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Without a doubt, the crop of new mini-9 handguns is the gun industry’s biggest craze. Back in the fall of 2006, Kel-Tec brought us the first mainstream affordable mini 9mm in the shape of the PF9. We are now awash with similar offerings from Ruger, Kahr, Diamondback Arms, Kimber, SIG and more. I know these mini-9s are cool-looking. They’re lightweight, easy to conceal (single stack) and the provide the punch of 9mm. Without a doubt, the gunmakers producing mini-9s are making a lot of money selling these hamster guns to the public. But—

First and foremost, these guns are tough to shoot. The new mini-9s weigh-in at anywhere from 12 to 20 ounces. They’re barely big enough for a reasonable enough grip. Recoil management is . . . challenging. Make no mistake: these are not range guns. You are not gonna want to take these new 9s to the range for the extended training necessary to become proficient. They’re not something a novice is going to really want to shoot at all.

The other glaring problem with these new guns: the manufacturers are trying to fill a market niche that’s already well served with the pocket .380s. These new 9s are being billed as deep concealment/pocket guns with the punch of a 9mm. They’re not. Yes, they are super lightweight and easy to carry…. easy to carry on your hip. For pocket carry, however, they all seem to be just too big, too thick, and too heavy to realistically pass for pocket guns.

An industry insider (who shall remain nameless because I don’t do name drops) said that these new mini 9s are a result of an effort to market to the new breed of gun owners and concealed carry permit holders that were brought into the fold by the Great Obama Gun Glut. Essentially, these are customers who went out and bought a .380 for concealed carry or bought a big heavy steel gun for their night stand and now the gun manufacturers are making an attempt to sell them their second gun.

I get what he’s saying. But I don’t believe that this new demographic—which he says are mostly younger and female consumers—need a “pocket gun” that’s slightly heavier and larger then their already light and easy to carry .380 pocket rocket. They would be much better served with a full size or compact (maybe even sub-compact) handgun.

Of course, fashion has its own rules. But guns are like holsters: no matter how good it looks, if the weapon system doesn’t fit, you must a-quit. Women shooters/new shooters aren’t going to like the stout recoil that comes with those lightweight 9s. After a while, they’re going to want to step up to a larger gun (for either CCW or home defense). Yes, it will probably be in 9mm because that’s the least intimidating cartridge to new shooters, but these new mini 9s are not what this new breed really needs.

Yes, there is a lot to be said for having a 9mm instead of a lesser caliber that is essentially half as potent. I do, however, think that .380 ACP is enough gun for civilian concealed carry. I carry a .32 ACP Kel-Tec in my pocket everywhere I go (but that’s a story for another time).

You also have to remember that concealed carry holders have very different needs when it comes to firearms then LEO and military. No, I would not carry a mousegun as my primary weapon if I was a beat cop (or James Bond). Nor would I just carry a pistol—of any caliber—if I were heading off to Afghanistan. But, I do think that just about any Average Joe who is at least 25 miles outside of either Detroit or D.C. will be very well served with a .380 in his pocket.

With the new juiced-up .380 ammo that is now out on the market you can get the FBI recommended 12 inches of penetration (if that’s your thing) as well as expansion of upwards of .645 inches.

Look, I don’t want to get into a caliber flame war here; I don’t want to make this about .380 vs 9mm. IMHO .380 ACP is indeed enough gun. If you don’t think it is or if you are one of those “new breed” of gun owners that’s looking to step up in caliber then just carry something larger.

I think that you are going to find that a standard subcompact with a good quality holster is gonna be just as comfortable and easy to carry as one of these new uber-light 9s. It will also be easier to shoot and more conducive to high volume practice sessions. This in turn will go an awful long way in helping you put multiple rounds on target in a high-stress life or death moment.

In short, all these new mini 9s are a solution in search of a problem. As I said, gunmakers are gonna sell a whole bunch of these mini-9s. Many of them are already back ordered. From a business standpoint, the mini-9 is a sound financial move. But they’re not what 90 percent of concealed carry permit holders should be carrying. If nothing else, they’re not .45s! JK. But point taken?

[Eric is a gun blogger, firearms enthusiast, sorry excuse for a hunter, and designated smart ass. Check out him out on Facebook, Twitter and his blog Gunmart]




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  1. I disagree… the free market does not create demand by making a supply available! Especially in times where the unemployment rate is up to 9%. If the American CCWer doesn’t want the mini-9 he isn’t going to buy it!

    I think there are a lot of folks whose initial gun purchase is going to be the larger gun. The expensive gun. The big caliber gun. Or he’s going to buy the small Glockenspiel and try that for awhile until he realizes that 12 rounds in a double stack mag are really too much to lug around all day next to his love handle. And thus we have the slow and exciting creation of demand. Companies like Kahr and Bersa are ready to capitalize and they do. Other companies see the gold rush and jump in as well. Now we have a market place where the consumer will benefit from a wealth of choices and low prices. Everybody wins.

    As an aside, I am 6′ 1″ about 220 lbs and I love shooting my Kahr CW9. She’s a real sweetheart. And she pretty much disappears inside my pants in the N8^2 Tactical holster that Brad recommended (which is reholsterable BTW).

    • I have been shooting over 40 years adn am amazed at the number of posts about recoil problems with a 9mm, no matter what the size of the gun. When I grew up a 9mm was considered a wimpy round as we all shot .357 or .45 calibers. Then again we had no computers or video games so our free time was spend in physical activities and the recoil of guns just was not a problem. Apparently evolution has produced people with sensitive hands as witnessed by so many posts about recoil, even with .380 ammo.

      I am 61 with arthritis in my hands and never leave the range with sore hands after shooting 100-200 rounds of 9mm to 45 out of small guns. My EDC is the gun pictured. It rides either in my pocket or on my belt with no problem. Recoil is mild at best even with +P ammo. Sure I have a .380 but apparently that is too much recoil for the .32 acp crowd. Heaven help America.

      • Not to be rude, but that is a pretty irrelevant comparison your making. I shoot my fair share of 357s (mostly in J frame model 60) and 44s (air weight n frame (never again) and red hawk) so I am no stranger to the recoil of the magnum loads. I can handle them just fine, but some of the most difficult guns for me to shoot are the NAA mini revolvers. Yes, 22 rimfire handguns kick my butt and I’m in no way ashamed to admit that, physics is physics plain and simple. If you were 61 at the time of this post you were born sometime around 1951. That means the guns that shot 9mm “when you grew up” were things like Browning Hi Powers, CZ75s, and post war guns like Walther p38s, Mauser Broomhandles, Lugers, etc… Im sorry but thats not a fair comparison. Your suggesting that full size all steel guns were easy to shoot in 9mm and 45 which in fact they are, but you seem to imply things haven’t changed. The 45s of your era weighed 40 oz, the 45s of mine weigh as little as 17. To suggest that my generation are a bunch of video game playing sissies is a bit ummm… narrow minded and frankly ignorant. Your generations 357 was 34oz (2.5 inch model 66) at the lightest, my generation has them as light as 11.4 (model 340). Im sorry sir but your entire rant is pretty ridiculous. You want to talk to me about being a recoil pansy go shoot a cylinder or two of full house old school magnums out of a 340 or a 329 pd and get back to me, I’ll be waiting.

      • I have to agree here. I shot a friend’s pf9 keltec and it wasn’t the recoil I hated – it was the terrible trigger. I don’t have a lot of guns or life long experience but I choose to learn on a full sized 357 with a 4 inch; it seemed to be king of diversity. Sure enough after time on 38s I leveled up with 357s on my k frame sized firearm.

        These days I use a lcr 357 as an everyday carry. I never thought I’d load it with 357 but wanted the option. However, I found out that for me the recoil was not that bad. Sure you notice it but I can empty a cylinder quickly and keep all 5 on target. The security six I have places the recoil firmly on the web of the hand. The lcr places the recoil lower in the hand.

        In short, I guess I’m not recoil shy. I’ll admit though that it seems an optimal auto grip is not equal to an optimal wheel gun grip. I sometimes limp wrist the lighter autos. If recoil is a problem for you than I’d suggest practicing with a 357 and work your way up to the power loads. Heck, do the same for your caliber of choice. Dry fire often to learn your trigger. Practice practice practice.

