The Best New Handguns for 2021
The year’s top new handguns include the hottest competition semi-autos, an heirloom-quality 1911, and a classic six-shooter.
As with so many things these days, the production of new handguns has been stalled or scaled back or disrupted for most makers. But not entirely locked down. Despite all the difficulties, manufacturers have managed to introduce a number of excellent guns for 2021. A few of the big-name companies are absent from this year’s lineup, but there’s still plenty to gawk at, including new semi-autos and six-guns for hunters, competition shooters, and collectors.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the best new handguns of the year.
IPSC competitors loved the competition-ready CZ 75 Tactical Sport until it was discontinued in 2018. The long sight radius and crisp single-action trigger helped put plenty of shooters on the podium. Now, CZ has built on that foundation with the introduction of the TS 2. The new 9mm handgun has the same sighting plane and trigger as the previous iteration, but it has a new frame design that offers improved ergonomics. The TS 2 also borrows heavily from the slide design in CZ’s Shadow line, which keeps reciprocating mass as low as possible to further reduce muzzle flip. Fixed target sights with a fiber-optic front are easy to see and sturdy enough to stand up to vigorous competition. Aggressively checkered aluminum grips provide extra purchase, and the generous magwell makes keeping it stuffed easy. Though the pistol is new, there is already plenty of aftermarket support, as it accepts accessories built for legacy Tactical Sport models. Check availability here.
The P-10 S also receives an update for 2021, though it is largely cosmetic. Now shooters can get the compact 9mm with an OD Green or Flat Dark Earth frame. Three-dot tritium night sights also upgrade the new edition, though it retains the same trigger and ergonomics as earlier models. Despite the smaller frame, the P-10S manages to hold 12+1. Check availability here.
Optics have been popping up on pistols like wildfire in recent years. The craze started with competition guns, but has worked its way into everyday carry. EAA and Girsan’s new striker-fired 9mm MC9 optics-ready pistol was designed to make the most of electro-optics, keeping the aiming point as close to the bore axis as possible. To do so, the patent-pending Fast Acquisition Red DOT optics (FAR-DOT) mounts directly to the slide. The arrangement allows standard iron sight to be easily co-witnessed and provides rapid acquisition in competition or high-stress scenarios.
There’s an MC9 for both the carry and completion crowd. The standard version has a 4.2-inch barrel and weighs around 1.4 pounds to make concealed carry comfortable. The match version has a longer 4.63-inch barrel, but it features lightening cuts in the slide to keep weight down to only 1.6 pounds, despite the enhanced magwell and other competitive features. Both versions ship with three interchangeable backstraps to fit a variety of shooters, and to feed from 17-round magazine. A rail allows for accessories such as lasers or lights to be added. Check availability here.
As pistol competitions continues to grow, an ever-increasing list of handguns are built to win them. SAR USA offers a performance version of the SAR9 that brings all the features and performance of the original with a slightly longer configuration aimed at IDPA and USPSA competitors. The striker-fired 9mm x 19 SAR9 Sport comes standard with a 5.2-inch barrel, a slightly longer forged steel slide with cooling ports, and a lightweight black polymer frame.
The ergonomic grip design can be tailored to a variety of hand sizes, using three supplied back straps and side plates. Other features include a forged steel barrel, stainless-steel frame assembly, enhanced trigger guard, striker status indicator, and magazine release that can be changed from left or right. The SAR9 Sport takes steel magazines for 17 and 19 rounds, with a 10-round option for capacity-restricted states. Check availability here.
The SAR9 Optics-Ready is designed for both carry and competition, with a 4.5-inch hammer-forged barrel with recessed crown for improved accuracy. The lightweight polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm x 19 has a 20-degree grip angle and a low barrel axis-to-grip ratio to lessen muzzle climb for superior control and fast second-shot recovery, making it a good host for reflex optics. Interchangeable backstraps and side plates improve fit. The SAR9 Optics-Ready comes standard with 17- and 19-round magazines, with a 10-round option. Check availability here.
Chambered in 9mm, the SAR9 Compact strikes an ideal balance between a micro and full-size pistol. It’s small and light enough to be easily concealed comfortably, yet maintains the 19+1 capacity of the full-sized SAR9. All of the other features of the SAR9 line are present, including the interchangeable backstrap and side plates, black-oxide slide, accessory rail, and live-round indicator. Check availability here.
The new K-12 Sport X is SAR USA’s top-of-the-line race gun. The all-metal hammer-fired single-action 9x19mm semi-auto was purpose-built for the limited division of the USPSA, with an oversized, integrated, flared magwell; high-rise beavertail; extended ambidextrous manual safety; and adjustable trigger. The 4.7-inch hammer-forged match-grade barrel with recessed crown is aimed via a click-adjustable rear target sight with changeable front blade. Low bore axis minimizes muzzle flip for fast follow-up shots. A skeletonized hammer, precision-machined alloy steel frame/slide, a hard-white chrome finish, and front and rear slide serrations make this pistol look as good as it shoots. Check availability here.
