Top Service Pistols for 2014

I’ve talked about the best choices for Concealed Carry, but what about for the guys who have to carry openly?  Law Enforcement, PMC, Security Contractor, or general Open Carry use, these are going to require a different type of handgun.  Basically as much gun on your hip as you can get.  Full sized, full capacity, none of the compromises required for Concealment.

SIG 226/220.  This full sized SIG is a classic and the choice of a great many gunslinging professionals.  A big capacity and rugged construction combined with reliability and accuracy. It’s everything you could want in a Side Arm.  Unless you want a larger caliber.  The 220 everything you like about the 226, but in .45 Auto.  This big bore auto is known as “The Thinking Man’s .45” and that does indeed make sense when you’ve spent time with the gun.  Same capacity as a 1911, but offers a decocking DA/SA fire control profile.  This is probably the safest autoloading handgun I know of. (226 included)  They are also very accurate.

Glock 17/22.  Depending on your choice of 9mm or .40 cal, these guns are probably the first choice of more police departments than anything else.  Very low bore axis, and a simple striker fired trigger mechanism makes these guns very easy to shoot well with once you get used to the triggers.  17 rounds of 9mm was an improvement over the typical 15 rounds others guns had, and 15 rounds of .40 cal is nothing to sneeze at these days.

Glock 20/21.  10mm or .45, these full sized beasts give you everything you need to pull duty on a dark and storm night.    A lot of Law Enforcement Officers are running the 21 and I know a few that are running the 10mm.  15 rounds of 10mm is a lot of firepower.  With good accuracy and legendary reliability – A Glock is never a wrong choice.

Beretta 90 Series.  The 92FS, 92F, M9, M9A1, 92A1, 90-TWO, 96, 96A1.  Shooting the big Beretta is like driving a Cadillac.  Big, comfortable, comforting, reliable and accurate all with Hollywood good looks.   Beretta has a lot of visual style, but what I like best is the almost straight line feeding.  Mine can feed empty casing.  Super smooth action as well, thanks to it’s unique locking block.  The Beretta won the US Army contract for a good reason.  Like it or not – and I know I’m going to open a can of worms here – it kicked SIG’s ass in the Trials.  It kicked everyone’s asses in the Trials.  So much so that the Army actually had to “dumb down” the test just so the SIG could stay in the race and the Beretta wouldn’t be a lone competitor.  The 90 Series is battle proven around the world.

Beretta Px4 STORM.  This is Beretta’s newest service auto.  It uses a unique rotating barrel action with a traditionally Beretta like DA/SA trigger mechanism.  This action makes the Storm a soft shooting pistol as it takes more energy out of the recoil.  Like the 90 Series, the sights and the barrel maintain their relationship, they are very accurate shot to shot.  With good triggers and comfortable recoil – it’s easy to be a good shot with the Px4 STORM.  Even the Mid sized version… But the full sized is seriously just a pussycat.  You can get it in 9, .40, and .45 auto.  It’s one of my favorite new autos.

S&W M&P.  S&W decided to get serious with the Poly Striker platform and forced Glock to rush the Gen 4 to market.  Smith took a lot of LEO sales away from Glock. The Swampy as some call it, is a good pistol and a huge step up from Smith’s prior Glock Attack, the SIGMA.  *shudder*.   I bought one for my eldest Son, who upon getting the pistol, loading it, and having never fired it before – drilled the X in the target as perfectly as an Olympic Marksman from 20 yards.  They are accurate guns.  Like my Glocks, his Swampy has never failed.

Walther PPQ.  This gun surprised me.  The prior P99 was a gun that surprised me too.  500 rounds of mixed ammunition, it never failed.  But it had a couple characteristics that made it an oddity.  Such as the push down mag release and the top of the slide decocker button.  The PPQ does away with the decocker on top and gives the gun a normal and familiar mag release. Honestly I didn’t mind the P99’s mag release and I found that I would use my trigger finger to drop the mags, just like I did with my HK.  The PPQ is now available in either 4 or 5 inch barrel lengths and in 9mm or .40 caliber.  The PPQ feels good in the hand and is probably one of the best and most under-rated service autos on the market.  Let me put it this way – I really want a PPQ and will be buying one this year. Or Trading for it. A few years ago I had said that Walther was struggling to maintain it’s validity.  The PPQ anchors it.

Springfield Armory XDM.  Good trigger, good sights, and huge capacities make the XDM a solid choice.  If you can get passed it’s “only a mother could love it” looks.  While I’m not the biggest fan, I have to respect it. They are super accurate and easy to shoot well with.  I know owners who have dumped a lot of rounds with astounding accuracy through their M’s.

