Which is the best
pistol in the world? Which is the best modern pistol and why? Our Top 10 analysis is based on the combined score
of accuracy, reliability, range, penetration, magazine capacity, production numbers,
number of users, and some other
This list includes
only modern pistols, that are currently in service. It does
not includes prototypes that are not yet in production, or ageing
pistols that are no longer used.
top 10 pistols in the world are these:
In 1980 the
Austrian army issued a requirement for a new pistol, that would
replace the old Walther P-38. Various companies took part in this
competition with their designs. These were
Steyr GB, Heckler & Koch
P7M13, SIG Sauer P220 and P225,
Beretta 92S, and the previously unknown Glock 17. Eventually the
Glock 17 was selected as a winner and was adopted by the Austrian
Army in 1982. It was also adopted by Austrian Police. Full-scale
production commenced in 1986. In the following years this new and
unusual pistol became one of the most popular handguns due to its
advantages and aggressive marketing. It was adopted by numerous
military and law enforcement forces from all around the world.
Currently this pistol is in service with more than 50 countries.
Some copies and clones of this pistol appeared. One of them is a
& Wesson Sigma.
The Glock 17 was a
clean sheet design. It is not a variation of any previous design.
This pistol was developed by a Glock company, headed by Gaston Glock.
The Glock 17 proved to be highly successful. At the time of its
introduction this pistol was referred as a revolutionary design.
Even though it incorporated previously known solutions. This pistol
is simple, reliable, lightweight and inexpensive.
This pistol has a
simple design with a minimum of parts. There are only 33 parts,
including the magazine. This pistol can be disassembled within a
minute using just a pin, or nail. Many of the parts are
interchangeable between various Glock models. Failures are rear. The
Glock 17 is also simple in operation.
Low weight was
achieved by making most of the parts, including the frame out of
polymer. The only metal parts are barrel, slide and trigger
mechanism. Even though this pistol is made of polymer, it operates
well within a temperature range from -40°C to +200°C. Also this
rugged pistol do not rusts. All metal parts are covered with
rustproof coating. The Glock 17 literally revolutionized the
firearms market. Today virtually all major handgun manufacturers
offer polymer-framed pistols.
The Glock 17 has high
muzzle energy and provides good penetration, even with 9x19 mm
It is claimed that the
barrel of the Glock pistols serves approximately 360 000 shots. It
is a really impressive figure, as barrels of other modern and
quality pistols last about 40 000 shots.
pistol is fed from a 17-round double-stack magazine. The magazine is
also made of polymer. Extended capacity magazines that hold 19 or 33
rounds are also available. Compact and sub-compact models come with
smaller magazines. In some cases magazines are interchangeable
between various models.
This pistol has no
manual safeties. Instead it uses a patented "safe action" trigger
system. An automatic safety is built into the trigger. It blocks the
trigger if it is not pulled properly. It eliminates self-action or
accidental shots. After each shot the safety lock is reset and
turned "on", until the trigger is pushed once more. Another
automatic safety does nor permit fire if the barrel is not fully
Most of the Glock
family pistols have fixed sights. Only special target models,
intended for competitions, have adjustable sights.
introductions the Glock 17 undergone a number of revisions. The
first generation pistols were produced between 1986 and 1990 and
were chambered for 9x19 mm ammunition. The second generation pistols
were produced between 1990 and 1998. These had slightly different
frames with textured grips. The second generation introduced new
calibers, including 9x22 mm (.375 SIG), 10x22 mm (.40S&W), 10x25 mm
(10 mm Auto) and 11.43x23 mm (.45 ACP). The third generation pistols
were produced between 1998 and 2010. These pistols were fitted with
accessory rail below the barrel, and had some other improvements.
Production of the forth generation pistols started in 2010. These
have a larger magazine release button, replaceable back straps for
better ergonomics, and some minor internal improvements.
After initial success
the basic Glock 17, the Glock company developed a large number of
models, based on the same basic design. These are chambered in all
major pistol calibers. Various models also have different
dimensions, barrel length, and magazine capacity. Pistols are
available in standard, compact, subcompact, target and other models.
