Previous Post
Next Post

TTAG’s Managing Editor, Dan Zimmerman, and I took all four of the hottest, most in-demand concealed carry guns on the market — the four micro-compacts with double-digit capacity, flush-fit magazines — and hit the range. Shooting the SIG SAUER P365, Springfield Hellcat, Ruger MAX-9, and Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus (listed in order of when they were released) back-to-back-to-back-to-back, the following is our takeaways on how these four fantastic little pistols stack up.

The size and weight specs more or less tell the story of how these four pistols compare on paper, though there is some nuance that can’t be seen or felt in these figures.

In the Rumble-hosted video embedded above (direct link HERE), Dan and I both put a full mag through all four of these guns and provide some thoughts and feedback. Check it out!

As an example of an on-paper stat that may be misleading in real life, while the Hellcat is shorter in max height than the P365, its backstrap is longer so its heel sticks out a little farther than the P365’s. The Hellcat’s magazine baseplate is nearly parallel with the slide, though, whereas the P365’s angles downward toward the frontstrap, so the P365’s toe sticks out more than the Hellcat’s.

For the vast majority of concealed carriers, it’s the heel of the grip that prints (“pokes” into one’s cover garment, giving away the fact that an object is underneath) first, before any other part of the gun. So, while the Hellcat is technically shorter, the P365 with its more rounded (slightly “bobbed”), shorter heel will likely conceal like the shorter gun.

On the other hand, the frontstrap is where the shooter’s fingers do most of their gripping, and the lower toe of the P365 allows my men’s size large hands to place precisely half a pinky firmly on the frontstrap. That same pinky wraps underneath the grip of the Hellcat.

Even that, however, doesn’t really translate to what you might expect when going loud with these little pistols. Thanks to the larger grip circumference and different shape of the Hellcat’s grip, it feels and shoots like it’s larger than the P365 even if one’s pinky is wrapped under the mag.

Okay, onto our thoughts of how each micro-compact concealed carry handgun stacks up compared to the others:

SIG SAUER P365

SIG’s little P365 shook up the concealed carry market when it was released in early 2018. In a sea of slim, easy-to-conceal pistols with 6+1 and 7+1 capacities, the P365’s 10+1 capacity within the same tiny footprint was a full-on mic drop that gave it an immediate, huge leg up on the competition.

Shoehorning 10+ rounds into a skinny micro-compact was and certainly still is a fantastic recipe for sales success, and, as this very article shows, others have jumped into the fray.

All that said, I’d be remiss not to mention that the SIG SAUER P365 was the first to accomplish this feat only if you don’t count the KELTEC P11, which was released in 1995 and would absolutely belong in this group were it not discontinued in 2019.

At least, on paper the P11 belongs here (5.6″ length, 4.3″ height, 1.0″ width, 17.1 oz, 10+1 flush-fit with a 12-round and 15-round magazine available). Though specific units were rock solid, as a whole the P11 wasn’t reliable enough to be taken seriously by most concealed carriers and they — we — instead chose pistols with lower capacities but higher trustworthiness.

Anyway, three years later and the P365 still feels the smallest of these four handguns. Much of that can be chalked up to it having the smallest grip circumference. Sure, it’s the lightest of the four by a small amount and perhaps it balances slightly differently, but I think these differences are too small to really notice on the range.

What you do notice is more muzzle flip than the other guns. I’ve always considered my personal EDC since 2018, my P365 seen in these photos, to be a highly controllable gun and dang do I shoot the thing quickly and accurately, but without a doubt it has the most felt recoil and muzzle flip of the guns in this quadfecta. Next is the Ruger MAX-9, which is only very slightly less “flippy” than the P365, then there’s a jump to the Springfield Hellcat, which is noticeably softer, and then another solid leap to the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus, which shoots like a well-tuned compact, not a sub-compact or micro-compact.

SIG’s X-RAY3 sights are fantastic; exactly what I prefer. A bright, eye-catching, tritium-illuminated front sight and an all-black, serrated rear. They’re steel, durable, quick, and accurate. One could argue that the tritium-illuminated fiber optic front sight on the MAX-9 is better, but my eye prefers the P365’s front dot.

There has been some variability in P365 trigger pull quality. For instance, my early P365 here has a slightly better trigger than my P365XL, which was made two years later. In either case, though, I’d describe both triggers as very good — well above the average for compact (or sub-compact or micro-compact) polymer pistols of its time.

The P365’s trigger has a fairly short travel, followed by a skosh of creep before a crisp break. The reset travel is fairly short and the reset is nicely tactile and audible. Pull weight is exactly what I prefer in a carry gun: about 5 pounds.

Grip texture on the P365 is just about perfect for me. It’s basically “pebbled” like sandpaper, but with the peaks softened just enough that it doesn’t cause too much irritation if it’s against your skin while being carried concealed. The grip is smooth in the nicely-shaped trigger guard undercut and the underside of the beavertail, which is the correct choice in both cases, and textured elsewhere.

The large magazine release is easy to use, but not so tall that it risks accidental activation. I appreciate the windows on each side of the bottom of the grip frame, which allow a jammed magazine to be stripped out more easily.

Front and rear slide serrations are traditional and simple.

But they’re also very grippy with 90-degree edges and enough depth to provide really solid purchase. The P365 ranks second for functional slide serrations.

After shooting all four guns, I won’t be trading in my P365. Without a question I shoot the Shield Plus a little bit better — again, it shoots like a compact — but it’s just enough larger and heavier and I’ve become so familiar and used to my P365 that it’s still my choice.

Springfield Hellcat

For an MSRP premium of just $30, you’d be silly not to buy the optics-ready Hellcat. As the first challenger to the P365, though, Springfield clearly wanted to undercut the SIG’s MSRP and the non-optics-cut base model allowed ’em to do that by $10.

Springfield also [literally] one-upped the P365’s capacity by squeezing 11 rounds into the Hellcat’s magazine. This gives it the highest flush-fit capacity of all four of these little gats, despite the fact that it’s the shortest of the quadfecta. Impressive.

As mentioned above, the Hellcat shoots pretty darn softly given its lilliputian size and light weight. It’s an easy gun to shoot well. It’s an extremely easy micro-compact to shoot well.

The Hellcat’s tritium front sight with bright green outline is great — a lot like the P365’s. I’m definitely not a fan of the rounded-notch rear with white outline, though obviously this is personal preference. No argument on the quality of the steel sights.

