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The Gun Safe

BANG! Meet the 5 Best 10mm Handguns on Planet Earth

Having recently penned several lists of favorites in big-bore handgun calibers, namely the .45 ACP and the .44 Magnum, it’s only logical now to assess the 10mm Auto. 

Colt Delta Elite Rail. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Colt Delta Elite Rail. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again.” That’s right, dear readers, time for another Top Five list.

Having recently penned several lists of favorites in big-bore handgun calibers, namely the .45 ACP and the .44 Magnum, it’s only logical now to assess the 10mm Auto

Back in 1990, the 10mm looked like it was going to be the next big thing in handgun cartridges, thanks to the FBI’s adoption of the Smith & Wesson Model 1076. Then the .40 S&W cartridge came along, and it stole the show.

That said, the 10mm has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. 

Colt Delta Elite 

The Delta Elite is the 10mm with which I have the most hands-on experience and the most sentimental attachment. Not only was it the first 10mm I ever fired, it was also both the first big-bore handgun and first 1911 platform pistol I ever fired. In fact, it is the only gun in the caliber that I’ve ever owned. (Oh yes, I really dig the name too.) Back when this pistol debuted in 1987, it basically resurrected the 10mm cartridge after the enigmatic Bren Ten faltered. It is a fun gun to shoot, and delightfully accurate, though like many 1911s it can be a bit temperamental, so buyer beware. 

Smith & Wesson Model 1006

I shot this gun once, back in September 1990, and as I mentioned in my review of the M1006, I didn’t shoot well with it, but that was due to my inexperience. My old comrade Kevin Freeman speaks very highly of his own 1006: “My Smith 1006 is a fantastic, well-made, and incredibly strong firearm.”

Smith & Wesson Model 1006

Smith & Wesson Model 1006

Glock 20

As my regular readers know, I have a ton of experience with Glocks, but my shooting experience with the G20 was a one single magazine back in 2003. That said, the gun performed completely up to snuff in that brief session, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about the G20 from friends who own one. In the manufacturer’s own words: “The GLOCK 20 Gen4 delivers formidable force downrange with high accuracy over long distance.

Glock 42

Glock 42. Image provided by author.

Glock 32

Glock 32

The use of GLOCK hi-tech polymer considerably reduces felt recoil even in this heavy caliber. For the hunting community this 10 mm Auto is a reliable companion providing a safe and accurate finishing shot, even when hunting big game.

The Modular back strap system makes it possible to instantly customize its grip to accommodate any hand size. The reversible magazine catch makes it ideal for left and right-handed shooters.”

SIG P220 Legion

I have fired the famous SIG Sauer P220, but that was the .45 ACP version, not the 10mm. The recommendation for the 10mm version of the P220 comes from my old high school buddy “Misfit,” whom I have consulted for my articles on the .45 P220 as well as the Glock 18 machine pistol, FN Five-SeveN, and Best Pistols for Southpaws.

Misfit says this: “The P220 is head and shoulders the best 10mm that I’ve ever fired. It’s an absolute beast.” My buddy does not dole out such praise lightly. But then again, given the P220’s well-deserved reputation for quality in older calibers — not just the .45 ACP, but the 9mm Parabellum and .38 Super as well — it is no surprise. 


This is yet another gun I have fired, but not in 10mm chambering — in this case, my experience comes with the 9mm version, the M17. So once again, I include this gun based on the input from SIG fanboy “Misfit.” In fact, the lucky SOB just bought an XTEN. “Misfit” told me that, “The finest 10mm pistols that I’ve ever fired are the *two* SIG brands” (emphasis added), and the P320 XTEN is the other variable in my friend’s two-gun equation. I can personally vouch for the quality of the 9mm P320, so it stands to reason that the 10mm version would also be a top-notch performer.

Honorable Mentions and Omissions?

Why didn’t the Smith 1076 mentioned in the second paragraph make the list? Well, during a face-to-face conversation with my friend Ed Mireles, retired FBI Special Agent extraordinaire and hero of the infamous 1986 FBI Miami Firefight, Ed told me that the 1076 was, well, let’s just say a less-than-stellar performer — one beset with a host of problems.

Revolvers in the caliber? Well, Smith’s Model 610 remains in production 33 years after its debut, which I reckon is a good indicator of quality, but I haven’t fired one yet, nor have any of my shooting buddies. I guess I’ll add that gun to my Bucket List.

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Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.

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Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).