When discussing the power and accuracy of handgun cartridges, the debate is usually centered around the 9mm vs .45 ACP vs .40 S&W debate.
But there’s another gun that’s often left out…the 10mm.
And depending on who you ask, some shooters will tell you that the 10mm is one of the more powerful handgun calibers out there.
Benefits of this cartridge include deeper penetration and greater muzzle energy than the 9mm and .45 ACP, but that comes at a price.
So, let’s take a tour through the 10mm. We’ll talk about its history and even give you some recommendations.
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Origin Story: 10mm Auto
The 10mm was designed in part by Colonel Jeff Cooper, a marine, firearms instructor, and 1911 lover who was looking to improve on the .45 ACP cartridge.
Col. Cooper was known for a number of incredible feats, but one of his most notable contributions to the firearms world was his assistance with the 10mm Auto — a powerful caliber capable of reaching 1,200 feet per second and able to maintain accuracy beyond 50 yards.
Despite being an incredibly popular cartridge in the early 1980s, the 10mm Auto became yesterday’s news seemingly overnight as law enforcement phased out 9mms in the wake of the infamous 1986 FBI Miami shootout.
This gun battle led to the FBI creation of the .40 S&W — a shortened and arguably suboptimal version of the 10mm Auto.
While the 10mm didn’t get all of the notoriety that it deserves, it is a well-rounded caliber, which is one of the reasons why it’s garnered a cult following over the years.
And it’s experiencing a resurgence as new hobbyists are discovering just how awesome this cartridge is.
Whether you’re interested in purchasing your very first 10mm handgun or you just want to add a new gun to your growing collection, we have just the ones for you.
Pros/Cons to 10mm
Why would anyone want a 10mm, you ask?
Well, there are a few reasons.
First, it’s a got a bit more oomph than your standard 9mm round. This is especially handy if you intend to do any hunting with a handgun.
The added power lends itself well to hunting with greater penetration and increased muzzle velocity.
But that’s not without some tradeoffs…namely the recoil.
10mm can have some recoil if you’re not expecting it. That said it can be managed, especially in a larger platform pistol.
This brings us to point number two on the con side…gun size. Most of the 10mm guns you find are going to be full-sized.
For hunting, this is a-okay, but if you want to concealed carry…well that can get trickier. You might have to get creative with your wardrobe is all we’re saying.
Best 10mm Handguns
1. Rock Island Armory TAC Ultra MS
At first glance, you might be reluctant to even shoot the TAC Ultra MS because of how beautiful it looks.
But don’t let its flashy design fool you, this 10mm pistol performs with the best of them and might do you everything that your .45 ACP 1911 does and then some.
Aside from its flawless craftsmanship, I really like the attention to detail that was put into the Rock Ultra MS.
The magazine well has a slightly larger-than-usual opening that works brilliantly with the gun’s tapered 8-round magazines, making reloading on the fly simple and convenient.
Another nice perk is the fiber optic fight sight, which makes target acquisition so much easier than guns using standard iron sights.
That, combined with the gun’s smooth design to reduce holster snag, makes the Ultra MS a great weapon for tactical situations.
If you’re one of those people who prefer solid guns with a sturdy feel over polymer-based pistols, you’ll love the Ultra MS.
2. Sig Sauer P220 Hunter
The P220 Legion is the 10mm Auto variant of Sig’s popular P220 line of handguns.
While it’s one of the pricier 10mm pistols out there, buying a Sig Sauer means that you’re guaranteed to get dependability and pinpoint accuracy with every round fired.
The P220 Legion ain’t no slouch. It’s and big, bulky…not something you’ll holster and forget about.
With that said, it’s a beautiful gun that perfectly combines the power of the 10mm cartridge with Sig’s superior engineering.
And when you look at all the perks that come with owning this gun, you start to justify its price tag.
- Aggressive grip texture that lets you grip firmly on the gun without irritating your hands.
- Solid stainless steel slide and frame.
- Ambidextrous safety system that feels natural and easy to operate on the fly.
- Adjustable rear sight and tritium fiber optic front sight.
- Match-grade barrel for improved accuracy over longer range.
But can we just take a moment and appreciate how the gun looks?