        I feel that noobs benefit more from the wheel platform if for nothing else it teaches you to deal with the kick. I like the kick. If I get an auto, maybe it’ll be a 10mm

  2. Hunter S. says: “I disagree… the free market does not create demand by making a supply available!”

    Of course it does. Marketing is the manufacture of desire.

    • Marketing is really the company trying to point out and remind the consumer of what they “need.” However, Magoo, demand isn’t some arbitrary measurement of the American psyche. It is a measure of the amount of scratch being expended in a particular segment of the marketplace. So you see there is distinct difference in the ‘demand’ created by an advertising campaign and the actual ‘demand’ created by a growing and recognized need.

      In America, you can’t make someone buy something… well wait, the government does make us buy car insurance and now health insurance… but private companies can’t make us buy something!

      And what the hell? This is a discussion area for the mini-9’s not about creation of demand in a free market. Quit obfuscating the discussion.

    • Actually, Magoo, you’re close – but no cigar. Marketing is telling a compelling story. If the story resonates, you make a sale. But marketing can’t manufacture desire, any more than it can manufacture a new set of tires for your car. The desire has to exist. Marketing simply wakes it up and gives it focus. Puts a face to the name. Shows you a path to your goal. But marketing – in the long term – doesn’t deceive, nor does it create something that’s not already there. If it did, there’d be no such thing as “buyer’s remorse,” which is nothing more than marketing that misses the mark.

      • Both honest and deceptive marketing exist. If you couldn’t artificially create demand in a free market then there would be no such thing as a con man.

        • Agreed. It goes along with what I said to Magoo. Marketing and sales tactics ‘help’ the consumer recognize a ‘need.’ Sometimes these ‘needs’ are real and sometimes they are manufactured based on clever advertising. Not all consumers are created equal. Producers and advertisers capitalize on this.
          But we have to assume that the majority of consumers are rational people. People who don’t part with their hard earned money on a whim. So while demand might be ‘artificially inflated’ by people who are not rational consumers, the overall majority of the demand is made up of people who have recognized their needs and are patronizing that segment of the marketplace.

        • People can be expected to be rational most of the time, but rationality is really just a process of logic used to sort out various inputs and stimuli. If the inputs and stimuli are corrupted then the rational decision can be non-self-maximizing.

          If an external agent takes a rational person and surrounds them with the right manufactured inputs the person will continue to make rational decisions with respect to those inputs (and they will feel like they are in control), but by steering the inputs externally, the agent can steer the outcome of the person’s (internally sound) decision making process to benefit the agent more than the person’s decisions benefit themselves.

          More related to the original topic, I am more ambivalent about the introduction of a new niche gun and how I would rate its worth. When you have a few guns there is a practical element to why you have them. When you have as many as I do, it is a hobby. When it comes to hobby items, I always say “why not add one to the collection”. Even practically ridiculous guns, have novelty value to the hobbyist. Also, there may be some practically ridiculous scenario you find yourself in where an otherwise practically ridiculous gun actually makes practical sense.

          The solution is to have lots of guns in lots of sizes and calibers!

        • Don – I see your point. And I agree that an external agent can influence a consumer’s rational decisions such that they are no longer beneficial to the consumer IF that agent has unlimited access to the consumer. But I hardly find this argument to be viable in a world where so many information sources are available. Especially when the product is one which must be given innumerably more consideration than something like a blender or something similar. Again, I think the rational consumer seeks to find the best “bang for his buck” and will carefully consider his choices before parting with his $400+.
          I am not saying that impulse gun buyers don’t exist. Surely there are consumers whose individual valuations of money are different than others i.e. poor vs. affluence. But if he got burned on a bad gun purchase surely this would influence the individual to alter his impulsive behavior.

        • Hunter,

          (replying here because there is no “reply” under your last post.)

          I agree that access to the consumer is a huge factor in having the ability to steer their otherwise rational thinking process. I would extend this idea however. The other side of the coin is the consumer’s access to real verifiable information. The agent doesn’t need unlimited access to the consumer’s “information input lines”, they just need to have greater access to them than the consumer has access to real information.

          Right now this is playing out dynamically at a faster than ever pace because things like the internet and smart phones give consumers huge exposure to potentially manipulating agents, misinformation, but ALSO more altruistic agents consumer protection agents (consumer reviewers, etc.) and real information.

          In this landscape rationality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for self-maximizing decision making. One also needs to have the ability to recognize real and fake information, as well as recognize an attempt at manipulation. This is increasingly harder to do as things in the world get more complex. To be able to do so independently with complete proficiency would require that the consumer has a high level of expertise in a vast spread of topics. Just based on the amount of time in a day, I think this is a much harder thing to attain than proficiency in basic rational decision making (assuming trustworthy inputs).

          I am very interested to see how this all plays out in time. It’s kind of like an arms race or a cold-war dynamic as applied to economics. The race is between the ability to produce convincing misinformation and the ability to sort misinformation from real information.


      • Marketing is the manufacture of desire. Industrial designer Brooks Stevens said that. He also invented the term “planned obsolescence.” See also Thorstein Veblen, Vance Packard, et al.

        You can’t make people need a Ferrari but you can make them want one. Marketing is the art and science of making people want stuff, from the drawing board to point of purchase and through the user experience, which may have little to due with the product’s utility value. Another way to look at it: People may need potatoes and gasoline, but they don’t need YOUR potatoes or gasoline. They can get these commodities anywhere. You’ll have to make them want yours.

        Does a Mini-9 serve a unique material need among consumers? Not really. Along with the writer, I tend to believe that the consumer’s actual need will be better served by something else.

        • Magooch said, ‘Does a Mini-9 serve a unique material need among consumers? Not really. Along with the writer, I tend to believe that the consumer’s actual need will be better served by something else.’

          That kind of top-down economic baloney is ridiculous. The only person who can determine what is best for the consumer is the consumer. So diverse is the American gun-populace that neither you nor I could ascertain with any degree of accuracy the individual needs of the gun owner. In other words, it is best to let the consumers drive the demand and let the producers respond in kind. Like I said earlier, if Americans weren’t buying the mini-9’s, the gun-makers wouldn’t be supplying them. Obviously, the consumers feel that they are being adequately served by the products offered.

        • You made quite a leap on your own there, sport. I am performing product analysis, not central economic planning. Are there better choices for consumers than the Mini-9? I believe there are.

          I also believe that to a significant degree, the Mini-9 represents a triumph of marketing over utility. To me, those who relate the weapon to a snubnose revolver sort of miss the point, the snubbie being of limited usefulness in its own right. Its most effective usage was successfully demonstrated by Jack Ruby.

        • Ha… I’ll admit that I jumped the shark on that one. I just finished reading a Hazlitt book and I guess it’s a little fresh in my mind.

          But seriously, I think that the mini-9 has it’s place and that it does fill a void for folks who are not confident in the .380’s power and not happy with its price.
          What would best serve the American gun owner? A gun that shoots .500’s but recoils like a .22 short… that has the expensive feel of a good 1911 in the hand but easily slips into the pocket… that holds 15 rounds but folds into a wallet size package? YES, YES and YES!
          But what is the reality? The reality is that the delicate yet robust internal workings handguns are constantly being reexamined and reworked by a competitive market of producers that are seeking to sell us their products. We exist in a world of blitzkrieg ad campaigns that try to tell us what we need and what we want by manufacturing and nurturing our desires for the ‘best’ things. Are there bad ideas that still see moderate levels of success due to excellent marketing? Of course… turn on the E! network and watch some of the Kardashian crap on that channel… it’s stupid.

          Personally, I’d like to see Kahr make a CW357Sig. Maybe one day.

    • As a professional marketeer (Oooh, that kinda sounds like “Musketeer”, doesn’t it? “Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!” Ok, that was Cyrano and not D’artangan, but you get the idea.)

      Where was I?

      Oh yeah, as a professional marketeer, nothing please me more than to have somebody say “Oh, marketing doesn’t work on me.” because I know someone in my business has done their job so well, you don’t even notice it.

