If you’re a southpaw, you share your left-handed dominance with 10% of the population. Until relatively recently, left-handed gun owners had to adapt to the use of firearms designed almost exclusively for right-handed shooters.
Controls such as slide stops, cylinder latches, decocker/safety levers, magazine catches, and charging handles were only conveniently accessible via the right thumb. In recent years, more companies have decided to meet the needs of left-handed shooters by designing firearms with ambidextrous or bilateral controls.
Handguns can be divided into three separate categories regarding ambidextrous or left-handed functionality:
Non Ambidextrous or Convertible
These weapons are designed exclusively for right-handed shooters and provide no means of reversing controls to accommodate shooters of opposite-handed dominance. While most handguns that fit into this category are designed for right-handed shooters, firearms whose controls have been mirrored for southpaws can also be included.
Semi-Ambidextrous or Convertible
One or more primary controls, such as the magazine catch or safety selector, may either be ambidextrous or reversible in these handguns. An example would be a handgun with a reversible magazine catch but a right-handed safety lever.
In fully ambidextrous handguns, all major controls are accessible via the right or left hand by default. In semi-automatic pistols, this would include the slide stop, which is not as commonly mirrored as the thumb safety.
Best Pistols for Lefties
The best handguns for left-handed shooters are those that provide bilateral control or accessibility. The less a left-handed shooter has to adapt to a right-handed stance, the better.
1. Heckler & Koch VP9
Heckler & Koch offers several pistols designed to for southpaws. The HK VP9, or Volkspistole (people’s pistol), is a polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mm semi-automatic pistol designed for tactical applications. While Glock is credited with introducing the first successful striker-fired handgun, the HK VP70 preceded Glock’s introduction by more than a decade. The VP9, as a modern combat pistol, continues HK’s tradition.
The VP9 is designed to be accessible to both right and left-handed shooters, which is reflected in its ambidextrous controls. The first feature you’ll notice is the magazine catch. In most handguns, the magazine catch is a horizontally sliding button. As a left-handed shooter, you typically need to reverse the magazine catch if you want it to be accessible.
In several HK handguns, the magazine catch is a paddle located behind the trigger that you can either depress with the index finger or thumb of either hand. However, it’s not only the magazine catch that’s ambidextrous — the VP9 also features a second slide stop on the right side of the frame for your left thumb.
In addition to aggressive charging serrations, the slide also features charge supports for increased traction. These fin-like parts project outward from the rear of the slide, providing an additional contact face.
2. Charter Arms Southpaw
The semi-automatic pistol is not the only type of handgun that can be modified to accommodate a left-handed shooter. In a traditional swing-out-cylinder revolver, the cylinder latch is located on the left side of the frame. When you depress the cylinder latch, the cylinder swings out to the left side, allowing a right-handed shooter to load and unload the chambers using their left hand.
Charter Arms, the company famous for the Undercover and Bulldog revolvers, offers the aptly named Southpaw for left-handed shooters. The Southpaw is a snub-nosed, double-action/single-action revolver chambered in .38 Special — a variant of the Undercover Lite.
However, what’s novel about this weapon is that the cylinder latch is located on the right-hand side of the frame — the same side to which the cylinder swings out. This allows you to unlock the cylinder from the frame using your left thumb for right-handed reloading.
Whether you’re searching for a snub-nosed revolver as your primary defensive weapon or as a backup gun (BUG), the Charter Arms Southpaw is a superb choice.
3. Glock 19 Gen 5
The Glock 19 is one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols in the United States, suitable for home defense, concealed carry, competitive target shooting, and law enforcement. While the Glock series of handguns has had some ambidextrous functionality for years, the firm increased its appeal to the left-handed market with the introduction of Gen 5.
The push-button magazine catch is not ambidextrous out of the box, but it is reversible. However, unlike previous generations, the Gen 5 features an ambidextrous slide stop. Given its widespread popularity among right- and left-handed shooters alike, no list would be complete without an entry from this Austrian industry leader. With no decocker or safety levers, the Glock’s external profile is simple and snag-free.
4. CZ P-07
CZ, or Česká zbrojovka, is an industry-leading manufacturer of handguns, carbines, rifles, and other weapons, based in the Czech Republic. If you’re interested in a hammer-fired semi-automatic pistol rather than a striker-fired handgun, consider the CZ P-07. This weapon has a reversible magazine catch and an ambidextrous safety lever. However, unlike the Glock 19 Gen 5 and HK VP9, the slide stop is neither ambidextrous nor reversible.
Some left-handed shooters may find that an impediment, while others will adapt, using their left index finger to release the slide or retracting the slide with the right hand. The P-07 allows you to exchange what the company refers to as “control elements” — the safety and decocking levers. If you want to carry the P-07 with the hammer down so that the first shot is double action, you can. However, if you’d prefer to carry the pistol cocked and locked, as with the original 1911, that’s also possible.
If you can locate a used example, CZ’s discontinued 85 is a fully ambidextrous variant of the famous CZ 75, featuring both an ambidextrous safety lever and slide stop. Ambidextrous steel-framed firearms are not that common, so this could be the pistol for you if you prefer more classic firearms.
5. Beretta APX Centurion
Beretta is a household name in handguns, responsible for designing and manufacturing the famous 92 series, including the M9. One of the Italian firm’s latest entries is the APX Centurion — a mid-size polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol designed for duty and concealed carry.
The APX Centurion features a trigger safety, firing pin block safety, and a striker deactivation button. While the APX Centurion has a reversible magazine catch, its ambidextrous slide stop is one of the most notable features for left-handed shooters. This lever, located on the right side of the frame, is akin to that of the Glock in size and shape. As the APX Centurion has no manual safety levers, the controls are minimal yet bilateral for your needs.
The APX Centurion also features a slide with deeply cut serrations for one-handed charging and chamber checks, increasing traction.
6. Walther PDP
Walther is famous for a variety of weapons, from the first successful double-action semi-automatic pistol (i.e., the PP) to the highly specialized and rare WA 2000 sniper rifle. The company recently unveiled the PDP, or Performance Duty Pistol — the successor to the now-discontinued PPQ. The PDP is a polymer-framed, striker-fired, optics-ready handgun designed for self-defense, law enforcement use, and military service. Like its predecessor, the PDP features a reversible magazine catch and an ambidextrous slide stop. As a result, the PDP is among the most ambidextrous-friendly handguns on the market.
The PDP sports several noteworthy features. The Performance Duty Trigger has a shorter travel, improved take up, and a more defined wall. The more consistent and predictable the trigger stroker, the more accurately you can shoot the weapon. The Performance Duty Texture provides an aggressive surface finish for increased traction. However, unlike traditional grip checkering, the texture is non-abrasive and won’t cause skin irritation.
Holsters for Left-Handed Shooters
If you intend to carry a left-handed handgun, the weapon is only part of the overall setup. You also need a holster designed to meet your carry needs. This holster should allow you to carry your weapon securely and perform a safe and smooth draw stroke. In addition, your holster should be compatible with your specific needs as a left-handed shooter.
Your Go-to Source for Left-Handed Carry Holsters
We the People Holsters specialize in manufacturing high-quality IWB and OWB gun holsters to suit both right and left-handed shooters. Our range includes all major brands, from Glock, CZ, and HK to Colt, Beretta, and FN. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, all our products are proudly made in the United States of America.