Not Really

Some guy over at National Interest (never heard of them) opines on the 5 best pistols (and I assume all generations thereafter) ever to shoot the 9mm Europellet.  His list is as follows (and I don’t know if the order is important):

  • Glock 19
  • SIG P226
  • H&K VP9
  • S&W M&P
  • Springfield XD

…and by the omissions is his ignorance revealed.  Here’s my  top 5 list, in order of preference:

  • SIG P210 — The forerunner of the P226.  While the 226 is good, the 210 is astonishing.  Ask any precision 9mm shooter which is the most accurate pistol of them all, and the only reason he won’t say the P210 is if he’s an employee of, or spokesman for one of the other gun companies. 
  • Browning P35 High Power — John Moses Browning and Dieudonné Saive designs.  Remember that the Brit Paras and SAS have used them until only recently, basically because they wore them out after decades and FN/Browning announced they wouldn’t support them anymore.
  • CZ 75 — Granted, it’s a derivation of the Walther P38 (see below), and we could argue for days about their relative merits.  But the “75” refined the P38’s design and improved the German gun’s already-good reliability.  Proof of the gun’s esteem is that the 75 is the most-copied design of any pistol ever made.
  • HS2000 — The Croatian forerunner of the Springfield XD;  both are outstanding pistols, and like the P38/CZ 75 argument, I’d settle for either without any qualms whatsoever, if  I wanted a striker-fired DA pistol.  
  • (tie) Beretta 92F — I’ve always liked this pistol, and the only reason I was against the U.S. Dotmil’s adoption of the thing was because of its chambering, and that only because of the FMJ bullet restriction.  With a proper hollowpoint, I’d happily carry one anywhere.
  • (tie) Glock 19 — Enough water has passed under the bridge for me to (grudgingly) acknowledge this foul thing’s worth.  Rugged, reliable, accurate and almost universally popular (except on these pages), it probably has to be considered one of the best Europellet-poppers.  And by including another plastic striker-fired pistol on the list, I can exclude the H&K VP9 because I don’t like the Heckler & Koch company.
  • Honorable mention:  the Walther P38 (as above).  I don’t know anyone who’s fired one of these not to want one for himself afterwards. 

Feel free to argue with me in Comments.


  1. A lot of people hate the Glock for its terrible aesthetics. Their is a reason so many Hollywood action movies have the protagonist carrying the M9. It is a handsome fellow. When it comes to down to a gun fight, pretty is as pretty does.
    I carry a M9 on duty as a DoD police officer. Off duty I carry the Glock 19. I find that the safety decocking lever on the M9 lends itself to being flipped down while racking the slide. Very many people who carry the M9, when they do immediate action, tap the mag, rack the slide, press a disconnected trigger, flip the safety off, press the trigger. I know, I know… training. Most organizations are never going to provide enough training.
    If a handgun must have a safety, as in US military issue weapons, I vastly prefer the 1911 style thumb saftey.
    Very Respectfuly, Jason

  2. Argue I will not. Your choices are logical and IM(nv)HO correct.
    However, in my case, my EDC is the Sig 229. a little smaller for easier

  3. Sorry, but I disagree. I own a P38, kept only as a historical piece. Small grip, lousy sights, the stupid ‘pean mag release, no, no and NO.

    The Beretta? One of the few firearms I’ve sold/traded and not missed. I purchased one when it was the duty carry for the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department and I was a reserve deputy. The government picked them despite not meeting their key requirement of having a smaller grip than a 1911, it’s big, heavy, and totally unsuited to CCW. The ergonomics are also marginal.

    The Hi-power. Nice, but 9mm. Have to take out the mag safety, too.

    Glocks are ugly as sin. But, like my fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, they work with little notice or attention. My daily carry is a G30 unless I’m in fancy clothes, then it’s a G43. And I never feel under dressed.

  4. It’s almost like the NI list was made by someone born in the late 80’s for whom history doesn’t exist before the 90’s…what do we call them again?

    I’d quibble with the HS2000 on your list and probably move the Glock up a bit. Still far better than that list of nothing but polymer-frame, striker-fired, cookie-cutter stuff.

