The Top 7 Highest-Rated Handguns

Black, full-sized 9mm pistol

Cheaper Than Dirt! has a customer-review rating system. After purchasing a product, you have the chance to write a review and rate that product. Customer-based product reviews allow interested buyers to get the full scope of how a particular product performs. After writing thoughts about the products, buyers then rate the product based on Cheaper Than Dirt!’s bullet system. One bullet means the product did not perform well for them, while giving a five-bullet rating to the product means it was awesome! I looked at the most popular self-defense calibers in semiautomatics and revolvers to find the top seven customer-rated handguns.

EAA SAR B6 Semiautomatic 9mm, Score: 5 Bullets

Black, full-sized 9mm pistol
A diamond-in-the-rough gun that impresses everyone who tries it is the EAA SAR B6 9mm full-sized semiautomatic.

A diamond-in-the-rough gun that impresses everyone who tries it is the EAA SAR B6 9mm full-sized semiautomatic. The internals of this tack-driving polymer pistol are cloned from the iconic CZ 75—down to its internal slide rails. Passing torture tests with flying colors, the EAA SAR B6 is right at home as a duty, carry or home-defense weapon. It fires double/single action and holds 16 rounds. You can carry it cocked and locked. The EAA SAR B6 does not have a decocker, nor ambidextrous controls—so lefties tread carefully. The 3-dot sight system provides a clear and quick target acquisition. If plastic is your thing, but Glock is not, try out the EAA SAR B6 9mm.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

“This is a great little 9mm CZ type pistol for the price. Shoots accurately and reliably after firing 75 rounds through it so far. No failures of any kind and so well balanced. Really have wanted a CZ or clone for years due to the design, reliability and grip. This is a great deal with chromed barrel, and forged steel slide and frame from Sarsilmaz.”

Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 4.5 inches
Caliber 9mm
Overall Height 5.5 inches
Overall Length 8.1 inches
Overall Width 1.1 inches
Weight Unloaded 28.2 ounces
Sights Fixed
Grip Black plastic
Capacity 16
Price $448
Frame Black polymer

Walther PK380 Semiautomatic Handgun .380 ACP, Score: 4 Bullets

Left side of the Walther PK380 .380 ACP semiauto pistol
The Walther PK380 is heralded for its light recoil and extremely easy to operate slide.

Because of its locked-breech and Browning-style tilt barrel operation, the Walther PK380 is heralded for its light recoil and extremely easy to operate slide. Most pocket .380s operate from a blowback design. This makes the Walther PK380 stand out over the rest. The textured, ergonomic robust design of the grip makes it very comfortable to hold and the ambidextrous controls mean it’s lefty friendly. It has a black polymer frame, 3.66-inch barrel and low profile, no-snag 3-dot sights. A loaded chamber indicator allows you to quickly assess if the gun is ready to go. The trigger pull is four pounds in single-action and the eight-round magazine is plenty for self-defense.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

“Easy to pull the slide and light on recoil. No slide ‘release,’ but it does lock open when the magazine is empty. You have to pull the slide to release and chamber it. No failures though I shot about 100 rounds, three kinds of brass ammo.”

Walther PK380
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 3.66 inches
Caliber .380 ACP
Overall Height 5.2 inches
Overall Length 6.5 inches
Overall Width 1.2 inches
Weight Unloaded 1.2 lbs.
Sights Low profile, 3-dot combat
Grip Ergonomic Walther
Capacity 8 rounds
Price $251.61
Frame Black polymer

Glock 22 Gen 4 Semiautomatic .40 S&W, Score: 5 Bullets

Custom Glock 22
The RTF texture is fairly aggressive, but provides a positive grip. While some shooters feel it is too much, when the SHTF, you’ll appreciate that extra bite.

For civilians, the Glock 22 is oft overlooked, with many choosing the classic 17, 19 or 23 for carrying. However, the Glock 22 offers more versatility than any other of the manufacturer’s pistols. With a simple barrel swap, you can shoot .357 Sig or 9mm out of the Glock 22. It’s a beefy gun with a 4.49-inch barrel and 22.75-ounce weight, but this helps absorb the recoil of the harder-hitting .40 S&W round. The upgraded Gen 4 Glock 22 incorporates a larger, reversible magazine release, interchangeable backstraps, enhanced reliability in the dual recoil spring assembly, and a better, more aggressive grip that helps maintain control when your palms are sweaty. Glocks have no external safety lever, but feature what the company calls a “safe action system,” with the safety built into the trigger. Holding 15 rounds of .40 S&W, the Glock 22 is just as much at home at the range, in competition, in a holster or on duty.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

For a detailed range report on the Glock 22, read “GLOCK 22 — .40 S&W, .357 SIG, 9mm — What else could you ask for?

