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Threaded Barrel Handguns 101

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There are a lot of upgrades you can make to your pistol, ranging from custom slide milling to enhanced controls for quicker reloads. One such upgrade enthusiasts often make to their pistols is swapping their barrel out for a threaded one.  

Threaded barrels offer unique benefits over standard barrels, such as compatibility with various muzzle devices like compensators and suppressors, all without compromising the performance of your handgun. While you can buy these barrels as an aftermarket accessory, there are many manufacturers producing pistols that already come with threaded barrels.  

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What is a Threaded Barrel?  

Threaded barrels, simply put, are barrels that are threaded at the muzzle of the barrel. The barrel threading extends past the slide, preventing any slide interference with your muzzle device. While threaded barrels may seem like an unnecessary addition to most, they can be more beneficial than you might think. As we mentioned before, they can turn your pistol into a host for threaded barrel attachments like compensators and suppressors, two accessories that can enhance the performance and capabilities of your pistol.  

Before we get into detail on them, it’s important to know why your pistol’s barrel needs to be a high-quality one, regardless of whether it’s threaded or not.  

Importance of a Good Barrel 

Your barrel is one of the most crucial components in your pistol. It’s responsible for your handgun’s accuracy, muzzle velocity, and needs to be capable of withstanding the stress of the firing cycle. Your pistol’s performance is dependent on the barrel, so if the barrel is not high-quality, you’ll see that reflected in its ability when you take it out to the range.  

Fortunately, this is common knowledge amongst manufacturers, so many of them take great care to produce high-quality barrels for their pistols. This same level of care is reflected in their threaded options too, but what if your pistol doesn’t have a threaded barrel and you want to run one? Aftermarket manufacturers have taken note of this, and as such, there is a wide assortment of aftermarket threaded barrels available for the most popular pistol models, but we’ll touch more on this later.  

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Muzzle Devices and Attachments 

Something we mentioned previously is muzzle devices. Muzzle devices, such as compensators and suppressors, need a threaded barrel to securely attach to your pistol.  

Compensators are a device that diverts the gases upward to reduce the amount of felt recoil you perceive. Compensators are often used in competitions. The reduction in recoil makes it easier to pull off quick shots without moving too far off target. To keep them securely mounted to your pistol, most compensators often with a clamp or set screw to prevent it from accidentally loosening. Also, for even more security, a medium-strength thread locker will also help keep it in place. A quick note: barrels and threads come in different sizes depending on the manufacturer and caliber. If you plan on using a compensator, make sure that it is compatible with your handgun’s thread pitch.  

Suppressors, though mostly seen in use on rifles, can be used on threaded pistols too. So long as your barrel is threaded, you can use a wide array of suppressors. Most pistol calibers have a standard thread pitch associated with them, and most suppressor manufacturers often incorporate matching threads in their suppressors.  

Instead of diverting gas like a compensator, suppressors have baffles in the main tube that capture the gas and dampen the sound signature of your pistol. Take, for instance, a 9mm pistol; when shooting suppressed with sub-sonic ammunition, the sound signature will be significantly dampened. Just keep in mind that this varies heavily depending on your ammunition, caliber, and suppressor.  

It’s important to note that the National Firearms Act regulates suppressors. Compensators are easy to acquire, you can order one and have it shipped to you directly, assuming you do not have any specific state or local restrictions. Suppressors require a special application process with the ATF, plus an added $200 to purchase a tax stamp for it. The application process generally takes a while, usually taking a few months before any approval. Even though they take a while to get, suppressors can be a worthwhile investment that’s capable of being used on rifles as well, depending on the suppressor, that is.  

Threaded Barrel Pistols 

We’ve been hinting at it throughout the article, but there are a lot of pistol manufacturers producing models with threaded barrels. If you’re just now starting your search for a threaded pistol, the sheer variety of options makes choosing one a less than easy task. Below are some popular pistol brands and models to help get you started in your search: 

Walther: Walther has been a developer of high-quality pistols for over 100 years, so it’s no surprise that they’re still making handguns that are optimized for different uses. Being in this list, they also produce variants of their pistols that come with threaded barrels.  

The PDP is a recent addition to the Walther lineup. The PDP is a striker-fired pistol that comes in a few unique variations, with the PDP Pro series coming standard with a threaded barrel. The PDP Pro comes optic ready and is available in a compact and full-size version having a 4.6-inch and 5.1-inch barrel, respectively. Likewise, both options come with a polymer frame with enhanced grip texture, a performance trigger, and a 17-round and 18-round capacity, respectively.  