HK P30 and HK45.  The Germans really do engineer some fine hardware.  But the P30 and the HK45 are both over priced and in my opinion over rated.  With a standard trigger package, I find their triggers to be lacking in the quality of trigger pull that I would expect from such expensive guns.  And I don’t like glow in the dark toy like sights that come on them stock.  Again, for such an expensive gun, I want Tritiums on it right out of the box.  Don’t get me started on the price of spare mags.  For what you pay for an HK, it should come with Tritiums and 4 spares.  All that aside – these guns deserve consideration.  They are sharp looking, and they feel good in the hand.   You can not go wrong with an HK, you really can’t.  They are very well made.  And after you dump enough rounds through it… Cost wise, would be enough to put a kid through a 12 credit semester of college, the trigger does feel pretty decent.   They do look good… Like new BMW or Mercedes good looking.’s Todd Green did a long term test on the P30 and it ran some 93,000 rounds before forced retirement.  You could buy a new car for that much… Or you could afford to get sick or even have a (small) accident under Obamacare for that much money.  I believe that none of his other tests have run that distance… Which ultimately makes the HK’s probably the best choice out of the lot.


23 thoughts on “Top Service Pistols for 2014”

  1. The Springfield is actually my favorite on this list. I consider it a Glock plus, since it basically has all the features of a Glock plus more. If it had been evaluated along side the Glock from the beginning it might have won all of the contracts. But Glock happened to be in the right place at the right time. The XD has a better trigger, better grip from the start, standoff capable, ambitious mag release..etc. And the ogre is the first person I’ve heard of complaining about the Springfield looks. No, its not a 1911, but neither is a Glock or the others. its a duty pistol and looks just great the way it is.

    1. Glock wasn’t just in the right place at the right time – Glock’s introduction to the scene changed handgunning. It was an epoch moment in firearms history.

      1. Yes, I stand corrected, and I definitely admit that Glock changed history. But many “experts” agree that they haven’t innovated much in years. Sure, they FINALLY introduced a new .380, which many have been incredibly forgiving about. (and that caliber may be safe to conveniently ignore, the lack of a thin 9mm may be a greater sin) The truth is that Glock has a cult following and you just can’t say much bad because they are somewhat immune to criticism! I guess I’d like to see the innovation that they used to a name for themselves in the first place.

        Imagine what Glock could HAVE BEEN if they’d kept up that original pace all these years! That’s actually really sad to think about

  2. Have carried a 92FS for 20 plus years and have no plans to switch. Besides the ability to have 2nd strike if needed while performing immediate action drills,It is less prone to operator error. A major local Law Enforcement agency that uses M@Ps had an officer with Two Negligent Discharges while holstering his weapon and being dressed for very cold weather inside their headquarters this past week No one was hurt

  3. I’ve either shot or owned all of the guns on the list and while I do agree with the majority there are some deeper things to consider.

    The P220/P226 is a great handgun but I’ve had a hard time finding a single one that had a decent trigger out of the box. The DA is on the heavy side with a long reach and the SA needs quite a bit of break-in to where it’s really smooth & crisp. New prices are actually higher than what you can get a HK P30 or even P45 for and you get a better handgun. As far as the safest…that would more than likely be the H&K P7 series.

    Glock anything…not much to say. They work every single time, are cheap and built like a brick (and feel like one as well). I would own one but I’ve seen more split barrels than I’m comfortable with (all in .40) to pick up a nice cheap used one.

    Beretta 92 is a classic in my book and a handgun that everyone should either own or at least spend a day shooting one. Very smooth with elegant curves.

    H&K P30/P45 you can’t deny the sheer endurance of this handgun and both can be bought new cheaper than a new P226/P227/M11-A1. The H&K guns are built in Germany and as such won’t come with tritium sights because tritium can’t be had in Germany for civilian sales and the luminous sights are all that’s available. I picked up brand new Meprolights from CDNN for 50.00 a set and extra magazines are only 33.00 there as well, which is cheaper than SIG magazines. Triggers are better than serviceable and get better with use and the DA is remarkably smooth. The only handgun that I’ve owned longer than my P7 PSP is my P30L and anyone that knows me knows that says something as I have a pretty high turnover of firearms.

        1. Oh I like the P01. And the P06. But the Polymer versions I just really dislike them. A lot. I like the CZ 100 better.

  4. You might search the net for accuracy issues with S&W M&P 9mm (not 40) handguns. Smith has not been able to successfully address these issues. I personally had a 9mm Pro CORE that would not group better than 8 inches at 25 yards. I usually shoot ~4-6″ at 50 yards. I wish they would fix them, since the gun was pretty nice otherwise.

    1. That’s disappointing. There is a thread on that talks about improving the accuracy with an aftermarket barrel.

    2. Not to mention the M&P’s horrawful trigger. I won’t buy another Smith due to their nasty customer service regarding their M&P triggers. Gritty and no reset. Pure junk!