Dan swapped an Apex trigger into this Hellcat, which improved its trigger in all ways (obviously) but it’s fair to say that the Hellcat ships from Springfield with an extremely competitive trigger pull quality to begin with. It’s better than what we all became used to with polymer pistols of the past. It still isn’t the best trigger of this group, though.

While the grip texture on the Hellcat is similar to that of the P365, the grip shape is not — it’s quite blocky. Sides, front, and back are fairly darn straight and flat across and the edges between all four sides are rounded, yes, but make a sharper transition than on most pistols.

I do not like the feel of the Hellcat in my hand. It’s just too square for me. It’s still small, of course, so it’ll fit basically anyone’s hand (or at least shouldn’t be too large for anyone), but I just find it weird. Too flat across the backstrap, in particular, with too-sharp transitions to the sides.

Dan has smaller hands (and less hair on his head and he’s also shorter and, like, super old and stuff), though, and feels differently. He likes the size and shape of the Hellcat’s grip frame. I think the joints in his fingers and the shape of his palm and thumb joint and such align better with the edges of the grip.

One thing we certainly agree on is that the Hellcat’s slide serrations suck. They look good, but they’re so dang shallow they’re barely functional. Even with dry hands I worry about sliding off of the serrations while trying to manipulate the slide.

If this were my carry gun I’d put sandpaper style grip tape in-between, below, and behind the serrations (probably cutting my own from Talon Grips granulate material). Alternatively, it would be a further selling point to running a micro red dot and I’d karate chop that bad boy as my sole means of slide manipulation.

Dan has put a ton of rounds through this Hellcat and it has proven itself reliable and easy to carry. It’s a good shooting gun, too. Without a doubt, it’s a very good choice for concealed carry.

Ruger MAX-9

There’s no question whatsoever that Ruger’s new MAX-9 represents the best value of the pack. At an MSRP of just $499 (and when the market gets back to normal it’s going to retail for substantially less than the other three pistols) it includes the optics-ready slide and the tritium-illuminated fiber optic front sight. Heck of a deal.

The MAX-9 isn’t as flippy as my P365, but it has some snap to it. It’s the skinniest gun of the group with the second smallest grip circumference, but it’s taller than the SIG and Springfield, which pair very closely on height and then the Ruger and S&W pair closely at about a third of an inch taller.

Trigger pull on the MAX-9 feels far lighter than its approximately five-and-a-half-pound break weight. This is likely due to Ruger’s rotary sear, which gives the trigger a smooth, rolling break that lacks the more typical feel of take-up followed by a firm “wall.”

When the trigger does break it’s clean and crisp. If you ride the reset it’s a little shorter than the initial pull, but I did find the reset to be a bit on the light side in terms of its sound and feel. Overall this is a very good trigger, and doubly so for anyone who prefers a rolling style break.

Sights are great and allowed us to shoot rapidly and accurately. While the front is undeniably easy and fast to pick up, it just doesn’t snag my eye as well as the front sight on the P365 and Hellcat.

While it looks fairly square and blocky — and it is compared to the P365 or Shield Plus — the slimmer width and more rounded edges feel more comfortable and less blocky than the Hellcat. It’s also shorter front-to-rear, so it feels smaller in the hand than all but the P365.

Grip texture on the MAX-9 is the most love handle-friendly. Though very similar in appearance to the SIG’s and Springfield’s texture, the Ruger’s is smoothed out even more — flatter high points — and is therefore less aggressive, less grippy, and more comfortable. At least on the sides.

On the frontstrap and backstrap it has more bite than on the sides, which is how it should be. Frankly, if I made a pistol like this (and didn’t care about lefties) I’d design the left side of the grip to be extra comfortable and the back, front, and right side to be extra grippy.

Of the four guns in our quadfecta here, the MAX-9’s magazine release is the most shrouded and flush and, therefore, takes the most deliberate action to activate. The same goes for the MAX-9’s slide catch, which is gated by a polymer ridge that makes it difficult to engage manually. Overall its controls, including its takedown method, are the most difficult to use of the four guns.

That said, the manual safety on the Ruger MAX-9 is just right. It’s small yet easy to reach and use, with positive detent clicks in both positions. While all four pistols do offer a manual thumb safety as an option, the MAX-9 was the only gun in our test that was so equipped so we can’t compare this feature.

Ruger wins the slide serration contest. While relatively traditional like those on the P365, the MAX-9 provides more empty space between thinner ridges and it’s really grippy.

Perhaps that change in angle also helps, but whatever the secret is the end result is extremely effective slide serrations that you won’t slip off of. If the judges give the MAX-9’s slide serrations a 10, the P365 gets an 8, the Shield Plus a 4, and the Hellcat a DNF.

The Ruger MAX-9 is a good gun that, for whatever reason, doesn’t feel quite as nice or as refined as the others and is a little taller than the P365 and Hellcat, but shoots accurately and reliably and represents one hell of a good value.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus

Still a micro-compact, the Shield Plus represents a meaningful bump in backstrap length versus the P365 despite its identical 10+1 flush-fit capacity. It’s also the widest gun here.

While S&W officially states the Shield Plus’ width, exclusive of the controls, as 0.94 inches I must disagree. The widest part of the palm swell measures 1.06 inches in my calipers (and it does measure out at S&W’s stated 1.1 inches from the slide stop to the other side of the slide).

Front-to-rear length of the grip frame is also significantly longer than any of the other guns here. And the Shield Plus weighs two ounces more.

Still, it’s a half inch shorter and about 0.2 inches skinnier than most of the smaller sub-compacts out there, so I think it’s fair to say it still clearly belongs right here in the micro-compact category.

On the plus side, this small amount of additional size packs a large amount of prowess on the range. The Shield Plus is markedly flatter and softer shooting than the other three pistols in this roundup, and the larger grip circumference and curvier shape provide tons of confidence and control.

As mentioned previously, the Shield Plus shoots like a well-sorted sub-compact or maybe even compact pistol. I’d put it head-to-head with a GLOCK 19, for instance, and I expect most shooters would outperform on speed and accuracy with the Shield Plus.

Additionally, this bad boy has the best trigger of the bunch. Yes, it’s better than the aftermarket trigger in the Hellcat. Holy heck is it short and crisp with an insanely short, crisp reset as well. It feels like a competition trigger.

