Previous Post
Next Post


JoshinGA writes:

Im in the market for a new full size polymer gun, probably in a 9mm. What would you recommend for a polymer duty gun? Thanks.

Funny you should ask, I was planning on doing an article on this very topic. Which is why I rang up the manufacturers of the top polymer framed handguns in the United States and asked them all to send me one. So, which is best? . . .

It depends. I know, its a sucky answer. Shut up and let me explain.

It seems like each polymer handgun works best in a different situation. Almost like they were in some sort of cabal, where each manufacturer claimed dominion over a designated section of the market. Thanks to that fact, while it’s possible to point to a single handgun for each use case, finding one that fits all of the categories is rather difficult. So let’s go one by one and maybe I can figure out an answer while I write this up.

Home Defense

For a home defense gun, you’re looking for reliability, capacity, and the ability to add a flashlight. You want something you can plunk on the nightstand or in a easy to access safe, and not necessarily something that’s easy to tote and conceal. So as much as I hate to suggest it, a Glock 17 is the gun to own.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely not a Glock fanboy. I just plain don’t like the way they look and feel. But even I have to admit that when you want a home defense gun, the G17 is about as perfect as it gets.

The Glock 17 was designed from day one to be a duty gun, not a concealed carry gun. The 17 is slightly larger than the 19, which allows a few more rounds to be squeezed into the magazine. And the accessory rail under the barrel means that you can bolt a flashlight on there without a problem (because seeing what you’re shooting at is always a good idea).

Beyond the physical features, the fact of the matter is that Glocks simply do not break. I’ve seen them subjected to everything from thousands of rounds of torture testing to massive drops to even being baked into various pastries and they still work. Reliability is kinda important when that robber kicks in your door, so the Glock line definitely earns some points thanks to its reputation and track record.

Competition Shooting

The same characteristics that make a good home defense gun don’t necessarily make a good competition gun. For example, while the Glock trigger is reliable, its not something that I would use for competition shooting. What would I use, you ask? The Smith & Wesson M&P9.

Big caveat here — I haven’t had the chance to shoot the new FNS-9 Competition Longslide which looks to be worthy of consideration here. And even if I had, recommending it would be a conflict of interest. So, among the handguns I’ve reviewed so far, the S&W M&P9 is the tops.

For me, I’ve found that S&W’s offering not only fits my hand the best, but also shoots the straightest and quickest. And while the factory trigger is pretty good out of the box, thanks to the guys at Apex tactical swapping it out for a much better one, it’s an absolute breeze. So you have an excellent trigger, an accurate gun, and one that looks rather awesome to boot.

Iain Harrison disagrees. According to Iain, the best competition handgun is the Springfield XD. I can see where he’s coming from, but to me the trigger is the dealbreaker on that one.

Concealed Carry

RF is probably expecting to see a picture of his much loved Caracal to pop up here. Nope, not gonna happen. Because while it’s a nice handgun, the fact that his has been out of action for over 100 days due to a design defect is too prejudicial to ignore. No, for this category, we’re going with the S&W M&P Shield.

I was actually about to give this one to the Glock 19, but the width of that double stacked magazine (and thus, the gun) threw it out of contention. Instead, the sleek and slim M&P Shield is my recommendation. It just fits my hand better than any of the other “tiny niney” handguns out there, including the Beretta Nano or whatever that Kahr was that Destinee reviewed for us. Nothing felt as good in the hand – or on the waistband – as the Shield.

The only issue I had with this gun was accuracy. The gun itself is accurate, but in my monster paws, I only really get a really good grouping under 10 yards. It’s still “minute of bad guy” out to 25 yards, but not quite as accurate as some of the others for me. Then again, I have that exact same problem with any of the compact 9mm guns. Which is why I stick to my 1911.

Overall Winner

Now that I have had some time to think it through as I write, I actually might have found a winner. While I paused here for a second, I asked myself “if I could only have one handgun, what would it be?” And to my immense surprise, it’s a Glock 19.

The Glock 19 is one of the most popular firearms in the United States, and for good reason. It’s reliable, rugged and there are spare parts behind every blade of grass. Magazines are available in a dizzying variety, thanks to the fact that the gun not only takes its own 15-round mags but also the G17’s 17-rounders, not to mention the 33-rounders that are available. And as for the size, it’s small enough to fit in my (rather large) pocket, yet large enough to be comfortable firing.

And that’s the reason I bought one — it doesn’t do anything “the best” over the other guns mentioned, but it does everything really well. Combined with the availability of magazines and the reliability of the gun, it’s the clear choice for my bailout bag. Which is where it sits as we speak . . . ready if I ever need it.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via [email protected]. Click here to browse previous posts]

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I would throw into the ring the HK P30. Love it! compliments my G19 well. I know the price of entry is steep… but there is just something comforting about an HK.

