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11 Best Handguns of 2023: Top Picks for Every Need preview image
Dec 08 2023
19 min read

11 Best Handguns of 2023: Top Picks for Every Need


Are you in the market for a new handgun? Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a first-time gun owner, trying to figure out which handgun is right for you can be overwhelming.

Fortunately for you, you have us. In this guide, we’ve assembled the top handguns in a wide variety of categories. From pocket pistols to competition guns, we’ll tell you the best options for everything.

Our expert picks are based on extensive research and hands-on testing, taking into account factors like performance, accuracy, reliability, and price. So, sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the top handguns on the market today.

Best Handguns & Recommendations

Best Overall – Glock 19 Gen 5

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Caliber9mm Luger
Weight23.63 ounces
Barrel Length4.02 inches
Overall Length7.28 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Reliable and durable design
  • High capacity magazine
  • Versatile and easy to customize
  • Comfortable grip
  • Low recoil
  • Lack of manual safety
  • Polymer frame may not appeal to everyone
  • Trigger can be stiff for some users
  • Sights are basic and may need upgrading

The Glock 19 is probably the most popular handgun in the world for law enforcement, military, and civilian use. The Gen 5, in particular, makes some upgrades on the older Glock 19 Gen 4 and is designed to improve the pistol’s functionality, performance, and durability.

Glock 19 gen 5 with magazines and grips

The G19 is a compact and lightweight handgun that is easy to carry and conceal but is still powerful enough to be used as a self-defense weapon.

The hefty 15-round capacity is more than enough to deal with any threat that may come your way. Like all Glocks, the G19 is renowned for its reliability. It is also easy to maintain and incredibly easy to clean.

glock 19 gen 5 hands on test

The handgun’s modular design, which makes it easy to customize with a wide range of accessories and upgrades, allowing shooters to tailor the gun to their specific needs and preferences.

In fact, the Glock 19 has so much aftermarket support you can assemble one without a single OEM part.

See our Glock 19 Gen 5 review to get our overall thoughts and opinions.

Best Value – Canik TP9SA Mod.2

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Caliber9mm Luger
Weight1.78 pounds
Barrel Length4.46 inches
Overall Length7.5 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Great value for money
  • Highly customizable
  • Smooth and crisp trigger
  • Ambidextrous controls and reversible magazine release
  • Large magazine capacity of 18 rounds
  • Slightly heavier than some other polymer-framed handguns
  • The grip texture may not be comfortable for everyone
  • Some users have reported accuracy issues
  • Limited aftermarket support compared to more popular brands

The Canik TP9SA Mod.2 is a fantastic choice for those looking for a reliable handgun at an affordable price. It is a 9mm striker-fired pistol that has gained popularity due to its exceptional value. It boasts an impressive list of features, including a comfortable grip, adjustable sights, and a crisp trigger pull.

Despite the Canik TP9SA Mod.2’s budget-friendly price, it offers a lot of features typically found on higher-end firearms. This makes it an excellent value for those who want a quality handgun but can’t justify shelling out a lot of money.

It also has a reputation for being a highly reliable firearm that can withstand heavy use and abuse, again comparable to pistols sold at higher price points, making it a smart investment for those who want a gun that will last them a long time.

Best for Beginners – SIG Sauer P320 Nitron Full-Size

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Caliber9mm Luger
Weight29.5 ounces
Barrel Length4.7 inches
Overall Length8.0 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Modular design allows for customization and adaptability
  • Smooth trigger pull for improved accuracy and ease of use
  • Available in a variety of sizes 
  • Good capacity for a compact handgun
  • Relatively easy to maintain and clean
  • Slide catch and mag release can be difficult to operate
  • Some shooters may find the grip texture uncomfortable
  • Limited aftermarket support 
  • Trigger pull weight may be too light for some users

If you’re just getting started with handguns, the SIG Sauer P320 is a great option to consider. This handgun has been designed with the beginner in mind, offering a comfortable grip and easy-to-use controls that will help you feel confident and in control right from the start.

One of the best things about the SIG Sauer P320 is that it’s highly customizable. You can swap out the grip module, slide, and barrel to create a handgun that fits your unique needs and preferences. And as those needs and preferences evolve, you can continue to modify and upgrade your P320 to keep up with your needs.

As for safety features, this handgun has a striker safety and a trigger safety, both of which work to prevent accidental discharges.

Additionally, the P320 has a modular trigger that can be customized to fit your finger, reducing the chance of trigger-related errors.

