10 Top-Notch Pistols For 2022

Though the 9 mm chambering still dominated many of the new offerings, we found a few surprises along the way at the 2022 SHOT Show.

by posted on January 25, 2022
Smith Wesson Csx 1
Smith & Wesson CSX
Image courtesy Smith-Wesson.com

It's always fun to peruse the aisles at NSSF's SHOT Show and handle an array of new offerings. While there were plenty of new calibers and other line extensions being offered, we did find a few surprises along the way, like a new chambering in some of the most current popular models of semi-automatic pistols, and more new models from some of America's oldest gunmakers. Of the dozens of new guns we handled, check out 10 of our favorite semi-automatics.

EAA Girsan MC1911 SC Ultimate 
The EAA Girsan MC1911 Ultimate is not new for 2022. But with no 2021 SHOT Show, the pistol is new to us, and we think definitely worth highlighting in this crop of new offerings. After all, stumbling across a nifty single-action 1911 was like finding an oasis in the black polymer striker-fired desert. Optimally sized for concealed carry, this pistol has received praise for both its ergonomics and aesthetics. Besides the obvious factors—fully melded frame/slide; G10 grips with a visual capacity window; and custom texturing—the aluminum-framed Ultimate is offered in the standard 1911 caliber (.45 ACP) with a 6+1 capacity and also in 9 mm (7 +1). Other options include a plate for a Far-Dot red-dot optic (which can be ordered with the pistol). Equipped with a 3.4” barrel, the pistol has an overall length of 7” and weighs in at 1.6 lbs. At only 1.22” wide and having a 6 lb. 7 oz. trigger pull, size and weight make this a great candidate to ride in a holster or stash in a purse. We look forward to pulling the 1911 trigger on this one later in 2022. Finishes are Blue/Black or Flat Dark Earth. MSRP: $732 ($833 with red-dot optic). EAACorp.com.

Kel-Tec P15
What better way to celebrate your 30th birthday than to give yourself a new gun. And that's exactly what Kel-Tec did when it produced its first striker-fired pistol—the new P15 9 mm. Turns out the company dresses up nicely for its own party (albeit a few years late). For starters, how about a tritium + fiber-optic front sight with a fully adjustable, tritium, two-dot rear sight? Add in a 15-round magazine for a 15+1 total capacity and you are now meeting or exceeding the compact-carry competition. A flush-fit 12-round magazine makes the configuration even more compact. Dimensions are as follows: 4” barrel length; 6.6” overall length; 5” height; and an incredibly thin .0875” width round out the size specifications. A 5-lb. trigger pull should offer a light squeeze. We were shown some other cool features on this pistol at SHOT Show 2022, but we’ll wait to explain those after we’ve had a chance to fire it. The pistol is expected to be available second quarter of this year. MSRP: $425. KelTecweapons.com

Kimber Mako R7
Another manufacturer a little late to the striker-fired pistol party is Kimber, but they have a good excuse, having built its brand producing and perfecting some famously nice 1911s. In late 2021, Kimber introduced its third striker-fired but its first polymer pistol—the 9 mm Mako R7—reviewed here by contributor B. Gil Horman. As Gil reports, the gun is loaded with features, most notably its ambidextrous, no-snag controls; a “just-right” lighter trigger (about 5 lbs.); an optional intuitive red-dot sight system; and other popular features like a stainless-steel slide and barrel; and two double-stack magazines (a 14-round extended and a 12-round flush fit). The 18 women who fired this pistol in our 4th Annual Ladies Pistol Project were pleasantly surprised at the low recoil produced by such a small pistol and, because we included the red-dot optic, found their confidence boosted by being able to hit their targets where they intended. MSRP: $599 (optics ready), $799 (optics included). KimberAmerica.com

Mossberg MC2sc
America’s oldest family-owned gun company has been making up for lost time, introducing its third pistol in three years (after not having a handgun in its lineup for a hundred years). We at NRA Women reviewed Mossberg's MC2c, a compact striker-fired, polymer framed 9 mm, which, as we have noted, turned out to have a great balance of features for home-defense or concealed carry. In 2021, red-dot optics-ready pistols and double-stack magazine “micro nines” were all the rage, which continues into 2022. All Mossberg needed to do was put together all their features in the same package to go forth with the launch of the new MC2sc pistol. One of the most important changes from the first iteration to the current is magazine capacity—now at 14 rounds with the extended mag; 11 with the flush fit mag. Additionally, the top of the MC2sc slide is milled to accept the smaller micro red-dot optics with a JPoint or Shield profile. Ammunition capacity, reliability and red-dot optics ready slide make this pistol ready to take on the competition in the growing self-defense market. MSRP: starting at $556. Mossberg.com

