The 7 Most Underrated Handguns For Self-Defense

— Travis PikeCADRE Dispatch

How many defensive-oriented handguns are currently on the market? Can you name them all? It’s unlikely because there are just so many. In fact, it can become downright intimidating to keep them all in order, and good guns easily get forgotten along the way.

These forgotten guns can be excellent firearms overall, stand-outs even, but are just criminally underrated. With that in mind, I’m bringing you seven of the most underrated defensive handguns on the market. 

1. CZ P07/P09 

The CZ P07 and P09 were what happened when CZ attempted to get into the polymer frame genre of firearms. CZ is well known for their hammer-fired, DA/SA guns, and when they dived headfirst into the polymer, mass-produced pistol world, they stuck to their brand. This resulted in the P09/07 series. The P07 is the compact variant, and the P09 is the full-sized model. 

CZ P09, 9mm underrated handguns
The P09 is a huge gun, but it’s very well-made and easy to shoot.

These guns have a very svelte frame wrapped around a modern double-stack magazine. The DA/SA trigger system relied on the simplified Omega trigger design that was typical of CZ-75s in this era. The P09 and P07 handguns came in both 9mm and 40 S&W, in numerous variants and frame colors. 

CZ P07
The CZ P07 is the compact variant of the P series.

The ergonomics made these guns very nice, departing from the same blocky design as most of their competition. CZ included the option for a safety or decocker on their guns, and the end user could swap their options easily. These were reliable guns that are still easy to find to this day. They never got their time in the sun, and that’s a real shame. 

2. Walther P99 

The Walther P99 is officially discontinued. Walther is doing one final line of P99 models known as the Final Edition, so they are still easy to snatch up. The Walther P99 mixed two concepts that were popular in the late 1990s. The first is a striker-fired, polymer frame gun. The second is a DA/SA action. DA/SA semi-auto, striker-fired handguns are fairly uncommon, as most companies went with the Glock-style partially cocked striker. 

The P99’s longer, heavier double-action design is super smooth with an excellent trigger pull. The single action is deliciously short and light, and it outperforms every other stock trigger on the market. 

walther p99 handgun
The Walter P99 is novel with its DA/SA striker-fired design.

The P99 series is crazy reliable and was adopted by numerous European police forces. The gun even made it into James Bond’s hands a couple of times. The Walther P99 never got the respect it deserved, and, sadly, it’s coming to an end.

3. KelTec P32 

KelTec is a controversial inclusion on any list. Admittedly, their quality can be hit or miss, and sometimes their guns have problems. Luckily, the KelTec P32 has been in production since 1999, and the bugs have been worked out. The P32 predated — and in many ways, jumpstarted — the micro .380 ACP craze. 

Keltec P32, underrated handguns
The KelTec P32 is one of the most effective KelTec designs.

While many may disregard the .32 ACP, they are ignoring a round that does well from short barrels. With the right ammo, it can penetrate deep enough to matter and can pass the FBI’s ballistic penetration tests. It also has a lot less recoil than the .380 ACP.

The P32 is ultra-thin and ultra-small. The gun has a double-action-only trigger, but it’s surprisingly smooth and accurate. The P32 holds seven rounds and drops in your pocket with absolute ease. It’s a great gun for low-profile carry, and you don’t have any excuses for leaving it at home. 

4. Arex Delta Gen.2 

It’s a real shame that every time I bring up the Arex Delta guns with my friends, I get some blank stares. The latest Arex Delta Gen2. pistols were designed to produce a modern, tactical handgun for duty, self-defense, and competition use. The Delta Gen.2 is a 9mm pistol that uses double-stack magazines and all the features of modern tactical pistols. 

This includes models with optic-ready designs. There is a long-slide model, as well as my favorite, the tactical model.

Arex delta gen.2
There are several models of the Arex Delta Gen.2 but the Tactical model is my favorite.

The tactical model provides suppressor height sights and a threaded barrel and is, of course, optics-ready. The Arex Delta Gen.2 guns are also super affordable and often retail for about $300. 

Outside of good accuracy, solid sights, and high reliability, they are also svelte guns. They are very thin, without compromising their capacity. This makes them quite comfy and extremely ergonomic. The Arex Delta series shines well in the budget-worthy, modern tactical handgun category. 

5. Glock 29 

A Glock is on a list of underrated firearms! How dare I? While the Glock brand dominates the world of sidearms in nearly every genre, there are individual models that people forget about entirely. Some deserve to be forgotten, like the .45 GAP series, but others are criminally underrated — like the Glock 29.

The Glock 29 stands out because it’s a subcompact 10mm in a world where most 10mms aren’t well-suited for concealed carry. It’s a bit thick, but overall, it’s very small and easy to conceal.

glock 29 10mm subcompact concealed carry gun
The Glock 29 is a subcompact 10mm carry gun.

The Glock 29 packs a wallop and allows for a great defensive handgun option for two and four-legged threats. You can pack a pocket of firepower with ten rounds of 10mm on tap.

The Glock 29 is also surprisingly smooth and easy to shoot. It doesn’t recoil too harshly, and the width of the weapon certainly helps dial down that recoil. My biggest complaint is the hanging pinky syndrome, but a grip extension fixes that. The G29 might be small, but good things come in small packages. 

6. Beretta PX4 Storm 

After the massive success of the Beretta 92 series, the PX4 Storm was sadly ignored. The gun came out in 2004, and in that time period, there was a big shift away from the DA/SA, hammer-fired guns into striker-fired guns. The PX4 Storm still used the classic DA/SA design but implemented a polymer frame and most modern features. It has a rail, and the newer models are coming optics-ready.

The Beretta PX4 is tragically underrated.

The PX4 Storm featured a modular design before that was cool. Users could swap backstraps, magazine release buttons, safety and/or decocking levers, slide catches, and more.

The gun came with the quality you expect from Beretta in terms of reliability and accuracy, but where the PX4 Storm series really shines is in recoil management. The ergonomics allowed for a nice high grip, and the polymer frame helped, but the secret magic to the Storm series was the rotating barrel design that redirected recoil to lessen its perceived effects. This made the PX4 Storm a smooth shooter. 

7. Taurus Model 605 Defender TORO

Finally, let’s end this article with an underrated revolver. There isn’t much new in the world of revolvers these days, so when a gunmaker does something different, I take notice.

Revolvers are seemingly split into two categories: big and really small. There isn’t much in-between. That is until Taurus created the 605 Defender with a three-inch barrel on a compact, five-shot frame. It’s small but doesn’t have the uber-short barrel of a modern snub nose.

taurus 605 defender toro
The 605 Defender gives you a compact .357 Magnum with a 3-inch barrel.

The 605 is a .357 Magnum, so the added inch of the barrel helps lessen concussion and muzzle flash, making the gun more controllable and easier to shoot. Also, the “TORO” in the name means the gun is optics-ready. A red dot on a revolver is like cheating. It makes it easy to hit what you’re aiming at.

This modern concealed-carry revolver is perfect for new and old shooters. It’s a step forward in revolver design, and the fact that it’s not more common is a shame. 

Hidden Treasures 

Underrated handguns are hidden treasures. The market is massive and always expanding, so it’s easy for good guns to get lost along the way. There are many awesome guns out there, and hopefully, we’ve given you some more options to consider as your next defensive firearm. 

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