I’m a double-stack sort of guy. I carry concealed everyday, and I’ve gotten accustomed to 15 rounds of 9mm in the magazine. I feel naked without the weight of the gun. But the weather is warming up, finally, and I’m not going to be able to wear my coat through the summer. So its time to look for something a bit more svelte. Time to lose some weight. Time to stop being lazy about the extra mag in the front pocket. Time to dust off the single-stacks.
I’ll give up half the rounds, but I’m not willing to carry anything smaller than a 9mm. So what are the best options for lightweight, single-stack, easily concealed 9mms? Here’s my list:
Buy one now–http://gunsameirca.com/Sprinfield Armory XD-S
The XD-S is a formidable gun. As it is available in both .45 ACP and 9mm, the XD-S offers options most of the others in this list won’t. So you can still entertain the age-old debate of which is better–the 9mm or the .45 ACP.
As for me? I could care less. I have made some incredibly long shots with my XD-S 3.3″ .45. I once broke a clay on the first shot at over 100 yards. It may well have been luck, but it shut up a bunch of people, and I didn’t have to repeat the shot–I just holstered the gun and walked off.
But I’m inclined to choose the 9mm. I really respect what Springfield did with the 9mm version of this gun. It isn’t so small that you sacrifice control, yet it is thin enough to hide almost anywhere. The XD-S is about the biggest gun you can fit in your pocket, perfect for appendix carry, and ideal in the small of the back.
If you want more capacity than the .45, functional sights, aggressive texture (I recently heard the grip texture compared to truck tires), this is it. Capacity: 7+1
Cost: I’ve seen them as low as the $460 range.
Buy one now–http://gunsamerica.com/smith & wesson M&P shield
Smith has nailed this design. It is almost sleek, and very easy to conceal. Now that it is available without a thumb safety, it is even better for concealed carry. If you are fun-sized, and you want an tool you can trust, the shield is a great way to go.
The Shield is making headway for Smith & Wesson, too. They used to own a much larger share of the pistol market–but that dissapeared as everyone else made guns that worked just as well, or better. Now the M&P line is growing in popularity, and will be the entrant into the modular handgun trials, which (if Smith were to win) would make the Shield have back-up gun. Capacity: 7 + 1
Buy one now–http://gunsamerica.com/kahr CW9
Kahr has made a commitment to concealed carry basics that makes these guns very appealing for small framed shooters. The lines are clean and the performance is unbeatable.
One of my favorite things about the Kahr is the slide. The wide spaced serrations on the rear make it easy to rack. And, if you are having something of an emergency and must rack from the front, the angular cut at the end of the slide is easy to hold onto.
And here’s something I’ll say about Kahr that I won’t say about the competition: the trigger rocks. Kahr triggers are incredibly safe and very responsive. Off all of the guns in the list, this is the easiest to shoot. Capacity: 7+1
Cost: MSRP $449
Buy one now–http://gunsamerica.com/Ruger LC9
Ruger is better known for their revolvers and rifles, but they’re pistols are worthy of mention. The LC9 is thin, with classic lines built into its polymer frame. It is a snappy gun, but one capable of surprising accuracy. If you want a thin gun that won’t break the bank, this is it.
Of all of Ruger’s pistols, this one has always felt a bit loose to me. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t work effectively, and some shooters like looser tolerances, as they feel like it ensures an ability to run while gummed with pocket lint and grime. Maybe so.
I’ve never had a failure from an LC9. The sights are superb, too. Capacity: 7+1
Cost: MSRP $443, but it comes in significantly lower when the available stock is riding high. As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen a used one for sale in a brick-and-mortar store.
Buy one now–http://gunsamerica.com/Kel-Tec PF9
I have seen the occasional PF-9 for sale used. I don’t think that is a bad thing, really–or a testament on quality. The PF-9 is often a first-gun for some. My first pistol was a Kel-Tec and I wish I’d never sold it. The Kel-Tec is solid, well built, and just cheap enough that it won’t ever feel precious.
As I would with all of these pistols, I recommend a lot of range time with the PF-9. The trigger isn’t going to win any awards. And if you are accustomed to larger grips, the PF-9 is going to feel odd. The width is only .88 inch. Capacity: 7+1
Cost: $333 MSRP.
So what did I leave out? Anything worthy of note? The single-stack 9mm is hardly a rarity. Almost everyone makes one. Almost. Mossberg seems to be a notable exception. And maybe Remington, at least until they get the R51 back in circulation.