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Handguns are of great value in a Zombie Apocalypse. They are light, as is their ammunition, which allows for easy stockpiling and storage. Not all handguns are made the same, however. A handgun is a relatively delicate piece of machinery, requiring periodic cleaning and maintenance. Some are more prone to jamming, breaking, or less accurate than others, though these factors are often related to the specific cartridges being fired, or are limited to specific manufacturing runs of a given handgun's model.
Concealability was the major factor that led to the pistol's popularity over other firearms. In the world of the zombie, this is rarely a consideration. That, and the sheer number of undead that will threaten the average survivor make it very important to note that firearms with larger ammunition capacities and longer ranges are considerably better than handguns. It is strongly advised one make a long gun of some sort one's primary weapon over handguns.
Other factors include tissue damage, recoil, susceptibility to jamming, ease of modification (minor), availability of proper ammo, durability, ammo capacity, accuracy, range, and ease of maintenance. Please note that while weapon availability is a major factor in attempting to rank these weapons, it may vary greatly depending on one's region of the world, and gun laws in one's area. This list is slanted towards North America.
As with many tools, mastery of the fundamentals of use, and skill and familiarity with a given (even inferior) tool are usually more important than the quality of the tool (unless it is practically falling apart). A level head, careful aiming, quick decision making, and proper firing technique are some of the many factors that are more important to surviving the engagement than having the best handgun in the world.
Many handgun experts would agree that comparisons of these mechanisms for the purposes of divining the "best" one is futile. It is less about objective superiority and more about personal preference and experience. All of the weapons on this list are regarded as excellent weapons by the handgun industry, and all have extensive and loyal userbases, proven track records with law enforcement and military wielders, as well as competitive sales before the outbreak. These models, however, account for a small percentage of the different types of handguns available. They were chosen as a popular representation of their family, series, or manufacturer.
Glock Pistols are perhaps the worlds most common pistol, selling extremely well since the 1990s. Glock is an industry leader for many reasons. Roughly 60% of all North American law enforcement agencies utilize them. They are very lightweight, durable, steady firing, and have great ammunition capacity. However, they have a substantial number of detractors who consider Glocks sub-par and overrated in terms of angle and feel of the grip, quality of trigger and sights, lack of a manual safety, and propensity to break with extended shooting on higher caliber models. They are very good for amateur shooters (which one is likely to find in abundance in a Zombie scenario), but many more experienced handgun wielders tend to eventually prefer other pistols. This may be partially due to the desire to customize their sidearm, which the Glock does not lend itself to easily. This sentiment is mostly nullified in a zombie apocalypse, where firing properly right out of the box like a Glock will save more lives over all. The biggest advantage of a Glock is that they are so overly abundant. Everyone in the post apocalypse should get some shooting experience on the Glock, because if there should come a time where other guns are out of ammo, there will probably still be plenty of Glocks and 9mm ammo around. Glocks are also available in a variety of calibers, from smaller, weaker calibers like the 9mm to powerful ones like the .40 and .45 ACP, plus specialist calibers such as the .357 SIG.
Another polymer based and widely available pistol, the HK USP series has most of the strengths of the Glock, and generally less complaints about trigger, sights, grip, shooting angle and overall feel as the Glock. Most of its modern day weaknesses (price, concealability, customer service) are rendered moot by a Zombie Apocalypse. It is also truly ambidextrous, and has different modes for different feels of trigger pull. The H&K USP is available in the 9mm, .40 S&W, and the .45 ACP. The 9mm is considered weak but with low recoil, the .40 is balanced, and the .45 is noted for it's high power and recoil.
A popular choice among experienced shooters, the M1911 has a mystique that is unmatched by any other pistol. It is the grandfather of many of the other pistols on this list, and one of the first truly stable shoots of its caliber in history. It does require more maintenance than many of its progeny, and considering it has many more parts, this can often be a painstaking task the first few times. Also, one of its biggest strengths - customizability with kits - is unlikely to be a comfort to someone unless they can do it themselves, and have the kit. Still, for accuracy, rapid fire, and consistent shooting it is a top notch choice - especially if you find one that "matches" one's shooting style. Springfield Armory and Kimber are known to make excellent 1911s. Most M1911's are chambered for the powerful .45 ACP round. A few are chambered for .38 and 9mm, but those are normally custom "race guns", noted for their accuracy and high rate of fire. Race guns, however, normally have weak recoil springs and are prone to damage. As most 1911's use a single stack magazine, the grip is thin, and many find it comfortable and easy to aim with.