  5. Not an argument, just a nuanced difference regarding the HS2000/XD – if you ever get a chance to shoot the Springfield XDm you may just find that its refinements elevate it far beyond the HS2000/XD.

  6. I’ve only fired 3 of the guns on your list, the Browning, a couple of Glocks, and the Beretta. The Browning was a very long time ago, a friend is a Glock addict so I’ve fired several of his, and I have owned a Beretta 92FS INOX for 20+ years.

    For me, initially, a gun has to LOOK good and perform FLAWLESSLY, in that order. I don’t remember how the Browning felt but it looked good at the time. Glocks look OK but they don’t feel right in my hand, even heavily customized, and I don’t like the idea of no external hammer. Upon seeing the Beretta 92 the first time I was spellbound by it’s looks. When I wrapped my fingers around it I was smitten. Having fired more than 10,000 rounds through it, I am convinced I made a good choice. I’m not a large person and the Beretta is a large gun and though I have a concealed permit I would never try to as it would just not work.

    My take on carrying falls well within the realm of the “Remus Rule” – avoid crowds (see ), and my ol’ gray haired Pappy’s rule of, “Son, look way ahead for trouble and steer yourself around it.” I almost never carry a gun but when I absolutely must (downtown Indianapolis for example) I have my Beretta Bobcat .22 inside my right front pocket. So far, in 63 years, following the 2 rules above, I have not been in any situation where I wished I had a gun. I will continue to work this successful plan.

  7. On the High Power, I will note that I encountered British regular army officers carrying them in Afghanistan as late as early 2010. Their replacements had SiGs.

    As the CZ-75…a refinement, the Shadow 2, is currently the only new production pistol on my “To Buy” list.

  8. OMG. Check your diapers, old sod, for you’ve almost certainly shat those too!

    The only way to appreciate that round is in the guns originally meant for it: the Luger and the C96 Mauser! Somebody should be making these guns today and no bones about it! Polymer guns?!?! You should be black listed at the country club for this effrontery! Harumpffff!!! Good day, sir!!!

    I suppose if I were to be serious about 9mm my interest would start and end at that new CZ Shadow 2. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about it…

      1. I’m just being a PITA, Kim. But to be correct – those guns made their reputations as 9mm’s.

        But you bring up an interesting exercise in picking the fly chit out of the pepper: we’re those cartridges referred to as ‘30 Mauser’ or ‘7.62 Mauser’? I seem to remember seeing it stated as the latter. Perhaps the carbuncles and crufflers might know.

        1. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. Americans (and maybe Brits) would call it .30 Mauser; the Europeans and others would use 7.62 Mauser. Just like we call another cartridge .380 ACP while the Euros called it 9mm Browning Short.

  9. I, too, will have to disagree with several of you.

    Respecting and honoring John Browning is a fine thing, but from my perspective, the issue is naming the top 5 CURRENT PRODUCTION guns for the 9mm.

    Unlike ghostsniper, I only care about the gun’s looks AFTER I am certain it will function correctly.
    That means both reliability and durability, then sights and trigger and so forth.
    After that, if there are 2 candidates, I’ll choose the one that looks better or has other features.

    When I was searching for a carry gun, I rented all the guns on this list except the Sig. Hands down, the winner was the H&K VP9. The Glock came in second, but I couldn’t shoot those funky sights and the required trigger job made up most of the difference in price.

    Why the hate for H&K?

    1. HK-hate is because they hate their users, so I hate them back. Also, the VP9 is too big and heavy. If I wanted something of that tonnage, I’d use the CZ 97 — which as a bonus is chambered in .45 ACP.

  10. The Beretta 92 is a fine, fine pistol, but the only way I’d carry it on a regular basis is if either (a) it was all I had or (b) War zone where I could carry it on something other than a plain belt. That sucker is heavy.

    No love for the H&K P7? Until the G19 came out, and the threat model shifted to include terrorism it was the finest self defense handgun ever made.

    1. I have a love/hate relationship with the P7. The squeeze-cock action is great in theory, but it aggravates carpal tunnel issues tremendously. No idea why. And it heats up FAST.

