Best New Handguns for 2017
July 17, 2017
Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special (2nd Generation)
In addition to the standard Thunder Ranch features- National Match barrel and slide, LBC deluxe fixed combat tritium sights, lowered and flared ejection ports, extended ejector, extended combat-type safety, aluminum match trigger, beveled magazine well, polished feedramp and throated barrel, plus rounded corners and edges for comfortable carry- the new 2nd Generation Thunder Ranch 1911 includes the following enhancements: an ambidextrous thumb safety, standard-thickness grips, and a chromed frame that contrasts beautifully with the blued slide. Magazine capacity is seven rounds, and barrel length is 5.0 inches.
Ed Brown Compact
The new .45 ACP Ed Brown Compact features a matchgrade, stainless-steel barrel; a fixed, black rear sight; a dovetailed red fiber-optic front sight; an Officer's Model grip frame; and laminated wood grips. All parts are fully machined and handfitted. Even though it uses the short Officer's-size grip frame, I can get all four of my fingers comfortably around the grip. Magazine capacity is seven rounds; barrel length is 4.25 inches; and weight is 37 ounces.
MSRP: $2,695 to $2,795 depending on the finish
Browning 1911-380 Black Label Medallion Pro
While it's a true Model 1911, this .380 ACP is scaled down. Arguably the best-looking tiny Browning 1911 yet, it features checkered rosewood grip panels, a composite/machined aluminum frame, and "combat white dot" sights. Magazine capacity is eight rounds; barrel length is 4.25 inches; and weight is 18 ounces.
Caracal Enhanced F
Named for a medium-size predatory African cat, this polymer-framed, high-capacity 9mm pistol naturally has sleek, feline styling. Candidly, it's one of the better-looking pistols of its type. Manufactured in the United States, it features an integrated trigger safety, a full-length steel slide guide, a fully supported chamber, and QPQ nitride coating. Engineered for ergonomics, the intuitive grip angle, low slide profile, and reduced-mass slide aid recoil control and fast follow-up shots. Magazine capacity is 18 rounds; barrel length is 4.1 inches; and weight is 28 ounces.
Christensen Arms 1911 A4 Lightweight
While this Utah-based company is best known for its carbon-fiber hunting rifles, it's no slouch at building 1911s. This new 9mm-only offering is built on a machined-from-billet 7075 aluminum frame and features a tunable match-grade trigger. It's guaranteed to shoot groups of 2 inches or less at 25 yards. Ledge-type night sights are standard, and cutting-edge styling makes it interesting. Magazine capacity is nine rounds; barrel length is 4.0 inches; and weight is 29 ounces.
Cimarron Bad Boy Flat Top
Now known as the company that provided the guns for the recent Magnificent Seven film, Cimarron provides well-made firearms in a classic flavor. The new Bad Boy is an octagon-barreled, flat-top single action in .44 Magnum that steps right out of the Old West and into Skeeter Skelton's era, providing serious sixgunners with combined capability and class. Adjustable iron sights top the distinctive octagonal barrel. Cylinder capacity is six rounds, and barrel length is your choice of 6.0 or 8.0 inches.
Going back to its roots, Colt has reintroduced a Cobra .38 Special +P double-action revolver. It's a proper snubnose, featuring a 2.1-inch barrel, but it's a lot more controllable than the belly guns of yesteryear courtesy of the Hogue rubber grip with finger grooves. A newly designed linear leaf mainspring maintains Colt's legendary reputation for smooth, consistent trigger action and enhances reliability. A stainless-steel frame adds robustness and tames recoil, and a fiber-optic front aids sight picture in low-light or stressful situations. Cylinder capacity is six rounds; barrel length is 2.1 inches; and weight is 25 ounces.
While it maintains the classic CZ handgun feel that knowing shooters love, the P-10 is the first striker-fired pistol from the company. Featuring a fiber-reinforced polymer frame, nitrided metal parts, and advanced grip ergonomics, the P-10 should prove to be durable, reliable, and easy to shoot well. Three-dot metal sights, three interchangeable backstraps, an ambidextrous magazine release and slide lock, and a well-engineered trigger round out the package. Several iterations are available in 9mm and .40 S&W, including black and FDE frames and a suppressor- ready version complete with threaded barrel and tall sights.