The Beretta 92FS is also known and sold as the M9 pistol in America. This is a military designation, as in the 1980s, Beretta's design won the competition to replace the M1911 as the official sidearm of the United States military. This reflects the high quality of this firearm. The Beretta is an extremely accurate, consistent shot, has a good trigger, great sights, and uses very common ammo. Some consider it a bit bulky (as it is heavy for a 9mm weapon), but part of the reason it won the military contract was because it was designed to be shot by grips of all strengths and sizes. These complaints really only hold merit when compared to the many polymer pistols available (which the 92FS is not).
Unlike many weapons on this list, the 92FS fires one round exclusively - the 9mm. The 9mm is noted for its low recoil, but rather low power. One notable concern is that it is prone to misfires in humid or sandy environments. Some would say this reflects the foresight of the US Military Administration. It also has had a few notable issues with the slide fragmenting, seriously injuring the user. Because of this, and because of issues with the first models of M9 (long since remedied), The 92FS has a reputation of being a better weapon for the range than the battlefield. Regardless, with regular maintenance, the Berreta 92FS is an excellent, reliable and accurate sidearm.
Another Glock competitor, The XD is often viewed as the gun that perfected what Glock started (mostly by making certain aspects of the trigger and safeties more similar to a 1911). While there are still many shooters that prefer Glocks, many people who dislike (or eventually grow weary of) the Glock prefer this as a similar gun more suited to their preferences.
The Walther P99 (also distributed in America as a Smith and Wesson 99) never seems to fail to impress people upon first holding it, as it's arguably the world's best pistol in terms of ergonomic and aesthetic design. Durable, reliable, and easy to wield, one criticism is that the trigger takes some getting used to, as the resistance level and timing is fairly unique. If one is not used to it, this can affect accuracy. Beyond that there are few issues with the P99's accuracy, or anything of its other qualities. While it is far from an exotic weapon, one is less likely to stumble on this weapon on a North American battlefield than many of the other models covered in this article.
Like many pistols on this list, the Ruger P Series was designed for military and law enforcement use, and borrows heavily from the Browning pistol action. Like the Walther, it is a German design offshoot. This may explain why some of the same concerns about awkward trigger action creep into the discussion. The Ruger is also one of the largest models (regardless of which of the series you wield - compact models aside, of course) of firearm on this list. While this may affect grip, the weight is well balanced, and acts to minimize perceived recoil. The biggest strength of the weapon is its durability. While proper maintenance is always recommended, The rugged Ruger is probably the most capable of shooting dependability no matter what the conditions or level of care for the weapon. Another advantage is that the Ruger P's are very lefty friendly.
The Smith and Wesson M&P is a newer pistol line that has begun to make a name for itself among handgun enthusiasts. It is very close to a perfect mix between polymer and all-iron pistols. It shoots crisply, accurately, and reliably. One unique point is that its slide level is lower than most pistols, which helps to further reduce muzzle rise. All caliber types desirable for killing zombies have won rave reviews and awards. Common, and dependable, one truly has to seek out nit-pickers to find any criticisms of the M&P. One cannot go wrong with this sidearm.
- Accuracy: 4.5/5
- Reliability: 4.5/5
- Ease of Maintenance: 4.5/5
- Availability: 4.5/5
- Comfort Level: 4/5
The Sig Sauer P Series is another top notch line of sidearms. In addition to being able to give any pistol on this list a run for its money in terms of accuracy and comfort, The P Series also has a higher round capacity than its competitors - an extremely valuble trait when one can be surrounded by hundreds of targets. If the Sigs are less durable than a Ruger or the S&W M&P, it is only marginally so. Much like the M&P, one is hard pressed to find any detractors or major faults with this remarkable weapon.
- Accuracy: 4.5/5
- Reliability: 4/5
- Ease of Maintenance: 4.5/5
- Availability: 4.5/5
- Comfort Level: 4.5/5
Special Thanks: The great community at imfdb.com, and thefirearmsforum.com, biggin and the folks at nationalhandgunforum.com