  3. Yeah, I don’t neccessarily agree, either. One factor that you over look is what I call “caliber creep.” Personally, I don’t want to put an upward limit on the number of guns I’ll own (my wife will do that, thankyouverymuch) but I do like to keep my number of calibers limited because it makes ammo acquisition much simpler. I’ve actually gotten rid of guns I otherwise liked because I couldn’t, in good conscience, think of a reason to keep that particular caliber around.

    A shooter who already has a 9mm “nightstand gun” or military-style pistol is much more likely to buy a compact 9 for CC purposes simply because it eats the same food as its bigger brother, and that’s not a trivial concern.

    In addition to ammo compatibility, there’s also the issue of ammo cost: There’s tons of cheap 9mm out there courtesy of those companies supplying ammo to the military. .380 hasn’t been a military caliber since WWII and (from what I’ve seen) ammo is more expensive (of course, the in-between 9mm Makarov might be available in ComBloc bulk but that’s not what we’re talking about here…)

    I certainly agree that a .380 can be a perfectly fine CC weapon, but if you already have a 9mm, then a compact 9 makes more sense than acquiring a completely new and incompatible caliber, IMO.

    • AMEN DUDE!! RIGHT ON!! I also have decided to limit my calibers, not necessarily how many pistols I own. I’ve stuck to .380,9mm and .40 S&W. In a SHTF world, 9mm will easily be the ammo that will be the most common on the planet. .380 HP ammo is getting outrageous these days. I just paid $26.99 for a box of 50 Fiocchi 95 gr. HP/w Hornady XTP bullet. And Fiocchi is what I consider a “not run of the mill/popular i.e cheaper brand”. The .40 S&W HP’s aren’t much better. I’m typically paying between $22.99 and $26.99 for a box of 50 180gr. Winchester “personal defense” or Federal 180gr. simple/generic ‘white box’ HP rounds. Compare that with the Fiocchi 124gr. HP/w Hornaday XTP for $16.99 per 50. I’m lucky enough to live about 2 miles from my local Cabela’s superstore here in St. Louis. I call it the “Man’s outdoor porn store”. They typically put some type of 9mm on sale every month. Most are just “paper punchers” for the range,but still. That has allowed me to have a large assortment of 115gr. FMJ brands. Federal,Magtech,MFS,Herter’s (Cabela’s brand),Sellier&Bellot,UMC but I digress. You’re comment about people considering buying a ultra-light,single stack,compact 9mm because of cost/availability should resonate with alot of folks in this economy. But, I also agree with the author, they may be a little harder to pocket carry over something like my Taurus PT738. For those of us here in the Midwest,the summertime can be BRUTALLY hot & humid. I typically run around in a cheap tank top and cheapo $7 gym shorts in the summer. So, even with a drawstring tied up tight, you still can’t put too much weight in the pockets. The pockets are dimensionally big enough for pocket carry but you gotta watch how much weight you put in them. Even a ultra-light,single stack 9mm like the my Taurus PT709 “slim” is a little too heavy for those type of shorts. Now,dress shorts with large pockets and belt would work fine. But again, the economy sucks to the point that buying a $7 pair of gym shorts for weekend bum wear is alot more affordable than a $20 pair of “dress” shorts. But that’s just me. I have a Taurus PT840 in layaway right now,(I already have a 24/7 Pro DS .40) I’d like to get another .380,another .40 (I want a Taurus 24/7 OSS DS/Tactical .40) and a couple more 9mm’s then I’ll be done. Okay,I lied. Us men are never done or satisfied are we?

      • My Man. let me hook you up with better prices. 50 rds Ranger 135 gr JHP (Talon) for around $17, etc. at AmmoToGo. Also check AmmoToGo does the best on bulk though. Semper Fi

        • Cool. I’ll check into that. I’ve looked at pricing on “other” online ammo shops (i.e. Luckygunner) and although the prices seem reasonable,by the time you add in shipping costs it ends up being almost the same as what I’m buying locally,in some cases even more. Shipping costs have,understandably,skyrocketed because of fuel prices these days. I’m a ‘regular’ at Cabela’s these days. You can put “anything” in layaway including guns & ammo. You have to pay 25% down and have 90 days to pay it off. I CONSTANTLY have a ammo layaway going. I pay off one and start another right then and there. That’s the easiest way I’ve been able to somewhat afford buying ammo.

        • That’s cool! I love the ammo to go prices on 9mm +P+ (they even have Speer Gold Dot). I save and buy 250-500 rounds every couple of months. They ship fast too. It’s a Husband and Wife team. They have always been awesome, and they always have specials. Happy Shootin’

    • Spot on, and this is why I went with a “pocket 9”. The only two modern pistols I own are a cz75bd and a kel tec pf9. They both use the same ammo, but I can Load up the CZ with +p, and the kel tec conceals beautifully. Each has its place.

      I don’t think I’d ever pocket carry, so the KT stays in a holster and its size is an attribute at best, and a non-issue at worst. The CZ gets carried in the winter, but normally only on range trips.

      I train with both regularly, and honestly the pf9’s recoil isn’t all that bad once you get used to it.

      Having 1 pistol caliber to stock and keep track of helps in the budget dept., as well.

  4. What’s too much for you, others don’t mind. I think some people are crazy for carrying airweight snub nosed .357s… But to each his own. And some super tiny .380s aren’t extremely fun to shoot either, let’s not forget.

    Many people do not like to go below 9mm/.38Special. I know I don’t. I own a Sig P238 but I don’t like carrying it, I bought it mainly for when I ride my motorcycle, and as a backup gun. I’m not trying to start a caliber war either, but that’s just how I (and many others) feel. So if manufacturers want to offer a super small option, even if the recoil is nasty… Good! Bring it on!

    • Slim, single-stack 9mm’s are the semi-auto version of the .38 snub nose. That’s all they are, and that’s all they’ll need to be to be very successful.

  5. The variable left out is the shooting buddy who gives the novice an opinion based solely on his personal likes/dislikes and/or the really good salesman who puts his desired sale/opinion/prejudices forth to the novice. That is where the responsibility comes in-in not convincing the frail lady she needs a .44 Special snub nose or the guy with huge hands that the Semmerling is what he needs. Point well taken-.380 Corbon is better carried than the .44 mag that’ll be left in the glove box.

  6. I’ve seen a lot of new shooters at the range with all kinds of these tiny guns, and they can barely hit the target at any distance. I have small hands so I don’t have a problem with holding or shooting small guns. I’m used to powerful recoil because I usually only shoot 45’s and 50’s, so these guns are pretty easy to handle.

  7. I disagree with this post. I am MUCH more accurate with my Glock 26 than I am my Glock 19. My 26 is easier to conceal and if I want longer grip I can just put clip extensions on. Does it make it the size of the 19? Almost, but I have found that I am more accurate with a shorter barrel. Is .380 a large enough caliber to be carrying? Thats for me to decide.

    If these “mini 9’s” have such bad recoil, that would mean that accuracy would be horrible. If that is true then how are these CCW’s passing their shooting tests? Sure they could be using a different gun, but going by the nameless “gun insider”s theory these guns are for a new market type who will typically own one or two pistols anyway, which means they are probably using these to qualify.

    I have a strange feeling that this blogger probably carries something like a 1911, or some other type of “oldschool” gun?

    • Actually, I carry a Kel-Tec P32 for 3 months out of the year during those dog days of summer… and a Glock 26 the rest of the time. 😉

    • i have a feeling your glock is not bad to shoot because it weights a considerable amount more then Pf-9 LC-9

    • “If that is true then how are these CCW’s passing their shooting tests?” Here in VA there is no shooting test for a CCW… You can take the test online.

  8. Why I don’t need one of those new mini-9 handguns…

    Because I already have an old one? A Kahr MK9, a model first introduced 15 years ago in 1996. Eminently pocketable, with a nice steel frame that adds a few extra ounces and soaks up the recoil. If you want more recoil and less weight, you can go with the lightweight polymer PM9. Just like you can choose between a J-frame in steel or aluminum/titanium. Fits exactly the same niche. Same size, and same weight range. Just chambered in 9mm with 6+1 capacity instead of .38 and 5.

