5 Pistols They Didn’t Show You At the Gun Store

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5 Pistols They Didn't Show You At the Gun Store
5 Pistols They Didn’t Show You At the Gun Store

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- There are many handgun options out there, far more than any handful of local gun stores could possibly hope to keep in inventory, but just because it wasn’t in the shop doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering.  Graham Baates has reviewed hundreds of pistols over the last few years and selected five quality guns that, for one reason or another, chances are the local gun shop didn’t show you.

It’s Not Their Fault

These pistols are all accurate, reliable, high-value, and offer something the competition doesn’t, so why weren’t they on the gun counter? What’s wrong with my gun shop? Chances are it’s not that your shop actively decided not to carry a particular brand or model rather than other models offering a little more juice.  Firearm sales are high liability and low margin so when manufacturers and distributors offer incentive programs such as, “purchase four model X get one model Y free” or set special requirements like, “sell 10 model X to be able to stock models Y and Z” it’s hard for them to pass up, especially if those models are already popular.  It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to more sales and slightly higher margins with less counterwork, convincing the consumer that THIS is the gun to buy.  It’s hard to blame a local small business for doing what keeps its doors open.  The good news is that in today’s market, you CAN purchase just about any legal firearm through any local gun store if you have them order it.  You just need to know what you’re looking for in advance.  We at AmmoLand have the information you need to make an informed decision, so let’s look at these guns!

The Contenders

These aren’t the only great guns out there, but they are excellent firearms you may not have seen before. Others, like the Archon Type B and Bersa TPR9 Series, are great contenders but have had a bit more time in the spotlight than our selected five.  Click the highlighted names for dedicated pistol articles and videos. Without further delay, here are our five in no particular order and with distinguishing notes:

Honor Defense Honor Guard Pistol:

Honor Defense Honor Guard Pistol
Honor Defense Honor Guard Pistol

This pistol was way ahead of its time when first released and comes out of the box with all the features other gun owners were paying dearly to have done to their Smith & Wesson Shields and Glock 43’s and a few features that can’t be done aftermarket.

Advanced grip texturing throughout the frame, internal serialized frame that permits for quick, easy, and inexpensive grip frame changes, stylish wrap-around slide serrations front and rear, night sights, target-crown barrel, interchangeable backstraps, and low-snag shaping.

Third-party accuracy testing showed the Honor Guard beat the Shield and Glock 43 and even matched the Walther PPS M2! All of this is from a proudly American company. The Honor Guard is perhaps the pinnacle of what one can hope for in a single-stack nine with 7+1 or 8+1 capacity.

Walther PPQ SC Handgun:

Walther PPQ SC Handgun
Walther PPQ SC Handgun

Everything you love about the Walther PPQ and a few extra tricks chopped down into a sub-compact size. The Walther PPQ is renowned for incredible ergonomics and that Walther triggers other guns try to emulate, but the gun’s intended duty role makes it dimensionally less hip for concealed carry. Walther responded with the Sub-Compact and did more than just chop the slide and frame length.  Smart shooters and those who frequent the range appreciate the extra energy a 3.5″ barrel can provide and the shooting comfort a double-stack provides, but those aren’t the only advantages to this 10+1 or 15+1 offering from Walther.

Read AmmoLand News in-depth review or the Walther PPQ SC Handgun.

The PPQ SC’s secret is speed.  Of course, the trigger is the same 0.10″ reset found in other Walther models, but not even the popular clone Canik TP9 Elite SC can run as quickly as it’s Walther inspiration. Behind the breech face, a polymer insert holds the internals where steel traditionally would. This unique feature reduced reciprocating slide mass (thereby reducing recoil) and also shifts the weight balance forward for an incredibly flat-shooting gun. While the snap of a shorter barrel is still there, recoil ends with the gun level and ready for another shot.

Steyr M9-A1 Pistol:

Steyr M9-A1 Pistol
Steyr M9-A1 Pistol

Shooting Impressions video here. This model appears to have been discontinued and no longer appears in the pistol category of the company’s website, but a web search can still take you to their product page. Looking a bit like a ray gun, the Steyr M9-A1 was ahead of its time in features. Despite being striker-fired, the trigger breaks more like a fine single-action. The grip angle is very wrist-forward and, combined with an incredibly high cut in the tang, puts recoil more through the arm than over it, resulting in a relatively soft-shooting gun.

Steyr’s trapezoidal sight system can be replaced for those who are afraid to learn something new, but if that were you, I doubt you’d be reading this article. Styling may be a bit dated, but only until trends change again, otherwise, the M9-A1 is an excellent pistol that certainly deserves more attention even if you have to find one used.

Grand Power K-100 Pistol:

Grand Power K-100 Mk12 Pistol
Grand Power K-100 Mk12 Pistol

Read AmmoLand News’ related Grand Power P11 Handgun article.

Four interchangeable backstraps, complete fully-ambidextrous controls, and a steel internal chassis are features buyers have been looking for more and more, and Grand Power has been building their guns that way for years. The unique rotating barrel action sets the Grand Power line apart, resulting in less shifting mass while firing. It tends to tame recoil to levels about one caliber smaller than what you’re actually firing.