“Purchased the Glock 22 Gen 4 because I have a Glock 23 Gen 3 (both .40S&W) and I liked the idea that I could use the G22’s three 15-rd mags in my G23 and I had purchased a Lone Wolf conversion barrel from CTD too, which allows me to shoot 9mm rounds through the G22. Also, I wanted a new Gen 4 Glock with the dual recoil spring. Makes a big difference and I definitely shoot tighter with the longer barrel of the G22 vs. the G23. Ate all the ammo I could feed it, even the cheap WWB…no issues, none. Less muzzle flip was what I expected and what I got. The G22 gen 4 is perfection.”

Glock 22 Gen 4
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 4.49 inches
Caliber .40 S&W
Overall Height 5.43 inches
Overall Length 8.03 inches
Overall Width 1.18 inches
Weight Unloaded 22.75 ounces
Sights Fixed
Grip Rough Textured Frame
Capacity 15 rounds
Price $539
Frame Black polymer

Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical Semiautomatic .45 ACP, Score: 5 Bullets

RIA1911 Groups
The RIA Tactical pistol makes for a pleasant shooter, with good accuracy and excellent reliability.

With features that contend with high end and much more expensive 1911s, the Rock Island/Armscor series of 1911s are a favorite of fans of this iconic pistol. Like 1911s costing hundreds more, the Rock Island Tactical 1911 has a milled slide, ambidextrous safety and adjustable trigger. A dull finish on the pistol resembles a traditional GI-spec parkerized finish and has no tooling marks or scratches. Firing in single-action, the Rock Island 1911 Tactical has a 4 to 6-pound pull. Checkered wood grips, lowered ejection port and high-visibility Novak-style sights make this gun incredibly reliable and fun to shoot.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

For a detailed range report on the Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical, read “Rock Island 1911A1 and Tactical .45—Range Report.”

“This weapon is one of the most accurate .45 cal handguns I have shot. There is very little recoil due to the fact the weapon is a heavy hunk of metal. The rail is great for many accessories, as well as helps keep the barrel down. The sights are basic, but you are able to upgrade them much like everything else on a 1911. Weapon took minimal cleaning after shipping, was not shipped in the thick preservative. Remember, this weapon is not a major name brand with a major name-brand price. However, do some research and you’ll see Rock Island has a great relationship with a famous military brand that everyone knows. As a weapon user, rather than collector, I will not hesitate to take this weapon out in the field and rely on it to protect myself and my family against an unwanted guest at the camp sight or on the trail. I have yet to have a jam (knock on wood), nor has a friend of mine who has the same weapon but without the rail.”

Rock Island 1911 Tactical
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 5 inches
Caliber .45 ACP
Overall Height 5.5 inches
Overall Length 8.75 inches
Sights Low profile
Grip Checkered wood
Capacity 8 rounds
Price $548.80
Frame Black steel frame

Smith & Wesson Model 686 Performance Center Revolver .357 Magnum, Score: 5 Bullets

S&W Performance Center Model 686 short-barreled revolver with custom wood grips.
The Model 686 Performance Center is made in the U.S.A. and has wood grips, glass bead finish and a bright red, easy to see front sight.

Nothing beats the quality, reliability and the reputation of a Smith & Wesson revolver. In particular is this piece of beauty—the Model 686 Plus which comes out of S&W’s Performance Center. Firearms that come out of the company’s Performance Center have all the standard features of the original model, however, include performance enhancements to create that much more gun. Like the hand-cut and hand-fitted unfluted cylinder, chrome teardrop hammer, chrome trigger with stop, precision crowned 2.5-inch barrel, and PC-tuned action. The Model 686 Performance Center is made in the U.S.A. and has wood grips, glass bead finish and a bright red, easy to see front sight. Overall, it is 7.5 inches long and has a stainless steel frame and cylinder. For such a compact size, it holds plenty of firepower given its 7-round capacity. The S&W Model 686 Plus weighs 34.6 ounces.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

“Ordered two of theses revolvers, one for my wife, and one for me to celebrate our 50-year birthdays. The guns were all they were talked up to be, excellent fit and finish. The double action pull was smooth, consistent and broke crisply.”

S&W Model 686 PC
Action Double/single-action revolver
Barrel Length 2.5 inches
Caliber .357 Magnum
Overall Length 7.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 34.6 ounces
Sights Red ramp front, adjustable rear
Grip Custom wood
Capacity 7 rounds
Price $960.15
Frame Stainless steel

Charter Arms Off Duty Revolver .38 Special, Score: 5 Bullets

.38 Special revolver with alloy steel frame and black rubber grips
Everything about the Charter Arms Off Duty double-action revolver makes it one of the most comfortable and easiest revolvers to conceal and carry.