3. Colt Delta Elite
The Delta Elite opts for a classic 10mm handgun that’s been around since the late 1980s and continues to impress and outperform its competition.
Designed for people who love the classic Colt 1911 but want something a little more, the Delta Elite brings the best of both worlds. It’s worthy of self-defense but powerful enough to take hunting.
I like the Delta Elite because it’s simplistic and effective.
It doesn’t come with a rail system — although for an additional $100, you can buy the Delta Elite Rail Gun.
The Delta Elite markets itself to the 1911 purists – the people who know and love the time-tested Colt 1911. But there’s more to the Delta Elite than old-school cool in 10mm.
It’s got a double-recoil spring system that takes some of the kick away from shooting 10mms, as well as a comfortable beavertail grip safety that doesn’t dig into your hand like other handguns.
The Delta Elite performs just how you’d imagine a Colt 1911 would, while also delivering a surprisingly comfortable grip.
What’s your take on the Colt Delta Elite? Give it a rating below.
4. Glock 20
You didn’t think we’d do a handgun write-up and leave Glock off the list, did you?
It’s a Glock – ’nuff said.
With the G20, you get all of the durability and accuracy that Glock models are revered for, but you also get the power advantage that comes with firing the 10mm cartridge.
The thing that I like about Glocks is that they’re always the safe option.
If you’ve become accustomed to shooting one of them then you’ll be able to comfortably handle any of them.
The G20 is essentially a slightly bulkier version of its 9mm counterpart, the G17.
Aside from having slightly wider grips and having a weight of 27.6oz unloaded, as opposed to the 22oz G17, it feels almost the same in your hands.
If you’re looking for something slightly slimmer, Glock also makes the G20 in Short Frame (SF).
For me, making the G20 your go-to defense weapon makes perfect sense because of its generous 15+1 capacity.
And choosing the Gen 4 variant of this gun means that you get Glock’s popular dual recoil spring, which gives the kick a noticeable reduction.
We have a complete Hands-on Review of the Glock 20 that you should take a look at, awesome firearm!
5. Glock 40
The G40 ain’t cheap, but it just might be the closest you’ll ever reach to 10mm perfection.
In terms of how well the gun shoots, you can expect the G40 to perform similarly to its smaller sibling, the G20.
Think of the G40 as Glock’s 10mm handgun on performance enhancers.
It’s bigger and more accurate than the other 10mm models because of an extended barrel, which is just 6-inches in length.
While the G40 probably wouldn’t be my first choice for concealed carry, its barrel length does make it an exceptional handgun for hunting.
The odds of you hitting and dropping that whitetail or wild hog will be better with the G40 than with some of the other 10mm pistols out there.
And since you get the same 15+1 capacity as the G20, you also won’t have any problem squeezing off any follow-up shots.
While optics are sold separately, the G40 comes with a pack of baseplates that makes your handgun ready for all of the popular red dot systems, including Trijicon and EOTech optics.
6. Ruger SR1911
Ruger enters our list with the SR1911 – one ya’ll have asked for in the comments before.
This 1911-style pistol features a stainless-steel build with 8+1 capacity. Offering a 5-inch barrel, the gun sports black rubberized grip panels and adjustable sights.
Everything else about reeks classic 1911, so you’ll be happy if you’re into that sort of thing. It accepts most 1911 parts/accessories so that’s a plus too.
Keeping with that aesthetic, you get an extended thumb safety. The skeletonized trigger is decent with a crisp break.
This model is a favorite among 10mm fans for a reason – and that’s because it’s a rugged, reliable, and durable handgun certain to stand the test of time.
Read up on the SR1911 at our review of the .45 ACP version!
If you’ve not shot 10mm extensively, I’d recommend giving it a try to see whether you like to or not.
Some people feel like the recoil from a 10mm is a tad too strong, causing them to sacrifice accuracy for power, while other shooters describe the 10mm’s recoil as noticeable but easy to manage.
At the end of the day, it’s all about how the gun feels in your hands. So give the 10mm a try. See how you like it.
Do you use a 10mm? Let us know all about it in the comments! Interested in using your 10mm as your CCW? Well, maybe you can – read up on How to CC A Full-Sized Pistol.