P320 (Germany / Switzerland)
Sauer P320 pistol was introduced in 2014. It is a further
development of the SIG Sauer P250. The pistol was aimed at a
possible US Army and Air Force requirement to replace the
Eventually it was adopted by the US military as the
M17. The SIG Sauer P320 pistol is also being proposed for
customers from other countries, law enforcement forces and
commercial market. Commercial version of the P320, that has some
differences from the military model.
It is a modular
multi-caliber pistol. Manufacturer offers conversion kits for this
pistol. Caliber conversions are performed simply changing barrels,
slides, frames and magazines. All models use the same trigger group.
So the same trigger group is easily moved between different sized
frames to make full-size, compact or even subcompact pistol. The
P320 can be quickly converted to various calibers, including 9x19
mm, .40 S&W, .375 SIG, .380 ACP and .45 ACP.
The P320 is a
self-cocking striker-fired pistol with a double-action only trigger.
It is a short recoil operated weapon, which fires with the locked
breech. It uses the typical SIG Sauer cam-operated barrel.
The slide is made of
stainless steel. Frame is made of polymer. This pistol has got no
grip backstraps. However developers claim that it will fit for any
hand size. Slide hold and release buttons are also ambidextrous.
The P320 is available
Glock-style trigger safety. A manual frame-mounted thumb safety
is available as an option.
A 9x19 mm full-size
version of the P320 uses 17-round capacity double-stack magazines.
Magazine capacity differs depending on the chambering of the pistol.
Versions chambered in .40 S&W and .375 SIG use 14-round capacity
magazines. Version chambered in .45 ACP uses 10-round magazines.
Magazine release button is reversible.
The SIG Sauer P320
comes with a standard Picatinny-type pistol rail. It accepts all
standard tactical accessories, such as flashlights and laser
This pistol has got
3-dot iron sights. Both front and rear sights can be adjusted for
windage and elevation.
This weapon can be
field stripped without using any tools.
Beretta 92 (Italy)
92 is one of the most popular pistols in the world. It was designed
in 1972 in Italy by Carlo Beretta, Giuseppe Mazzetti, and Vittorio
Valle. It evolved from the earlier Beretta designs. Initial
production commenced in 1975. Until 1976 a total of 5 000 pistols
have been produced. Full-scale production began in 1976. It has been
exported to a number of countries. Some countries produce this
pistol under license. The other countries produce its copies. A
variant of the Beretta 92 is a standard issue sidearm in service
with the whole US military. Currently the 92 is an out-dated
platform, outclassed by most modern pistols. Recently Beretta released a number of new
pistols that are more advanced. However the model 92 is still widely
used by military and law enforcement forces. Currently the Beretta
92 and its variants are in service with 40 countries. Also despite
its age it is still very popular among civilian customers.
The Beretta 92 is
chambered for 9x19 mm Parabellum ammunition. It has a short-recoil
action. It is more powerful than the earlier Italian pistols that
have blowback action. Also the Beretta 92 is accurate, even at long
range. Also some people find design of this pistol elegant.
The Beretta 92 has a
double-action trigger. However it can be also fired in
single-action mode. This pistol has manual safety.
Light alloys were used
in the construction of this pistol in order to decrease weight.
However it reduced the service life of the pistol. There have been
some issues when after 4 000-6 000 shots the slide was breaking and
injuring the shooter. The Beretta company was constantly improving
design of the Model 92 and most reliability issues have been fixed
on later models. Overall this pistol proved to be reliable. Data
from Beretta shows, that average reliability of this improved Model
92 pistol is 17 500 rounds without a stoppage.
One of the drawbacks
of this pistol that it is bulky and heavy. Some people find it
uncomfortable to hold, fire and handle. Also it is difficult to
carry this pistol concealed.
