What is the most accurate handgun? Before we get into the thick of things, let us just all acknowledge that how accurate a gun shoots depends on the shooter. It can be the most amazing handgun, most accurate handgun ever, but if the shooter cannot aim straight there is only so much a handgun can do.
Right, so let us now get to the good stuff…what is the most accurate handgun?!
Caliber – Does Size Matter?
What caliber is the most accurate handgun likely to be? In terms of handguns, caliber refers to the diameter of the bore and the size of ammo that it requires. While you may think that larger caliber handguns are the best handgun options by default because they’re the more powerful guns, however there have been studies done by the FBI about which caliber is the most effective. A common assumption is that the large caliber has a lot more stopping power than the smaller calibres, however according to the FBI study this is not true: “There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto.”. But we are looking at accuracy…not stopping power.
Smaller calibres are more accurate than larger calibres. Less power means less recoil. Less recoil means less recovery time after a shot, which means you can be consistently more accurate in successive shots than you can with a larger caliber firearm. So let’s look at some small calibers noted for its accuracy…
The .22 long rifle rimfire (5.6×15R – metric designation) cartridge is a long established variety of ammunition, and in terms of units sold is still by far the most common in the world today. The .22 long rifle and related cartridges (.22 short, .22 long and .22 Extra Long) use a heeled bullet, which means that the bullet is the same diameter as the case, and has a narrower “heel” portion that fits in the case. Low cost, minimal recoil, and relatively low noise make .22 LR an ideal cartridge for recreational shooting, initial firearms training, small-game hunting and pest control. Used by Boy Scouts for the rifle shooting merit badge, the .22 LR is popular among novice shooters and experts alike. The .22 LR is effective to 150 yards (140 m), though practical range tends to be less. After 150 yards, the ballistics of the round are such that it will be difficult to compensate for the large “drop”. The relatively short effective range, low report, and light recoil has made it a favorite for use as a target-practice cartridge. The accuracy of the cartridge is good, but not exceptional; various cartridges are capable of the same or better accuracy.
The .38 Smith & Wesson Special (commonly .38 Special, .38 Spl, or .38 Spc, pronounced “thirty-eight special”) is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson. It is most commonly used in revolvers, although some semi-automatic pistols and carbines also use this round. The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the early 1990s. Noted for its accuracy and manageable recoil, the .38 Special remains the most popular revolver cartridge in the world more than a century after its introduction. It is used for target shooting, formal target competition, personal defense, and for hunting small game.
Due to its black powder heritage, the .38 Special is a low pressure cartridge, one of the lowest in common use today at 17,000 PSI. By modern standards, the .38 Special fires a medium-sized bullet at rather low speeds.
The 9×19mm Parabellum (abbreviated 9mm, 9mmP, 9×19mm or 9×19) cartridge was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their Luger semi-automatic pistol. For this reason, it is designated as the 9mm Luger / 9mm Luger +P by the SAAMI and the 9 mm Luger by the C.I.P. (differentiating it from the 9mm Makarov and 9mm Browning cartridges). Under STANAG 4090, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries.
The round was originally designed to be lethal to 50 m, but the bullet travels and is lethal at longer ranges. The 9 mm cartridge combines a flat trajectory with moderate recoil. As mentioned above, the FBI study recommended the 9mm cartridge for effective shooting.
Most Accurate Handgun Options
Now that we have looked at the caliber the most accurate handgun is likely to use, we can look at some handguns that are contenders to be called the most accurate handgun.
If you want out and out accuracy, you probably will not beat a .22 caliber handgun. However, for everyday carry and self defense they won’t be an option to the majority of gun users. So for the purpose of this article, we are going to instead look at “regular” handguns that users would be able to use as a everyday carry gun. If you are interested in a .22 caliber handgun though, check out our article on what the best .22LR pistol is.
The SIG P210 is handgun that seems to be talked about in hushed voices and evokes giddy excitement from grown men. It is really expensive and made in small quantities…but the experts agree that this is an amazingly accurate weapon!
