Full-sized, metal-framed pistols are becoming a bit more difficult to find in modern times. When the Glock 17 first hit the market, few people would have imagined that less than 30 years later polymer-framed guns would rule the market, yet they do today.
When setting out to rate the top 10 metal-framed pistols there were several guns noticeably absent from current production lines. For example, Smith & Wesson no longer sells any pistols from the “third generation” line that was extremely popular just two decades ago. Likewise, Ruger dropped all of the metal-framed handguns in its P-series.
Of those that remain, the clear winners are the traditional SIG Sauer pistols, with the P226 taking the top honors. The P226 narrowly lost to the Beretta 92 for the United States Military’s M9 contract in the 1980’s. In our testing, it edged out the Italian guns, but just barely.
Even if public opinion favors plastic guns, the P226 is still the favorite of the US Navy SEALs and of many state and local police departments. Reliability, durability and accuracy under the worst possible conditions are what make this gun very popular.
The Beretta 92 series gun comes in at second place, with high marks in accuracy and reliability. In fact, had SIG not improved the ergonomics of the P226 with the E2 update several years ago, the 92 might have won the day.
The SIG P220 rounded out the top three. Many people consider this gun to be the daddy of modern pistol design in the free countries and it still performs great today. In fact, at no time has there been more variations or options available from SIG Sauer on these guns.
Rounding out the top ten are the Jericho 941, Browning Hi Power, Kahr T9, Colt 1911, Tanfoglio Witness and the Magnum Research Desert Eagle. Each of these pistols is a fine handgun and can provide years of service to the owner. Some are better suited for self-defense, while others have a home more aligned with the shooting sports.
Some people may be surprised to see the Colt 1911 score relatively low in this match-up. The 1911 and each of its variations are fine handguns. The unfortunate reality is the guns frequently need post-purchase work to make them run reliably with different kinds of ammunition. Some 1911 clone guns are made to such tight tolerances that hundreds of rounds are needed before they will run a single magazine of ammunition without problems.
Another problem with the 1911 is the arcane method of field stripping the handgun. Compared to every other pistol on the list, the 1911 is the most complicated. It is the only one on the list that has aftermarket tools to help with the disassembly just for standard cleaning.
In our review, we looked at how each gun ranks in the following categories:
Ergonomics and Recoil
The best guns in our lineup have a nice ergonomic design and are comfortable in your hand. We chose firearms that may offer a bit of recoil, but nothing that will knock you down.
Trigger and Accuracy
When choosing the perfect gun for yourself, you will want to take note of how reactive the trigger is. Also how accurate you are when shooting this firearm.
Reloading and Disassembly
Depending on your current knowledge of firearms and how comfortable you are with them will depend on how you view reloading the firearm as well as taking it apart.
Reliability and Durability
Most people searching for a metal pistol believe in having a gun that is always reliable and durable. We also considered these factors in our rankings.
Keep in mind that this top 10 ranking is a guide intended to assist shooters with making purchasing decisions. The individual shooter must determine for him- or herself what features are most important to them when buying a gun. The purchaser must also make up their own mind on what feels the best in their hand.