    • Agreed. I often recommend the Glock 19 to friends who are interested in acquiring a handgun, but I also advise them to consider HK if their budget allows. The P30 is an outstanding duty-size handgun, and the P2000 conceals even better than the Glock 19 while maintaining good capacity and grip length (no hanging pinky). The lighter variants of HK’s LEM trigger (V1 and V4) are also quite nice.

    • Yeah, I like the P30 and it’s on my buy list, but in the same section as a H&K 94, and a Fleming sear. The price on H&Ks is just too steep to compete here. Before the madness, you could get two glocks for one P30. Now, I doubt that’s true, but still the glock is going to be cheaper, for virtually the same gun.

      • Virtually the same gun? One is double action only striker fire, the other is an external hammer double single action. The glock has much closer kin in the m&p, and how come the XD series was not even mentioned?!

        • For whatever reason XDs don’t get much love around here. Did you read the review on it awhile back, it read something like: It does everything great and I can outshoot the Glock with it, but it is still going to get a lower rating.

    • I am looking for a list of the best polymer pistol. Not the best bang for the buck pistol like glock s&w ect. Although those are good pistols and I like them all very much i was really expecting a list with the really great pistols like p30, usp, sig p229, walther ppq, truely excellent polymer pistols.

  2. I carried a Glock on duty for years until my department mandated the M&P. Initially our department had a LOT of issues with the M&P which Smith & Wesson have since worked out. However, my biggest issue with the M&P is the lack of a trigger reset you can feel. In a Glock it is very pronounced which means I don’t have to waist trigger slack to squeeze off another round which equates to faster repetitions and a much tighter shot group. I just learned yesterday though that Smith is going to adjust their triggers to give them a pronounced reset in their new models. I guess I wasn’t the only one who hated the slack….

  3. Nice, fair and unbiased review Nick. Good call on not saying much about FN and congrats on making the team.

  4. Begun the polymer flame war has.

    Home Defense: XD(m) 4.5 or M&P9
    CC: XD(m) 3.8 Compact
    Competition: M&P9

  5. The best handgun…. the one you shoot the best….. the one that fits your hand the best…. the one that allows you to reach all of the controls.

      • All well and good, but without commentary like TTAG’s you might as well kiss them all goodbye. For now, gun reviews, as fun as they are, are as important as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    • Agreed! Reviews are the reason that I come to this website, and the pallor cast by political handwringing is depressing.

  6. I really like my Sig SP2022 in 9. Fits me better than the Glock, shoots great, hasnt given me any issues (granted I’ve only been shooting it for 6 months or so), and works for CC during the winter (too large for me for the hot summers out here).

    Looking at a M&P shield for summer carry.

    as a bonus, I can still buy 15 round magazines for it. Local gun store gets them in sporadically (though I have enough now).

    • +1

      The SP2022 is the only (similar to the above weapons) black non-1911 pistol I have experience with but I like it. The safety is between the operator’s ears, I like the decocking feature along with the DA/SA. Similar but smaller that I have lusted after is the Sig P239 in 9mm. Better for concealed carry, fewer rounds in the magazine compromise….

    • I don’t have a lot of experience with XDs or other comparable guns, but I do love my CZ P-07 Duty 9mm – I like it just as much as my buddy’s various Glocks and its cheaper. Not as available for spare mags etc though. But do check one out before buying, you may fall in love like I did.

    • The P-07 is an excellent gun! You can’t beat CZ reliability, ergos, or accuracy. I use an SP-01 for competition, but it isn’t polymer so doesn’t count here, and I have a P-07 as well. Absolutely amazing “duty size” gun, similar in size to a G19. They are releasing a truly full size version, the P-09, pretty soon. The P-07 has a hammer and is DA/SA, so cannot really be compared to a Glock or M&P. I prefer the hammer and have CZ’s that are single-action-only and CZ’s that are DA/SA and like both. I like the slide profile, the way they feel in your hand, the low bore axis, and the extreme reliability and accuracy. I shoot Glocks very well, but do not like how they look from behind and they do not fit in the hand or point as naturally — no where near a CZ here for me.

    • I agree as well. However, the NANOSECOND that the Caracal C has tritium night sights, maybe (hopefully please god) some spare parts and readily available magazines I might have to bail on Glock…

  7. I think the Glock 19 has the capacity, trigger, and dimensions (esp new slimmer Gen4) of the perfect polymer pistol; however, the slide bite-ability due to the lack of a beaver tail DQ’s all Glocks for me. I think the M&P9 full size represents the best full sized polymer pistol.

