Before getting to the list of the best 10mm pistols, let's take a brief look at its formation.
Developed in the early 1980s for use with the commercially ill-fated Bren 10 series of pistols, the 10mm received a brief flurry of interest when the FBI chose it for a new service round, only to immediately call an about face when the cartridge’s potent recoil proved too much for too many agents. Both the Bren and the 10mm Auto got a little bit of a boost too by being portrayed in the 1980’s TV Show Miami Vice.
While the 10mm was quickly replaced by the newly developed .40 S&W in 1990 the 10mm became a hot shot round only sought after by ballistic masochists and backwoodsmen who felt the .45 and .40 too “light” for whatever natural predator they may encounter. Ironically, as US law enforcement – led by the FBI - moves away from the .40 S&W cartridge back to the 9mm in recent years, interest for the 10mm has picked up encouraging arms manufacturers to introduce new models. The caliber’s use as both a trail gun and a personal defense weapon has been re evaluated and new interest in something old means new options to evaluate and consider.
Best 10mm Pistol Comparison and Reviews
The Colt Delta Elite is the first commercially successful firearm chambered in 10mm. First introduced in 1987 it faired far better than the first commercial firearm, the gun the 10mm Auto was designed for, the Bren 10. The Bren simply had too many teething and distribution problems. The Delta was essentially a Series 80 Colt 1911 repurposed to accommodate the faster round. A proven design was a much better way to introduce a new cartridge. Briefly discontinued in 1996, it was reintroduced in 2008 as interest in the 10mm regained momentum was paired with Colt’s need to offer something new[er]. In recent years, as the 10mm gains more converts in the competitive and personal defense world, Colt has offered several variants of the Elite including a 2-tone and FDE model. As a collector piece, the Colt Delta Elite represents a piece of firearms history, an almost must have for 10mm shooters and Colt aficionados alike. Its only detriment to true Colt diehards is the Series 80 design, however, newer models have the more traditional barrel bushing to bridge the interest gap thus removing the purists’ arguments against the series 80. Mostly.
While not yet available in Gen 5, the Glock 20 is the mid size service pistol offered by Glock. Of course to meet both sub compact and target needs there is also the model 29 and 40 respectively. This brand of pistol has earned what can be named either glockophiles on one side and glockoclasts on the other. The former see the gun as a tool that will always work, no matter what, and embrace the simplicity of the design as well as a wealth of after market products to enhance performance and aesthetics. The latter see it as a boxy gun that has no aesthetics and never will. Nevertheless, quite a few outdoorsmen have opted for the Glock as a backwoods carry for dealing with any threat up to and including bear and aggravated moose. For over thirty years, Glock has been on the frontline of service where professionals and amateurs alike have done their worst to the design and it continues to serve. It remains to be seen if a Gen 5 variant – more accommodating to left handed shooters and lacking in the finger grooves being among the most prominent difference – is forthcoming, however Glock is keeping much of the gen 3 and gen 4 production going to meet demand.
European American Arms (EAA) Inc’s Witness Hunter is based on the very successful CZ75 design though clearly upscaled to accept the more potent cartridge. Made in Italy by Tanfoglio, the Witness has the same traits of the CZ pistol: a barrel and slide that is mounted into the frame rather than on top of it. This provides for improved accuracy and recoil control thanks to a lower bore axis in the hand. Offered with adjustable, competition sights and a longer barrel, there are several variants of the Hunter made available at different times of the year. This is designed as a competitions pistol, with mounting points for additional weights with additional weight of this steel framed – even without the add ons – helping to further soak up the considerable recoil of the 10mm. Finally, Tanfoglio has taken great pains to provide for a single and double action pistol worthy of competitions status.