    I expect this fad in small 9mms to die out just like the fad in snubbies did.

    • “I expect this fad in small 9mms to die out just like the fad in snubbies did.”

      If the CHL thing continues to build momentum, and I think it will, I dont see it fading out anytime soon.

    • I wouldn’t call snub nosed revolvers a “fad”, they’ve been around a long time and they’re still very popular for CCW.

    • I find the Kahrs are actually smaller in the pocket compared to my j-frame. The angle of grip is at a obtuse angle on the J-frame and can poke out of a pocket. The 6+1 is just an added benefit.

  9. We have both a P3AT and a PF9. It surprised me, but the PF9 is significantly easier and more comfortable to shoot. I have not tried to pocket carry it , but it is much better in an IWB holster than my XD.

  10. I have wanted a single stack concealment 9 since long before the marketeers got their grubby hands on me. Back in the bad old days (2007?) there was just the Kel Tec and the expensive and fragile, if jewel-like Rorbaugh. Now thanks to the marketeers I have a plethora of choices.

  11. I disagree with your basic premise. Consumers are not seeking out small 9mm’s because of a fad or because manufacturers stimulated demand – they’re buying them because supply has FINALLY caught up with existing demand. The firearms industry is very conservative and moves very slowly.

    Based on what I’ve seen as an instructor, I believe concealed carry folks go through a progression – they start with a ‘major’ caliber for ‘real’ stopping power. (Seems like usually it’s whatever the gun magazines recommend as the cutting edge in the current edition) Typically a large 1911 or somesuch. They quickly realize that even with a great holster, carrying a full size 1911 is a real pain, and hey, they haven’t had four ninjas attack them yet anyway.

    Then, if they still carry concealed, the CCW holder starts the experimentation phase – small Glocks, alloy 1911’s, etc., finally ending up with the largest caliber they can comfortably carry. It used to be .25, then .32, now it’s .380 and 9mm.

    I believe the firearms industry is finally producing guns that regular people will carry every day. I think 9mm’s in the current compact variety are a really good choice for most folks with a ‘regular’ threat profile – lightweight, good stopping power with modern ammo. Personally, I’ve carried a Kahr PM9 for 4 or 5 years. It’s got a great trigger, is 100% reliable (after break-in), remarkably accurate for reasonable CCW distances, and disappears in a quality holster.

    If the first rule of gun fights is “have a gun” the second should be “in a size you’ll carry every day.”

  12. Great web site overall, but I have to disagree with on this one. Interesting that you mention recoil problems with a compact 9, but imply people should be fine with a compact .380. I have an LC9 and (at least for me) it is MUCH easier to shoot than the LCP. The 9 is more accurate, has much less recoil and does not sting my hand. The LC9 had not been “tough to shoot” for a day at the range in my experience. A couple hundred rounds in one outing is no problem at all, and no stinging hand afterward like with the compact .380s after a couple of magazines.
    My primary CCW is a standard size 9mm, so it made sense for my smaller gun to be a 9. As someone else mentioned – 9mm ammo is less expensive than .380, AND not having to stock two sizes was a big consideration. The LC9 is a perfect alternative for numerous days I need one smaller than full size. Every one I know that has a compact 9 bought it due to it best fitting a need, not because of any marketing.

  13. I was an early PF9 adopter. 90% of the time it is my carry gun. It is lighter and easier to conceal than my Glock 19 – hence easier and more comfortable to carry. The addition of a Houge Hand-all and a pinky-extension on the magazine make it more enjoyable to shoot.

    Is it the perfect answer? No, I would like a gun that carriers like a P32, has the capacity of a G17, the feel of a custom 1911, and the stopping power of a M1A… But, until the Gun Gods deliver my holy grail, I like my mini-9.

  14. This article is too clever by a half. Of course people want their baby-9s.

    Everyone likes 9mm. It’s cheap and the JHP rounds have plenty of punch. The single-stack 9’s can be as slim as 0.9 inches (Kahr, Kel-tec), and weigh less than 20 oz. There’s no compromise on paper.

    In reality, of course you’re right – the sting of the snappy 9mm in a light gun with a two-finger grip really discourages range practice. I’m willing to bet that most shooters have more recoil flinch with them as well. But most people don’t care, because they are only putting a few hundred rounds downrange each year. They’re not trying to hit the 10-ring at 15 yards. They just want to hit center-of-mass at 25 feet.

    Of course you’re going to be more accurate with a bigger gun/smaller caliber and more practice. But the causal gun owner (which is most of the market), just wants a gun that disappears in CC and shoots a “big-boy round” (9mm and up). The baby-9s fit that perfectly.

    As for myself, Kahr PM9 w/ custom pinky grip. Loaded up with standard-pressure 147gr Hydra-Shok. Slightly slower, heavier recoil, YMMV.

  15. A subcompact 9 offers real ballistics in a small, affordable package that’s easy and comfortqble to conceal, but the snappy recoil makes extensive pracice less than 100% enjoyable. These guns are not a good choice for a novice shooter, but then CCW is probably not a good choice for a truly novice shooter either.

    I’m very familiar with the faults of the subcompact 9, but for me it presents a very workable compromise of power, concealment, good sights and affrordable and common ammunition in a caliber I already stock and reload.

    The recoil is a lot more than my steel Makarov .380 used to give me, but I’m satisfied with what it gives me in return.

  16. I use either a Glock 26 or a Sig Sauer P238 for Conceal Carry. Most of the time my decision is influenced by dress and activity, summer and business casual tend to favor the P238, and I carry the G26 at other times.

    While I can competently shoot both platforms, I am definitely a far better shot with the .380, good enough that I would feel comfortable headhunting at 15 feet with the .380, but definitely keeping it center of mass with the 9mm (unless circumstances force me to do otherwise).

    • I was sooo close to getting the Sig P238 but ended up getting the Kahr CW9.

      I’ve heard the P238 was a sweet shooter and I’d still like to get one. You must be a fan.

  17. Today I will be qualifying with my new Ruger LC9 as an off duty / backup weapon. I have been carrying a Taurus 709 for that purpose for almost 2 years.

    For a variety of reasons, I need a highly concealable weapon, and carry in tuckable IWB holsters. Prior to the Taurus 709 I carried a PPK .380 clone for about 15 years, and I prefer the full power 9mm to the .380. In the Taurus 709 the Remington Golden Sabre is my preferred load; in the LC9 I like the Fiocci 9mm loaded with the Hornady XTJHP.

    I practice regularly with all of my carry weapons and I am very comfortable with the Taurus 709 and my new LC9. The LC9 has an edge over the Taurus 709 using the Ruger magazines with the finger rest. The Taurus 709 has the advantage of being stainless/polymer, an advantage in the oppressive heat, humidity, and corrosive atmosphere here on the Gulf coast. Just an FYI, the Hogue “Handall” mini grip sleeve with finger grooves (about $10) works wonders on the Taurus 709 (and 740) by greatly improving the hold on the pistol. It should work as well on the other mini-9’s (and .40’s) as well.

  18. If there is a market for J-frame revolvers (and it seems to be insatiable) then a mini-9 provides a suitable alternative for those benighted souls who imagine revolvers to be obsolete.

    The mini-9 seems to offer more than the .380: better sights and trigger (generally)and increased ammo selection being the most obvious advantages, while the difficulty of concealment increases only slightly. This seems like a good trade-off in favor of a single-stack, subcompact 9mm.

    I am already a confirmed pocket revolver man, but I find myself admiring this new breed of small pistols.

  19. the hogue hand-all i have on my mk3 22/45 has done wonders for my ability to grip my weapon. Best $15 bucks on a piece of rubber ever.

  20. These guns are actually easier to shoot and carry than a J frame. My brother’s wife just switched from a jframe to a PF9 as her everyday carry gun. And she actually lives and works in Detroit. She shot much better with it. And liked the 3 more available rounds. She also carries a CZ-75 compact when the weather is cooler and she can conceal it. That is in her purse. The Kel-Tec is in her pocket.

