Few things are more symbolic of a police officer’s authority than the duty pistol he or she carries. From blued-steel wheelguns to modern polymer pistols, the handgun has been an essential law enforcement tool throughout history.

Here are 15 of today’s most popular law enforcement handguns, in alphabetical order, for service and backup duties.


Chiappa MC27 9mm

By Dave Spaulding

Chiappa’s MC27 is a DA/SA pistol with a thumb safety that acts as a hammer-locking device instead of a hammer drop. For those that like “cocked and locked” carry, this is welcome news. For those who like to decock their pistol via a spring-loaded lever, the news is different, as the hammer must be manually lowered with the thumb. The MC27 is manufactured in Turkey by Girsan and imported into the U.S. by Chiappa, and as their collaboration advances, changes will be made—one of them being the introduction of a manual, Sig Sauer-like decocking lever. Speaking of Sig Sauer, the MC27 is reminiscent of a Sig P229 in both looks and fit. The grip is very pleasing for a doubles-tack pistol and has an excellent grip angle.

The grip panels are lightly stippled and rest in the hand quite well. The magazine well has a sharp edge around the bottom and really needs to be beveled, but this is a small problem that is easily handled. The magazines, made in Italy, are robust and hold 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition. The DA trigger has a stout 12-pound pull, while the SA trigger pull proved to be a pleasing 4.5 pounds with a reasonable 0.25-inch reset. For those who like the feature, the MC27 has a second-strike capability, but I must admit that I come down on the side of the “tap-rack” when any pistol misfires. Slack on the DA trigger was minimal, and the gun shot quite well after a few hundred practice rounds.

The white three-dot sights on top of the slide are large and easy to see, with the rear having a Novak-style ramped back. The slide lock/release lever is large and easy to manipulate and also acts as the takedown lever for field-stripping. It should be noted that the MC27 also comes in a DAO version, with the primary differences being the lack of the hammer spur and safety lever. The frame encompasses the slide like a CZ pistol, making the frame “tall” on each side. I like this feature, as it allows me to get a solid, thumb-forward grip without interfering with any of the pistol’s operational levers or controls. Like most modern pistols, the MC27 has a Picatinny rail cut into the dust cover of the aluminum frame for easily mounting lights, lasers or combination units.

The MC27’s cold-hammer-forged, polygonal- rifled barrel is 3.9 inches long and has a nice feed ramp that will feed all types, styles and configurations of modern 9mm ammunition. With an overall length of 7.25 inches, a height of 5.5 inches and a width of 1.3 inches, the MC27 is a medium-sized pistol that can serve in either duty- or concealed-carry roles. It should be noted the MC27 fits nicely in many holsters made for the Sig P229.

For more information, please visit ChiappaFirearms.com.


Colt Mustang XSP .380 ACP

By Jorge Amselle

With its high-strength, all-polymer frame, the XSP is almost a full ounce lighter than its already lightweight predecessor, the Colt Mustang Pocketlite. At the front there is an integral SAAMI-spec rimfire accessory dovetail mount. Specifically designed lights and laser units to fit this rail are expected and will significantly increase the versatility of this tiny pistol. The triggerguard is distinctly squared off and features an added lip at the front bottom section.

At the rear of the triggerguard, just below the magazine release, the frame has a smooth indentation that allows for a slightly higher grip on the gun. In my case, I was able to get two full fingers onto the grip. This not only makes the gun more comfortable and controllable to hold and shoot, but it also raises the hand to be more in line with the axis of the barrel, which helps to reduce muzzle flip and perceived recoil. A channel has been carved out on the left side of the grip to provide faster and easier access to the magazine release, and there are molded thumb rests at the top of the grip on both sides.

The grip panels are, of course, part of the frame, a fact some shooters may dislike, as they cannot customize their grip choices. However, these are very comfortable and fill the hand while not being overly wide. The sides of the grip feature a pebbled texture, while the front and rear sections feature some aggressive, molded-in checkering that helps you maintain control of the pistol even under inclement conditions. At the rear of the grip is a well-designed beavertail that is comfortable and allows for a high handhold while preventing hammer bite.