Remington has been making 1911 style pistols almost as long as Colt but has only recently turned to the 10mm Auto. Their R1 Hunter returns to the 1911 style of 10mm, but offers a 6” long slide. The increased energy of the 10 compensates against the typical cycling problems inherent in a long barreled 1911 – John Browning designed it specifically as a 4.25 – 5” barrel and there have been a lot of adjustments to find a 1911 with a different bbl length to work reliably. Remington’s version does so and is available in several colors, but also offers a tactical rail as well as a fiber optic front sight and adjustable target rear sights. It is suitable for either competition or tactical use, though obviously not for concealed carry except for the coldest of months to justify the thick and long coats necessary to conceal such a monster. Remington’s R1 also comes with adjustable rear sights with fiber optic front sight standard for a positive sight picture. The detriment of recent Remington models is that out of the box many have needed some fine tuning. While price points may often mitigate the having to “finish” the production process, other shooters may choose to pass the gun by. However, for the casual custom smith as well as the Remington afficianado, the R1 remains a popular choice.
The Sig P220 Elite is the same trusted single stack Sig that has been long available in .45 ACP. Available in stainless steel, blued or Kryptek cerakote, depending on the current whims of the Sig production team, the Sig is designed for carry use, though again, not usually concealed carry. The Sig P220 models are made for service and duty use, therefore capable of dealing with the rigors of rough carry and use in uncontrolled scenarios. Adjustable rear sights with fiber optic front offers positive and rapid sight picture acquisition, and the tactical rail allows for the installation of light/laser combinations. The Sig P220 elite is also most usually available only in single action, similar in functionality to the 1911. As a target or open carry firearm, however, it remains a popular choice. Not too biased to say that this is the best 10mm carry pistol.
The increased commercial appeal of the 10mm has created a surge in new firearms, and Ruger saw no reason not to extend it to the wheelguns. The use of semi auto cartridges in revolvers typically requires recessed chambers or the use of moon (half or full) clips. This sometimes causes a deviation in pressure and accuracy due to the chamber jump: the distance remaining in the chamber before the bullet gains the rifling in the barrel. The 10mm, however, is capable enough to mitigate these deviations. The Super Redhawk offers a 6.5” barrel with reliability that can only be offered by a revolver. Provided with three full moon clips, loading and unloading does not take much longer than using a detachable magazine. Further, the Redhawk is the only pistol that comes with mounts and rings for a telescopic sight. This is a best 10mm hunting pistol through and through, made by Ruger, so it is known to be a tank ready to take out anything the elements or the animal kingdom can dish out. One of the best 10mm semi auto pistol on the market.
The Springfield Long Slide TRP Operator The Springfield Armory Tactical Response Pistol (TRP) is the company’s tactical pistol meant for maximum accuracy and reliability. Like the Remington R1 long slide, the increased pressure of th e10mm cartridge helps resolve the usual cycling issues of the 1911 in a longer than 5” barrel. The 6” barrel offers a longer sight radius for better accuracy as well as additional ballistic energy out of the muzzle. The TRP also comes with an accessory rail in addition to G10 grips that provide positive contact to the shooters hands. Springfield has maintained the status of a quality manufacturer of the 1911 series of firearms seconded only by Colt without going to the custom houses such as Wilson or STI. Yet Springfield maintains a parity of quality and reliability with such big name houses while still being a “stock” pistol.
Ruger SR1911 Ruger’s entry into the 1911 market was made with the traditional calibered .45acp SR1911 where the company provided a strong and well made 1911 that offers a lot of bells and whistles for a decent price. This included a stainless steel frame and slide milled from the same block of metal, extended beavertail safety, Novak sights, adjustable trigger and the Ruger reputation of being able to take abuse. The 10mm variant traded the Novak sights for adjustable rear sight and the wood diamond cut grips for Hogue like rubber grips for a more positive connection for the shooter. As an alternative to Colt’s Delta Elite, the SR1911 offers itself as a tempting alternative: essentially trading the pedigree of the Colt for a Ruger meant for use and abuse. As such it is better served for a carry or a back up trail gun that will hold its own in target practice.
The Czeck manufactured Grand Power brand is a relative newcomer to US markets but what has been seen has been well appreciated by those who have tried it out. Offering models from carry and duty to competition, the P40 Longslide appears to fall into the target shooting category. Another single/double action offering with a polymer frame, and completely ambidextrous controls, the primary trait that this pistol brings to the table is a rotary barrel that both improves extraction and ejection but also helps soak up a little more of the recoil that turns so many shooters off of the 10mm Auto. As an introduction pistol to the caliber capable of accommodating either handed shooters the P40 Longslide offers versatility and a little extra comfort to people not yet comfortable with the caliber. The polymer frame also offers the compromise in weight for anyone with less hand strength.
