Concealable 9mm Lineup

Pocket 9mm pistols dominate the sales reports as of late. Small guns that nearly equal the size of older .380 pistols but have the power of a 9mm seem to be a nice solution for the concealed carry crowd. These guns are big enough to kill, but small enough to conceal. So which one should you settle on? Like most things, you get what you pay for. However, if you are lucky—you may get more than you bargained for.


They say that an inexpensive gun is better than no gun. I’d have to agree. While I don’t recommend compromising your safety to save a few bucks, it is a simple fact that not everyone wants to spend a ton of money on a high-end handgun. As an example, the SCCY CPX-2 is one of our top sellers this year. The CPX-2 is small, lightweight and fits snugly in your pocket. It resembles a Kel-Tec P-11 when you glance at it from a distance. The controls on the CPX-2 are better than the old CPX-1. They ditched the manual safety, and they included a slide stop. The magazine button does stick out quite a bit, but it didn’t get caught on anything during testing. Holding and maneuvering the pistol was a breeze, and it felt good in my hand. I have to be honest though, that double action trigger is long, heavy, and unpleasant. It feels like your pulling a sled across a rock pile. When firing, recoil was rough—really rough. Although I never felt like it was going to fly out of my hand, follow-up shots were not that great due to the recoil. If you shoot it enough, you will have to push the rear frame pin back in as it tends to slowly work itself out when the gun cycles. I had to do something similar with the Diamondback DB9, so this was not a big deal. Even though this is not a feature I like in a handgun, given that it is for defensive purposes, I’m not going to be cycling hundreds of rounds in the same day. That’s what my M&P is for. On the plus side, accuracy was good and it shot to point of aim. I experienced no feeding or ejecting issues in 100 rounds of ARMSCOR USA 124 grain ammunition. I did experience one misfire. After the second pull, the round fired instantly. I’m not sure if it was the firing pin or a weak primer in the ammo, although this type of ammunition typically gives few problems. For the price, I would consider this gun a decent buy. The improved ergonomics makes carrying the CPX-2 a good option if you don’t mind that trigger pull.

Kel-Tec P-11

It seems like just yesterday the Kel-Tec P-11 went on the market as the smallest 9mm available. Truthfully, it’s been around for over 17 years. Time flies when you’re a reliable, accurate, durable 9mm that once was over a decade ahead of the buyer’s curve. I’ve owned one of these little pistols for six years and have never had any major issues with it. It is easy to conceal, shoots straight, feels comfortable, and holds 10+1 rounds or 9mm. If I had to complain about something, it would be the trigger. The darn thing is really heavy and long. I realize that a pocket pistol is supposed to have a long trigger, but that doesn’t make shooting it any easier. The trigger has a full length reset and the recoil, although sharp and heavy, is manageable. I would have to say that the P-11 is still fun to shoot, despite having a trigger pull as long as my arm. With a little practice, accuracy is excellent considering it is not a match grade gun. The magazines are all steel and it weighs 14 ounces unloaded. This is an excellent pocket gun I would recommend from personal experience.

Kahr CM9

Kahr made a name for themselves in the pocket 9mm market since their start in 1995. Justin Moon, the founder and CEO of Kahr Arms, was not happy with the quality of concealed carry guns available on the market at the time. By his junior year of college, he constructed one himself. I purchased a CM9 from Kahr a year ago and haven’t looked back. I rarely if ever have any issues with that gun and I would bet my life on it. For the past year, it has been my daily carry. It is small, lightweight, and fits nicely in my pocket. I’ve fired all kinds of ammunition through it, including +P, and haven’t had a problem. The CM9 is actually a budget-friendly version of the PM9. The CM9 is identical to its much more expensive cousin except that Kahr omitted the match grade barrel with polygonal rifling and went with a standard rifling pattern. They used a metal injection molded slide stop instead of a machined part. Instead of a roll-marked frame, Kahr chose a simple engraving to label the gun. It doesn’t look as pretty, but I don’t really care. The front sight on the CM9 is fixed, instead of dovetailed, a feature that I do wish the CM9 had. The trigger is long, but very smooth. Kahr is famous for their smooth double action triggers, and it is not hard to see why. The only issue I have with the gun is without the aftermarket 7-round magazine, the handle is noticeably short. This is great for concealment, but bad for guys with big hands. It takes a considerable amount of practice to become proficient with that grip. I’m sure I could have fixed it with a bit of custom stippling, but I can still hit my targets with confidence. The CM9’s price point puts it in the middle of the road for concealed carry pistols. If you are willing to pony up just under $400 bucks for a pocket pistol, you could do much worse than a Kahr.

