Top Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols for Year-End 2017

Top Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols for Year-End 2017

Some estimate that there were at least 3,000 9mm pistol models in the U.S. concealed carry handgun market in 2017. Others estimate closer to 5,000 models. And there are about 16 million concealed carry folks in the U.S. with an opinion about which handgun is their top 9mm choice to carry. So which ones are your top choices now and why? This article will present my opinions about my top concealed carry 9mm pistols for the end of this year 2017 in three categories:

  • Compact Pistols
  • Sub-Compact Pistols
  • Pocket Pistols

I spent a lot of time considering about one hundred 9mm pistols that I have recently reviewed and reduced the many great guns down to 18 9mm pistols in the three categories. Yes, I know there are other calibers that you can carry, excellent .45s, .40s, and .380 pistols, etc. for concealed carry. And there are many other outstanding 9mm pistols in the three categories. For example, I have ranked 5 or 6 more 9mms in each category that did not make my cut for the Top 5 or so in each category. This article intentionally omits these and others for space reasons, and I do prefer to carry a 9mm, as do many of my readers. And, I have my opinions like you do.

My sole motivation for this article is to objectively organize my criteria, priorities, and personal preferences and match them to the 9mm guns’ specifications and features that I am familiar with to determine my top 9mms for my concealed carry. I am not prescribing my choices as the pinnacle of the “best” for everyone, as the all-knowing guru of guns. I do not have even close to all the answers, and you are the expert for yourself, not me.

Hopefully, this will help you organize your thoughts about the many concealed carry guns or at least save you some time. Your criteria, priorities, finalists, and choices are just as good as mine and certainly better for you and your factors and preferences. That is fine because there are no right or wrong criteria or selections, just what each wants and prefers. Here I give you my ideas for what they are worth. I hope they help you some. So these are not the “best” or “the only ones I recommend” for carrying, but instead, these are MY top 9mm choices by category, based on my criteria and my personal preferences and opinions at the end of this year. I do own, shoot, and carry all of these fine handguns in each category, based on concealed carry situations, garments, and weather.

So you can better understand my comparisons, here are my brief category criteria and definitions for the 9mms. Recognize that my intuitive ideas and your personal preferences may override any criterion, since this is mostly a subjective process and not exact by design. As usual, we make individual trade-offs based on our gut feelings. Have fun with this! Your category definitions may differ from mine, but here are:

My Basic Category Definitions:

Compact: Barrel length of close to 4 inches or so, but not less than 3.5 inches and not more than 4.2 inches. Not over 31 ounces or so in weight, usually less and near 25 ounces.

Sub-Compact: Barrel length of less than 3.5 inches, but not less than 3 inches, with an unloaded weight of less than 25 ounces and preferably near 20 ounces or less. Width of 1.10″ or less, preferably less.

Pocket: Barrel length of close to 3 inches or so, with an unloaded weight of near 20 ounces or preferably less. Width very near 1″ or less, preferably less. This category is affected by the type of garment you wear and the size of the “Pockets.” Cargo pockets are designed larger than dress slack pockets.

In addition to specifying the 9mm caliber, category definitions, and gun specifications and features, here are some more of my criteria for concealed carry guns. I rated each criterion on a 10-point scale with 10 being the highest rating, as I do in each of my posted reviews for each gun. Note that almost all of these guns are rated 10 in several criterions, so that is why they are my top choices. Other concealed carry guns not listed here ranked high in some criteria, but not in enough individual criterions to put them at the top of my lists. Again, personal preference and subjective.

Some More of My Criteria:

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in accurate target hits with a maximum of a 4″ inch hit group (this is not bullseye shooting-but for self-defense) at 7-15 yards consistently (prefer 3″ or less hit group at 7 yards);

2. Trigger press preferred about 4.5-6.0 pounds which sometimes varies by category & gun design.

3. Trigger with short travel distance, easily identifiable and short reset point, and a smooth, consistent press.

4. Sights that are basic & easy to use; enhance fast target acquisition & follow-up shots; e.g., tritium or other Night Sights or Fiber Optic front sight.

5. Capacity – For 9mm want at least nine in a compact gun; at least seven in sub-compact and seven in a pocket gun.

6. Ergonomics – Hand comfort and grip fit; controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile for concealed carry; helps control felt recoil and muzzle flip; feels very good in hand; proper grip angle and bore axis to match individual preferences.

