Least Favorite Handguns I’ve Ever Owned

Those of us who have been into guns for any length of time have probably experienced one or more that we didn’t really warm up to. Maybe we didn’t care for the feel of the handgun. Perhaps it was unreliable. Or maybe inaccurate. There are a host of things that can sour our attitude toward a handgun.

Let’s take a look at a few handguns I’ve owned over the years that I just didn’t care for very much.

S&W M&P Full Size 9mm

Shortly after they were introduced, I bought a Smith & Weapon M&P full-sized 9mm pistol. I’d been checking them out in the gun shop and the grip really felt amazing in my hand. To say it was comfortable was an understatement. I’d read many articles on these pistols, and no one failed to sing them praises. I figured there was no way I could go wrong.

S&W M&P 9mm.
Smith & Wesson’s M&P 9mm had some teething pains in the early production runs. The author was afflicted with such a malady. Photo by Wikipedia.

After the purchase, I got it to the range to see how awesome the pistol was. And many things about it were wonderful! The accuracy was spectacular, and it was one of the most accurate pistols I’d ever fired. The reliability was good so far, except for one very irritating fly in the ointment: the pistol ejected spent cases directly back into my face. To be precise, right into my eyes! Every single ejected case was flung straight back into my eyes. A bit of research revealed that, due to a slight machining error, many pistols in the early run had this issue.

I took the pistol back to the shop where I bought it, and they tried to adjust the ejector spring and a few other jury-rigged “solutions.” However, nothing fixed the problem. Eventually, they took the pistol back, and I was rid of it.

S&W M&P Compact 9mm

I’m not a glutton for punishment, honestly. I say that because I decided to try the S&W M&P line again. This time, it was their M&P Compact model in 9mm. I figured getting one lemon (the full-sized M&P) had filled my quota of bad luck. I mean, what are the odds of getting two lemons in a row from Smith & Wesson? Actually, you don’t know my luck very well because it happened!

I got an M&P Compact 9mm because the grip was fantastic, and I already knew that the accuracy would be excellent. Actually, it wasn’t me; my wife wanted this pistol, and she liked it for the same reasons I did. At first, the pistol was decent and the accuracy really was great.

Then, for some reason, it developed feeding issues. Bullets were hanging up on the feed ramp despite how clean I kept it. I tried various brands of ammo to no avail. It was a real mystery. Again, I went to the gun shop, where they couldn’t figure out the problem either. Again, they took the pistol back.

That was it for me. I vowed never to buy the M&P line again, and I haven’t. I’ve had many friends who love and swear by their M&P pistols, but not me.

Hungarian PA 63

This pistol technically wasn’t mine; it belonged to my dad. I shot it a few times when we went to the range together, and given my experience with it, I figured I’d include it in this article.

What was wrong with the pistol? Well, it was accurate enough, though not extraordinarily so. The reliability was good. However, there was one aggravating quality about this pistol that neither of us cared for: the recoil.

Hungarian PA 63 9x18mm pistol.
The Hungarian PA 63’s recoil is unpleasant despite only firing the 9x18mm cartridge. Photo: American Rifleman.

The caliber was 9x18mm, which isn’t known to be an overly powerful round. However, in the little PA 63 with its plastic grips, the recoil actually stung our hands. It wasn’t that the muzzle flip was terrible, but the recoil transferred through the frame right into the hand, and it felt like hitting a light pole with a baseball bat; it simply stung. After a few years and a number of range sessions, my dad traded the pistol off.

Aside from the stinging recoil, the pistol had good qualities, including being very concealable. It was just unpleasant to shoot at the range.

Taurus PT 92

Taurus’s PT92AF was actually the first pistol that I ever bought back in the late 1980s. Essentially, The Taurus PT92 was a copy of the Beretta 92 9mm, which was the service pistol of the US Military (the M9). In fact, that played a part in my decision to buy the pistol; if the design was good enough for the military, surely it would be okay for me.

