The Finer Things in Concealed 9mm

Kimber Solo Carry

Concealed carry pistols are coming out in increasingly larger calibers. The trend in the past has been to chamber a concealed carry pistol in .380, or some other smaller pistol caliber. Firearms manufacturers are finding out that many customers were willing to give up a smaller sized carry pistol, for a larger caliber. Many shooters consider the 9mm to be the minimum size round for an effective concealed carry handgun, and gun makers are following that trend. Whether or not 9mm is the minimum effective caliber is irrelevant. Since manufacturers are in this game to make money, therefore, they will make what people want to buy, and lately, people want the 9mm Luger.

Springfield EMP
Springfield EMP

There are several choices in this tiny 9mm category. At the top of the money food chain is the Springfield EMP. Springfield considers this pistol to be in a class of its own, and they are calling it the short-action 1911. It is the first production 1911 made from the ground up to shoot shorter cartridges like the 9mm and the .40 S&W. These tiny guns have three-inch barrels and hold nine-round magazines. None of the parts from standard 1911s will fit this firearm. The barrel is a stainless steel match grade, and the trigger is a long aluminum match grade with a 5-6 pound pull. This weight is not too bad considering some of the pulls on other manufacturer’s models. Depending on the model, the frame is either forged steel, carbon steel, or aluminum alloy. The sights are low profile tritium, capable night sights for concealed carry. If money is no object, and you want a concealable 9mm, the Springfield Enhanced Micro Pistol is a great choice.

Kimber Solo Carry
Kimber Solo Carry

The Kimber solo maintains 1911 ergonomics with an incredibly tiny size. Arguably, the best-looking pistol in the concealed carry group, the Solo shoots as elegantly as it looks. With a barrel length of just 2.7 inches, Solo pistols are easy to carry and conceal. Many of the features borrowed from 1911 pistols also make them exceptionally safe. A manual ambidextrous thumb safety, checkered slide release, and an ambidextrous magazine release button enable fast and intuitive operation. On top of all that, Kimber installed a single-action striker-fired trigger pull that is both even and smooth. Solo frames are machined from the finest aluminum and finished in KimPro II, a premium finish that is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to salt and moisture. Kimber cut the slides and barrels from stainless steel, increasing durability. The edges are rounded and blended, slide serrations are deep enough to really work, and the dovetail-mounted 3-dot sights are quick to target. This is an excellent pistol for concealed carry, and is one of my personal favorite designs.

Kahr PM9
Kahr PM9

Kahr is quickly becoming widely known as a manufacturer or quality firearms, and their PM9 is no exception. If you haven’t had the chance to shoot one of these little-pocket sized 9mms, give it a go. The trigger is long but smooth, and very light. The barrel is 3.1 inches long and has polygonal rifling with a 1-10 right hand twist. The PM9 is only 5.42 inches long and 4 inches tall. This means throwing it into your blue jeans pocket is no problem at all. The standard magazine carries six rounds, but a seven-round magazine with a grip extension is also included. I found that the gun was much easier to pocket carry with the six-round magazine. The textured polymer grip is fits well into even a large hand. The drift adjustable combat sights are very fast and accurate to point of aim. We’ve touted the virtues of the CM9 on our blog before, but the improved barrel and sights on the PM9 make it a winner in my book. For a balance of cost versus features and benefits, I think the PM9 wins out every time.

When choosing to carry, having a 9mm gives me a bit more piece of mind over something like a .380 or a .32. While there is modern .380 ammunition available today that is perfectly acceptable for self-defense, the 9mm is still my go-to round. Bigger, faster bullets tend to create a lot of havoc on bad guys.

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 (8)

  1. I have been very pleased with my Kel-Tec P-11. If fits nicely in a front pocket. I have found it to be accurate and reliable (and more economical than the Ruger LC9).

  2. If this isn’t the story of my life! “A day late, and a dollar short”. I have been a gun lover for all of my life (64 yrs) and I spent a 30+ year career carrying what ever my fed agency would permit.
    My plan was to reach retirement, buying my first “true class 1911”, and shootin fer-ever. Unfortunately I picked up a life ending ailment and mortgaged my pension on experimental treatments, and insurance doesn’t cover those betting everything just to live. Just into my’ya got probably a couple of years’ period and living on disability (I use the word living loosely) I’ve loved life, and hope you all have it forever. God Bless.

  3. I was at the Cheaper Than Dirt retail store in McKinney about a month or so ago and they had a Kimber Solo for sale. I wish I had the money at the time. What a beautiful gun, it had a cherry wood grain crimson trace laser grip on it. Perfect weight balance, it just felt like a sold quality gun. Saving up for one now. Hopefully I can find one when I have the money.

  4. I’ve been carrying the walther pps 9mm for around four years now. It’s a great little single stack that I’m surprised didn’t make your list of top concealed carry guns. I’m sure it paved the way for these other gun makers to follow. The walther pps has been more reliable, more accurate and lighter than my glock I sometimes would prefer to just carry the pps while on patrol(ammo capacity would be a problem though). Any thoughts on why this obvious pioneer wasn’t in your list?

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