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The more I learn about guns, the more I realize I have to learn. Case in point: mouse guns. I come to the party from the (initial) point of view of a large caliber fanboy. Give me .45 ACP or give me (the likelihood of) death was my frame-of-reference. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still convinced that .45ACP is a superior caliber for my needs, but I’m coming around to the idea that there’s room in my arsenal for other calibers, and by extension, other guns outside the family of 1911s. Hence my growing interest in the lowly mouse gun.

I’m not sure who coined the moniker “mouse gun.” Possibly, the same wag that came up with “mom-mobile “for the venerable minivan. Which is unfortunate; both terms are pejorative in the extreme. A mouse gun, after all is supposed to follow the adage “good things come in small packages.” If a 1911 is a challenge to conceal, and your typical Glock is equally cumbersome in summer togs, something that’s smaller would by definition be easier to conceal, no? Well, sure. But at what cost?

Early mouse guns were the very definition of compromise, if by “compromise” you mean “the fine art of nobody getting what they really want or need.” You’d typically trade capacity, caliber, and (forgive me) stopping power for the ability to conceal the gun. So your choice was between a gun that would allow you to defend yourself, but was all but impossible to conceal without wearing a lot of clothes, and a gun that would be easy to conceal, but largely useless for personal defense.

But while the original mouse guns (.22s, .32s, and the like) were anemic and largely useless, the category seems to be on a trajectory that is moving towards small + powerful. If last year saw mouse guns evolve to .380s, 2011 is bringing with it a new batch of slightly-larger-yet-still-concealable jobs with the (relative) power of the 9mm Parabellum cartridge.


The Kahr CM9

The Kimber Solo, the Ruger LC9, the Sig P290 and the Kahr CM9 are all new, and all go for a smaller-frame weapon, featuring the 9mm load. These guns all share common features – principally a slightly larger frame than a typical mouse gun (but still easily-concealable) and the larger caliber.


The Sig P290

This, of course, doesn’t mean the search for the Holy Grail of concealment + power is at an end. Let’s just say that physics can be a cruel taskmaster. Remember, the smaller/lighter the gun, the more bite, in the form of felt recoil. Then, too, there’s the problem of a short barrel = less escape velocity and reduced accuracy. These factors combine to make a gun that’s fine for personal defense that’s up-close and, well, personal. But they also make it (a lot) less appropriate for being capable of a less-than up-close and personal distance to the threat.


The Kimber Solo

For my money, if they can build a 9mm pocket gun, can one chambered in .40 S&W be far behind? Not sure if that would make for a better gun, but I’m of the opinion that the .40 is the compromise caliber of choice between a 9mm and a .45 ACP. And I’d be a lot more likely to invest in a pocket gun in .40 than a 9. Just my own bias showing, but I’d rather deal with learning how to control a .40 than hoping that a 9mm will keep me alive in a life-or-death situation. (Those of you that are fans of the 9mm, let’s just agree to disagree, shall we?)


The Ruger LC9

One last thing. I’d recommend that the mouse gun manufacturers  spend some time (and money) pitching their creations as anything BUT a “mouse gun.” Perhaps they should take a page from the automobile manufacturers marketing mavens (say that, three times, fast) and go for something that sounds a bit more manly. Maybe create a new class between “mouse gun” and “full size.” Call it, um – “Pocket Rocket.”

Now THAT I can get behind.

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  1. The term Mouse Gun probably comes from the hot rod fraternity. Mouse Motors/Small Blocks,Rat Motors/Big Blocks. There is NO substitute for more cubic inches!! Water Street Willy

  2. Kahr. PM series has been out for years in 9 40 and 45. This new wave of pistols is great for the market though.

  3. Mouse guns? As a second or third weapon, sure. Although why it’s generally accepted that you should whip out a SMALLER gun when your primary or secondary piece (after reload) fails to git ‘er done is beyond me. Shouldn’t you escalate to a LARGER gun—“fight your way to a rifle”—or run like hell?

    My primary concern: people who can’t hit shit with a mouse gun (lots of practice required) depend on them for self-defense—instead of doing something faster and more effective.

    My philosophy: carry the biggest gun in the largest caliber that you’re willing to carry and able to shoot well. Realize that NO gun is a “one size fits all” solution to a potential rape or a life or limb-threatening situation.

