The Best New Handguns for 2021
Gunmakers are scrambling to keep up with unprecedented demand in new pistols. Here’s what they’re introducing this year
New 2021 handgun introductions are coming in hot; pushing and shoving their way into the spotlight after a record-shattering year of firearms sales. Most of the industry is trying to catch its breath as gun buyers continue to scavenge empty display cases, ready to pounce at the hint of restocking. As it stands, most manufacturers can barely keep up with current demand, and they’re laser-focused on producing legacy products to fulfill backorders, much to the chagrin of their marketing departments. This means several notable brands are missing from the list at press date. Not to worry — they are coming — they’ll just be about a month late to the party. We’ll continue to provide updates as embargoes expire. Without further ado, we’ve assembled a list of the best new handgun introductions of 2021.
B&T USA Station SIX
My vote for the most non-standard, yet historically captivating handgun release so far this year is B&T USA’s Station SIX series pistols. The Station SIX is B&T USA’s modern take on the legendary World War II-era Welrod pistol, and subsequent VP9 contract pistols. The original Welrod pistol was originally developed as a covert wet work tool for British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operatives undertaking cloak and dagger missions behind enemy lines. B&T’s modern VP9 continued that trend long after the war ended and as new conflicts emerged. This updated, integrally suppressed pistol features a new grip and updated magazines, yet maintains its nondescript appearance, whisper-quiet sound signature, and unique rotating bolt operation. The Station SIX is available in 9mm and .45 Auto, and expected to retail for about $2,300. www.bt-arms.com
The striker-fired CZ P-10C was an instant hit when it hit the market several years back. CZ purists even accepted the polymer-framed striker pistol, which is certainly saying something, as they are a vocal bunch. Since its release, the P-10 line-up has grown from a do-it-all mid-size C model, to both full-size and long slide variants. For 2021, CZ is going in the opposite direction and has released a subcompact it is calling the P-10S. Not only are the frame and slide chopped down to noisy cricket size, the S also receives a deep optic cut and modular plate mounting system that’s sure to be compatible with your preferred mini red-dot sight. Small, concealable, red dot capable pistol with a sweet trigger? Yes, please. But, that’s not all — the P-10S also gets a fresh new paint job. Flat Dark Earth and Olive Drab have been added to the palate, if black isn’t your thing. Check availability here.
After its Gen 5 release, Glock is steadily bringing its legacy line up to the new standard. The G22 is the latest to be upgraded, and even sees an MOS cut for 2021. For the last couple of years, we’re seeing compact single-stack pistols skyrocket in popularity and Glock is certainly helping fuel that trend. Add in the demand and functionality of miniature red-dot sights on everything nowadays and it makes perfect sense that we’d see the 43X get the MOS treatment. If you need a pocket pistol that bridges the capability gap between traditional pistol and carbine, the 43X MOS, equipped with aftermarket 15-round Shield magazines, just might be the ticket. In fact, that combo just might become my fly-fishing pistol in the lower-48; it laughs at the elements, it’s lightweight, concealable, and highly functional. Check availability here.
KelTec is known for its unorthodox designs and pushing the limits of magazine capacity, and it didn’t disappoint with its all-new P50. KelTec calls it unique, adaptable and retro. I think it’s a cross between a space gun and a bullet hose. Either way, the pistol fires high velocity, low recoil 5.7x28mm ammunition, which it gets from a 50-round magazine. Yes, that’s right, a 50-rounder. And it comes with two of them. I bet it’s a pretty darn fun gun for the range, or as a high-capacity companion as you traverse prairie dog country. Retail price is $1,000, if you can find one. www.keltecweapons.com
FN has been at the pistol game for a while now and they have a hit on their hands with the 509 series pistols. The 509 was developed for the U.S. Army’s modular handgun system and contains the DNA to compete at a high level on today’s crowded field. This pistol features FN’s Low Profile Optics Mounting System — a plate adapter design that facilitates the direct mounting of more than 10 optics, all of which will co-witness with FN’s suppressor height sights, to include Leupold’s Delta Point Pro. It’s not a stretch to say that FN’s optic system is likely the best plate system in the business. The 509 LS Edge Tactical is a factory hot rod competition pistol featuring a 5-inch target crowned, cold hammer forged barrel, a lightweight flat faced competition trigger, slide lightening cuts, oversized controls and substantially flared magazine well to help house up to a 24-round magazine. If you’re looking for a turnkey comp or a nightstand gun to be reckoned with, the 509 LS Edge Tactical is your huckleberry. Check availability here.