Best for Concealed Carry – SIG Sauer P365 XL

Sig Sauer P365XL 9mm 3.7" Semi-Automatic Pistol with 12+1 Rounds, Optics Ready, XRAY3 Day/Night Sights, and 2 Magazines
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Caliber9mm Luger
Weight20.7 ounces
Barrel Length3.7 inches
Overall Length6.6 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Compact size and lightweight design
  • Large magazine capacity for its size
  • Excellent accuracy and reliability
  • Modular design allows for customization with various grips and accessories
  • Smooth trigger pull and low recoil
  • Small grip may not be comfortable for those with larger hands
  • Short barrel may decrease accuracy at longer distances
  • Trigger may feel stiff for some shooters

The SIG Sauer P365 XL is an exceptional choice for concealed carry due to its compact size and high capacity. This handgun is a more extended version of the popular SIG Sauer P365, designed specifically for concealed carry and personal defense.

sig sauer p365xl ejection port

The P365 XL offers a 12+1 capacity, which is impressive considering its small size. With this handgun, you can carry more rounds while still being able to easily conceal it.

Another reason the P365 XL is an excellent option for concealed carry is its comfortable grip. This handgun features an ergonomic design that feels natural in your hand, allowing you to maintain a secure and comfortable grip.

sig sauer p365xl with magazine

This is especially important for concealed carry, where you may need to draw and fire quickly in a self-defense situation.

Additionally, the P365 XL is incredibly accurate, making it easy to hit your target. It features a longer barrel than the original P365, which enhances its accuracy and reduces recoil. The slide is also designed for easy manipulation, allowing you to quickly and easily chamber a round.

The P365 XL is a reliable and durable handgun that is perfect for anyone looking for a concealed carry option.

Check out our P365 XL review if you want to learn more.

Best Budget Concealed Carry – Taurus GX4 Carry

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  • Improved ergonomics and great grip texture
  • Optic cut slide
  • Accessory rail
  • 15+1 capacity
  • Reliable and accurate
  • Clean and crisp flat face trigger
  • Lack of ambidextrous controls
  • Not a large amount of aftermarket support (yet)

From our hands-on experience, the Taurus GX4 Carry T.O.R.O. distinctly positions itself as one of the best affordable concealed carry handguns available today.

taurus gx4 carry toro hands on range test

Taurus’s dedication to providing value without compromising on features is evident in this model. With its accessory rail and a generous 15+1 round capacity, the GX4 Carry is a masterclass in combining affordability with essential functionalities that concealed carry users seek.

The handgun’s ergonomics are praiseworthy; its well-balanced nature ensures a comfortable grip, and the addition of interchangeable backstraps allows users to tailor the fit to their preference. In our testing, the GX4 Carry’s reliability was unwavering. We subjected it to 175 rounds of varied ammunition, and it performed seamlessly, reinforcing its status as a trustworthy and budget-friendly concealed carry option.

taurus gx4 carry toro od green la police gear bag

Its accuracy did not disappoint either, with tight groupings being easily achievable. What truly sets the GX4 Carry apart is its exceptional value proposition. Priced attractively, often found even below its $504.99 MSRP, it challenges the notion that quality concealed carry handguns have to be expensive.

Based on our direct experience, the Taurus GX4 Carry T.O.R.O. is a top recommendation for those seeking an effective yet affordable concealed carry handgun.

Check out our Taurus GX4 Carry review to see more photos and get our opinion on this new offering from Taurus.

Best for Small Hands – Ruger LCP II

Ruger LCP II Semi-Automatic Pistol, .380 ACP, 2.75" Barrel, 6+1 Rounds, Black Oxide Steel Slide
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Caliber.22 LR
Weight11.2 ounces
Barrel Length2.75 inches
Overall Length5.2 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and lightweight, easy to conceal
  • Designed for easy operation with small hands
  • Reliable and durable
  • Affordable
  • Has a good trigger for its size
  • Limited capacity
  • Short sight radius makes accuracy more challenging
  • Recoil can be harsh due to small size
  • Trigger pull may be too heavy for some shooters
  • Minimal features and customization options

If you, like me, are someone with small hands, finding a handgun that fits comfortably and securely can be a challenge. Luckily, the Ruger LCP II is a great option for those with smaller hands.

ruger lcp ii magazine review

This handgun is a compact and lightweight choice, making it easy to handle and maneuver. The grip is designed with a textured surface, which can help improve your grip and control over the gun.

ruger lcp ii sights review

In addition to its comfortable design, the Ruger LCP II is also a reliable and accurate firearm. It’s a great choice for concealed carry, with its small size making it easy to conceal and carry with you wherever you go.

ruger LCP II in its pocket holster

The handgun also features a low-profile design, which can help prevent snagging or catching on clothing during a quick draw.