Another model from Walther is their P22Q. The P22Q is a rimfire pistol chambered in .22LR. While standard models don’t include a threaded barrel, there are options that do. It’s a compact hammer-fired pistol with a polymer frame. It comes standard with 10-round magazines, and a 3.42-inch barrel. Overall, this pistol is a great rimfire pistol for plinking and training, and the threaded barrel options only build on its best features. 

Heckler and Koch: Coming from Germany, Heckler and Koch (HK) are renowned for their quality pistols. Likewise, they have a few offerings that come with threaded barrels.  

One such pistol is their current flagship striker-fired pistol, the VP9. The HK VP9 is a polymer-framed pistol chambered in 9mm. Available in multiple configurations, the VP9 Tactical comes from the factory with a threaded barrel. Additionally, it comes standard with suppressor height sights and an optic ready slide. Regardless of the model you choose, the VP9 has a standard capacity of 17 rounds, though extended magazines are available as well.  

Considered a classic by many, the HK USP was initially introduced as a service pistol for Law Enforcement groups. It became exceedingly popular on the civilian market and is still a popular choice today. Like the VP9, the USP also has variants that come with barrel threads, the most notable being the USP9 Tactical. It’s a hammer-fired polymer frame pistol chambered in 9mm and comes standard with a 4.86-inch barrel. Though it’s most chambered in 9mm, it’s worth mentioning that the USP can come chambered in .40S&W and .45ACP.  

Another notable threaded pistol model is the Mark 23. Like the USP, the Mark 23 is also a hammer-fired polymer frame pistol, however, it’s chambered in .45ACP instead of 9mm. It also has a longer 5.87-inch barrel. Both options are a solid choice, but if you want a more compact 9mm, the USP9 fits the bill. If you want a larger frame pistol chambered in .45ACP, the Mark 23 is the way to go.  

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Beretta: Needing no introduction, Beretta is another manufacturer that has quite literally been around for centuries. Their popular M9 series of pistols has cemented their legacy and has made them a popular go-to choice for many enthusiasts.  

While they’ve released many versions of the M9, the latest version, the M9A4, is a great pistol that comes standard with a threaded barrel. Essentially a modern take on their original M9 design, the M9A4 is an aluminum framed, hammer-fire 9mm pistol with a standard capacity of either 10, 15, or 18 rounds, depending on the model. Each model has a 4.9-inch barrel and can come in a multitude of finishes.  

Something else to note is that there is another variant offered by Beretta, the M9A4 Centurion, which has all the same features, albeit with a few upgrades. Notably, it comes optic ready from the factory, upgraded grip panels, and an enhanced magwell. Each upgrade makes it ideal for defense and duty scenarios, plus you still get to have that threaded barrel.  

Canik: Canik is a pistol manufacturer based in Turkey that has garnered quite the reputation for offering high-quality pistol options that fit all budgets. One of the more popular lines they produce is the Mete series.  

While basic options like the Mete MC9 don’t come with a threaded barrel option, other models in the Mete line such as the SFX and SFT do. The Mete SFX Pro and SFT Pro are striker-fired, polymer frame pistols chambered in 9mm. Both are nearly identical in their construction, with their main difference being their size. The SFX is a larger handgun with a 5.75-inch barrel and 20-round standard capacity, while the SFT has a 5-inch barrel and 18-round standard capacity. Aside from this, they both come with the same grip texture, trigger package, and other accouterment.  

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FN America: FN America is another undisputed leader in the firearms world, as they are the masterminds behind some of the most popular rifle platforms available, like the SCAR-17. Aside from their rifles, they apply that same degree of quality and performance in their pistols.  

The FN 509 is a striker-fired 9mm pistol that has multiple variations, including different frame sizes and upgrade packages. If you’re wanting a pistol with a threaded barrel, the 509 Tactical is the way to go. Like the standard 509 series pistol, the 509 Tactical has multiple frame sizes. Aside from this difference, the key features of the pistol remain the same across the board. It comes optic ready, has upgraded suppressor height sights, and either a 4.5-inch or 4.32-inch threaded barrel. Also, depending on the size you choose, it will have a 17-, 15-, or 12-round capacity, but keep in mind that the 509 Tactical series often comes with extended magazines as well.  