  11. I do like those guns on the list. However, since I moved to a state where the climate is more like Satan’s Jockstrap than actual weather, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of a smaller gun that won’t print through your light clothing as you attempt to avoid dying of heatstroke/dehydration/alligator attacks/gang drive-by shootings. Sadly, the gun I picked for such an occasion is no longer in production, but there are still some shops that have them new in their inventory: The Ruger LC9s Pro. Points instinctively. Handles great for such a small gun. Awesome sights that you can change out for even more awesomer sights. And small enough to slip into your pocket, but still fires the 9mm (current ammo is Hornady Critical Defense).

    When I lived up North, I used to just say “Dress around the gun!” But after living here, I’m a humbled man, and I got a gun to fit the clothing.

  12. Browning High Power is my favorite 9mm, perhaps best pistol ever made but that’s just me. I seem to be able to shoot it better that some of the others and my carry is a Colt Defender in .45 just because.

    I was going to buy a P-38 in a gun store years ago, I had been in there before and seen the gun, returned with money in my pocket and the guys behind the counter was such an asshole he pissed me off and I walked out and next time I was interested the prices had gone up. Same with the great looking Luger which is a bit tricky to keep running right, I was going to buy one of those and one day it seemed as if they had doubled in price. When I was in High School years ago the older brother of one of my friends was screwing around with a jammed Luger and shot himself in head, made himself real dead being stupid.

    I like all of the pistols shown above with a preference for the metal guns over polymer and kind of like women, pistols, they’re all good except for a few. My neighbor, a real old guy was moving and gave me some ammo and gun parts and a freaking Bryco 59 in need of repair.

    If you ever make a list of worst 9mm pistols I would nominate the Bryce 59 because it is like and ex-wife, fat heavy and mean with the worst trigger I have every experienced. Because of its weight it would function as a hand thrown weapon which might do more damage than 9mm bullets out of the barrel.

  13. The Beretta is exceptional– I quite like mine, even if I do need to break out the kiddie ammo to use the thing. However, I much prefer the 8045– better balance and egro, and, well, a proper cartridge.

    As to the Glocks– I’ve never much liked the 19, personally, and I really, really like Glocks. I prefer their full size pistols, and amusingly, the really tiny hand cannons like the 29 and 30.

    I suppose I’m an odd duck in that I tend to like full size pistols in virtually any caliber, and really tiny ones in hilarious mushroom-cloud chamberings, but small guns in small chamberings don’t do much for me. With perhaps the exception of the Ruger MkX series, because, well, duh.

  14. From your list I’ve only fired the High Power, the Glock, and a CZ75 clone; I handled and dry-fired a friends Beretta 92 but never had the opportunity to shoot it (he moved shortly after).

    Glocks don’t fit my hands well. I can shoot them, and pretty accurately, but it takes extra effort and they just feel wrong. The High Power and the CZ75 clone both felt and fit wonderfully, and the Beretta felt like a club and took effort to keep actual point of aim and natural hold point of aim together. Meh.

    I’d take a High power first, the CZ75 second. I’d like to try the remainder at some point.

  15. For me,

    S&W 357 model revolver
    Ruger sp-101 in 327 Federal
    Beretta 92 AF. yes is it 9mm but people have died from the lowly 22.

    With those 3 in the line up don’t see much need to carry anything else. And they work.

    I really don’t think I will take on a motorcycle gang and I doubt they would be interested in me.

    If we are invaded by Russian/Chinese para’s I don’t think any pistol would be enough.

    If the world falls once again I doubt I will be dealing with gangs and if I do I will want something with more bullets than any pistol.

    Gun battles get attention. Singles not so much.

  16. Please note that the title criterion is “best pistols ever to shoot the 9mm Para”, not “my favorite carry pistols”.

    1. I’m chuckling a bit here – you write a list of guns, no matter what the reason, and you expect a bunch of gun nuts to stick to the topic?

      That’s like asking a group of Southeners to stick to “best bacon to use for “Shrimp & Grits”. You’ll end up with a dissertation on why Alabama Royal Reds are better than some imported blah blah blah and bacon will only be a side-note.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong. You’re correct, you did state the criterion. But we’re GUN NUTS. That’s like asking a dog to ignore the bacon on the floor. Ain’t gonna happen. We can’t help ourselves.

