Finally, we get a SIG Sauer P365 to the range, and it's okay. Just okay? Yeah. The others were the Stoeger STR-9, Arex Rex Delta, and Ruger Security-9, one of which we consider to be a better buy.
All three handguns offer great accuracy, good triggers, and manageable recoil. Choosing between them will be the customer's task because each one has positives suitable for different games.
The brand-new Bond Arms Bullpup handgun design takes on two veterans of the carry wars, the APX Carry from Beretta and a spiffed-up LC9s from Ruger. We found two really good compact choices.
VALUE GUIDE: RECENT 9MM HANDGUN RANKINGS
Springfield XD(M) 4.5 XDMT9459FDEHCE TB 9mm, $505
Our Pick as a personal-defense, home-
defense, and tactical pistol.
Glock G34 Gen5 MOS PA3430103MOS 9mm, $710
The Gen5 guns are the best yet, with superior accuracy and features over earlier Glocks.
CZ-USA CZ P0-9 91620
9mm Luger, $402
Best Buy. CZ has managed to pack a lot of value into the P0-9. 19-round magazine. …
Handguns are designed to give the user a certain amount of useful power in a portable configuration. For home defense, the limits on "portable" are less restrictive than those for concealed carry under covering garments. Weight is a big issue for carry, but length competes with mass as the dimension that causes the biggest pain in the back. But for performance, length is helpful when it allows for a longer barrel that will make for greater velocity and energy, and up top, a longer slight radius on the slide generally improves accuracy. Also, a longer front end tends to dampen sight movement during recoil, important when chambering a more powerful cartridge such as the 357 SIG. As such, a certain class of handguns — long barrel/long slide models — answer a lot of needs for home-defense shooters, and for the right people, could even be carried. In this report, we looked hard at four 9mm Luger pistols that are among the longest offerings in their respective stables, they were:
- the CZ-USA CZ P0-9 91620 at 8.1 inches in overall length;
- the FNH FNS-9L Longslide 66725 at 8.25 inches OAL;
- the Glock G34 Gen5 MOS PA3430103MOS at 8.74 inches OAL;
- and the Springfield XD(M) 4.5 XD(M)T9459FDEHCE Threaded Barrel, whose 5.3-inch-long barrel contributes to its 8.3-inch OAL.
The CZ P0-9 is a longer version of the CZ P0-7, yet in this group, the barrel is the shortest of the test at 4.54 inches, or 0.79 inch longer than the CZ P0-7's. This pistol also features an elongated grip that holds 19 rounds in the magazine versus 15 for the P0-7. An important difference between this pistol and the smaller P0-7 is that the P0-9 is supplied with interchangeable backstraps. To put it in scale, the well-known CZ 75 B is also 8.1 inches long, but the 75 B is 0.4 inches shorter than the P0-9 and holds three fewer rounds in its magazines. Interestingly, the pistol retails for an average $100 less than the smaller P0-7. This product from Cesk zbrojovka Uhersk Brod is a polymer-framed pistol, but unlike the others tested, the P0-9 is hammer fired. We expected the CZ pistol to handle differently from the striker-fired guns, and it did.
FN America pitches the FNS-9 Longslide as a competition gun (as does Glock for its G34), saying the Longslide has been "tested in every type of major shooting event, from high-speed IPSC/USPSA and grueling 3-gun matches to precision bull's-eye and actions events like the NRA Bianchi Cup." Okay, none of that scares us if we're looking for a dependable, easy-to-shoot self-defense handgun.
The Glock G34 Gen5 is likewise designated as a competition pistol, but it's not Glock's largest 9mm by quite a bit. The G17L Long Slide gets that honor with a 6.02-inch-long barrel and an OAL of 9.53 inches.
Oddly, Springfield's XD(M) 4.5 TB (now discontinued in the two-tone color scheme) is longer than what the company designates as a competition handgun, the 5.25-inch-barrel XD(M)95259BHCE Competition Series 9mm. Despite its nomenclature, the threaded-barrel XD(M) version we test here has a 5.3-inch-long barrel to accommodate the threads and is 0.05 inch longer overall than the 5.25 Model, according to company specs.
Here's what we found out about these longer-than-average handguns.
