As firearms continue to sell at record pace, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand for existing models. Nonetheless, innovation continues. We are seeing introductions of MRDS-ready, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistols, including higher-capacity micro-9s. Also hitting the market with some frequency are large-format pistols in both rifle and pistol calibers. And, of course, super-premium 1911s continue to be unveiled at the aspirational end of the market.
With alarmed citizens looking to protect themselves, first-time buyers now seem to comprise a larger part of the firearm consumer base. As all guns may be new to them, some old standbys are moving well. So, what’s the market for sophisticated new designs? Long-range rifle competition and the simple fact that one can never have too many guns.
ArmaLite | AR19 The company’s first pistol-caliber offering, the AR19 accepts 33-round Glock magazines, which makes it a good candidate for home defense, especially for those who rely on that Austrian pistol for their CCW needs.
Arsenal Inc. | SAM7K The Bulgarian-made SAM7K features forged and milled receivers along with a chrome-lined, hammer-forged barrel for enhanced durability and corrosion resistance Though it only ships with a five-round magazine, the SAM7K accepts more capacious mil-spec variants.
▶AK scope rail for optics ▶Ambidextrous safety ▶Hinged dustcover ▶Dual aperture rear peep sight
Browning | 1911-22 Black Label Suppressor Ready Muzzle Brake Laser If you’re a fan of the 1911 and are looking for a fun, easy-to-shoot and extremely well-built pistol for plinking, this is the gun for you. With the included muzzle brake and Crimson Trace laser, accuracy should be a cinch, while removing the brake allows mounting a suppressor for even more fun at the range.
Browning | 1911-380 Black Label Pro American Flag With its .380 ACP chambering, this 1911-style pistol is a solid option for concealed carry for those who prefer a light, easy-to-control handgun. The gorgeous wooden grips feature a subdued American flag to showcase your patriotism while providing excellent purchase.
▶Rosewood grips with American flag artwork ▶Commander-style hammer ▶Ambidextrous thumb safety ▶Three-dot Combat sights
Browning | Buck Mark Plus Vision Black/Gold Suppressor Ready Beyond its striking appearance thanks to the gold barrel beneath an intricate shroud, this pistol is deceptively lightweight, yet still easy and incredibly fun to shoot. Made with pinpoint accuracy in mind, it features a host of upgrades over a standard .22 LR handgun, all designed to make it ideal for both plinking and rimfire competition.
Century Arms | AP5 If this large-format handgun looks familiar, that’s definitely by design. Featuring the same roller-delayed blowback operation found on the venerable MP5, this Turkish-made, semi-automatic-only clone promises to be reliable, accurate and fun. It comes with a sling to make handling it easier for range work and home defense.
CMMG | Banshee Mk4 .22 LR with QD End Cap The new Mk4 Banshee is the shortest and lightest Banshee on the Mk4 platform in .22 LR thanks to a QD end cap that provides a wide range of compatibility with accessories.
▶Shortest Banshee available ▶QD end cap ▶Compatible with CMMG .22 LR conversion kits ▶KAK Slim Flash Can
CZ | P-10 S If you have a need or merely a preference for something other than black, the P-10 S is now also available in OD Green and Flat Dark Earth. All other features of this popular, lightweight, carry handgun remain the same.
CZ | Tactical Sport 2 Thanks to its low slide profile and redesigned frame, the TS 2 offers a low bore axis that prevents excessive muzzle rise. The Tactical Sport 2 is deigned for fast, comfortable handling and handling, and easy customization.
▶Low-profile slide ▶Front cocking serrations ▶Fiber-optic front sight ▶Aluminum grips
Diamondback | DB15 300 Blackout With a host of features designed for home defense, the DB15 in .300 BLK offers a compact, easy-to-maneuver pistol. With sturdy arm brace, blast-deflecting muzzle device and M-Lok attachment points for accessories, it’s great out of the box or for you to customize to your liking.
▶Gear Head Works Tailhook Mod 2 brace ▶Magpul MOE K2+grip ▶KAK Flash Can ▶M-Lok attachment points on fore-end
EAA | Girsan MC9 Standard TV In addition to its ergonomically designed polymer frame and interchangeable backstrap inserts, the latest offering from Girsan features a milled side cut and includes the company’s patent-pending Fast Acquisition Red Dot optics (FAR-DOT).
FN America | FN 509 LS Edge Now in an optics-ready platform with four MRD slide adapter plates, the FN 509 LS Edge is a striker-fired pistol made for competition. It also doubles as a personal-defense handgun with a solid trigger and three spare mags for carry or training purposes.
Glock | G43X MOS Glock has taken the G43X (and G48) of the company’s single-stack Slim Line and added a slide cut for a micro red-dot sight (MRDS) as well as an accessory rail. The MOS version allows for direct installation of a low-mounted sight (not included) as well as a laser and/or light module.