Colt New Agent

A little higher up the dollar ladder sits the Colt New Agent. The trend in the past has been to upsize a .380 design to fit a 9mm cartridge. This gun is the reverse. The new agent is a concealed carry 9mm version of the legendary Colt 1911. The price point is high, but so is the performance. In the world of concealable pistols that pack a full size punch, the Colt New Agent is king. The three-inch, stainless steel bushing-less barrel along with a lowered and flared ejection port provide for excellent accuracy and outstanding reliability. Designed for a snag free draw, Colt fitted the carbon steel slide with a unique trench style sight. It takes some getting used to, but it works great with a little practice. When firing, the perceived recoil seemed more pronounced than what I am accustomed to with 1911s, but it was manageable. The colt handles +P ammo with no problems and the single action trigger is very comfortable. The rosewood grips look amazing, the familiar sight of the 1918-style safety lock, and grip safety reminds you that you are holding a 1911. If you want to carry a 1911 around, this would be a good option. Colt is a legend, and this pistol lives up to their reputation.

Sig P239

I have to confess. I think the Sig P239 is an ugly gun. I just don’t like the lines. Does it matter? No, of course not. Guns are tools and whether or not a gun is visually appealing scores few points in my book. In fact, the Sig P239 is an outstanding firearm, so please don’t fill my inbox with hate mail. Sig developed this gun in response to demands from law enforcement and federal agents for a compact back-up pistol ideal for off duty concealed carry. The slim profile of this single-stack pistol provides easy concealment without sacrificing handling, which makes this gun extremely comfortable in the hands. The excellent handling characteristics of the P239 are the result of engineering Sig calls performance engineering and it’s one of the keys to all SIG Sauer pistols. The grip gives you plenty of room and it feels almost like you are holding a duty pistol. It weighs in 1.57 pounds, so you know you’re carrying an all metal pistol. One feature that I have to say I didn’t expect, was the accuracy. This gun shoots straight, really straight. I was hitting record groups at 15 yards with no trouble, and the trigger had an amazing reset. I thought the tight tolerances SIG Sauer is famous for would make the gun fussy on ammunition, but the little heater ate everything I fed it, including some cheap Tul-Ammo. Even though I chuckle to myself every time I pick one up, I remind myself that given its performance, it is among the finest concealed carry pistols ever engineered.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (36)

  1. I agree with the Kahr CM9! Initially I didn’t want anything to do with it. Even bought an officers 45, used a friends glock 27, but both of these were just a little too big.

    I had carried an AMT back up 380 for years, ever since it came out, have the single action one. Looked back at that and realized I had always wanted that size in a 9mm.

    Where I live an habitats, there can be no printing at all. That had me check out all the mini 9’s again, and the logical choice was the CM9. I bought it, and love it. The little gun is awesome, shoots great, and can conceal anywhere with no printing. Perfect for pocket carry.

    Try one of these, you won’t be disappointed.

  2. I have a Keltec P11 which is a great carry ccw, but one factor that must be considered is if the gun is dropped, will it remain safe? On one occasion, the P-11 in a Fobus hoster slipped off my belt and fell onto a concrete floor and landed straight onto the muzzle. The gun fired, and blew the Fobus completely to pieces and shrapnel flew all over the place. Fortunately, I was completely unharmed, but I do not carry it with one in the pipe anymore, which makes a safety more competitive. I do know that the Glock has a firing pin block that is engaged until you pull the trigger. I do not know if the firing pin block is designed into all of the other mini 9’s, but if you have one, remember that the potential exists to make it no safer than the old Colt single action .45, and even with that, the fall had to break the safety notch.

