Hot Self-Defense Handguns From SHOT

By Massad Ayoob


It may have not been a banner year for new self-defense firearms unveiled at SHOT 2019 — it was more along the lines of evolution than revolution — but there were some good introductions you’ll want to have on display in your shop. Let’s look at a few of them.

Semi-Autos Reign

The semi-auto pistol continues to reign as the top-selling defensive firearm these days, and the king of this royal family is the “slim-nine” — the slender subcompact in 9mm. SIG’s introduction of the 10+1 round subcompact P365 last year was such a hit other companies are moving toward this subcategory. New for 2019, this excellent little SIG is now available optionally with an ergonomic thumb safety.

Two new entries from GLOCK garnered a lot of attention during the show: the 43X and 48. The GLOCK 43 (6+1 round 9mm) was a huge hit in its own right a few years ago. With its grip-frame slightly lengthened, and filled with a “semi-double stack” 10-round magazine, the 43X was born. This pistol won’t take original G43 magazines (or vice versa). The 43X has the same short barrel/slide assembly as the 43; the GLOCK 48 is a 43X with a longer (4.17-inch) barrel.

You know how many of your customers have wished for a slightly slimmer GLOCK 19, and were willing to sacrifice a few rounds of capacity for it. The GLOCK 48 fits the bill. It will be particularly welcome to dealers and customers in states with 10-round maximum magazine capacity limits. Trigger reach in both pistols is ideal for those with short fingers, or for those with average-sized hands who find they get better leverage contacting the trigger with the distal joint instead of the pad of their index finger. (Editor’s Note: Your customers will be reading about Mas’ take on the GLOCK 48 in a future issue of GUNS Magazine.)

One of the major surprises at SHOT 2019 was found in Mossberg’s striker-fired MC1sc subcompact 9mm pistol. It’s available in three variants: with a cross-bolt safety, TRUGLO Tritium PRO Sights or a Viridian laser-equipped option (pictured).

Another gun in the category getting almost as much publicity is the Mossberg MC1sc. Sold with one six-round and one seven-round Clear-Count polymer magazine, this striker-fired polymer pistol is Mossberg’s first handgun since their odd, long-discontinued little Brownie. A tribute to the company’s 100 years of operation in the U.S., options will include TRUGLO sights, Viridian laser sight and a crossbolt “push button” manual safety. Mossberg’s well-recognized name and reputation for reliable, quality firearms with value pricing assure lots of customer interest.

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield line has done a lot to popularize the slim-nine concept; they sold 1,000,000 in little over three years. S&W’s Performance Center recently offered a version with ported barrel and slide to reduce muzzle jump; it proved so successful a ported version of the Shield was introduced for 2019 as a standard model.

Kimber has launched a striker-fired subcompact 9mm of its own design, matched with all-metal construction. They call it the EVO SP (Striker Pistol), which is available in two tone, CDP, TLE and Custom Shop variants.

The Ruger Security-9 has been upgraded for 2019, now available with a Hogue Beavertail HandALL grip option.

Ruger extended its Security-9 line, adding a model with a factory-installed Hogue Beavertail HandALL grip with Cobblestone texturing, finger grooves and palm swells.

Kimber EVO SP (CS)

Other Semi-Auto Standouts

In standard-size service pistols, there are other challengers vying for market share. One is the Shadow Systems MR918. It resembles a customized GLOCK and will reportedly fit a GLOCK 19 holster. A new variation from Canik is the TP9 Elite Combat, created in conjunction with Salient Arms. Full Conceal, the company that recently introduced a folding conversion of the GLOCK pistol, now offers a model combined with a RONI and wrist brace to turn the folding GLOCK into a pistol-caliber carbine. ZEV Technologies introduced its first complete 9mm pistol: the O.Z-9. Stoeger debuted the 16-shot striker-fired STR-9.

The O.Z-9 represents ZEV Technologies’ first complete 9mm pistol. Its compatible with ZEV components and accepts GLOCK magazines, and will include future grip sizes, color and texture options.

Built around the PPQ platform, Walther’s Q5 Match SF features an optics-ready slide that comes with a Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint, and Docter Optics mounting plate — in addition to the standard competition iron sights.

Walther’s new Q5 Match SF (Steel Frame) is its largest PPQ 9mm. Geared for competition, the Q5 SF’s all-steel frame all but eliminates recoil — making it a surprise contender for home-defense users, as long as the customer is aware of and comfortable with the light target-type trigger pull.


In the last couple years, the six-shot Kimber K6 series hammerless .357 Magnum and Colt’s new regenerated Cobra .38 Special have sold surprisingly well — to the consternation of pundits who were sure revolvers were “dead.” Each of those companies has added to those lines for 2019.

With the K6s DASA, Kimber introduced a conventional double-/single-action variant with exposed, spurred hammer to allow cocking for precision shots.

The Kimber K6s DASA is dressed with a spurred hammer, allowing users to cock for single-action precision shots.

Colt has beefed up the new Cobra and chambered it for the .357, much as they did with their now highly collectible Magnum Carry revolver in the late 1990s. Dubbed the King Cobra, and weighing 28 oz. with a 3-inch under-lugged barrel, this newest Colt revolver is gathering lots of interest on the gun-related online forums.

Following the successful introduction of the Colt Cobra revolver in 2017, Colt has introduced “snake number two” to its growing line: the King Cobra.

Personal-defense tip: Remind your customers the enlarged triggerguard on these new generation Colt revolvers is large enough to work with a gloved hand. Unlike these new models, a thick glove will block trigger return — turning most from six-shooters to single-shot revolvers.

The Odd & Unusual

With a single pull of its double-action trigger, Standard Manufacturing’s S333 VolleyFire launches two .22 Magnum rounds simultaneously from its twin, 1.25-inch barrels.

I’m not sure whether to list it under revolvers or novelty items, but SHOT 2019 also saw the introduction of the S333 VolleyFire from Standard Manufacturing. Slated to sell for well under $400, this oddity has a cylinder holding eight rounds of .22 Magnum rimfire, and its double-action trigger launches two shots at once, from twin barrels. The barrels, by the way, are 1.25 inches long. (Curiosity alone will sell some of these, something we touched on a few columns ago:

The .50-caliber Umarex Hammer delivers three full-power shots, achieved by its proprietary, patent-pending Lightspeed valve.

While not a handgun, the Umarex Hammer represents one of those “be the first on your block to own one” guns — it is an air rifle capable of launching a 550-grain, .50-caliber projectile at 760 fps. It’s set to retail at about $800. For a shooter, the very concept is intriguing, the “what will I use it for” factor notwithstanding.

Umarex, by the way, makes an excellent 15-shot BB gun that comes close to duplicating a GLOCK 19, right down to the sights. They’re going to sell a bunch of them to GLOCK owners who want to practice quietly in their basement. The company also recently expanded its licensing agreement with Smith & Wesson, adding airsoft and paintball categories — see page 10 in Industry News for more.


For your customers who demand the heaviest bullet weight available in their defense guns, Seismic Ammo introduced a 185-grain hollowpoint 9mm load with a promised 325-grain .45 ACP load and a 2.5 oz., 12-ga. rifled slug load to come. (It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.)

The FBI’s recent adoption of Hornady’s 135-grain Critical Duty 9mm load for standard issue is sure to raise demand for the product in your shop, and so far, reports on the round’s performance in the field are promising. Winchester introduced a round similar to the Critical Duty and Speer G2, with polymer inside the jacketed hollowpoint, called the Ranger One, offered first as a 147-grain 9mm at 1,010 feet per second. (At press time, it was not known whether or not this would be available for sales to the general public.)

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