    • IF you really like the Glock, google “grip force adapter” It makes slide bite go away, and does not permanently modify the gun. Also, Glock keeps saying that they will soon be shipping beavertail backstraps for the GEN4 guns.

  8. In my opinion, the xdm has a better trigger than the M&P. “In my opinion” being the operable argument. What I like about any of the big three manufacturers is overall quality and a wide range of choices in the product line. Hand size and personal taste might be the most important factor among these guns. If you like one brand, you can find an offering to fit your needs, and you are not going to sacrifice much to a different brand. Then you can choose caliber and size for the job, and if you have different models for different jobs, they will feel natural and comfortable when switching.

  9. Thanks for acknowledging the conflict of interest issue unprompted. I’ve been wondering how you guys were going to handle that.

  10. It’s rather disappointing the Walther PPQ isn’t mentioned. It is in my opinion the most ergonomic of the lot (except the mag release, which is easier than a traditional push button one for people with small hands, but harder for people with large hands). It also has the best trigger of the lot, hands down. No one fires the PPQ without commenting on the trigger’s short, crisp, and consistant pull and the really short and tactile trigger reset.

    In related news: Walther is releasing the PPQ M2, which ditches the German paddle-style magazine release for a more American push-button mag release. Unlike some European gun makers *coughGlockcough* they are capable of listening to American consumers.

    • If only they would release a PPS M2. That “paddle” magazine release is the only reason I don’t pick one up.

    • Another for the PPQ. I’ve got more than a few handguns and the Walther seems to be winning out as a carry gun. I like my Glock 19 and all, but I don’t LIKE like it..

  11. I hate to love the Glock myself, but for a defensive handgun, whether concealed or open carry, you can’t do better than the Glock 26 or 17. It is reliable, easy to shoot accurately, and as easy to operate as it gets.

    As for fitting a light, or laser or other gadget to a defensive handgun, I never recommend it. In my never-humble-opinion, it is bad mojo to add extra functions to a deadly weapon, especially when you have to muzzle anything you want to see, in the case of a flashlight.

    • Not at all. Any decent tactical light has enough peripheral lighting to illuminate a residential room, and its much easier to be accurate with a weapon mounted light than by holding one in your support hand. No lasering needed, but instant target ID and accurate shooting in a heartbeat.

    • CS. I don’t want to be rude, but your humble opinion is silly. Anyone who uses their gunlight as a simple flashlight is a dangerous fool. I use a simple handheld flashlight to search for unknown threats. My pistol pointed at the ground or in another safe direction. Only once a threat is identified, and known to warrant the use of deadly force, do I point my pistol at it. At that point the gunlight comes into its own. I can drop or pocket the handheld flashlight and use that free hand to do any number of things like retain my pistol, move to cover, reload, call 911, or lead a family member to safety. All the while keeping the deadly threat illuminated by the gunlight. The same technique can also be used with a long gun. In my humble opinion a gunlight on a gun is about the best invention since the gun itself.

      • I agree completely. Flashlights are for finding sh1t in dark places. Weapon lights (on rifles, shotguns and pistols alike) are for target identification and (if bright enough) disorientation. And they’re an awesome tool

        – Become aware of the threat either with your natural night vision or your hand held light
        – If using a handheld light, cease its use and move laterally under darkness to shift your position
        – Illuminate target with weapon light
        – Engage with a string of fire
        – Cease illumination and move laterally again under darkness
        – Illuminate/reasess
        – Engage again if necessary or take other actions as appropriate.

        • I suppose folks who’ve cut their teeth on newer, high-speed-low-drag tactics will be more comfortable with weapons mounted lights. I know plenty of folks who use them to good affect.

          I also know of a couple ND’s that were attributed to weapons mounted lights…or shall I say, the improper use of such. We can talk about training and practice until we’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that in high stress situations, fine motor control tends to suffer greatly, sometimes to a point where even the simplest tasks become exceedingly difficult.

          Which is why I like my defensive handguns simple…no manual safety, no gadgets, no fancy sights or optics, just simple blade sights, trigger, and magazine release.

          Yes, a weapons mounted light will allow you to have a free hand while still covering a deadly threat, however, in a high stress situation like that, especially with no immediate backup, with a massive adrenaline rush, just how much one can effectively accomplish with a free hand is questionable…especially without mindlessly pulling the trigger, which has been known to happen.

          If you don’t have immediate backup, and the threat doesn’t beat feet when confronted with the threat of deadly force, it’s a good bet that attack is imminet, and one should respond accordingly. If you do have immediate backup, there shouldn’t be much you need to do with a free hand anyway.

