Everyone needs at least one 9mm pistol. I don’t mean your only pistol caliber should be 9mm, but if you find yourself with just one pistol, it should be a 9mm.
The reasons for this are many and varied, and I can’t possibly put them all down in one blog session, but for starters just consider that it is unquestionably the most ubiquitous pistol round in the world. I would venture to say there are more loaded rounds of 9mm ammunition in the world than all other service calibers put together. This should tell you something about the utility of the round for general military and law enforcement sidearms use.
But to get to some specifics:
1. The 9mm is a compact cartridge. This means you can carry more rounds in a given pistol chambered in 9mm than if you’re carrying a .40 or .45. Example: the Glock 17 holds 18 rounds of 9mm, while the .40 caliber version of the same gun, the G22, holds 15 rounds. Does this really matter? Hard to say… but I know guys who work in Executive Protection who assure me that they all carry Glock 17’s, in no small part because they have plenty of anecdotal evidence from EP guys all over the world who have needed fast access to all 18 rounds in executing a successful protection/extrication. And because it’s compact, you can carry more reloads, too.
2. The compact size of the 9×19 cartridge also means gunmakers can chamber extremely small pistols like the Kahr M9/PM9, the Keltec PF9, and the Ruger LCP. I carry a Kahr PM9 as my “always” gun, which means it’s my backup gun (BUG) even when I’m packing a larger pistol, and my only gun when I’m in maximum concealment mode. And I can shoot it very, very well, even with +P ammunition.
3. The 9mm is about as light-kicking a round that packs enough punch to win a gunfight. This means it’s highly controllable for just about anybody who can shoot a handgun. This means it’s more likely to be an accurate pistol in most people’s hands, and as the late Bill Jordan said, when it comes to gunfights, accuracy is the final word.
4. The small size of the 9mm cartridge means it’s cheaper to manufacture (or reload your own, if you’re so inclined) than any other service caliber cartridge. Cheap is good.
5. The 9mm has more than enough power to deliver lethal force to your attacker’s vital hit zones. I have plenty of stories in my files about the effectiveness of the 9mm in Officer Involved Shootings world wide. Members of this website can go to the members-only area and look at the photos of the would-be armed robbers shot by that cop in Brazil a few years back. He was shooting a 9mm pistol and his duty ammo, which was, IIRC, 115 gr +P Magtech JHP ammo. It’s a deadly cartridge provided you put your bullets where they need to go… but that applies to all service caliber handgun cartridges from 9mm through 10mm and 45ACP.
So now you’re convinced you need a 9mm handgun. Which one should you get?
Well, I admit I’m biased very strongly toward the Glock 19. It’s a good sized pistol, but slightly more compact than the G17, a great shooter, and reliable as all get-out. I prefer my Glocks with a NY-1 trigger, which is more crisp than the standard Glock trigger, and with a shorter reset. Combine that with a 3.5 pound trigger connect and an internal polishing job, and you’ve got one sweet-shooting pistol that is uber-reliable. Other 9mm’s I know and trust in the fullsize category include the G17, the Browning Hi-Power, the Beretta M9 and its Brazilian clone, the Taurus PT-92, and the great Smith & Wesson Model 39/59/69 pistols plus their new M&P line.
You should probably get at least one sub-compact 9mm, too. The Glock 26 is a great pistol, if a bit chunky. The previously mentioned Kahr PM9/CW9 pistol is a phenomenal little 9mm handgun, and while it’s kind of ugly, the Kel-Tec PF9 is a rock-solid subcompact as well.
I have found a 9mm pistol that fits the hands of all the shooters in my family. My youngest daughter and my son both prefer the S&W 6906, while my elder daughter prefers the Glock 19. My youngest daughter has also obtained her CCW permit, and is planning to purchase a Kahr CW9 for her standard carry gun. With my G19 or Taurus PT92 on my belt and my Kahr in my pocket, I round out the group nicely, and we can all share and shoot the exact same ammo. I have a Dillon Square Deal B set up in my shop to reload 9mm ammo in quantity, so we have no excuses not to go to the range to maintain our proficiency.