The subject of which is the best 9mm handgun has been a topic of contention for gun aficionados everywhere.
However, this question holds an even bigger significance to the brave officers of our legal enforcement agencies.
When your life and safety depends on having a reliable service weapon on your side, you need to choose the best 9mm handgun to carry out your duties effectively.
Why choose 9mm?
Police agencies around the world choose 9mm handguns instead because they are cheap and are easy to handle for officers that have smaller frame and hands.
The design of 9mm handguns increases reliability during operation, reducing the amount of jamming and maintenance.
The 9mm magazine allows officers to carry more ammo in their weapon than a revolver. A standard police service revolver can only hold up to 6 rounds of ammo, while a typical Glock magazine can hold 10 or more rounds.
A 9mm round also offers enough stopping power in most situations.
9mm is FBI’s preferred ammunition
Even the FBI understands the benefits of 9mm compared to larger caliber rounds. With one of the best ballistic labs in the world, they have studied firearms and ammunition rounds extensively.
Their research in Quantico has led to several revelations about handguns, such as:
- There is little to no visible difference in terms of bullet wound tracks between 9mm law enforcement projectiles and a .45 round.
- Most law enforcement officers miss up to 80% of their shots on the field. A high caliber will drop their accuracy even further.
- Even FBI-trained shooters are both faster and more accurate with shooting a 9mm round than shooting a .40 round when using similarly sized handguns.
- 9mm rounds allows larger magazine that can hold more rounds, produces lower recoil, cost less (on both ammo and weapon) and offer higher operation reliability.
These findings further solidify 9mm handguns’ position as the top preference for legal enforcement work, in terms of lethality, effectiveness and costs.
From .38 to 9mm – A history in police service
Before 9mm gain its popularity, the .38 Special was the first police cartridge that was adopted widely during the early 20th century.
This was due to its stronger firepower (for its time) and its ability to be fired without the need for any larger, more expensive gun.
This means smaller local law agencies can enjoy economic savings without spending their budgets on more expensive guns or ammo.
At first, 9mm was used mainly only in the military. It wasn’t until the late 80s, where the war on drugs necessitated the shift from smaller caliber revolvers to more powerful semi-automatic pistols that police agencies across the U.S. began adopting the 9mm.
The Colt .45 was too difficult for officers to wield effectively, thanks to its heft and recoil. The 9mmGlock was chosen instead as a more suitable replacement option for the ageing .38 revolvers.
Today, 9mm handguns are some of the most popular options for legal enforcers, thanks to its excellent balance of handling-to-firepower performance.
Best 9mm Handguns used by Legal Enforcement
Several local law enforcement agencies allow officers to purchase and carry their personal sidearm choices.
Here are 7 of the best pistols you can get to carry out your duties effectively.
SIG Sauer P226
The P226 is a semi-automatic pistol that is adopted as a service weapon for legal agencies across the world.
The P226 was developed initially to replace the Colt M1911A in the U.S. military, but SIG Sauer lost the contract to the Beretta M92.
Since then the P226 has gone on to win several high-profile police contracts, including the NYPD and SFPD. SIG has a reputation for building highly reliable handguns, which can last for decades without issues.
The P226 carries several features that make it an ideal police service weapon, such as a de-cocking mechanism to lower the hammer.
Unlike most service handguns, the P226 does not feature a safety. This allows law enforcement officers to quickly unholster and fire their weapon without the need to flip any mechanical safety catch on or off. Once the pistol has cleared the holster, it’s good to go.
Glock is an Austrian handgun manufacturer that has been producing high-quality firearms for years.
The Glock was one of the earliest polymer-frame handguns to gain widespread fame. Polymer frame guns are lighter and easier to handler than all-steel handguns.
First introduced in 1988, the Glock 19 has gone on to become one of the most favorite service weapons for officers across the U.S. and around the world.
The Glock 19 is smaller and easier to conceal than its predecessor the Glock 17, making it the weapon for choice for covert police operation or undercover fieldwork.
The handgun features a simple design, easy maintenance and operability in various climates and conditions, making it one of the most popular firearms for legal enforcement all over the globe
Smith & Wesson M&P9
Smith & Wesson handguns have always been a staple of American police departments for years because they are an American company that produces cheap handguns that are reliable and safe.
The M&P (Military & Police) is the company’s first foray into poly-framed duty pistols, to compete with Glock and their polymer handguns.
The M&P9 is the 9mm variant that features ambidextrous safety control, front cocking serrations and improved trigger mechanisms to protect the officer and to allow him or her to carry out legal enforcement effectively.
Beretta Model 92
Italian company Beretta’s claims that it is the oldest gun company in the world still alive today. This Italian gun manufacturer has been crafting fine weaponry from as early as the 1526.
Since then, Beretta has become an international gun manufacturer that supplies military and police forces across the world with high-quality weaponry.
Since its introduction in 1975, the Beretta Model 92 is renowned for its durability and reliability, even beating Sig Sauer as the primary sidearm supplier for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Beretta is constructed using lightweight aluminum alloy commonly used in aircraft and features an open-side design that Beretta is now known for.