  4. Mouse guns are fine. In real world terms, .45s like the Glock 30 or 36 are not very much larger for most purposes.

    They only get so thin, so short, and if they don’t have enough grip you start having trouble just holding them. They are all still made out of a lot of metal or hard plastic and heavy if you really wear them 24/7.

    (I would have a couple of Kahrs or similar if I had more money, probably in 9mm to its ubiquitous availability/)

  5. In the entire history of gunfights, nobody has ever walked away and said that the wished that they had a smaller, less effective gun that held less rounds.

  6. “Pocket Rocket”. That would be the Glock 33. Caliber .357. Per Glock’s advertisment “As a backup weapon with superior ballistic performance, the “pocket rocket” is second to none.

  7. If you can find larger caliber semi-auto that will literally fit in the front pocket of my jeans/khakis in a holster while I am working I will move up from my .32 NAA. Until then it isn’t real world for me, it’s fantasy.

  8. Not sure what your criteria is for a “compact, concealable” carry gun, but take a look at the Taurus PT140. It’s a .40 cal, 10-shot, fairly slim, compact DAO, not much larger than a 9mm. It is not very easy to shoot accurately over self-defense range (7yds), but that’s typical for a small gun.

    Bob H – take a look at the small .380s – the Kel-Tec P3AT fits in the watch pocket of my jeans (without a holster), and fits in my hip pocket quite well in a DeSantis Nemesis holster. It runs about 8 oz empty.

    • The .320 NAA is the same size as the .380 NAA Guardian. The advantage is that the .320 NAA round is easier to shoot in a tiny gun. I can get 3″ groups of 7 rounds at 7 yards with the .320 NAA, with the .380 Guardian I am looking at 8-10″ at that distance, on a good day.
      Here are the specs for the .320 NAA

  9. RF and the Rabbi are right on target with their comments. My Kimber Ultra Carry is dead on accurate even without the laser and Truglo fiber optic night sights. She is very easy to conceal, and the 45 ammo will instantly ruin a badguys whole day.

  10. As a 1911 and XDM fanboy – I can say that I’m VERY happy with my XDM 3.8 Compact. It is small enough for “summer carry” here in Phoenix, but still packs a .40S&W punch, holds 11+1 (more than twice what a J-frame can) and is about half the weight of the S&W M60 I used to carry “in the heat”. I’m working on a write-up, but it’s been a week of hell for me, so RF and TTAG will need to wait a few more days for me to get it finished! I even figured out how to reload “at speed” – something RF has complained about for a while. I simply don’t carry/reload magazines with the “spacer/gap-eliminator”. I find that the little bit of magazine provides more than enough “pinkie room” and I’m convinced that the gap-filler is really only designed for “pinching” during reloads!

  11. Mr. Kozak, make mine a 12 ga with a 357 chaser. But, I have two mouseguns, Beretta 21 in .22 and Beretta Tomcat .32. They conceal in pockets holsters, with a tuckable IWB holster, my wifes purse and my laptop case without anyone knowing it is there. I even found a cell phone holder for my belt that holds the .22. This thing hides in plain sight. When away from home or the car the mighty mouse is the most frequently present weapon. When my 357’s are not handy, and my 380’s are too indiscreet; I will take my Beretta 21 in .22 over an empty fist. Besides, my wife loves ’em.
    Too much caliber in too small a weapon is too difficult for some ladies to shoot confidently. No practice, no confidence, no good. My wife is very confident and skilled with her Sig 380’s. Who am I to tell her it is not good enough? Just be happy she likes to shoot, and does it well.

  12. I carry a 357 snub-nose and a lcp380 as a back up.
    So first I will shoot someone 6 times with my 357 and then I can unload a 380 hollow point slug on them.
    Do you think I have enough stopping power?

  13. I’ve been carrying a Kel-Tec PF-9 for 6 years now. Almost everyday and everywhere i can. I shoot it as often as occasion permits. It has snappy recoil, but doesn’t bother me. I’m a fan of mouseguns and small pistols. Snub-nose revolvers rock, and I love the 9mm cartridge. When I hike, I carry my XD9 compact AND the PF-9(I live in SE Alaska, lots of black bears). I trust my and my families lives with that PF-9 around town.


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