springfield hellcat sig sauer P365
SIG P365 and Springfield Hellcat (Jeremy S. for TTAG)
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From the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers . . .

Cellphones, mp3 players – the original trend was to make them as small as possible. Compact, easy to transport and slip in a pocket. Nowadays, it seems as though manufacturers and the market are heading in another direction, newer phones hardly fitting in a jeans pocket with larger screens not unlike a small tablet. Storage and capacity are still top of mind, but remote cloud service storage options reduce the necessity of internal storage.

Handguns have also gone through a similar evolution in recent years with the rise of concealed carry. Consumers are looking for easily concealable guns and manufacturers have responded with smaller guns and more rounds packed into a tinier frame. With releases like the new SIG SAUER Macro, a larger but still concealable pistol, are handguns following the trend of electronics? The data says no.

SCOPE reports on 9mm semi-automatic handgun shipments separate pistols into several categories based on barrel length: full size, compact, sub-compact and micro. Every manufacturer and media outlet tends to have a slightly different definition of a micro-compact gun. For SCOPE analysis, a micro-compact gun has a barrel length of fewer than 3.5 inches and single/staggered stack magazines.

While data from 2019 to date shows the compact category has consistently had the greatest sales performance, hovering around 40%, the biggest changes have occurred in the micro-compact category. From 2019 to date, the micro-compact market has grown from an 18% to 25% share, making them a quarter of the 9mm semi-automatic handguns sold. Also notable is the fact that micro-compacts have taken a majority share in the combined sub-compact/micro segment.

Much of this may be due to demographics. It’s no secret that the U.S. gained several million new gun owners over the past several years, many of them first-time gun owners. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest, Americans looked for ways to protect themselves.

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), approximately 30% of all 2021 firearm purchases were by brand-new gun owners, totaling near 5.4 million people. While down 10% from 2020’s statistics, these are still big numbers.

The 2021 survey also revealed that over 33% of first-time gun buyers were women. It’s reasonable to assume the rise in micro-compact sales is at least partially due to the rise in female gun owners. No matter how you spin it, it’s impossible to deny women generally have smaller hands than men and different concealed carry preferences.

Dozens of articles exist online and in magazines listing models ideal for concealed carry as well as considerations to take when carrying concealed. The general consensus is that though smaller guns have more recoil than larger frames, they are lighter and more easily concealed whether in a purse or in a holster.

As mentioned earlier, micro-compact handguns represented 25% of the 9mm semiautomatic guns shipped to distributors in 2022. This was also the only segment with productive inventory in 2022, with a smaller percentage on hand than sold.

Jason Cloessner, Vice-President and Product Development Manager at Lipsey’s, lent specific insight into when the market changed. “Ruger really changed the game in 2008 when they introduced the LCP. For several years everyone was chasing the small .380 market. Fast forward to 2011-2012, we saw the rise of the single stack 9mm offerings from all the major players. The single stack 9mm’s really dominated the market until 2018 when SIG upended it all with the P365. Now it is safe to say that to have a successful Micro Compact it must be no bigger than 1” wide, have a minimum of 10+1 capacity and ideally have an optics cut slide.”

SCOPE data shows the number of micro-compact models available for purchase has grown significantly in the past few years. In 2019, there were seven 9mm micro-compact semi-automatic handguns on the market. Today, there are over 20 with more announced seemingly every day. Companies who haven’t historically produced pistols are also hopping on board: Mossberg with the MC2sc and Savage with their new Stance.

With so many options, brand recognition, availability and affordability play a large role in what consumers buy. The average ship price for a micro-compact 9mm was $245 in 2019, up to $410 in 2022. The low end of the average ship prices hasn’t changed much, with prices hovering around $200. There was a jump to $233 in 2022 on the low end and a decrease on the high end from $583 in 2021 to $536 in 2022.