  21. I’m no fan of these very light 9’s. I want to enjoy shooting the guns I own. Single stack 9’s need proper heft and good grips. Of course, YMMV…

  22. I must be unusual as I don’t find the recoil of my CW9 objectional at all. A little on the snappy side but much easier to shoot than a 2 inch snubby shooting 38 +p rounds. Is it as comfortable as my CZ P01? No but it’s easier to conceal in warm weather and the type of clothes I wear.

    • This.

      My every day CCW is a a Kahr CW9, loaded with 147gr Ranger-T HP. Recoil is surprisingly mild, even with the hottest +P and +P+ ammunition (with which it is 100% reliable). Of course, I don’t think the recoil of the CW40 or CW45 are all that bad either, but I went with the CW9 because it holds an extra round in the mag and it’s a little thinner. It holds 7+1, and there is, with a pinky extension on the mags, just enough room to get all of my fingers just barely on the grip. It’s thinner than a Glock 19. It’s thinner than any revolver. What’s not to like? Well, the trigger is long and heavy for my tastes, and the reset is all the way up front, but other than that, I mean?

      Yes, there are people out there who can’t shoot this class of handgun well. I would suggest that perhaps those individuals aren’t putting in the range time that they need to and they don’t do much better with anything else. It’s a personal choice, after all–I carry because I understand that it just might happen some morning that I’ll have to fight for my life. Some people just want to stick a gun in a pocket or purse and forget about it. And they’re allowed–but let’s not pretend that the poor performance such individuals demonstrate on the range is the fault of the tool. What you get out of it is what you put into it.

  23. There was a time that .380 ammunition was almost impossible to obtain. It appears that supplies have increased. I have not really investigated .380 ballistics (I don’t own one), however I wonder how reliable .380 hollow points are (expansion-wise). Most .32’s HPs I’ve read about do not expand consistently, therefore I always carry FMJ (for penetration) whenever I carry my pocket pistol. If .380 is the same, then there is probably no significant benefit over the 32, and one would be about as good as the other. On the other hand, if a .380 can offer good penetration and consistent expansion, it could be a suitable carry option to the larger 9mm. The Golden Loki tests, for whatever they are worth, do not show much difference between the 32 and 380. These things are always problematic.

    • The last thing you want is for a .380 to expand. They have bad enough penetration as it is without hanmstringin them with an HP.

  24. As for the marketing aspect, that does play into it a bit I believe. Marketing also makes people pay more than they need to pay for something they could get for less. My best example is Certified Angus Beef. Marketing paid for by the Angus Association has people paying premium prices for meat that could be had for less. There are two basic requirements to be Certified Angus Beef, the animal has be be NLT 51% black and meet a minimum loin eye size. Thus most of what passes are Angus hybrids. If finished on the same diet beef is beef but people will pay $9.00 for a 8 oz CA ribeye when they could buy the same grade ribeye for $5.00/lb.

    All that said, I bought a KelTec PF9 because it fit what I needed. I wanted a 9mm that could be easily concealed and accessed in a kilt. I bought the belt clip from KelTec’s website and clip the PF9 to the inner apron of my kilt. The slight bulge is covered by my belt. It can be drawn one handed but is quicker if I use my weak hand to push up on the barrel first. As for the recoil, it doesn’t seem all that bad. I get good groups at 10 yds with it. My 70 year old mother, who has bad shoulders and has never fired a pistol in her life, did right well with it. She wasn’t able to hold a full size 9mm very well due to the weight. She was able to get the KelTec up high enough to use the sights and was able to shoot better than minute of felon at 10 yds.

  25. There are a lot of .380s that are blow-back. Very high recoil for the size and weight of the pistol. My Bulgarian Makarov has higher recoil than my Sig 225, and I bet they’re both about the same weight and I have heavy springs on my Mak! The modern recoil systems of 9mm are softer on the recoil. I’ll concede on the short grips aren’t good. I prefer all my fingers on the gun, but I want slim low weight single stack 9mm. Easier to belt carry when the ass end doesn’t weigh more than the front. At least for me.

  26. Okay, I’m going to be the voice of reason here. No, really.

    Magoo is right in that marketing is the manufacture of desire. Here’s where I part company with the theory that the subcompact nine is a creature of marketing: IMO, firearms marketing executives are so completely inept that an original thought in the head of any of them would die of loneliness. It’s a follow the leader market, so one new idea is followed by a hundred knockoffs. KelTec developes a mini-9, so every company has to have their own to sell. Taurus has a revolver that fires shotgun shells, so S&W has to have one. And don’t get me started on ARs and “anniversary” 1911s. In the end, the manufacturers are making the wrong guns, we’re buying them, and nobody is well served.

    • “Follow the Leader Market”.

      You have something here. It is often I feel that manufacturers aren’t addressing the consumer’s desires, and consumers are choosing the best of undifferentiatable sub-par choices. The plurality of choices gives an illusion of freedom, but how many truly “different” choices are there usually?

      I don’t want any shotgun pistols.

      • Illusion of freedom? The freedom is real, the need for so many choices may be an illusion. Regardless, I’d rather have all of these “undifferentiatable” sub-par choices than fewer choices.

        The more options the better; the probability for success is on our side when we have so many gun manufacturers getting creative. Some of the designs are dead-ends, but so what? Every now and then somebody develops a new, revolutionary concept in an industry and changes the world.

        (A lot of soldiers didn’t want give up their muskets for breach-loaded rifles in the 19th century; many soldiers didn’t want to give up their bolt action rifles for semi-auto’s in the early 20th century, and some cops didn’t want to give up their steel revolvers for plastic pistols the latter part of the 20th century.)

        I have lots of guns because I want to have lots of guns. It’s really that simple. Do I buy guns I don’t need? Yes. Do I buy guns that I regret buying? Yes. However, it’s my choice and no one else’s.

        Is “undifferentiatable” a new word? I couldn’t find it in Websters.

  27. I’ve really only ever craved one .380, the Beretta 84FS. It has more of a grip to it, like a baby M9, holds 12+1 as I recall, and could stand up better to some stout JHP rounds like Buffalo Bore +P’s. I have always felt the magic number was around 300 foot pounds of muzzle energy, and at an average of 288, this round broaches that neighborhood. It has the extra length and size for strength to stand up to hotter rounds than a subcompact. I think I just talked myself into it!

  28. I respectfully submit that if you try a Star M43 “Starfire” in 9mm you will learn just how shootable a single-column 9mm concealed-carry piece can be.

    It’s a heavy little thing, all steel, that absolutely requires a holster and can’t just be dropped into a pocket. But it points well and balances well, and if you can find a used one (well, Star’s no longer in business, more’s the pity–the one maker of firearms in Spain that WASN’T known for junk) that’s been well broken in, the trigger will be tolerable, though not great.

    Seriously. They’re available on Gunbroker. And with properly chosen ammunition (I like the 147gr Gold Dot and 147gr Ranger T-Series for pocket nines) they’ve got more punch and will destroy more tissue than any .380.

  29. I have no trouble shooting IDPA BUG matches with a Taurus 709 slim. Loaded with factory JHP (Federal 9BP). Some people can’t handle a full size steel 1911 in 45ACP. Most people can’t handle lightweight snubby revolvers. There are lots of inappropriate guns for some people. At least one that’s inappropriate for everyone, the Taurus Judge.

  30. I fail to see the logic of the pistol as a “nightstand gun.” The gun near my nightstand is a Mossberg 590.
    Just because people buy something doens’t mean that demand based on utility exists.

    • Unfortunately it’s hard to dial 911, hold a flashlight, grab the dog, and push the kids back into a safe area, all while hefting around a shotgun. It might work for you, but it’s not a solution for everyone

    • True. Some buy SUV’s because they need them, others because they just want one.

      I have both a Mossberg 500 and a Glock 22, (with night sights and light) next to my bed. Two options is better than one.

  31. My Kel-Tech PF 9 is my EDC. It drops into the pockets of almost all my pants and shorts in a DeSantis holster and to the best of my knowlege only my wife has ever noticed it. You are right about one thing, it’s no fun to practice with but I try to shoot 100 rounds a month. The new .380’s may be fine defensive rounds, but if I can pack my 9 mm this easily why not?

