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12 Best Handguns For Beginners In 2022

There are a few things that you should consider when searching for the best handguns for beginners, including caliber, capacity, weapon size, features, and laws.

At the end of the day, what is essential is that you pick the caliber that you feel comfortable with.

It is an important purchase, and you need to do your research beforehand.

Laws

Always research the state’s laws that you live in before purchasing your first handgun.

Some states restrict specific models to military or law enforcement.

Also, some states, such as California, restrict magazine size to 10 rounds per magazine.

Caliber

Choosing the appropriate caliber is also another important thing to consider when choosing your first handgun.

While there are many different types of caliber, the most popular for beginner handguns are 9 mm and .45 ACP.

We’ll talk more about this later on in the article.

Below are the 12 Best Handguns For Beginners.

#1. Glock G19 Gen 5 9mm Pistol

glock 19 is a classic beginners gun

  • Make: Glock
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 4.02”
  • Overall Length: 7.28”
  • Finish: Black

The Glock G19 Gen 5 9mm Pistol sets the bar high for other handguns, and is easily considered as one of the best handguns for beginners.

It is one of the most popular polymer handguns available, and for a good reason.

Compared to previous generations, the Gen 5 says goodbye to the finger groove style grips, allowing your fingers to rest naturally for a more comfortable grip.

The G19 Gen 5 is left-handed friendly with an ambidextrous slide stop and a configurable magazine release.

It also has a flared magwell for a better workspace for faster and more efficient reloads.

A unique feature of the Gen 5 magazines is the addition of an orange follower to quickly see how many rounds you have left.

The G19 makes an excellent pistol for beginner and seasoned shooters. You cannot go wrong with a G19.

If you are looking for a durable handgun that will always go bang at an affordable price, the Glock G19 Gen 5 9mm Pistol is a must buy.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#2. M&P 9 Shield Plus 9mm TS 10/13 RND 3.1”

M&P 9 Shield Plus 9mm

  • Make: Smith and Wesson
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 10+1-ROUND, 13+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 3.1”
  • Overall Length: 6.1”
  • Finish: Armornite

The M&P 9 Shield Plus 9mm TS 10/13 RND 3.1” by Smith and Wesson is an excellent handgun for beginners that is ideal for concealed carry.

The pistol has an excellent textured grip with an optimal 18-degree grip angle for a natural feel while offering enhanced recoil management and a comfortable firm grip.

It comes with two magazines, the 13 round magazine offers an extended capacity while the 10 round magazine has a flush fit for enhanced concealment.

With an Armornite finish, they protected the pistol with a corrosion-resistant finish.

If you are looking for an excellent all-around 9mm, the M&P 9 Shield Plus is a must own.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#3. Hellcat 9mm Micro Compact

Hellcat 9mm Micro Compact is one of the best handguns for beginners

  • Make: Springfield
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 11+1-ROUND, 13+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 3”
  • Overall Length: 6”
  • Finish: Black

Another one of the best handguns for beginners is none other than the Hellcat 9mm Micro Compact.

Springfield’s Hellcat 9mm Micro Compact is super lightweight at just over a pound.

With an overall length of 6”, it has a 3” barrel and an impressive round capacity of 13 rounds of 9mm Luger cartridges.

It also includes a second magazine with an 11 round capacity, which has a flush fit for enhanced concealment.

The Hellcat is perfect for those who want a smaller pistol, but want the capacity of a full-size handgun.

It comes with an adjustable tritium-illuminated night sight for enhanced aiming while in a low-light environment.

The Hellcat 9mm Micro Compact by Springfield is the perfect pistol for first time buyers, with reliable performance, a compact size, high capacity, and a solid grip.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#4. Glock G17 Gen5 9mm Pistol

Glock G17 Gen5 9mm Pistol

  • Make: Glock
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 4.49”
  • Overall Length: 7.95”
  • Finish: Black

The G17 Gen5 9mm Pistol delivers the high-quality performance expected from Glock.

The 5th generation G17 is a full-sized pistol that offers reliable, accurate shooting.

With a 17 round magazine, you have plenty of capacity for home defense or a day at the range.

It has a more ergonomic design than the previous generations because Glock removed the finger grooves allowing a larger variety of holds and a faster draw.