Everything about the Charter Arms Off Duty double-action revolver makes it one of the most comfortable and easiest revolvers to conceal and carry. It is the lightest weight .38 Special on the market at 12 ounces. It has an internal hammer, so there is no snagging when drawing from a holster. The fixed sights with a ramp front and wide and deep-notched rear makes aiming easier than many other snub-nosed revolvers. Recoil is snappy, but the hard rubber grips with deep finger grooves, gives you a good purchase and firm grasp on the revolver. The Charter Arms Off Duty has a 2-inch barrel, aluminum frame and steel cylinder and barrel. It holds five rounds of .38 Special ammo. This $356.56, made-in-the-U.S.A. revolver is often compared to Smith & Wesson’s more expensive Model 642 and stands on its own in side-by-side comparisons.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

“Bought this for my wife. She had a Taurus Ultralight and wanted something lighter. Charter off duty one of the lightest revolvers on the market she loved it and shot a pretty good grouping the first time out.”

Charter Arms Off Duty
Action Double/single-action revolver
Barrel Length 2 inches
Caliber .38 Special
Weight Unloaded 12 ounces
Sights Fixed
Grip Black rubber combat
Capacity 5 rounds
Price $356.56
Frame 7075 aluminum

Smith & Wesson Model 69 Revolver .44 Magnum, Score: 4 Bullets

Picture shows the glass-bead stainless steel finished S&W Model 69 revolver with a 4.25-inch barrel.
For the first time, Smith & Wesson introduces the .44 Magnum caliber in an L-Frame revolver, the Model 69 Combat Magnum.

Introduced in 2014, the Model 69 is the first time Smith & Wesson chambered a revolver in .44 Magnum on another frame other than the classic N-Frame. The new Model 69 sits on the medium-sized stainless steel L-frame. Redesigned for optimal frame strength so the revolver stands up to the repeated beating of .44 Magnum loads, S&W chose to go with a two-piece barrel. Deciding to go with this frame means the Model 69 isn’t so big you can’t carry it. The 37-ounce empty weight helps, too. The Smith & Wesson Model 69 .44 Magnum has a 4.25-inch barrel and holds five rounds. It will shoot .44 Special, as well. It has red ramp front and target white outline rear sights that are adjustable and a black rubber grip that helps absorb the punishing recoil of magnum loads. Lighter than some 1911s, the S&W .44 Magnum makes a good trail and hunting gun—especially where open carry is legal.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

“Very nice gun, a little light for a full day of .44 Mag, found .44 Spcl a little more pleasing to shoot.”

S&W Model 69 Revolver
Action Double/single-action revolver
Barrel Length 4.25 inches
Caliber .44 Magnum
Overall Length 9.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 37.2 ounces
Sights Red ramp front, white outline adjustable rear
Grip Black synthetic
Capacity 5 rounds
Price $712.62
Frame Stainless steel

For comparison’s sake and because there are always questions—here are the seven handguns in the same categories with the lowest scores according to customer reviews:

  • S&W M&P9C Talo Edition semiautomatic 9mm $493.92, Score: 3 bullets
  • Taurus 738 TCP semiautomatic .380 ACP, $246.42, Score: 1 bullet
  • .40 S&W semiautomatic—no bad reviews
  • Taurus Model 1911 semiautomatic .45 ACP, $547.83, Score: 1 bullet
  • .357 Magnum double-action revolver—no bad reviews
  • .38 Special double-action revolvers—no bad reviews
  • .44 Magnum double-action revolvers—no bad review

Do you agree with the reviewers’ assessments? Tell us why or why not in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (79)

  1. I believe Magnum Research makes a .357 and .44 mag in their Desert Eagle which I believe is single action.

    1. They do and they are. I have one of each, but revolvers still have a place, and since these guns were selected based on the responses from customers and not some “gun guru” we can be sure a lot of other people like revolvers too.

      For one thing, you have to be very selective on what ammo you use in a DE. First, it has to be hot enough to cycle the actions. I have 500 rounds of .44Mag that my DE will only shoot single shot. Just not enough horsepower to cycle that big mechanism. Second, you can’t use anything with exposed lead in the bullet. DEs have a gas piston that will foul very quickly on even partially jacketed lead bullets. Magnum Research even tells you not to use lead bullets or you will void your warranty in the owners manual in bold print.

      A revolver, on the other hand, will shoot anything that fits.

  2. The FNP-45 weighs 33.2 ounces. An RIA high cap says 2.56 lbs on their website which comes out to just under 41 ounces. Not a huge difference, but when I carry my FNP-45, I know it after a couple hours.