  32. Is it a good time to mention that my model 26 and 27 Glocks, 9mm and .40 S&W respectively, fit identically into my Desantis pocket holster-so I alternate them as I feel?

  33. I think the reason the pocket 9’s have become so popular is because .380 has become so expencive! I dumped 2 .380s for a 9mm because around here 9mm is about $10 a box and has been pretty steady, where .380 has gone up to $15-$20 a box and its a smaller, weaker round…STUPID! Im in the market for a 2nd 9mm cause it hasent gotten any better and I dont see it getting better.

    plus 10-15 years ago you could only get .32’s or 25’s in the .380 sized guns we have now. and todays 9mm’s are the size of .380’s 10-15 years ago. got to love inovation!
    Alough the next logical step for all this is pocket 40’s being they are normaly made off of the same frames as 9mm. now we are talkin a pocket cannon!

  34. Your smoking something dude! I upgraded from an LCP with Cor-bon DPX to a Kahr CM9 with Gold Dot 124gr +p. The CM9 fits in my pocket just fine. The sights, trigger and grip are much better. I feel much better with 124gr +P 9mm thank you.

  35. For a solution looking for a problem, the mini-nine’s have done quite well. Kel-Tec’s PF-9 was a great concept, and thank God the little company from Cocoa Florida (just down the road from me) took a risk and produced it. Now, all the larger gun manufacturers are catching up and producing their own versions of the PF-9.

    Kel-Tec doesn’t have the funds to create Procter & Gamble style marketing to trick or fool people into buying something they don’t need. Personally, I don’t trust a .380 with a 3″ barrel. The load is weak and the short barrel produces lower velocities that decrease penetration and expansion of self-defense loads.

    I’d rather have my slightly larger Kel-Tec 9mm loaded with 124 gr + P for protection than the .380 option. In my opinion, the .380 is a good choice for British spies and women.

  36. “No, I would not carry a mousegun as my primary weapon if I was a beat cop (or James Bond)”

    “Moreover, the Walther PPK (also in 7.65mm/.32ACP) pistol is famous as fictional secret agent James Bond’s signature gun in many of the films and novels. Ian Fleming’s choice of the Walther PPK directly influenced its popularity and its notoriety.”

  37. I own and carry a “sub-compact” handgun (Kahr P9) for the simple reason of comfort and concealment. I’t has plenty of power and shoots decent. Larger guns are just not comfortable to carry for long periods of time. I own a compact Glock, (model 32) and while it has more capacity and power, I’t feels like a shoebox full of bolts when carried, in any configuration. These small guns fill a important role in the world of CCW.

  38. I’m all for the 9mm small pistol wave. The increase in 9mm is an increase of of a new wave of gun buyers- buyers that actually need one.

    A lady, handicapped or old person actually buys one because they are the most likely to need one to kill someone. Not used as a 100 round bullseye recoil-free range toy that us grown able-bodied men want them to be. The small hidden guns along with the new conceal carry laws allow this group plus the socially polite to overcome perceived social stigma of carrying.

    I like the .380 size, but frankly, I think a .380 to a man is like my .40 is to a bear. Piece of mind, and the bear may die an hour after he kills me, but it may not prevent anything. I found a very large raccoon killing my chickens recently. It took 4 rounds with a 9mm at point blank before he stopped coming at me (face shot, then two body shots and still advancing, final head shot stopped it). Now I can’t imagine going down to a .380 for self defense against a person.

    • Your experience with the raccoon illustrates two things we don’t always keep in mind about handguns.

      Handguns are emergency, last-ditch tools. They aren’t very good at killing stuff. If you know you’re going to be in a fight, bring a long gun–and plenty of friends with long guns of their own.

      Lots of people have been killed with handguns, but it’s seldom a fast process. “Stopping power” exists but it’s a phenomenon associated with shotguns and centerfire rifles, not pistols. If you’d stopped shooting that raccoon after one shot, it would probably have bled to death eventually–but it might have killed the rest of your chickens, or even chewed on you a while first, and rabies shots are still no fun at all. 9mm is marginal, and nothing less powerful will do–and I count .38 Special snubbies, even with the hottest +P ammo, as a lot less powerful than 9mm, and .357 Magnum from a 2″ revolver barrel loses so much velocity that it only barely equals the 9mm. Nothing less powerful is adequate, not if you are contemplating fighting for your life with it.

      Pistol caliber cartridges are best utilized from a platform that holds more of them and throws more bullets downrange at once than any handgun–a submachinegun. Everyone knew this 75 years ago. And if that’s not what you’re carrying, then always be mindful that the pistol is a very limited tool, best employed for fighting your way back to your rifle.

  39. I’m gonna disagree with the article.
    I subscribe to the adage that one carries the largest caliber that fits their needs.
    If that is a 380 then great!
    If it’s that’s a 22lr, sure (not my preference) at least you’ve got a gun when otherwise you wouldn’t.
    My thoughts when purchasing a gun for CCW ranged between keltec 380’s up to glock 26’s and the pf9 fell right in the middle.
    It does things better than the glock (less printing from a thinner firearm, better condition one trigger especially if your putting it actually in a pocket holster) and things better than the 380 (better sights, easier to control and cheaper ammo).

    Yes, I said easier to control!
    I stand by that.
    The grip has more purchase on the 9 and when comparing recoil my hand registers such little difference.
    I and my wife have shot a keltec p32, ruger lcp and the keltec pf9 back to back in one range session and I wonder if someone recommending a 380 vs the 9mm has actually shot the 380???
    That recoil is snappy and would be very intimidating to a lot of shooters (as is the 9mm)!
    Now the p32 in 32acp is a different beast, very light and easier to gain acurate followups.
    Given the choice (at the range at least) of shooting the pf9 or the pocket 10 oz or less 380 my wife would choose the pf9 everytime, I’d put money on that.
    If she chooses to carry a pocket 380 from taurus, kel tec or ruger it will not be because it’s pleasant to shoot or the sights lend themselves to acurate shooting, but is easier for her to conceal (and even at that my bet is that she will pick the p32 in 32acp).

    I usually carry my pf9 in an kholster iwb holster at 3 oclock, something that would be much more noticable in a glock… the kel tec carries FLAT rather than having a big buldge. And in dress slacks the pf9 beats the glock or similiar pistol hands down.

    This article is silly and gives the author’s thoughts without backing them up realistically… here’s my thoughts, buy the gun YOU preceive to fit your needs after careful concideration and hopefully trigger time, if that’s a 380 then good on ya.

    IMO compared to the 9mm cartridge, the 380 sucks!

    • I like a nice flat, small, lightweight pistol, too. That’s why I carry a Springfield XDS 45.

      P.S. Kills racoons with one shot.

  40. I just recently purchased the Ruger LC9. I did so because I find it easier, not harder, to shoot than the LCP. I like the extended mag with the base pad so I can get my pinkie finger on it. The recoil is not bad. Sorry, but it’s no worse than the smaller/lighter 380s. The barrel does tip up, so accurate followup shots take practice. News flash: Every gun takes practice.

    These guns fill a void in the market. No, I will not carry it in my pocket. But I will carry it in an inside the waistband holster. I find compact & sub-compact 9mm’s to be too thick for comfortable inside the waistband carry. I don’t always want to carry my Glock 19 in a paddle holster. And I don’t feel comfortable with a tiny pocket gun that I can only get 2-1/2 fingers on.

    I would recommend to anyone that they buy guns that they are comfortable with and can afford. If you like a gun chambered in .32 ACP, carry it. If you like a 49 oz. 44 Mag strapped to your hip, by all means. I like the variety of options available on the market today. I strongly suggest manufactures continue to innovate and offer new designs if there are people to buy them.

  41. I have to agree with Jarod and Jesse’s reviews. As a woman who carries concealed, my daily weapon of choice is dictated by clothing and occasion. I had a Ruger LCP .380. Easy to conceal, not always easy to find reasonably priced ammo. I’m in the process of getting a mini 9mm. I have an SR9C, SR40 and a beretta px4. I’m looking for something that can slip in a pocket in a 9. Again, the weapon I carry on a daily basis is decided by where I’m going and what I’m wearing.

