Double-action, single-action; DA/SA. It’s not for everyone. It’s not mainstream and it has its critics. But a lot of people won’t have it any other way.
It’s simple: in single-action these handguns have better triggers than just about any factory striker-fired service pistol. Trigger control is important in self-defense situations–no one will ever say that “shot placement is sort of unimportant”–and a good trigger goes a long way to ensuring good shot placement.
The trade-off is that DA/SA guns take more training to use well. Carrying hammer down in double-action means having to learn two trigger pulls and carrying cocked-and-locked means practicing disabling the safety on the draw.
It’s a trade that many shooters are willing to make for the benefits of single-action triggers.
Sharing controls, features, and often parts including magazines with their larger counterparts, subcompacts are the perfect companion for anyone who owns compact or full-size service pistol for protection.
If you keep a DA/SA pistol at home for self-defense or put in a lot of trigger time with one at the range, it makes a lot of sense to get a DA/SA pistol for concealed carry, too.
We’ve put together a shortlist of double-stacks that should be on everyone’s radar if they’re considering a DA/SA subcompact service pistol for concealed carry. These aren’t in ranking order–these all bring different features to the table–and should each be given special consideration.
SIG is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most successful manufacturers of hammer-fired service pistols. Their user-friendly decocker system and simple takedown procedure have earned them business around the world with police and military users and private shooters alike.
But it was only a few years ago that SIG introduced the P224, the subcompact version of their “Classic” P-series, with a shortened slide, barrel and grip.
The P224 had a bit of a slow start, but today it’s produced in multiple configurations in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .357 SIG. In 9mm it has a solid 12+1 capacity with extended 15-round magazines available for a full four-finger grip.
Along with the new models, SIG offers the P224 with their updated E2 grips, which are smaller and make the P224 easier for a lot of shooters to handle.
The P224 is priced in-line with other P-series SIG pistols, in the $750 to $900 range.
Shop for P224 pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=p224
For years CZ has been a shining star in the DA/SA sky. A few years ago people may have called them underrated or too-often-overlooked, but that’s all history for the company now. Today CZ gets the respect they deserve and their products move.
That’s especially true for some of their more uncommon models like the RAMI. Designed from the ground up for concealed-carry the RAMI is dehorned and lightened, with low-profile controls including the safety and slide lever on the standard model.
It even has minimalist grips that make the already slender frame even smaller in the hand and on the waist–the RAMI is one of the smallest double-stack subcompacts out there; it even makes some polymer pistols look beefy by comparison.
The RAMI is currently offered in two models, the original 2075 RAMI with a thumb safety and the 2075 RAMI BD with a decocker. The safety model is offered in 9mm and .40 S&W where the decocker model is strictly 9mm.
In 9mm the RAMI holds 10+1 with flush magazines and 14+1 with the included extended spare magazine.
RAMI pistols are priced in the middle of the pack, around $550, give or take. Availability can be unpredictable, so if you want a RAMI, don’t wait too long; they sell out frequently.
Shop for RAMI pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=rami
The P30 is Heckler & Koch’s improved hammer-fired handgun, a successor to the USP and P2000. Like those pistols the P30 is offered with different size and trigger options, and the P30SK is the subcompact version for backup and concealed-carry.
It’s an ambidextrous pistol with mirrored controls on both sides including long slide stop levers and paddle magazine release levers. Depending on the trigger type the P30SK also has ambidextrous safety levers.
In addition to having easy-to-use controls the P30SK maintains the excellent ergonomics of the full-size models. These pistols come with 9 interchangeable grip panels and backstraps for a fully-customizable grip.
The P30’s grip texture is also very nice, providing a lot of traction without getting overly aggressive, making it comfortable to carry all day long.
A relatively new pistol the P30SK is only chambered for 9mm for now. With flush magazines it has a standard capacity of 10+1.
Depending on the package the P30SK starts around $600 and for a little more is sold with an LE package including three magazines and night sights. The LE package can be hard to find but it adds a lot of value.
Shop for pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=p30sk
The PX4 Storm series is an updated, overhauled take on the ’90s-era Beretta 8000. The Storm uses a polymer frame to save weight and has a completely redesigned slide shape that makes it great for concealed-carry.
The rear of the slide is rounded off and it has a small combat-style hammer to minimize printing while carrying. The grip comes with three interchangeable backstraps for a semi-custom fit.
The PX4 series uses a decocker safety that can be converted to a miniminalist decocker-only configuration that’s more snag-resistant than the ambidextrous safety levers.
Beretta makes PX4 subcompacts in 9mm and .40 S&W which hold 13+1 and 10+1 respectively. Beretta also offers magazine adapters to use full-size PX4 magazines which hold 17 rounds and 14 rounds of each.
The PX4 series is approachably-priced starting at around $450 to $500. Being a bit older and more established than some of these subcompacts it has a large amount of aftermarket support, making it easy to find holsters and accessories.
Shop for PX4 pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=px4
Bersa does a lot more than just make .380s. Their Thunder Ultra Compact Pro series is packed with options in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP with a set of features not common to guns in that price range.
They’re lefty-friendly pistols with ambidextrous decocker safeties and slide release levers and have reversible magazine catches. The Ultra Compact Pro series are somewhat larger DA/SA subcompacts but they also have full four-finger grips. The pistols provide full four-finger support thanks to extended floorplates for improved control.
The Ultra Compact series has been around for some time and has a solid track record and has a solid amount of aftermarket support as well, thanks to the popularity of the Bersa brand in general. And they take SIG-type sights opening the door to a lot of sight options.
Bersa pistols in general have smooth, light triggers and the Thunder Ultra Compact Pro pistols are true to form. The 9mm model has a standard capacity of 13+1, the .40, 10+1 and the .45 7+1. Starting in the low $400 range they’re priced right–although you don’t have to be on a budget to appreciate these guns.
Shop for Thunder Pro pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=thunder%20pro
Sphinx pistols have been creeping onto the American scene for a few years now. Developed for military, police and special forces these service pistols were until recently built by hand to demanding specifications, including high accuracy requirements.
The SDP series is the Sphinx Systems’ first mass-produced product, designed to make them more affordable to the general public. They are still built to high standards and have the fit and finish of semi-custom production guns with match components and tuned and polished triggers.
Mechanically they’re similar to the CZ pattern, but Sphinx takes things to new heights with their sleek, snag-free design and swept controls. The SDP Subcompact features a hybrid frame with an alloy subframe and a polymer grip module that has a medium grip texture and no accessory rail for a snag-free draw.
It’s a DA/SA decocker pistol with ambidextrous decocker levers and a bobbed hammer and beavertail for improved concealment. Like the decocker levers the sights are swept and maintain a low profile.
The cutting edge sports a price premium, though. The Sphinx SDP Subcompact starts at around $900 to $1,000 and parts and accessories are harder to come by. Fortunately magazines can be purchased directly from Kriss USA and holster support is getting stronger every day.
Shop for Sphinx SDP pistols at GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=sdp