The best target pistol in the world is not the most expensive. In fact, there are several that make more sense than the ultra-expensive custom guns you see in some competitions. This is an article that will take you through the process of finding the best target pistol for you, based on your needs and mainstream market availability.
We’ve got decades of experience helping people find the best in class firearms, and while this website isn’t that old comparatively, the authors have unparalleled experience in finding the best quality guns. It’s not just about taking what the manufacturer’s marketing team had to say about a specific gun’s capabilities. This is not about looking at ratings on other websites and arbitrarily choosing a best in class target pistol from among the highest rated ones.
We take pride in understanding the needs of the people who are reading this article and addressing important features and scenarios to help readers find the one that makes sense to them.
Sometimes the answer was right in front of your face, you just needed to understand it from a different perspective. The best target pistol for most people is one of the items on this list. They are available, built specifically for enhanced accuracy and handling, and they are proven performers in all of the areas that a dedicated target pistol should be.
An important note about this list:
We have chosen a very wide range of pistols for this curated article about target pistols. Different calibers, styles, and focal points. This list may hold a few surprises for you. But in the end, we can assure you that each of the chosen pistols is a capable holder of the title best target pistol, at least for the mainstream market.
Here are the best target pistols on the market right now:
Best Target Pistols
Walther P22 Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol
P22 from Walther has been a well-received platform. This is the heavily featured and highly accurized factory variant of the proven P22 that offers great value for the money spent and is still easy to use, despite being geared to a target specific group of the market. It doesn’t sacrifice accuracy, but it also doesn’t sacrifice usability simply to enhance accuracy.
The gun is lightweight, and it handles very nicely, but the weight is a bit deceptive given the accuracy enhancements. There is a 5-inch barrel, which gives you enough velocity without adding to disharmony in the balance, but the muzzle brake/compensator at the muzzle, offers a significantly extended front sight.
This enhanced sight plane gives better target accuracy, especially on intermediate and far targets. Yet, because the barrel is only 5 inches, the center of gravity and the weight of the gun resides deep in the hand. This is also improved by the modular ergonomics upgrades that are possible, like the backstrap.
The trigger isn’t perfect, but it’s very good for a gun that utilizes a polymer frame and has a Double action/single action setup. Good gripping surfaces and the deep handhold help to control the weapon on fast target acquisition.
Walther has also been a producer of some of the finest barrels and best small caliber firearms in the past 75+ years. This carries through in the P22 Target edition. The tradition and history play a role here, as the company has focused well on creating a tightly built gun, on a platform that usually lacks such tight tolerances (polymer).
- Barrel is excellent
- Large sight plane improves long accuracy and balance
- Mechanical safety
- Double Action/Single Action trigger and exposed hammer
- Trigger is just good – not finely tuned – the company missed a real opportunity to wow customers on the trigger
Kimber Stainless Target LS Semi-Auto Pistol
Kimber firearms continue to impress even more than a decade after they disrupted the 1911 market. This is a particularly interesting and highly specialized 1911 for those who value accuracy and shot placement above all else. The factory fitment and attention to internal details is exceptional at this price point. The gun is just barely below the full custom market offerings, despite being a fraction of the cost of a true custom 1911.
The barrel lug and hood fitting work are impressive, and the overall design eschews frivolous features in favor of accurizing the pistol instead. Yes, you still get the creature comforts like a sweeping beavertail and a good-looking mix of stainless steel and gorgeous wood grips. But you also get top tier accuracy enhancements including a 6-inch barrel, hand-fit bushing and lug, and adjustable Hi-Viz iron sights. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about reliability.
Kimber’s are very reliable. The 1911 in general is a reliable design, but Kimber has a unique history of being exceptionally reliable, especially given that they produce this firearm in many different styles and at an extremely high volume level.
The trigger is mated to a match grade sear, hammer and other internal component parts to create a very nice trigger that is one of the best out of factory at this price point. The magazines are also very good, and don’t feel like the cheaper mass produced no-name 1911 single stacks currently on the market.
The core concept that makes this gun stand alone here though, are the long slide and the fitting regimen. When you can improve sight plane and offer high tolerance fitment, you are going to make it easier for shots to get on target consistently.
That elongated sight picture steadies the barrel over a longer length making the shot more accurate as long as you hold that position at firing. The longer slide offers very good balance and extra weight at the muzzle which makes the recoil and muzzle flip more manageable, too.
For the money this is very hard to beat. It can compete with much more expensive and highly accurized 1911’s at twice the price.
- Subdued, but classy good looks
- Major value passed through on a sub $1k gun
- Long sight plane for great accuracy
- Very good trigger for the price point
- Excellent value
- Not great for concealed carry unless you can hide a large full sized gun with an extra inch in overall length too
Springfield Armory XD(M) 10mm Semi-Auto Pistol
Ten millimeter seems like an odd caliber inclusion for a target pistol round-up, but there are some very good reasons we chose this pistol on this list. One of them is the caliber itself, despite normal thoughts to the contrary.
