Handguns for New Competitive Shooters

When I entered the gun industry as a new shooter and competitor, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of handgun options available. I wasn’t sure which models would fit my hand best or if there any that could tackle multiple shooting disciplines. After extensive research and hands-on experience, I have narrowed that list down to models I think make great beginner handguns, especially for women.

To save our readers a little time and effort as well as inspire them to hit the range, here are my top picks for beginner-friendly handguns chambered in 9mm.

Glock G17

G17 on stump

The Glock 17 is a staple on the competitive circuit (Photo: Taylor Thorne/Guns.com)

Glocks not only come with reliability but a large group of users that act as a support group. The ability to ask other Glock guys and girls questions about upgrades and accessories make ownership easier. Who knows, you might even find a squadmate for competitions.

Glock pistols all feature a similar basic design with a varying barrel and overall lengths. In the world of competition, most handguns will use longer barrels — on average 5-inches – to increase sight radius and accuracy. While the G19 is perfect for carry, it might not work as well in a competition. For those looking to dive into the competition ranks, the G17 is a great place to start. A real middle-of-the-road option, it offers a 4.47-inch barrel.

Glock G17

If you purchase a Glock you’ll have room to upgrade with lots of aftermarket support (Photo: Taylor Thorne/Guns.com)

One of the best things about the G17 is the availability of parts. As you compete, you’ll learn what accessories can up your game. The plethora of options for the G17 means plenty to choose from and at affordable prices. The only downside to the Glock build is the grip angle. Some shooters will find the grip angle uncomfortable. Though the Glock ships with interchangeable backstraps, the overall build is blocky and may not be as comfortable.

The G17 is a bit snappy but my impressions are overall good for this pistol. Out of the box, you will want to consider some upgrades to make it more competitive. Namely, you’ll want to consider swapping out the magazine and slide releases. Stock, these are small and hard to manipulate.

Overall the Glock 17 is a solid choice, but if you want a little less snap, consider the G34.


Walther PPQ Q5 Match and PPQ Steel Frame

Walther PPQ on tree stump

The Walther PPQ is a great gun for competition (Photo: Taylor Thorne/Guns.com)

On the other end of the spectrum, the Walther PPQ stands out as ergonomically superior. This handgun delivers a smaller grip shaped in a way that allows for a very natural feel in the hand. Unlike Glock, Walther’s following is smaller but still willing to talk shop. At an event, you might see one or two people shooting a PPQ.

When determining which PPQ model is best for you — the Q5 or SF – consider optics and weight. For those wanting a lighter gun with an optics ready build, the Q5 is the best option; however, if you seek a little extra weight with that red dot design then head for the SF.

The Q5 sports an upgraded barrel, trigger, and a few other features shooters might enjoy. While there are varying barrel lengths, stick with the 5-inch. The SF, or Steel Frame, was introduced as a true competition gun with the weight of a steel frame to help with transitions and recoil. It’s worth noting, the grip of the SF is different from the other PPQs, coming in a bit larger.

Walther PPQ

The Walther PPQ has fewer aftermarket upgrades than Glock but shines right out of the box (Photo: Taylor Thorne/Guns.com)

A drawback of the Walther is the lack of available upgrades; but, out of the box, this is a much more competitive gun than the Glock. The controls are very easy to reach and felt recoil is a bit softer – though the PPQ does come with some muzzle flip. The trigger in the PPQ series is amazing! Hands-down best factory striker-fired trigger you will find. Through years of competing and 50,000+ rounds, I had one issue with the firing pin breaking which Walther quickly replaced.

If you seek a handgun that provides a smaller grip and ergonomics, the Walther PPQ Q5 is a fantastic option. If you want to be competitive and can handle a larger grip, opt for the SF model.


Sig Sauer P320 X5 and X5 Legion

Sig Sauer changed the game in the competitive shooting world with the P320 X5 series. This pistol is worth checking out. The standard full-size X5 features a flared magwell and weighs around 35.5-ounces. Meanwhile, the X5 Legion comes tungsten infused with a weight of 43.5-ounces.

Sig X5

Sig X5 Legion is a new star on the competition circuit (Photo: Taylor Thorne/Guns.com)

The P320 allows users to change the entire grip module and though the X5 is offered in medium, you can grab a standard P320 grip in sizes small or large. Another benefit to the P320’s modularity is the serial number. The number is not located on the grip module itself, so should you damage the grip you don’t have to buy a new gun. Even better, if you drop the pistol in the sand or mud you can take out the internals, hose it out and put it back in.

The X5 feels a bit blocky but not nearly as much as the Glock and the controls are easier to reach. I opted for a grip reduction as the medium X5 Legion module is too big for my taste. The main benefit of Sig’s X5 series is how flat the pistols shoot. The felt recoil is soft and the muzzle stays vertical.


Final Thoughts

The handguns I selected are good for most any shooting discipline. Handgun choices are extremely personal, so pick one that fits your hand and feels the best. Having a handgun that fits will undoubtedly help with maintaining proper grip, mitigating recoil and comfortably manipulating controls.
Get your hands on some guns, practice and join a local shooting competition to get a feel for the sport. Be it a Glock, Walther or Sig Sauer you can’t go wrong.

Read More On:

Latest Reviews

revolver barrel loading graphic