Over the last decade, as state after state has restored residents’ right to bear arms, the gun-buying public’s appetite for portable, packable pistols moved from merely peckish to downright insatiable. The free-market system being what it is, firearms manufacturers have moved to sate that hunger with a smorgasbord of well-designed, eminently effective options. Here are the five best on the market now . . .
Even though revolvers have been around for a couple of centuries, they’re still a viable some-say-preferable option for personal defense. Ruger’s take on the modern snubbie totes five rounds of powerful GTFA in a pocketable package. Bonus! Rugger’s ugly little gun’s got the best stock trigger of any wheel gun on the market. If you want to go full bore, load her up with .357’s — making the LCR the most powerful compact carry option.
GLOCK showed up late to the 9mm mouse gun party with a handgun boasting all the air-quotes style we’ve come to expect from Gaston’s gats. That didn’t stop America’s gun-buyers from snapping-up 43’s by the tens of thousands. Why? It’s kinda like the ancient adage “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” (ask your Dad). Once you figure out what the G43 likes to eat, the 9mm pistol is an utterly reliable choice for pocket carry or deep concealment.
The Smith & Wesson Shield was one of the first of the tiny nines in the current generation of single stacks. The Shield quickly developed a devoted following due to its reliability, affordability and slim lines. Not to mention the optional frame-mounted safety. While its trigger may not win any awards (Smith M&P pistols have almost single-handedly kept Apex Tactical in business), the handgun’s 7+1 capacity makes it a highly creditable carry choice, right out of the box. While you don’t have to be clairvoyant to see a M2.0 version with an improved bangswitch somewhere in our future, the Shield as is does the job.
Springfield first rolled out their single-stack XD-S in a big-boy .45 chambering. It was an instant hit. Now available in .40 and 9mm, the Croatian sensation gives toters the added peace of mind of a grip safety along with 7+1 rounds of parabellum — all in a profile that’s less than an inch wide. Add in the fiber optic site, a good trigger and a price around four bills and you’ve got yourself a solid EDC performer at a value price.
There are less expensive compact double-stack concealed carry pistols. There are certainly better known models. But none feel better in the hand or perform better than Walther’s vastly under-publicized double stack P99C AS. Comfortable in the hand, sporting one of the best stock triggers on any striker-fired gun, the P99 AS is a sleeper hit. If you’re looking for more capacity than a single-stack carry gun affords, put the P99c AS on your short list.