These changes are a bit ambiguous and could be due to rising supply costs and inflation on the low end and less frenzied demand on the high end. The average ship price as well as more plentiful shelves support the idea that the market is starting to calm down. The average ship price jumped approximately $100 from 2019 to 2020 and from 2020 to 2021, decreasing for the first time since 2019 this year.

Cloessner confirmed there isn’t one standout micro-compact model, but there are some notable trends. “With the unprecedented demand for handguns, especially Micro Compacts the last 2.5 years, it’s easy to say all of them have been popular. I do think we will be able to start seeing where things truly fall out in 2023. The SIG P365 continues to be very popular with SIG leading the innovation in the Micro category… The GLOCK 43X has taken over the G19 as the most popular GLOCK for a lot of dealers…Springfield’s Hellcat series remains a strong seller and Taurus has made a lot of headway with the GX4 series.”

To appeal to more consumers, many distributors, including Lipsey’s, offer special distributor models of popular guns, though these were previously limited due to shortages. “We had the first variant of the P365 in our NRA Edition P365,” Cloessner said. “That model continues to be one of our bestselling exclusives. We have had and do have several models from Ruger, SIG, GLOCK, and Taurus. Now that the COVID era shortages are starting to subside, I anticipate many more exclusive editions in the future. “

Cloessner also commented on the release of the SIG SAUER P365X-Macro and the idea that bigger guns may be making a comeback. “Instead of guns getting smaller in .380 and 9mm, we are trending back to slightly bigger models like the Springfield Hellcat Pro, GLOCK’s 43X and 48, the SIG P365XL and the just released P365X-Macro. The market has come to appreciate the thin 1” wide platform and now want it in their ‘duty size’ guns too.”

These slightly bigger models fit somewhere between micro-compacts and sub-compacts as they are often have a slightly larger capacity or slightly longer slide than their solidly micro-compact counterparts. Barrel length puts them in one category or the other, but their resemblance to and lineage from popular micro-compact models combined with industry trends make things a bit more tenuous.

While this area is still developing, there’s no denying that micro-compacts have carved out a sizable space in the 9mm semiautomatic handgun market with room to grow.

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  1. I spent time at the range again yesterday morning, this time specifically to practice live fire timed drills drawing a micro-compact EDC from AIWB. Before I got my CCW, I had always trained my entire life with OWB at 3:30 position, but concealed carry in a warm environment such as SoCal changes the game substantially.

    My range buddy brought his compacts (such as G19 and the like), but I much prefer a micro for AIWB. But I’m telling you…trying to get a solid grip on a micro’s stubby frame (when equipped with a flush-fit mag to minimize printing thru the shirt) is not an easy task. I was able to draw and put two rounds on target in under 2.25 seconds, but as I demonstrated to my buddy by physically running the distance, an adversary can close 7 yards on you within that time. Hence my need to not only draw and aim well, but mind my own location and move back a little bit.

    (rubs hands together, prays that the TTAG gremlins will permit this comment to actually appear…)

    • “I was able to draw and put two rounds on target in under 2.25 seconds, but as I demonstrated to my buddy by physically running the distance, an adversary can close 7 yards on you within that time”

      I wouldn’t lose heart. How big is your target, and how fast can you fire one? I don’t think an adversary will be closing too fast after being hit once, anywhere, even if it isn’t a fatal or completely stopping hit.

      P.S. I didn’t realize your CCW had finally come through. Congratulations!

      • Thank you.

        I was able to get fast enough to put the first shot on target at 1.80, but the average was 2.0.

        When I’ve trained for “close combat draw”, which is with your adversary at arm’s length away from you (1 yard), it’s always been with a full size gat from OWB. In that situation, the draw is only from the holster to your torso (what some may regard as position 3 of a 5-step full draw and presentation). Draw and place two rounds on target in under 1 second. Easy. But when drawing a micro from AIWB concealed, it’s very different, and tough to attain that speed. Hence my need to continue practicing, and next time I’m at the range I’ll drill at close combat instead of the standard 7 yards.

