The concept of small, concealable handguns are not new, only the calibers that were used were overtime changed, i.e., constantly increasing. The past few years have seen an eruption in the availability of compact 9mm semi-autos. This category of firearms is suddenly gone mainstream, making that every major manufacturer offers entire pallets of those “pocket nines.”
While the global terrorism and the latest happenings affecting restrictively on the firearms` legislation in the Old Continent, in the New World appeared frenzy for the concealed carry handguns, especially in 9mm Para. It is a fact that 9×19 cartridge has evolved to the point that its fight-stopping capabilities make it a real player becoming a standard in civilian personal defense, militaries and for LAW agencies throughout the world. With an average price of $500, in that market segment, there are plethora of competitors pretending to the title of a perfect choice for self-defense.
We don’t carry small handguns because they’re the best to have in a fight, but because they’re easier to conceal and more comfortable to carry around all day. Let’s face it – the pocket pistols are not sporting guns; they are made to be carried for self-defense.
A word of advice referring to the selection of concealed pistol and carry method: It’s essential to always carry the handgun in the same location and the same manner since it eliminates confusion and surprises in an emergency.
The Top 5 Best 9mm Pocket Pistols
Let us take a look at some of the famous providers and makers of 9mm pocket pistols in the market today.
After ill-fated Glock 42, which only imperfection was its caliber – .380ACP, inspiring some gun writers to call it a “Bad joke from Glock,” this giant from Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, released in 2015, a new model in 9mm Para giving it a label: Glock 43.
It is the fact that the Glock design is minimalism to an extreme which has gained a lot of admirers, so the Glock 43 has soon become the most highly sought-after concealed carry a firearm on the market. This new ultra-concealable Glock is intended to those whose policy is “never being seen, always heard.” Though some gun connoisseurs described the G43 as a single stack version of the Glock 26, it has an extremely slim profile and design. In fact, Model 43 is 4mm (0.15”) thinner than its precursor “baby Glock,” the Glock 26 making it perfect for small-of-the-back carry.
Designed for daily concealed carry, it has a small frame and short barrel (3.39”) that make it easy to hide anywhere on the owner’s body accompanied with an appropriate holster. Speaking of the carrying, with the overall length of 6.26″ the G43 did not work well for pocket carry.
On the other hand, the owners had a broad range of carry rigs available. Among them particularly stands out ankle carry holsters, matching perfectly with this pistol. Undoubtedly, with its modest dimensions G43 is ideally suited for wearing discreet and as a backup gun for uniformed law enforcement officers.
Obviously, that new Glocks gun falls into Gen4 with the larger magazine release, built-in beavertail design, and improved polymer frame grip texture. Other features are standard Glocks, like polygonal barrel rifling, Safe Action system with a lever-incorporated trigger safety, 5.5 lb. trigger pull and clear reset after firing.
Offered as a primary choice for concealed carriers, extremely lightweight Glock 43 boasts the same proven and well-known reliability. Pistols of this concept are originally intended for self-defense at close range, and such situations usually dictate one-handed grip. Considering that, an average group of about 3”, is quite acceptable even for the duty-sized pistols. Furthermore, the G43 has proved much reliable compared to its predecessor Glock 42 regarding different loadings. The new Glock 43 performed with 100% reliability firing the full spectrum of ammunition ranging from the 64 grain to the 147-grain bullet. Although the G43 does not have the modular backstrap system the full-size guns have, it includes finger extension base plate on the magazine making the shooting quite comfortable and recoil completely manageable.
Only one drawback found by some gun experts was the Glocks factory supplied plastic sights using “dot in the box” visual reference. Fortunately, there are many excellent options available in the aftermarket for upgrading the sights on your Glock 43.
As with the gun sight makers, accessory manufacturers have also jumped on the bandwagon. In a short time, there are already multiple lights and laser attachments on the scene. Interestingly, instead of mounting to an accessory rail, these units would be attached to the trigger guard.
Check out this review of the Glock 43 found on YouTube:
Growing market of compact pistols for years turns out to producers the same requirement – powerful caliber in as much as possible a small package and at an affordable price. Smith & Wesson continued the trend with its model MP-9 Shield, approaching the size reserved for .32ACP or .380ACP pistols. The Smith & Wesson M&P-9 reflects the operational characteristics of full-sized weapons while being ergonomic and reliable.
However, the new model is far from being the smallest in pocket pistols class, particularly when you compare it to Kahr or Beretta models. Although a lot of manufacturers offering handguns with more modest dimension they can be problematic despite all theirs benefits. For example smaller length of the sight line badly impacts on precision, or a short spring of increased rigidity combined with powerful ammunition are not a guarantee of reliable function (as demonstrated in Kel-Tec PF-9 or Beretta Nano).