With a flared magwell, it allows for faster reloading with fewer snags.

Another outstanding feature is that the G17 is left-handed friendly with an ambidextrous slide stop lever.

The Glock G17 Gen5 9mm Pistol is a solid performer and definitely one of the best handguns for beginners.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#5. P365XL 9mm Optic Ready

P365XL 9mm Optic Ready is a great beginner pistol

  • Make: Sig Sauer
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 12+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 3.7”
  • Overall Length: 6.6”
  • Finish: Black

Sig Sauer’s P365XL 9mm Optic Ready is an upgrade to the popular standard P365.

With an upgraded 3.7” barrel and two flush fitting 12 round magazines, you are getting superior performance with a micro-compact frame.

With a polymer stock and an overall length of 6.6”, the pistol weighs only 1.29 pounds.

It features Xray3 Day/Night sights and has an optics ready slide compatible with Romeo Zero and RMSc optics.

It has an integrated carry magwell, an extended beavertail grip, and a 90-degree break flat trigger.

If you are looking for a micro compact that shoots like a full-size, Sig Sauer’s P365XL 9mm is perfect for you.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#6. 642 Handgun 38 Special 1.875IN

642 Handgun 38 Special 1.875IN

  • Make: Smith and Wesson
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Capacity: 5 Round
  • Barrel Length: 1.875”
  • Overall Length: 6.31”
  • Finish: Matte Silver

For people who prefer a revolver, you cannot get much better than the 642 Handgun 38 Special 1.875IN by Smith and Wesson.

It weighs under a pound and packs a punch with a synthetic stock, a durable alloy frame, and a stainless steel barrel.

Compared to the other pistols on this list, you will have the smallest round capacity with the ability to load 5 38 Special cartridges.

However, you are not about to get into a gunfight in your house.

Five rounds are definitely enough, and the 642 is super easy to reload if you need to.

A benefit of a revolver over a standard pistol is that they do not fail to feed or eject.

If you want an intimidating weapon that will not fail you when you need it most, the 642 Handgun 38 Special 1.875IN by Smith and Wesson is an excellent choice.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#7. S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm 4″ BBL 15 RD

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm

  • Make: Smith and Wesson
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 4”
  • Overall Length: 7.3”
  • Finish: Armornite Black

The M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm 4” BBL 15 RD by Smith and Wesson is packed full of innovative features, making it perfect for sport shooting, professional use, or home defense.

It comes with an 18-degree grip angle that makes the pistol feel natural in your hands.

The grip has an aggressive texture and has four interchangeable palmswell grip inserts for a custom fit for enhanced control, comfort, and accuracy.

With an extended stainless steel chassis, you will have reduced flex, and it has a low barrel bore axis for improved recoil control for better target engagement.

It comes with two 15 round magazines and includes a limited lifetime warranty.

The M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm 4” BBL 15 RD by Smith and Wesson offers superior capacity and features at an affordable price.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#8. 1911 Emissary

1911 Emissary is another one of the best handguns for beginners

  • Make: Springfield
  • Caliber: 9mm, 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8+1-ROUND (45 ACP), 13+1-ROUND (9mm)
  • Barrel Length: 5” (45 ACP & 9mm), 4.25” (45 ACP)
  • Overall Length: 8.4” (45 ACP & 9mm), 7.75” (45 ACP)
  • Finish: Black, Stainless Steel

Springfield’s 1911 Emissary has the classic style and feel of an old-school government model 1911 with modern features that make it an excellent gun for beginners.

You can choose your preferred caliber cartridge since it comes in either a 9mm or 45 ACP model.

It has a Tri-Top cut of the slide and is equipped with steel hardware.

With tritium sights and a self-luminous roundel, and a wedge-type rear sight, you will get an excellent sight picture in low-light environments.

It comes with textured slim line grips constructed out of G10, which offer a no-slip grip for maximum accuracy and handling.

Springfield’s 1911 Emissary is perfect for those who want a high-end pistol with custom features right out of the box.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#9. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 9mm Pistol W/ Ct Laserguard Pro Green Laser/Light Combo

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 9mm Pistol

  • Make: Smith and Wesson
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 7+1-ROUND, 8+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 3.1”
  • Overall Length: 6.1”
  • Finish: Armornite

Smith and Wesson’s M&P Shield M2.0 9mm Pistol W/ Ct Laserguard Pro Green Laser/Light Combo offers several features that make it one of the best guns for beginners.

