Smith-Wesson M&P 9-C M2427515
Kimber Aegis Pro 19114285.259
Walther PPQ M2424.55.315
CZ P10-C - #84.02265.215
Sig 320 Compact3.925.85.315
Sig 320 Carry3.926.55.517
Beretta APX4.2528.245.617
Ruger SR 94.1426.55.5217
Glock 194.02245.0417
H&K VP94.0925.65.4115
H&K P303.85265.4315
Ruger SR 1911 LtW Cmdr4.2529.35.457
FN 509 Tactical**426.95.5617

Best Mid-Size 4.5″ Pistols of 2018

HandgunBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Height (in)Capacity
Sig P226 Elite SAO- #114.434.45.515
CZ 75 B4.635.25.416
CZ 75 SP-014.640.75.7918
Browning Hi-Power - #124.6325.0213
Glock 17 - Gen 5 - #104.4925.085.4717
H&K P30L4.4527.525.4315
Canik TP9 SAO4.4728.85.718
Arex Rex Zero 1- Standard**4.3295.717

Best Full-Size 5″ Pistols of 2018

HandgunBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Height (in)Capacity
Walther PPQ M25265.315
Smith-Wesson M&P 2.0 Pro5265.517
Smith-Wesson 1911 Pro - #75414.610
Sig P320 Full Size4.729.55.517
Springfield 1911 Range Officer - #65415.59
Ruger SR1911 Target541.95.459
Springfield XDM Competition5.25295.7519
Springfield XDM Mod-2 Tactical5295.516
Beretta 92 SF4.933.35.415
Canik TP-9 SFX5.229.36.220
Taurus 19115385.459
Glock 34**5.31265.4317
FNS Longslide**526.55.517
EAA Witness P Match Pro**4.7530.45.617
Bonus: FN 5.7 (5.7x28mm)4.825.65.720


I hope the list of my 61 favorite 9mm pistols (plus bonus pistol) has helped to give you a place to start to decide on your preferred 9mm pistols for your purposes and your further research. I wish you could be nearby and try some of my pistols like our pistol class students do, before you buy a 9mm to help you decide. I believe that the 9mm caliber is an excellent one for the various purposes and uses I have and you may discover a similar conclusion. But, if not, at least here above is some “food for thought” to help. After all, it was the famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or was it Pee Wee Herman who said remember “Today is the Beginning of the Rest of Your Life.” Use it wisely my friends and don’t forget to “Try Before You Buy.”

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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at Contact him at
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Wonder why the CZ P-10F didn’t rate under “Full Size”…