One of the oldest and most concealable ways to carry a handgun is to use a bellyband, a close-fitting elastic band that hugs the body and includes one or more holster pockets. This type of concealment could be called "deep carry," since the pistol is located in a place where it's not expected. But to work as a deep-carry gun in a bellyband, the gun needs to be flat and light weight.
We recently tested three pistols we believe are suitable for this type of concealed carry: the Kahr TP9, $676; Kel-Tec's P11, $368; and the Smith & Wesson 908S, $603. In this specialized test, we compared the guns on reliability and other factors in our normal tests, but we particularly examined their lack of edges, assessed their speed of deployment from deep cover, and looked at their operation when only one hand was available. Here's what we found:
Kahr's product was by "fahr" a better carry gun than Rohrbaugh's R9s, in our estimation.
Glock's new $640 Model 37 excels with a brand-new round. Smith & Wesson's titanium $812 4040PD opens new doors, but the $550 FN P9 comes up short.
Taurus's new Model 24/7, $594, is a pretty good polymer pistol, but the pricey $830 Sigarms P226 shoots better. In comparison, the $450 FN 49 RSS is appealing on price, but it's average fare.
But we would advise you to leave the Mak P-64 9x18 alone. Though it looked new, we found substantial workmanship and function problems in our sample.
In this test we had a chance to shoot two 9mm pistols that take aim at Glock's throne as the most popular polymer pistol. They are the Taurus PT 111 Millennium Pro and the Smith & Wesson SW99 Compact. Actually, we would classify both of these pistols as subcompact due to their overall dimensions, despite the suffix that follows the SW99's name. However, both of these pistols do offer 10+1 capacity and, like the Glock, striker-fired operation. The Millennium Pro is made in Brazil and imported by Taurus. The SW99 is a design that was developed by Walther of Germany and is now a product of a joint operation with Smith & Wesson.
Each pistol tries to one-up the Glock design, and each other, by offering additional safety systems unique to the current slate of available polymer handguns. It didn't take long to find out if either Taurus or Smith & Wesson had come up with a better mousetrap.
We determine the strengths and weaknesses of Kahr's $600 P9, Springfield's latest XD, $490, and the $640 Glock Model 26.
The 9mm continues to be one of the country's favorite guns, if recent manufacturing data are to be believed. According to the BATF's Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report for 2001, 626,836 pistols were produced (the latest year for which figures are available). Of that sum, 213,378 were in calibers above .380 to 9mm. That's almost 30,000 more for the next-largest caliber segment, guns above 9mm to .50 caliber.
For less than $100, you can change out barrels in the .30 Tokarev pistol and shoot cheaper 9mm ammo. Also, Savage's Model 12VSS sets a new standard for .308 rifles.
We think Ruger's $453 "K" gun takes the P-series pistol another step forward, but HK's $699 USP and Springfield Armory's new $489 XD pistol offer more successful combinations of features.
Surplus pistols occupy a niche in the marketplace that is surprisingly large and varied. Buyers who want a low-priced plinking gun will often consider buying $200 to $300 sidearms because they (a) might not have much money to spend, or (b), they might be interested in some historical aspect of a particular gun, which they nonetheless still want to shoot for fun. But there are pitfalls in finding one that works well enough to keep and further, to enjoy shooting.
We found even the most dynamic duos from Taurus and Smith & Wesson have trouble keeping up with Glock's full-sized GL17 and the Model 26 pocket cannon.