In fact, perhaps it’s too good? Trigger pull weight is right at three pounds. It’s awesome on the range, but it’s pretty dang light for concealed carry self-defense use. Following all safety best practices related to holster choice, holstering, and use it obviously won’t present any sort of issue, but it’s undoubtedly a deviation from the norm for a self-defense gun without a manual safety (though a thumb safety is an option).

On the base model, which is what Dan and I tested, the Shield Plus’ standard 3-dot sights are nothing to write home about. It’s your typical, white painted dot front and 2-dot rear. No tritium or other flavor of night visibility.

Night sights are an option, of course, but they raise the MSRP to $623 ($44 higher than the closest competitor) while the SIG, Springfield, and Ruger all sport tritium as standard.

Grip texture on the Shield Plus is just about dead-on perfect. It provides more grip and control than appearances might suggest, yet it won’t scratch up or overly irritate the tender princess skin on your hip. It’s the sharpest and most aggressive of these four pistols, though.

The tapered shape of the Shield Plus’ grip as it transitions from rounded palm swells down to a somewhat sharply rounded or tapered backstrap sets it apart in this group. As blocky as the Hellcat is, the Shield Plus’ grip might stand out even more in the other direction.

I’m a big fan of the texture, size, and shape of this grip frame and I found that the rounded/tapered backstrap gave me a really clear index point or frame of reference for where the muzzle was pointing. Sort of an intuitive feel for the exact orientation of the gun.

The backstrap, as sharply rounded as it is, isn’t as comfortable as the backstrap of the P365 as it focuses its force in a more distinct vertical line across my palm, but I love how functional it is. It gives me confidence and I really feel like I can “drive” the Shield Plus hard, with great control and intuitive knowledge of where the gun is pointing.

Dan, however, prefers the wider, flatter backstrap feel of the other pistols in our heads-up round-up quadfecta shootout. Bottom line: a lot of this stuff boils down to personal preference.

That said, there’s zero question whatsoever that the Shield Plus is the best shooting pistol here — in part, yes, because it’s the largest and heaviest — and that it has the best trigger.

What it doesn’t have, though, is the best slide serrations even if they might look the niftiest.

I’ve never thought of the M&P’s serrations as sub-par or anything, and they’re without a doubt plenty functional and nothing I would normally complain about, but in this heads-up comparison they simply don’t compete on the same level as the P365’s and MAX-9’s.

Granted, slide serrations aren’t an end-all-be-all feature and I wouldn’t necessarily discount carrying a gun due to mediocre slide serrations (though the Hellcat truly has a problem in this regard and needs an overhaul to achieve slide serration mediocrity). Again though, it was one clear area in which these four pistols differed so I chose to call it out.

Ultimately, I came close. Close to putting the Shield Plus on my hip in place of my P365. I simply love how the Shield Plus shoots.

It ended up being the extra size — namely the well over a half-inch more backstrap height and how the heel of the grip juts out much farther and to a sharper point — that kept the SIG in my holster. Frankly, it’s hollow, unused polymer in the heel of the Shield Plus and I think they should have bobtailed the thing hard.

We’re living in a golden age of concealed carry pistols, that much is for sure. In this heads-up comparison there really isn’t a loser. Every single one of these pistols is reliable, accurate, and easy to conceal. They all have great triggers, great sights (or at least the option of great sights), optics cuts (or the option for that), and double-digit capacities.

It’s remarkable, really, to pack so much into such small pistols. For me, I’m sticking with the “original” — I like the P365 the best. Dan prefers the Hellcat. In a competition stage we’d both shoot the Shield Plus. The MAX-9 knocks it out of the park on performance per dollar.

They’re all great guns.

 

Previous Post
Next Post

101 COMMENTS

      • Firearms are by and large back in stock (well up here at least) but good luck finding ammo that is not mid to higher end premium self defense.

        • Academy Sports in Tennessee today, 3 single stack Glocks… Surreal how few firearms are left here,

        • Exactly! I’ve had a 13 round G2 for years with a laser. Definitely the best bag for the buck, and has great features that the others do not have such as double strike capability.
          I also have the P11 keltec and it should not be even mentioned with the others. There is a reason it is not sold anymore, it is outdated.
          I also have the Sig P320 compact threaded and it is my every day gun.

        • The Taurus G2 and G3 are noticably larger than these guns.

          Good carry guns, but a little bigger

    • So, they’re all the same. With little exception they’re the same just buy what is the MOST EXPENSIVE to ensure that you have bragging rights.

    • Don’t buy any of them. The Keltec PF9 is lighter and thinner by a lot.
      Don’t believe the Keltec trash talkers, I’ve owned four different Keltaec models and they’re all accurate and reliable. You won’t beat the price

      • Im not a brand guy for or against. But, of the four Keltecs I’ve owned, two had significant issues to be sorted out. RDB and KSG.
        Same thing with Taurus, owned around six over time, three needed work. A tracker in .44, TCP, and a G2.

        Strangely, all problems with all the duds were out of the box. None developed problems over time and usage did not help or hurt the problems.

      • The PF9 is a lower capacity single stack pistol. Kel-Tec pistols are generally ok, but Sig, S&W, Springfield, and Ruger are generally better.

        • I owned a PF9 and currently own two LC9s pistols. On paper, hardly a difference. At the range, two different guns. The LC9s is a shooter. Shooting the PF9 is like taking bad tasting medicine.

          Like many Keltec products, the PF9 was ahead of it’s time. good after a fluff and buff on the reliability front, and accurate. It wasn’t as easy to carry as the Taurus 85 that I sold to buy it, and it was painful to shoot compared to every other carry gun I’ve ever owned. But it was light on the wallet, and light on the hip. I’m glad we have better options.

    • It’s interesting to hear that you both thought the P-365 was the snappiest shooter of the 4, from my experience (I own both the 365 and the hellcat) the P-365 is softer shooting, most people I know that have shot both feel the same way, and many reviews both written and video seem to agree. As far as the other 2 I couldn’t say as I have never shot either

  1. What can I say my hand likes the wider stock. So I use the SF XD. That tactile features alone wipe the rest in self defense.

    • The wife and I both have Springfields as our primary carry pieces. Love the grip ergonomics on them.