Grand Power’s rotating barrel action is not the same as the Beretta PX4 and uses a roller bearing and a mirror-like polished smoothness on the cam surface. While Grand Power has never enjoyed much popularity in the United States, they continue to be a pistol of choice in the European competitive shooting arena. Many models are available as SA/DA with or without decocker and in many calibers.

IWI Masada ORP Handgun:

IWI Masada ORP Handgun
IWI Masada ORP Handgun

This full-sized option was met with great anticipation when announced globally but, unfortunately, didn’t hit the United States for another two years.  Optics ready, plenty of rail space, and massive 17+1 capacity make the Masada ready for duty on the belt of a uniformed officer or the nightstand of your bedroom.

Read AmmoLand News’ in-depth IWI Masada ORP Handgun article.

Large size, interchangeable grip panels, and ambidextrous controls make the Masada an easy-to-hold and easy-to-shoot option.  Those who don’t like reading manuals may want to take note that the factory sights are set for 25 meters but can also either be swapped out for something more domestic or completely ignored by installing an optic.

Is That All?

The short answer is “No.”. There are hundreds of pistol options out there, just as there are hundreds of car options.  We don’t all drive the same cars because our tastes, needs, and budgets are different. If you look in a parking lot, you’re likely to see as many different makes and models as there are cars in the lot.

The range should be no different.  Just because your local dealership doesn’t have a specific make or model available doesn’t mean they’re not great options.


About Graham Baates

“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the local 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube.

G B Guns

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Big George

I am a ‘dyed in wool’ S&W fan, probably since birth or becoming a Police Officer…whichever came first! I like all guns, but I LOVE S&W! I couldn’t sleep for months when Horace & Dan broke up! On my recent visit to a ‘COVID-19 approved’ OPEN gun store, allowed by our ‘Glorious Leader’ here in Commiefornia, you would think that the ONLY semi-auto in 9mm is a GLOCK! I don’t like Glocks…IMHO I think they’re over-rated but still a nice gun…an M&P S&W is much, much better! Ruger & Walther are my FAV close seconds. Either way, great article and… Read more »

Big George

Will!…YEPPERS!!! IF I knew you, I’d invite you over to my home here in Commiefornia so you could check out my collection of S&W ‘wheel guns’!! I even have the very FIRST S&W mdl. 67 .38cal SS I purchased NEW in 1975 as a rookie!!…a whopping $275!!!


Lol, that is what I bought my used Colt Python for.


30 years ago I went to buy a revolver in 44 mag. I spent 30 minutes comparing the action, fit, and finish of an S&W 629 and a Ruger Redhawk. Not only was the Ruger beefier, but there was no comparison in fit, finish, and action, and it was $100 less. I left with the Ruger. Just wondering if you’ve ever checked one out?


@Big George
I think all poly smitty’s have horrible creepy triggers, if it’s not a series E 1911 S&W or a wheel gun ( have 6 smitty wheelers ) I am not ever buying another striker from S&W ive had some but sold them all.
But big I don’t discredit your love of them I’m okay with glocks have to many actually they are primary backpack, Work and SHTF pistols to me.
I’m not carrying a $1200 1911 to work surveying LOL. Glad to know there are still some shooters in Cali


Wasn’t crazy about factory trigger in my S&W. That hinged part always seemed to bite my finger. However flat faced APEX trigger made a world of difference – shrinking groups by more than 90%! Admittedly I’m a weak shooter, so more dependent upon trigger quality – but I find the s&w with apex to be as nice as any SA I’ve ever shot (admittedly rather limited selection).


I don’t like the first issue of M and P shield and it seems like allot of others didn’t either. To hard to cock for a 9mm. You would think they would have figured that out in testing or maybe they just didn’t care.


If you ever get a chance, Springfield no longer makes the XDM but my wife and I both lover our 40s.


I own a Steyr C40-A1. Even though it’s a 40, it’s highly controllable due to the grip angle, making it a very accurate gun (it’s my best shooter). Frankly, I’ve found the triangular front sight brighter and easier to pick up than the default 3 dot used by too many other manufacturers. Steyr’s are a best kept secret ignored by snobs who can’t handle innovation by the other Austrian gun maker.

Ansel Hazen

I own three. Converted both my 40’s to .357 sig via Ranger Point Precision drop in barrels.


Ansel: If you want some 357 Sig brass I bought a thousand off a place for $52.00 per 1000. Almost all was Speer and in very good shape and appeared to be once fired. Polished up nicely. Let me know if you want their info.

Ansel Hazen

Hell yes, always interested in the names of a place that has good deals. 🙂

Ansel Hazen

Thanks, they look good.


Prices of the guns is an important description that is missing for each gun- at least theNSRO.


I still think it’s a marketing problem that sees many of these guns sidelined. If they don’t have the shekels to successfully challenge the market leaders, then you’re not going to see them on the shelf. The offering of manufacture incentives does play a role, but at the end of the day, Brand Recognition still drives American consumers. Have the next John Wick movie use one of these off market guns, and they’ll sell like hotcakes.