    • I was watching a donut operator video. Guy with a knife rushed a cop. The cop back pedaled at a near run while shooting bad guy who had nearly reached him. It’s faster to run forwards than backwards. The cop fell over backwards at the last moment. Fortunately for him the bad guy collapsed at the same time.

      Trying to reverse while concentrating on the threat is problematic. I don’t know how to safely train for that.

      • Agreed. This is why situational awareness is so important and why I’m in the habit (which sometimes exasperates Mrs Haz) of always knowing what my immediate egress options are at any given moment. My training has taught me to initially take no more than a single large step back, but maintain solid posture, before firing. After shooting, take another large step back if necessary. Decide to shoot or not, then one more step if necessary, etc. OODA again and again.

        • After watching that video I went for a walk. I’m retired and I walk a couple of times a day. I started noticing. Uneven pavement. Curbs. Flower boxes. Benches. Parked cars.

          Training for that on a flat well maintained range may not be possible.

      • Simple answer is sidestep. Making that happen under stress isn’t so simple. It’s a natural reaction to want to back up and keep eyes on the threat but sometimes you just need to turn and run.

        • True, but then your ballistic trajectory changes, as your angle of fire is no longer along the original line, potentially bringing any innocents within that new swath into danger.

          No matter how it’s sliced, any DGU can end up being dynamic and hyper-stressful, especially as the adversary moves, the adrenaline pumps, and the situation changes quickly. I hope I never find myself in one.

      • JWM, my brother and I run drills where we practice drawing and firing while backing up, and it’s a bitch! We just use stationary targets though, because of the aforementioned safety concerns. My best (or at least my favorite) was a constant rapid retreat with 5 hits out of 6 shots including a head shot in 3.2 seconds. With my 6 inch Colt Anaconda in .44 Magnum, because I do what I want 😂

      • Agree with that. I think some police departments train to wide sidestep with the thought that causing the knifeman (woman) to have to reorient slightly buys time to bring the gun on target with less movement and divided attention.

  2. Well yeah…bad newz for Dims. When I carry it’s a Taurus 709 Slim in a Nemesis pocket carry holster. Quite similar size to all the new tiny 9’s if lower capacity. It’s been perfect.

    I have shot my friends Sig 365 which was “ok”(took my advice & bought it). The Dims don’t get people want freedom & not just to butcher babies…

    • The Dims also don’t get that people don’t want to give up fuel powered vehicles in the next few years either. I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t care what the people want. They’ll blow another trillion, call it the Inflation Reduction Act, and brag about the wonderful economy as stagflation deepens.

      They’re able to get away with this because of our propagandist media and tech platforms that would make Pravda blush. Every single time they talk about the climate scam handouts Inflation Reduction Act or forcing EV’s on us, the media should be asking how much will this specific policy lower the global temperature. How much will this specific policy lower the sea level? Let’s get some real numbers for each year in the future so we can check your work. Why isn’t anyone asking that? It’s the same reason the Russia Hoax coverup and real collusion isn’t a story. It’s all a sick joke. It’s amazing how many people are still falling for it.

    • “Not enough to hang onto and they make the nine feel like a heavy round.”

      A micro in 9mm was uncomfortable to shoot, a micro in .40 cal was a vicious bucking bronco to try and hang onto… 🙁

        • I have fired a SA/DA 8+1 (+1 extended mag) .40 S&W SIG P239 SAS Short Reset Trigger with night sights, striker fired 10+1 9mm SIG P365 with XRAY3 night sights, and striker fired 7+1 9mm Ruger LC9S Pro with three dot sights. All three have their good points and bad points such as thickness, barrel length, weight, capacity, recoil, muzzle energy delivered, utility of sights in low light, etc. I would carry any one of the three pistols IWB but would use the optional 12 round magazines for the P365 as the best possible overall solution for EDC. Almost the capacity of a compact DA/SA 9mm SIG P228, but smaller in both length and width and lighter making it much more concealable. If I wanted ease of use for going through a few hundred rounds at the range, my preference is the SIG P228.