      It’s probably no surprise that when we tried all four of these new little guys at the LGS a few weeks ago — handling, but not shooting — we both preferred the Hellcat for how it felt in the hand and its general ergonomics. (The slide serrations are merely visual suggestions, but it wasn’t hard to rack at all.)

      The Max-9 and Shield Plus both felt too thin, like they weren’t filling enough of our palms, and the longer front strap on the Hellcat was very welcome. The p365 was a very close second to it in just about every regard. Note that we both have relatively large hands, for whatever that’s worth…the whole grip thing can be very subjective.

      Would’ve loved to get any one of those four, but in the end we decided that our budget didn’t stretch up to a circa-$500 pistol and got a Taurus G2C instead for half the price. Spent the rest of the gun budget on a shotgun, so now there’s a pistol and a long gun in an effective self-defense chambering for everyone in the house. 🙂 The Taurus is only a little bit bigger than those four, feels great in the hand, and will be much easier to conceal and carry than our blocky Springfield XD and XDm, which was our one major requirement for this purchase.

  2. Great write-up! Waiting to see how the Ruger feels in the hand, generally pleased with most things Ruger and this is a well-rounded gat for the price.

  3. I have the Max 9, and have had 365’s in the past. I find the Max9 to be a vastly superior shooter over the 365 in terms of recoil management, and the optics ready slide is a big plus. Im not a dedicated convert to optics on pistols, but I have a Holosun 507k on the Max 9 and it seems to be a good combo. I LOVE the Shield though. I have had many over the years. I will likely get into a shield plus at some point as I have always been very pleased with the shield. As the article states, they shoot well above their size class.

  4. Well I sorta recommended the Sig to my friend’s wife. So far she loves it. I’m still anti-Springfield. Held the new S&W and it felt great. They cheaped out big-time on the sight’s. Crummy white dot(I was chastised on the S&W FB group)for saying that. “Spend more,upgrade and don’t you dare say true statements”. Haven’t held the Ruger but it seems like a “best buy” for the dough. No plan’s getting any of them. Put a full-size gun on layaway & got 2 range passes at Point Blank. I’m set concealed & sub compact. I don’t think you go wrong with any of these gats…

    • I’ve also owned just one s&w polymer pistol, an original m&p 9 pro, with around 25,000 rounds through it. I need to pick up another m&p at some point, the new models really have a nice trip texture on them. Maybe the shield plus would make a nice substitute for my walther pps, but I love the paddle mag release on a carry gun as it makes accidental magazine ejection nearly impossible.

  5. You didn’t test the best configuration in that class, which is a Sig P365L…which is the normal P365 with a simple grip module swap from the 12 “XL” round size. You geta solid 12 round grip without mag movement, slightly bigger beavertail, and improved mag insertion area which is both straight, and flared/funneled.

  6. All in all I think I would rather have the Walther PPQ sub compact or even the M&P sub compact. I like being able to use a full size magazine as a back up.

      • True but you have to switch out the baseplate unless you want to leave a gap when using the 15 round magazine configured for the Xl when using the shorter 365. Also I forgot to mention the Glock 26. Can use up to the 33 round magazine if you really need capacity.

        • The gap isn’t that big a deal. Not any worse than using a 33-rd stick in a Glock 26. It’s about like using a 19 mag in a 26.

        • All the mags come with the necessary equipment.
          Really not that hard.

          And why would you buy a normal p365 if you plan on using the 15 rounders? Get the XL.

          Also, anyone using a 30 round mag in any Glock should be hung by the neck until dead. Especially a goofball g26.

  7. Great article, great guns.
    Originally I got a Shield when they came out, changed to an Apex trigger, and loved it. Then was convicted to jump to the 365 for the extra capacity but never shot that gun as well… so on to the 365XL, which was great with a red dot. I preferred the long slide on the shorter grip, small to carry but shot better with more barrel. I sold my 365, 365XL, and Shield when I changed over to a Wilson Combat X9S as my primary carry gun a year ago. If you’re OK with the price range of Wilson, it’s a great pistol…. though a terrible value proposition next to any of these.

  8. I was in Academy Sports a few days ago and got to fiddle with the Ruger and Smith. They also had the Sig in stock. I really like the Smith and if I were buying a new sub carry that would probably be it. I did like the Ruger also.

  9. Somewhere a writer for the Daily Beast is sh*ting it’s pants in excitement as they frantically calling every single other far-left rag about that arrangement of pistols in the top of the article.

      • I see what y’all’re talking about, but I’m conflicted about changing the image. People see things in clouds and on their toast and whatever else, too, and this is very obviously not intended to look like that horrible symbol. As pointed out in other comments below, if you compare it to the hateful symbol the “arms” of this pistol arrangement point the wrong direction, it isn’t canted 45 degrees, etc etc. It’s much closer to the symbol that was revered around the world for thousands of years right up until it was co-opted by the worst people to ever live. This is an interesting article on that very thing: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29644591

        As many of y’all know, I’m Jewish. My Jewish great grandparents fled Poland and Austria. My grandfather fought in WWII (https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/my-grandfathers-1943-union-switch-signal-m1911a1/). I took the lead photo in my heads-up article here and I published it. I wanted all of the guns to show their same side (e.g. the left side of each one) and I wanted them in a format that didn’t appear to “rank” them or whatever. It isn’t that horrible WWII symbol and I’m not feeling particularly inclined to censor my work in the off chance some asshole thinks they can and should twist a sick narrative around the picture because they feel like I should be insulted by it. Chances anyone trying to weave that story isn’t actually among the group who was most affected by that symbol as I am. I don’t accept the practice of woke upper class white folk attempting to tell people from various minority groups what should or shouldn’t insult or scare them.

        So…yes, I now feel a draw to replace that image but I also feel like doing so would be giving validity to a false narrative and surrendering to dirty politics. The firearm community is NOT what the anti-gun or “woke” people want to say it is. It’s one of the most open, libertarian-minded groups of people in the country and we welcome everyone who wants to exercise their 2A rights. I believe it’s a more welcoming community than almost any other group that rallies behind any other cause, and this belief is based on my experience being with this group at events and conferences and conventions and on hunting trips and training sessions and whatever else for nearly a decade. Gay, straight, Asian, black, transgender, Jewish…nobody in this community cares “what” you are. Many of the industry’s biggest celebrities/influencers/advocates are open members of at least one of the MIPOC/LGBT groups I just mentioned, and they’re every single bit as popular as any straight white male can be because the community embraces them. Pro 2A or interested in learning more about protecting yourself with firearms or learning how to safely use them? Then you’re family. You’re an equal. The community shows this every day and rejects hateful messaging HARD.