Rock Island’s M1911-A1 Tactical offers quite a few premium features at a comfortable cost. G10 grips, extended and flared mag well, extended beavertail grip safety, skeletonized hammer and trigger with adjustable set screw, ambidextrous manual safety and fiber optic front sight with adjustable rear sights in dove cuts for potential upgrades. These Filipino made 1911s by Armscor offer considerable value and the frames of these pistols are made by the same people that Kimber is rumored to get their own for their pistols. The A1 Tactical in 10mm further comes with a 5” bull barrel, bushingless slide and full length guide rod. RIA firearms are often grabbed up as building platforms for budding gunsmiths to tinker and shoot as they build. They are reputed to be 80% plus compatible with Colt parts and the remaining percentage can be made to fit with some smithing. These pistols may not have the brand name, but they do have the service history of offering considerable bang for the shooter’s buck.
What is best 10mm pistol for you?
The best duty 10mm pistol of this selection must needs be the Glock. The simplicity along with 30 years of proven reliability make this pistol the best of the carry for serviceability and reliability of use in any of its sized models. In its three decade history, the Glock doe not score a lot of apathy from thise who have shot it: people either love it or hate it. The rather wide grip to bore axis angle makes the muzzle point high and the grip itself is either acceptable or not. As with all things, the best answer is to try it and see how it feels to the individual.
For competitive as well as target shooting, perhaps the best comes down to either the EAA Hunter or the Springfield TRP Longslide. Both have the 6” barrel for longer sight radius and increased muzzle energy. The TRP has the tactical rail while the Hunter has just under twice as many rounds. The deciding factor come down to preference and feel which are personal concerns.
Best 10mm pistol for hunting, the best choice is probably the Ruger Super Redhawk. As a revolver, the versatility to be able to fire the myriad diversity of handloaded rounds edges this firearm over the finish line. From maximum +p loads to slow and heavy hollow based lead bullets, the Ruger will fire them without fear of jamming – a not inconsiderate perk especially if hunting aggressive game such as wild boar.
As a potential custom platform, the Remington R1 has some features worthy of note to bring to the table, and so does the RIA M1911-A1 Tactical. As mentioned, recent issues with Remington firearms indicate that some fine tuning may be required. While Rock Island Armory makes a very good product and is often selected by novice gunsmiths looking to make a custom firearm. However, Remington potentially edges them out in this consideration for one very simple fact: a custom Remington will almost always be considered worth more than a jazzed up Armscor. If brand names, however, are not a primary consideration and if resell options are not a concern – parts is parts. Yet the Remington name has an association with 1911 style firearms almost as old as Colt itself.
For simple carry and general purpose, both the Ruger SR1911 and Sig P220 present worthy options. The Ruger is stainless steel and has virtually every immediate upgrade a 1911 could want. The Sig offers better aesthetics and fiber optic front sight. Personal considerations and tastes are the final deciding factor, as in most cases, though the Ruger probably wins out on economy of price.
The Grand Power offers the best training and introductory pistol: The rotating barrel aids in recoil but most importantly, the gun is readily ambidextrous, able to accommodate either dominant handed shooter and with the rotating barrel may prove less daunting to recoil sensitive shooters. Additionally, the presence of an accessory rail allow the gun to perform as a duty weapon as well.
Recoil sensitivity is another reason to consider a carbine chambered in 10mm. The additional weight and ability to put more of the shooter’s mass behind the fire arm help combat recoil as well as offers a more stable position with which to hit the target. Not to mention an increased sight radius and additional velocity out of a longer barrel. Finally, many jurisdictions in the US make handgun acquisition more complex than long guns. A carbine offers such individuals an opportunity to participate in the shooting sports and the joys of the 10mm Auto caliber.
Which is the best 10mm pistol? The one that fits best and encourages proficiency through comfort. As always, the best way to decide is to try them all!