As an iteration of Smith & Wesson’s Military & Police (M&P) series, the Shield was introduced in early 2012. The firearm employed modified Browning system in which the barrel locks into the ejection port, so called SIG locked-breech. The Shield is a modern polymer frame striker-fired handgun with a barrel length of 3.1 inches. The Shield is slim, flat pistol with a single-stack six round magazine measuring under an inch in thickness.
The pistol grip is like with full sized models, slanted at an angle of 18 degrees, so it`s not a problem to point the gun to the target in natural, instinctive way. Despite modest dimensions, it is not “mouse gun,” due to the generous height of the grip, meaning that even users with large sized hands have no trouble with manipulation. The pistol comes standard with an optional thumb safety as well as a standard trigger safety.
Compared to triggering mechanism at Glock or Springfield XD, S&W represents a notable better solution, but there is still room for further improvement so that demanding users often opt for the purchase of aftermarket trigger set with better characteristics such as an Apex Tactical Action Enhancement Trigger Kit.
Since the pocket firearms are commonly used at a minimum distance without aiming, the prevailing opinion for decades was that small pistols do not need high-grade sights. Fortunately, the Smith & Wesson are not proponents of this view; hence the Shield got decent combat sights.
Many people would agree that large caliber pistols in a small pack are rarely fun to shoot because the purpose of their existence is everyday concealed carry and theirs use as the last option for the defense of life. Despite considerable kickoff, Shield is not unpleasant, and there is no sense of twisting the hand wrist during shooting, so return to the sighting line is satisfactory quickly.
Super slim, easy to fit in an inside the waistband holster, the Shield undoubtedly becomes a reliable choice for concealed carry needs. As a conclusion this pistol with a comfortable grip and great sights enable a solid fire control making it a winning combination regarding price and performance.
Check out this review of the S&W MP-9 found on YouTube:
No list of concealed carry handguns would be complete without the famous brand of Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen. The Walther released in 2007 a subcompact called PPS M1 Classic Pistol. The name PPS stands for “Polizei Pistole Schmal” meaning Police Pistol Slim. Technically, this handgun has direct origin from the classic full-sized Walther, a polymer Model P-99. The PPS controls, firing mechanism, build quality, surface protection and other details on it do not differ much from bigger and more serious brother P-99.
Model PPS uses an operating system that utilizes the modified Browning, short recoil system represented in other modern constructions. The most perfect and most widely used “modified Browning short recoil system,” commonly known as Sig lockup (locks the barrel and slide together using an enlarged breech section of the barrel locking into the ejection port).
As far as of controls, including its original ambidextrous magazine lever located between the trigger handle and the trigger guard, which is activated by shifting down instead of pressing inward (in conventional), as with most other contemporary pistols.
One of the new features in this handguns class is interchangeable backstraps. With three backstrap sizes, the weapon is fully adaptable to different user’s size of the hands.
Very pleasant and comfortable grip is also credited by the extremely narrow silhouette with single stack magazine, making it much easier to conceal than most of the other models. For a really small handgun, PPS still has respectable firepower, housing 6, 7 or 8 + 1 shots in the powerful 9mm Para caliber.
At the shooting range, the Walther PPS was surprisingly accurate and obedient, with sharp, but bearable recoil. Despite that, the control was satisfactory, although the pistol requires a very firm grip to keep up with shooting technique called a “double tap.” A double tap shooting (the term devised by legendary Col. Jeff Cooper) describes firing two shots to the upper chest area in order to stop the threat immediately.
However, this proven classic, intriguing handgun has got an upgraded successor in 2016 known as a Walther PPS M2 9mm subcompact pistol. The push-button magazine release is more intuitive positioned, and interchangeable backstraps are omitted.
Check out this review of the Walther PPS found on YouTube:
Innovative products and revolutionary projects were born under the roof of widely known Italian industrial design schools. The Beretta`s firearms are often representing that concept and a new Beretta 9mm subcompact Nano is not an exception even though in some details resembles the Austrian baby Glocks.
The Beretta Nano is a great little carry gun with absolutely nothing that will ever get stuck in a pocket, holster or purse. There is no teardown lever, external safety lever or slide lock to get stuck anywhere. The size and weight of the Beretta Nano make it a perfect handgun for concealed carry – and the 9mm Luger cartridge can stop just about any threat to you or your family.
Because of its diminutive dimensions was named Nano. In the metric system Nano mark (n), indicates a billionth part of something, so that future owners from the beginning it should be clear how really much Nano is small. Due to such dimensions, its purpose is very clear from the start, and there is no doubt that Nano is primarily intended for self-defense and deep concealed carry.