Savage Stance
After more than a century without a handgun in its catalog, Savage Arms recently announced a new EDC handgun. Stance, a micro-compact 9 mm, marks Savage’s return to concealed carry and self-defense, and is said to be the first in a complete family of handguns. While we await our sample pistol to test fire, here’s what we know: Stance utilizes a chassis as the serialized component of the pistol, which allows the flexibility for a wide variety of grip frames. The pistol comes with two interchangeable backstraps, both at the popular 18° angle. Other features include an ambidextrous magazine release and slide catch; stippling grip texture; a stainless-steel slide with Melonite finish; a beveled front slide; ported, wide slide serrations; short, crisp trigger with short reset; 3.2” stainless steel barrel; removable chassis for interchangeable grips; easy takedown with takedown lever; and snag-free functional sights. Ambidextrous manual safety and night sight models are available. Magazine capacity options range from 7, 8 or 10-round. A package option includes a Viridian E-Series Red Laser. MSRP: starts at $478. SavageArms.com

Smith & Wesson CSX
M&P Shield Plus SC30

Smith & Wesson brought an array of new pistols and line extensions to its invitation-only range session during SHOT Show 2022, and we’ve selected three that most piqued our interest. First up is the CSX micro-compact, an aluminum alloy-framed pistol chambered In 9 mm Luger, and boasts an impressive 12+1 capacity (or choose the 10-round magazine for deeper concealment). NRA Women Editor-in-Chief Ann Smith fired several magazines through the CSX—and kept going back for more, reporting negligible recoil and incredible ease of use and functionality. Serrations on top of the slide, along with flared rear slide serrations, add to the ease of use and function. A flat-faced trigger, an optimal grip angle and interchangeable backstraps all contribute to yet another winning combination of features on a gun that women will want to shoot. MSRP: $609. 

Smith & Wesson is only one of two firearm manufacturers producing pistols chambered in Federal’s new 30 Super Carry cartridge, which falls somewhere in the middle of specifications for the .380 ACP and 9 mm Luger. And what better pistol to chamber this exciting new round in than one of S&W’s most popular polymer semi-automatic pistols, the M&P EZ. It’s impossible not to love the award-winning EZ line. While the much beloved original .380 ACP model released in 2018, followed two years later by the more powerful 9 mm self-defense chambering, will continue to find favor with women, the new 30 Super Carry chambering could soon surpass them in popularity, as the in-between size allows for two additional rounds to be loaded, which could make the difference in self-defense situation. smith-wesson.com

Another surprise at the range session was the M&P Shield Plus chambered in the new 30 SC. There is virtually no difference with this pistol in the new chambering—other than it can accept 12+1 and 15+1 rounds versus 10+1 and 13+1 in the 9 mm model. This gun scored high marks in the 4th Annual Ladies Pistol Project (9mm), so we can't wait to include the 30SC in our next event. MSRP ranges from $553 to $595, depending on sight options (white dot versus optics-ready). Smith-Wesson.com

Springfield SA-35
In her review of the Springfield SA-35
, NRA Women contributor Holly Marcus said that when Browning announced in 2017 that the Hi-Power was being discontinued after 82 years of continual production, “it seemed like it would remain an object of obscure desire for most of us.” But all of that changed at the end of 2021 when Springfield Armory announced it was rolling out its own iteration of the iconic design. Made in the U.S.A., the new SA-35 features subtle but significant upgrades, including rugged forged steel parts, improved ergonomics and enhanced controls, modern sights, an improved feed ramp design, and an increased 15-round capacity. The pistol is also configured without a magazine disconnect for a drop-free magazine. MSRP: $699. Springfield-Armory.com

Stoeger Sub-Compact STR-9
Stoeger Industries has extended its compact STR-9 series of semi-automatic to include sub-compact models, the STR-9SC Sub-Compact and STR-9SC Sub-Compact Optic-Ready. Based on the original STR-9 compact 9 mm introduced in 2019, the new sub-compact handguns fit the criteria of a deep-concealment defensive pistol, yet offers features similar to what one would expect in a larger handgun—but at a more palatable price point. Like their siblings, the guns are built on an ergonomic polymer frame with a striker-fired semi-automatic action. Notable features include a fiberglass-reinforced polymer receiver with steel inserts; Nitride finish; and aggressive front and rear slide serrations. All three subcompact models (Standard, Tritium night sights or Optics Ready) come with a medium backstrap, left- or right-side position magazine release lever, trigger safety, integrated accessory rail, front post/square notch rear sight configuration, and a 10-round magazine for 10+1 carry. The Optics-Ready model comes with a factory-milled optic cut in the slide and four mounting plates with patterns to accommodate the most common micro-red dot optics. Dimensions are 6.54” overall length, a 3.54” blued stainless-steel barrel. The unloaded weight is 22.4 ozs. MSRP $329-$399. StoegerIndustries.com






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