September 2006

Subcompact Power: .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG Guns

The .357 SIG Glock 33 was an accurate powerhouse, and Springfield’s Ultra Compact .45 ACP handled the best. But S&W’s .40 S&W S990L had trouble feeding hollowpoints.

Recently we received a letter from a subscriber who asked us to compare a small .45 ACP 1911 pistol to some of today’s more popular options in the category of subcompact pistols. Keynotes of comparison were action design, similar size, and similar stopping power. Also, our reader wanted us to compare the speed and integrity of fundamental controls other than the trigger. A concealed-carry gun may never be reloaded during a confrontation, but you wouldn’t want to drop the magazine by accident or fumble releasing the slide.

Your competition or hunting gun may be the love of your life but a powerful subcompact pistol is the one you are likely to spend the most time with. In this test we’ll get up close and personal with three pistols small enough to blend in with your lifestyle and powerful enough to preserve it. The Springfield Armory Ultra Compact 1911A1 PX9161L, $952, represents the traditional .45 ACP single-action single-stack pistol. The Glock polymer pistol is another very popular option. The Glock 33 No. PI3350201, $599, is chambered for .357 SIG, which offers .357 Magnum power in a controllable high-capacity platform. Smith & Wesson’s SW990L in .40 S&W is also a polymer pistol with a double-column magazine, but distinguishes itself from the Glock pistol by utilizing a Walther design. Our SW990L No. 120233, $729, like the others, employed approximately a 3.5-inch barrel, and all three were specifically designed for concealed carry.

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