The FNX-45 is a larger hammer-fired pistol chambered in .45ACP. Like the 509, the FNX-45 also has a tactical configuration that features a threaded barrel. It comes optic ready, has upgraded suppressor height sights, a 5.3-inch threaded barrel, and a standard 15-round capacity. If you’re looking for a solid .45ACP pistol with a threaded barrel, the FNX-45 gives you the ability to add muzzle devices while also having the power of the venerable .45ACP.  

Which is best?  

To put it simply, it’s impossible to determine the best threaded barrel pistol. Each option can be a practical choice for a myriad of applications, but at the end of the day, it becomes a question of which pistol best fits your needs.  

If you’re shopping for a pistol with personal defense in mind, we recommend looking at our article on the best handguns for self-defense. It breaks down key features to look for in a pistol, as well as some of the most popular options on the market.  

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Aftermarket Barrels 

While there are a lot of pistols that come with threaded barrels from the factory, not all of them do. On rifles, a common service that most gunsmiths offer is threading a barrel. This isn’t always possible on handguns, since their barrels usually match the length of the slide. That said, these pistols can instead be upgraded with threaded aftermarket barrels.  

Aftermarket barrels can be a solid upgrade to your pistol. Like most other aftermarket components, they can come in different finishes, lengths, and, of course, threading. We can’t stress the importance of a good barrel enough, so if you’re looking at getting an aftermarket threaded barrel for your pistol, it’s important to make sure that it’s of high quality. You’ll want to look at barrels that are made of quality materials. Some great barrel materials are 416R Stainless Steel and 4140 cold hammer forged steel.  

Take, for instance, GLOCK pistols. Currently, there isn’t a factory threaded barrel option for many of their popular pistols like the GLOCK 19 and 17. There are, however, many brands producing aftermarket threaded barrels like Agency Arms, Faxon, and ZEV Technologies, just to name a few. This is true for other makes and models of pistols too. Another notable example is Taurus, with their popular G2C and G3C pistol lines.  

Most of the popular pistol brands benefit from the large surplus of aftermarket components available for their pistols. If you plan to swap out your barrel to a threaded one, you’ll likely find several viable options that fit your needs.  


Holster Fitment for Threaded Barrel Handguns 

Just like their non-threaded counterparts, threaded barrel pistols can be an excellent choice for everyday carry, competition, and duty. That said, there are a few things to consider before you can carry one. Since the threaded section of the barrel extends the length of the pistol, most standard holsters won’t be able to safely fit them.  

Though possible, altering your holster to fit your pistol’s new profile isn’t recommended. Changing the geometry of your holster can compromise its security and fit, rendering it useless. Due to this, holster manufacturers have options that fit pistols with threaded barrels.  

Something else to consider is muzzle devices. Just because a holster has space to securely store threaded barrels doesn’t mean they’re compatible with muzzle devices. As we mentioned before, compensators often match the profile of the host pistol’s slide construction. Most of the time, you’ll need to find a custom fit holster that’s compatible with your pistol and compensator combo. Fortunately, many brands, like Tier 1 Concealed and LAS Concealment, have options that fit different compensator combos.  

Suppressors are different. While it isn’t feasible to carry a pistol with a suppressor with an IWB holster, you can with an OWB one. For duty use, training, and tactical competitions where suppressors are allowed, special holsters are designed to secure a pistol when you have a suppressor attached to it. Instead of covering and securing the slide, like most holsters do, these holsters snap over the trigger guard and accessory rail, leaving the top of the pistol and suppressor exposed for ease of access.  

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Threaded barrels can be an excellent feature to have on your pistol, giving you the opportunity to run a myriad of different muzzle devices. Even though not every pistol comes with a threaded barrel, it’s more than possible to add an aftermarket threaded barrel to one.  

If you’re on the fence going over a threaded vs. non-threaded barrel, we recommend the latter so long as it fits your needs. Whether you’re looking to add a suppressor to your gun for quiet recreational shooting, or a compensator to give you an edge in your next competition, choosing a pistol with a threaded barrel is a smart choice. Just remember that if you plan on concealed carrying it, you’ll need to have the right holster model to fit it properly.  

There’s a lot more you can add to a pistol besides muzzle devices. Our guide on the best pistol lights for concealed carry breaks down the benefits of running a light, and the features of some of the most popular models.