This pistol is fed
from a double stack magazine, that holds 15 rounds. At the time of
its introduction most other pistols had a much smaller single-stack
Pistol has fixed iron
sights. Effective range of fire is about 50 meters.
and variants of this pistol appeared since its introduction in the
mid 1970s. Its production in many variants, chambered for different
calibers continues to this day. There are some copies of the Beretta
92, such as Brazilian
Taurus PT92, Turkish Yavuz 16. Also this pistol is
license-produced in some countries. These are the Egyptian Helwan
920, French PAMAS G1 and M92, or South African Vector Z88.
SIG Sauer P226 (Germany / Switzerland)
Sauer P226 evolved from the previous P220 pistol. It was developed
in the 1980s and was mainly aimed at the US military requirement for
a new sidearm to replace the venerable
M1911 pistols and Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolvers. The US
military trials began in 1982 and were completed in 1984. The SIG
Sauer P226 was one of the two pistols that nominally passed all of
the technical requirements of these trials. However eventually it
was outperformed by Italian
Beretta 92FS due to lower price. The Beretta 92FS was selected
as a winner and adopted by the US military as the
1985. Even though the SIG Sauer P226 lost this competition it
quickly became one of the most popular service pistols. It is in
service with more than 30 countries. Currently the P226 is widely
used by the military, police and security forces around the world.
It is used by the US Coast Guard, Federal Air Marshalls, FBI,
Department of Homeland Security and a number of other operators. It
is also used by elite forces such as the British SAS. The P226
pistol was used by the US Navy Seals for three decades. This weapon
is also popular among civilian shooters. As of 2015 this pistol is
still produced in Germany and in the USA.
The SIG Sauer P226 is
generally similar to the previous P220 except a slightly different
shape and higher capacity double-stack magazine. This pistol has a
short recoil system with a locked breech operation.
This pistol was
initially available chambered for 9x19 mm Parabellum ammunition.
Later other .40 S&W or .357 SIG calibers were introduced. It is
worth noting that the P226 was the first pistol chambered for the
.357 SIG. It is a 9 mm high velocity round, that offers high
The P226 comes with
double action, or double action only trigger. This pistol has a
built-in firing pin safety. There are no manual safeties. There is a
decocking lever at the left side of the frame. It is worth noting
that double action only version has no decocker.
The P226 is available
with standard aluminum, or stainless steel frame. Pistol with 9 mm
caliber with aluminum frame weights 870 g, while version with a
stainless steel frame is heavier and weights 1 180 g.
The 9x19 mm version of
the SIG Sauer P226 uses double stack 15-round capacity magazines.
Extended capacity 20-round magazines are also available. Versions
chambered in .40 S&W and .357 SIG use 12-round capacity magazines.
Magazine release button is reversible.
The P226 proved to be
a durable, reliable and well-made weapon. This pistol is available
in a number of versions. There are Chinese and Iranian (PC-9 ZOAF)
copies of this weapon.
pistol was developed by Koucky brothers at the state-owned Ceska
Zbrojovka armed factory in the former Czechoslovakia. This pistol
was developed for military use and was aimed purely at export
market. Production commenced in 1976. During the first year of
production some 2 000 pistols had been made. This rose in subsequent
years to over 20 000 pistols, but was still not enough to coupe with
the demand. By 2007 more than one million of these pistol have been
produced. Its production still continues and it is constantly being
improved. It is in service with more than 20 countries and is used
by military, police and special operations forces. This pistol was
widely copied and cloned. Production license of this pistol has been
sold to ITM of Switzerland. Most popular copies of the CZ-75 are the
American Springfield P9, Chinese NZ-75, Israeli
Jericho 941, Italian Tanfoglio series pistols, Swiss ITM AT-88
and Sphinx 2000, Turkish Sarsilmaz M2000.
The CZ-75 has an
appealing design, is reliable, accurate, comfortable to handle and
to shoot. It proved to successful and is one of the best pistols in
The CZ-75 is chambered
for 9x19 mm Parabellum round. It is worth noting, that army and law
enforcement forces of the former Czechoslovakia used the Soviet
7.62x25 and 9x18 mm pistol ammunition. While the 9x19 mm was the
standard pistol round in the West. Also there a versions of the
CZ-75 chambered for .40 S&W and 9x21 mm IMI ammunition.
