Best Striker Fired Pistol: 2019 Buying Guide & Reviews

The best striker fired pistol title is harder to pick, now more than ever, as the market is full of quality striker fired firearms that have excellent duty records in a large variety of scenarios.

This is a list of the best striker fired pistols on the market.

In order to understand the qualities of each of the contending striker fired pistols, one must also look at the manufacturer and the history of the pistol platform to determine which attributes appeal strongly to the buyer.

Furthermore, the aesthetics can even play a role, though minor for most users. The fit and feel and adjustability or simple ergonomics of the firearms are also a crucial component, and because of the prevalence for quality builds by many different manufacturers, the choice needs to weigh many different aspects.

We believe three key components exist for buyers to consider before selecting a firearm in the striker fired class.

  • The history of the particular model and the company
  • The feature set and caliber (most models in this market segment offer multiple caliber options) and the intended use
  • The durability and reliability of the pistol model

One aspect that may also be important to first time buyers will be the way the pistol feels in the hand. Most striker fired platforms are either very ergonomic and ambidextrous by nature, or they provide adjustable grip inserts, and other specific interchangeable options to customize fit to the shooter.

It’s because most of these types of pistols are very well-received and have great histories that this category has gotten so popular. It is the category generally accepted as the standard now for duty and carry weapons.

Most striker fired guns are characterized by a trigger safety and no striker fired pistol will have a traditional hammer. Instead, an internal striker will be cocked as the slide is racked, and the trigger must be pulled to release the striker. Generally, the gun must be fired in order to deactivate the striker to disassemble the firearm, and the striker fired platform does not have a de-cocking unit.

Some traditionalists think that a striker fired firearm is less safe to use than a hammer fired gun. This is a point that is up for debate and there is considerable debate between the two camps. What is not up for debate is the advantage of the lack of a hammer when it comes to simplicity and holsterability/drawing of the pistol. The striker fired pistols have a distinct advantage in anti-snag capabilities and can be easier to get to the first shot.

For the sake of comprehension, the article will highlight three points:

  • Manufacturer and basic concepts surrounding the firearms they produce in the striker fired spectrum.
  • Individual model benefits and feature sets
  • Ergonomics and basic shooter interface elements

We will ONLY be reviewing current models and models that are readily available on the market, even if we feel that there are superior guns that have been discontinued. This will give an apples-to-apples comparative study.

We will leave the following pieces of information out of the article to keep it easily understood and avoid decisions based only on firepower: caliber and capacity. We will, however, note distinct advantages or disadvantages from a caliber or capacity perspective that would be material to the discussion.

This is because most popular models of the striker fired pistols readily available on the market are available in numerous calibers and each shooter will have their personal preferences.

Best of Striker fired pistol Manufacturers

FN

Almost wholly dedicated to military and law enforcement prior to the last 10 years, FN has a history of producing some excellent duty guns. The commercially postured FNS and others are excellent options in the striker fired, polymer game. The line seems to be a bit bulkier and geared towards higher capacity and law enforcement heavy on the control and feature set, but it has been adopted well by mainstream civilian shooters anyway.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

Bulkier and a bit top heavy for some shooters, when loaded the guns can be very heavy, thanks to a system wide gearing towards high capacity. The rear grip areas are almost universally outfitted with interchangeable pieces for tailoring the grip fit to the shooter, which helps a lot.

Notably, the models from FN tend to be made with gloved hand shooting in mind and the spacing and sizing of controls and the gun architecture itself (trigger guard etc.) denotes this.

Glock

Glock is best known as the innovator responsible for popularizing the striker fired (and polymer framed) pistol. Contrary to popular belief, the first polymer framed striker fired pistol with commercial success was the (somewhat unsuccessful) H&K VP70. There were even striker fired pistols available from Mauser, Steyr and Browning in the early 1900’s, and other more primitive variants prior to that.

On that backstory, however, Glock is easily awarded the credit of popularizing this pistol format in the modern era and has benefitted greatly as a result. They have some of the best service records, voluminous law enforcement contracts and uncompromising adherence to their original design when compared to other manufacturers.

For all intents and purposes, the striker fired landscape was owned by Glock for the first 8 years, at least, after their North American debut.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

Most shooters either love or hate the Glock from a fit and feel perspective. The grip is generally a bit blocky, bland and universal. This probably explains the vast set of the shooting population that can use the gun well. In all, the ergonomics are simple, universal, and ambidextrous for the most part (though some controls are not ambidextrous from factory). 