Check out our Ruger LCP II review for more info!

Best for Competition – CZ Shadow 2

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Caliber9mm Luger
Weight46.5 ounces
Barrel Length4.89 inches
Overall Length8.53 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent accuracy and precision
  • Ergonomic design for comfortable grip and handling
  • Superior trigger with a short reset and crisp break
  • Large magazine capacity 
  • Durable construction
  • Larger and heavier frame
  • Limited availability and fewer aftermarket accessories
  • Can be more difficult to field-strip and clean
  • May not be legal for all types of competitive shooting events

If you’re a competitive shooter, the CZ Shadow 2 is a handgun that you’ll definitely want to take a look at. This pistol is specifically designed for competitive shooting, and it’s widely considered one of the best options on the market.

One of the reasons it’s so highly regarded is its exceptional accuracy. The Shadow 2 has a longer sight radius than most pistols, which makes it easier to aim and hit your target with precision.

Another reason why the CZ Shadow 2 is so popular among competitive shooters is its excellent ergonomics. The pistol has a comfortable grip that allows you to maintain a secure hold on the gun, even when shooting for extended periods of time.

Additionally, the trigger on the Shadow 2 is among the best on the market. It’s crisp, light, and has a short reset, which allows you to fire shots rapidly and with great accuracy. All of these features combine to make the CZ Shadow 2 a top-performing handgun in competitive shooting.

Best Duty Pistol – FNX-45 Tactical

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Caliber.45 ACP
Weight33.3 ounces
Barrel Length5.3 inches
Overall Length8.6 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Highly customizable 
  • Large magazine capacity 
  • Durable construction with high-quality materials
  • Threaded barrel for suppressor attachment
  • Ambidextrous controls are easy for left-handed shooters to use
  • Large and heavy frame, making it less suitable for concealed carry
  • Trigger may not be as smooth as some other models
  • Large size may not be comfortable for shooters with smaller hands
  • May require more frequent cleaning and maintenance

The FNX-45 Tactical is a high-quality duty pistol that’s designed to meet the needs of law enforcement and military personnel. It boasts several features that make it stand out from other firearms on the market, such as its ambidextrous controls and suppressor-ready barrel.

These features make it an ideal choice for anyone who needs a reliable and accurate firearm for duty use.

The FNX-45 Tactical also has a large capacity magazine, with the ability to hold up to 15 rounds of .45 ACP ammunition. This means that you’ll have plenty of firepower at your disposal in high-pressure situations.

Additionally, the pistol’s ergonomic design ensures a comfortable and secure grip, which is essential for accurate shooting.

However, the FNX-45 Tactical is a bit heavy compared to other duty pistols on the market, which may be a drawback for some users. Its size may also make it difficult to conceal for civilian use.

Additionally, the pistol is relatively expensive, which may be a consideration for budget-conscious buyers.

Best for Seniors – Walther P22 Q

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Caliber.22 LR
Capacity10 rounds
Weight16 ounces
Barrel Length3.42 inches
Overall Length6.5 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Low recoil and easy to shoot
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • Affordable pricing
  • Interchangeable backstraps for a customizable grip
  • Small magazine capacity
  • Plastic sights may not be as durable as metal sights
  • Trigger pull can be heavy and may require some getting used to
  • Not suitable for self-defense or hunting larger game

The Walther P22 Q is a popular choice for seniors due to its lightweight design and ease of use. It is a .22 caliber pistol that can hold up to 10 rounds in the magazine, making it ideal for self-defense purposes.

The P22 Q is also known for its comfortable grip and low recoil, making it an excellent choice for seniors who may have arthritis or other hand issues.

Another feature that makes the P22 Q an attractive choice for seniors is its simple and intuitive controls. The slide is easy to operate, and the magazine release is conveniently located for quick and easy reloading. The P22 Q also has a single-action/double-action trigger system, which provides a smooth and consistent trigger pull that is ideal for beginners and seniors alike.

In addition to its ease of use, the P22 Q also has a polymer frame that is durable and easy to maintain, and it comes in a variety of colors and finishes to suit different tastes.