Magazine capacity is 15 rounds (17 rounds with extended magazine) in 9mm and 12 rounds in .40; barrel length is 4.02 inches; and weight is 26 ounces.
MSRP: $499 to $519
FIME Group REX ZERO 1S
Touted as "the most sought-after pistol in the world," the 9mm Rex Zero 1S looks a lot like a SIG P229 and features a safety/decocking lever, a T7075 aluminum frame, and a steel slide made from solid bar stock. Magazine capacity is 17 rounds; barrel length is 4.3 inches; and weight is 32 ounces.
Heckler & Koch SP5K
This ain't your Aunt Mildred's purse gun. No, it's a full-on high-capacity fighting tool ideal for scraping personages of villainous intent from your bedroom doorway or deterring hordes of zombies (yeah, I know, zombies are so last year) from gnawing on your ankles. Featuring the same roller delayed blowback operating system originally made famous on the HK G3 rifle, the SP5K pistol is manufactured entirely in Germany. Magazine capacity is 30 rounds; barrel length is 4.53 inches; and weight is 66 ounces.
Kahr Arms TU-3
Rather than one new model, Kahr is offering never-before-offered features on four popular models. All four are finished in Cerakote tungsten on the slide, trigger, and slide stop; all feature white three-dot sights; and to aid ergonomics, they're all fitted with a Pachmayr Tactical Grip Glove. Three of the four include Pearce Grip's finger-rest magazine extensions, offering a more comfortable and secure grip. Three chamberings are offered: .380 ACP, 9mm, and .45 ACP. Magazine capacity, barrel length, and weight vary depending on model.
MSRP: $439 to $499
Kimber Super Jägare
To my eccentric tastes, this is the most exciting pistol announced this year. The pistol's 10mm ported barrel is housed in a ported slide. Green-and-black G10 grips offer extreme durability and give the pistol a classic hunting look. The rounded grip frame reduces recoil bite and won't fray the lining of your Harris Tweed. The Super Jägare has no sights, but it comes with a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro red-dot sight. The stainless-steel slide and frame are finished with DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating. Magazine capacity is eight rounds; barrel length is 6.0 inches; and weight is 42 ounces.
Magnum Research Desert Eagle Combo
While the .50 AE Desert Eagle is undeniably cool, ammo can be hard to find and expensive. This combo package has a factory-fitted, headspaced, and tuned .44 Magnum barrel, enabling you to use widely available, less-expensive ammo. Swapping from one to the other takes only seconds. Magazine capacity is eight rounds for .44 Magnum and seven rounds for .50 AE; barrel length is 6.0 inches; and weight is 70 ounces.
While this isn't Remington's first foray into the world of polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols, it may be the most practical. It not only carries one more cartridge in the magazine than most competing full-size 9mm pistols, but also it costs less. Touted to have best-in-class accuracy; a clean, smooth trigger with short reset; and the slimmest grip circumference available, the RP9 should be an ergonomic, easy-to-shoot pistol. The slide and stainless-steel barrel are both finished in ultra-durable PVD. Magazine capacity is 18 rounds; barrel length is 4.5 inches; and weight is 26 ounces.
Ruger American Compact
Compact but potent, the new-for-2017 .45 ACP American Compact has an extended magazine for optimal recoil control, is lightweight, and is just 1.0 inch wide, making it practical for IWB-type concealed carry. Fire controls are fully ambidextrous, and an internal automatic sear block pairs with the integrated trigger safety for ultimate accidental discharge prevention. Novak LoMount Carry sights provide an outstanding sight picture coupled with ogre-like durability. Interchangeable medium and large grip modules are included, and the finish is matte black. Magazine capacity is seven rounds (standard) and 10 rounds (extended); barrel length is 3.75 inches; weight is 28.6 ounces.
