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Top Gear of 2019


The past few months have been very interesting for firearms enthusiasts. The personal-defense market continues to grow as freedom rings across the country — despite threats to our rights. The year has been a very good one for 9mm fans in particular, as the most popular cartridge has received the lion’s share of attention. The following are highlights of the year’s introductions. Each of the firearms and gear listed are items I have personally tested and found worthy. I don’t go by adverting shots and blurbs; I get it right by hands-on evaluation.

An AREX Rex Delta 9mm handgun lying on a white background.1. Arex Rex Delta

Arex introduced an improved double-action first shot pistol a few years ago. Quality, reliability and accuracy have proven excellent. The new Arex Rex Delta is a polymer frame striker-fired handgun in the Glock 19 class. I am very optimistic about this handgun. Tests have shown it is at least the equal of anything in its class, but at a more attractive price point.


Length              7 inches
1.18 inches
5 inches
Weight             22.2 ounces
Barrel Length   
4 inches


A SIG Sauer P365 comcealed carry andgun lying on a white background.2. SIG P365

SIG fans clamored for a compact double-action-only handgun with superior handling to the P290, a higher magazine capacity and SIG reliability. The P365 features a 10-shot magazine. The piece is genuinely compact and readily concealed. With the attractive grip profile and 10-shot magazine, there is little reason to choose a slimline 9.


Length              5.8 inches
1 inch
4.3 inches
17.8 ounces
Barrel Length   
3.1 inches

A Stoeger STR 9 semi-auto 9mm pistol lying on a white background.3. Stoeger STR 9

No surprises here, the STR 9 is a pistol very similar to the Glock 17. This handgun is a polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mm with good sights, forward cocking serration and a safe-action trigger. There are trade-offs for economy, but you get a pistol that is less expensive than the Glock 17.


Length              7.44 inches
Width               1.21 inches
5.35 inches
24 ounces
Barrel Length   
4.17 inches

A black Mossberg MC1 pistol lying on a white tabletop.4. Mossberg MC1

The MC1 is a surprise. The pistol is intended to compete in the lucrative Glock 43/Smith & Wesson Shield niche. The MC1 in some ways outdoes its rivals. Ergonomics are good to excellent, reliability is good, the sights are good and the trigger action is above average. The MC1 takes readily available Glock 43 magazines. At the price point, it cannot be beat.


Length              6.25 inches
Width               1.03 inches
4.30 inches
19 ounces
Barrel Length   
3.40 inches

A FDE Glock 19X 9mm pistol lying on the ground amid a large quantity of old spent brass at an outdoor pistol range.5. Glock 19X

Glock’s new 19x is a Glock 17 frame with a slide length of the Glock 19. It was met with some controversy as to why anyone thought this was desirable. Any apprehension faded after firing, however. The pistol offers a full-sized firing grip but clears the holster quickly. Reliability is Glock grade — aka: top of the scale.


Length              7.44 inches      
Width               1.30 inches
5.47 inches
24.83 ounces
Barrel Length   
4.02 inches

A two-tone 9mm Ruger SR1911 Commander pistol with the hammer cocked back, lying on a white background6. Ruger SR1911 Commander

Since the introduction of the Ruger SR1911 .45, there have been a few variants. First, a steel-framed Commander, then a lightweight Commander, a 10mm Government Model and finally, a lightweight 9mm. The SR1911 lightweight Commander 9mm is a joy to use and fire, with excellent accuracy and reliability.


Length              7.75 inches
Width               1.34 inches
5.45 inches
36.4 ounces
Barrel Length   
4.25 inches

A Ruger GP100 10mm revolver standing against a white background.7. Ruger GP100

There have been a number of improvements in the rock-solid GP100 .357 Magnum. The seven-shot .357 Magnum offers one more shot and a faster lockwork, in my opinion. This is a result of new timing and geometry. Ruger also offers a five-shot .44 Special version. But the big news this year is the hard-hitting Ruger GP100 10mm. Load the piece with moonclips, and you have a very fast-loading revolver that offers real power. This may be the finest personal defense and outdoors revolver yet offered.


Length             9.5 inches
40 ounces
Barrel Length  
4.20 inches

Two copper-coated Black Hills Ammunition 'Honey Badger' bullets standing on a white paper target which is riddled with bullet holes.8. Black Hills Ammunition Honey Badger Ammunition

Despite a great deal of hyperbole, expanding bullets don’t always work as intended. Some expand reliably, but all are subject to the nose closing when hitting bone or plugging with material. Short-barreled handguns may not generate enough velocity for reliable expansion. The Honey Badger from Black Hills Ammunition doesn’t care about that. The fluted nose begins cutting a full caliber hole on contact. The flesh is cut, rather than pushed aside. The loads also create a storm by use of fluid dynamics as the flutes create movement in the body. This is a credible defensive load with excellent quality control.

Two black handguns tucked into brown leather DM Bullard holsters set against a white background.9. DM Bullard Defender Holster

I have used these well-crafted holsters for many years. DM Bullard is a true custom shop with excellent quality. Within the last few months, it introduced the Defender holster. The Defender features a 10-degree forward tilt, ideal for a fast draw. The difference between the Defender and the popular Combat holster is the addition of a magazine carrier. This puts the handgun and the magazine together, making for greater utility in suiting up or belting the handgun on. There is also a new Defender version of the Bodyguard. With a greater tilt, it is superior to the small-of-the-back type and conceals nearly as well as an inside-the-waistband holster.

Two andguns tucked into leather Versacarry brand leather holsters and a pair of steel magazines inserted into a leather Versacarry magazine pouch, set against a white background10. Versacarry Compound

Versacarry is known for premium water buffalo hide holsters. The new Compound is a practical, affordable and durable design that combines supple leather with Kydex. An inner shell of Kydex prevents the holster from collapsing after the handgun is drawn and acts in a similar manner to the famous steel-lined speed holsters, allowing a good sharp draw. The Compound is available in both inside-the-waistband and outside-the-waistband designs.

A TOPS/Buck Combat Search and Rescue Tool (CSAR T) with the blade pen and pointing to the left, lying on a white background.11. TOPS/Buck Combat Search and Rescue Tool CSAR T

I will admit the CSAR is a bit larger than some of us like to carry in the pocket or on the belt. But if you need a good knife, you probably need a really good knife … and this is it. The Tanto reinforced point is a good design for heavy work, and the blade is quite sharp. There is plenty of steel in the lock to ensure the blade doesn’t close on the hand. The G10 scales offer a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. This is a tool for those that appreciate greatness!

What do you think of this roundup? Which guns and gear were you most excited about in 2019 and what are you hoping to see in 2020?


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