  3. No M+P Shield or LC9? just picked up the shield, same size and footprint as LC9 but doesnt have the rounded cornering. Very nice shooter and awesome trigger. Nice big bright sights too on the shield. For an extra $100-125 of trigger work an LC9 can be made into a nice shooter too, you just void its warrantee. Shield is good to go right out of the box and comes with 2 mags. Thats worth $20-30 right there

  4. @MilitaryDad
    the Taurus 7XX aren’t DAO. They’re striker-fired like a glock, with the addition of a DAO second-strike capability. It has a lllooonnngg take-up before a slightly stacky but not-obnoxious break. Feels like mine lets off at like 4.5 lbs, though I think it’s had some work done before I bought it.

  5. Ruger LC9 love it removed plastic guiderod installed Galloway stainless,& RTK Holsters short travel trigger ,HOGUE grip sleeve its a keeper….

  6. What happened to the Ruger LC9? It is a great concealable 9mm and accurate. I’m very surprised it didn’t make this list.

  7. You left out the Ruger LC9!? I can agree on some of the other ones you picked, but to leave out the LC9, I hope it was just an oversight!

  8. What, the Ruger LC9 doesn’t even make the list! Come on, I know it’s a bit pricey but seriously, Strum Ruger makes fine fire arms.

  9. I have several handguns and have the luxury of trying a lot of different makes and models. Because of some experiences a few years back I no longer carry 9mm but have switched almost entirely to .40 except for a ppk-s in 380 (pocket gun). I seem to always gravite back to Glocks. They are hard to beat! I carry a model 27 because it is small, powerful, reliable and reasonably accurate. The model 26 stays in the safe. Bedside I have the model 22 Glock with a rail light. The ppk- s is ligkt and easily concealed in a suit or casual wear. All 3 of these guns are easily concealed, except the model 22 in summer, corrosion resistantand mostof all I can hit what I am shooting at. Too many friends have had to use the standard Army sidearm with the crappy fmj military ammo and take 5 or more rounds to bring down an adversary. They all want .40 or .45 sidearms.

  10. Don’t discount the old fashioned stand by–38+p/.357 SW J frame. I prefer my SW 340pd w/laser grips to most mini-9mm auto pistols. 5 accurate, stress free 100% (nearly) reliable rounds of .357 hornady cd or glaser powerball. I own and shoot keltecs/glocks etc. and love them but in a high stress situation you do not get any more simple than a j frame. Less critical moving parts, no magazine issues etc. Hot .357 rounds hurt like hell from a 10 ounce pistol but it is accurate to ~7 yds and recoil is the least of your worries in a life/death encounter. Throw 2 speed loaders in your pocket and reloads are on-par with any gun. Consider it an option anyway.

  11. I carry a 9mm instead of a .40 because I shoot the 9mm better. Handgun ammo basically sucks. All of it. It will probably require more than one hit to stop an assailant. I get multiple COM hits very rapidly (1/4 second split times) with my Glock 26. The dynamics are a good match for my particular grip and arms – as long as I pull the trigger as fast as I can it puts double taps with in a couple of inches of each other. I also point shoot it really well for distances under 7 yards. Alas, it’s really a winter carry gun. A thinner gun like the PF9 that wasn’t included (and is much better than the P11 for CCW) works in the summer.

    If I could shoot a .40 as well as I shoot a 9, I’d carry a .40.

    That said, my only carry gun was my Glock 19 for a couple of years. Then I got the Glock 26 and the G19 went in the bedside safe with a rail light on it. I also have a Glock 36 which has a thinner grip than the 26, but it’s a .45ACP which isn’t the subject of the article. but I mention it because the Colt New Agent was included and the G36 beats that gun 4 ways from Sunday. I’d carry the Glock 36 before I’d carry the Colt New Agent. The 1911 mechanism was not designed for short barrels. The Glock 36 is reliable as gravity, eats anything you feed it that has .45ACP on the box, and has a thinner easier to conceal grip than the 26. Definitely easier to conceal than a P239 which is a heavy gun.

