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?