          By the way, I don’t take offense at differing opinions…in fact, I encourage them. If everybody agreed with me, I’d be bored…and I’m rarely bored.

  12. Ahhh, the best way to start an argument… which gun is best for (blank)… I’d like to submit the Walther PPQ as well for a home defense gun, no safety, 3.5-4lb trigger pull and a rail so all you have to do is point and shoot. For concealed carry recommendation, over time I’ve drifted to the Sig p938, not a lot of gripping surface but a very 1911 feel to a very small pocket pistol (my other one is a XDS but that hasn’t come out in 9 yet) and in 9mm so far I’ve owned and sold theM&P shield, the M&P compact, the ruger LC9. If I had to use one of thosethe M&P compact was my other favorite. But having said all of that a gun is a personal preference… try some out before buying one…

  13. Ruger SR9C gets no love, despite being a super-slim double-stack with great ergonomics, low recoil, dang good accuracy and a pic rail. What more could you ask for? Oh, and did I mention I never had a single malfunction in over 1,000 rounds shooting all the cheapest crap I could find?

    • Yeah, I’ve got the SR9, and like it quite a lot. I’m not a professional shooter, though.

      I was impressed the time I went to the range and there was a guy at the line with 6 different 9mm pistols. He WAS a pro, or at least a competitive shooter who shoots a lot, and he said the SR9 was his second favorite behind his insanely expensive something-or-other. Kahr maybe? I can’t remember.

      • +1
        In three years of shooting my SR9 has had zero malfunctions of any sort. My friend’s Glock 17 stovepipes regularly and I have personally watched him have two feed jams. Glock perfection is a myth.

        • Every gun can be a potential lemon (as well as the shooter, by the way).
          Glocks are good for the price and simply rule the surface of the Earth (that does include the US, by the way, with law enforcement, civilians, and the feds). Like the Borg….”resistance is futile”.

    • That’s what I gave my fiance’ for her birthday and I just bought a pink Kydex holster from Extreme Concealment Systems for her for Valentine’s Day.

    • I put just under a 1,000 rounds through my sr9c in the last 3 months without one issue. Its also cheaper than any of the ones mentioned.

    • And you can extend the grip with a full-size magazine (which it comes with), essentially making it a compact and standard size pistol in one. The M&P Shield also has an extended mag, but it’s not as well-designed as the SR9c (or so I’ve heard). I’ve been debating between the two recently, but I have quite a bit of time before either will have any stock available.

    • It has an external safety. I will not buy a gun that I intend to use for carry/range use/competition which has an extra step in between un-holstering and firing.

      • Being raised on a 1911, I like the safety. But, practice practice practice. Swiping the safety becomes second nature, plus it makes me feel better. That being said, it is my conceal carry gun, when I should be completely alert. I like a wheel gun for home.

  14. You can’t really pick your favorite until you shoot one. I wanted to love the HK P30, but I could not hit anything with it. I gave the M&P 40 and 45 a try, but they weren’t much better and had a very hard time cycling new rounds when dirty. Plus, you might like the hinged trigger or you might hate it. To me it feels like too much “trigger slap” so I decided to go with Glock. Yeah, it ain’t pretty, but I like the minimalist controls, the fact that you can spend $10 on 3 springs and that gives you an excellent trigger. Also it’s a very simple handgun, with a no-nonsense design. It’s not going to be the most accurate gun under the sun, but it’s my favorite thus far.

    • Glocks are the gun that simply make you buy one out of practicality…like a nice hammer or shovel.
      Love? Thats what revolvers are for.

  15. I think that I would like a S&W Shield. But I do need to handle one before I buy. My LGS has not seen a S&W Shield since June of 2012. And people say that guns are easy to get in the US !

    • Ditto. My EDC is a Walther PPS, but I’d still like to handle an actual Shield before I consider putting down cash.

      I’m not sure about carrying a self-defense pistol with a manual safety, though.

      • I don’t understand why people get upset about the manual safety, I prefer not to have them as well, M&P 40 and 40c, both do not have one, but in a pocket pistol why not have a safety, I’d prefer not to blow my nuts off while reaching for it. And if its that big of a deal, just leave the safety in the off position…

  16. I completey agree with the final choice. Glock 19 or 17.

    I don’t even own one but a 19 was my duty carry for 5 years. I have a Sig 228 now but given the option, I’d go back to Glock in an instant.

    9mm is the one caliber to rule them all. There are much better caliber’s for stopping power (.45 and 10mm). There’s much lighter and cheaper too (.22 lr). But with a little training and 17 shots later, you will have a hard time beating the all around functionality and availability of the 9mm.