    I agree that a gun with no safety is better than one with a safety. But I find myself with a P238 in my pocket nearly all summer, especially from mid June to mid September. The P238 is a pocket .380 with real usable sights that shoots more like a subcompact than a pocket gun. I also have an LCP for when the P238 is too big.

    There were a lot of good concealable nines not mentioned. The Glock 26, Beretta Nano, the SIG P938, SIG P290, the S&W Shield, to mention just a few.

  12. I thought the PF-9 from Kel-Tec was a great idea. UNTIL I decided to shoot it a lot. Then I decided different. Like its little brother 380 it seems to not like running a full mag without at least one hangup. So I no longer depend on it. I went back to a miniature Taurus 380 that has never failed to work. Let me repeat that— NEVER FAILED to work. So I will carry that when it is not appropriate to carry a real gun. It never failing to work is the most important factor for me with a pocket gun. A .22 that never fails is better in my opinion than a .45 that fails when you need it. I have 25 different pistols ranging from a super accurate custom Gold Cup, full size Sigs, Brownings, Barrettes and to both those Kel-Tecs. I enjoy them all but when my life is on the line I want something that will ALWAYS work. That leaves me with carrying a full size Glock when concealability is not a problem and that Taurus when it is. My son says there are some new ones on the horizon so I will wait for one. My question is when will Glock get their heads out of the sand and offer a slim as possible single stack miniture 9MM that functions as reliable as its original Model 17? Just for giggles I have fired two Glock 17’s over 10,000 times each without ANY cleaning. Both functioned flawlessly and still were accurate enough after those 10,000 shots. Something you could stake your life on. A concealed carry gun needs to be just that.

  13. I normally carry my Walther PPS 9mm because it is light, slim and utterly reliable. I also have in my carry choices a Beretta Storm Sub-compact in .40SW and a Para Companion C7.45 LDA. When the weight and size doesn’t matter I carry one of them, as a bigger punch is better. Some folks are very recoil sesitive and sometimes the .40 and .45 are intimidating in that area. I have carried both a Keltec P3-AT and a S&W Bodyguard and both were OK, but I decided to move to a more potent caliber. It has been said “Carry the biggest gun you will shoot.” That .44 Mag Desert Eagle at home does no good when you are out and about. I am saving for a Springfield XD-S now as a lite .45 carry pistol is attractive to me, as I am not very recoil senitive, and the reports on the XD are very positive and having had other XD’s in the past I love the platform. JMHO.

  14. IMHO… why carry a 9mm when you can carry a .40 S&W with the same footprint? I can’t talk about the Taurus PT709 (never owned one) but I can for the PT740… which is the identical same size but larger caliber. It’s DOA with a smooth, but long, trigger pull. No need to engage the manual 1911 style safety. It holds 6+1 verses 7+1 of the 9mm. And with all that I’ve read on CC incidents, 3 shots at very close range is the norm. The sights are decent, but I’m not going to be picking bad guys off from 25 yds away. When I practice its 5 feet or less, draw, point, and double tap+1 to the head. As one reviewer pointed out, it’s relatively inexpensive (a lot less than $400) and as the gentleman from FL stated earlier, and I have to agree, it’s perfect for the shorts & T-shirt weather here in the Lowcountry of SC. Lightweight and slim it slips into a bellyband or cargo pocket with ease. Nines are fine but make mine a FORTY.

  15. I love my Bersa .380 its the standard one not the CC one – that one I have issues with, but my standard does great and no issues with cheap ammo I run thru it to practice with. and its a nice small one to conceal carry with.