Glocks most recent model change has incorporated the backstrap insert customization that many manufacturers are now including to get their guns into a wider variety of hand sizes. It does, however, seem kind of like an afterthought with the Glock variant.

Heckler and Koch

Probably the biggest innovator along with Glock in the polymer framed striker fired realm, HK was actually participating in this game long before Glock (by at least a decade). That said, the pricing for H&K pistols is much higher than for Glocks, and the company sells proportionately less volume as a result. Personal preference for HK’s may often not be enough to dissuade the purchase of a Glock or a Smith & Wesson, etc. because of the relative value for money comparatively.

All that said, Heckler and Koch makes excellent firearms and are considered a very good innovator historically.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

The angular stocky presence of most of the polymer framed striker fired handguns in the HK lineup has a well-known aesthetic, but also benefits the user who desires a universal fit, kind of like the Glock. It is more angular than the Glock and certain models have fitment parts included, but generally it is a one size fits all ergonomic.

Springfield Armory

One of the fastest growing striker-fired pistols in the past several years, this is a very interesting option for those transitioning from a 1911, or who like additional safety features beyond the trigger safety typical on competing guns.

Springfield has a long history of producing pistols and has had enormous success in the striker fired segment of the market of late.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

Springfield is one of the more progressive ergonomics leaders in the niche, and most of their models offer options to tailor the grip fit to the shooter.

Smith & Wesson

While many decry S&W’s mainstream market moves as milquetoast, the popular guns in their semi-automatic model ranges have been polymer-based striker fired pistols ever since the debut of the Sigma, a first-generation Glock competitor that had mixed reception. Today’s 2.0 variants are killing it in the market with Smith & Wesson’s very proactive engagement with customer feedback that has improved on triggers and safety options for their striker-fired pistols. 

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

This is a very ergonomic model range from a very mainstream company. The amount of changes as a result of customer feedback is staggering for a company as large as Smith & Wesson. This gun seems to keep getting better as they go with this platform. Kudos to the company for their reactive response to customer complaints, it has introduced better products as a direct result.

Sig Sauer

Late to the party for the polymer framed striker fired guns, the company is still a market leader and has managed to position their flagship model as a military and law enforcement dynamo. Perhaps it is mostly due to pricing power, but the feature set is excellent on most of the guns from the striker fired lines. Furthermore, Sig has a very good history of delivering results, precision and durability in their pistols.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

One of the more finely tuned ergonomic sets, some models have extensive customization options and some are just built to fit the hand more intuitively. Either way, you are getting a less universal fit with the Sig, and as a result, a higher handhold (like the Smith and Springfield model ranges).

Ruger

An interesting option in the striker fired market, Ruger is something of an enigma, with all their innovation every few years or so. You can find some true market leaders at a lower price, even if it isn’t in the mainstream duty gun market. Obvious winners in the space are Ruger’s super compact LCP and other iterations in the same image (note the LCP is not a true striker-fired gun, though it behaves like one). It is the benefits of the pistol that lands it on this list.

Notes on Ergonomics and shooter fit/user experience

Ruger tends to be a very universal fit and has a very different aesthetic than most mainstream offerings in the space, it is the most different from a fit perspective compared to the mainstream, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more or less ergonomic than other options, they are simply different. They emphasize small size, minimalism and slim features across the board for their most popular pistols.

Notes:

We left out a couple of very good manufacturers from this list, not because they don’t produce excellent firearms, but because the listed manufacturers are so well proven in the striker fired segment, that it’s hard for some manufacturers to compete on a volume basis, even if their designs are excellent and their guns are reliable.

These omitted manufacturers simply don’t produce the same volume of firearms and have the track record of the ones listed. Notably absent are Kahr Arms, Walther and Steyr. Kahr arms is one of the very few all steel, striker fired pistols available, which speaks to the enduring quality of the guns they build.

Notwithstanding, we believe the following Eight pistols are the best striker fired pistols on the market, in no particular order.

Best Striker Fired Pistol

FN - 509 TACTICAL

FN - 509 TACTICAL

​The FN 509 is easily the most tactically oriented pistol on this list thanks to the high profile sights (that are actually low-profile compared to others) for suppressor usage. The co-witness ability for a separate red-dot optic and iron sights can be extremely helpful in certain conditions. The 509 is built on the backbone of law enforcement data and years of experience by FN.

