The best tactical pistol article is sort of a mixed bag because every shooter has their own needs and preferences. Instead of picking a definitive best tactical pistol, we have assembled a list of 13 incredibly good tactical pistols that range widely from specific use cases to material types to build styles and platforms.
What we will say is this: any of these pistols could easily make the case as the best tactical pistol. Any of these pistols will serve any shooter in need of a duty or tactical pistol well.
Not so much a single choice as the best tactical pistol, but a group of the best tactical pistols that help you to decide which one is right for your needs. Below is a list of the 13 best tactical pistols currently on the market, and some of them may surprise you. We will bet you agree with our assessment however, after you read our thoughts on the pistols.
Best Tactical Pistols
Sig Sauer - P365
Simplicity and brilliant design innovations make the Sig 365 more than just marketing hype. The manual safety variant is a welcomed addition to the range of concealed carry specific pistols, which if you had to pick a great fit for a tactical pistol, CCW guns would be a good partnership.
10 round magazine capacity in a sub-compact pistol that has diminutive size, excellent sights and is striker fired allowing it to be carried ready to fire, means the 365 by Sig is appropriately named in this "best of" list. It offers a lot of bang for the buck.
A 3 inch barrel offers good accuracy along with the spectacular sights; the overall length is 5.8" and simplicity that is hard to find in a tactical pistol gives a gun that is small enough for concealment, big enough to handle properly and easy to use. A winning combination.
- Compact and lightweight
- Simple to use
- Manual safety
- There is a lot of competition in the market which also very good guns
Wilson Combat - EDC X9L
Built from the ground up as an Every Day Carry firearm that utilizes the timeless qualities that shooters love about the 1911, but in a more approachable caliber (9mm) and with more day to day features.
Not only is the gun built to harness the benefits of 9mm, it is also made to be a double stack firearm, which adds a ton more capacity in the magazine compared to traditional single stack frame styles for the 1911.
15 rounds in the magazine means that this gun can compete from a capability perspective with the hottest new striker fired guns, but with the inherent benefits of the 1911, namely ergonomics; condition 1 carry; an impeccable trigger and other innovative features which Wilson adds in spades.
Some of those include fluting to barrel; target crown on bore; unique grip improvements and checkering as well as excellent sights. An integrated rail helps to accessorize your pistol too.
The EDC X9L is a comfortable to shoot firearm that offers high capacity, low recoil, great features and while it's pricey, it's also offering uncommon value.
- A basically hand built carry gun
- Radical grip and control
- Excellent sights and a rail
- High capacity
- Expensive relative to other 15 round 9mm tactical pistols
FN - 509 Tactical
Probably the most radically purpose-built tactical pistol on the planet, the 509 is in a league of its own, but it's almost overkill for many shooters thanks to the huge amount of features and the over the top design implementations.
While the gun didn’t win the contract from the U.S. Army modular pistol competition, the gun is based off of the submitted pistol and it has an impressive feature set.
The high sights and threaded barrel allow for a suppressor. The ultimate in tactical add-ons. The rail allows for lights and lasers to be added on. The pre-modified slide allows for a reflex type optic. The modular backstrap gives custom fine tuning to the grip.
The trigger leaves a little to be desired, but it is effective in keeping the gun safe and offering an integrative shooting experience for a striker fired pistol. The high capacity options in magazines rounds out the core features. The gloved hand trigger guard means it can be used for intense room breaching operations or other situations that require additional hand protection.
This is a masterpiece of tactical excess, and that might not be a bad thing if you can use all of the features, or a great many of them.
- Excellent control placement
- Huge amount of features
- Great control for a full-sized gun
- Over the top perhaps?
CZ USA - CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical
A proven design that has ergonomics at the forefront of the overall methodology. CZ, first and foremost is a company that takes precision and tolerances obsessively, and the Czechs have set themselves apart as a people, passionate for tight, accurate guns and that mentality has driven millions of sales of this (basically) Browning Hi Power clone.
This is a significantly different variant of the CZ 75, and it shows in the aesthetics, with the larger, lower dust cover and the straightforward rail for accessory additions. The lanyard loop is a nice addition and the hammer and trigger are tuned.
The finish is bulletproof, the ergonomics are second to none (and even improved over the original CZ75) and the full-size gun feels like an extension of your hand. It's simple to understand and easy to control and it feels smaller than it is.
The lower bore axis and shorter slide height means you are inherently more accurate.