Considering that this was my first pistol, it would prove to be a learning experience for me. I intended to carry it concealed. To be honest, it wasn’t the best choice for that, given that it was a huge, heavy pistol. The weight was 34 ounces, and the overall length was 8.5 inches (with a 5-inch barrel). The grip was also sizeable and did not fit my hands very well. All of this was my fault for making a poor choice in buying a pistol that did not fit my needs well. I’d read some articles that painted a nice picture of the pistol, and when I saw one at the gun shop, I impulsively purchased it. I violated the Rule Of Seven Ps (Proper Previous Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance).

Taurus PT-92 9mm pistol.
The Taurus PT 92 is a large pistol, and those with small or medium hands might find it too large. However, they are reliable pistols. Photo by Guns.com.

To top it all off, I couldn’t shoot the pistol worth a damn. Since this was a few decades ago, I’m not sure whether the pistol was simply inaccurate or if I sucked as a pistol shooter. However, when I shot my friend’s Sig Sauer P226, I was a great shot. It’s possible that the 92’s grip was just too large for my hands.

I’ll chalk this pistol up as a learning experience. I know a few folks who love and use the 92/M9, and they’re very happy with it. I’m just not one of them. Those with larger hands might warm to it more than I did.

Kimber Ultra CDP II

Kimber’s Ultra CDP II was a gorgeous pistol. The CDP stands for Custom Defense Package, by the way. It was my very first 1911, and the 3-inch barrel made it so compact! The melted edges of the frame and slide, combined with the finish, made this the most gorgeous pistol I’d ever laid my eyes on! Certainly, the rosewood grips added to the beauty.

Speaking of the grips, they really fit my hand well. The slim, single-stack grip of the CDP II felt like magic in my hand; it just melted right into my grip.

For years, I’d been considering buying a 1911. After all, it’s revered by legions of old-school shooters in a most worshipful manner. I’d figured it was high time that I acquired one, and in that vein, I really wanted to like it. I wanted it to work well. I wanted to be a 1911 guy.

Kimber Ultra CDP II .45 pistol.
Kimber’s Ultra CDP II is a beautifully finished pistol. The author’s pistol, however, was a complete abomination when it came to reliability, proving that looks aren’t everything. Photo by Handguns Magazine.

But alas, in the end, it was not meant to be. The Kimber was horrifically unreliable. How unreliable? It suffered at least three stoppages per magazine, if not more. And this happened despite me using over a half-dozen types of .45 ACP ammo, all from major manufacturers.

The shop who sold me the pistol couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. I had cleaned it thoroughly, but nothing seemed to remedy the feeding issues. Even magazines from a few other manufacturers wouldn’t see things right.


A few of you out there might be scratching your heads, wondering why I didn’t avail myself to the manufacturer’s warranty for a few of these pistols. Good point, I could have done that. So why didn’t I? There are a few reasons.

One is that I was a little younger and impulsive. I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of shipping the pistol back to the manufacturer, waiting for them the see what they thought, and then waiting for the pistol to come back. All of that takes time, and even then, there’s no guarantee that everything will be fixed.

The second reason is that, at the time I had most of these handguns, I didn’t own many other handguns. It’s not like I could say, “If pistol X doesn’t work, I can fall back to pistols Y and Z.” I was pretty limited and mainly wanted to switch to something else that was reliable and that I could use almost immediately. These days, I have that option, but I didn’t back then.

So yeah, I could have taken the longer road, but I chose not to. Aside from that, it’s hard to have confidence in a pistol that proved itself to be defective. One always wonders whether it will happen again. When one bets one’s life upon a handgun, one wants to have 100% confidence in that handgun. At least, I do.

Parting Shots

It would be a good wager that most people who’ve bought handguns for any number of years have encountered some that they did not care for. Let’s face it: There are home runs, and then there are hot messes.

Take heart, though! We’re living in an age of handguns where there are more choices than ever before! There’s truly something out there to fit whatever niche you’re trying to fill nowadays.

In addition, it’s now easier than ever to do some research on whether the firearm we’re after is a good fit. We have video sites such as YouTube, and awesome resources like GunMag Warehouse with skilled writers to tell you about products. And tons of other sources available. It sure beats what we had way back in my day: a few magazine articles.

Happy hunting for your next pistol! And may it not fall into any of the scenarios that I listed above!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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