Ruger American Competition
Ruger is also testing the waters with a factory competition pistol with its American Competition. Based on its popular American pistol, this variant boasts a 5-inch stainless steel competition barrel with a slow 1:16-inch twist for enhanced accuracy with lighter match projectiles. The slide has eight ports cut into the forward portion of the slide, while the rear is drilled and tapped for direct mounting several miniature red dot sights that share the Doctor Optic footprint. These include Vortex’s Venom, Burris FastFire and several other value-priced brands. Everything else is pure American, and that’s a good thing. If you’re thinking about competing in USPSA, IPSC, or IDPA matches, but don’t want to break the bank, the American Competition pistol might just be the way to do so, especially with an MSRP of just $580. www.ruger.com
A few years ago, the Sarsilmaz SAR9-series of pistols was one of the best kept secrets in value-priced handguns, but word quickly got out, leading to its rise in mainstream popularity. The SAR9 rewards its users with flattering performance, making it a first choice for many to bring to the range with friends. It’s just so easy to shoot well. Credit should be given to a smooth, lightweight trigger pull with a clean break, an ergonomic grip and a low bore axis. New for 2021 we get the same great pistol, but with an optic cut. The SAR9 Optics Ready pistol just made shooting even easier — in all conditions— and deserves serious consideration if you’re in the market as a new, or veteran gun owner. List price is $800, but street price is expected to be much more competitive. Check availability here.
SIG Sauer X-Carry Legion
SIG has unapologetically taken full advantage of the fact that their handgun development is derived from competition, and is pretty forthright in stating that the X-Series come from lessons learned in that field. The new X-Carry Legion features a host of factory mods that competitors have been adding to their P320′s since the platform debuted in 2014, but in a carry sized package. Only so much can be done to add weight to polymer-framed pistols, so SIG engineers began thinking outside the box and developed a grip module made of tungsten-infused polymer that has the weight of steel, and the flex of polymer. A new lightened and skeletonized flat trigger is geometrically enhanced and the pull is about as light as you’re going to get in a factory striker-fired pistol. It also stops at 90 degrees. This equates to nearly zero over-travel, reducing the likelihood of your trigger press disrupting your point of aim as you pull through the trigger stroke. Translation: the X-Carry Legion is ridiculously easy to shoot well. The expected MSRP for the SIG X-Carry Legion is going to be $999; www.sigsauer.com
Springfield Armory is seemingly on a 10mm streak, hitting home runs with each new introduction, and the new Ronin 10mm is sure to be another winner. If you’re in the market for a backcountry-tough 10mm 1911 that won’t break the bank, the Ronin is for you. This powerhouse utilizes a robust forged stainless steel frame mated to a forged carbon steel slide for extreme weather resistance and longevity in the field. The 5-inch barrel is hammer forged for long-lasting strength, durability and spicy loads. Magazine capacity sits at 8+1 rounds of 10mm in a single stack magazine. The Ronin is a heavy-weight at 40 ounces unloaded, however, it’s been engineered to last a lifetime of launching full-power loads at dangerous targets with minimal muzzle rise. This allows your sights to get on target, and stay on target, during fast-paced, multi-shot strings. Check availability here.
The name Stoeger hasn’t traditionally conjured images of a combat pistol, but 2021 has thrown us some early curveballs, so we’re rolling with it. Stoeger is a rock-solid brand under the Benelli umbrella, and its engineers and product managers have done their market research. The striker-fired STR-9S checks most of the modern defensive pistol boxes, all at an extremely competitive price point. To start, the pistol is optics ready from the factory, complete with co-witnessing suppressor-height iron sights. The optic mount utilizes a plate system that is compatible with most of the red dot sights on the market, while the slide boasts aggressive front and rear slide serrations. The STR-9S’s 4.17-inch barrel is threaded for a sound suppressor or muzzle brake and the ergonomic grip is modular, allowing the user to customize not only length of pull, but the palm swell to better fit their hand. Finally, an aggressive magazine funnel has been added, as have magazine extensions, bringing standard capacity up to 20+1 rounds. List price is $550, but expect to see if for less at your retailer. Check availability here.