        An anti-gun person on Instagram said this image is a “dogwhistle,” but if it is then it’s a dogwhistle for hateful leftists trying to create false narratives. They’re the only ones seeing hateful symbols in the CPAC stage layout and the OK sign and in their breakfast cereal and every other dang place they look, because they’re hateful and disgusting and divisive. I’m Jewish and I approve the perfectly benign lead photo. If you see that terrible WWII national socialist symbol in innocent things like this picture then you’re the one with the problem and you’re the one glamorizing those horrible national socialist fascists and continuing to give them power, not me or this community.

        • They’re the only ones seeing hateful symbols in the CPAC stage layout and the OK sign and in their breakfast cereal and every other dang place they look, because they’re hateful and disgusting and divisive.

          Yep. If you keep hearing dog whistles, it probably means you’re a dog.

          Best not to give the other side any ammunition if we can help it, but at some point you’ve got to draw a line and take a damn the torpedoes approach, because they will twist EVERYTHING you do or say.

          I’m just old enough to remember the first big political correctness push in the late 80s/early 90s, and I really wish we had all had the good sense to give these people the middle finger and run them out on a rail — but instead, we scoffed in private and humored them in public because we had been raised to be polite.

          And we made the mistake of thinking that they were normal people like us, just a little too sensitive, and that they’d get over it or grow up and we could all go about our business. Nope. They were never engaging in good faith. The ratchet just keeps tightening, and I’m not sure how long this can go on before there’s catastrophic breakage (hopefully it only breaks their gears and not the whole structure they’re cranking on).

        • Agreed. There is a line where you have to say “no,” and this is within it. I’d change the image if any pushback were made in good faith, but that isn’t the case. It’s fabricated outrage for political gain perpetrated by one group of highly privileged people white knighting on the alleged behalf of some other group. Were I not Jewish I’d be more afraid of criticism of the lead photo, stupid and misplaced as it would still be, but since I’m actually in the group that would be aggrieved were this photo any sort of a problem it’s even easier for me to stand behind its entirely uncontroversial and inoffensive status.

        • Funny thing. What that picture reminds me of is one of those pyrotechnic pinwheel things, before ignition of course.

        • If you are triggering the lefties into making fools of themselves, then your volley is well-placed!

      • No. Not just no, but HELL no.

        I was there when Jeremy arranged the guns for that photo and neither of us saw anything wrong with it. And I didn’t see the allegedly evil image until some of you pointed it out.

        It says much more about those who see dark portents and symbols everywhere than about those who innocently publish the photo.

        Go nag someone who’s giving the OK sign and give in to the same idiot woke scolds who freak out at a couple of white women running a taco truck. They’re not the problem. YOU are.

  10. It’s a Tibetan good luck symbol.
    It just gets messed up while carving it in your forehead looking in a mirror .

    My nephew playing with a tattoo gun , tattooed a skull above his knee. When he stood up it was upside down.

    • Well it’s technically it’s not even that, it’s just close enough that people not in the know could mistake it. Well, that or malicious people with a grudge about this site could just spread certain accusations about the site.

      I specifically mentioned the Daily Beast for a reason. They’re one of the worse far-left rags sites when it comes to just taking some random thing they’ve seen and inventing whole narratives. It’s like the Pepe the frog controversy. One of the DB’s reporters got trolled and instead of just taking the L and walking away they had to build a huge narrative and campaigned to get the ADL to declare it a hate symbol. They then proceeded to do the same thing with the ‘OK’ symbol. The almost even went in for a third helping of stupid when 4Chan tried to convince them that drinking milk publicly was a new hate symbol. Even that one almost got traction before the DB finally backed off.

    • Nazi swastikas point clockwise, and are tilted. The introductory photo points counter-clockwise and is level. Not only that, the grips don’t touch, making it a Hole-y Swastika indeed.

      That said, I wouldn’t have gone with it as my first choice. As a noted historical figure once said: “Abstain from even the appearance of evil”.

  11. I haven’t shot the Ruger. My neighbor has the Shield Plus.
    He got lucky and got one about a month ago.
    I have shot the Sig and it is very popular at the range.
    The Hellcat is out for a couple of reasons, I had a chance to buy two at the beginning of the panic.
    I took a pass because the people who had bought them were immediately dumping them.
    Both Hellcats had less then 200 rounds through them, that tells me something.
    I could have gotten one for well under MSRP, that also tells me something.
    Back to the Shield, IMO the slide serrations are just fine, you are nitpicking.
    Two whole ounces more? Wow I hope my neighbor doesn’t get a backache.
    It also by FAR the best shooter out of the three I have shot.
    The problem is that I have no problem carrying something that is say G19 size.
    I have no need for a micro-compact.
    If and when prices return to somewhat normal the S&W and Ruger will be close in price.
    The Sig will not and the Croatian made Springfield I just would not buy.
    IMO the best gun is the Shield but opinions may vary.

    • The Shield’s slide serrations are fine. But they’re just fine. The Sig and Ruger’s are great. This is a comparison and when you compare back-to-back the difference is meaningful. Over 2 ounces of additional weight is a 13% increase. It’s noticeable and it’s worth mentioning when these pistols are specifically designed to be as skinny, short, and lightweight as they can be. If you’re such a big fan of this model and cannot handle it being compared to its competition, then go read its stand-alone review. You’ll be much happier as it earned a well-deserved 5 stars.

      • Compare them all you want; “I have no need for a micro-compact.”
        “I haven’t shot the Ruger.” was my first sentence.
        The SIG is overpriced for what it is and no Springfields for me, Thanks.
        I never brought up the fact the Shield Plus is .2 ” shorter then the others.
        Does that make up for 2 whole ounces?
        As for the whole thing, it’s an opinion piece including your photo.
        IMO the Shield Plus has the best serrations and is the best shooter.
        I also never brought up the fact the P365 and Hellcat had reliability issues from release, that’s not very inspiring for a gun you are going to carry everyday.
        Basically I’m not a Sig fanboy and haven’t even touched the Ruger.
        I do not like the Hellcat at all but that’s my OPINION.
        Deal with it.