  5. I carried the Glock 21 for years and loved it. Never had an issue with it. It fit my hand perfectly, pointed naturally and I was more accurate with it than I have been with any other service pistol. I ran +2 basepads on my mags and I never really noticed the extra length. I liked the idea of having 76 rounds of .45 at my disposal. I sure never felt under gunned. It was heavy but once you got used to it it wasn’t all that bad. More concealable than you’d think too if you’re large framed and use a shoulder holder that tucks it up high.

    A new one is definitely on my buy list in the future. A 10mm is too. I really wish they made a long slide 10mm.

  6. I am leaning toward the Mid-size service pistol choice. Do you need more than a full set of fingers on the grip? Given all the equipment an LEO has to haul on the belt now days the Sam Brown should be making a comeback! The LEOs in St. Johns County FL seem to carry, Cell phone, chemical weapon, Tazer (TM), radio, flashlight, sanitary glove pack, handcuffs (2) and, oh yeah, a Glock (TM) and two magazines in a carrier.
    Who notes the load is not getting lighter.

    1. My loadout was similar but instead of a Tazer I had an ASP baton and carried 4 spares for my SIG and later HK USP .40.

  7. I read your CCW and Service Pistol lists and I have no issues with them, but I noticed you don’t talk about the overlap. I carry an XD40sc and have an XD40 Tactical for my “Service” pistol. I wanted my pistol to be complimentary as far as parts, mags and accessories so that I had less issues stocking spares and only had one system to learn to fix.

    I love Sig but the P226 and P229 don’t have interchangeable magazines or parts and the P250 had WAY to many issues.

    I hate the Glock, not because it doesn’t work but because it does not fit me and fit is right below Reliability on my list. A pistol is never going to be as accurate if it does not fit you. Ergonomics is less important in a rifle and usually can be overcome, a pistol must be an extension of your hand.

    I really like the Styer M-1A but I wanted a longer barrel for the full-size and they didn’t have the L-A1 at the time. I also prefer a full 5″ barrel and the L-A1 is 4.5″, plus there have been some QC issues in the past.

    One of my favorite pistols is the CZ99/EZ40 (Serbian not Czech) an ambidextrous copy of the P226 and it is on of the most reliable and accurate pistols I have ever owned, it is every bit the pistol my P220 was. The company thinks that lopping 10mm off the slide and barrel length makes a compact though, no grip reduction for CCW. It SUCKS that this was not a viable candidate, at $380 new it is awesome, does need a bit of breaking in though for the trigger and mag release to smooth out though. I recommend this pistol to ANYONE who needs a full-sized pistol even though it is imported by Century Arms and I usually do not recommend anything those grinder-monkeys touch.

    The M&P doesn’t fit me well either, though better than the Glock and the trigger on the ones I tried was HIDEOUS and I am almost completely insensitive to the trigger on a gun.

    The XDM was having teething problems at the time I made my choice and it was far harder to get parts and holsters and such for it as opposed to the XD, and while I don’t think the XDM is hideous I am not a fan of the looks, not that I care much, “Ugly is that which does not work”.

    All in all I am happy with my XD40’s, I might have changed some things on it if I had built it but it works and fits me. If I hit the lottery I might have another go at the Styer and the XDM to see if they might work better but I am perfectly content with my XD40’s in either form.

    1. By Overlap you mean Mid Size guns that can pull Service Duty? Aye, there are many that can, top examples being the XDM 3.8 and the Glock 19/23 series. That could be it’s own topic.

    2. The M&P has a horrawful trigger. I won’t buy another Smith due to their nasty customer service regarding their M&P triggers. Gritty and no reset. Pure junk!

  8. Being an easily influenced character I went to my local rental range and tried the following 9mm pistols:
    Glock 19 Gen 4; finger grooves and I disagreed, trigger decent, sights Glock night sites, which worked well enough.
    H&K P30 LEM (Long light trigger option) I was underwhelmed, especially considering the price.
    Walter PPQ; grip better than I expected, trigger very light like a SWaMPy Shield and IMO needs a manual safety as well. The trigger is in a class with a Colt M1911 factory single action trigger.
    SIG 226 Navy Special, had the anchor on the slide. Decent DA/SA decocker was different, but worked well
    Beretta M9A1 very special I added the optional Suppressor which obscured the sights. DA / SA trigger not as nice as the SIG.
    Conclusion: I felt nothing that would cause me to trade in my SWaMPy 9c with the long magazines and grip adapter. Also the “feel” of the grip does not necessarily correspond to accuracy on target.
    Who notes a rental range with a good selection, is a gem without equal.

      1. I like the PPQ better than the Glock shoots tighter for me as well at least in familiarization fire.
        G19 Length 7.28 PPQ 7.1
        Barrel: G19 4.01 PPQ 4.0
        Height: G19 4.99 PPQ 5.3
        Mag Cap: 15 all
        Weight Oz: G19 23.65 PPQ 24
        PPQ runs about $60 higher locally depending on sales.
        Geoff Who would take the PPQ over the Glocks

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