The pocket 9mm craze is not going away anytime soon. It is quickly becoming the standard in concealed carry. Where pocket .380s used to be the norm, these little 9mm guns have taken a foothold, firmly planting themselves as the preferred cartridge for carrying around firepower. One of the problems with carrying a modern semi-automatic gun on your person is that is has to be small. In some states, it is illegal to show an imprint of your gun through your clothing, citing brandishing, so thin guns often work best for concealing. To create a thinner handgun, manufacturers went back to the roots of semi-auto guns making the single stack class of guns. Single stack simply means that the cartridges in the magazine are directly on top of one another, instead of alternating from left to right. Using a single stack magazine saves space, but there is a heavy cost on ammunition capacity. Most single stack guns only carry six to eight rounds. In most cases that amount is plenty. Keep in mind the intention behind these guns is for concealed defensive purposes, not duty or home defense. We lined up a group of single stack 9mm guns that are popular on the market today, and decided to highlight some features that we think stand out.
The Kel-Tec PF-9 has a reputation for being a low-cost, reliable, concealable, and accurate weapon. The magazine holds seven rounds, and has an optional extended baseplate for a more comfortable grip. This is a very popular gun for concealed carry and Kel-Tec has made a name for themselves in the small pistol community. The trigger is a bit heavy at first, but once you get used to it, this pistol shoots like a dream. I personally own two of these and I couldn’t be happier.
The Kahr CM9 is an incredibly reliable little handgun. This pistol is a more affordable version of their older CM9. What makes Kahr pistols so great is their trigger. Since they had concealed carry in mind, they made the trigger long and smooth. So smooth in fact that it is one of the most comfortable concealed carry guns to shoot that we have ever tried. It is small enough to throw in a pocket or carry in a concealable holster. The polymer frame helps keep the weight down, and the magazine carries six rounds.
The Italians wanted in on the concealed carry market, so we got the Beretta Nano. This little spitfire is ideal for pocket carry, and has a very modern looking design. Shooters know Beretta for making quality guns, not only on the battlefield but on trap fields as well. The Nano is new and has a lot to prove, but early reviews seem promising. The Nano’s extremely low profile, snag free design makes it easy to carry and draw from concealment. The Nano carries six rounds in the magazine, and has adjustable sights for more precise work. This may be an interesting addition to the concealed carry world.
Ruger officially announces this little gun at the 2011 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. The LC9 is a double-action-only, hammer-fired, locked-breech pistol with a smooth trigger pull. Ruger makes control and confident handling of the LC9 possible through reduced recoil and aggressive frame checkering. This feature helps the operator get a positive grip in all conditions. The LC9 also features smooth “melted” edges for ease of holstering, carrying, and drawing. The magazine carries seven rounds and the rear sights adjust for windage.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding this gun as of late. Smith & Wesson’s M&P line of guns have been hugely successful, and with good reason. M&P is synonymous with quality, and the Shield is no different. The M&P Shield has a seven round magazine and adjustable grips. The sights are spectacular, and I have to say it is a real pleasure to shoot. The trigger is smooth, long, and light, perfect for a carry gun. We like the Shield so much, several of us went out and purchased them. For now, they can be a little hard to find, but if you are one of those lucky ones, pick up a Shield and try it out.
An odd-looking pistol with modern styling and features, the Walther PPS is very popular in the defensive handgun market. The PPS is very thin and holds six rounds in its smallest magazine. This short recoil-operated locked breech semi-automatic pistol uses a modified Browning cam-lock system adapted from the Hi-Power pistol. The PPS has a glass fiber-reinforced polymer frame and steel slide assembly. It is as reliable as it is high tech, and Walther lives up to their name with this little gun.
The Kimber Solo maintains 1911 ergonomics with an incredibly tiny size. Arguably, the best-looking pistol in the concealed carry group, the Kimber 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; the slide serrations are deep enough to work well. The dovetail-mounted three-dot sights are quick to target. This is an excellent pistol for concealed carry, and is one of my personal favorite designs.