This pistol has an
all-steel construction. It is a short recoil operated weapon and
uses a Browning locking system. It resembles that of the Swiss SIG
P210 pistol. Such operating system provides more smooth cycle and
better tolerances and results in a greater accuracy.
The basic CZ-75 has a
double-action trigger and exposed hammer. However there are several
versions of the trigger system, such as single-action, or
double-action only. The basic version has a frame mounted safety.
Since the late 1980s all CZ-75 series pistols also have an internal
firing pin safety. Some models have no manual safety, but fitted
with decocker only.
magazine holds 16 rounds. Early models of the CZ-75 had 15-round
This pistol is fitted
with simple iron sights. The rear sight is dovetailed into the
slide. However there are some models fitted with adjustable rear
sights. The CZ-75 is an accurate weapon. Effective range of fire is
about 50 meters.
Smith & Wesson Military & Police (USA)
& Police pistol was developed by Smith & Wesson company. It first
appeared in 2005. As its name suggests it is intended for military
and police sales. However it is also available for civilian
customers. The "Military & Police" name is a trademark of Smith &
Wesson company for the last 80 years or so. Before it was used for
the most successful revolver, designed by this company. The Military
& Police pistol was adopted by more than 20 countries. However in
most countries it is used by law enforcement forces. It is used by
numerous US police departments. Military operators are Iraq,
Lebanon, Peru and Singapore.
This pistol is
chambered for .40 S&W, .375 SIG, .45 ACP and 9x19 mm Parabellum
ammunition. The .40 S&W version is mainly used by law enforcement
use, while the 9x19 mm is indented for military use.
This pistol has a
completely new design. It evolved from a
& Wesson Sigma. However it looks differently and none of the
parts are interchangeable. Also it has some features of the Smith &
Wesson SW99 pistol. The frame is made of polymer. Slide is made from
stainless steel. Ergonomics was a key point designing this firearm.
The Military & Police
is short recoil operated. It uses Browning-type locking. The pistol
has a double-action trigger. The Military & Police is fully
ambidextrous. Slide release lever is located on both sides of the
The 9 mm version of
the Military & Police is fed from a 17-round magazines. Magazine
release button is reversible. The pistol comes with two magazines.
Both front and rear
sights are dovetailed into the slide. These can be easily adjusted
or replaced by tritium sights for shooting at night. Range of
effective fire is about 50 meters.
There is an accessory
rail under the barrel. It can be used to mount laser pointer or
Grip backstraps are
replaceable for improved ergonomics. Each pistol comes with three
backstraps of different shapes and sizes. So each shooter can tailor
this pistol to suit his hand.
Numerous variants of
this pistol exist, including compact versions and target models.
FN Five Seven (Belgium)
Seven pistol was designed by a Belgian Fabrique Nationale (FN)
company. Sometimes it is designated as the Five-seveN in order to
spell initials of the manufacturer. Numbers in the designation of
this pistol (5-7) also indicate an unusual 5.7 mm ammunition. The
main goal was to develop a handgun with good penetration against
body armor, yet with reasonable dimensions, weight and recoil. This
pistol was first publicly revealed in 1996. Originally this pistol
was available for military and law enforcement sales only. The Five
Seven was first adopted in 2000 by Cypriot National Guard.
Eventually it became very popular. Currently the Five Seven is in
service with military and law enforcement forces in over 20
countries, including United States. A civilian version was
introduced in 2004.