Heckler & Koch | VP9L OR Heckler & Kock’s all-time best-seller, the VP9, has been upgraded with the VP9L OR. An O-ring bushing on the 5-inch barrel tightens lockup, resulting in tighter groups. The slide is pre-cut for a red-dot sight and mounting plates are available for five of the most popular footprints of that type.
▶Pre-cut slide for MRDS ▶Lightening cuts ▶10-, 17- and 20-round magazines ▶Multi-slot accessory rail
HeritageBarkeep | Custom Gray Pearl Grips A wood-gripped version of the Barkeep was covered in our April issue, but this pearl-handled variant is also new for 2021 and perhaps even more striking. While by no means ideal for defense, the Barkeep is still a viable option for those on a budget and, more importantly, it is crazy fun to shoot, particularly for those who are fans of the Old West.
▶Manual safety ▶Gray pearl grips ▶Interchangeable cylinder ▶Ships with custom ejector rod
Kel-Tec | P50 Looking like something out of Blade Runner or Flash Gordon, Kel-Tec’s P50 packs some impressive engineering into its futuristic design. Using the FN PS90 magazine, an entire box of 5.7x28 mm ammunition can be loaded at a time.
▶Picatinny rail for optics ▶QD sling mounts ▶Ambidextrous safety ▶Lower-capacity magazines available
Kimber | Micro9 Rapide (Black Ice) Kimber’s Micro9 line gets an attractive addition in the Rapide (Black Ice) variant. Featuring sculpted G10 grips, subtle two-tone finish and ambidextrous safety, the Micro9 Rapide is as easy to run as it is on the eyes.
Korth | NXS The successor to the innovative Korth Ranger, the NXS is Korth’s first eight-shot .357 Mag. wheelgun. An eight-shot 9 mm cylinder is also available as an upgrade that will allow you to switch effortlessly between the two popular calibers.
▶Eight-shot cylinder ▶Turkish walnut grips ▶Fully machined parts ▶DLC finish
Lone Wolf | Timberwolf LTD Built by a company that has spent two decades offering aftermarket parts and modifications for polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols, Lone Wolf has introduced its Timberwolf LTD, which stands for Lightweight Tactical Defense pistol. It is intended to offer enhanced comfort, lighter weight and reduced felt recoil when compared to similar pistols.
Manurhin | R73 Gendarmerie Manurhin’s line of high-end wheelguns is now available in the U.S., thanks to Beretta. If you’ve been looking to take your revolver game to the next level, 2021 may just be the year.
MasterPiece Arms | MPA DS9 Hybrid Black & Blue Pistol MasterPiece Arms absorbed the wide-body, double-stack 1911 from Freedom Gunworks, which resulted in the DS9 Hybrid, a competition-ready 9 mm with premium features and a highly accurate 5-inch bull barrel. MRDS not included.
Nighthawk Custom | VIP Agent 2 Combining Old-World finishing techniques with modern machining has resulted in the Nighthawk Custom VIP Agent 2, a 1911 for the 21st century. The product of a partnership between Nighthawk Custom, Turnbull Restoration and Agency Arms is a truly unique and stunning firearm.
▶Turnbull color-case-hardened frame ▶High-polished, charcoal-blued small parts ▶18K solid-gold bead front sight ▶Mammoth-ivory grips
Republic Forge | Damasteel Patriot Commander From the intricate pattern of its slide to the warm hues of its color-case-hardened frame, the Damasteel Patriot Commander proves that finely crafted 1911s can also be things of beauty.
▶Skeletonized trigger ▶Stag grips ▶Texas Star hammer ▶Hand-chambered barrel
Republic Forge | Handfit Ultimate Longslide As aesthetically pleasing as it is accurate, the Ultimate Longslide ships with both 9 mm and .38 Super barrels. The frame sports a color-case-hardened finish and fancy mammoth-ivory grips are included.
▶Red fiber-optic front sight ▶Adjustable Novak rear sight ▶Single-sided thumb safety ▶New Mexico Zia hammer
Ruger | MAX-9 A striker-fired design with redundant safety mechanisms, the MAX-9 boasts an optics-ready slide compatible with both JPoint- and Shield-pattern MRDS. Ruger’s first higher-capacity micro-9 ships with two 12-round magazines and a finger-grip-extension.
SAR USA | SAR9 Optics-Ready Pistol Based on the heavily tested and NATO-approved SAR9, the SAR9 Optics-Ready Pistol is simply that: A SAR9 with the slide pre-cut for mounting a mini red-dot sight (not included). That allows shooters to easily enjoy all of a red-dot benefits, including having the target and dot in the same focal plane.
▶Optic-ready mount ▶Interchangeable backstrap insert ▶Black-oxide slide ▶Recessed barrel crown
SAR USA | 109T A large-format pistol, the blowback-operated 109T incorporates an 8.6-inch barrel for maneuverability, and accepts most pistol buffer-tube braces. In addition to compactness, the 109T offers firepower and comes with three 30-round magazines.