Ansel Hazen

In Steyr’s case Austrian corporate has their head up their ass. There is a large community of us cult Steyr fans. They listen to none of our suggestions. When contacted as to why are they shipping pistols that can have their mag release swapped over for a lefty but with no cutout on the mag itself, the answer was they won’t do that until they run out of the magazines they have. That was a few years ago. Now with the A2 line of pistols on the market, I realize that answer now will be never. I’m going to have… Read more »


I’d like to also recommend the original Steyr M40 in 40 S&W. It’s not that hard to get a good used one and they can be purchased for as low as $300. I own two Steyr M40s, and they are my favorite semi autos. I really can’t improve on what Ansel Hazen and RevJ wrote earlier, but I’ll say this; I’m not a huge fan of the 9mm, preferring the .40 S&W. I love the original Streyr M40 because, IMHO, they got it right the first time. The M40 was designed around the 40 S&W, so it’s not simply a… Read more »


I work at a place that sells firearms. There is only so much money budgeted for purchasing products for the store. Since customers greatly prefer to stay with name brands they recognize, it is hard justifying stocking these off-brand guns. It has nothing to do with quality, features, or prices. I am one who judges every single gun on it’s own merits. I don’t favor just one or two brands. I do sometimes get used guns in that I consider off-brand. Most are not hard to sell, just based on price. If they are expensive, they tend to stay on… Read more »


I’ve shot S&W since the 70’s, Glocks & Rugers since the 80’s…that’s been about it. The odd Colt here and there, but I didn’t step far out of my comfort zone. A few months ago, circumstances were such that I had an opportunity to pick up a Masada at a great deal. Since that fateful day, I have put a ton of rounds through that gun. Saw enough value in that gun to spend money on a decent red dot for it. In spite of having many reasons for not liking this gun, I find myself drawn to it over… Read more »


I’ve got well over 2000 rounds through my Honor Guard with zero FTF, FTE or any issues. Easy to field strip and clean. Reassembly takes about a minute, and that is just because I’m slow. The minute I picked it up, it just felt right…very well designed grip, excellent trigger and sights. I think I paid around $400 for it when it first came out, but have seen it on sale for as low as $250. Generally available for around $350. The thing I like is they also have a lot of spare parts available on their website for sale,… Read more »


Good article. I have to say that I love my Israeli police trade-in Jericho 941 in 9mm. It’s old enough to be an IMI model rather than an IWI version and it remains my go-to standard. It’s in my holster as I type this. Reliable, accurate and very safe to carry.

Ansel Hazen

Jeezum Graham, Steyr announced the M9-A2 at 2019 Shot Show.



Hey, Graham. One of your subscribers here. I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you a bit. I’m not all that familiar with the Honor Defense pistols, but I don’t see people raving about them which might reflect the prices I see. They actually kinda remind me of the Mossberg compacts that are conspicuous by their absence in this discussion. The Walther PPQ is a good pistol for non-handloaders. Walther and HK 9mm pistols have “stepped” chambers and have had for some years now. Someone would have to prove to me that there’s anything to gained over an… Read more »


Might be a great pistol but I just don’t like the huge gaudy HONOR DEFENSE scrawled down the slide from serration to serration… Scale it it down about 3/4 so it doesn’t look like a damn BILLBOARD.


I own a PPQ M2 in .40 and one in 9mm, and I’ve had no issues with either running my reloads. Cases for both are ran through standard RCBS Dies. I do run every case through my trimmer to minimum length, and taper crimp with a Lee’s Taper Crimp Die for each, but I do that for every caliber I load for, other than that, there’s nothing special about how I handle the cases I can think of. I did have issues with a powder I tried for the first time (Winchester AutoComp), with failures to extract, but it has… Read more »


Springfield Armory SD Series. All the gun(s) I need or want in all the popular calibers and at fire sale prices. (and their grip angle is correct for me)


Great info, as we have come to expect from you. To your point, I wanted a 1911 but in 9mm and my local gun store did not have what I wanted. I saw your review of the Tisas 1911 Tank Commander 9 and called the local store. They did not carry it in stock but could get it with no shipping cost and total cost including background check was the same as buying it online and having it shipped and transferred to the store for pickup. They had it there in 3 days. Great service. Thanks for your service to… Read more »

Sam in New Hampshire

Honor Defense went out of business a few years ago, but the recently introduced Savage Stance pistol looks like a variant of their Honor Guard model. See the article at https://gatdaily.com/the-savage-stance-and-honor-guard-what-they-have-in-common/, which includes this sentence: “From the ground up, the Savage Stance seems to be an Honor Guard. Savage likely licensed purchased or licensed the design and built their own.”


IWI could have chosen a better name for their new handgun than “Masada”. Look it up. The defenders of the fort all committed suicide when the situation became hopeless.

Sam in New Hampshire

The defenders of the Alamo lost and died too. Is that a reason to disrespect them? How about the U.S. Cavalry at Custer’s Last Stand?