The slide on the Colt XSP also carries its own distinct improvements. Machined from solid stainless steel bar stock using CNC equipment, Colt achieves very high tolerances. The ejection port has been lowered to provide for reliable ejection, and the slide serrations have been widened and deepened. This makes weapon manipulation much easier and faster for reloads or in case of a malfunction. The slide also features a sweat-, weather- and corrosion-resistant satin black finish in what Colt calls “diamond-like carbon,” or DLC. As to be expected, it is very attractive and well applied.

Another improvement comes in the sights. These are described as “high profile,” but they seemed pretty small to me. They are real sights, which is nice to see on such a small pocket pistol, and both the front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide. This makes it much easier to change the sights later to something the user may prefer. The sights that are included are plain black, which would make them very hard to pick up in a low-light situation. A high-visibility front sight would be a welcome improvement.

For more information, please visit Colt.com.


Glock 22 Gen4 .40

By William Bell

The .40-caliber Glock 22 was introduced in 1990. Unlike a number of contemporary .40s that had 10-round magazines, the G22 boasted a 15+1 capacity, and for a service-sized pistol with a 4.48-inch barrel and an overall length of 7.95 inches, it had an unloaded weight of 25.59 ounces—due in large part to its polymer frame and integral grips. Trust me, when you’ve been wearing a duty belt as long as I have, any weight reduction is a blessing.

As cops transitioned from DA revolvers, a lot of administrators felt that having an autoloader that was simple to operate and shoot, like the older wheelguns, was a good idea. The Glock Safe Action is, in simple terms, a striker-fired mechanism where you pull the trigger and it shoots—there’s no safety to manipulate, no hammer drop to remember when the shooting is done. Passive internal safeties keep it from firing unless the trigger is intentionally pulled, and different trigger pull weights are available; 5.5 pounds is standard.

Another feature is the barrel’s hexagonal rifling, which does not have conventionally cut lands and grooves. The rifling has a right-hand, 1-in-9.84-inch twist and provides a better bullet seal in the barrel, which increases velocity and potential accuracy. The G22’s sights are fixed, with a white-dot front sight and a white-outlined rear notch. Night sights are available, and I’d take them, as they are in a three-dot configuration and made of steel.

My test gun, as its name implies, is a fourth-generation G22. The Gen2 came along in 1988, and the most obvious features were checkering and memory grooves on the frontstrap of the grip frame, plus serrations on the backstrap. In the late ’90s, the Gen3 came along, which added small thumb rests, an accessory rail and a loaded-chamber indicator. The Gen4 (circa 2010) evolution added interchangeable backstraps for better individual ergonomics. They come in small, medium and large sizes to accommodate different hand sizes, and the “checkering” on the front, back and sides of the grip consists of tiny, raised squares that provide a remarkably firm grip surface. Another exterior feature is the magazine catch, which has been enlarged for easier purchase and is reversible for left-handers. Internally, the G22 Gen4 now has a dual recoil spring assembly. This spring-within-a-spring setup better absorbs the shock of firing and recoil, thus providing a longer service life for the pistol.

For more information, please visit US.Glock.com.

Glock 41 Gen4 .45 ACP

By Massad Ayoob

The G41 Gen4 weighs only 27 ounces unloaded, and its length is roughly comparable to a 5-inch-barreled 1911, long a favorite of plainclothes and off-duty officers as well as uniformed personnel.

Receiving a pre-announcement G41 in late 2013, we were able to test it in the hands of police instructors with experience from coast to coast. From retired California SWAT officer Steve Denney to Florida SWAT team commander Wayne Musgrove, none could tell any difference in recoil between the G21 Gen4 and the G41, which also has Gen4 characteristics and is 2.3 ounces lighter. The only tester who perceived a difference was IDPA Five-Gun Master and state and regional champion John Strayer, who felt there was a slight advantage in muzzle flip that favored this newest Glock. What the test team unanimously liked was the feel of the Glock 41.

There is a reason why, at International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) events, the 4.5-inch-barreled Glock 17 tends to be the most popular gun at local matches, but the 5.3-inch-barreled Glock 34 tends to be the single most popular handgun at the national championships. Top shooters appreciate the wand-like effect of a long, slim barrel/slide assembly for fast and accurate shooting, both in terms of multiple hits on one target and quickly tracking between multiple targets.

