January 2005

9mm Pistols for Deep Carry: Kahr, S&W, Kel-Tec Shoot It Out

We like the Kahr TP9 for its smooth DA trigger and small profile, but we think the Smith & Wesson 908S is more versatile. Kel-Tecís P11 is best considered as a high-capacity belly gun.

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:

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