To replace the Beretta M9A1 (M9) and later variants in military service, the U.S. Army tested several handguns and chose the SIG P320, which is designated as the M17 in military service. The Glock 19X was also a participant in the military trials. While not chosen by the military, the full-size-grip short-slide Glock has enjoyed commercial success. The new Glock 45 is a direct result of Glock's experience in the military trials and also a result of criticism of the 19X. A third handgun, Beretta's APX, was also not adopted, and like the M17, is a modular design. We elected to test these three striker-fired polymer handguns head to head to determine which might be the best choice for concealed carry and personal defense for civilians. To add some historical texture, we also shot these firearms side by side with a full-size Beretta 92, or the M9 in its military appellation. The Beretta won't carry as easily as the APX and Glock, but it's comparable to the P320-M17 in size. If we're looking at them as home-defense guns, then size is less of an issue.
As we collected data and choose firearms for inclusion in these shoot-outs, we met old-line shooters and even young shooters who feel that the polymer-frame striker-fired market is crowded, and these handguns are much the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Beretta, CZ, HK, SIG, Smith & Wesson, and Glock offer different features and different fits and feel for their products. Those who have not tested the pistols extensively and who have not taken time to compare features may feel these pistols are cut from the same cloth, but by assuming that, those shooters abrogate a lot of responsibility in choosing the handgun that suits them best.
Close in importance to the most basic needs - food, water, and shelter - is the ability to protect yourself from threats. Concealable, compact, and powerful handguns give us peace of mind in a dangerous world. There is no doubt there are more effective cartridges than the 9mm Luger, but the 9mm is far more powerful than any 32 ACP or 380 Auto cartridge, and it holds more rounds than a compact 38 Special revolver. The 9mm is a powerful cartridge with good performance that will get the job done, given adequate shot placement. A compact handgun with good sights, a decent trigger, and ergonomic controls is a stalwart companion in difficult times. So we tested a quintet side by side to get an idea about what we would buy, then relay those impressions to Gun Tests readers. The pistols tested are unique in many ways, but they share a few common features. Takedown, trigger action, and slide-lock designs differ. Each may fit your needs more than the others, but there are a couple at the top of the heap. Our test handguns chambered in 9mm Luger were the following.
We recently published a news item that updates our readers on legal troubles the SIG Sauer P320 is encountering. Most recently, the Loudoun Times-Mirror website is reporting that a Loudoun County (Virginia) deputy has filed a lawsuit against SIG Sauer alleging that her fully-holstered P320 duty weapon discharged and sent a bullet into her leg. According to the newspaper's account, the incident occurred this year on Feb. 7, "… when 37-year-old Loudoun County Deputy Marcie Vadnais went to the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy to attend a general instructor course." The Times-Mirror further reported, "In accordance with academy policy, Deputy Vadnais began removing her firearm from her belt when she arrived." According to the lawsuit, as she fed the belt through the holster's first tooth, her SIG Sauer P320 somehow "fired one nine millimeter bullet, which hit her in the upper right thigh."
The most popular concealed-carry and home-defense handgun in America is likely the 9mm self loader. There are service grade and service-size pistols, compacts, and subcompacts available in this chambering, which has gained popularity because of improved bullet function. In this installment, we are firing purpose-designed compact handguns that are derived from service-size handguns. When the Glock 19X was introduced, with its Glock 17 grip and Glock 19 slide, our shooters knew it would be a hot new gun to test, but we did not quite know what to match against it. The editor dubbed it a Commander-size Glock 9mm, so we found a 9mm 1911 Commander to brace against it — the Ruger SR1911 Commander. The SR1911 Commander is, after all, a full-size Government Model pistol with the slide shortened three-quarters of an inch. The Glock 19X is a Glock 17 with a short slide and full-size grip. Bingo.
European compacts generally have both the slide and the butt shortened. One example is the SIG P225A, a short version of the SIG P220 9mm handgun. Today, SIG offers an updated and revamped P225-A1. We added this double-action-first-shot pistol as a counterpoint to the double-action-only and single-action pistols tested. Next, we added a true compact with both a short slide and short frame, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Compact M2.0. It seemed fitting to match the M2.0 M&P9 against the Glock 19X Gen5 gun.