▶Chrome-moly barrel ▶Picatinny rail system ▶Freefloat handguard ▶Non-reciprocating charging handle
SIG Sauer | P320MAX pistol Designed with input from world-class shooter Max Michel, the new P320MAX comes with competitive-shooting-based upgrades that will help any-level shooter do better. With multiple 21-round magazines and a red-dot included, you’re ready for any challenge.
▶SIG Sauer Romeo 3 Max red-dot sight ▶12- and 14-pound recoil springs ▶Match-grade bull barrel ▶Four magazines included
SIG Sauer | P320XCarry Legion pistol Bringing SIG’s Legion upgrades to a more carry-friendly pistol, the P320 X-Carry Legion wears SIG’s Legion gray PVD finish and includes a flared mag well that accepts the custom 17-round magazines with aluminum base pads.
Smith & Wesson | Shield Plus It looks like a standard Smith & Wesson Shield, but not quite—this model carries up to 11. Rounds, that is. The familiar Shield pistol now has a larger-capacity variant that’s very nearly the same size as the original.
Springfield Armory | Ronin 10 mm The Ronin 10 mm features a classic two-tone design that is perfectly accented by red laminate grips, all of which comes in a powerful 1911-style platform with a skeletonized Gen 2 Speed trigger.
Staccato | 2011 Staccato P The Staccato P is now approved for duty by more than 280 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Combining accuracy, reliability and durability with its MRDS-ready features makes it a premium duty pistol. The P can be personalized with a DLC coating, threaded barrel, chromed slide and engraving, too. Optic not included.
▶Tactical Advantage mag well ▶Optional Tactical Dawson Universal Optic system ▶Diamond-like carbon (DLC) finish ▶Flush-fit, 11-degree crown barrel
Staccato | 2011 Staccato XL Staccato has taken its more than 25 years of competition experience and distilled it into the Staccato XL. It is now available optics ready with lower-profile mounting plates and lower-height iron sights that will co-witness with an optical sight. Optic not included.
▶Slotted slide cuts ▶Optional Tactical Dawson Universal Optic system ▶Custom color options ▶Tactical Advantage mag well
Stoeger | STR-9S Combat Extended magazines, threaded barrels, suppressor-height sights and an optics cut are features you might expect in a firearm that costs significantly more than Stoeger’s new STR-9S Combat. It even comes with three 20-round magazines, all at an MSRP less than a good number of other optics-ready handguns. Optic not included.
▶Optics-ready with four plates ▶Threaded barrel ▶Three backstraps ▶Suppressor-height sights
Taurus | G3 TORO Featuring Taurus’ TORO optics-ready slide with four different adapter plates to accommodate a wide range of red dots, the G3 is a full-size handgun that is ideal for concealed-carry purposes. The Gen 3 trigger system provides enhanced accuracy from a proven pistol platform. Optic not included.
▶ Gen 3 trigger system ▶ Optics-ready slide ▶ Teflon coating ▶ Visual loaded-chamber indicator
Taurus | G3C TORO The G3C expands on a successful G3 line with a compact variant that features an optics-cut slide with four adapter plates. This newest model accommodates a wide variety of micro red dots, making it a great option for everyday carry (EDC) or personal-defense purposes.
Taurus | TX22 Competition Built for competition or plinking at the range, the TX22 features a Taurus Performance Trigger System (PTS) and ergonomic grip, as well as an optics-ready slide, for the best in high-performance accuracy.Optic not included.
Walther | PDP Walther’s new top-of-the-line personal protection pistol doesn’t want for anything. In addition to a host of features, the pistol boasts an excellent trigger, fine accuracy and good ergonomics. It is not only deeply cut for a mini red-dot sight, but the grip is also contoured to provide leverage to make the dot easier to find.
Zev Technologies | Z320 XCompact Octane Gunmod Zev’s touches to SIG Sauer’s P320 X-Series Compact include the former’s Octane slide, which sports aggressive serrations to with manipulations and ports and cuts reduce weight, allowing the pistol to shoot flatter and maintain sight picture more easily during follow-up shots. Further upgrades include a Zev barrel, sights and stippling on the grip module.
▶Z320 XCompact Octane slide ▶Z320 XCompact PRO barrel ▶XCompact Grip with Zev diamond-pattern laser stippling ▶P320 X Series flat-face trigger
Zev Technologies | Z365 Octane Gunmod The SIG Sauer P365 took the concealed-carry market by storm when it was introduced, and now Zev is offering a fully enhanced version of the popular micro 9 mm. The Octane slide is cut for an optic, while the company’s improved iron sights are also included. Custom touches abound to make the pistol even better for concealed carry.
▶Z365 Octane slide ▶Z365 PRO barrel ▶Fiber-optic Combat sights ▶Zev diamond-pattern stippling on grip