For more information, please visit For more information, please visit US.Glock.com.


Heckler & Koch P30 9mm

By Kevin R. Davis

Heckler & Koch has established a reputation for quality and reliability. Just think of how many HK MP5s have been used by law enforcement and military personnel across the globe over the decades, and that’s just one weapon platform. HK’s reputation extends to its other systems, too, including its pistols.

The 9mm P30 is a polymer-frame pistol with a 3.86-inch barrel, and it comes with two 15-round magazines. When I opened the box that the HK P30 pistol arrived in, I was immediately reminded of the quality of craftsmanship so evident in my favorite MP5 submachine gun. The fit and finish of the pistol shows extreme attention to detail. This striker-fired pistol felt good in my hand, and it comes with interchangeable backstraps and grip panels. Three sizes of backstraps and grip panels are included—small, medium and large—and the medium set came installed on the gun. Although I shot the pistol with the medium backstrap and grip panels installed, I later changed them out for the smaller-sized units, and the pistol felt even better in my large hand.

For more information, please visit HK-usa.com.


High Standard AMT Backup .45 ACP

By William Bell

One of the selling points for this particular pistol is that it is (at present) the smallest .45 ACP pistol ever built. I did some checking and, sure enough, with the factory-supplied dimensions, it is smaller than its closest compact .45 ACP competitor. Its overall length is 5.75 inches with a 3-inch barrel, its height is 4.06 inches, and it is 1-inch wide at the grips. Per my magnet test, it is all stainless steel (save for the checkered black polymer grips), which gives it a heft of 23 ounces empty—not the lightest .45 ACP, but there is no aluminum alloy or polymer frame here.

The stainless steel magazine is simply a cut-down 1911 magazine. I noted that the magazine well on the frame was slightly beveled to aid in insertion. Except for the flats of the slide that are polished, the rest of the AMT Backup has a dull matte finish. In light of its mission, it has as few protuberances as possible. Since it’s a DAO, the Backup has no manual safety lever; the only safety is an internal firing-pin lock to prevent an accidental discharge if the pistol is dropped. There is also no slide release catch, so the pistol does not lock back when the last round is fired and the “slingshot” method should be employed to cycle the slide. The magazine release is not a button like we Americans favor—it’s a heel catch in the European style. All this leaves the sides of the slide and frame clean. Atop the slide is a U-shaped groove running from front to rear that’s interrupted by the ejection port.

This groove serves as the pistol’s sighting equipment. It is completely snag-free and surprisingly effective. The trigger face is fairly wide and smooth; the pull is heavy and was off the scale of my trigger pull gauge. Five deep and wide serrations at the rear of the slide provide good purchase for working the slide. The ejection port is generous in size, and there’s a robust extractor. Two “windows” at the breech end of the barrel—one on top and one on the side—allow you to visually check for a chambered cartridge.

For more information, please visit HighStandard.com.

Ruger LCRx .38 Special

By David Bahde

Introduced in 2010, the Ruger LCR was an immediate hit. By using a polymer trigger housing and a monolithic receiver, it provides an incredibly lightweight revolver chambered in calibers ranging from .22 Long Rifle to .357 Magnum. LCR revolvers feature Hogue Tamer Monogrips that help tame recoil, and their patented friction-reducing cam system offers a pretty decent trigger pull. This design reduced “stacking” (or an increased trigger weight) as you moved through the pull.

The monolithic frame is made from aerospace-grade 7000-series aluminum, which translates to greater stiffness and reliability. Flex may work in some semi-autos, but it is never a really good thing in a revolver. The stainless steel barrel sleeve is housed in aluminum alloy, along with most of the receiver. This combination of materials makes for a reliable revolver in an incredibly light platform.