        • To get night sights on the Shield, which makes it comparable in features to the Sig, it’s $44 more than the SIG. I reject your suggestion that the Sig is overpriced but the Shield isn’t.

          In no world is the Shield shorter than any of the other guns here. It’s the biggest in every dimension.

          You say the Shield has the best serrations but that you “haven’t even touched the Ruger,” which objectively has the best slide serrations. This really is not a matter of much opinion. The Ruger’s provide the best purchase followed by Sig, followed by Smith, followed by Springfield. If I had 100 people test them, 99 would give this answer and the one who didn’t would be you, having never even touched the Ruger.

          The Shield is definitely the best shooter.

        • They aren’t testing the Sig P365 from 2 years ago. All the problems have been fixed at this point.

        • Actually, Biff, I am. My Shield is from 2018. I think “all the problems” was a batch of bad firing pins and a couple bad trigger springs and a few of them broke in the hands of prominent people, which amplified the appearance of what was a brief and and rare glitch. I have a few thousand rounds through mine, Wayner has 15k through his gun (https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/sig-sauer-p365-15000-rounds-later/), Boch has been shooting his since 2018 (https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-review-sig-sauer-p365-micro-compact-9mm-pistol/)…all of these were super early in production and have never had a hitch.

          I’m not a “Sig fan” or an apologist for them or anything, to be clear (if nothing else, probably this would prove it https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/breaking-ttag-tests-show-p320-striker-fired-pistols-are-not-drop-safe/). This P365 and a P365XL are the only Sigs I own or have ever owned, actually. Just so happens that they’re very good guns and I think the problems at release were overblown in terms of how pervasive they were. Some guns had super bad problems, I just think it was way, way rarer than most folks believe.

  12. P365XL manual safety is my EDC. Tactical Development rail, Viridian C5L Laser/Light with auto activation, and a Holoson 507, and 15rd mag backup. #1 EDC combo in my opinion. Makes my G19 feel like a brick now, and much better shooter and feel than the new Shield Plus.

  13. “Why no G2C in the comparison?”

    Not sure the intent of the article was/is to review every similar gun in existence. A series of similar articles about different guns, chosen for whatever reason, would be useful. Wouldn’t expect a blog to create a compendium of every handgun commercially available for purchase, so some will naturally not receive attention.

    Dan and Jeremy could ask for recommendations, pick the top 40, and do a 10 article series.

  14. This is a pet peeve of mine, but I’m always annoyed by TTAG listing the MSRPs of the firearms, but not the mags. In general, I figure the most expensive thing is probably ammo (especially now), then mags, then the difference in price of the gun. In this case by website listing, except S&W, which I can’t find on their website 🙁

    p365 mags are listed at $49.99 x 10 magazines = $500
    Hellcat mags are listed at 28.95 x 10 magazines = $290
    Max-9 mags are listed at 63.95 per 2 x 10 mags = $320
    Shield Plus mags are listed at brownells at 41.99 x 10 mags = $420

    Let’s say ammo is the same for every pistol, and the MSRPs are the base ones listed in the article, then we get a starting cost of:

    P365: $579 (Pistol) + $500 (mags) = $1,079
    Hellcat: $569 (Pistol) + $290 (mags) = $859
    Max-9: $499 (pistol) + $320 (mags) = $819
    Shield Plus: $553 (pistol) + $420 (mags) = $973

    If one of these companies started making a 22lr conversion, then the cost of use changes completely.

    • 90% of owners will use the two magazines included with each of these pistols and never buy more. While the cost of additional magazines and every other sort of accessory IS definitely relevant and I agree it would have been something worth mentioning in my article, your premise that it’s a necessary expense that must be factored in is incorrect for the vast majority of consumers, and the suggestion that among the fraction of owners who do buy an extra mag(s) that they buy 10 of them is grossly exaggerated.

      Obviously if this is your practice then it’s a cost you should factor in. I’m not going to list “starting cost” for guns when it only applies to like 0.3% of the people who buy them and it includes hundreds of dollars in completely optional products, though. In heads-up articles like this in the future, however, I will list magazine cost as a separate note and people can factor that in as they please.

  15. Funny, after all this time, the best shooting for me is the Beretta Nano. I ran a couple of these guns side by side shooting the Nano and nothing compared after 200 rds. and 50 rds of defense ammo. Some at the end like the 365 would actually Hurt my hand and I could really feel it. However the Nano, I could have gone on all day. I have three of the Nano’s and one now has 14,000 rds down range. I love the extened grip and 9 rounds is just perfect for my EDC.

    • My P365 replaced the Nano that I had carried for the prior 6 years. Capacity was a big reason, but I also prefer the ergos and controls and sights of the P365 and greatly prefer how it looks from behind (never liked the awkwardly tall slide height of the Nano). I also shoot it a little faster and more accurately. So ultimately it was an easy decision. But I still love the Nano. It’s a great gun and it was extremely reliable and accurate and easy to carry.

  16. Where’s the Glock 43x (capable of 15 rounds in a similar size) or the Taurus G3C which is optics ready and feature rich?

    • Gotta do a size cutoff at some point, and both of those guns are big enough that I don’t think they belong here. The GLOCK is closer, but it’s over a half inch bigger than the norm here in length and height (in practice it’s an inch taller than the P365, or like 25% taller) and it’s at least 10% wider than the average. The Taurus is even farther off. Ultimately they’re sub-compacts (which is how both companies define them), not micro-compacts.

  17. The cost of care and feeding of firearms is pretty well irrelevant. The on-going maintenance of guns (or people) almost always exceeds the initial acquisition price.

  18. A few years back I was discussing concealed carry with my local gun store. At 5’7 and 160lbs I have a hard time concealing a full size pistol without a lot of clothes. So he shows me his advance release (he is a Sig dealer) of the P365. I like it. During this conversation the delivery man comes in with his first order of these pistols. So of course I go home with one along with a Blackpoint IWB holster with two leather wings that was listed as a Sig accessory at the time. From a practical standpoint it was probably the best weapons purchase I ever made. I haven’t found a better concealed combo. I had to get used to what to do with my pinky finger with the std 10 round magazine but that just took a little practice. The extended 12 round magazine negates that issue. The first trip to the range was the real eye opener. Flawless operation and for such a small gun the 365 was very accurate. Any good idea is going to be copied and I’m sure some of those other pistols are great but I’ll stick with my Sig. It hasn’t let me down yet. Never owned a Sig before but I sure like this one.