The other features include accessory rail, gloved finger trigger guard threaded barrel and low bore axis for good control and high accuracy. The placement of the controls is low and easy to reach.

A deep cut in the grip frame allows a very high hand hold without being uncomfortably rigid. The sweeping frame end allows you to avoid slide bite in all conditions. The trigger isn’t perfect but it’s pretty good for a striker fired pistol and offers a robust linkage to keep durability high.

Pros

  • High capacity options
  • Very tactically oriented
  • Very accurate compared to most striker fired, polymer-based pistols

Cons

  • Trigger isn’t perfect

This is best for

The suppressor user, or those who want to co-witness iron and optical sights. Shooters who desire a high handhold without having to reimagine their grip.


GLOCK - G19 G4

GLOCK - G19 G4

​This is still very close to the original compact 9mm variant that helped make Glock a household name in the market. Yes, it’s got years of research and data ingrained into its polymer frame, but it’s still got all the winning traits of the original Glock 19. The benefits of this G4 variant include an interchangeable backstrap for grip fit customization, allowing for smaller hands to use the gun better.

Not the most famous Glock, but probably the best all-around pistol they have ever made for the mainstream market, this gun has the history and durability and reliability that legitimate shooters want to ensure they can meet long-term goals with their firearm.

High capacity, small size, but no degradation to any aspect of the feature set, this is a great firearm because it is simple, safe, and easy to use. Millions of Glock 19’s are in use since they first debuted, and there is a reason they still sell hundreds of thousands of units a year.

Pros

  • Compact, but still high capacity and easy to control
  • Proven history, durability and reliability
  • 9mm is easy to shoot, has excellent performance and isn’t overly expensive 

Cons

  • Everyone has one, so if you like being unique, you won’t be as a G19 owner

This is best for

The mainstream shooter who wants a solid play on every front and isn’t trying to overpay for looks. Shooters who want a purist polymer frame/striker play.


HECKLER & KOCH - VP9​

HECKLER & KOCH - VP9​

​This is the ergonomic, slim-fit 9mm full size duty pistol that you love the second you pick it up. The VP9 is anything but the mainstream commodity striker fired, polymer framed pistol. 

HK took all of their experience making polymer framed striker fired guns since about 1970, and built the ultimate high capacity, high durability duty weapon that has since become a phenomenon in the sector. Some torture tests have taken the VP9 into the half a million round territory without failure.

The robust build quality gives a certain solidity to the polymer gun space but doesn’t increase the weight or take away from any of the benefits of the design.

So much of the design features make the use of this gun effortless and goes unnoticed until you place it next to a mainstream contender. Just recently competitors are starting to incorporate some of the innovations, like ambidextrous paddle-style mag releases; front and rear slide serrations and extended slide releases.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the beveled magwell, thumb indents, frame accessory rail, low profile sights and gloved hand trigger guard.

A spectacular model for any user who wants some tactical, some practical and a ton of reliability and durability.

Pros

  • Great ergonomics and adjustability
  • Very good for left or right handed shooters
  • Slim and easy to carry, considering it is still a full sized firearm

Cons

  • More expensive than other options on the market

This is best for

Hardcore HK fans or users who want the most well-refined 9mm on the market in the $700+ range.


SPRINGFIELD ARMORY - XD-S MOD-2 9MM

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY - XD-S MOD-2 9MM

​We featured this Springfield XD-S because it isn’t full-sized, and it offers significant benefits for concealed carry, with a bit more safety-centric design and a well-integrated polish that few guns at the price point can offer.

It’s small, but it doesn’t shoot like a small gun. The control and fitment of all the components make it an easy choice for those who want a full-solution to a concealed carry problem.

Yes, you lose a little bit on capacity, but that can be adjusted for with training, and additional magazines. What you gain could be invaluable for shooters who need a slim easy to handle firearm that cannot be seen on the body.

Impeccable sights allow “tactical racking” of the slide via a ledge that you can use your finger (or other implements) on, to pull the slide rearward.

A grip safety adds peace of mind to those not fully confident in “trigger-safety-only” competitors.

Pros

  • Stainless steel magazines are top quality
  • Very comfortable hand hold
  • Snag free design

Cons

  • No real cons

This is best for

A concealed carry die hard that cannot sacrifice reliability or shooting comfort, even though they need a small handgun.


