Top 5 Handguns Every Gun Enthusiast & Collector Should Own

By James Martineau

A popular debate among firearms enthusiasts are a subjective top five handgun list. It seems that each firearm enthusiast has their own opinion about what the best handgun is. In an attempt to clarify the truth for all D4guns has compiled a list of the top five handguns still in common use using indisputable criteria. The criteria used for rating are historical relevance, commonality amongst civilian, military and law enforcement, units manufactured, performance in competition, capability with regards to weapon specifications and the all important full bias personal opinion and experience.

#5 Browning Hi-Power

The Browning Hi-Power is a locked-breech, semi-automatic, single-action, recoil-operated pistol firing 9mm Parabellum. The Hi-Power uses a 13-round double stack magazine. Length of barrel is 4.6” while having an overall length of  7.7.” Over 1.5 millions units have been produced. The Browning Hi Power sets itself apart from the competition by being the pistol to have been used by the most nations. A quick glance shows that the Hi-Power was used by approximately 95 nations. Despite being nearly a 100 year old design it is still being used by Australia, and Canada among others. During the Second World War the Hi-Power was used by both the Axis and Allied forces and was highly coveted as the 13 round capacity was superior to the magazine capacity of other designs. One criticism of the Hi-Power is the lack of refinement during the firearms life cycle. There were not significant changes to the design nor refinement unlike many of the other firearms in this list. While previously a dominant pistol, the lack of innovation and cease of production by FN and Browning leave the Hi-Power in the 5th spot.

#4 Beretta 92FS

The Beretta 92FS is a short recoil, semi-automatic SA/DA pistol with a 15-round staggered box magazine using 9mm Parabellum. Length of barrel is 4.9” with an overall length of 8.5.” Over 3.5 million units have been produced. The Beretta 92FS is well known for being the primary sidearm of the United States Military until recently being replaced by the Sig Sauer P320. This pistol also serves in the law enforcement community and militaries of dozens of nations. The 92FS is also a Hollywood star in its own right having starred in movies such as The Matrix, Die Hard, Training Day, Lethal Weapon and The Boondock Saints to name a few of more popular appearances. The Beretta has been refined over the decades with newer variants such as the M9A3 which offer greater magazine capacity, adjustable grips and safety/decocker options. While being an excellent pistol with some refinement, the replacement of the Beretta as the U.S. military’s primary sidearm leaves it in 4th place.

#3 Glock 17

The Glock 17 is a polymer frame, short recoil-operated, locked breech semi-automatic with a 17-round magazine feeding 9mm Parabellum rounds. Length of barrel is 4.49” and the overall length in 8.03.” Glock has produced a whopping five million plus units. The dominance of the Glock among law enforcement agencies in the United States is a testament to the continuing legacy of the Glock. Some basic design updates include adjustable grips, improved ergonomics, and front slide serrations. A criticism of the Glock can be considered its “plainness.” While being a very reliable and user friendly pistol, nothing is exceptionally about the functionality of the pistol. The trigger pull is average at best and the manufacturers sights leave much to be desired. For these reasons the Glock 17 wins the 3rd place spot.

#2 Colt 1911

The legendary Colt 1911 is a single action, semi-automatic, magazine fed, recoil operated pistol in .45 ACP. The stock magazines carry a limiting seven rounds. The barrel length of government model is 5.03” with an overall length of 8.5.” Over 2.7 million units have been produced by Colt alone. While it cannot be argued that the 1911 were the equipment that won any war, they can claim to be back to back World War champs as they were the primary sidearm of the United States in both the Great War and the Second World War. They have been continuously used by the United States military for nearly 110 years as they are still in use by United States Army Special Forces, the Marine Corps and the Navy as well as foreign police and military. The quality of the 1911 is evidenced by arguments that it is the most cloned pistol in history. The 1911 dominated competitive shooting for years due to its exceptional trigger pull and reset. In its entire history the 1911 did not see many significant changes. Its service in war and previous dominance of competition are the reason why the 1911 sites at the number spot.

#1 CZ 75

The CZ-75  is a short recoil operated, locked breech pistol using 15 round magazines. The CZ 75 along with the Beretta 92FS and technically the Glock were among the “wonder nines” to be developed during the last half of the 20th century. Sources claim that the CZ-75 is the most copied of pistols. While not as popular with American law enforcement, the CZ is immensely popular with agencies of other nations and was actually been used for a time by the United States Army Delta Force. The smooth action and low bore axis of the CZ 75 is popular amongst sport shooters and the CZ 75 dethroned the 1911 in IPSC competition after years of 1911 domination. The CZ is comparison to the other firearms on this list is the most improved pistol. Each pistol in CZ’s current catalog is based off the 75. This includes the polymer frame “P” series as well the tactical/competition minded SP-01 and its variants. The many competition models such as the Shadow series and the “Czechmate” are also built on the chassis of the 75. The ability to innovate, win championships as well as arguably being the most cloned pistol ever assures the CZ 75 the top spot on this list.