      • I used a .40 micro at the range yesterday. Flush-fit mag makes for a nice disappearance of the gat under the shirt, but with nothing for the pinky to hang on to, definitely a bucking bronco if you don’t get a firm hold on it upon the draw.

    • Something like HST Micro might not be too bad. It’s designed for short barrels and low recoil. I’d try it if I had a micro 9mm. 124 gr HST works good for me in a subcompact.

      • “It’s designed for short barrels and low recoil.”

        You can’t cheat physics, mass action – reaction.

        HST is then like firing .38 spl in a .357 mag…

  3. “…“Ruger really changed the game in 2008 when they introduced the LCP.”

    Much earlier than that.

    It was the Clinton AWB of 1994 that really kicked things into high gear. The 10 round magazine ban included in the ’94 AWB drove Glock to market the 10-round micro Glocks, the G26 in 9mm, and the G27 in .40 S&W.

    And Glock sold a shit-ton of them…

    • I have a G26. I started with a G17, got Mrs Haz a G19, and then a 26 for myself due to its ability to accept any of the mags. But it’s not ideal for typical CC due to its width, at least not for me.

      I still have it and keep a couple of 12-rd mags with it (+2 with small pinky tabs to allow for a good grip). It’s great as a smaller CC piece for off-body carry or maybe OWB with a coat for colder weather, but for my preferred AIWB position, my EDC ended up being a micro.

      • I’m personally not comfortable carrying striker-fired IWB.

        In a massive adrenaline dump, fingers become flippers, and I value something too much (femoral artery, you deviants!) to risk it that way… 🙂

        • The NDs that occur with AIWB are almost always while re-holstering. Drawing is pretty much the same as OWB. Just keep your finger away from the trigger.
          When re-holstering AIWB, things magically find there way inside the trigger guard, resulting in NDs. Best to remove the holster, insert firearm, then re-insert holster+gun at the same time.

  4. Those guns… are not great.

    They sell well I think because firearms attracts some obsessive personalities(admit it) that over-think and over-research and go crazy over ever 0.2” width different or plus +1 capacity difference.

    I know someone needs to hear this:

    1- no one can see you print. No one is looking for a gun.

    2- Glock 19 or M&P compact are the best sizes for everything. You shoot worse with anything smaller. Especially if you carry to counter an active shooter, you may need to make a string of accurate shots, proven by recent events.

    • I would just like to reiterate your point number 1. Anyone who doubts that you’re correct, I challenge you to test it amongst people. No one notices pocket knives or guns, and I know it because I’m looking for them constantly 😂

      • Up here the ones that actually notice are more likely to offer suggestions on better holsters and/or ask what you are carrying and how you like it compared to other things. The cops and Karens that would take issue are overwhelmingly they types both of you have mentioned and borderline oblivious. With that said I did notice more than a few cops hanging around shops the day after our silly private business carry laws went into place (lasted about 2 days and back to you are on your own re security)

      • (cough cough)
        I have a slim, fit physique (yes, yes, I know…but it’s true). During the warmer half of the year here in SoCal, it’s not feasible to wear anything more than a t-shirt, or perhaps a thin undershirt with a standard overshirt. Guns can and will print.

        Due to a recommendation from a fellow TTAGer a while back, I use a certain minimalist style holster for my chosen AIWB carry. As many of us here have probably done, I’ve gone through my fair share of belts, holsters, knives, lights, multi-tools, etc. to end up with those that fit me best and “disappear”. I also tried different micro holsters in completely different styles and materials, in multiple OWB and IWB positions, before landing on the one that is most comfortable for me and truly does “disappear” under my shirt. But that turns out to be AIWB for me. Any other position prints no matter how well I shift things.

