Roy Disney, the late behind-the-scenes financial genius of the Disney Company, made a very important statement “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values and criteria are.” This is so true even when deciding on your concealed carry gun. If you can specify what you want in your gun before you go look at them, then you will usually make a more objective and effective decision. You won’t bounce among the different guns that are being peddled the loudest by folks wanting to sell their particular brand or model. So, up front decide on your gun’s criteria and the features and characteristics that are important to you. Then rank those criteria by their importance specifically to yourself, not your friend or even your instructor or the “experts.” This will give you a more precise direction to meet your goals and preferences. You are the one who must depend on the gun to defend your very life. So, have your very own system with criteria, priorities, and a plan for selecting the best concealed carry gun for you and your purpose.
Last month I wrote about my current top 14 SUBCOMPACT 9mm pistols for concealed carry and some of you requested that I present my current top COMPACT 9mm pistols, so I am presenting them here in this article. I give comparative specifications for only 15 of the many COMPACT 9mm models on the market now. Also, in this article I give you my top 10 criteria which you may want to use to save you some time in developing your own criteria from scratch.You may want to add or subtract from my criteria and modify them to include what’s important to you. Most importantly, rent or borrow and try two or three of your “finalist” guns on your list before you buy your concealed carry gun. I own almost all of these compact guns and have analyzed and shot all of them because I made a conscious decision to buy the ones I wanted, based on my criteria, preferences, and field tests.
For this article, I arbitrarily narrowed down my many concealed carry 9mm compact pistols to these 15. I could have considered more, but for this brief article I had to be concise. My recent book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials” considers various 21 concealed carry guns and I compare, analyze, and rank them there. Knowing the specifications and features of each gun, then shooting your finalists, will help you make a personal and informed 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 idiosyncrasies, preferences, uses, and shooting abilities. Be certain to compare like features and specifications among the guns you are considering. Below are my criteria for my concealed carry compact 9mm handguns. As always, establish your own criteria, do your own research and check my data, information, and most importantly, try the gun yourself.
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, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. 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 – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (Train to be Trigger Safe);
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs);
7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
8. Capacity – adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer at least 8-10 or more in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; etc.
Here are the specifications for 15 current concealed carry compact 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 and you make your own tradeoffs 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 8 or 9 of our 10 criteria can be met by any one gun. Hopefully, we can meet all of our criteria with that “perfect” concealed carry gun. Consider overall do the pros outweigh the cons and are at least your 3 or 4 top criteria definitely met? Also, remember you can have more than one concealed carry gun. It depends on the features you want and its uses… personal preferences and the bucks you have available. I hope this article has helped you gain some information you did not previously have about these 15 possible concealed carry compact 9mm handguns. 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 and you are willing to pay for before you go shopping and before your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose using standard drills (several drills are presented in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
Photo by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and 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 & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & 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.