  16. You omitted the Sig Sauer P290. Its firm (safer) DAO trigger needs a little bit of work when new, but it has been reliable – Mine never missed a bang -, shoots well at the distance it is expected to be used and then farther. At .9″ width and 3.9 height, it simply disappears in its iwb holster on my side. The weight, comparable to the Glock G26 (another omission in your list?), is not an issue, on the contrary, it helps making it shoot-able so I practice with it more than I would with a lighter 9mm. Just my 2 cents.

  17. I’ve carried a Kel-Tec PF-9 in a Crossbreed SuperTuk Delux for over a year now. Hundreds of rounds down range. Butter smooth DAO trigger. Easy, light, accurate, reliable and American Made!. For $269 street price I feel good about my carry conceal carry platform.

  18. Bersa BP CC 9mm polymer pistol.It’s like a single stack Glock with 7+1 capacity! Less than an inch wide it’s great for pocket or ankle carry. As a DOA ,the trigger has a short reset and it’s accurate as well.It’s a solid pistol. The only negative is the assembly after cleaning can be a pain in the butt.Beautiful looking,functionally sound.The Beretta Nano looks like a winner also. Anyone own one? If so how good does it work? Info would be appreciated.

  19. I’ve carried the Sccy, the Kahr, Glocks, Solo’s & many more. When something bad happened to me and I had to defend myself I was sure glad I had my Springfield XD Subcompact 9MM. I know the safety on those Sccy’s suck (I’ve owned 3). I buy and sell guns at the local gunshows. I can afford to carry anything I want (I’m in the gun business). Nonetheless, that little XD has lots of safety’s and can be chambered and shot in less than a second (I’ve done it). I like the $400 gun so much in action I bought another one to carry while I’m waiting to get my gun back. It holds 13 rounds and should have definately been on your list. I really like Glock’s but Springfield Subcompact’s really rock’s!

  20. I can’t imagine why anybody would carry a single-action pistol like the Colt New Agent.
    The ‘Twenty-One Foot Rule’ states an attacker that is 21 feet away can cover the distance between you in one and one-half seconds. That’s not a lot of time to react.

    As an armed person you have to draw your weapon, aim it and fire before the attacker sticks his knife into your abdomen. You see the attacker and he’s suddenly moving fast in your direction.
    You see the knife and it’s long & sharp. You are scared. You have no place nor time to retreat. Yikes!

    Your response needs to be instantaneous.
    You fumble with the safety on your single-action Colt even though in practice you’ve made it seem like no big deal. Now that safety is one more operation to perform before your gun will fire. Can you reach the safety while keeping your index finger on the trigger and not have to adjust your grip?
    How long will all this take?…hopefully less than one and one-half seconds.

    Or let’s consider the Zimmerman-Martin scenario. He smashes you in the face when you aren’t looking and next thing you know you’re on the ground with your attacker on top of you. He’s got his elbow on your windpipe and you can only use one hand to draw your weapon. Martin is struggling to take the gun away from you as you draw it. You have to feel for the safety and click it off. Now unless you have a really large hand you’ve got to adjust your grip to get your index finger aligned with the trigger. Don’t drop it!

    Unless you are begging for trouble you probably carry any single-action weapon with the safety engaged unless you carry with no cartridge in the chamber. If that’s the case you now have to do all the above stuff PLUS rack the slide before you can fend off your attacker. Try THAT one-handed.

    IMHO double-action is the best and fastest way to go. Get those fancy engraved-grip single-action 1911’s out when you take a trip to the range but for everyday CCW make sure you’re packing that double-action Kahr or Glock. Your life might depend on it.

  21. I also have had really good luck with the PT709. I have two of them and both of them have never had any issues with FTF/FTE. They are both mine and my wife’s choice for carry. In fact, two co-workers and one of their spouses have purchased PT709s and are happy with them. That said, I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my Boberg XR9-s. Looking forward to trying out this pistol and possibly replacing the Slim with it.

  22. I have carried a PT709 for over two years. Put about 100 rounds a month through it to make sure it always goes bang and it has flawlessy. I like it so much I bought another one for a backup.

    Since if you ever get into a situation that you have to use it, it will be taken an good luck ever getting it back so a cheap gun like the PT709 fits right in for a daily carry that is 120% dependable.

