Although it’s not the most powerful caliber, the 9mm is definitely the most popular. It’s a cheap and effective round, and the guns that use it are a blast to fire. To get the most out of this type of gun, it’s often the best full-size 9mm handgun that offers the highest performance and bang for your buck. We are going to help you determine what full-size 9mm to buy, in addition to reviewing some of our favorite options out there.
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Consider the Type of 9mm
For a novice, it’s easy to think that all 9mm pistols are the same. Actually, you have three main categories of 9mm handguns to consider.
There’s a concealed carry pistol, a home defense pistol, and a range handgun. Each category of 9mm starts out with the same pistol blueprint. However, I found significant differences between them.
The most notable differences are in regards to size and stopping power. But the weight, recoil, and ease of use also change from one type to another.
Some pistols are more customizable than others too. The point is that the type and build of the gun will likely affect your buying decision the most. So let me break down each category.
Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols
Although there’s tons of variety here, all guns in this category share something in common. They have a smaller barrel; they’re lightweight and tough to spot.
It’s an excellent choice for anyone that needs to hide a gun. At the same time, it’s a perfect choice for anyone with small hands.
However, you can expect a lower magazine capacity in this range for most models. I also want to stress that pistols that are too light may pose serious recoil issues.
Range 9mm Pistols
Now, let’s focus on the two categories of full-size 9mm that you probably need to pay closer attention to, starting with range or competition pistols.
In terms of overall performance, a range-certified 9mm handgun is not necessarily the most accurate 9mm pistol out of the box.
The best competition pistol often has the best accuracy, hands down, once you make certain upgrades. Also, don’t confuse plinking guns with proper competition guns.
That said, most pistols in this category are very niche. They offer the best modular platforms so that you can use very specific attachments to get the most accuracy.
Ease of use goes without saying. But if you want a competition platform handgun, know that it’s not the best pistol for beginner users.
Home Defense Pistols
Now we have the firearm with as much popularity as the concealed carry version. Interestingly, they’re complete opposites in how they look, feel, shoot, and perform.
A proper home defense 9mm handgun is a beast. It’s a big, heavy pistol with superior stopping power. It also often comes with support for extended magazines.
Furthermore, home defense pistols tend to have minimal recoil. It’s soft shooting and no muzzle rise all the way. That is if you can handle the weight. As balanced as they are, I wouldn’t recommend this to most women or those with frail physiques.
Most of these guns come with a rail, but they offer less in modularity than a competition platform.
Accessorizing is usually essential, even with pistols. Perhaps the most crucial aspect is finding a great holster.
Safety is obviously vital, so you’ll need a reliable gun. However, most modern firearms are safe to use if you always stick to the basic safety checks.
An extended warranty is always nice too.
Last but not least, look at what rounds the gun fires. There’s a wide range of 9mm bullet types, and not all pistols fire all of them equally well.
Best Full-Size 9mms
The G17 Gen 5 is not exactly a high-capacity 9mm pistol. It is one of the best full-size 9mm handguns for home defense, though.
It strikes a nice balance between big but maneuverable. I particularly appreciate its enhanced grip. It’s a rugged, textured frame with lots of spikes. I recommend using it with gloves if you’re dumping mags with the G17 Gen 5.
Its rugged build provides sustainable corrosion and scratch protection. The use of barrel rifling also does the trick as it improves the accuracy considerably.
Working perfectly with 9mm Luger rounds and a 10+1 capacity, the Glock G17 Gen 5 offers stopping power and safety. The modular optic system also provides a nice touch, as does the interchangeable grip.
- Superior grip and traction
- Barrel rifling
- 10+1 capacity
- Ideal for 9mm Luger rounds
- A bit heavy on the trigger press
This is a 9mm lineup that comes straight from the Czech Republic. It’s a fantastic pistol from a manufacturer with a rich history and an excellent track record.
It’s a gun with little to no impurities in its metal components, crafted almost to perfection. It’s not exactly the best budget full-size 9mm type pistol, so expect to spend a few bucks on it. In my opinion, it’s not the best pistol for beginning shooters.
Even though it shows great control and is often viewed as the new hot thing for competitions, this high capacity 9mm pistol comes as a heavy steel-framed handgun. Designed for professional shooting, it doesn’t yet feature a de-cocking lever.