This pistol is
chambered for newly-developed high-velocity 5.7x28 mm SS190
ammunition. This cartridge was developed by Fabrique Nationale in
the late 1980s and was first used on a
submachine gun. It resembles a scaled-down standard NATO 5.56x45
mm Remington round. The intermediate 5.7x28 mm round is larger than
traditional pistol and submachine gun ammunition, but is smaller
comparing than assault rifle ammunition. This round has a very high
velocity. The 5.7x28 mm bullet travels twice faster than a 9x19 mm
Parabellum bullet. It has enhanced penetration comparing with 9x19
mm round due to its high velocity and sharp bullet. At close range
it has impressive penetration and is effective against armor vests,
helmets and ballistic glass. The FN advertises, that the Five Seven
penetrates a standard CRISAT (kevlar + titanium) vest at a range of
100 meters and PAGST vest at a range of 300 meters. Various rounds
are available, including standard, tracer, and round with subsonic
bullet speed. The Five Seven is the only handgun chambered for this
However the cartridge
is the only novelty of this pistol. Otherwise it has a traditional
design with delayed blowback operation. This weapon has a
double-action trigger. So the weapon can be carried with a loaded
chamber. There is a version with a single-action only trigger.
There is an
ambidextrous safety switch, mounted above the trigger. It also has
internal firing pin safety. Early models of the Five Seven had
firing pin safety only with no manual safeties. The pistol can be
easily dismantled into 4 main parts.
magazine of the Five Seven holds 20 rounds. Magazine release button
can be reversed from left side of the grip to the right.
The pistol has a
simple iron sights. Range of effective fire is up to 100 m.
The grip can be fitted
with backstraps of various sizes. So the pistol can be tailored to
fit well in almost every hand. There is an accessory rail under the
barrel. It can be used to mount tactical flashlights or laser
pointers. This pistol is compatible with a sound suppressor. Once
fitted with sound suppressor it has to use special bullets with
HK USP (Germany)
The USP or
Universal Slebstlade Pistole (universal self-loading pistol)
is a product of the German Heckler & Koch company. Development of
this pistol began in 1989. It evolved from a Heckler & Koch MK23
pistol. The goal was to develop a new pistol in a number of
versions, that could be suitable for civilians, as well as military
and police markets. It was aimed at civilian customers in the USA,
as well as global military and law enforcement market. Production
commenced in 1993. A wide variety of versions have been developed.
In 1995 a version of the USP was adopted by the German army as the
P8 as the main sidearm. Currently the USP is in service with nearly
The fist version of
the USP was chambered in .40 S&W ammunition. At the time it was a
relatively new ammunition. However other versions of the USP
appeared shortly, chambered in 9x19 mm Parabellum, .45 ACP, and .375
SIG ammunition (USP Compact).
This pistol has a
metal reinforced polymer frame and one-piece milled steel slide. All
metal parts have a special finish, that provides protection against
corrosion and wear. The pistol can be even kept for prolonged
periods in salt water.
It is a short-recoil
operated weapon. This pistol has a patented recoil reduction system.
The USP has a double-action trigger. It can be also in single-action
firing sequence. Also there are versions with double-action only
trigger. Actually there are nine basic variations of the trigger and
safety arrangements. Some of them have a safety lever on the right
side. Other are without manual safety, or with decock-only lever.
This pistol also has an automatic firing pin safety.
The Heckler & Koch
company was that confident with the USP, that gave it a lifetime
warranty. Service life of this pistol is around 20 000 shots.
The USP is fed from a
double-stack magazine, that holds 15 rounds. Magazine release button
This pistol has simple
sights that are dovetailed to the slide. The USP is accurate at
ranges of up to 50 meters. Maximum range of fire is about 60
There are a universal
mounting groves under the barrel for various accessories, such as
tactical flashlight or laser pointer.
Beretta PX4 Storm (Italy)
PX4 Storm is a further development of the Beretta 8000 Cougar. It is
the latest addition to Beretta's line of semi-automatic pistols. It
seems that this pistol was designed to compete with the popular
17. This handgun is mainly aimed at law enforcement forces and
commercial customers. Its production commenced in 2004. Currently
the Beretta PX4 Storm is used by law enforcement forces of at least
11 countries. It is also in service with Venezuelan National Guard.
The PX4 Storm is
chambered in 9x19 mm Parabellum ammunition. Also it is chambered in
other most popular calibers. There are versions chambered in .40
S&W, .45 ACP and 9x21 mm IMI ammunition.