- Excellent feel in the hand
- Accurate and high tolerance
- Great durability
- Easy to conceal and hard to snag
- No CONS of a substantive nature
Heckler & Koch - VP9
One of the best track records and richest histories of any gun company in the tactical segment of the market is held by HK. Their presence and impact on the tactical market is undisputed. They continue today to be one of the largest drivers of innovation in the tactical sector of the market. Hence the VP9, which is as good an option as the best on the market.
Not particularly innovative outright, the VP9 is more subtly an improvement on the standard striker fired polymer framed design hat has been the market staple for decades. The enhanced durability and grip customization make it unique and offers enhanced comfort and peace of mind.
Beyond that, the slim profile of the VP9 means it is more concealable in a wider range of holsters and situations. The forward slide serrations are important for evolving shooting techniques and the extended and ambi-potential control sets are important for all types of shooting styles.
Few guns have a better trigger in the polymer/striker fired market. Those that do, only have them because earlier iterations failed miserably, and they were forced to improve them. HK VP9 had a great trigger from day one. Custom grip selection is helpful for a wider range of shooters to make the leap from guns like Glock that have less comfortable grip frames.
- Subtle improvements over market mainstream options ARE the innovation
- Great trigger
- Slim and reliable means it's an excellent duty weapon
- Expensive relative to market
Glock - G19
The most obvious gun on this list is the one that outsells them all in the compact 9mm striker fired polymer market.
When a gun is this good, whole markets are built on its back. Such is the case with the Glock 19, it literally started the entire market for the compact striker fired pistol. At least in the sense that its popularity made it the hottest market to be in if you hadn't already been operating in the segment prior.
It's not on this list simply because it's inspiring other makers to adopt the market, it's here because it's one of the best pure performers on the entire market. It's simple, safe and compact enough to carry. It is also high capacity, is big enough to control easily and it is the most durable gun on the market.
Despite all its critics thoughts about why the G19 is not a great gun, they must admit that the market has spoken. Even 3 decades into the life cycle it still outsells every other pistol in the space.
- 4 inch barrel good sight plane, despite compact size
- Unbelievably durable
- The most proven gun on this list, period
- No CONS
Smith & Wesson - M&P9 M2.0
Arguably the Glock for Glock haters. This is the polymer striker fired tactical pistol you buy when you don't want to like Glocks or for those who genuinely cannot use a Glock because of the grip ergonomics. The M&P is a suitable replacement, but it is strikingly different than the Glock. It’s slimmer in feel and has a better grip angle. There are more manual controls and much better sights - standard.
The lightening cuts on the slide and the grip stippling pattern are helpful in controlling the gun and this is a full sized 9mm duty type tactical pistol that has all the bells and whistles without feeling over the top. The trigger is better than ever before, but it's still not perfect. What striker fired trigger is?
The cool feature of the S&W M&P 2.0 is that the company opened up it's R&D team to accept complaints from consumers and drive innovation and change, which led to an enhanced trigger.
Probably more inherently accurate than the Glock models thanks to the lower bore axis, the better sights the longer sight plane and the different grip angle. It doesn't have quite the durability of the Glock however, and these guns are on par point for point with the exception of those two aspects.
- Slim feeling
- Great grip control
- Great sights
- The trigger is still just OK
Beretta - 92G Vertec/Brigadier Tactical
One of the best pure shooting experiences on this list, the Beretta 92G Vertec/Brigadier Tactical 9mm is a joy to play around with. It doesn't fit the current market's perception of what a tactical gun is, but classic definitions of tactical are exactly where this gun falls.
The well-balanced gun (when loaded) is a bit top heavy without the magazine in it but the steel slide is now mated to a smaller Vertec sized frame, that is significantly smaller in key dimensions from the regular full-sized frame. The different ergonomics places it better in the hand for high-handhold shooters and make this gun an obvious target killer.
The sights are robust; the gun is better finished than the original factory aluminum frame/steel slide/plastic grip models; and the G10 grips are very tough. The trigger is the best that has ever existed on the 92F.
A match grade stainless barrel and the huge sight plane makes this a very accurate gun in the hands of a diverse group of shooters. An accessory rail rounds out the feature set externally, while an improved set of internals and factory tuned experience makes it a joy to play around with. If you can carry a full-sized gun, this may be a favorable option.
- Exceptional ergonomics
- Bulletproof finishes and materials
- Fun to shoot
- Expensive relative to peers
Kimber K6s Deluxe Carry Revolver (DCR)
It's hard to see anything but the tried and true Smith or Ruger revolvers on a list like this, but Kimber, in the same way they revolutionized the semi-custom 1911 market in the 1990's, has done it again with the double action tactical revolver. Yes, that is a thing.