The new Beretta BU-9 mm Nano measures in at just .9 inch wide, so it ‘s hard to compare with other Generation IV micro-compact handguns because they are wider even up to the 50 percent. The little Nano pistol was made according to contemporary definition of generation IV pistols, of ubiquitous thermoplastic, fiberglass reinforced Technopolymer with a system of the internal hammer. Similarly, like the Glock, the Nano sports internal safeties instead of external.
The slim width of it allows for only a single stack magazine, and ammunition capacity is rather limited at six rounds. The whole weapon is sleek and snag-free. If you look more carefully, there is nothing on either side to catch on anything such as clothing. No slide release, no external safety, no nothing. With its minimalistic design, the Nano has only two basic commands, trigger and mag release button. Less than that simply is not possible.
The spirit of Italian design is also reflected in a laser-etched the gun’s serial number on the weapon’s chassis instead of the grip frame. This pretty neat modular solution enables that Nano’s grip can be completely replaced opening the door wide for customized grips in different colors and contours. Another designer`s touch is also placed on the frame; there is a ‘teardrop’ recess above and to the left of the trigger guard serving as a natural and very comfortable resting place for the tip of shooter`s finger when he is not actively shooting.
A snag-free Nano factory low-profile sights are a pretty standard 3-dot system and can be easily changed with some aftermarket Tritium Night sights. The Nano really is a sleek design and one of the smallest and lightest pistols in its class, though almost an ounce heavier than similarly robust competitors. The Nano’s heavy eight-pound trigger pull has a long drag, and the journey’s not a smooth one. This is a rather long trigger pull compared to the other compact, Generation IV polymer guns.
However, there is one serious fault and Beretta itself admits the Nano might have an issue with underpowered ammo because it hates anything under a 124 grain be a bullet.
Finally, this relatively inexpensive and compact 9mm for concealed carry pretends to be the perfect marriage of firearm art and utility in a polymer pistol.
It is important to note: the Nano will fire with or without a magazine inserted. That is a plus for a low capacity pistol when doing an emergency reload. On the other side, there is no magazine disconnect safety. This design requires an extra care ensuring the chamber is clear since simply removing the magazine will not prevent an accidental discharge.
Check out this review of the Beretta BU-9mm found on YouTube:
There are numerous discussions about subcompact pistols designed for use as concealed carry, backup, and off-duty weapons. Nowadays, the most of the firearm aficionados would agree that Springfield Armory has taken a big piece of the concealed carry market pie. The Springfield X-Treme Duty 3” Sub-Compact is another fantastic carry gun boasting the same superior ergonomics, reliable performance, and features of the larger XD-M, in a slightly abbreviated package.
As one of the most popular polymer pistols on the market, the XD-S 9mm is the 21st century equivalent of the legendary Browning and Colt pocket pistols but, with a few differences such as more powerful chambering, modern safety features, and aggressive frame texture.
According to many gun writers, Springfield Armory created sub-compact what’s become the finest personal defense handgun today. The XD Sub-Compact 3″ barrel, in all its various iterations, continues the family tradition that makes all XDs easy and intuitive to use.
The XD`s slide is made of forged steel with a Melonite coating, while the frame is of durable black polymer, notably thicker than on others rivals. The 9mm XD Sub-Compact weighs 26 ounces when equipped with standard capacity flush-fitting single stack magazines of 7 rounds.
The guns intended for everyday concealed carry is crucial to possess several blockages of unintentional discharge, and XD- Sub-Compact with such a short barrel of 3-inch barrel boasts a number of safety features are making it extremely safe to carry and easy to shoot. Like the most contemporary compact firearms, the Springfield 9mm XD Sub-Compact is equipped with a standard Glock-style trigger safety and integrated the Colt 1911-style grip safety. Moreover, XD Sub-Compact pistols, like all XD pistols, feature a striker firing system, a loaded chamber indicator on top of the gun and small accessory rail for mounting miniature gun lights or lasers.
Though it belongs to the mainstream category, publicly known as “pocket gun,” the XD-S with the overall length of 6.25″ would be only unnoticeable and comfortable worn in adequate holster such as nylon ankle holster or inside the waistband rig.
Despite their small size, the XD Sub-Compacts are a very comfortable to shot due to its 6.26-pound trigger pull while the trigger has the shortest travel with a similarly short reset. You should not, therefore, be surprised by achieving averaged 3- to 5-inch groups at ranges from 20 to 40 feet.
Check out this review of the Springfield XD-S Single Stack found on YouTube:
As a final note, this gun is a bit pricier than some of the other guns, but this is due to its undeniable quality.