I think it makes it more versatile as it allows for different carry methods. It has low muzzle flip thanks to the extra weight from the Picatinny rail dust cover. The higher grip provides good traction and comfort.
The extended and adjustable magazine release adds even more spice. Another interesting highlight is the unique slide design. It rides inside, opposite to most other handguns. However, this does seem to have the desired effect as it helps reduce both recoil and muzzle rise while also keeping the gun cleaner.
- Better recoil control than most
- Great balance
- High grip
- Slide rides inside the rails
- Slightly pricier
- Better suited for skilled competitors
The Ruger Sr9 is a strong contender for the best full size 9mm title. It’s also among the oldest and best budget full-size 9mm models available.
I’ll be honest. This gun has very mixed reviews. Most criticism goes against the trigger pin and some over-travel. But no gun is perfect, no matter how hard you try to argue for it.
In the end, each shooter has his or her own preferences. I really like that over the years, new releases of the SR9 addressed the trigger system. More people should give it a second chance. The updated designs see positive trigger control and a similar feel to that of a Glock.
You can also depress the latches with ease now, something I find very convenient. The internal upgrades have improved the gun’s accuracy. And what I really like is the grip versatility.
The SR9 shows many of the same qualities as the 1911. It has enough checkering and accommodates both small and large hands. The dual safety levers are a nice touch, too, although not everyone will appreciate this.
- Consistently updated and upgraded model
- Grip that accommodates small hands
- Double safety levers
- Very beginner-friendly
- Slightly slower to take out and shoot than similar models
- You need to break in the trigger with a few hundred rounds
Here comes one of the best hybrids between a concealed carry and full-size 9mm handgun. The original EDC X9 was a fantastic concealable firearm, but the X9L comes with a bigger barrel.
It’s what happens when fans ask for the full-sized version too. Although it’s a high-capacity pistol that carries up to 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition, it is still easier to conceal than most similarly-sized guns.
It has stopping power and an impressive single-action trigger pool. I also think it’s one of the most ergonomic handguns you can use for home defense.
I also like the X-frame grip. It’s a simple contour with a machined diamond pattern. The gun feels very comfortable to hold and shoot. The frame rails allow smooth slide movement and create little to no friction.
I think this is a welcome improvement over the classic M1911 Wilson format.
One of the standout features in my book is the built-in magazine funnel. Between that and the mag tapering to a single column, you can reload this gun really quickly. More bullets and fast shooting make it as deadly as they come.
- Non-abrasive grip
- Independent frame rails to minimize friction
- Very fast reload speed
- Up to 18 rounds capacity
- Slightly outdated barrel bushing
Is this the best full-size 9mm pistol for sports shooting? It may very well be the model that can level the playing field against your competition.
It’s not a budget-friendly pick, but it has outstanding accuracy. It features a high grip for better control, and it’s modest checkering is non-abrasive. Although most use it with an 8-round mag, it has support for an extended magazine too.
I really like the left side scallop feature. It’s an upgrade over the traditional G10 checkering and has an excellent practical feel behind the mag release.
Its six-groove barrel offers a right-hand 1:16” twist. It’s the standard Colt National Match barrel. In terms of recoil, there’s not a lot of it to deal with. The double-wound spring and superb balance make it easy to use even to less inexperienced shooters.
Note that out of the box, it doesn’t have tight groupings. The rear sight puts your bullets a bit low and to the right. Center it before you pass judgment.
- Ideal 1:16” barrel twist
- Designed for competition shooting
- Extended magazine support
- Very low recoil
- Some issues with rear sight factory alignment
It’s tough to put one over the other when you have such a great selection. Yet, I’m making my final recommendation based on pure stopping power and control. Competition guns are very versatile but may require too much accessorizing.
Personally, I recommend the Glock 17 Gen 5 as the best full-size 9mm handgun for a variety of situations. It’s a highly reliable pistol, and it features many improvements over its predecessors.
The barrel rifling makes it one of the most accurate, and although it lacks a higher round capacity, its grip makes it too comfortable to pass on. It shoots fast, on the dot, it’s durable, and stops threats. Does it really need to do more?