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The best most accurate semi-automatic handguns

Pistol Tips by Donald K. Burleson

December 2010

Disclaimer!  I am a crack shot and I have had semi-automatic handguns for 40 years, but I am not an expert.  To find an expert to advise you on the most accurate semi-automatic handguns, just go to any gun show.  Everyone there will claim to be a handgun expert.

While everybody is an expert, I have been able to glean from various sources the "best", most accurate match grade semi-automatic handguns.  Of course, any custom built handgun is going to be more accurate.

Major points in handgun accuracy include:

  • Ask for a "match grade" semi-automatic:  A match grade semi-automatic is milled to 1,000 of an inch, 15 times closer than a Wal-Mart handgun.
  • Test for the "right" ammo:  Ammo makes a huge difference in the accuracy of any semi-automatic handgun.  You will need to test your own handgun on a bench rest to see what ammo is the most accurate for your specific hand gun.
  • Don't assume that barrel length matters:  While it's true that a sub-nose is less accurate than a six inch barrel, barrel length is not always correlated to high accuracy.

Also see my  notes on the most accurate single shot pistol.

Experts say that it's also important to know about the barrel length and accuracy.  In general, the longer barrels are more accurate, but only up to about 6-8 inches,  After than a longer barrel can hinder accuracy because of difficulty in aiming it offhand.

A longer barrel does not always mean more accuracy

Also see my notes on the best concealed carry handgun.

Here are my notes on the expert's choices for the best semi-automatic pistols.  Also it's important to note that the ammo haves a huge difference in the accuracy of a handgun.  See here, how to do an ammo test on Most a accurate handgun.

The ammo makes a huge difference in handgun accuracy

The most accurate 22 caliber semi-automatic handguns

While the 22 caliber handguns are not too good for personal defense unless you get a shot right in the forehead or heart, there are many 22 caliber handguns that will shoot a two inch group at 50 yards. 

Here is what I gleaned from the experts on most accurate 22 caliber handguns.  I have excluded pure "match handguns" that are not made for ordinary killing:

  • Browning Buckmark - Gorgeous looks and balance, easy to clean and maintain, not a lot of add-ons.
  • Browning Challenger - A great target pistol - At under $500, a great target pistol at a great price.
  • Colt Woodsman - Built for hunting, but accurate.
  • High Standard Supermatic Tournament, Citation or Trophy - Some say it's the best 1911 style .22 target pistol
  • Ruger Mark II and III - Overall, the best target pistol, with lots of safety features and loads of 3rd-party add-ons for the rail.  The only downside is that some models look like a Nazi Luger.

For more details o the best 22 caliber handguns, see my picks for the best .22 target pistols.


We chose the Ruger Mark II, an amazingly accurate 22 handgun

Also see my ballistics tests on the most accurate 22 ammo bullets for a Ruger Mark III handgun

Most accurate 9mm semi-automatic handguns

  •  Sig Sauer P210 – 9mm - Claimed to be the world's most accurate production handgun.  Used ones start at about $2,000.
  • CZ 75 – 9mm - CZ makes this high-end high accurate 9 millimeter with a 2011 cost at $3,164.
  • CZ 75B Stainless – 9mm - CZ's are great semi-automatic handguns, and the CZ 75 is a great bargain at only $699.
  • Smith & Wesson Model 952 match grade - 9 mm – Smith & Wesson shows a 2011 suggested retail sale price  cost at $2,509.
  • The Sig P250:  I recommend the Sig Sauer 2SUM - available in 9 mm and 40 caliber - This is not match grade semi-automatic, but Sig Sauer is known for accurate handguns.  interchangeable parts kits makes two guns!  got the best price on my Sig twosome at Cross Creek outdoor supply at $725.

The Most accurate 45 caliber semi-automatic handguns

The experts I talked with recommended these 45 caliber semi-automatic handguns for their accuracy.  In the 45 caliber, many people make-up custom 1911 models, using specialized parts like the Caspian frame and jeweled triggers.

I'm told that the Kimber  Gold Match 2 in Stainless steel is deadly accurate

I have not included 1911 custom build's and only listed retails semi-automatic 45 pistols.

  • Kimber Gold Match 2 Stainless – 45 caliber – This is a remarkable match grade 45 caliber, with adjustable trigger, on par with the custom built semi-automatic handguns.  Kimber shows a 2011 cost of $1,519.
  • Colt Gold Cup .45 national match – 45 caliber ACP – 2011 new price $1,022
  • Smith & Wesson 945 match – 45 caliber – S&W shows a 2011 sale price of $2,410.
  • CZ-97B – 45 caliber – This is a true "match grade" semi-automatic, but CZ makes great handguns and the 2010 cost is only $619
  • Heckler and Koch- HK Mark 23 – 45 caliber - H&K notes an MSRP 2010 cost at $2,310

Other caliber accurate semi-automatic handguns

Here are some non-standard semi-automatic handguns that experts say are highly accurate:

  • Remington XP-100 – 221 caliber - claimed to shoot 3/8" groups at 100 yards with telescopic sight.
  • Smith & Wesson Model 52 – 38 caliber – used sale price $1,225.
  • Wilson supergrade:  available in 45, 9mm, 38, and 40 caliber – Wilson Combat makes a super grade gun at a super price, starting at $4,400.
  • Magnum Research 50 AE desert eagle – this is a 50 caliber monster selling for $1,251

I'm not a handgun expert, and if you have a recommendation for a high accuracy handgun that I have missed, please e-mail me at the address below and I will add your gun to my notes!


Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright ? 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.