Best Revolver – Ruger GP-100

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Caliber.357 Magnum
Weight40 ounces
Barrel Length4.2 inches
Overall Length9.5 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Durable and reliable design
  • Available in various calibers and barrel lengths
  • Easy to maintain and customize
  • Smooth trigger pull
  • Great balance and weight distribution
  • Large and heavy frame may not be ideal for all users
  • Limited capacity compared to semi-automatic handguns
  • Loud recoil and muzzle flip
  • Can be expensive depending on the model

The Ruger GP-100 is a popular and reliable revolver that has been around since the 1980s. It is a favorite among gun enthusiasts and hunters due to its durability and accuracy. The GP-100 is known for its rugged design, allowing it to withstand the test of time and continue to perform flawlessly. We personally loved testing the GP100 and you can see our full review here.

ruger gp100 cylinder review

One of the main reasons the GP-100 is considered the best revolver is its build quality. The gun is constructed with a stainless steel frame and barrel, making it resistant to wear and tear. The cylinder is made from high-grade steel, which allows for smoother rotation and better reliability.

ruger gp100 with winchester and federal range ammo

The GP-100’s adjustable rear sight and fiber-optic front sight provide excellent accuracy, making it an ideal option for target shooting or hunting. Additionally, the GP-100’s comfortable grip makes it easy to hold and shoot, reducing recoil and improving accuracy.

ruger gp100 sights review

Another reason the Ruger GP-100 stands out among other revolvers is its versatility. The gun comes in a variety of barrel lengths and calibers, ranging from .22 LR to .44 Special. This makes it suitable for a wide range of shooting activities, including plinking, hunting, and self-defense.

Best Pocket Pistol – Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm Luger, 3.1" Barrel, 8+1 Rounds, Black Armornite Stainless Steel, Manual Thumb Safety
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Caliber9mm Luger, .45 ACP, .40 S&W
Capacity7+1, 8+1
Weight20.8 ounces
Barrel Length3.1 inches
Overall Length6.1 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comfortable grip with aggressive texture
  • Good trigger with crisp and predictable break
  • Good sights with optional night sights available
  • Affordable price point for a reliable and quality pocket pistol
  • Limited capacity
  • Recoil can be 
  • Slide serrations can be difficult to grip for some users
  • Manual safety can be hard to engage/disengage for those with larger hands
  • May have reliability issues with certain types of ammunition

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 is a top contender when it comes to pocket pistols. It’s small, lightweight, and easy to carry, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a discreet self-defense weapon. With its enhanced features, the M&P9 Shield M2.0 is a great improvement over its predecessor, the M&P9 Shield.

One of the main advantages of the M&P9 Shield M2.0 is its size. It’s small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket or waistband, yet still offers a solid grip thanks to its ergonomic design. The M&P9 Shield M2.0 also has a 3.1-inch barrel, which provides excellent accuracy for a pocket pistol.

The gun also features a crisp trigger pull, making it easy to shoot accurately. Another benefit is its versatility, as it can hold up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm ammunition, giving you plenty of firepower in a small package.

However, there are some cons to consider as well. The small size of the M&P9 Shield M2.0 can make it difficult for some people to shoot accurately, especially those with larger hands, and the recoil can be quite strong.

Additionally, some users have reported that the slide can be difficult to rack. The sights are also small, which can make aiming more challenging.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Choosing a handgun is certainly a subjective experience, and everyone’s needs and wants are different, so we sought to include various options to try to cover as many people as possible. With all the guns that we’ve recommended here, there should be at least one that works for just about every shooter.

One thing all these handguns have in common: they’re all great quality options. Not one among them is a bad gun, so all you have to do is choose the right one for you.

Which brings us to our next section…

Buyer’s Guide For Handguns


The first factor to consider when choosing a handgun is its intended purpose. Are you looking for a firearm for self-defense, home defense, target shooting, or hunting? The purpose of your handgun will determine its caliber, size, weight, and other features.

For example, a handgun intended for self-defense should be lightweight, easy to maneuver, and have a higher-capacity magazine.

On the other hand, a handgun for hunting should have a larger caliber and a longer barrel to provide greater accuracy and stopping power.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of a handgun are critical factors to consider when choosing the best model for you. A compact or subcompact handgun is ideal for concealed carry or self-defense, while a full-sized handgun may be more comfortable for target shooting or duty use.

The weight of the handgun can also affect accuracy, recoil, and ease of use, so it’s essential to find a model that fits comfortably in your hand and feels balanced.