  17. I agree on the Glock for home defense and Sheild for carry, but not the M&P for competition. I believe that the Springfield XD(m) 5.25 is a better competition gun in either 9mm or 40 S&W. While I guess it matter what competition you plan to do, the S&W M&P trigger IMHO, sucks unless you give it an APEX upgrade. While S&W has started to roll out a new trigger that will give you a nice reset feel, it still not like and XD(m).

  18. In the concealed carry role, the Kahr CW9 deserves a look. Same 9mm capacity as the Shield, but shorter overall length with a longer barrel, shorter overall height, thinner, great trigger, no safety switches to fumble with and cheaper too. A truly great CCW pistol.

    • I carry a CW9 and agree. It’s a great totin’ iron.

      And you’re right, the Kahr is slightly slimmer than the Shield, even though — for some reason — the Shield feels thinner in my hand. Go figure.

    • I’ll pile on top here and agree with everything said. It feels great, shoots accurately, and carrys well. My one caveat is that my CW9 will sometimes not load the first round from my mags if it’s a hollow point and will need a firm tap on the back of the slide. FMJs work fine everytime, but a HP will sometimes get it stuck out of battery without engaging the slide stop. It never has done it when loading after recoil or when releasing the slide stop, just when racking a full mag into a closed, empty chamber. So it’s no good for Israeli carry, but if you don’t like carrying an unloaded gun, then it has no problems.

      • I heard somewhere that with Kahrs you’re not supposed to slighshot them… not sure if there is anything to that or not as I don’t own one but that is what I was told.

      • Per the manual, you’re not supposed to slingshot the slide to charge the pistol. You must use the slide release. Very weird, but the manufacturer explicitly says so.

  19. The Walther PPQ never gets any love. Yes, it does not have the spare parts or accessories of the others. But its trigger is pure butter and feels better in the hand than almost anything on the market

    • It might get some love from me if I could find one. But as a fan of the paddle-style magazine release, I’m disappointed to hear it’s going away on the PPQ M2.

      • Why is it that people disdain the paddle-style magazine release so much? It is so much easier to use because you can drop the mag with your trigger finger without any grip alteration. I have to significantly alter my grip to get to the mag release on my CZ75 and that is, otherwise, one ergonomically amazing firearm.

  20. Living in CA. so I’m limited to 10 rounds. So taking capacity out of the equation does the Glock still win? Hmmmmm

    • Keep on fighting those laws – none of them are worth losing your life over. In the meantime, .45 ACP or 10 mm are sweet for capacity limited situations.

    • When capacity is equal, it is easy to pick the gun that is reliable and shoots the best for you–no matter whose brand it is. Personally, I prefer the XD to the Glock and picked it for my first handgun purchase. I didn’t like the ways Glocks felt when fired, and HKs, which were the cat’s meow, were out of my price range. I have never had a failure with the XD, and taught both of my kids to shoot with it, again without failures. My second handgun was a Kimber, which took about a thousand rounds before it stopped jamming, and it is still ammo sensitive.

  21. I see the benefits of the Glock, mainly being reliability but I am not a fan.
    My personal choices:
    Home Defense: XD(m) 4.5 in .40cal
    Daily CC: XD Sub-Compact in 9mm w/ ext mag


    I used to not care too much for Glocks myself, but fired a Glock 19 many years ago and never looked back.

    It’s kind of like an AK-47, simply design, rugged, reliable, and goes bang everytime you pull the trigger. You can’t go wrong with a Glock 19!

    • Mine didnt, broken guide rod. I got a new steel one from wolf customs and it still has a FTF every 2 or 3 rounds.

      • Sorry to hear that…sounds like the exception and not the rule.

        Was yours a Gen 4 by chance?

        I have heard many compliants about Gen 4 Glock 19s, but very rarely hear anything bad about Gen 3 Glock 19s.

  23. I have a 19 and a Shield. Those are the only weapons I have and they are both excellent. The 19 I carry in Winter in a OWB retention holster. Easier to conceal with a coat on. The Shield get the warmer weather call. IWB with my shirt untucked and you can’t even tell it’s there. Can’t go wrong with either of them.

  24. Glocks and me are like oil and water in that we don’t mix. I would go with the Ruger SR9 or a CZ for a semi-auto handgun.

      • RF, if only it were as big as a Chicklet. The fact that it was more like a Tic-Tac was the one and only complaint I had about the gun.

        • That is a good point! Certainly with gloves it would be even more difficult if not near impossible to compress. Then again, 17+1 round should handle most defense shootings but but but yeah I know it’s best to plan for the worst and consider all possibilities as in needing a re-load while the fight continues.