It's slimmer and lighter than some of the same capability revolvers, but it has a very distinct tactical slant, including a DAO (double action only) trigger that is better than any other factory option.
Snag-free design aspects and the flat sided cylinder make this easy to withdraw quickly from a pocket and the sights are good enough to target shoot with, at moderate ranges. The grips are as good as the trigger and that’s a supreme compliment because the trigger is exceptional.
6 shots of .357 Magnum is a tactical equalizer.
- Impeccable fit and finish
- Sublime trigger
- Great firepower with nearly instant first shot and no chance of jams or extractor/ejector issues during firing
- None CONS apparent
Smith & Wesson 642
A classic offering for the tactical revolver, not much needs to be said about this pistol because it sells itself. The light weight frame and materials means you can carry it without difficulty in hundreds of scenarios and with minimal forethought. The safety of a double action trigger and the reliability of the revolver makes this a perfect close quarters carry gun for those who want flawless performance in the heat of the moment.
If anything, the definition of a tactical gun is that it provides advantage through design and implementation. That perfectly describes the Smith 7 Wesson 642 Airweight.
- Simplicity rules in adrenaline filled shooting scenarios
- Proven reliable
- Compact and lightweight
- No CONS
Sig Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite Semi-Auto Pistol
Another gun that is often overlooked in a world where polymer framed striker fired guns rule, this is perhaps the underdog of the list, with a dedicated buildout towards tactical needs.
The Sig P229 Elite is ergonomically superior to anything in the polymer world and the balance (despite heavier overall weight) cannot be disputed. The beavertail offers familiar territory for 1911 shooters and seats the gun well in the hand with a high handhold still possible. The tolerances and precision of the Sig P series are exceptional.
The size is perfect for duty and concealment and the grips and checkering on the front strap and brilliant. They offer secure grip but no discomfort. The controls are easily reached and offer fast reaction times. The standard night sights are proven and offer better low light targeting.
Aluminum frame provides superior balance when fully loaded and the rail offers great accessorizing options. Maintenance on the guns is minimal with the stainless-steel top end assembly. The size fits a wide range of hands without alienation of smaller hands or bigger hands. The trigger is exceptional compared to the competition.
- Great hand feel
- Proven platform
- Great looking
- Starting to get expensive for some shooters
Springfield Armory XD(M) 10mm Semi-Auto Pistol
The only 10mm on the list, this is the first 10 mm other than the 1911 and the Glock 20 that actually can handle the pressures and recoil of the 10mm properly, and it shines as a full sized, full powered pistol in the tactical segment of the market.
The gun is plain and uninspiring to most, but the cohesion of the components and the proven history of the XD(M) are not in dispute. It's comfortable, has some of the best sights in the polymer/striker fired game.
The durability of the gun is excellent. The interchangeable backstraps make it easy to customize and the straight up and down grip angle is easy to learn (and mimics the famous 1911 grip angle).
The external safeties offer those who want manual safeties more comfort and peace of mind in carrying the gun. The 15 rounds of 10mm is superior firepower to just about everything on the market.
- Great accuracy
- Some grip customization
- Manual safeties including some 1911 inspired safeties like the grip safety
- Great sights for the polymer spectrum guns
- About as interesting "looks-wise" as any other polymer striker fired tactical pistol
Heckler & Koch USP Compact Semi-Auto Pistol
An original like the Glock 19, the USP compact is perhaps the best Double action polymer pistol in history to this point.
A relatively mundane design aesthetically, this gun takes on the very 1990's look of tactical pistols with the square, semi-angular design modality and the chunky, yet compact footprint.
It offers high capacity and high reliability. The track record is every bit as good as the popular Glocks and the trigger is significantly better and more approachable. It's got variants that can be had in DAO and DA/SA which means you can carry confidently.
In fact when it comes to the tactical polymer/striker fired marketplace, the trigger of the USP compact is the defining factor – it offers a long first DA pull that presents as a safety in itself and then a crisp smooth short single action trigger pull that allows quick follow-up shots.
- Top quality trigger for the polymer striker fired segment of the market
- Proven design and reliability
- Super durable
- Comfortable to shoot
- Proven brand and history
- Starting to become outdated
The best tactical pistol is something different to every shooter. But this list of thirteen pistols offers something for everyone regardless of what your needs are. For most, the best "tactical" characteristics are reliability and ease of use – all of these pistols offer that. Beyond that philosophy, you can add as many features as you want to a pistol until at some point it ceases to be tactical and becomes overwhelming to use.
As you look for the best tactical pistol make sure you evaluate relative points of interest for your needs. Only then can you properly decide which gun makes the most sense for you.