The caliber of a handgun refers to the diameter of the bullet it fires. Different calibers have various effects on accuracy, recoil, stopping power, and ammunition availability.

Common calibers for handguns include 9mm, .45 ACP, .380 ACP, and .22 LR. It’s essential to consider the intended purpose of the handgun when choosing a caliber. For personal defense, a higher caliber may provide more stopping power, while a lower caliber may be more comfortable to shoot and offer a higher ammunition capacity.


The sights of a handgun are crucial for accurate shooting. A handgun with a good sight picture makes it easier to aim and hit your target.

Choose a handgun with sights that you can quickly and easily acquire. Some handguns come with night sights, which can be useful for low-light conditions.


The trigger of a handgun is one of the most critical components. A smooth and consistent trigger pull can improve accuracy and reduce the chances of a negligent discharge.

A handgun with a heavy trigger pull can be more challenging to shoot accurately, while a light trigger pull can increase the risk of a negligent discharge. It’s essential to choose a handgun with a trigger pull that you are comfortable with, and that meets your needs.


Reliability is perhaps the most critical factor to consider when choosing a handgun. A reliable handgun is one that performs consistently, without malfunctions or misfires. The most reliable handguns are typically those from reputable brands with a proven track record of performance and durability.

Do your research, read reviews, and talk to other gun owners to get a sense of which brands are trusted and respected in the industry.


Handguns come in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly models to high-end options. Be sure to set a budget and choose a model that fits within your price range.

Keep in mind that a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily equate to better performance or quality. It’s essential to balance cost with performance, features, and reliability.

When looking at different guns, be sure to compare the prices across different dealers. Our Gun Price Search Engine allows you to search for guns and view prices for gun dealers all across the internet.


The ergonomics of a handgun refer to its grip and how it feels in your hand. A handgun with a comfortable grip is easier to handle and can help improve your accuracy.

It’s essential to choose a handgun with a grip that fits your hand size and shape. Additionally, some handguns come with interchangeable backstraps, allowing you to customize the grip to fit your hand.


The capacity of a handgun refers to the number of rounds it can hold in its magazine. A higher-capacity magazine can be beneficial for self-defense situations, as it reduces the need for frequent reloading.

However, a larger magazine can also make the handgun larger and more challenging to conceal. It’s essential to choose a capacity that meets your needs and is appropriate for your intended purpose.


Handguns come in different action types, including single-action, double-action, and striker-fired. The action type determines how the trigger operates and affects accuracy and speed. It’s important to choose an action type that you’re comfortable with and can operate safely and effectively.


What is the best duty pistol?

In our opinion, the best duty pistol is the FNX-45 Tactical. This pistol is highly customizable, with a large magazine capacity and a threaded barrel that allows for easy attachment of a muzzle device.

What pistol does the FBI use?

The FBI uses the Glock 19M as their standard sidearm. The G19M is nearly identical to the standard Glock 19, but with a few modifications to meet FBI requirements, including a rounded magazine release and Ameriglo tritium night sights.

It also features traditional rifling rather than Glock’s polygonal rifling.

What pistol does John Wick use?

In the first John Wick film, Wick primarily uses a Heckler & Koch P30L. However, he uses several other pistols throughout the series, including a Glock 26, Kimber Warrior, SIG P320, Glock 34, TTI STI 2011 Combat Master, Glock 19, TTI Pit Viper, and Glock 17.


Alright, folks, that concludes our list of the best handguns out there. We’ve covered a variety of handguns for different purposes and preferences, but ultimately, the best handgun for you depends on what you’re looking for.

Remember, when choosing a handgun, always prioritize safety, reliability, and comfort. Take the time to handle and test out different models before making a purchase, and consider factors such as your experience level, intended use, and budget.

Whatever your needs may be, there is a handgun out there for you. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, looking for a duty pistol or a pocket pistol, or simply searching for the best value, we hope this guide has helped you in your search for the perfect handgun.

Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

Written by Megan Kriss
Megan Kriss photo Megan has been an avid recreational shooter since she was a young child and she's thrilled to have the opportunity to combine this love with her passion for writing. Megan Kriss is a seasoned writer and firearms enthusiast with contributions to a variety of publications, including Pew Pew Tactical, American Firearms, A Well-Armed Woman, Recoil, and Faxon Firearms. In addition to firearms, Megan also enjoys writing about pets, outdoor recreation, and other lifestyle topics. When she's not busy writing, Megan enjoys tabletop games, reading, and being outdoors. She shares her Georgia home with her partner, dog, and two cats.


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