        • I have the exact same complaint about the M&P shield and the new FN FNS line of pistols. Stop junking up beautiful striker fired guns with itty-bitty safeties!!!

  25. Glocks “being baked into various pastries”

    That would explain the spike in FFL applications for local donuts shops.

  26. Great write up. However, I’d love to see an “unbiased” review of the FNH-FNS-9 in the mix. Meanwhile, I’ll probably pick up a Glock 23 Gen 4 for CC and friendly shooting and qualification work.

  27. I’m sorry but the Shield is not the best CCW for everyone. It’s basically worthless for me because I’m left handed and it’s a right handed safety. I went with the SCCY CPX-2 which is just as thin, holds ten rounds and has no safety. I wanted a Walther PPS but price killed that. There may be other CCWs that are great but right handed safeties are deal breakers.

  28. As for the trigger statement on the S&W and XD. Yes, Apex makes a trigger for the M&P and Powder River Precision makes triggers for the XD and they are USPSA legal. So I thing you can’t ignore that fact.

  29. Jesus. I am actually in full agreement with Leghorn for once.

    If you can only own one pistol, and you are in a free state, get the Glock 19.

    If you are not in a free state, I would likely select a pistol that is designed around a magazine capacity of 10 rounds (or closer to it). If you stick with 9mm, get something more compact (Glock 26) or step up to a larger caliber in the same size class (like an HK45 Compact).

  30. The title of the article probably should have been “What’s the Best Polymer Pistol? (instead of “Handgun”) since no revolvers were mentioned. Wheelguns are still the best choice for some people in some cases. There are some nice polymer ones out there for home defense and concealed carry. The LCRs and Bodyguards come to mind.

      • Me too, exactly. I have the 2 1/4″ barrel so it’s okay for CC too. It’s a nice balance between heavy-enough to absorb recoil but not-too-heavy for CC. But my hand still feels it after a few cylinders of .357s!

        • I always tell people who want a gun in the house for self defense but aren’t really gun people to look at revolvers first. Less learning involved for that person who will never use a gun til they need it at 3am.

          And lets be honest. 99% of the bad guys will run at the sight of a gun. And the simplicity of the revolver may mean the difference between life and death for the less than HSLD owner.

        • Case in point, JWM, would be the woman who recently used a revolver to put 5 out of 6 rounds of .38 into the bad guy’s face and upper body after he broke down the last interior door between them.

        • Believe it or not, my Sp-101 3″ barrel fits in a front pocket holster (for a short period of time like late night gas station run) or a jacket pocket. A J frame that has some heft.

      • My home carry gun is, strangely enough, a Uberti 1862 Colt Pocket Navy with a five inch barrel. Five shots, .36 cal. Hell of a fireball. Slender, light weight, beautiful. If that and the dogs are not enough, there are strategically placed pistols with hollow points.

  31. Yes. That one in the picture, right there on the table. That’s the best one of all.

    I notice the question was about a 9mm “polymer duty gun” specifically, so that would probably cut out all the little compacts. Me, I’d go with a Springfield XD. Or even better and bigger, an XDm 5.25″. Those things just feel great to shoot (unlike Glocks, which always feel like a brick that doesn’t want me to hold it), and they’re even more rugged than Glocks (if that’s possible). Plus they have those handy visual/tactile striker and loaded-chamber indicators, so you never have to guess at the ready status of your gun. On the other hand, I’ve never had the chance to do any more than fondle an S&W M&P, and I’ve only shot Glocks twice, so what do I know…

    The great thing is that it’s really hard to go wrong. The Big 3 all make accurate, reliable, rugged polymer pistols. Odds are one of them will fit your style better than the others — whichever one that is, it’s the best one.

  32. If I could, I would have a DE in .50 AE for home defense.

    I don’t like my neighbors much as you can tell.

  33. Ok, I admit it I’m a HK fanboy. Along with my 1911s I shoot them almost exclusively. I designate the HK45C for home defense and HK2000SK 9mm for concealed carry.

    That being said, I think the Walther PPQ 9mm is a gem that is too often overlooked. Every time I take out a new shooter I’ll allow them to shoot multiple guns. Without fail, with the PPQ, by the third shot onward they’re playing in the target’s center rings. An ultimate confidence booster. If you want immediate converts, give them a PPQ 9mm.

    When it’s not at the range, it’s the wife’s home defense tool.

  34. Agreed Glock 19 overall. Glock 26 for EDC carry with Pearce extension. I really like my newer Kahr CM9 with 7 round mag but can’t shake the feeling of needing an extra mag due to limited capacity . I have tried several EDC replacements due to width/weight but always come back to the 26 for whatever reason. I have shot and like the Shield but they simply aren’t available here.

