It’s one thing for a handgun to endure the rigors of stress and performance testing in a controlled environment such as a gun range. However, in times of true combat, the environment is rarely controlled.
In fact, it’s usually downright unpredictable.
That’s why I’ll often pick from handguns that have already been proven in battle. Here are five iconic, combat-tested handguns that would make a worthy addition to your own concealed carry or bugout stockpile – because peace of mind is worth its weight in lead.
No. 5 CZ 75
When it comes to combat testing, the CZ 75 is likely the most widely distributed military handgun of them all, having almost the same type of cult loyalty as the AK47 itself. And even though it was developed within the Soviet Bloc back in the day, this gun remains steadfastly in the hands of more than a few elite operators, militaries and law enforcement officers, worldwide.
While there might not necessarily be anything incredibly special about this particular handgun, its 9mm chambering, double-stack magazine, excellent ergonomics and ease-of-manipulation makes it a highly viable option for soldiers.
No. 4 – 1911 in 45ACP
The 1911 (or M11) has an extremely strong reputation for combat-hardened reliability and sheer lethality. It has been a tried and true American sidearm since – as you might guess – 1911. Even though the aforementioned CZ might beat it on modern distribution quantities, you just can’t sneeze at a handgun that’s been used (and battle-abused) for more than a century.
The 1911 tends to make for a fantastic winter weapon, due to its incredibly sturdy design. In addition, the 45ACP will penetrate targets that could otherwise cause an expansion failure that 9mm hollow points often experience when plowing through multiple layers of winter clothing.
I would bear in mind that if you want a 1911, then be prepared to shell out a good $2,000. However, you really do get what you pay for when it comes to this all-American handgun.
No. 3 – Sig Sauer P226
This German (now American-made) pistol likely is one of the most famous combat handguns of the bunch. It’s benefitted from the luster of being carried by more than a few folks that regularly depend on this weapon in two-way shooting ranges around the globe: the Sig Sauer P226. In fact, according to Sig’s website, this pistol was specifically developed for some of the world’s most elite forces:
“Designed for the U.S. Army and carried by U.S. Navy SEALs, Texas Rangers and many other elite military and law enforcement professionals, the SIG SAUER® P226® has earned its place in the highest class of production pistols.”
In fact, the 9mm P226 was on the VERY short list for being selected as the Pentagon’s go-to replacement for the 1911. While the M9 won the bid due to having a lower price, SEALs adopted the P226 as their standard-issue sidearm.
No. 2 – Beretta 92FS
Known by millions of U.S. soldiers as the M9, the Beretta 92FS has been carried into foreign combat zones since it was officially introduced as the M11’s replacement weapon in 1985. It also has served Italian police forces since 1976 and during those years, the Beretta 92 has been outfitted with a much needed hammer drop safety mechanism.
Due to its higher magazine capacity of 15 rounds, it made sense for the Pentagon to choose the M9 as their new, primary sidearm.
However, the gun has been reported to have reliability issues and was apparently the cause of injuries from glaring design defects:
“The M9 pistol program ran into trouble when in September of 1987 the slide of a civilian model Beretta 92SB pistol fractured at the junction where the locking block mates into the slide. The broken half of the slide flew back at the shooter (a member of the Navy Special Warfare Group) injuring him. (NSIAD-88-213) In January and February of 1988, respectively, two more military model M9 handguns exhibited the same problem, injuring two more shooters from the Navy Special Warfare Group.” [Tim Chandler of SightM1911.com]
Nevertheless, the U.S. military continued issuing the M9 even as late as 2009, as Beretta won yet another five-year contract from the Department of Defense.
No. 1 – Glock 17/23 Gen4
It’s a brand that countless shooters either love or hate with a passion: Glock.
I put Glock as my top pick for a combat pistol for the simple fact that it’s been proven to be one of the safest handguns in production and is both reliable and durable. According to David Tong of Chuck Hawks, Glock’s global popularity also could be the result of its near-obscene design simplicity by the legendary, Gaston Glock:
Gaston Glock was not originally involved in firearms. He had contracts to supply the Austrian military with entrenching tools and knives that were partially constructed of lightweight polymers. He decided to enter a competition in the early 1980s for a new Austrian service pistol and the rest is history. The G17 went on to become a worldwide favorite among law enforcement due to its light weight, simplicity and durability under extreme use and abuse.
The world’s top brass found tremendous value in the pistol, which comes with fewer than 30 parts to keep track of. In addition, its ergonomics and lightweight design made for a more manageable load out with the most-used calibers by modern militaries and U.S. government agencies. These include the BATFE, the FBI, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshals. The most used Glock models are the 17 (full-sized 9mm) and the 23 Gen4 (compact .40S&W).
When it comes to two-way shooting ranges, I certainly would not feel unprepared if I were running a Glock. Because when I pull that trigger I know the weapon will fire.
Granted, I only listed five handguns. This leaves out quite a few others that are more than worthy of my mention.
If you’ve got a favorite combat handgun that wasn’t mentioned, then feel free to leave a comment on the make and model and why you believe it should have made the list. There are quite a few combat handguns on the market and it would be a shame to have such beauties not receive their own battle-hardened recognition.
What are your favorite combat handguns? Share your suggestions in the section below: