What is the best subcompact 9MM pistol?
If you ask 10 people to name the best concealed carry gun you’ll likely get 10 different answers.
While the subcompact 9mm handgun is one of the most common concealed carry and self-defense pistols available, picking the right one is a truly subjective exercise.
Most folks believe a subcompact 9mm will certainly get the job done, we’ve tried to break through the noise of opinions and give you a series of no-fail recommendations.
We took 12 different single stack 9mm pistols out with 3 different handgun experts & certified concealed carry instructors to hone in on the cream of the crop.
With every manufacturer getting in on the exploding interest in self-defense pistols, there has been a flood of new subcompact guns in recent years. While many of these weapons are excellent options from reputable manufacturers, not all of them are the best or most-reliable weapons.
That’s why we felt it worth it to put together a list of the best subcompact 9mm guns.
Every subcompact listed below strikes the right balance of diminutive size, performance, and concealability.
The best single stack handguns you can buy
The following pistols were selected after extensive research. These guns are, in our humble opinion, the best subcompact 9mm pistols you can find out there.
They’re concealed carry ready but are also completely capable of any role. Our team took a close look at each of the below subcompacts and believe most shooters who want to carry and conceal a self-defense firearm should consider one of the below.
They’re small enough to conceal easily, provide a quality shooting experience, have solid sights and are accurate out of the box.
Quick List: The Best Subcompact 9mm Pistols for Most People
- Weight: 20.64 ounces
- 6+1 capacity
- Length: 6.2”
- Sights: front and rear white dot
- Finish: Flat Black Earth
You’ll rarely see a list of 9mm pistols without a Glock, and for good reason. They’re great pistols – and the Glock 19 has been a law enforcement staple since its introduction in 1983. The Glock 43 is a variant on the full-size Glock 17 platform (one of its “Slimline” variants) as the Glock 19 is generally too big for CCW.
The Glock 43 is the subcompact that consistently performs – especially chambered for 9mm rounds. It’s a wonderful gun – and at about 1” wide can work well in any carry position.
Small Overall Size
The size of the pistol is very similar to some of the other compact pistols in Glock’s lineup – with an emphasis on the thinness thanks to the single stack magazine. Other than grip length and overall width the Glock 43 is similar in size to the Glock 26, however, it’s easier to shoot and handle with it’s longer, thinner grip.
Hand fit with subcompact pistols is often an area of concern, but with the Glock 43 this was not an issue. The Glock 43 felt secure in our testers’ hands when shooting. The real strength of the 43 is the balance of small size and control. It’s not just an easy subcompact 9mm to carry – it’s one of the best carrying-firearms out there.
Ease of Use and Accurate
When it comes to actually shooting the Glock 43, there were no big surprises. Like most Glock weapons, our testers found the gun to shoot consistently, with controllable repoil and quality sights. It was also accurate and comfortable in their hands when shooting even after more than 100 rounds at the test range.
The pistol has a good trigger feel that isn’t too heavy, and the universal Safe Action safety mechanism works like a charm. The break-over on the trigger is clean and crisp, and the pistol is just plain easy to shoot.
We really like how you don’t have to completely release the trigger in order to fire follow-on shots thanks to the safety system. It allows the trigger to reset with slight forward movement, so you can fire several rounds quickly without a full trigger pull. After a round is fired, you only have to release the trigger until it resets, which you can hear and feel.
Overall, it’s a high-quality gun that offers a collection of Glock-specific features that any shooter should be happy with.
The only strike against the Glock 43 is it’s low 6-round magazine capacity. The Glock 26, which offers 10-round capacity, is the Glock we would recommend if you want to be able to carry more rounds with you.
The Glock 26 may be a small subcompact 9mm, but it’s able to pack a lot of rounds into its small frame thanks to a double-stack magazine. That magazine holds 10+1, and that makes it fantastic for concealed carry, albeit with a stubby grip that some folks (especially those with larger hands) find awkward.
- Smaller overall size than other Glocks
- Higher capacity than many similar single-stack pistols
- As easy to shoot and reliable as any other Glock
- Limited capacity
Most Modular Subcompact 9mm:
- Weight: 24.9 ounces
- Capacity: 12
- Length: 6.7”
- Sights: Front and rear Siglite
- Finish: Stainless Steel & Nitron
Often called the Glock 26 killer, the Sig P320 subcompact is the preferred 9mm pistol for folks who prefer something other than a Glock. Some shooters simply don’t care for Glock firearms, and that’s fine. There are plenty of other options out there, and this Sig Sauer is hard to beat. The P320 has a long list of fans, including the U.S. Army, who recently selected the M17 variant of the P320 as their service sidearm.
One of the things that set the Sig P320 subcompact apart from the competition is the fact that the pistol is highly customizable thanks to a modular design. You can configure this pistol to any size: subcompact, compact, and full-frame by swapping the grip module on the P320 firing control unit. It doesn’t matter what you want, you can build a P320 to suit.
The various pistol components are interchangeable, and that makes this a highly customizable pistol. You can build a small-frame pistol for concealed carry one day, and then on another day, you can have the full-frame gun you want to shoot.
Short and Smooth Trigger Pull
One of the biggest pluses of the Sig P320 Subcompact is its short and smooth trigger pull. The trigger pull is no heavier than the Glock 26’s but it offers a better trigger feel and a short and snappy pull overall.
Some of our testers commented that it might be the best trigger in all of the subcompact polymer frame, striker-fired pistols out there. That is subjective, but it’s still worth noting. If you’re a trigger connoisseur, then you should love this pistol.
Accurate and Comfortable
Our testers attributed the Sig P320’s high level of accuracy and ease-of-use to its good grip and excellent trigger. Any shooter should be able to become proficient with this pistol in a short amount of time, and the grip is large enough for a variety of hand sizes.
This will ensure you can comfortably and confidently carry your weapon every day.
Some of our testers still noted that the Glock 43 was the preferable option to the Sig P320 owing to the Glock’s thinness – despite the Sig’s superior trigger.
- One of the best triggers in the industry
- Unique modular construction provides versatility
- Good grip that’s easy to hold.
- It is slightly heavier than other subcompacts
- Customizability only comes at extra cost
- Weight: 22 oz
- Capacity: 7/8+1
- Length: 6.1 inches
- Sights: White dot front/rear
- Finish: Armornite®
Ah, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0. This 9mm subcompact pistol took the world by storm when it came out, and it has continued to be one of the best subcompact options available anywhere. If you’d prefer to shop US handguns (meaning the Sig and Glock aren’t for you) then this Smith & Wesson pistol should do the trick.
A Well-Balanced Gun
The issue with some polymer frame guns is that they’re so light hey can throw off the balance for some shooters. It can be a challenge to find the right feel with a full magazine or with attachments on board.
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 is different. With its full single-stack, 7+1 magazine in the gun it is especially well balanced and feels very good in your hands.
Good Sights and Optional Laser Integration
The pistol features a bright white, three-dot sight that is easy to see even in relatively low-light situations. While night sights would likely be preferable many situations, the stock sights on the M&P are very good.
One thing that our testers really liked about the M&P Shield 2.0 is that you can get this gun with an integrated laser sight from Smith & Wesson. This makes shooting even easier and it blends pretty seamlessly into the gun. It’s a nice addition you can opt for that rounds out the usability of the pistol.
Aggressive Stippling Makes for Secure Grip
If you’re looking for a pistol with a really good grip on it, this one is perhaps even better than the Sig. It’s less about the shape for this grip and more about the aggressive stippling that makes it easy to handle even if your hands are really sweaty or damp.
This excellent grip makes the pistol easy to shoot accurately and handle even when in a quick response scenario, and when coupled with the easy-to-use thumb safety is a big plus for a concealed carry pistol.
- Easy to handle grip
- Ability to get an integrated laser
- Overall well-balanced and easy to handle
- It can be hard to find good CCW holsters for it
- Weight: 21.1 ounces
- Capacity: 6/7+1
- Length: 6.3”
- Sights: Front and rear
- Finish: Tenifer black
Another great option for shooters looking for a subcompact 9mm pistol comes to us from Walther. The PPS has been a reliable polymer frame pistol for years, but never found the same level of enthusiasm as other optiosn from Glock, Sig, and Smith & Wesson. Walther updated the gun and renamed it the Walther PPS M2 Subcompact, creating a really compelling entry into the 9mm subcompact market.
The improved design offers a simplified mag release (using a button rather than the weird little lever thing they used on the first model). There’s also a striker cocking indicator.
These small updates might not seem like a big deal, and they’re not revolutionary, but they help make the Walther PPS M2 into a seriously useful pistol by building on what was a very good firearm to begin with. They take the firearm up a notch.
Extendable Mags for Increased Capacity
One of the downsides of the Walther PPS M2 is that the limited magazine capacity a single-stack configuration requires. The 6+1 capacity is enough to get the job done given the CCW emphasis – but Walther has a solution if you need more: extended magazines.
This solution is nothing new. Most firearms come with the ability to use an extended magazine but Walther offers 7+1 and 8+1 variants, opening up some serious additional capacity. Also, the magazines have the same stippling and shape as the grip of the gun, so you’re adding capacity and improving usability, which is smart.
Slim Frame That’s Easy to Conceal
One of the best things about the Walther PPS M2 is its slim overall design. At 1.1 inches the PPS M2 is almost exactly the same width as the Sig P320 – but often costing 20% less. You get a fantastic concealed carry option- from an incredibly well-established firearm brand – with considerably less investment.
- Accurate and reliable
- One of the slimmer options for concealment
- Well-built with good materials
- Limited capacity compared to double-stack pistols
- Sights could be better
Thinnest Subcompact 9mm:
- Weight: 21.5 oz
- Capacity: 7+1
- Length: 6.3”
- Sights: Pro-Glo Tritium/Luminescent Front & Tactical Rack Serrated Rear
- Finish: Melonite
Last but certainly not least, we have the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm pistol. This is a pistol that has been out since 2014. It more or less flew under the radar when it came out, but since then it has garnered a really strong following and is considered one of the best subcompact 9mm pistols that you can buy today.
Subcompact and Slim
We pointed to the Walther as being one of the slimmest pistols on the market chambered for 9mm with a single stack, but the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm is even slimmer at under 1” in grip width.
This thin profile makes it easy to wear anywhere on your body, but when it comes to IWB carry it’s hard to beat.
Accurate and Reliable
Our testers put a lot of ammo through the XD-S Mod.2, and it proved to be a very reliable pistol at the range Given Springfield’s history in the firearm industry they know how to craft a pistol that will serve you for years. Springfield Armory simply makes quality firearms.
Despite a voluntary recall to smooth out the action the XD-S is as reliable now as any other model on this list, and that commitment to quality is something that makes Springfield a top-notch brand.
The XD-S offers fantastic accuracy out of the box – with the front tritium sight creating a battery-free glow around the clock we found it incredibly useful day or night. All of our testers were able to put together tight groupings at 10 & 15 yards that would be more than acceptable in self-defense or concealed carry situations.
Excellent Materials & Design Features
One of the things that our testers noted was the high-quality construction of the gun. The polymer frame looks and feels thicker, and the steel slide and other parts of the gun happen to look a little bit more robust. Plus it does this without adding weight – at 21oz it’s lighter than both the Sig and Glock and easier to rack the slide. We also really liked the grip safety, which adds another layer of comfort to handling the Springfield.
While there’s no denying the reliability and quality of a Glock or a Sig Sauer pistol, it seems the robustness of the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 could win out in the long run, which if you plan to keep your guns a long time, as we do, could be favorable.
- Accurate and proven
- One of the slimmer options for concealment
- Well-built with good materials
- Limited single-stack capacity
- Some shooters may dislike to heft and balance
What makes for the best single stack 9mm?
Carrying firearms – especially the kind that people prefer to use for concealed carry – need to be concealable, but can’t be so small as to sacrifice ease of use or effectiveness.
Many guys won’t wear anything other than a full size 1911 – but you won’t find us recommending many full-sized handguns for concealed carry. Those guns certainly have their place, but they don’t pass the first rule of CCW – make it easy to conceal.
If you can’t hit your target there’s no point in carrying in the first place. A subcompact 9mm has to be accurate, which means good sights paired with barrel rifling and the right barrel length.
While accuracy has a lot to do with the shooter and situation – you can’t make a pig fly. You want to know that you can consistently put bullets in a tight group.
Weight is an important factor. It doesn’t matter how small a gun is, if it’s heavy, it can be difficult to conceal, will drag on your holster, and you’ll be constantly aware of it. Even the sturdiest holster will struggle with an unreasonably heavy gun.
Less is often more – and this is particularly true with subcompacts. That’s why polymer-frame guns are so common in subcompact 9mm pistols. Overall size will play a role in weight, certainly, but materials are often even more impactful when it comes to weight. Also, magazine material & overall capacity can impact weight, too. The more bullets a gun carries, the heavier it will be. This is one of the benefits of single stack 9mm pistols – you get the right balance of weight & capacity.
Weight matters, but so does overall size. Subcompacts by design are smaller than even most compact pistols, but some small guns are simply better than others. Barrel length, height, and overall width are key for ensuring your selection fits your hand size & shooting style.
While most folks turn to smaller pistols for their eventual everyday carry firearms, it’s often best to learn how to shoot and defend yourself with a full-size handgun. This avoids the pain and awkwardness smaller handguns can cause when a shooter is less secure firing their weapon.
Once you have the requisite experience to handle both larger and smaller handguns your subcompact can become your “go-to” choice for concealed carry – where its compactness works to your advantage.
The Glock 43 is the subcompact 9mm pistol that checks all the boxes for us. Any of the options here should serve you well if you’re looking for the best subcompact 9mm handgun – either for concealed carry, home defense, or any other purpose.
However, the Sig P320 subcompact isn’t far behind and offers a great blend of reliability, accuracy, concealment, and weight. It’s simply a good option for almost every shooter out there.
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