  23. Sorry for all the Goofy Names. Your Comparison is Good. My fist Choice is the CPX-2 by SCCY. Cost is a Big Factor these Days. I sell Fire Arms to the Public as a Dealer and the CPX-2 can be Had to the Public for Three Hundred or Less. Ten Plus One Cap. & Two Mags. Makes a nice Package. My has a Seven and one half lb. trigger and is a 1/4 in. Shorter. minimal cost for improvements 25-30 bucks at Gun Smith. Then the Kahr CM9 is a very close second, at Five Hundred or Less, can’t say enough about this little Piece, totally Cool! I have a P-11 Kel-tec Too! nice gun, have to lighten the Trigger to the PF-9, six or seven lbs. then it’s Great. John Burns !

  24. I have no idea why this article even considered the 239 given the 938 is now on the market. I purchased a 938 2 weeks ago and it is my favorite concealed weapon I have ever owned 7+1 of 9mm in a 15 oz package that is flawless. the 239 should not have been in this contest the 938 should have. The only fault it has is price, but for me I am willing to sacrifice a lil extra money in order to have a weapon that I can trust my life to. The sig 938 hands down beats the kahr, colt, kel-tec and anything else you can through at it, including the kimber solo. If you want a tiny concealable 9mm handgun buy the sig p938 and you won’t be disappointed.

  25. I can not believe you omitted the Rugar LC9 as it is great and as I have seen the No.1 seller for concealed carry.

  26. I just bought a Kimber S.Solo. I’ve put about 300 rounds through it so far without a single failure. It’s light, points well and fits in the front pocket of my jeans. So far it’s the best concealable pistol I have ever handled.

  27. I’ve heard of some issues with the Taurus 709, but the 740 is about flawless. 5lb single action trigger, shoots like a dream (as long as you can manage that recoil anticipation) and can take it everywhere, which is important here in florida when most of the year is shorts-weather.

  28. I agree with your assessment of the Kahr. I carry the PM9 version of the CM9, and I trust the functionality completely. Target acquisition is easy with the white dot sights, and recoil is extremely manageable. It did take a while to get used to the loading characteristic of loading a mag, then releasing the slide to avoid a failure to feed on the initial load, but that was just a minor issue. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on a 45 acp pocket carry pistol as well. Kahr makes a 45 version and it is currently on my wish list.

  29. I would put in a positive vote for the Walther PPS. I have one in 9mm and it is great for concealed carry. I have owned both the Keltec P-11 and PF-9 and they worked well, but I found both to have things I didn’t like. The P-11 had a ejector brake, and while it was easy to replace and Keltek stood behind it and sent me a new one, if I would have to depend on a pistol to save my life this makes my confidence waver a bit. The PF-9 was nicer to carry and had a MUCH better trigger, I found I was hitting the mag release often and droping the mag in the middle of a shooting session. Maybe because I am a left handed shooter and the mag realease is easier to hit from that shooting position I don’t know, but again it makes one question the pistol in action. My Walther has been fool proof and no hitchs so far, has a amazing trigger and is simple to break down to clean. The only draw backs so far are magazine prices and the initial prine of the pistol. I will admit the mag release takes some getting used to, it works easy and there is little chance of hitting it by accident. I love my Walther PPS.

  30. kel-tec pf-9 …. smooth 6lb. trigger, handles 124 +P gold dots, shoots to point of aim, finger extension magazine grip, 12 oz. unloaded, like greased lightning out of an open top inside the pants galco horsehide holster.
    and i do mean smooth 6 lb. trigger. you have perfect confident concealment under a tee shirt @ 1 OR 2 O’CLOCK.

  31. I used to carry a Taurus 709 Slim. Great look, feel, and design. However, it had many failures to perform at the range. Not worth it when my life may depend on it. There were constant FTE’s The recoil was absurd and the sights were awful. I traded up for a Walther PPS 9mm. It has operated FLAWLESSLY! Small, light, accurate, even rapid fire or double tap is no problem.

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