Nighthawk VIP Agent 2
Building on the tremendous success of its Agency Arms collaborative pistol — the Nighthawk Agent and subsequent Agent 2 — Nighthawk has spun the dial to eleven with old-school James Bond levels of luxury, heirloom collectability and of course, high functionality. To achieve such a status, a cocktail of industry leading manufacturers must be shaken together, but certainly not stirred. Doug Turnbull added his unique flavor to the pistol, and the craftsmanship and fine detail speak for themselves. A case hardened and polished frame is paired with a charcoal blued slide, matching the handguns controls. Custom mammoth ivory grips encase the grip frame, while an 18K solid gold bead front sight adorns the business end of the slide. Nighthawk meticulously crafted and fit all components, while a healthy splash of Agency Arms style is unmistakable. Although the VIP Agent 2 isn’t for everyone; those with the means will be rewarded with a pistol that is exceptionally refined, but also knows how to party. $8,500; www.nighthawkcustom.com
Smith & Wesson immediately knocked the ball out of the park with the introduction of its M&P15-22. Given the fact that the AR-15 has been crowned America’s Rifle, it makes sense to chamber one in .22LR. Everyone loves .22LR and it’s a cost-effective way to get new shooters familiar with the platform, and interested in shooting sports. S&W pulled a fast-one and introduced a pistol variant of this popular model, and we’ll go out on a limb to predict this version is apt to do more for getting young shooters into the market than any other modern rifle platform. The formula is simple: it’s short, lightweight, low recoiling, easy to maneuver, easy to suppress and fires a round each time the trigger is pressed. The length of pull is adjustable, and with a red dot mounted on the flat top receiver, proper head placement behind the platform will quickly become natural. For those veteran shooters out there, the M&P15-22 Pistol is a great way to get good quality training in, given the cost and availability of center fire rifle ammunition. Plus, adding a sound suppressor will make it a hoot to shoot. Check availability here.
The TX22 is a purpose built, semiautomatic .22LR, not a scaled down, corner-cut version of a centerfire variant. Because of this, the TX22 was an instant success as soon as it was released thanks to increased capacity magazines (16-rounds), actual mid-size pistol ergonomics and reliable function. We loved the original, but that’s because we had no idea the competition version was coming. Now that it’s here, all we can say is wow. The TX22 is competition-ready out of the box with a 5-inch threaded bull barrel and unique, adaptable optic mounting solution. The optic mounts to the barrel hood via slide plate system that is compatible with most of the popular miniature red dot sights. But, that’s not the whole story; the mounted optic doesn’t reciprocate with the slide, allowing for much faster and easier dot tracking, as it remains stationary. This equates to lightning fast target to target transitions and dot stability is insane. We hope this technology finds its way into future, centerfire pistols. This mounting method is what the future looks like for pistol mounted optics, and Taurus is bringing its A game. Check availability here.
Uberti Cowboy Guns
New for 2021 is the expansion of the Uberti Outlaws and Lawmen series, with the addition of the Hardin and Teddy. The Hardin, named after outlaw John Wesley Hardin is a gorgeous top-break revolver with a color-case frame and charcoal blue barrel. This combination absolutely pops and can be found in other corners of the industry on high-dollar custom firearms. The grip slabs are simulated bison horn and add to the authentic styling reminiscent of the old west.
The Teddy is named after none other than our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. The Teddy is an 1873 Colt revolver replica, a faithful reproduction of Teddy’s constant companion. The frame, cylinder and barrel are laser engraved, while the nickel plating and simulated ivory grips give this classic an eye-catching appearance. Both models are chambered in .45 Colt. If you’re unfamiliar with Uberti’s Outlaws and Lawmen series, the collection pays homage to famous American heroes and gunslingers such as Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok and William “Billy the Kid” Bonney — just to name a few. The Hardin retails for $1,480, while the Teddy hits the market at $1,250; www.uberti.com
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