According to Beretta, this open-slide design helps to eliminate “stove-piping” (where the fired casing fails to eject) and allows the M92 to cycle flawless and continue feeding even after thousands of rounds.
Heckler and Koch VP9
Heckler and Koch is a German gun maker that has been some of the best handguns for police agencies since 1948.
Their motto translates to “No Compromises” in English, which is a testament to their dedication, and the VP9 is no different.
The VP9 (Volkspistole) offers the most customizable grip panels you can find in the market. Each gun comes with three different backstraps and six different side panels.
The gun’s primary manual safety is built into the trigger. The trigger design is one of the best available in the market for a striker-fired pistol.
The back of the pistols also features what HK calls charging supports. They are designed to aid cocking, without any interference when holstering.
The VP9 also features an ambidextrous magazine release catch and a bilateral slide release.
Ruger is an American based company that has specializes in, pistols, revolvers and semi-automatic rifles from 1949.
The original SR9 features a multitude of safety functions such as an ambidextrous manual thumb safety switch and magazine release catch, a visual and tactile loader chamber indicator, and a firing pin block safety which misfiring if the pistol is dropped accidentally.
The SR9c takes all the attractive features of SR9 and packs it into a smaller and lighter form.
The shorter stature of the SR9c makes it an ideal handgun for concealed carry than most other 9mm handguns in the market. The slim profile will be much less visible under clothing, without compromise on features.
Springfield Armory XD
The Springfield Armory X-treme Duty (XD) is an approved variant of the HS2000 pistol from Croatia.
Since 1999, the United States has been importing the Croatian HS2000, until 2002 when the Springfield Armory acquired licensing privileges to sell it within the USA.
With the XD, Springfield renamed the pistol and introduced several variations, with various caliber sizes, barrel dimensions and textures.
The Springfield Armory XD shares some similarities with the Glock and the SIG Sauer pistols but has enough unique design features to differentiate itself from the competitors, such as a distinctly different trigger action.
Today, the Springfield XD pistols are utilized by several police and law enforcement agencies across the US, such as the Houston Police Department. The XD handguns are also available for civilians.
How to choose a duty handgun?
Duty pistols are different from concealed carry guns. They are not meant to be strapped on to the ankle or hidden inside the pocket.
Duty pistols need to be beefy enough for street work. In fact, duty guns should ideally be big enough to operate under the worst conditions, such as an attempted gun grab.
Ammo capacity is another primary concern for a duty pistol.
Don’t just think that you will only need to fire three to five rounds on average during a hostile encounter.
As a member of a legal enforcement agency, you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario, especially when you and other people’s lives are at stake.
Many police situations have involved firing dozens of rounds, and that number has increased as the years go on.
The question then becomes, how much ammo is enough, without simply relying on your luck?
When choosing a subcompact handgun for off-duty carry, you may lose up to 10 rounds of ammo capacity compare to your on-duty gun.
However, a compact or mid-sized gun loses only a few rounds while allowing you to still get a good firing grip and conceal the weapon properly.
The factory and aftermarket parts costs may add up in the long run.
Parts and holsters
As a law enforcement officer, you will need to look at how much does the handgun’s spare replacement parts costs, as well as their availability.
If you don’t have support from your agency’s armory, you may need to fork out significant amounts of money to maintain your weapon’s operability.
Magazine springs, spare recoil springs, magazine baseplates are some of the consumable handgun parts that need replacing over time.
Some manufacturers can offer discounts to members of law enforcement, so check with your gun dealer.
Your choice of handguns can affect the type of duty holsters available. Some pistols may not be compatible with your favorite holster, which means you need to buy a new one.
If the handgun you use is an uncommon model, it can be difficult to purchase a compatible holster.
Ability to shoot
The sight radius of a handgun should also be a point to consider.
A small handgun will have a shorter barrel, which will naturally result in a smaller sight radius.
Depending on the skill of the shooter, a smaller distance between the front and rear sights affect the shooter’s aim effectively. However, at distances where legal enforcers typically work in, this factor shouldn’t be a major concern.
If size is not a concern, then using your service weapon for both on and off duty is an ideal option, simply because you are training and handling the gun regularly, and it does not cost you extra money.
Otherwise, choose a handgun that you are already using, but pick a smaller variant as your off duty weapon, such as a Glock 22 and its smaller variant the Glock 19.
The right handgun can save your life
Getting the right service weapon will safeguard your life and allow you to protect and serve.
Make sure to carefully weigh your options before you settle on the handgun to carry for duty.
At IFA Tactical, we carry a wide variety of firearms accessories, including handguns for sale that are suitable for legal enforcement work.
Our mission is to educate, equip & prepare the men and women of this nation and to preserve our freedom. We use the equipment that we sell and have had the privilege of serving countless military personnel, police forces, & law-abiding citizens alike.
Call us today to place an order, for technical support, or product information.