Simple: Everyone knows it's a Glock 19. Wait, no. Actually, it's the Sig P226.
Oh wait, no. It's really the HK VP9. Or the CZ 75. Or the Smith & Wesson M&P 9. Or the Kahr P9. Or the Walther PPQ. Or…
You get the picture — the idea of a "best" anything is fundamentally subjective. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Factor in people's experiences with different manufacturers, likes and dislikes with certain guns and the way they intend on using or carrying the firearms and you have what could be a never-ending discussion.
Despite all this, surely there's a set of criteria you can use to help with your gun-buying decision. While it ultimately comes down to what works best for you and your shooting style, there are still ways of distinguishing between your options.
Without turning this into a manufacturer-versus-manufacturer debate that has the potential to be even uglier than discussing the best caliber, let's try to establish how you should determine which guns best meet your individual needs. Because that's what it comes down to: What is the best 9mm for you?
What Are Your Needs?
Let's start off by discussing why you want the gun:
What are the needs that made you decide to find the best 9mm? Are you planning to use this as an everyday carry? Do you want to participate in competition shooting? Is this for home defense?
A number of other considerations flow from the answers to these questions, so make sure you answer them first.
Do You Already Have Any 9mm Guns?
It might seem silly, but it's a good question. If you already have another 9mm or two (or 10), what is it about those guns that made them not the best 9mm for the purpose at hand?
Being able to pinpoint specific things that you don't like about the guns that you already have helps you to narrow down your choices and find a gun that doesn’t have any of those drawbacks. You're also going to want to ask yourself the opposite question: take stock of the things about the guns you own that must be included for a gun to be considered "best."
Straight Out of the Box
A lot of people have ideas about what the best 9mm is.
Some fanboys are die-hard proponents of a certain brand of gun and will tell you that brand's option is the single best 9mm on the planet. That it's the greatest thing ever invented, as if it was handed down from heaven by John Moses Browning himself.
But that doesn't matter: No matter what someone says about their preferred gun and why it's the best, in order to be the best 9mm for you, it needs to have everything you require and be accurate and reliable straight out of the box.
If you have a friend who swears by the gun but says once you buy, it you need to do X, Y and Z, it's not the best 9mm.
This one might seem subjective, but an element of objectivity can be found when it comes to the ergonomics of a gun.
You likely have a preference for grip angle and how a specific gun feels in your hand. These are subjective. But prior to deciding whether a gun fits your subjective requirements, you can objectively eliminate guns you know won't meet them no matter what.
For example, do you like a Glock-style grip angle? Guns that don't have that feature won't be the best fit for you, then. Or, do you like a 1911 style? Again, that narrows down the field in a very straightforward fashion: Either a gun has a certain ergonomic feature or it doesn't.
Reliability is an absolute must for any gun, and certainly for any worthy of being called your “best.” And good news: there are some fairly sound ways of determining whether or not a gun is reliable.
Reliability tests are often performed by third parties, and you can watch people performing different types of tests on sites such as YouTube. But one of the best ways to determine whether or not a gun is reliable is to see if it has any kind of military or special operations usage. While some people suggest that military and special operations forces have different needs than civilians and even law enforcement officers do, the thing to keep in mind is that the guns they use must be able to perform.
Military and special operations units need guns that work reliably all over the world under the most extreme adverse conditions — they must operate in severe climates, for example. Tremendous variances in weather and temperature are routine for these kinds of units, and if their guns hold up for them, they will for you. It's not fanboying to suggest that if a gun is used by the military it might be the best; neither is it incorrect to say that just because they use a certain gun doesn't mean it's the best. It just helps to give you a measuring stick.
Obviously, since we're discussing the best 9mm handgun, we're looking for one that fires 9mm ammunition. But there are a lot of ammunition manufacturers, different grains of ammo and distinctions between target ammo and self-defense ammo. For a gun to be considered the best, it must be able to handle all these with no problems.
It doesn't matter how good a 9mm firearm functions if you can't find ways to carry it with you. That means, in most cases, the best 9mm is the one you have on you when you need a gun. Don't forget that. It doesn't matter how good your gun is if you don't have it on you when you need it.
That means the best 9mm is one with readily available carrying, concealment and holster options.
So, What Is the Best 9mm?
At the end of the day, it's still subjective, but some of the best 9mm are the ones mentioned at the beginning of this blog. While that list certainly isn't exhaustive, it's a good starting point.
Most of those firearms have extensive police, military and special operations forces usage. Guns like the Sig P226 have been used by the American military special operations forces, as has the Glock 19 and the Beretta 92. CZ firearms have been used by international police forces and their special operations divisions. So have H&K firearms.
Even some of the guns mentioned that aren't in use by the militaries of the world are carried by members of these organizations when they aren't on duty. Remember: Military usage is just one factor among many for measuring whether a gun is a "best of". It always has and always will come down to what is the best 9mm handgun for you, and you're the only one who can make that decision.
The good news is that to find the best 9mm for you, you might have to try out a lot of guns, and that means lots of shooting. So, no matter what choice you make in the end, enjoy yourself on the journey to finding the best 9mm handgun.