The SIG P210 (Swiss Army designation Pistole 49) is a locked breech semi-automatic pistol. It is of all-steel construction chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum and 7.65×21mm Parabellum. The SIG’s slide rides inside the frame rails, rather than outside as in the traditional Browning pattern. It mimics the frame-to-receiver interface of the Luger pistol, allowing for a very tight fit between the slide, barrel, and frame without compromising reliability. The upshot of all this tightness is that by eliminating the slop in the fit, the pistol is highly accurate as there is very limited movement between the parts that could affect the bullet’s flight. In short, you get a pistol design that can be manufactured in moderate quantities, but with the tightness of fit usually reserved for hand-finished guns. The manufacturers are so serious about the accuracy of this gun that the design specs calls for every P210 to be capable of putting five rounds into a 2 inch circle at 50 yards before leaving the factory. As with some of SIGs higher end pistols, a test fire target is included in the box to show that you are getting a seriously accurate handgun.
Jim Barrett from TheTruthAboutGuns.com had this to say about their experience with the P210: “All that I can say is, wow. I’ve never shot a gun this accurate and using it is a great leveler when shooting against people with more ability. The P210 consistently puts the bullet where you aim it. If you can overcome your own shooting shortcomings, this gun will not let you down.”
The ČZ 75 is a pistol made by Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB) in the Czech Republic that has both semi-automatic and selective fire variants. First introduced in 1975, it is one of the original “wonder nines” featuring a staggered-column magazine, all-steel construction, and a hammer forged barrel. It is widely distributed throughout the world. It is the most common handgun in the Czech Republic.
The CZ 75 is a short recoil operated, locked breech pistol. It uses the Browning linkless cam locking system similar to that used in the Browning Hi-Power pistol, where the barrel and slide are locked together on firing, using locking lugs milled into the barrel mating with recesses in the roof of the slide. An enclosed cam track integral with the barrel is actuated by the slide release lever’s transverse pin. After the first few millimetres of the recoil stroke, the barrel is cammed downwards at the rear, enabling the slide to continue the recoil stroke and eject the spent cartridge. Similar to the SIG P210 the slide rides inside the frame rails to provide a tight slide-to-frame fit and a very efficient barrel lock-up, both of which contribute to its accuracy.
Not only is it super accurate, but it seems to be really reliable too. CZUB claims that its factory shooter Martin Kameníček had shot 150,000 rounds through the CZ 75 TS Czechmate version of gun in 5 years, in which time he only needed to change the barrel once in order to maintain precision.
The Browning Hi Power is a single-action, semi-automatic handgun available in 9mm and .40 S&W calibers. It is based on a design by American firearms inventor John Browning, and completed by Dieudonné Saive at Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Herstal, Belgium. The Hi-Power is one of the most widely used military pistols in history, having been used by the armed forces of over 50 countries.
The Hi-Power, like many other Browning designs, operates on the short-recoil principle, where the barrel and slide initially recoil together until the barrel is unlocked from the slide by a cam arrangement.
ChuckHawks.com has this to say about the Browning Hi-Power: “This is an exceedingly accurate 9mm pistol, perhaps the most accurate we have subjected to a full Guns and Shooting Online Review.”
The Colt Python is a .357 Magnum caliber revolver formerly manufactured by Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. It is sometimes referred to as a “Combat Magnum”. It was built on Colt’s large I-frame. We say “was”, because unfortunately this amazing revolver has been discontinued in 2005 altogether (between 1999 and 2005 the Colt Custom Gun Shop continued making a limited number of Pythons on special order).
Like all Colt revolvers, the cylinder rotates into the frame for an extremely tight lock-up. The Python barrel has a ventilated rib on top and a full length underlug. Inside, Python barrels are bored with a very slight, full length, taper toward the muzzle for superior accuracy.
ChuckHawks.com has this to say about the gun: “The accuracy of the Python revolver is legendary. I have owned Pythons with 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch barrels, and all have been, literally, more accurate than I can shoot.”
What Do You Think – What Is The Most Accurate Handgun?
Interestingly, the guns we listed above are all rather old designs. How do modern handguns compare to these guns? If you have a thought or opinion on which handgun is the most accurate handgun or how modern handgun compare to older models, please share your thoughts on the topic of the most accurate handgun in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you!