Before we get to our list of the “Best Guns of 2020,” we feel it’s important to note the differences of being subjective vs. objective. Subjective is opinion and objective is fact. This list is subjective, so no need to hit us with the usual: “Can’t believe you didn’t include [insert gun title here]. This list is BS.” It’s just our opinion. No need to get angry.
The Best Guns of 2020
You’ll probably notice there’s a theme with this list: Most are AR pistols. That wasn’t intentional—it just kind of happened. We looked back at everything we’ve shot (or seen) in the last year-plus and these five ended up making the cut.
We also understand the irony of us putting AR pistols on our list about one week after the ATF announced its plans to effectively kill the pistol brace. To quote South Park, “If irony were made of strawberries, we’d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now.”
It’s since rescinded that notice, but we know it’s not gone. ATF aside, there were a number of factors involved here, but these are the five we liked.
We were the first non-Daniel Defense people to shoot the DDM4 PDW. We shot it at the 2019 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous. Then it saw its official release at SHOT Show 2020. Since then, the DDM4 PDW has become a favorite amongst shooters.
Chambered in .300 Blackout, the pistol features a 7-inch barrel. It also expands to 24.75 inches and collapses down to just 20.75 inches. It’s a compact package that hasn’t failed us since the original testing; and we first tested a prototype, for the record. It comes in with an MSRP of $1,865. For even more info, please visit DanielDefense.com.
This one is the latest entry on the list and it came out of nowhere to close 2020. Smith & Wesson gave us the scoop on its all-new M&P15 Pistol in mid-December. When we asked when it hits shelves, Smith & Wesson said, “It already did.”
This is the only entry on this list we haven’t shot yet. For those asking, “Well then how can you put it on your list?” Well, for starters, it’s our list. Secondly, we like what we see. It’s got several components we’ve seen before and we have an idea of what to expect. S&W chambered it in 5.56/223, so we’re going to put that 7.5-inch barrel to the test when ours arrives for evaluation. MSRP is $896. For even more info, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Above, we mentioned Smith & Wesson’s 5.56 M&P15 Pistol has a 7.5-inch barrel. Well, the Springfield PDW—also chambered in 5.56—has a 5.5-inch barrel. Yeah, very small. But, as our contributor Andy Grossman said in his video review, “I was a little bit worried about [the barrel length]. … But there’s literally no recoil. This things stays flat, shoots flat.”
Collapsing down to just 18.75 inches, the Springfield PDW is tough to ignore. MSRP comes in at $1,700. For even more info, please visit Springfield-Armory.com.
Ruger announced its PC Charger back in March. It based the pistol on its popular PC Carbine. Chambered in 9mm, the PC Charger is a takedown pistol that measures just 16.5 inches overall and offers plenty of room for customization.
While the gun performs incredibly well, the selling point on the PC Charger is just that: The price. MSRP is only $799. Of course, that price will rise quickly when you start adding accessories, which the pistol is ripe for. For even more info, please visit Ruger.com.
RISE Armament AR9 — Coming Soon
This is the only “unicorn” on the list, so to speak. We say “unicorn” in the sense that it’s not on shelves yet and we’re not sure when it will be. We first shot the RISE Armament AR9 back at the 2019 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous. Is it one of the “best guns of 2020” since it didn’t technically hit the market yet? Again, it’s our list, so yeah, it is.
The AR9 is small (overall length between 22.88 and 25.5 inches), fast, and accurate; that’s the trifecta. The pistol we tested had a 7.5-inch barrel, though we’re told 10.5- and 16.1-inch version will also be available. RISE also said two series will be available: Grit and Flash. Different color options include Black, FDE, or Foliage Green in the Grit series and Patriot Blue, Spartan Bronze, Viking Iron, and that beautiful RISE Red seen above for the Flash series.
As of testing time, MSRP was $2,499—steeper than the other offerings on this list, but man, the AR9 was a serious shooter. For even more info, keep your eyes peeled on RISEArmament.com.