This Italian pistol is
made of most modern high-strength polymer materials. The slide is
made of steel. It is a recoil-operated weapon, that fires from the
locked breech. Locking system with rotating barrel is similar to
that of the Beretta 8000 Cougar. The barrel rotates on recoil and
unlocks from the slide. Such design reduces muzzle jump.
It is claimed that the
Beretta PX4 is a durable and very reliable weapon. Developers report
that this pistol fired well over 150 000 rounds without any part
The trigger mechanism
is similar to that of the
Beretta 92 (M9).
There are four basic models with various trigger systems. The Type C
has a so called "constant action" trigger. It is a sort of
double-action only system with less trigger pull weight. The Type D
has a double-action only trigger without manual safety. The Type F
has conventional double-action trigger with manual safety and
decocker. The Type G had conventional double-action trigger with
decocker, but lacks manual safety. The Type D and Type F models
safety or decocker levers are ambidextrous and located on both sides
of the slide. All models have an automatic firing pin block.
The PX4 Storm is fed
from a double-stack magazine, that holds 17 rounds. It is in line
with capacity of the
17. Beretta produces extended capacity magazine baseplates. Once
it is used, capacity is increased to 20 rounds.
This pistol has simple
3-dot iron sights. Effective range of fire is 50 meters with 9x19 mm
ammunition and 25 meters with .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammunition.
This pistol has sleek
lines. Designers paid a lot of attention to its ergonomics. Grip of
the PX4 has a removable backstrap. Backstraps of various shapes and
sizes are available. Each pistol comes with three different
backstraps. These can be tailored to suit the shooter.
There is an accessory
rail under the barrel. It is used to mount laser pointer or tactical
Walther P99 (Germany)
P99 pistol was developed for law enforcement forces and civil
customers. It was designed in the mid 1990s. Production commenced in
1997. This pistol is currently used by more than 10 countries. It is
also license-produced in Poland by Radom factory and in the United
States by Smith & Wesson. However in both of cases frames are
supplied from Germany.
The Walther P99 has
been adopted by the Finish armed forces, Iraqi army, and a number of
law enforcement forces and police departments from all around the
The Walther P99 is a
striker-fired pistol with a polymer frame and a steel slide. At the
time of its introduction this pistol had a number of unusual
features. It was a step forward for the Walther company.
This pistol was
originally chambered in 9x19 mm Parabellum. A .40 S&W version was
introduced in 1999.
The P99 is a
short-recoil operated weapon. It fires with a locked breech and uses
a modified Browning locking system. It proved to be a reliable
Even though the
Walther P99 is a striker-fired pistol, it has unusual trigger
mechanism. It operates in a "double-action" mode similar to that of
hammer-fired pistols. It can also fire in a "single-action" mode.
There is a version of this pistol with "double action only" trigger
mechanism. The third version is Walther P99QA or "quick action". It
features a partially pre-cocked trigger for a constant trigger pull
from the first to last shot.
This pistol has an
automatic firing pin block safety. The P99DAO version has a slightly
different automatic safety, built into the trigger.
There is a loaded
chamber indicator, as well as cocked striker indicator. Another
unusual feature of the baseline Walther P99 is a decocking button.
It is located on top of the slide. Other pistols typically have a
conventional lever on the side. This button is relatively large on
the standard P99 as it decocks the striker. The decocking button is
much smaller on the P99QA, where it is used only during disassembly.
The P99DAO lacks decocking button, as its firing pin is always
All controls of the
P99 are fully ambidextrous for right- or left-hand operation. Except
that the first generation pistols have a slide release only on the
left side of the frame.
Magazine capacity of
the P99 varies from 8 to 16 rounds, depending from the caliber and
version. A full-size version chambered in 9x19 mm is fed from
16-round magazines, while similar version chambered in .40 S&W is
fed from 12-round magazines.
This pistol has iron
sights. The rear sight post is dovetailed into the slide and is
adjustable. The sights have white inserts for firing at night.
The P99 has 3
interchangeable grip backstraps, including small, medium and large.
So the shooter can install the backstrap that suits him most.
This weapon has an
accessory rail under the barrel and can be fitted with laser
pointer, tactical flashlight, or other accessories.