Top 14 subcompact 9mm pistols to consider for carry
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Which of the current top 100 concealed carry (CC) subcompact 9mm guns available in the market now are you going to consider? Yes, there are many out there. What is the latest and greatest gun vying for your attention and bucks? Can you narrow the options down to three or four to chose from?
Will it be a striker-fired, hammer-fired, double or single stack, single, double or double-single action, with or without an external safety, green fiber-optic front sight or orange luminescent, two dots or three dots, magazine disconnect or not, five-pound or seven-pound press, long or short reset, polymer or steel frame, seven-round or 10-round capacity, 15-ounce or 23-ounce weight, etc.?
What about the key accuracy and reliability factors? Well, you better know what you want up front and have a system for comparing the many alternatives. This article will give you my top 10 criteria to save you some time and present the comparative specifications for only 14 of the many models on the market now. You may want to add or subtract from my criteria and modify them to include what's important to you.
Above all, rent or borrow and try the gun before you buy it to save buyer regret and the "if only I knew" syndrome that could follow your purchase — sadly, I learned this the hard way early on.
I have reviewed, analyzed and shot all of these guns below. I own almost all of these guns because I made a conscious decision to buy the ones I wanted to buy, based on my criteria and field tests.
For me, accuracy, reliability, trigger press and reset, width and weight are important first considerations, among other things. For this article, I arbitrarily narrowed down my many CC pistols to these 14. I could have considered more, but for this brief article I had to shorten my list.
To answer the question, "Is this a gun I recommend for CC?", I have to know the specifications and features of each gun, then shoot my finalists for my personal decision. It does not really matter what your friends, family members, or the "experts" say, since you have to know for yourself what works with your idiosyncracies, preferences and shooting abilities.
Be careful and compare apples with apples and not with oranges, so to speak. Compare like features and specifications. Below are my criteria for my CC handguns. As always, establish your own criteria, do your own research and check my data, information, and most importantly, try the gun yourself.
(Check out the top 15 compact 9mm pistols for concealed carry.)
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, nonporting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion.
I must admit all gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want all of my criteria to be met. Dreaming? I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and reliability: How accurate is it out of the box, without any modifications (and costs) like trigger job, different sights, grips, springs, etc.? Is it reliable (defined by me as consistency of good hits over repeated trials)? Durability is another factor. It must perform well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages, resulting in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3-inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry.
2. Trigger press: What is the force necessary for the trigger press? There is a big difference between a 4.5- and 7.5-pound trigger press for results. Is the trigger smooth and crisp? The maxiumum should be about 5.5-6.5 pounds, which lessens the force applied for less movement and better accuracy. The press should also be crisp and identifiable.
3. Trigger: What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Does it have a long or short travel, and is the reset point readily identifiable? Look for one with a short travel distance (which increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point. A trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot means less need to transition between presses and make adjustments.
4. Barrel: Aim for a length of 3.0-4.5 inches, though the width of the gun and its grips are more important to me than the barrel length for concealed carry purposes. While both are important, I do not want the wider gun to bulge at my hip line when I carry, like most revolvers do for me. Of course, there is a difference between a 3-inch barrel and a 6-inch barrel when carrying, and method of carry affects this.
5. Sights: You want basic and simple here (easy to use and see — I like fiber-optic fronts). I look for fast target acquisition; for my purposes — adjustable for windage; use night sights for low-light situations.
6. Weight: Find a proper gun weight to minimize recoil. I prefer about 25 ounces or less for carry, but there are trade-offs.
7. Caliber: Match it to your needs, characteristics and abilities (consider your medical and physical limitations). 9mm is my preference for carry.
8. Capacity: Make sure it's adequate for your use. I usually prefer at least 8-10 in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or two sometimes).
9. Ergonomics: Hand comfort and grip fit are key here. Find controls that are easy to work and easily accessible — rounded, low profile.
10. Miscellaneous: This includes overall finish, fit, quality, appearance and workmanship; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly and helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; hard case; extras (third mag, holster, pouch, extended and flush mags); warranty length and extent; etc.
Here are the specifications for 14 current CC subcompact 9mm handguns, for your consideration. Remember, to also consider your personal preferences, features, etc. and to shoot your final guns before your selection.
There are several characteristics, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider. You make your own trade-offs according to your goal, desired features, preferences for certain factors, etc.
We all want all of our criteria to be met, but realistically maybe only eight or nine of these 10 criteria can be met by any one gun. Maybe you'll get lucky and find the "perfect" CC gun that meets all of your criteria.
I guess that's why every year we learn of the next latest and greatest gun that has added both front and rear fiber-optic sights, the sturdy G-10 grips, the ported slide and ported barrel, easy takedown method, modular and exchangeable trigger assembly, ambidextrous everything, capacity of 25, etc.
But do your own analysis and decide for yourself. Overall, do the pros outweigh the cons, and are your top criteria met?
Also, remember you can have more than one CC gun. My wife is looking over my shoulder as I write this and is trying to hit my delete key to erase this last statement. Ha! I guess she believes we have enough guns already. Really, 50 each is not too many, is it? It depends on the features you want and its uses — personal preferences.
I hope this article has helped you gain some information you did not previously have about these 14 possible CC handguns. Consider that this is just my point of view with my live-range fire and shooting the guns myself.
Again, as always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you that you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then, critically evaluate the gun yourself per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills, with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.
Remember, safety first always. Continued success!
This personal opinion article is meant for general information and educational purposes only. The author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting and using your firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters, and the author assumes no responsibility for anyone's use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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