It’s a simple fact of life with firearms: Small guns are easier to carry and conceal than larger guns. However,as anybody who has ever spent considerable time with a mouse gun can attest, shooting tiny pistols isn’t always fun. And with certain models, it can be a downright miserable experience. But for those willing to compromise slightly on carry comfort to enhance shooting performance, there exists another option: The mid-sized carry gun.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best mid-sized sidearms. All of them are in 9mm Luger, which is generally thought to be one of the best calibers for self-defense. And in order to qualify for the title of “mid-sized,” each had to be big enough for an average person to get a full grip with very little, if any, extra room.
Also note that the most expensive handgun isn’t necessarily the greatest handgun by default.
Without any further ado, here they are, ranked from good to best:
Springfield XD Service Model
The Springfield XD is the upper crust of the lesser-value pistol market. While known to have long-term reliability and durability issues when used extensively for training and competition, it’s a superior choice when compared to similarly featured pistols in its price range. As long as you pay attention to basic maintenance and keep certain spare parts on hand (like the infamous striker retainer pin), the Springfield XD is more than serviceable as an excellent mid-sized carry pistol. Click here to learn more about the Springfield Armory XD.
Kahr Arms CW9
The CW9 just barely makes the list for a mid-sized carry gun, due to the adequate length of its grip. It’s just barely long enough for most adults to get four fingers on, but makes up for it in terms of the narrow, comfortable slide width. A single-stack frame gives users an equally slim grip, which is one of the primary reasons the CW9 is so easy to carry all day, every day. However, it’s not the most comfortable pistol to shoot, especially when compared to other pistols on our list, which is why it sits at #9. Click here to learn more about the Kahr CW9.
SIG Sauer P239
Much like the above listed Kahr CW9, the P239 is a single-stack handgun. But unlike the CW9, it’s a double/single action, and weighs 13.7 ounces more than the Kahr. This combination of a heavier handgun with the crisp single action follow-up shots that SIG is known for makes the P239 an excellent choice for those who want an easy-to-shoot carry gun without hauling around an uncomfortably thick pistol all the time. High-contrast sights and heavily textured grips add to the “shootability” of the SIG P239.
CZ 75 Compact
Even though it’s named the CZ 75 compact, #7 on our list is still plenty big enough to get a full grip on. There’s never been a consensus between firearms manufacturers about when to start calling pistols compact (or even sub-compact), but this shrunken-down version of the renowned CZ 75 still retains all of the features of the full-sized model. Most notably, the slide is contained within the frame, which makes recoil and follow-up shots manageable and fast. It’s like having a racehorse that doesn’t mind taking you to the convenience store at midnight. Click here to learn more about the CZ 75.
Heckler and Koch P30 V3
No list of “pistols big enough to fight with” would be complete without something from Heckler and Koch. Truthfully, the only thing on this pistol that fits in the “mid-size” category is the barrel length. But, if your body type and holster can comfortably conceal the grip, this double/single action blaster can provide you with H&K’s unquestionable reliability day in and day out. Interestingly, the non-tritium sights glow in the dark (after being periodically “charged” with a flashlight.) The P30 V3 also features a full-length dust cover rail, which will readily accept lights and lasers.
Beretta PX4 Storm Compact
This is another pistol with a slightly misleading name, as it’s definitely more of a midsized handgun. While striker fired pistols certainly aren’t going anywhere soon, a large portion of shooters still favor the traditional double/single action trigger mechanism. The PX4 Storm offers an excellent iteration of this trigger style, and comes with the hallmarks of accuracy, reliability and good looks that end users have come to expect from Beretta. As an added bonus, the sights are easy to change out for something that you’re a little more used to seeing. Click here to learn more about the Beretta PX Storm.
Beretta 92 FS Compact
Since we have so many military veterans either leaving the service or making a career out of it, there’s no way we couldn’t mention the Beretta 92 FS Compact. Staying true to the tried, tested and trusted design and format of the standard-issue military service pistol, the 92 FS will feel very familiar to anybody who has served. Of course, Beretta’s high quality control is evident, and the unique open-top slide lends itself well to reliable function with pretty much any 9mm Luger ammunition you can stuff in the magazine. Click here to learn more about the Beretta 92.
SIG Sauer M11-A1
This is the exact sidearm model issued to U.S. Naval Aviation personnel, as well as numerous other special units within our armed forces. The M11-A1 provides a full 15 rounds in an easy to conceal package, with a truncated 3.9” barrel. Upgrades such as a short-reset trigger and glow-in-the-dark night sights round out the package, which makes this choice one of the highest quality carry pistols currently available. And you just can’t beat that pedigree. Click here to learn more about the SIG M11-A1.
CZ P-07 Duty
Coming in at #2 in our list, the CZ P-07 Duty has few flaws as a mid-sized carry gun. CZ really nailed the proportions on this pistol, and it’s easy to hide pretty much anywhere. It also gives users the choice between a traditional double/single action trigger and a light single-action-only trigger with just the swap of the (included) extra safety lever. Memory texture spots for your thumbs on the frame, impeccable reliability, impressive accuracy, a full-length accessory rail and a price point that’s well under $500 make the P-07 Duty an easy choice.
This is the undisputed king of the mid-sized carry class. Few pistols match the unique proportions of the legendary G19, with its 4.1” barrel and ideal-length grip. All of this comes with a 15 round standard capacity, and the capability of using the bigger mags from its big brother, the G17. The G19 rides well in either traditional strong-side positions, and even better in the newly popular appendix carry. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also fairly affordable. And, since it’s a Glock, you can rest assured that reliability simply isn’t going to be an issue. Click here to learn more about the Glock 19.
So there you have it. Ten fantastic pistols, each big enough to actually fight with, yet small enough to realistically conceal on a daily basis.