Buying A Handgun: Steel-Framed Pistols vs. Polymer Pistols

Handguns For Sale

The handgun market has been flooded with new entries in the last five years. Below is a short list of popular semi-auto handguns. This is not an exhaustive list of all the handguns available, but should serve as a starting point.

Steel Framed Pistols


The most popular handgun type in the United States today is the 1911. After over a hundred years of production, the John M Browning design has become synonymous with America and the love affair the citizens have with the pistol. Almost every firearm manufacturer makes some sort of 1911 and with the 100th anniversary of the 1911’s adoption as the sidearm of the military approaches, there is bound to be another spike in sales and popularity.

Who should get a 1911?

1911’s are perfect for a shooter that wants the best trigger available, the most proven semi-auto handgun in existence, and prefers steel and wood. 1911s are not for the cheap though. You will pay for the history and complexity of the firearm. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 for a very basic 1911 to $2,000 for a fully tuned factory 1911. The average price range for a quality 1911 starts around $500 and ranges to about $1,200.

What manufacture should I get it from?

The answer to this question depends greatly on what it is you are planning on using the firearm for and how historically accurate you would like the firearm to be.

  • Colt – They originally produced the 1911. From a historical and collectable stand point, it is hard to argue against picking up a Colt. The quality is what you would expect from a Colt and so is the price. You pay for that history when you purchase a Colt 1911.
  • Springfield Armory – Springfield offers WWII military-spec 1911’s that are considered one of the best 1911 bargains around. A great choice for the shooter that wants a historically accurate pistol and a low price. SA also makes fully tuned 1911s that are extremely good pistols.
  • Kimber – Kimber is one of the most popular 1911 manufacturers and have sold the idea of a quality of a much more expensive 1911 for  the price of a midrange 1911. There have been complaints about the quality control of recent pistols.
  • Wilson Combat – Narrowing down to just one high end 1911 manufacturer is hard since, by definition, the 1911’s are high-end. Wilson Combat receives the nod due to its various product offerings. You pay for the quality with a Wilson, but the old adage of “Long after the sting of price is gone; the quality remains” has never held so true.

See the 1911 review for more information.

CZ Style Pistols

There are the original CZ and then quite a few CZ style pistol clones. The CZ clones include EAA, Armalite, and various other manufacturers outside of the United States. CZ model pistols are typically found in 9mm (CZ 75) and have been the secret of serious shooters for years. Offering a reasonable price of $450 to $800, the CZ model pistols are some of the best values available to shooters today.

Who should purchase a CZ?

Any shooter that prefers a full steel pistol and out of the box accuracy to rival much more expensive pistols.

Sig Sauer Pistols

Sig Sauer is one of the most popular pistols among law enforcement and serious shooters. Sig Sauer offers a high quality pistol for an affordable price. Sig offers series of pistols ranging from the P239 in .380 ACP to the P220 offered in the .45ACP caliber. The most popular model of Sig Sauer is the P229.

Who should purchase a Sig?

Shooters that are looking for a quality modern firearm and is able to pay the premium for the quality of the pistol.


Polymer Pistols



Glock pistols come in three standard sizes (full size, subcompact, & compact) for each caliber. Glock is a privately owned company and getting the exact numbers for how many have been sold is almost impossible, but by any count the number is among the highest in America. The most popular Glock is the 9mm variation in both the full size Glock 17 and the compact Glock 19. Glock has recently released the 4th generation of pistols, which have changeable back straps to cover the needs of any shooter. The only question you’ll need to ask is what caliber do I want and in what size pistol?

Who should purchase a Glock?

The Glock is a perfect choice for the shooter that is looking for a reliable and proven handgun at a bargain price. The Glocks run anywhere from $500 to $700

 For more information on Glock Pistols see our Glock Review


Springfield Armory XD Pistols

The XD line of pistols has slowly taken away some of the market share from Glock in the polymer market. One of the biggest selling points is the grip angle that is identical to the grip angle of the 1911. Springfield XD’s are actually just HS2000s that are rebranded by Springfield for sale in the United States.

There are two different lines of XD pistols. The original Springfield XD which has had only one major change since release (slide coating was changed very early on) and the recently released XDM line of pistols; which can be considered generation 2 XDs. There is a slight price increase when moving from the XD to the XDM, but there are gains in capacity, barrel grade, and ergonomics.

Who should purchase a XD?

XD’s are a great choice for a shooter that hasn’t made the leap from steel and wood pistols to a polymer. The grip will feel correct and there is less training required to feel comfortably proficient after making the switch. XD’s are also one of the cheapest in the family of unquestionably reliable.

For more information see our XD Review


Smith and Wesson M&P

Just recently released by Smith & Wesson, this pistol is gaining ground with the law enforcement crowd and Smith and Wesson fans. Offering ergonomics that are similar to the steel pistols S&W used to make, this polymer is also shipped with three different sizes of back straps. The S&W M&P pistol is priced on the higher end of the polymer pistol offerings. The M&P is offered in similar sizes to the Glock and in the modern calibers.

Who should buy an S&W M&P?

Shooters that prefer an American made polymer pistol. The M&P is one of the more expensive polymer pistols offered and much more expensive than the American made Ruger SR9. The pistol is extremely reliable and the quality is what you expect from a Smith and Wesson.