Over the past two years, Gun Tests Magazine has reviewed more than 25 concealable pistols chambered in 9mm Luger. Of these compact and subcompact handguns, a few have gotten “Best Buy” or “Our Pick” recommendations. Here are our top five 9mm handguns that our experienced testers believe you’ll like if you want to buy a handgun of this type.
As always, Gun Tests Magazine is supported by reader subscriptions only, so you can depend on these recommendations being free of monetization considerations on our posts or videos or social media traffic, and we don’t accept display advertising in the magazine. The sole basis for these recommendations is how the pistols worked during our testing with various shooters and various ammunition. If you’re in the market for a smaller 9mm handgun, here’s how we’d spend our money:
Named a Best Buy in this issue, the Taurus G3X 1-G3XSR9031 is a recent introduction based on a proven template. The G3X is accurate — surprisingly so — and reliable. There is a wide range of support in magazines and holsters, and the lifetime warranty is attractive. The full review of this gun is for subscribers only.
This pistol was Our Pick in this match up of four 9mm pistols. The SAR 9cx was the heaviest pistol in the group and had the least recoil. That’s the way it generally works. Among other things, the good recoil mitigation helped make the SAR the fastest in our speed trials, by a couple of tenths of a second. It was also the most accurate in this test, averaging under 2.25 inches per five-shot group.
The Ruger MAX-9 was the largest pistol but only slightly larger than the Shield, not enough to matter in an inside the waistband holster. The Ruger and the Shield have similar performance. The Ruger was the most accurate pistol tested but barely shaded the Shield and not with every load. The Ruger features a tritium/fiber optic front sight and is optics ready while the Shield is not, making the Ruger the better buy by a considerable margin considering Ruger’s standard features. Various Shield Plus Performance Center pistols with fiber-optic sights and an optics ready slide, which we have not tested, will cost about $300 more than the version tested. The Ruger is the price beater and the overall best performer. The Ruger would be Our Pick if price were no object.
The K9 is an excellent option for conceal carry. It is compact, thin, safe, and has an exceptionally smooth trigger. We would not hesitate to purchase this pistol. While some may complain about the single-stack magazine, we think 7+1 rounds are plenty. Our only complaint was its lack of forward slide serrations.
Small enough to fit in a pocket and carrying 10+1 rounds of 9mm, a small pistol such as the P365 does a lot right for comfortable concealed carry. Does a little 9mm snap in your hand a bit when fired? Of course. But felt recoil is less than small 38s.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 12436 9mm Luger, $499. July 2022. Grade A, Our Pick.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus 13246 9mm Luger, $553. September 2021. Grade A
Mossberg MC2C 89031 9mm Luger, $380. September 2022. Grade B+, Best Buy.
Springfield Armory Hellcat HC9319BOSP 9mm Luger, $550. March 2020. Grade A, Our Pick.
Walther PPS M2 2805961 9mm Luger, $649. March 2020. Grade A, Best Buy.
Kimber Micro 9 Desert Tan (LG) 3300168 9mm Luger, $659. October 2017. Grade A.
SIG Sauer P938 Emperor Scorpion 9mm Luger, $639. October 2017. Grade A.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield 180021 9mm Luger, $394. September 2017. Grade A, Best Buy
Note: All prices reflect actual retail purchase prices at the time of testing. Prices will likely have changed. Older pistols may still be available as NIB products or as used handguns.
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