  19. Out of the 4, only the Sig is modular, which puts it in a class by itself. That was the one thing that was a game changer for me compared to the others that I had considered.

  20. I’ve owned my SIG P365 since mid 2018, so I’m coming up on 3 years. I go to my local range about twice a month (once a month since Septembe of 2020, when the ammo shortage really hit locally). I usually buy one box of my preferred carry ammo, Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P, a month to cycle, on top of handloaded target rounds, but since Sept. 2020, I’m just running target ammo. I prefer the Hornady over SIG’s proprietary ammo, as SIG’s was hit and miss availability prior to the shortage. Wasn’t much difference, but the Hornady feels a little stouter to me.
    A friend, my main range buddy, owns the Hellcat, so I’ve handled and fired it, and I have to agree, that trigger needs a serious upgrade. Side by side, SIG’s is far superior trigger wise. The SIG trigger though doesn’t compare to my Walther PPQ. The Walther is way ahead.
    I’ve not had the opportunity to fire the Ruger or S&W yet.
    Author mentions the Kel Tec P11, but the P11 is a hammer fired DAO gun, not a striker fired gun.
    My P11 is piss poor when it comes to accuracy, and very picky with ammunition. Too hot, and it jams, too light and it jams (the only reason I still own it was because I only paid $125 used for it). Point of Aim and Point of impact are pretty far apart, as it shoots way low regardless of distance. At 25′, to hit the bull, I’ve got to line the sights at the very top of the target (top of the paper, not the outside ring) to hit the bullseye. So I agree, the P11 isn’t even close to the 4 you picked to review. It’s too unreliable for a CCW.

    Good review. I hope I get the opportunity to try the Ruger and S&W in the near future.

    • You noticed that with the Hornady vs. Sig ammo also, huh? 🙂 The Hornady is also my go to, but there is none to be had right now, so conservation of current stock rules.

  21. “And I didn’t see the allegedly evil image until some of you pointed it out.”

    Dan, the people pointing to the photo are likely concerned that the anti-gun mob will have a quick victory, shouting that POTG/TTAG are using the photo as a secret declaration of being neo-nazis.

    • Yes, because if there’s one thing TTAG is known for, it’s our support of murderous fascist regimes. I appreciate the concern, but the photo is just fine and will stay where it is.

  22. Been seriouly considering buying the 365 simply because I do not have it. Got the Hellcat when I could find one with at that time one of the two optics that were available. Like that one also but bought it mainly to give to my firefighter daughter so she had something to stop a different kind of fire. The shield? Dispite my safe full of pistols, many of which are CC pistols, I carry almost exclusively either a 40 or 45 performance center shield for the simple reason I can shoot well with them both and from the morning until it is time to take the weapon off I never ever feel it is out of place or not comfortable. To me that is the ultimate complimant to give a concealed carry piece.

    • LOL. Just the Ruger. All the others have simple, captive (you don’t remove them from the frame) takedown levers that you rotate 90° to release the slide. The Ruger requires you to flip a lever out of the way and then push the takedown pin out of the frame entirely, and it takes either a punch or paperclip or something, or just smacking the gun really hard on a firm surface like I did 😆

      • Takedown described here is exactly like that of the LC9s. I had one of those, but it always squirmed around in my hand when I fired it. When my son said that he wanted it, I told him he could have it if he still wanted it after he test fired it first. (He did both.)
        Anyway, pushing out that takedown pin is no big deal. With the LC9s you have to align the notch in the slide with the pin to push the pin out. To align the notch I just pressed the slide against the benchtop with one hand and then pushed the pin out with an opened-up cotter pin in the other hand. I suppose the Ruger Max is about the same.

    • Oh haha, good point. I guess I was thinking about this in terms of it being like a heads-up match. I dunno haha…I pull trigger real good no talky fancy, umkay? 😉

  23. I have a hellcat, it’s awesome – I find that the slide gets better over time, run a few hundred rounds in it – and clean it everytime I use it during the “break in” period — and it runs very well, however I still find I can aim MUCH better with a Sig P320, Glock19, etc. I just need more time at the range with it.

    I agree with you, the a wasp micro-dot on the hellcat would help with the slide, so I’m waiting to get one.

  24. The only gun missing in the comparison is the G43xMOS, which is really good. And to all the commentators crying about their Taurus (get some tissue paper) it’s in a different league (with SCCY, Bersa and even HiPoint.

    • Taurus has really upped their game and is only slightly less of a gun then a couple in the comparison.
      I would put on them or above the level the Glock, Glock has been resting on their laurels for a couple of decades. If I was asked the same question say 5-6 years ago I would have been as jaded as you but Taurus did outsell Glock nearly two to one a mere 2 years ago.

      The stereotype of Taurus semi-autos being junk is just that, a stereotype.

      It’s like Taurus revolvers, the myth WAS they were junk and constantly went out of time.
      The problem with that myth is this pedigree:
      https://www.gunpartscorp.com/blog/a-quick-history-of-taurus-revolvers

      If these were normal times the price difference alone makes them far better guns for the price.
      Never forget that Gatson Glock is a old plastic expert that made fine curtain rods.
      The Glock 17 idea was pretty much stolen from the Heckler and Koch VP70.
      “Glock 19 Gen 5 Vs Taurus G3…Seriously Closer Than You May Think!”
      Go on YouTube and type that in.

  25. I have a KelTec P10 ( SCCY Twin) and the Taurus G2 Subcompact is in a ( superior) league of its own compare to that guns and the others you referenced. The KelTec has a very crappy trigger among other things. I also have a P320 compact and do not discern that much of a difference, especially with a more than double price tag compared to the G2. As far as sub versus micro, the G2 has a 3” barrel, similar to the guns in the article, but holds 12+1.

  26. With 15,000 rounds through a Beretta Nano and shooting the others in comparison in a test at my gun club. I will stick with the soft shooting Nano. None of them shoot as mild and the Nano is built like a the proverbial tank. The 365 trigger is one which I would most definitely use with a safety. I love the great smooth, deliberate DAO on the Nano and Kahr. The only gun we did not test was the Max9. I owned a LC9S for many years, but got rid of it due to the trigger had become too light. Down to 4lbs of a crisp break. I am wondering if the trigger is the same now on the Max 9? I like the LC9S with the slim design and like the grip. It was a fine EDC gun and I always used the safety. And it shot so similar to the 365. Snappy little sucker.
    I now own three Nano’s. Any money spent on firearms will be for magazines. I own about 15 now, but you can never have enough. Persoannly Not interested in just a few more rounds. Gun control, mild shooting and handling trump a few extra rounds. And I never want to return to the Light Crisp Triggers. Love a smooth DAO.
    PS Many of us rated the 365 the bottom of the list. Hated the narrow slide to Grip space and the hulky slide lock.