Smith & Wesson has expanded its line of M&P M2.0 Compact pistols to include an optics-ready variant, the M&P9 M2.0 Compact 4-inch OR. Building on the award-winning M&P9 M2.0 Compact pistol series, the new models are chambered in 9mm and feature a slide cut for optics, co-witness white-dot front and rear sights, and enlarged forward slide serrations. Built for both personal and professional use, the M&P9 M2.0 Compact pistols are available with or without an ambidextrous manual thumb safety. With a 4-inch barrel, the M&P9 M2.0 Compact OR comes standard with seven mounting plates designed to fit popular slide-mounted optics, two 15-round magazines, four interchangeable palmswell grip inserts, and more. Check availability here.
If you like your carry gun to be at home on the range, take a good look at Taylor’s & Company’s new Gunfighter Defender. Available in the deer- and hog-stopping .357 Magnum, as well as the more traditional .45 LC., this classic six-gun offers an extra-long grip that improves ergonomics and control. Competitive shooters and outdoorsman will find the low-flat hammer spur a welcome addition, allowing the shooter to pick up the rear sight notch and fixed front blade quicker for increased accuracy and speed. The color-case-hardened frame is fitted with a blued barrel and trigger guard, and wears a checkered walnut grip for rugged good looks. Available barrel lenths are 4.75 or 5.5 inches, with an overall length of 10.35 or 11.1 inches and weight of 2.45 or 2.5 pounds, respectively. (A hand-tuned option with lightened hammer and trigger pull is available for slightly more money.) Check availability here.
Stoeger introduced their first pistol, a striker-fired 9mm semiauto, in 2019. Since then, the affordable STR-9 has been a hit. This year, Stoeger takes the polymer-framed pistol to new levels with the introduction of the STR-9S Combat pistol. The upgrades include suppressor-height sights, threaded barrel, and a flared magazine well for fast reloads. The optics-ready slide comes complete with four interchangeable plates that allow shooters to attach a number of popular aftermarket red-dot sights. Shooters can also tailor the grip size to their hands via three interchangeable backstraps. A lower accessory rail provides mounting options for lights and lasers, making the STR-9S Combat a good choice for everyday carry, home defense, or fun at the range. The new Stoeger ships with three magazines, in either 10- or 20-round capacities to comply with state regulations. Check availability here.
The P320 AXG Scorpion is the first commercially available metal P320 and the first pistol release from SIG Custom Works. The new handgun combines the weight and balance of a metal-framed pistol with the performance and reliability of the P320, delivering a unique shooting experience. Sig’s new AXG (Alloy XSeries Grip) metal grip module serves as a foundation for the high-end build, and wears a set of custom Hogue G10 grip panels and backstrap insert. The pistol comes with XRAY3 day/night sights on an optic-ready slide, which is compatible with three direct-mount options from SIG Sauer Electro-Optics: ROMEO1 Pro, Delta Point Pro, and RMR Reflex Optics. The P320 AXG Scorpion comes with a host of other high-end features and ships in a Negrini SIG Custom Works case with three magazines, a SIG Custom Works challenge coin, and an official Certificate of Authenticity. Check availability here.
Springfield Armory decided 10mm is the best millimeter, so they added a new chambering, the Ronin 1911. The full-size 1911 offers plenty of control over the added horsepower, and maintains plenty of capacity with 8-round mags. Front and rear slide serrations provide options for charging the pistol, and the traditional 1911 beavertail grip safety is present—though the Ronin offers a “memory bump” for solid engagement. They’ve also added a fiber-optic front sight and tactical rack white-dot rear that are easy to pick up in low light conditions. The two-tone steel frame and wood laminate grips give it a distinctive look that goes beyond its relatively low price point. Check availability here.
ZEV Technologies and Sig Sauer joined forces to create the Z365. Sig’s popular P365 serves as the chassis for ZEV’s high-octane tuning, which ups the performance of the micro 9. The hot-rodding starts at the slide, which features aggressive serrations that give a better grip and reduce the weight of the reciprocating mass—allowing the pistol to shoot flatter and maintain sight picture more easily during follow up shots. The aftermarket slide is compatible with a number of electronic optics including Shield RMSc, SIG Romeo Zero, Holoson HS407K, PRO Barrel, as well as Zev’s fiber-optic Combat Sights. And the grip is enhanced with a laser-cut diamond pattern that increases purchase while still maintaining comfort in hand. Check availability here.
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