Designed as a pocket revolver, the LCR’s hammer is completely covered and inaccessible to the shooter. However, some shooters prefer having access to an exposed hammer with their revolver. The LCRx addresses this preference. The LCRx’s trigger is the same, as are its sights. Introduced this year in .38 Special +P, it is currently available with standard sights—a replaceable, pinned front ramp and an integral, U-notch rear channel. Laser-equipped models are sure to follow. The LCRx retains all of the proven features of the LCR, including its polymer, aluminum and steel construction. The five-shot cylinder has a smooth “Ionbond Diamondblack” finish. All together, the LCRx is a durable variant that builds upon the LCR’s legacy of reliability, and it provides an option for those officers who would like the ability to fire the revolver in single action as well as double action.

For more information, please visit Ruger.com.


SCCY CPX-2 9mm

By Chad Thompson

The SCCY CPX-2 is a subcompact, polymer-framed pistol that operates in traditional double-action-only (DAO) mode. There is a concealed hammer that you can see just slightly when you’re pulling the trigger, just before the hammer falls forward. The hammer is never exposed outside the slide, and this means it won’t catch on anything during the draw or any other time for that matter. This pistol is ingenious in its simplicity, as there are only three devices on the frame that are used to operate the gun: the slide stop (the company calls this a slide hold-open lever), the magazine release and, of course, the trigger. The pistol’s lack of an external manual safety is definitely a plus in my opinion, and here’s why: The rolling, 7.2-pound trigger is not going to go off by itself, and it takes over 1 full inch of travel for the trigger to fire the pistol. This translates into fewer things to confuse or forget in a stressful encounter and still makes for a perfectly safe handgun, as the pistol’s trigger design prevents the pistol from firing until the trigger is pulled all the way through.

Located inside the polymer frame is a full-length metal chassis that is the fire control system itself. I know this is not really important when it comes to shooting the gun, but I also appreciated the fact that the serial number is stamped on the rear of that metal chassis just below the concealed hammer, right in view of the owner/handler. The stainless steel slide and barrel have a clean-looking, bead-blasted-type finish that fits well with the flat-black polymer frame in both aesthetics and function. This means it will not be as prone to rust as some other offerings out there.

For more information, please visit SCCY.com.


Sig Sauer P227 .45 ACP

By William Bell

I was recently able to test and evaluate the full-sized P227 Nitron. The pistol arrived inside a lockable, plastic carrying case that had a foam rubber liner in the bottom half with cutouts for the pistol and an extra 10-round magazine (included). The owner’s manual, warranty and product registration form were also included. Beneath the foam rubber liner were a safety padlock and a small container of Sig Sauer Mil-Comm TW-25B lubricant/protectant.

A cursory inspection of the exterior of the pistol revealed the usual excellence of workmanship for which Sig Sauer is known. There were no tool marks or blemishes on any metal surfaces. The Nitron finish on the slide and the anodizing on the receiver were well done, leaving the entire handgun in a non-reflective, dark charcoal gray color. The black, one-piece grips are well proportioned, with stippled panels on the sides and backstrap area. At the butt of the grip frame, they form a beveled magazine well. The exposed grip frame of the frontstrap is both finely checkered and has a dished-out area just below the triggerguard.

The P227 has the traditional Sig P226 control configuration, with the takedown latch on the frame, just above the trigger. Moving toward the rear, you’ll next find the decocking lever and immediately behind it, the slide release lever. An inch below the decocker is the magazine catch. There is no external manual safety, but the P227 does feature Sig Sauer’s Four-Point safety system, which incorporates the decocking lever, the patented automatic firing-pin safety block, a safety intercept notch and a trigger bar disconnector. On the P227 Nitron, the DA trigger pull is long and about 10-plus pounds, but smooth. The SA pull has the requisite amount of take-up and a bit of creep before breaking at 4 to 5 pounds. Helping out the pull weight is a wide, smooth-faced trigger. The triggerguard is generously sized and flat in the front with a small, checkered panel. The external hammer is smallish, with a stubby spur that is serrated for easier manual cocking. Ahead of the triggerguard on the receiver’s dust cover is a Sig accessory rail for mounting tactical lights, laser sights or combination units.

