The booming global arms trade has spawned many excellent handguns over the past hundred years.
Some of the best handguns are over a hundred years old, while others have been in production for less than a decade.
All are excellent weapons of defense and, in some cases, of attack; they can be stored in an owner's safe as well as carried by an officer.
Here are five of the best handguns currently in service around the world.
The Colt M1911A1
Designed by prolific weapons designer John Moses Browning, and first introduced in 1911, the Colt 1911 pistol was intended to replace the weaker 38 caliber pistols used by the United States military during the Philippine insurrection.
The 1911 was the U.S. Army's first semi-automatic handgun, marking a definitive departure from military revolvers.
The original 1911 weighed 2.4 pounds and had a seven round internal magazine. In 1924 the weapon was updated, mainly for ergonomic reasons, to become the 1911A1.
The 1911A1, while internally complex by modern handgun standards, is still a popular handgun.
The end of the handgun patent, coupled with the weapon's enduring utility, caused nearly every major American gun manufacturer to release their own version of the handgun.
In 2012, the US Marine Corps Marine Special Operations Command adopted the Colt M45A1, an updated version of the 1911A1, as its standard sidearm.
The Glock 17
The Glock 17 was built around three key ideas: simplicity, reliability and ease of use. The pistol is easy to disassemble, a simple press of the button allows the slide to be removed for cleaning and access to the barrel.
The Glock passed the Austrian army's reliability test with flying colors, only jamming once in ten thousand shots. The weapon was expressly designed with "pointability" in mind, that is, the gun's natural ability to act as an extension of the shooter's hand-eye coordination.
Starting with the original Glock 17, capable of carrying seventeen nine-millimeter rounds, the Glock range has grown to cover almost all semi-automatic calibers, including the .45 ACP, and the weapon has replaced the pistol 1911A1 in organizations such as Marine Special Operations Command and US Army Delta Force.
The Sig P226
Developed by Swiss-German partnership Sig Sauer to replace the M1911A1 in the US Armed Forces, the Sig P226 failed to win the contract but received a major boost when US Navy SEALs rejected their pistols Beretta M9 in favor of the Sig.
The P226 was an evolution of the Sig P220, a post-war favorite of Western and West-facing armies (such as Japan) around the world.
The pistol is a so-called double-action model, which means that a single long press of the trigger both cocks the pistol and releases the firing pin, thus firing the pistol.
Users can also use the Sig in single-action mode, in which the pistol is manually cocked and a shorter pull of the trigger releases the firing pin.
The pistol is equipped with a side decocking device allowing the hammer to be lowered without firing.
The Sig Sauer P226 was used by the US Navy SEALs for twenty-eight years, before being replaced by the compact version of the Glock 17, the Glock 19.
The Smith & Wesson M&P
Smith & Wesson is one of the oldest names in the American firearms industry.
Although the company is best known for its revolvers, it was inevitable that it would release a Glock-like polymer handgun. The result, the M&P (Military and Police), was highly successful as such.
Introduced in 2005, the M&P features a steel reinforced polymer frame and stainless steel slide.
The M&P was one of the first guns to feature three interchangeable palm bulges, allowing the user to configure the gun to best fit their hand.
The M&P also features an ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release. Unlike the Glock, the M&P can be disassembled without pulling the trigger.
The M&P is available in a number of mid-size pistol calibers, including the nine millimeter, 357 Sig, and .40 Smith & Wesson, as well as the .45 ACP. The M&P is mostly used by police forces in the United States and abroad.
The CZ 75
One of the best handguns in the world was not even accessible to amateur shooters for most of the Cold War.
The CZ 75 pistol, introduced in 1975, borrows heavily from John Moses Browning's later model pistol, the Browning Hi-Power, both externally and internally, but it is not a copycat and features significant differences.
The nine millimeter pistol could carry up to sixteen rounds, making it one of the highest capacity handguns of its day.
Locked behind the Iron Curtain and unable to secure contracts with the Czechoslovak government, the CZ 75 failed to gain adherents before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Today the pistol is available in an updated form, the CZ 75BD, with a firing pin safety, decocking lever and underbarrel accessory rail, and available in a variety of handgun calibers from midsized.