  35. > What’s the Best Polymer Handgun?

    The 1911.

    According to The Internet and the ghost of Jeff Cooper, the Chuck-Norris-of-handguns is so awesome that it doesn’t even have to be made out of polymer to be the best polymer handgun!

    • Good stuff 🙂

      I have my Pop’s Govt. 1911 from Vietnam and you definitely know you’re holding a gun when you have the hunk of metal in your hands.

  36. Id say as a Security Contractor for over 4 years. Best handgun none polymer is Beretta M-92FS. If you must have Polymer the best is not the Glock 19 but the Glock17. Its more balanced and has nicer grip than the 19 the 17 is better.

    • I agree. Thats why they made the regular size first. The 19 is really the same gun with 1/2″ sawed of the barrel. Some do like the grip, though. Both are bricks and I have to laugh when people call the 19 ‘compact’. I have a Gen4 G22, by the way.

  37. I’m a Springfield guy. I have a 9mm XD/m compact for one handed shooting with dogs and an XD Service 45/4.” They are both reliable and as accurate as the user can make them. However, my preferred piece is my old fashion steel framed Springfield Milspec. It is my most accurate pistol.

    The one thing I don’t like about the XD is it’s harsh recoil. I think polymer frames have kept people away from 45 because they do not absorb the recoil energy as well as a steel frame.. With the looming restrictions on magazine size and possible restrictions on JHP. The 45 is going to be the way go as more people will have to rely on ball ammo for self defense. You do not want a polymer pistol in 45 ACP

  38. The PX4 storm series is my go to polymer choice. Great DA/SA, very good trigger, and reliable as can be.

  39. I would say an XDm is overall better than a Glock for home defense. Not that Glock is bad, far from it, but while both are good guns, the XDm is just a little more comfortable and better designed, therefore resulting in better shooting. I know some people who (for some mystical reason) cannot hit anything with it, while apparently being OK with a Glock, but personally, although I can shoot both, the XDm’s comfort allows for a slightly better experience.

    As for concealed carry… I don’t have much experience, but I’m waiting for an XDs 9mm, so that both my pistols would have identical features, ammo and controls, thus reducing the possibility of fumbling.

  40. Nothing beat the form/dimension/capacity/firepower of the Kel-Tec P11, for me (at least that I’ve found). The fact that it’s a cheaper gun was icing on the cake.

  41. I think the Glock and the M&P are the two best polymer pistols on the market today. I own a couple of each, and can’t pick a winner between them. Excellent article!

    How about a polymer RIFLE review? I’d love to see/hear some more about AR polyment lowers that are out there now. (Let the flames begin). I know, I know…polymer rifles suck…blah blah blah. Funny, I rememebr hearing that YEARS ago too…

    I can rememebr when (long ago in a galaxy far far away) I was in my first career and went to the police academy, my class was split about 50/50 between revolvers and semi-autos (yes, that long ago). I was one of the first folks in my area to try the “plastic fantastic” first gen Glock 17 as a duty weapon. Some folks were lauging back then, until I took the top gun spot in my class from a guy with a tuned up S&W Mdl 19 Combat Masterpiece. Lots of long faces after that…:)

    Now, you’ll be hard pressed to find a police agency issuing anything BUT a polymer handgun.

  42. Personally the XD has a better feel than the glock. I haven’t had much experience with kahr or the m&p pistols, but I haven’t heard enough to convert me. I shoot my XD 45 well enough to be confident with it

    But dat caracal on the other hand….A LOT of people I know say its the best Damn thing since sliced bread (technical defects aside)

  43. I’m not giving up my Ed Brown’s. 42 years ago I carried a 1911 in a M7 tanker holster. I have stuck with the 1911 all these years. You just can’t beat the 1911.

    That being said I think you have called it right.

    I recommend Glock’s or S&W revolvers to people who are looking for a first handgun. KISS

  44. I have to agree with several of the comments about the one that feels best in your hand. I personally don’t like the feel of the Glocks and tried the Xds, OK but still not quite right. My favorite is still the M&P full size. I shoot consistent 2.5 inch groups @ 25 yards and it just feels right. No lights, just TFO sights. It seems more accurate at the range with lead loads than jacketed so more fun for same money. My vote is M&P 40. Just plain black and functional. Takes any ammo I’ve thrown at it and asks for more.

  45. What are people’s experience with Steyr? As a Californian, can’t have one. But at SHOT, it was by far the most comfy grip, and I really liked their sight system (aligning triangles).


