Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-related forums, and I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a new-to-guns person post something along the lines of, “I’m looking to buy my first self-defense pistol, any advice?” Invariably, someone will respond, “Glock 19.” Sometimes with no explanation, just make and model.
Brevity aside, it’s a standard answer because when it comes to utilitarian, do-it-all self-defense pistols, the 19 arguably is the standard. It’s chambered in 9mm, an adequate self-defense round that doesn’t kick excessively. Its compact, shortened grip improves concealability but still offers a hefty 15+1 rounds of capacity. Its shortened barrel also improves concealability while delivering acceptable velocity and accuracy. Its polymer frame makes it light to ease carry, but not so light that recoil becomes an issue. With a striker-fired trigger system and no manual safety, it’s simple to operate. It’s not expensive, relatively speaking. And probably most importantly, it’s stone-dead reliable.
Since Glock first blitzed the shooting world with its polymer pistols in the 1980s, numerous gun manufacturers have stepped into the arena with their own polymer pistols in a wide range of sizes and varying features. If a new model hews closely to the basic Glock design, it’s sometimes hyped as a “Glock killer,” much as some new smartphones aspire to be iPhone killers.
In 1988, Glock introduced the model 19, and since then several manufacturers have developed pistols that match up well with the 19’s form factor. Are any of them actually better than the Glock 19? I’m not sure, but I think it’s interesting to check them all out side-by-side.
To that end, this article pulls together info on the six polymer pistols currently in production that closely match the Glock 19’s specs. That means the only guns making it in measure roughly 5″ tall and 7.28″ long, with barrels measuring approximately 4″ long. And of course the other parameters must match up, too—caliber, capacity, firing mechanism, etc.
I anticipated finding more than six 19-size guns. I initially intended to restrict the height requirement to no more than a .25″ variance either way, but I I expanded it to .3″ to allow the SIG Sauer gun in. I bent even more on overall length to let the FMK and Springfield guns in. In fact, the Springfield XD(M) Compact might not really belong in this list because it measures only 6.75″ long—it’s the outlier, but I’ll leave it in for now.
I reluctantly pared the Kahr Arms TP9 and CT9 and the Avidity Arms PD10 from the list because they are single-stack, low-capacity guns (and the Avidity gun remains vaporware at press time). If the Caracal Enhanced C and New Order Firearms NO9 ever make it to production, they’ll likely get in.
Each pistol’s listing is an excerpt from its main-info page, which contains a full description, specs, more photos, pricing info and sometimes links to external articles and reviews. To go to that page, click on the gun’s name or photo.
The actual retail prices and price ranges listed below reflect prices for new guns seen recently in online gun stores. Those numbers certainly aren’t absolute—you might find better (or worse) deals at other online or brick-and-mortar gun shops.
I’ve organized these pistols alphabetically by manufacturer. If I’ve failed to include a model, please let me know via our Contact form at this link, or via the Comment form at the bottom of this article.