The slide on the P227 is machined from stainless steel bar stock and then coated with the wear-resistant Nitron. Ten rear slide serrations provide a good gripping surface, and the well-proportioned ejection port forms a locking surface for the pistol’s Browning-type locked-breech mechanism. The extractor is rugged and powered by a coil spring, and the 4.4-inch barrel has conventional rifling. My test gun was fitted with SIGLITE night sights that are mounted in dovetails, allowing for windage adjustments. Fixed contrasting sights come standard. Interestingly, the P227 will accept any slide assembly from the P220, so the P227 Nitron can easily be converted to a Carry, SAS, Stainless or Super Match just by swapping uppers. Plus, with the P226-sized frame, you get a big-bore caliber without a fat grip, and the P227 will fit in any holster that takes a rail-equipped P220 or P226 pistol.

For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.

Sig Sauer P320 9mm

By David Bahde

Sig Sauer is currently offering the P320 in 9mm, .40 S&W and .357 SIG, with .45 ACP coming later. The company built the P320 from the ground up based on requests from police and military personnel. Rather than provide a molded-in fire control system, Sig opted to make it removable using the P250 platform. To change the grip frame, turn the takedown lever, remove the slide and take out the serialized fire control module. This allows the same serialized fire control system to be placed in several grip frames. Frames are available in small, medium and large grip sizes. In essence, this kind of modularity could be huge for agency armorers, as it allows one weapon to stay with an officer throughout their career. Currently, Sig is offering both Full-Size and Compact models of the P320 with 4.7- and 3.9-inch barrels, respectively.

P320s can be ordered with safety configurations to meet most agency needs. The fire control system passes drop tests with or without a trigger-mounted safety toggle. Agencies that require trigger safeties can get them installed, while others can leave them off, providing a smooth, metal trigger. The trigger has a distinct reset, with little take-up and a crisp break at around 6 pounds. The P320 also has an ambidextrous slide release, and the mag release can be switched easily to either side. For those requiring a magazine disconnect safety (i.e., the pistol will not fire without a magazine inserted), that is also available. You can even get a thumb safety if your agency requires an external mechanical safety.

SIGLITE night sights come standard on the P320. A pronounced ledge on the rear sight facilitates unconventional reloads. The 17-round magazines are metal, and a cutout in the grip allows you to pull downward on a loaded magazine in case of a malfunction or to make sure it’s properly seated. A Picatinny rail molded into the dust cover accommodates lights and lasers.

There is no need to press the trigger to disassemble the pistol for cleaning. Remove the magazine and lock the slide back. Turn the takedown lever completely, and the slide comes right off. Repeat in reverse to reassemble the pistol. You cannot turn the takedown lever with a magazine in the pistol (loaded or not), making it one of the safest and easiest-to-maintain striker-fired pistols yet in my opinion.

For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.


Smith & Wesson M&P45

By Rich Grassi

The new M&P line began in 2005 with the M&P40. The .40 S&W cartridge was the choice of police nationwide at the time, with second place likely going to the 9mm and a smaller group with a smattering of .45 ACP and .357 SIG pistols. The standard M&P semi-autos (the .40 was followed by the 9mm) have barrels of 4.25 inches, like the Colt Commander. The original M&P45 was a 4.5-inch-barreled gun. It was quickly followed by a mid-size, 4-inch-barreled pistol with a standard frame, and the M&P45c “compact,” which has a 4-inch barrel and slide mated to a shorter frame.

There are scalloped cocking serrations at the front and rear of the slide of the standard M&P45. The front of the slide is also beveled, so the slide nose is skinnier than the flats of the slide, making it easier to reholster. The magazine catch is user-reversible, and instructions are provided in the manual. There is a “sear deactivation lever” in the front of the sear block. Visible with the slide locked open—ensuring the gun can’t fire at that moment—it can be hooked and pushed down, putting the striker at rest and allowing for disassembly without pulling the trigger.

The barrels and slides are made from through-hardened stainless steel. Smith & Wesson then uses a process similar to ferritic-nitrocarburizing to make the barrels and slides more durable and corrosion resistant. The current M&P slides are no longer marked “STAINLESS” on the left side under the ejection port. The current-issue guns are blank there. Smith & Wesson’s director of marketing communications told me that the slides are still fabricated of stainless steel, but the markings are no longer applied. The exterior of the dust cover has an accessory rail for adding a weapon-mounted light or laser.

For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.


Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

By Richard Johnson

The M&P Bodyguard 380 is a subcompact pistol designed for concealed carry and backup gun duties. As the name suggests, the handgun is chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge, and it holds six rounds in the magazine. The gun uses a polymer frame and is hammer fired. The trigger pull is long and somewhat heavy to reduce the risk of unintentional discharges. There is a fair amount of take-up and no overtravel.

A manual thumb safety is mounted on the left side of the frame. I was concerned that the safety would be difficult to disengage, and that a shooter might accidentally engage the safety when handling the gun. However, I found that the opposite was true. While small, I found the thumb safety snapped into the firing position easily with a sweep of my thumb. But, when in the firing position, I found it extremely difficult to engage the safety without turning the gun in my hand and making a conscious effort to push it up into the “safe” position.

Smith & Wesson ships the M&P Bodyguard 380 with two magazines. One has a flush-fitting floorplate while the other is slightly extended to allow the officer to get two full fingers around the grip of the pistol. The extended magazine does not add much height to the outline of the gun, and I chose to use this magazine exclusively when carrying it. Neither magazine floorplate will allow most officers to get their pinky finger around the grip.

One of the gun’s major selling points is that it, like the original Bodyguard 380, is very thin. The pistol is easy for a uniformed or plainclothes officer to conceal in an ankle holster or in a pocket. For uniformed officers, there are a variety of holsters designed to attach to soft body armor. One of these would work well with the Bodyguard.

I tested the M&P Bodyguard 380 with the Advanced Ankle Holster from Elite Survival Systems. I found the gun was extremely comfortable to carry for long periods of time with this rig. Due to the very flat nature of the pistol, it virtually disappeared and was undetectable to the average observer. The Bodyguard was nearly invisible when carried in a pants pocket, a popular backup gun location for plainclothes assignments.

Unloaded, the M&P Bodyguard 380 weighs a mere 12 ounces. Loaded with seven rounds, the gun was a little over 14 ounces on my postal scale. As a guy who has carried both a S&W 642 (15 ounces unloaded) and a Glock 27 (22 ounces unloaded) as a backup, less than 15 ounces for a fully loaded pistol has its appeal.

Sights on subcompact pistols range from nonexistent to near-duty size. Many of the guns that are similar in size to the M&P Bodyguard 380 have sights that are hard to find under stress. Smith & Wesson outfitted this pistol with usable sights, though they are not perfect. The black front sight is easy to lose on a dark target or in low light. I would have preferred to see a white dot, a fiber-optic rod or some other reference used in the front sight for faster acquisition.

For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.

Springfield XD-S 4.0 9mm

By Richard Johnson

Two years ago, Springfield Armory introduced the XD-S line of handguns with 3.3-inch barrels. These little pistols offered a compact size in both length and width but came in proven calibers: .45 ACP and 9mm. The new XD-S 4.0 9mm keeps the same thinness and height, but lengthens the slide and barrel out to 4 inches. Increasing barrel length does a number of positive things to improve the shootability of the pistol. With a longer slide, Springfield Armory is able to increase the sight radius—the distance between the front and rear sights—to allow for easier and more accurate sighting. Generally speaking, the longer the sight radius, the more precise the shot placement.

A longer barrel and slide assembly will also soak up more of the felt recoil. While few will claim that a 9mm generates uncontrollable recoil, in some small guns the kick of a 9mm round can be stout. With extra weight in the top end of the gun, less felt recoil will be transferred to the shooter. Another benefit of the longer barrel is that bullet velocity is increased when compared to the shorter-barreled pistols. While there is a point of diminishing returns when increasing barrel length, in short-barrel pistols even a fraction of an inch can measurably drop bullet velocity. Bullet velocity is not the only thing to consider when talking about the potential effectiveness of a self-defense round, but in general terms, more velocity will help ensure a 9mm bullet will expand and do its job.

For more information, please visit Springfield-Armory.com.