  42. Too much recoil in a Sig P290? I think evolution has produced a generation of people with sensitive hands. Based on so many posts talking about bad recoil in .380 and 9mm sub compact guns I have to assume that a lot of gun owners either do not know how to properly shoot to minimize recoil or were raised without participating in contact sports. A gun’s recoil is extremely mild compared to what you would experience in most sports. Heaven help America.

  43. Don’t need 9 pocket pistol cause .45 is better…. XDS in .45 that is! Lower velocity round equals manageable recoil impulse. 6″x6″ plates at 15 yds go down in rapid succession.

  44. I own the LCP & the LC9. I agree about the .380acp. A lot of the accepted “wisdom” about calibers is way out of date. Modern ammo is highly engineered and the .380 is not what it was in the middle of the last century. And your point about civilian confrontations is on the mark (pun!). These are great little carry pistols. Ideal for women or for guys dressing light in the summer. I carry my LCP in my front pocket and forget about it.

    The LC9 really is just a bit too big for my pocket. The heel especially wants to snag. I don’t find it tough to shoot at all. I have about 1000 rounds through my LCP & LC9. I’m a strong believer in training seriously with *any* weapon I intend to carry. I don’t buy this idea of firing one box of ammo and then hoping that you are skillful enough in a real “situation”.

    These guns are not easy to shoot well, they have long triggers, short sights, snappy recoil and are stiff to rack ( a problem for a lot of women and older folks with arthritis). They need a lot of practice to be sure that you aren’t going to crank a shot way off target in a fight. That said, with practice and the right grip, all these guns are quite shootable.

    I’d prefer 9mm but I am quite happy with .380. It’s very important to have a gun that is comfortable to carry and enjoyable to shoot. That way you are likely to be carrying it when you need it and you are more likely to practice with something you enjoy shooting. The .44mag that you left at home because it’s a drag to haul around and hardly shot because it hurts won’t do you any good.

  45. who ever wrote this article does not know about guns as much as he thinks. The Millennium G2 9mm Polymer Grip Sub Compact Taurus proves everything said in this article wrong

  46. But the sandwich will be a delicious one… you can appear forward
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  47. 9mm is the minimal round for anyone who carries a handgun. Having carried for 43 years, I am 66. No one should have recoil problems with a 9, if they do, then the 380 is probably worse, because it is an overloaded round like the 40 or 357 sig. A 45 is softer shooting than a 40. At 66 I can fire my 3 9mm guns all day without any problems with pain, and I am disabled with back and arthritic problems.
    If you are having that much of a problem, you shouldn’t be carrying anything.
    A 9 Is almost 3x mor powerful than a 380. with less recoil, How do I know, I carried a PPK’s for 21 years, That’s because in 1972 there were no small 9mm guns otherwise we all would have had one.
    It was either a 38 or a 380. When you learn on a snub nose 38, everything else is mild.
    It’s a gun, people , it makes noise and recoils.

  48. What are the qualifications for submitting articles on this website? 9/10 times I read an article on this website, I am sorely disappointed. Most seem like a well-unplanned rant. I read one about 1911’s that seemed like it was written with an intent that was little more than trying to upset people. These guns are intended as deep concealment. The fact that they do offer them in 9mm platform is a plus. I dunno about you guys, but I don’t wish to be shot with any gun. As for the recoil management, if you can’t handle it, practice more or get a new gun. If Hickok45 can shoot all these guns well, then I need to man up and practice more.

  49. Wow, lots of good discussion here… Weird, I thought I was on the Internet?

    The guns that confuse me most, which I see entering this arena, are the ones that offer the opposite of what we already have. The Glock 42 is the most facepalm I’ve ever seen… Glock, in general, simply is not a concealed carry shape. It’s a total pain unless you consider off-body carry. Period. Even the biggest Glock fanboy can’t pretend otherwise. It’s not about fashion sense. The gun is clunky and square and that just doesn’t conceal well, or draw from said concealment well.

    Even with my Taurus Slim 9mm and .40, which are both better than the Glock 42 in every conceivable way, I almost always carry my PT738 instead. When I misplace my PT738, I often find myself not carrying at all because even a gun the size of the Glock 42 or Taurus Slim .40 is a pain in an anti-OC, printing-is-a-felony state…

    The gun you actually take with you is the gun that is best… No, my PT378 isn’t a range gun, either. But the trigger guard doesn’t snap my finger like the Kel Tec or the Ruger or the S&W… It’s the closest thing to a pocket gun with which I’d put in range time. And, it’s incredibly reliable. Even with a year’s worth of pocket lint and grit, it empties the mag with no problem.

    Yeah, I’d much rather be carrying my 1911. But until Floriduh gets OC (fat chance!) or I move to a more civilized State, my go-to EDC gun is my PT738. Tho they may look very similar, there are tiny little differences in these pocket guns that make a huge difference in your hand. The swell and divots of the PT738 make it very easy to hang onto. Even if all my fingers were cut off and my thumb was cut off at the first knuckle, I could grip it soundly. I can even do this with the larger PT709 and PT740. Couldn’t pull the trigger too well… But you get the point. Try them all before you write them off.

    I’d rather have 7rds of .380 in my pocket than a mag full of .40 or 9mm in a drawer at home… In Floriduh, you just plain can’t conceal a gun larger than a P3AT without printing. Unless you’re morbidly obese, you’re only kidding yourself about not printing. People can tell…

    • Not a Glock fanboy Dustin, Im a Smith 357 fanboy, but I carry a Glock every day. Some days its a 42 in a Blackpoint IWB holster, some days its the 42 in a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster, some days its a 29 in a Galco IWB holster, but until my Milt Sparks PMK comes in for my 2 1/2 inch barrel 686+, its a Glock everytime, everyday. They draw from their holsters quite well thank you and once you get used to them they aren’t what I would consider “clunky,” ok…. maybe the 29 is but still, its not bad and they conceal just fine. I carry the 42 in the pocket of my scrubs for Christ sake. If you’d much rather be carrying your 1911, then carry it, I carried a 4 inch N frame 44 mag for several months without too much issue, tucked even. I will admit though that I have the convenience of living in a state where printing isn’t a big deal. I do print, not with the 42, and not too bad with the 29, but it was WAY bad with the N frame.

  50. My shooting buddy and I both have LC9s and find them very comfortable to shoot. Small guns are definitely tougher to handle and a lot of people are not going to like the LC9 but the same is true of Airweight J frames. My LC9 is definitely easier to handle than the J Frame and almost as concealable. There’s a lot of people who get sucked into buying a small gun because it looks cute and and less intimidating – then they get to the range and find it’s a bear to hold onto. That’s a mistake but there’s plenty of us who are quite happy shooting these little guns and are glad to have 9mm in a very concealable package.

  51. I disagree with the article. I went through the progression some others have in my CCW evolution. From Bersa .380 to Glock 19 to Glock 26 finally to the LC9s. The LC9s is not harder to shoot accurately than any of the others, recoil is not an issue, and I feel the the trigger is better than the Glocks. It is also easier to carry than the Glocks, lighter and thinner, so it goes with me everywhere IWB and doesn’t feel like a brick on my hip. So far, the little single stack 9mm meets every requirement I can think of for my situation. But then, I don’t live near a big city urban combat zone, either.

  52. The author missed the mark here. Marketing works or nobody would try that new burger a JackNyourcrack. Times have changed. I had an LC9, sold it. It shot OK but was no match for my old Makorov and I’ll take the 5 rounds of 357 in my LCR any day. Shoot what your accurate with, rounds on target trump all else. I just got an ultra star 9mm and while I’ve never been a fan of 9 I like the gun. Its comfortable to hold and not hard to con seal.

  53. I shot the new pocket Sig 9 a couple of weeks ago, and I got a blood blister on my pinky finger where the mag was, holding onto it during semirapid fire. Not terrible, but not worth making a jump from .380 in the same size, or .38 in a snub nose. The Sig is full metal too, so I can imagine what its like to shoot a micro polymer 9mm.