  3. I’m not being argumentative here I’m just like everyone else I have my favorites. I think it is great that we all have different favorites and reasons why they are our favorites. Difference in taste is the spice of life and we are lucky enough to live in a country where we can get a variety of great guns. Like I said I like all guns expect the ones I have had trouble with like my Sig Mosquito 22, damn thing only fire CCI 22lr reliably and a TC black powder rifle shoot 3x & clean. One of the best guns I have ever owned and wish I still did was my S&W 686. However when it comes to my beloved 1911 a full size hi cap RIA (own one looking for another) which holds 14 rds (1 less than a FNP 45) weighs 45.12 oz and the FNP 45 (holds 15 rds) weighs in at 43.2 oz about 2 oz less. For my next gun I want a small 45 acp so that is why I’m talking about compact or ultra 1911s. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear it.

  4. I have one of the EAA B6P 9mm (paid $299.00) and this Handgun is solid and I have fired Handguns that cost much more and could not even compare to my B6P. Also the next best in my eyes is the Taurus 809 C 9mm for the price. Another very solid handgun and for $309.00 it can’t be beat.

  5. My Tarus 1911 has been perfect in every way. It was given a low score on one review which just don’t seem right.

    1. Revolvers are far from obsolete, and they have a lot of excellent applications. Remember, this isn’t some list created by a magazine gun guru, this list is based on CTD customer reviews. In other words, 3 of the top 7 customer rated guns are revolvers.

      For one thing, it’s much easier and lighter to carry a .357Mag revolver than auto, although Coonan’s are pretty nice. For another thing, if you limp wrist an auto, it will often not cycle correctly. but a revolver has no such problem making it a good, reliable choice for someone without a lot of wrist strength. Finally, I don’t know many autos that can load .410 buck shotgun shells, but a revolver can making it a good choice for people who don’t get a lot of range time, or even just as a CQ gun to keep handy in tight situations.

    2. I have owned several semi-automatic pistols over the last 50 years, along with numerous single action and double action revolvers. I have owned Colt’s .45 ACP M1911 Gold Cups, an AMT Hardballer long-slide (still have that one), Ruger Blackhawks in .357 mag., Redhawks in .44 Mag., an EAA Witness, and a SAR-K, both in .45ACP. I currently carry the SAR-K, a 629 Smith, my M29-2 with 6 1/2 barrel, and a Taurus Tracker in .44 Mag. Please note that of the four pistols I carry, three are revolvers. I spent 20 years in the US Army, in the Infantry, and I trained soldiers on both the M1911A1 and the Beretta M9. I have owned and used various automatics in the popular calibers (.40 S&W, .380, .25 ACP, 9mm, 45ACP.) and they can and will all jam at one time or another. The only shot you are ever guaranteed with an auto is the one in the chamber. The reason the military uses an automatic pistol is because combat tends to be a target-rich environment and the need for firepower outweighs the possibility of a failure to function. Also, next to you in combat is someone else who can take up the slack while you clear and return your weapon to service.
      A revolver doesn’t jam. A revolver is much less sensitive to dirt. A revolver gives you all 5 or all 6 shots of whatever you’re using. And some of the toughest and most durable handguns that money can buy are revolvers. I carry my Taurus tracker with .44 S&W Specials mostly, but when I go into the woods, it has full-house .44 Magnums in it. The same goes for the Smiths. And revolvers are highly accurate. A Ruger, Taurus or Smith doesn’t have to be tuned to shoot well. Revolvers are not obsolete because they work and they work all the time. Oh, and if I need more than the revolver carries, I do carry speed loaders for them. So I have either 15 or 18 rounds readily available if I need them. Also, if I need a handgun that will handle the most adverse conditions for long periods of time, I would not be poorly armed with a Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt or a Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum or .480 Ruger. Both the revolver and the ammunition will work for about any situation I would face outside seriously target rich environments with more than three or four assailants and they stop bears.

    1. I own quite a few guns, including the more highly regarded ones like Glock, Beretta, Springfield and Walther, and an EAA is next on my list.

      Everyone I have ever talked to who owns one loves it. I love the way they look, and hopefully I can find one to try out, but either way, it’s on my list.

  6. For anyone limited by a budget I would strongly recommend investigating Rock Island’s 1911. I have friends who paid twice as much as I did and they didn’t get anything better than what I have. My Rock Island is dependable; it has never failed me, it’s accurate: at pistol range I always hit what I aim at and I honestly think that for the money it’s as good as you can get.

  7. I hope every one who purchased a RIA 1911 is happy with it. The one I purchased was the least expensive tact II, It has the best Trigger of any hand gun I Have owned including my CZ75bd. It is very accurate, even shooting lswc. Liked the survey.

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