The 10mm is heavy on recoil, muzzle snap intensive, and requires heavy guns to endure a lot of punishing energy transfer. But it also shoots straight, flies fast, and has the benefit of very well balanced, heavier guns that shoot the round. These are key to why we chose the Springfield XD(M) in 10mm.
While this is not the heaviest gun in 10mm, as it’s a polymer frame, it does offer some extended slide length and forward weight. It also has some flexibility in the frame to help mitigate a bit of the recoil that is felt. The heavier barrel profile and the extended length on it (5.25 inches) puts important weight forward to help with second shot accuracy and balancing the gun during target shooting.
A modular grip system, already part of the Springfield product platform combines with some unique safety systems and a very 1911-like grip angel to put your hand into a natural position for target shooting success. The grip safety is easy to utilize but adds a layer of security to bring peace of mind.
The sights are easily the best adjustable sights you’ll find from factory on a polymer framed, striker fired pistol. The high visibility front sight and the fully adjustable rear low-profile sight are very easy to acquire and offer clean outlines for a distinct sight picture.
The barrel enjoys better hand fitment than any other mainstream gun at the price point, and the match grade tolerances, combined with a properly fit barrel hood (some extra beefiness to the breech area), and the polishing done to keep tolerances working well together, means you’re getting a very tight lockup and a consistency you cannot find with other guns produced at this level of production volume.
The trigger is better than most polymer framed striker fired guns, but it too, is not as good as it could be. Nevertheless, it’s workable. The overall harmony that the gun can create offers a unique and generally enjoyable 10mm experience, especially give the extreme accuracy potential.
- Can be used for duty work, but accurate enough for target shooting
- Smart feature set
- Amazing iron sights (though they are more target oriented than concealed carry friendly)
- Rail for accessories
- Good trigger, considering striker driven
- May have too much recoil (10mm) for some pistol shooters
Browning Buck Mark Field/Target Micro Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol
FN Herstal has the advantage of being able to utilize extensive tooling in multiple factories, and it gives them the ability, we assume, to offer high tolerance, high quality firearms, in the .22 caliber segment, at an overall discount to the broader market. That is: guns cost the same to produce on machines if they take the same amount of time on that machine. But Browning, owned by FN, consistently discounts the price of these guns, considering they cost the same amount to produce.
The rest of the .22 market has guns that are at the same level of production machine time, but cost 35% more for the same features and design styles.
Somehow this makes sense for Browning, because they have stuck to it over the recent years.
It delivers some of the best value for the price point of any of its peers for accuracy, reliability and fun.
A single drawback to this gun versus another one on the list (the Ruger MKIV), is that this is not going to be able to hold up to the same number of rounds as the Ruger. It’s made of Aluminum, and it has a different method of mechanical action which puts stress on more parts and surfaces than that of the Ruger.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a spectacular firearm. It’s special in its own right, but if you want a .22 rimfire target gun in this style and size but need to have 1million rounds or more go through it, then look at the Ruger.
The top rail adds a lot of flexibility for optics; and the iron sights are good. The trigger is exceptionally lightweight and crisp. It’s one of the best triggers on the entire market at any price point.
The compensator is tuned to the blowback action of the integrated slide/bolt and the gun can handle just about any rounds in .22LR. It has a clean, simple aesthetic and the gun can easily double as a hunting companion for small game, especially when paired with an optic. The grip angle and the secure gripping surface offer a lot for those who typically don’t like plastic grips. The overmolded surface is grippy and forgiving.
The magazines are also very nicely built and offer consistent feeding. The build quality is leaps and bounds better than budget firearms in this market segment. The 1/2×28 threads that connect the compensator device (which some may see as frivolous on a .22LR), can accept most mainstream suppressors.
- Great grip angle and grips
- Excellent feature set considering the price point
- Simple and clean looks
- Very accurate
- Can accept a suppressor easily
- Not as durable as some competitors
Sig Sauer – P210 Target Pistol
One my finest semi-automatic pistols ever made. Period.
That’s not an exaggeration. If you are yet unfamiliar with the P210 hopefully our synopsis will do it justice.
Many purists will balk at the commentary here because they believe an older generation of firearms is better from within the iconic platform. But we would argue, if the hand fitting, and manual production methods could be carried out, in combination with the improvements the gun has as a result of small engineering changes, that these changes would easily make the newest version the best in history. Nevertheless, this is a very good gun, even compared to the nearly perfect guns that came off the line for decades without the improvements.
So, here’s the point. In a world where hand fitting is not a thing done in factory settings anymore, this is still arguably one of the best target specific mainstream pistols in history.
The improvements are immense, considering it has taken this pistol from a cult favorite to a gun anyone can love.
Firstly, though, the gun itself has always been a top tier performer. The trigger is glassy smooth; the rail to frame fit is better than any other volume production firearm. The magazines seem to be created out of a single piece of metal, formed by God Himself. The pistol’s lines are smart, and sleek. The natural pointability is superb. The bluing is even something special. The depth and character of the color and the finely grained polishing makes it simply stunning.