  46. Folks, we are riding a great high tide of excellent handguns. Poly, steel, alloy, striker, hammer, even the good old wheel gun. They have all reached levels of reliability, accuracy, power and features as to make a discussion of preferences something akin to what kind of sprinkles you like on your ice cream. And great ammo choices push the needle even further into excellence.

    Even so, I just can’t stop myself from reading discussions like these. Choice is what drives the subject, and it’s a genuine blessing to have it in such abundance. So preach on about your favorite heater, but be grateful that we’re all not forced to pack a copy of the same one!

    That being said, my first pistol was a Glock 19 and I still have it. It’s still my favorite IDPA pistol. Over the years it’s been joined by a 26, a 36 and a 21SF with light/laser combo on the rail for HD. Other poly guns are in the inventory, along with steel and alloy frames, as well. Some are seriously purposed, others just for fun. I love’em all and thank JMB, Gaston, Smith, Wesson, and whomever else is responsible for giving us these wonderful machines.

  47. Pretty much any polymer frame handgun coming from the “big names” will be exelent; the adavantages of one over another being marginal at best and the decise fators being personal preference of a give design detail and price.
    There are so many options that it starts to get frustrating to decide which one to buy, until you realise how good it’s to have “too many” options instead of of too few.
    Each one of those brands have at least two different models of polymer frame pistols in different calibers and sizes, and each one of them is exelent.
    Sig Sauer
    And etc…

  48. I have shot many pistols, except the sprinfield xd, and the winner for me has been my smiths, but the favorite pistol I own is the browning buckmark in .22lr, out of what I have shot my favorite pistol is the fnh five seven, no recoil, light wieght and a rifle round to boot.

  49. Any suggestions for non-assault bullet, non-black, single-shot, roster-eligible for those of us here in California.

    I think it is called UHAUL or RYDER – not sure….

  50. Even with my preference for really nice guns, I have to admit that the Glocks take the prize for out-of-the-box reliability.

    The G19 is probably the best of the bunch for a beginner. I’ve put more rounds through mine than any other piece I own – and that means thousands upon thousands of rounds. I clean it when I start feeling guilty about it. Otherwise, it suffers from more neglect and disregard than any other piece I own. It never fails to go off when I put my booger hook on the bang switch.

  51. Which is best is just a matter of opinion. Those that throw the 1911 into the debate forget that they may be good, but are “HEAVY”, “more expensive” and with the exception of the shield, ALL have a lower round count. If they are so great, why has every law enforcement, military etc done away with them for a polymer? And how many work correctly out of the box? Very few. I currently own a glock 19, 23, a M&P 45, an XDM 45, a sig 229 in 9mm, and a FNH FNP 9 USG. If i were to class them, the M&P 45 is the house gun, the glock’s alternate between concealed carry, the xdm and sig stays in a box and my fnp is my do all and my bo gun! Out of them all, I prefer the fnh by far more than the rest. All have been 100% reliable, I shoot the best with the glock 23, but the fit/feel/function of the fnp suits me. None in reality are any “better” than the others for defensive purposes unless round count matters, then the xdm9 with its 19+1 would win that. For those looking to buy, any of the above mentioned will work, unless your competing, those are different classes of guns anyway. It is just what fits your hand and you can accurately shoot.

  52. The Beretta Nano is an excellent CCW, and is slightly smaller than the Shield. I have XL hands and the Nano fits as best as could be expected. (I had to sell my Beretta P4 compact because of hammer bite.) The Nano has a completely smooth exterior – not even a slight stop. However the Shield seems cluttered in comparison, and the tiny safety lever is superfluous and could get you in trouble in a self-defense situation. Is it on or off?

  53. There are a lot of good polymer handguns on the market today . To me it’s really comes down to personal preference. I own 2 Glock 19 Gen 4’s made in 2013 and they run flawlessly. I have to say Nick has picked a overall winner.

  54. As someone who has owned just about every handgun, I can assure the public that the Walther PPQ reigns supreme over all other handguns.
    All you need to do is shoot one to realize this.

  55. PPQ M2 5” for competition (love that trigger & grip) P07 or P09 with light for hd. Pps or Sccy cpx2 for ccw.

  56. hi iI have a gen1 glock thats been cut down to take 19 mags it works good for me to cary as a conceal gun. my gen 2 cary outside the waistband. enjoy themboth

  57. I love my glock 17, but I like my ppq 5″ and cz p09 better. Both are reliable and even more fun to shoot.

    • Yup. Walther PPQ and HK VP have entered the market. Hard to beat those Walther 5″ barrels with the sweet triggers, as I like my Q5 Match.

Comments are closed.