2024 Handgun March Madness

  • Jack Collins

It’s that time of year again. After a month of lamenting the end of football season, the sports deities gifted us with a replacement: March Madness. As sports fans, SDI’s marketing team wanted to include March Madness brackets on our content schedule.

Of course, as a gunsmithing school, we also had to make our brackets firearm-related. So, SDI’s own Andrew Poplin and Joey Upper made an episode of The Gun Rack Podcast about SDI’s official March Madness Best Handgun Bracket. And of course, as an avid sports and firearms fan, I had to weigh in.

Round 1: Glock 19 vs. FN Reflex

In the podcast, Andrew and Joey call the Glock 19 the “Duke University of handguns.” I couldn’t agree more — this thing is the GOAT.

If you followed SDI’s firearm draft last year, you’ll know that I love the Glock 19. This is my go-to gun for carrying, camping, whatever. If it requires me to shoot a pistol, I reach for my Glock 19. Although, I do prefer the 19x to the 19 these days.

I must admit, though, that I was surprised to hear Joey choose the Glock 19. He’s a notorious Glock hater. It’s a testament to this pistol that even the people who don’t like Glocks can begrudgingly accept their usefulness.

Winner: Glock 19

Round 1: Walther PDP vs. CZ 75 SP-01

The next round is a little less cut-and-dry. Both of these handguns are fairly similar — so similar, in fact, that Joey dubs the PDP vs. the CZ 75 SP-01 the closest matchup of the tournament.

The Walther PDP is Walther’s new modular handgun, released in 2021 to compete with the Glock 45s and Sig P320s of the world. It has a lot of loyal fanboys, and James Bond even carried a Walther in many films (although not a PDP).

However, in Joey’s own words, the CZ SP-01 is the “gold standard for stock field grade guns.” The fact that it has one extra round per magazine, along with its cheaper price tag, helps the SP-01 edge out the competition in this round. As I did last round, I agree with Joey and Andrew’s assessment.

Winner: CZ 75 SP-01

Round 1: Staccato CS vs. Kimber R7 Mako

Joey puts this next round very eloquently: it’s the battle of guns I’ll never own. However, I’ll never own each of these guns for different reasons. The Staccato is because it’s too expensive. The Kimber is because I’d never be caught dead with one.

This isn’t really a fair fight. The Staccato is one of the finest pistols available today. Its capacity, trigger pull, and reliability make it a choice of police officers nationwide — people who rely on their guns for their lives.

To be fair, the R7 Mako isn’t part of Kimber’s much-maligned 1911 line. But it’s still a $900 striker-fired pistol. I can buy a Glock, pick up an optic, and get my slide milled for that price. And at least with a Glock, you know it’s going to go bang when you pull the trigger.

Winner: Staccato CS

Round 1: Sig Sauer P365 XMACRO vs. S&W M&P Shield+

This is another much closer matchup. Both of these guns have a lot in common: they’re both striker-fired and 9mm. They’re also small and thin enough to disappear under clothing, but still feel comfortable in both big and small hands. As a result, the P365 and the Shield are two of the most successful concealed-carry handguns ever.

However, there’s a lot that makes each of these guns different, too. For example, the P365 can hold more ammo (17 rounds) than the M&P Shield+ (10 or 14 rounds). The P365 also costs $300 more than the Shield+.

Joey picks the Shield+ in this matchup. But I have to disagree. I personally love the triggers on Sig pistols — I think they’re some of the best out there. But, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll go with Joey’s pick.

Winner: M&P Shield+

Round 2: Glock 19 vs. CZ SP-01

Joey goes with the Glock 19 on this, and I completely agree. Although the Glock 19 doesn’t have the same capacity as the SP-01 without extended magazines, you can actually conceal it. The Glock 19 is cheaper than the SP-01, too.

Winner: Glock 19

Round 2: Staccato CS vs. S&W M&P Shield+

This is a difficult comparison, because these guns are made for different things. The Staccato is a “bougie race gun,” while the Shiled+ is an everyman’s firearm. As Andrew mentions, the Staccato is also about $2,000 more expensive than the Shield+, which is an important point for the budget-minded of us.

Winner: Shield+

Finals: Glock 19 vs. M&P Shield+

We’ve already covered a lot of the details on each of these guns. The Glock 19 vs. Shield+ is a pretty common debate among gun enthusiasts. But when it comes to versatility, the Glock wins.

Winner: Glock 19


In this writer’s opinion, the Frankenglock is the King of Handguns with a 19x frame, 45 slide, and 19 internals.


Learn More About Handguns at SDI

Do you love tinkering with your handguns and learning what makes them go “boom?” So does SDI — and they love teaching students about them, too. To learn more about handguns and explore the programs SDI offers, click here.

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