Now, the improvement of such a gun as described, seems almost impossible. But it was done.
Note: we aren’t saying that the past generations aren’t better fit, or tighter on tolerances. They are. But we can argue that some changes in tolerances can improve the reliability (already historically excellent); the comfort of the gun is immensely improved with the changes and the fact that it was re-introduced to a new generation of shooters is also a big deal.
Note also: this firearm is hard to find, and sometimes isn’t even sold at retailers and in E-commerce because the broad market doesn’t seem to care for the type of gun as much as they did years ago. it didn’t take off like most of us thought it would upon reintroduction.
This 9 round gun offers upgraded grip with an extended beavertail to avoid hammer bite for high hand-hold grip positioning. It also has amazing grips with good stippling and palm swells. The low-profile sights are adjustable and offer fast acquisition through the fiber optic inlays. The trigger is as good as it has ever been. The slide cuts are helpful, though they do take away a bit of the old-world charisma of the original pistols. The trigger guard offers a better purchase for two hand holds and the breech face and extraction mechanics are slightly modified to improve reliability and loading with more modern rounds.
This is a monster in the best target pistol arena. It simply has it all. It has historically been used by militaries as a sidearm. It has been employed by special forces groups and law enforcement teams when it counts.
It can be carried well because of the slim profile. It has ice in its veins at the range and it drives tacks 100% of the time. It’s a better gun than most shooters can match with their shooting skills, this author included, and it can enhance any shooter’s performance.
It’s an icon. It is a best in class.
- Ergonomically perfect
- Reliable and durable, despite tight tolerances
- Incredibly accurate
- Trigger is nearly perfect
- Historically proven
- No Cons
Ruger – Mark IV Target Rimfire Pistol
This gun probably is featured on more lists than any other pistol. Certainly, it’s one of the best pistols in history in the .22 caliber market. It’s simply at the pinnacle of durability, longevity, accuracy, modification potential and ease of maintenance. It is also quite good looking with the classic lines, and it is probably the most reliable .22 pistol ever made in a semi-automatic platform.
That’s a lot of bold statements to make about a single gun under $600 (it’s usually priced at significantly less than that), even if it is a .22 pistol. But the price point shouldn’t fool you – this is a world beater.
Everything about this gun has had decades to be optimized and millions of copies of the gun have been sold over the years in one form or another. The Mark 4 is the pinnacle of the portfolio of .22 pistols by Ruger. It is arguably the finest semi-auto small caliber gun in history. That’s up against a handful of iconic and impeccable variants from famous makers too.
It is easily one of the most customizable firearms, too, in the segment it trades in (semi-auto 22’s).
It doesn’t need aftermarket parts and third-party accessories to make it great though. It just happens to have a robust marketplace supporting it in case you want to custom tailor your MKIV experience to your own needs. Thousands of parts exist to change it up or modify the specific experience of this firearm.
Of note, the trigger is not bad, but some aftermarket trigger grouping components can make the trigger amazing.
This is a durable firearm; it can shoot hundreds of thousands of rounds through it, without broken parts. A claim most guns cannot make. The takedown procedures are so easy, and the design makes it impossible to mess up the maintenance of the gun. The stainless steel offers an easy to clean surface, while the removable bolt is easy to maintain and remove shooting debris from. The open area that is created during the field stripping process allows you to inspect and easily clean the gun quickly.
The magazines are probably the finest magazines on the market for the .22 semi-auto. But then, Ruger has a history of making amazing magazines for .22’s. between this and the Ruger 10-22, Ruger should win multiple design awards for utility and smart design. They are amazing. Two, 10-round magazines of the highest quality are included in the purchase.
The 5.5 inch barrel offers good velocity but doesn’t make the pistol unwieldy. Target sights complete the package, and make this gun very hard to beat on this list, or any other in the market segments it plays in.
- Best in class
- Some of the bets magazines ever made
- Exceptional balance
- Durability like no other firearm in its competitor list
- Proven reliability
- No Cons
We think its important that you look at the mainstream availability of these guns and the specialty factory changes to these models as a good thing. It’s not only about finding the tightest tolerances and most custom guns on the market. Sometimes it’s about approachability and usability. We think this list epitomizes this concept.
Most shooters will find these guns extremely accurate compared to other mainstream models, and at the same time, they won’t be spending thousands of dollars to achieve the reliability they want with that enhanced accuracy and the features that make sense for shooting at paper targets.
Like we alluded to at the beginning of this article: sometimes it’s not about spending the most money or getting the holy grail target pistol. Sometimes it’s just about minor improvements on already good firearms. In the case of most shooters, the above target pistols are just right for what they want to accomplish, and they won’t make you go broke or cause you to alter your cleaning and maintenance routines to achieve some enhanced accuracy and better range trips.
We feel confident the list we compiled has a perfect option for you as you look for your own personal best target pistol.