        • For like a month we have weather like that where the sig 365 is about as big as I can conceal without any attention (could do larger but someone who knows what to look for would be able to see something) now for 7-8 of the other months a Glock 19 would be easy and for the winter……….. a Glock 40/Black hawk/other “because I can” all become relatively easy options.

    • I have a Glock 43X MOS with a Shield RMSC Red dot. I’ve had it 20 months and it is all I carry now. I have Shield Arms 15 round mags giving me the same ammo as a Glock 19 (which I used to carry). The smaller frame allows me to completely cover the grip with both hands and control the gun better than any larger gun I have.

      I have no problems hitting targets at close and longer range. Man-sized metal silhouette 3 – 50 yards. Because of its size, it is very comfortable to carry IWB. I shoot 147gr FMJ at the range and carry 147gr JHP when concealed. Recoil doesn’t bother me a bit. The only 9mm I hated shooting was a PPK. I dumped that puppy fast.

    • “1- no one can see you print. No one is looking for a gun.”

      Respectfully disagree.

      Ever since I changed semi-auto AIWB to front right pocket carry with the LCR in .357 in a ‘Sneaky Pete’ type pocket holster, I notice a lot more faint smiles and head nods as I go about my day around town. I return the smile and nod. 🙂

      The giveaway on that carry seems to be the angle of grip on the pocket fabric…

    • Mostly agree.
      1) Few people are looking, and few will notice. Not “no one”, but few.
      2) Compacts work well for balancing concealment, capacity, and accuracy, but there is no “best at everything”. There is no free lunch, and there are always trade-offs.

  5. Overlooked in this discussion is the viable role a milsurp like the Makarov or its derivatives can have. Buffalo Bore makes a 9 Mak 115 grain round with 1,000 fps and a 95 grain round with 1125 fps, bringing them close to 9mm parabellum territory. I’m a revolver guy, and the Mak is my alternate CCW because it is so reliable and tough.

    • As much as I hear Makarov talked about I have seen about as many as I have seen 25acp or 32 long. I am sure this can be region dependent (45 gap is more in stock than 38/357 thanks to some lingering police contracts) so whatever works for your area.

  6. You can have your Hot Tamale. I don’t buy guns based on trends. I buy what I do based on what appeals to me. So it’s nice to know something about what people in general go for. But for me, the smallest of the guns out there general do nothing for my tastes.

  7. Gave up on Glocks for CCW. I carry 2 Hellcats. The Glock 17s / 19s are for ‘around the house’ guns on magnets…along with some FN 509’s.

    I do have a car Glock19 I carry in a netbook bag along with a few 24 and 33 round mags.

  8. I got back into the game during the first micro-9 craze. They are easy to carry and conceal, but are more difficult to draw quickly and shoot accurately. After switching to compacts, both speed and accuracy have improved. Body shape, holster choice, and clothing choices all come into play, but many/most people can conceal a compact with a bit of practice and judicious choices.
    As for people noticing, even working in an environment when there are a LOT of concealed carriers, it’s unusual to see someone printing.

  9. had an M&P, loved it. had to give it back. we switched to glock 19s. still good. but I want an M&P compact with the dumb safety if I am going to carry IWB. less chance of me trying out for Mickey Mouse parts in the acting arena. and most of the time in hot weather, I just put a 5 or 6 shot snubby in my pocket. ( like my chief special or M642 or my Colt Agent) and feel well armed. I avoid alot of places where there might be trouble. but some people can’t do that, their lives ,jobs whatever take them to places like that. so you carry what you are compfy with. though I do agree that something like an M&P compact or Glock 19 sized gun is a good choice and you would probably shoot it better than the micro size autos. hey, practice , practice, practice.

  10. I had a shield for a while then bought the P365 and it really is a game changer. It shoots better than guns much bigger than it and fits in a pocket even in the XL version. I took a shooting class at my local range just to up my competency and almost everyone but me used a P365 in the class. (I have one I just did not bring it to the class.) One woman had a P322 and those are getting more popular with women since they hold 20 rounds and have basically no recoil.

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