You get the same outstanding features found on the M2.0 line of handguns, but in a compact size with an included Crimson Trace Laserguard Pro Green Laser/Light combo.

With the included combo, you can easily acquire your target and engage them quickly.

This makes it one of the best guns for beginners available on the market.

The pistol is lightweight, durable, and comfortable to handle with an aggressive grip texture.

It has a stainless steel barrel and slide, a polymer frame, and a corrosion-resistant Armornite finish.

It includes the Smith and Wesson lifetime service policy.

This pistol is compact, feature rich, and is durable, making it an excellent option for home defense.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#10. S&W M&P45 Shield .45 ACP Pistol W/O Thumb Safety

S&W M&P45 Shield .45 ACP

  • Make: Smith and Wesson
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 6+1-ROUND, 7+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 3.3”
  • Overall Length: 6.45”
  • Finish: Armornite Black

The M&P45 Shield .45 ACP Pistol W/O Thumb Safety by Smith and Wesson is one of the most popular single stack pistols on the market.

It comes with two magazines, a flush six round magazine, and an extended seven round magazine.

With a textured 18-degree grip that is comfortable to hold and offers superior control.

It features a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide/barrel with a corrosion-resistant Armornite finish.

The weapon is lightweight, thin, and durable, perfect for everyday use or home defense pistol.

The M&P45 Shield .45 ACP Pistol W/O Thumb Safety by Smith and Wesson is perfect for those who want a Shield but with a 45 ACP cartridge.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory, and is considered one of the best handguns for beginners.

Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#11. Sig Sauer P320 RXP XFull-Size 9mm 17RD 4.7″ Pistol W/ Romeo1 Pro

Sig Sauer P320 RXP XFull-Size 9mm is a great beginner handgun

  • Make: Sig Sauer
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1-ROUND, 10+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 4.7”
  • Overall Length: 8.2”
  • Finish: Black

Sig Sauer’s P320 RXP XFull-Size 9mm 17RD 4.7” Pistol with Romeo1 Pro is an excellent combo for those who want a professional grade optic paired with their pistol.

The RXP includes a zeroed 6 MOA Romeo1 PRO, which works perfectly with the XRay3 sights for smoother co-witnessing and fast target acquisition.

It includes an XCarry polymer grip model with a detachable magwell and grip weight.

This pistol is perfect for left or right-handed shooters with an ambidextrous slide catch lever.

It includes two magazines with a 17 round capacity, or you can equip 10 round steel magazines.

Compared to other pistols on this list, the RXP is larger and heavier, but it also has the most extensive round capacity and includes the Romeo1 PRO.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#12. Rock Island 1911 GI Standard MS .45 ACP Pistol

Rock Island 1911 GI Standard MS .45 ACP Best Home Defense Pistol

  • Make: Rock Island
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8+1-ROUND
  • Barrel Length: 4.25”
  • Overall Length: 8”
  • Finish: Parkerized

Rock Island’s 1911 GI Standard MS .45 ACP Pistol is one of the best handguns for beginners for those on a budget.

Compared to other 1911s, the Rock Island 1911 is a fraction of the price, but that does not mean it is cheaply made.

It has a smooth non-reflective parkerized finish and smooth wooden grips for a classic look and feel.

With fixed low-profile sights, a slim design, and a four to six pound trigger, you get an excellent shooting experience at an affordable price.

If you are looking for a 45 ACP 1911 and want to spend under $600, look no further than the 1911 GI Standard MS .45 ACP Pistol by Rock Island Armory.

It is available from Palmetto State Armory. Here’s where to buy it: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

References / Resources

USCCA’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws by State

Gun Laws By State

See Also

Best Concealed Carry Revolvers

Best Reflex Sights For AR 15’s, Pistols, & Shotguns

Best Magnifiers For Red Dots

Best Concealed Carry Holsters

 

 
Rob V.
Best First Handgun

Best First Handgun

4.8 out of 5 (59 Ratings)

If you're a first time gun buyer, you may be wondering which one is right for you. Check out our list of the 12 best handguns for beginners, used for both home defense as well as personal protection.
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