7. Miscellaneous – Overall finish, fit, & quality appearance; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail; ease of disassembly-assembly; included accessories; hard case; extras (e.g., holster, pouch, or loader); excellent customer service & repair reputation with friendly & helpful representatives; within your budget; etc.

NOTE: For me, I did not put a lot of weight on price, since I cannot place too high a dollar value on a gun used for defending my life and the lives of my loved ones. This is a top priority for me and my wallet. If I must save and wait to purchase my top concealed carry gun, I will. I want the very best gun for myself to get the job done of defending lives. Everyone must individually make this decision, prioritize, and decide the expenditure for their own concealed carry gun.

General Rule of Thumb for Concealed Carry Pistol Selection

As always I believe the best concealed carry pistol for you is the gun:

  1. with the highest caliber,
  2. that you are most accurate with,
  3. that feels the most comfortable and fits your hands,
  4. is the most controllable by you,
  5. are willing to carry with you every day, and
  6. have shot & tried before you bought it.

Below is a listing of my top personal choices in 9mm for concealed carry in each of the three categories: Compact, Sub-Compact, and Pocket 9mm pistols for year-end 2017. I hope this helps you. I compare my Top 5 choices in each Category (Sub-Compact & Pocket Categories have ties, so more guns in those Categories) by my criteria, specifications, and my preferences that I believe are important for concealed carry. I do have available more details on these and other excellent 9mm concealed carry guns in my book and some published reviews.

COMPACT: Springfield EMP4 Contour- Note the Fiber Optic Front Sight & Bobtail Cut on Butt of Gun to Help Concealed Carry
COMPACT: Springfield EMP4 Contour- Note the Fiber Optic Front Sight & Bobtail Cut on Butt of Gun to Help Concealed Carry

COMPACT: Walther Arms PPQ M2 9mm- Great Trigger

COMPACT: Walther Arms PPQ M2 9mm- Great Trigger

Top COMPACT 9mms

Reviews for the Top Compact Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols for 2017

The Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP) 4 Champion pistol is highly rated on all my criteria. It is my top concealed carry compact 9mm gun, but I do practice and rotate among the other four compacts listed. All are great concealed carry guns! The EMP4’s specifications and features match my preferences, and the gun handles and shoots outstandingly for all concealed carry factors vital to me, e.g., accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, trigger press, width, and sights. It is a heavier steel 1911 gun in 9mm, and this helps reduce movement for accuracy, control of recoil, and muzzle flip. It is not too heavy for me to carry all day. It has a special short-action design and a frame/grip length that is 1/8″ shorter than a traditional 1911, solving many usual full-size 1911 problems. Its magazine is designed to fit the 9mm without adding a spacer specifically. Since the slide stroke and breech face are made for the reduced-length 9mm case, reliability is not a problem. The shorter grip radius makes the gun very comfortable and controllable in my medium-sized hands while being a smaller-proportioned gun for comfortable carrying. The butt is angled, or some call it a “Bobtail” to remove the sharp corner of the frame to help conceal the pistol better. It does cost more than some folks want to pay, but, again, you get what you pay for and must consider the critical goal of saving lives. The longer 4-inch, stainless steel, match-grade bull barrel has a fully-supported feed ramp to help control recoil. The G-10 grips look nice and also function well for grip control. The trigger is great!

SUB-COMPACT: Smith-Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 9mm
SUB-COMPACT: Smith-Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 9mm
SUB-COMPACT: Springfield Armory EMP 3 9mm
SUB-COMPACT: Springfield Armory EMP 3 9mm


Reviews for the Top Sub-Compact Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols for 2017

POCKET: Sig Sauer P-938 9mm
POCKET: Sig Sauer P-938 9mm
POCKET: Ruger LC9s 9mm
POCKET: Ruger LC9s 9mm

Top POCKET 9mms

Reviews for the Top Pocket Concealed Carry 9mm Pistols for 2017

Continued Success! Hopes this helps and saves you some time. Check out my book for more concealed carry guns, rankings, and analysis. Go For It!

Photos 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.

© 2017 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 [email protected].