(Editor’s note: This article on the best handguns of 2017 first appeared in a newsletter for the Delaware State Sportsman’s Association (DSSA). It is being syndicated here with the permission of its author.)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” begins one of Charles Dickens’ great novels. The line alluded to the fact that even during social, economic, or political tribulations there can come wonderful things. And, in some ways, those tribulations themselves create the proper conditions for other forms of prosperity.
Such is the case in the world of firearms. The constant assault on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has directly or indirectly led to the most plentiful firearms market the world has ever seen. Demand has been so high for so long that manufacturers have been more willing to risk capital on new innovations and designs, and the ever-increasing competition in the marketplace has ensured that those who don’t will soon be left behind.
With 2017 now in our rearview, there are many “worst of times” elements on which we can dwell. But I’d like to continue into 2018 with optimism and briefly look back on the “best of times” from 2017. What I consider to be some of the best new handguns brought to market last year.
Every one of these handguns is worthy of a full article (see hyperlinks below). But I’ll keep it short and sweet here and tell you why I think the gun is relevant, what’s good about it, and why you might be interested. Think of this as a post-holiday-season-gift-list for those whom Santa might have forgotten something important.
I’m going to lay it on the line here by telling you up front that I think this is the best of the bunch. This gun fills a vacancy in Smith’s catalog that is long overdue. It sits in that sweet size category between full-size duty pistol and sub-compact (think Glock 19). It has plenty of barrel and a grip large enough to get all your fingers around, yet is small enough for concealed carry even under light garments.
But just fitting a mold doesn’t put it on the list. Smith got this one right, with the 2.0 upgrades to grip texture and trigger feel, while retaining all the famous features of the original M&P line, including magazine and holster compatibility. If you’re shopping for a pistol in this size range, you need to put this one on your list. Comes in 9mm and .40 SW currently, and MSRP is $569.
***Buy a New Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact on GunsAmerica***
Also throwing its hat in the ring for the military sidearm contract was Beretta, who was a long-odds contender even though it was the incumbent. And while it didn’t get the attention in the gun media that I think it deserves, the APX in 9mm is a fine pistol.
Perhaps my most pleasant surprise of the year. With a rugged appearance and putting function over form, this gun is a fun shooter and is accurate and reliable. The grip is also particularly friendly to smaller hands. Costing $575, it’s one you should look at.
***Buy a New Beretta APX on GunsAmerica***
If you made it past that alphabet soup, you might be familiar with Heckler & Koch, one of the world’s premier small arms makers, and – cover your ears Glock fans – the company that invented the polymer framed handgun.
Following the incredible commercial success of the VP9, the new variant with the SK suffix (which stands for “Sub-Kompact”) is a smaller and lighter version designed for the concealed carry market.
With peculiar features like cocking-assist tabs and European style magazine release paddles in the trigger guard, newcomers to the brand will see it as an oddity. But make no mistake; it is a top of line handgun – as is reflected by the list price of $719 for the base model and $819 for the law enforcement (LE) model, which adds night sights and an extra magazine.
***Buy a New HK VP9SK on GunsAmerica***
This pistol was designed with competition in mind. Particularly the combat-oriented sports, like IDPA and USPSA. It’s like a polymer framed race gun right out of the box – with adjustable sights that include a fiber optic front, a steel magwell for faster reloads, and four 21-round magazines. It’s also a big boy, with an overall length of 8 ½ inches and standing almost 6 inches tall.
The 9mm bull barrel and full-length dust cover give the gun good balance against the steel weight inserted into the backstrap, providing almost 36 ounces of evenly distributed weight that makes recoil feel soft and keeps the sights on target. It’ll cost you, though. With an MSRP of $1,005 it tops this list in price – but also in features. Not the least of which is a crisp short-stroke flat trigger that is a dream to run fast.
***Buy a New SIG Sauer P320 X-Five on GunsAmerica***
Yes, Glock introduced a new model this year – two in fact. The G17 and G19 in Gen5 (that’s fifth generation if you don’t speak Glockish). Both 9mm, and separated in design only by a slight sizing difference and two rounds of standard capacity. The G17 is the larger of the two and holds 17 rounds in its magazine.
While likely aimed for the military trials, the Gen5 Glock made it to production to support the FBI’s new specifications for a sidearm and was awarded that contract. The commercial version differs little from the one that special agents will be issued.
Most noticeable among the changes is the lack of finger grooves molded into the polymer handle of the pistol – something even Glock lovers have long complained about. It is also now more left-hander friendly with a slide stop/release on both sides of the pistol and the ability (as previously existed) to reverse the magazine catch.
Sporting a darker new finish that might be more durable, three magazines, optional grip size adjustments, and retail price around $650, the new Glock will surely sell well.
***Buy a New Glock 17 Gen5 on GunsAmerica***
The “cool” people in the gun world know that some of the finest firearms in the world are made in the Czech Republic. This is true today and has been true for decades.
For 2017, the Czechs offered us a new polymer framed, striker-fired handgun to compete among some of the world’s most popular staples. This 15-shot pistol with a 4-inch barrel has dared to challenge the reigning king, Glock 19 for market share. And it will get some – maybe a lot.
It’s a very nice handgun, with a much better trigger than any Glock ever made, better sights standard, and fits in a Glock 19 or 17 holster. The P-10 C (“C” is for compact) also has very good ergonomics and recoil management. By all initial accounts, it is durable and reliable, and very accurate.
Best of all, the asking price is just $499. Comes with two magazines, if you can find one in stock anywhere – which may be the only real negative at this time. It’s another one you need to look closely at.
***Buy a New CZ P-10 C on GunsAmerica***
No doubt I’ve left off a favorite or two, or favored the wrong gun over another for some folks. That’s what makes a horse race. But I hope I’ve given you some starter intel that will have you sounding like you know what you’re doing at the gun counter.
Whatever you choose, remember that you’re able to do so because in America we cherish our freedoms, and there are not many we cherish more than our right to keep and bear arms. And by all forecasts, it looks like we’re in for another year of combat with those who would love to see us lose that precious right.
You’ll probably save a few bucks on that new gun during this post-holiday sales frenzy. Why not use some of that money to help ensure that DSSA and NRA have the funds they need to remind lawmakers in Dover and D.C. that we’re here and we’re serious. Let’s keep the worst of times from becoming reality.