Under the designation of M17 service pistol, this semiauto was the winner of the U.S. military's $17 million research project to find our armed forces' future sidearm. Notable for its modular adaptability, the P320 easily morphs from full size to compact pistol, and even from one caliber to another, by simply swapping out quick-change parts. The serial-numbered portion of the frame accepts various-size grip modules- which include the grip, trigger guard, and dustcover- as well as different slide lengths and barrels. Both "carry size" and "full size" barrels are available in threaded and non-threaded versions, and in 9mm, .357 Sig, and .40 S&W. Additionally, the P320 incorporates a sophisticated five-point safety system and can be disassembled without squeezing the trigger. Magazine capacity is 15 rounds (9mm) or 13 rounds (.357 Sig, .40 S&W); barrel length is 3.9 inches (carry size) or 4.7 inches (full size); and weight is 26 ounces (carry size) or 29.4 ounces (full size).
MSRP: $600 to $800
Smith & Wesson S&W500
Not to neglect S&W's new semiauto handguns (after all, the M&P M2.0 is featured in a full review in this issue), the big news, in my opinion, is the incredibly powerful .500 S&W Magnum is now available in a Performance Center-tuned, well-balanced revolver of packable size. I won't call it compact, because it's not, but it has a shorter barrel, which makes all the difference. As the .500 S&W is the only halfway legitimate stopper of big bears (note I write "stopper" not "killer"), this wheelgun is a logical choice when bowhunting in grizzly country. Don't expect to do any fast shooting with it, though- recoil is massive. The revolver features a Hi-Viz fiber-optic front sight and rubber grips. Cylinder capacity is five rounds; barrel length is 3.5 inches; and weight is 56 ounces.
Springfield Armory EMP4, Concealed Carry Contour
Weighing only a couple ounces more than most popular polymer-framed pistols, this superbly conceived compact 9mm 1911 is potentially the best-feeling carry gun I handled at the 2017 SHOT Show. Slim grip panels and aggressive texturing on the frontstrap, the mainspring housing, and the grip panels make for outstanding control, even with wet hands. The "concealed carry contour" frame minimizes printing under clothing and feels great in my palm. Balance is superb. The match-grade, stainless-steel, fully supported bull barrel should provide outstanding accuracy. Magazine capacity is nine rounds; barrel length is 4.0 inches; and weight is 30 ounces.
STI DVC Carry
If you prefer carrying a high-capacity 9mm Model 1911, this superb double-stack pistol features low-profile night sights, a 3.5-pound match-grade trigger, an ambidextrous manual safety, and a comfortable DVC grip stippled in a scale-type pattern. Longer magazines are available with capacity up to 27 rounds. Futuristic styling makes the DVC Carry a superb choice for shooters desiring a high-performance, dependable, practical Model 1911. Magazine capacity is 15 rounds, and barrel length is 3.9 inches.
Tactical Solutions TLP-22
After years of providing high-end aftermarket parts for Ruger Mark series rimfire pistols and 10/22 rifles, Browning Buckmarks, and so forth, Tactical Solutions has introduced its own refined, high-performance semiauto rimfire pistol. The new TLP-22 is an ultralight pistol that's ready for anything from trail use to competition. All barrels are threaded, enabling easy suppressor use, and they're offered in various color schemes. Magazine capacity is 10 rounds; barrel length is either 4.0 or 5.5 inches; and weight is 23.2 ounces (5.5-inch barrel).
Engineered with a focus on comfortable ergonomics and controllability, this sleek, space-age .380 ACP pistol features soft-touch, high-traction composite slide panels instead of traditional serrations, as well as a light, long, safety-promoting double-action-only trigger. The grip is soft-touch overmold and sports a stability-enhancing finger groove, and the magazine catch is reversible. Several color combinations are available, including the gray/mint/black scheme shown. Magazine capacity is six rounds; barrel length is 2.8 inches; and weight is 19 ounces.
MSRP: $289 to $305
Although this looks like a striker-fired 9mm pistol, it's not. A bobbed hammer functions with a double-action trigger system and provides a light, smooth trigger pull. After each shot, the reciprocating slide pre-cocks the hammer, enabling that clean, light pull. Additional features include an ambidextrous magazine release, an extended slide stop, low-profile sights, and a Tenifer-coated slide. Magazine capacity is 16 rounds; barrel length is 4.0 inches; and weight is 27 ounces.