  27. A four way review of highly similar guns is interesting. What we might want is a review compared to the previous generation of hotness – say, P365 vs P938.

    To summarize that, I sold the P938. They had comparable features in many ways, but what stands out is: 1) mag capacity, SIG inventing a new half stacked higher capacity mag does guarantee mags are more expensive. However, very few of us will buy ten of them for range trips or competition, simply because it’s largely NOT purchased for extensive range shooting or long days with a beeper up against your skull. Most will choose a larger framed pistol with RDS and much higher cap mags – like, say a Canik TP9SFX. Saving a bunch up front make more mags an overall cheaper expense, and behold! Pro Mags Work In These Guns. I’m not holding my breath for aftermarket P365 mags – and don’t need to – SIG had supplied my Academy with plenty when I purchase the P365 a few weeks ago. I got the two 10 rounders with it and also bought a 12 for the carried reload.

    Loading that 10 shot mag is no worse than the 6 shot 938 mag – which is a direct result of both guns having shorter barrels, higher cyclic speeds, and a very short window to lift the ammo up and prevent an override. Mag spring pressures are higher in smaller guns and using the same ammo – which includes +P – means that propels the lighter, shorter slide even faster than a full size duty gun. Plan on using a mag loader, which I was forced to admit was necessary with the 938, especially when compared to Kahr’s .380’s. in that gun, softer shooting ammo = slower cyclic speeds = more time to lift the ammo, and lighter ammo lifts faster. This is where mistakes are made with the 1911 – a subcompact .45ACP with short slide and higher cycling speeds using a standard 1911 mag means issues. There are dynamic reasons why chopping 1911’s creates problems, and now we see it happening when we chop 9mm’s. Really the same issues over again.

    The 938 is also a serialized frame – the 365 is a serialized trigger module. That means you get to swap grip units smaller or larger as you like with SIG’s supplies, and as time goes by, with aftermarket grip units just like the 320. Slides are the same, swap as you like, the 938, no, you buy it the way it will stay, pick the decorative motif and more than that, buy another. Don’t like the color of your 365, buy another grip and move on. It’s not rocket surgery.

    The 365 also runs with, or, without a safety, as you see fit (MA required.) SIG offers the safety as an accessory kit, they are moving briskly and getting installed by owners who only need to make a small modification. One supplier even offers a printed jig to perform the minor grip modification. Not too many play with the 938 safety, and fewer still would delete it – SIG sells the 365 proven safe without it and you can add one as you please.

    The bigger front 365 sight works well, the industry is moving away from big white dots in back, so the 365 is up to date. A 5 year old 938 is aging, at best, better to move it while the tritium is still visible. I bought a S&W 4566 a while back, 1990’s vintage, dead night sites got white model car paint and will not get $150 spend on replacements to light them up. Most of us won’t. They will only go dead again. Like cars, tritium is ok if you keep trading up, but after a point, it’s not worth the upkeep. So, you trade it in. Ps I see a lot of cheap Luminox watches for sale, and the one thing most sellers do not include is a pic of the lume in the dark. Or, maybe they do – just close your eyes, it’s the same. Dark. As we get older we see these for what they are, a short lived fashion accessory. Carry a flashlight to ID your target (truly mandatory if you have “that teenager” sneaking home late) and avoid tragedy. Tritium isn’t all that.

    The longer summary is that I went from 13 rounds carried with a reload to 23, a significant increase, with about the same space and weight. Better sights, more configuration options with fewer gunsmith fees (like AR15’s, you can do it) better future expansion with potentially easier upgrades. What is there not to like about the 365 compared to the 938? Did I mention the 365 is a real slab side slide, vs the channeled and relieved 938? Style has a place and this newer gun at least looks more duty grade with no obtrusive committee think or “Grip Zone” molded into it. The 938 is busier and lacks that simplistic 1911 look, much less the grip proportioning giving off the vibe it’s trying to chamber 5.7 FN.

    My LGS made the remark that since the 365 hit the market the 938 was marked down by SIG to counteract it’s sales going soft. I suspect a lot of other previously praised small 9’s will have the same problems in their respective makers lineups – once this panic is over. Like oddball ammo loads, as things return to a newer normal a lot of small lot manufacturing will hit the wayside while makers attempt to completely supply the bigger sellers. We’ve seen it happen before – Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth, ad infinitum and if there are those disposed to collecting specimens introduced 5-7 years ago, it will be an interesting challenge.

  28. I have a Shield in both a 40 and a 9. Great guns. My wife was looking for something a little more ambitious than her Ruger LCP and for whatever reason, my LC9 just wasn’t doing it for her. So off to the store we go and I had the 365 in mind. The simple truth is the Hellcat fit my wife’s hands beautifully. I’ve got an XDS & an XDM and have had no problems with Springfield. So she’s happy and that’s really the point.
    What generated this reply (to a great article btw) was the comments about symbols. It’s frustrating that people look for perceived symbols EVERYWHERE. I refuse to run away from pinwheels, directional alloy wheels, window panes, and fair & balanced photography for a head to head to head to head comparison.
    Again, great article.

  29. Great review. I agree we are in a golden age. I have several great pistols now out of production because better designs are out there. With today’s selections you can find a pistol that is virtually custom built.

  30. Bought the Shield Plus Performance Center model.
    Loved the grip and trigger and watched dozens of reviews leading me to believe it would be the most accurate firearm suitable for conceal (or just plinkin targets or holes in paper). Got it on sale for a little under $700 with the red dot included. Dry fired the other models and felt they were all a little small for my hand size. $700 is a lot for a small firearm but Shields have a good reputation and you can’t put a price on your confidence in a personal defense weapon.

    On a related note; all of the reviews I’ve watched/read on the Shield Plus (outside of this one) measured the trigger between 4.5 and 5.5 lbs. Could be they got an outlier.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here