    • the sig 938 with hogue finger grips and extended mag might make long range sessions more comfortable; did for me, and that surely means it will for you !! actually, had standard grip and hogue grip sessions of about 100rds each (2boxes 124gr). don’t like the looks of the pistol with hogue grips, but sure did notice the comfort level went up noticably. gotta practice some more concealed carrying with the hogue grips, because the draw stroke and safety snap are kinda odd compared to the standard grip. anyway, i do recommend the hogue combination to friends looking for a very concealable 9mm.

      on the other hand, have been taking a shine to the baby luger (p-08 derivative) for carry…just because the luger is so cool to shoot.

  54. There maybe more of a market since concealed carry is getting more normalized. I didn’t start looking at small guns in California, until after Peruta and intended to get my concealed carry permit. Without the permit there are very limited legal ways (that also require that you prove you had a reasonable belief that your life was in danger) to even consider carrying concealed.

  55. Marketing works (otherwise why would manufacturers waste their money on it) but that doesn’t mean that marketing is the *only* factor. There are plenty of products that get promoted and go nowhere. Marketing works best where there is a real desire for the product. I don’t believe I was unduly influenced by Ruger’s advertising when I bought my LC9. In fact I hardly read any of their blurbs other than the plain specs. I bought this gun because it fits my personal carry requirements and it’s a lot of fun to shoot. Eric got that part completely wrong.

  56. this article reminds me of my daddy’s old saying, “opinions are like assholes, everybody has one”
    a lot of gun people strive for years to find that “perfect” gun. that’s why so many of us have 10 or more. same story with holsters. and when I do find that “perfect gun”, it changes its personality within a short time, and the search resumes. basically, I love guns, and this is the excuse for trying another. and another. and another.
    America land of the free,

  57. I’d rather have a pocket 9 than a pocket .380. Not because I think .380 is an inadequate round, but because the ballistics of 9 and .380 are pretty similar in the barrel lengths of pocket guns, but 9 is much cheaper then .380. If a box of 9 can be bought for $10-$15, and a box of .380 is around $25-$30, the person who owns the pocket 9 is going to go out and shoot their gun a lot more then the person who owns the pocket .380.

  58. After 45 years as one kind of LEO or another I suppose I’ve become fairly ambivalent concerning new hand guns, new calibers, holsters, etc., and I agree with the gentleman that said he was raised with the very American that 9mm was a kids gun. However, once in uniform and required by San Diego to carry a .38 special (especially when I knew other officers who staked their lives on the weapon and had it fail them) I eventually whittled my weapons to just two a S&W model 19 and a model 29, both premiere weapons of their day.
    Having said that I eventually came to the conclusion that ANY gun was better that none and second if you had a gun that fit you and fit where you were going and what you were doing, you had the right weapon–I’ve had occasions where the only gun I could use was a .25 cal Beretta and I have seen fights were a determined officer with a .25 (off duty) beat a bad guy with the usual gang banger 9mm.
    So saying, have a reliable weapon and know how to use it. Period.

  59. This article is rediculous.
    Not everybody wants to carry around a thick, heavy, double stack mag handgun. Most would just leave it home due to discomfort. Pocket 9’s and .380’s make perfect sense. Buy a good one and you’ll be able to shoot it just fine. Kahr CW380, Kahr CM9, Glock 42 and 43….

  60. A person’s approach to concealed carry is an evolutionary thing, which evolves with the person’s experience 1st and research 2nd. Should it be any other way?

    When I was shopping for my first CC weapon, I had narrowed it down to either a CZ82, the highest capcity 9×18 pistol bar none except for a few SMG’s…or a good ol’ Ruger SP101 .357. I also was considering a .44spl Charter Arms Bulldog, and had been looking at the Bersa Thunder series, particularly the. 45.

    So I went down to my local LGS one day to see what I could find. They had both s CZ82 and a Bulldog. The salesman immediately poo-pooed my interest in the CZ82, and basically called the 9×18 round a pussy round. I was like, “Ok, well… ” and then proceeded to check out a late-model Bulldog. This met his approval, and I think he was really honest about his opinion, and wasnt just trying to get me to consider something pricier than a cheap, surplus combloc pistol. So I hopped on my smart phone and started reading about the late model Bulldogs. QA was supposedly kindnof spotty on them, so I dejectedly left the shop empty handed.

    A couple days later I was shopping on Gunbroker and after bidding on a SP101 I found a Bersa Thunder UC45 for a good price. I had the winning bid and a week later it was in my hand. So it became my first CCW.

    At the range I found the little 45 had a pretty good kick, but I knew in a SD confrontation at normal confrontation distances I probably wouldnt even notice. But my new 45 was also a fat and bulky little gun, and needed to be dressed around carefully so I didnt print. After a 100 rounds or so I’d also find myself with a little blood on the web of my hand where the thing was biting me. And to boot, the following summer I found that my Bersa also was pretty lousy for concealed carry with shorts and tshirts. Using the right belt and shirt combinations it worked, but I was gradually getting tired of the working around the little glitches. So later that year I bought a KelTec P11 with a belt clip. Itworked great for carry. But after awhile it became obvious that the gun had a horrible finish and there any moisture or friction at all was rapidly degrading it further and further. It also wasnt very accurate because of the heavy DAO trigger.

    Back to plan A: I began researching all the nice little 9×18 Makarov type pistols I could, beyond just the CZ82 ( which was pretty much the same weight as my Bersa 45). I found a cute little all-steel Polish P83 for $215 and bought it. It ended up being an EXCELLENT cc gun. It was tough as nails, inconspicuous, was more powerful than a 380, and even the 8shot magazines were so small I could carry 3 extras in my pocket with nary a problem. It was also very ergonomic, and ammo was super cheap. I am actually wearing a Bulgarian Makarov in the same caliber in a shoulder holster as I write this. I really love the Maks… even though there is only one “real” Mak. I like having little steel 9×18 pistols around even so I can just pass them out to family members should the need arise. i believe they are the best bang for the buck out there. For those that dont know, the 9×18 round is about 10% or so more powerful than 380, and the heavy +p defense rounds approach the power level of weaker 9×19 rounds.

    Often when I travel, I carry a 9×18 pistol with me, and have a 357 in a bag. Since I often go to or through rural areas, I usially bring a Dan Wesson 357 along for animal threats should the need arise. I would not trust a 9×18 nor a 9×19 gun for protection against bears.

    With all that finally said, on most days I carry neither a Makarov nor a 357, but a “lowly” S&W 9mm Shield. Apparently the author does not approve, but I settled on a Shield for most of my carry needs for several needs. 1. I love the ergonomics. It just feels better to me than just about any handgun, except the Maks. 2. It takes very cheap ammo available anywhere. 3. Installed a belt clip so I never need a holster and its even lighter than a Makarov. 4. Its almost as accurate as a Makarov….and Maks are very accurate. My Polish variation is the only gun I own which I can draw from the hip and consistently hit a Target the size of a human head within 20 feet. 5. The 9×19 bullets used by my Shield are considerably more powerful than 9×18, so Im much more confident that if someone is wearing thick clothing, can penetrate it and still get 10 to 12 inches of penetration on the attacker as per FBI standards. To me the Shield and other light part-polymer Single stack 9×19 handguns are a no-brainer. In the past 10 years or so theyve come a long way and before that Id probably want want either a Makarov or a 38/357snubby for every day carry. Ive made some odd turns in my quest for a “perfect” CC weapon, and I’m sure there isnt one…. but with magazines costing sometimes less than $20, and virutally no mechanical issues whatsoever, the Smith & Wesson Shield comes just about as close to perfect as you can get in my humble opinion.

    The author can beg to differ all he wants.

  61. LOL, came across this article and have to say it is total BS. I have owned the single stack 9mm LC9 and now the LC9S since they came out. This single stack 9mm are far from HARD to shoot. What a Joke. The LC9s is on the mild side and I can fill a 8″ target from the draw at 15 and 20 yds all day long. I have shot many other single stack 9mm and the are all on the easy side to shoot. This guy must be very weak if these guns are difficult for him. Man, I see so many of these stupid internet articles now. And they label it “The Truth”. Far from it.


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