Taurus 709 Slim 9mm

By Rich Grassi

The Taurus 709 is a 9mm pistol that weighs in at 19 ounces empty. Taurus offers it with a black polymer frame and either a blued or matte stainless steel slide. My test pistol, officially the 709SS, came with the matte stainless slide. It’s a striker-fired semi-auto (meaning there’s no “hammer,” per se) with a slide-locking manual thumb safety on the left side of the frame. Press up for “safe” and down for “fire.” When the lever is down—meaning the gun is capable of firing—you’ll see a red dot on the slide. Taurus provides two steel magazines with the pistol, and each has a seven-round capacity.

The angular slide is beveled, narrowing as you go from the rear to the front, in what’s come to be called the “high power” cut. This aids in reholstering, and if you’re prone to run the slide from in front of the ejection port, while there isn’t much room for that with the 709, this slimmed-down portion gives you enough purchase to do a chamber check.

There’s a tactile loaded-chamber indicator at the rear of the ejection port that protrudes when the chamber is loaded. The sights have the requisite three white dots—one on the front post and two on the rear sight. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage. The currently fashionable integral gun lock is just below the rear sight on the right side of the slide. Using the supplied key, you can turn the lock to disable the gun.

Just above the trigger, the frame has small depressions on each side, known as memory pads, where you can place your trigger finger when you’re not ready to fire. Behind the depressions is the ambidextrous takedown lever. The trigger itself has a safety paddle in its face. The paddle has to be depressed to move a trigger block out of the way and allow the trigger to roll back to fire the gun. Just in front of the thumb safety, also on the left side of the frame, is the slide stop. Not blocky, bulky or in the way, it’s nicely placed and works as intended.

Now for the unique nature of the trigger system. The Taurus 709 has two “actions.” One is the trigger condition from loading or firing. When the slide runs aft and comes back into battery, the trigger has a light, seemingly spring-free travel to a firm point. A slight nudge and the striker falls. That’s the way it always happens if everything works as it should. In this mode, the striker is fully cocked by the cycling of the slide.

For more information, please visit TaurusUSA.com.


Walther PPQ M2 9mm

By Scott W. Wagner

The PPQ M2 ships with two steel magazines with bumper pads. The steel slide has both front and rear serrations for grasping, and both the slide and barrel are treated with Tenifer, an invisible surface treatment that resists corrosion. The PPQ M2’s low-profile, three-dot sights are made of polymer and adjustable for windage only. They are well defined and quick to pick up. The slide release is easily accessed by the shooting thumb; it’s ambidextrous, unobtrusive and operates smoothly. The system is a definite plus for those of us who use the slide release lever to speed up our reloading process.

The PPQ is striker-fired, with no external hammer and without the manual decocker button found on the Walther P99 due to the “Quick Defense” safety lever trigger system. The Quick Defense trigger is absolutely superb, just like the company’s literature claims. It has a short travel of only 0.4 inches with a 0.1-inch reset distance. It is very crisp and enhances the accuracy potential of the PPQ M2. It is probably the best striker-fired trigger of this type that I have ever handled.

Also, unlike the Teutonic lever-style magazine release of the P99—which is positioned as part of the triggerguard, something most American shooters aren’t used to—the PPQ M2 has a traditionally styled magazine release button mounted on the grip frame that is large, round and easily accessed. My sample pistol came with it mounted on the left side for right-handed shooters, but it can be changed to the right side for left-handed shooters in seven short steps with a screwdriver and a punch. Pushing in straight on the button causes the magazine to release easily. Its operation during testing was flawless.

The triggerguard itself is a throwback to the 1980s in that it is checkered on its face and very slightly recurved. This style is designed for a previously in-vogue gripping technique where the weak support-hand index finger was placed on the triggerguard. The only thing this technique did was to pull shots to the left for a right-handed shooter firing with two hands. Going with a smaller and rounded triggerguard would have kept the PPQ M2 a tad more in line with current firearms operational thought, but in any event the design doesn’t hurt anything.

There is a Picatinny rail molded into the dust cover for attaching lasers, lights or a combination of both. To assist in making this pistol fit the user like a glove, there are a total of three backstraps included—sizes small, medium and large—to adjust the grip size. The PPQ is shipped with the medium backstrap mounted on the pistol, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for me. I didn’t try the other sizes because I couldn’t improve on the feel of the medium grip.

For more information, please visit WaltherArms.com.

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