    2. OK. if the 6 listed I have owned 3 and shot 4 and I have a beretta.

      I like it well enough I have bought rifles that use the same magazine.

      I could argue all the ones I list are nine millimeter, but shooting the euro pellet only once matches.

      Sorry if I broke the herd some.

      Have a good trip to Oz. Who knows, you might like it.

  17. I have carried a 1911 for twenty five years. As to the europellets, My CZ is on the night stand w/ an attached light. If I have to jump outa the rack in the middle of the night naked, I want 16 rounds and be able to see.
    In the right holster the Kimber is easy to carry, even under a t-shirt.
    Like me, fat and slow but accurate.

  18. The Browning and P210, definitely. Although I suspect a Pardini GT9 might keep pace with a P210. The others…I can see the CZ-75 and Glock 19, but think the P226 has the Beretta beat six ways from Sunday.

    1. “…but think the P226 has the Beretta beat six ways from Sunday.”

      What does that even mean?
      Is there a race going on or something?

      I happen to like just about ALL guns, some more than others, and see no point in arguing which is better as we all have our own individual experiences.

      Guns, Gurlz, and Guitars, in any order, and I’ve spent most of my life dabbling with all.

  19. Kim,
    the Berretta was chosen as reward for allowing us to position nukes there. Didn’t matter if it didn’t meet reqs.
    My favorite 9mm? Glock G-18. I’d do my best to figure out how to conceal it. Love that “crowd control” selector setting!

  20. Kim, a minor correction. The .mil Beretta is actually a 92FS, the S indicating an improvement to keep the rear of the slide from departing the frame, if it breaks in two.

    IIRC, the SEALs got the early issue guns, and at least one was badly injured when the slide broke and the rear end impacted his face. This was blamed on using hot subgun ammo, but was not acceptable performance. Two redesigns were initiated, one an independent one from a guy who worked on tools and weapon ideas for those sorts of groups, and the one from Beretta that was adopted.
    Scuttlebutt was the actual problem was that Beretta had utilized slides made in a facility not authorized for the contract, and the metallurgy was sub-par for an unspecified reason. Delivery dates were in question, which is why they resorted to this supply, supposedly.

  21. Fave 9’s:
    Smith M-59, and wish I had it back;
    Taurus 92, because I prefer the frame-mounted safety over the slide-mount;
    CZ/TZ in whatever caliber it is made in;
    XD’s – Ditto.

  22. The Beretta becomes a much better pistol once you convert the safety to a pure decocker. I think they call it the model G. The official kit is around $50 last time I looked.

    Disagree on the HS2000 and descendants. Overrated, and nowhere near as indestructible as Glocks under heavy usage.

  23. I’ve shot Glocks, and they don’t fit me very well. A friend has the Taurus clone of the Beretta 92, and that gun shoots better for me than any of my own pistols (including, alas, the 1911 I inherited from my dad). I’d like to try the High-Power and the CZ-75 – maybe some day…

  24. I always had a fascination with the Hi Power A/K/A the P-35 but never wanted to spend the coin to get a “real” one. So I turned to our friends in Eastern Europe where the Hungarian company FEG has been making a straight-up copy of the Hi Power called the FEG 35. Picked one up off of Gunbroker for under $300 and it shoots great.

    Nice thing about the FEG is that being a copy of the P-35 all the parts are interchangeable to include mags, safety, etc. The tiny safety on the Hi Power is not easy to use but the aftermarket offers a plethora of options.

    If you want to check out JMB’s last design but are on a budget you could do a lot worse than the “Hungarian Hi Power” FEG 35.

    1. I picked up an FEG at a really good price, but it’s not a Hi Power clone. It looks a lot like a HP, but it’s got the action of the S&W Model 59 inside (DA/SA). Tiny sights, long nasty DA pull, pretty decent in SA. No mag safety. For the price, it’s okay. It can stay in the drawer in the office in case it’s late night and I’m in pajamas, which won’t support my EDC.

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