SMITH & WESSON - M&P9 SHIELD 2.0 9mm

SMITH & WESSON - M&P9 SHIELD 2.0 9mm

​The evolution of everything we know works and doesn’t work, into something of an enigma in the carry market. Fast draw, small size, no snags, and nothing but a trigger safety. Smith & Wesson at its core has been delivering these things for many decades, in the form of the 442/642 and predecessors.  

The fact that it is done in a way that is so smooth, accurate, easily handled and good looking makes it a very smart play.

A nearly perfect balance of performance, speed to first shot and carry capability, the M&P Shield is an important platform because it has taken customer feedback and allowed that feedback to help build a better version 2.0, literally in this case.

An improved trigger and some other creature comfort enhancements go a long way to improving an already exceptional gun. For the money, if we had to pick a favorite gun on this list that is made for carry, this would be it. That said, this is specifically a carry gun, not a full-sized duty weapon, and thus, it is niche in comparison to most of this list.

Pros

  • Slick, smooth and very good looking
  • Very well balanced for a small gun
  • Well-integrated into the space it trades in

Cons

  • No real cons

This is best for

Any user who wants a brilliant carry pistol. Those who understand the power of crowd-sourced improvement concepts.


SIG SAUER - P320 M17

SIG SAUER - P320 M17

​Based on the design which won the contract for the sidearm competition for the U.S. troops, this gun is a powerhouse more in what it doesn’t have than what it does have from a feature set perspective. That doesn’t mean it is threadbare from a feature perspective.

Featuring 18 rounds of the proven 9mm round, this is a potent offering with very universal, somewhat plain looking ergonomics that will fit a large majority of shooter’s hands, given how big it is. This is a legitimately large gun. It is a full-sized frame and a full-sized slide that still feels good for people with medium and smaller hands.

The benefit of the design is the closed feel to the gun which enhances reliability and durability. Paired with a PVD coating on the slide and a very good barrel from an accuracy perspective, and you’ve got a gun that will outshoot most guns on this list and can be holstered for years without considerable wear. 

There are myriad reasons it won in a difficult competition for the U.S. military sidearm.

Pros

  • Full size features that give control, accuracy and recoil reduction
  • Snag-free design
  • Great night sights
  • Modular

Cons

  • Not particularly good looking
  • Very large

This is best for

Big shooters who want full-sized everything. Shooters who understand how rigorous the testing is for contract firearms and can benefit from the winning formula.


RUGER - LCP 10TH ANNIVERSARY 380 ACP

RUGER - LCP 10TH ANNIVERSARY 380 ACP

NOTE: The Ruger LCP is not a true Striker Fired pistol, but it behaves like one for the purposes of the firearm. It is a SAO (Single action only) trigger that is optimized to function and feel like a striker fired trigger but the gun retains an internal hammer for firing pin activation.

It is on this list because it is a standout firearm in its own right and behaves so much like a striker fired pistol. Additionally, it represents one of the standout bargains in the entire market of handguns, at around the $300 price point *(you can often find variants for less than $250).

With virtually nothing bad to say about the gun, and a systemic harmony so similar to the other guns on the list, this Ruger has earned its spot. There are other striker fired guns on the roster of Ruger firearms, this is perhaps the best known, and it isn’t even one.

For masquerading as a striker fired pistol, but performing in the top tier of all carry guns, the Ruger LCP is an honorable mention on this list of the best striker fired handguns on the market.

Pros

  • Seriously small, and yet, very capable
  • Intuitive, easy to understand and comfortable

Cons

  • May be too small for some

This is best for

A dedicated concealed carrier who wants the ultimate in reliability in a tiny form factor.


Conclusion

These firearms are considered commodities in the marketplace, but they have literally driven he marketplace for duty and defense pistols for more than the last three decades. The Striker fired pistol simply makes sense for most shooters. There is less to think about with proven histories of durability and reliability, but also from a de-holstering to the first shot, they are simply faster for a majority of the situations a shooter will find themselves in.

This list might seem generic, but it truly showcases the finest firearms in the striker-fired segment. Generic isn’t bad. It’s better stated as universal. In the case of striker fried pistols, the universality of the guns on the above list has made the market segment the hottest sustained trend, which has endured for more than three decades.

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