As a firearms industry professional, I’m asked on a daily basis about my carry gun preferences. Let me preface this by addressing my caliber of choice and why… 9mm.
Originally designed in 1901, the 9mm cartridge, also known as 9×19 Parabellum or 9mm Luger,
has gone through many load evolutions, and was accepted by military and law enforcement as a utility round shortly after World War I. Since then, the popularity of semi-automatic pistols in the U.S. has increased exponentially, and the 9mm continues to be the most popular round due to its terminal ballistics and magazine capacity. The 9mm round is the most prevalent handgun caliber in the world, and now has over 21% of the entire cartridge market worldwide. It’s my opinion that 9mm will always be the most commercially available caliber for decades to come.
Now, on to my choice of guns…
1. GLOCK 19
I’ve been shooting Glock platform guns for the past 20 years, including Glock format PCCs (Pistol Caliber Carbines designed to accept full-size Glock magazines). It is an ideal carry gun as it will accept full-size magazines, but has reduced dimensions (6.85” Length and 5.04” Height) allowing it to be more easily concealed. I’m a fan of the Glock Safe Action trigger and the fact that GLOCKs have become known as one of the most reliable pistols in the world. There are countless replacement and upgrade parts for Glock pistols, making them easily customized for the individual. Two simple upgrades I enjoy on my personal G19 are the Holosun 509T enclosed emitter red dot sight and my Timney Alpha Glock Trigger. The average price of a new Gen 5 Glock 19 is around $550.
2. Glock 43X.
Again, I’m a Glock fan…although my first preference is a 9mm Glock that will accept full-size magazines, I’ve had significant experience with the Glock 43X and find it to be just as reliable and familiar as the G19. The 43X is the extended version of the G43, with a well-balanced and slimline frame, and a compact grip that still allows your pinky finger a full wrap (your pinky contributes to up to 30% of your grip strength). Although the factory G43X magazine is a 10-round capacity, there are aftermarket magazines commercially available that will give you 15 or even 20 rounds (Shield Arms w/+5 extension). The G43X has a built-in beaver tail, short trigger distance, reversible mag catch, and the accurate Glock Marksman Barrel (GMB), as well as precision-milled front serrations. I’ve personally practiced unsupported, off-hand, 50-yard shots on 6-inch steel plates with my G43X and enjoy its accuracy. I have found a new optics-ready (MOS) G43x on the market for around $500.
3. Sig P365XL
Another nice polymer-framed pistol with great ergonomics and engineering. The P365XL is a nice combination of concealability and full-size capacity with a factory 15-round magazine. The frame design accommodates a full grip, with a compact overall length of only 6.5 inches. It’s also quite light, weighing in at just over 20 ounces. My personal experience with this pistol has been very positive – I’ve found the to be accurate and very comfortable to shoot and carry. I prefer this pistol with a micro red dot sight, such as the Holosun 407K. These pistols are available in the $600 range.
4. Walther PDP Compact
This is a very ergonomic pistol with lots of upgrades, including SuperTerrain slide serrations and an enhanced Performance Duty Trigger that feels really nice. Walther has been known for its historic ingenuity, and this pistol is no exception. The PDP compact feels great in my hand and is a pleasure to shoot with its wrap-around grip, generous beaver tail, and undercut trigger guard. This model is optics-ready and comes with an accessory rail ready for a weapon light. My experience with the PDP Compact has been nothing but positive. The PDP Compact is available for an average price of about $650.
5. Springfield Hellcat
This compact pistol has gained a lot of notoriety and lives up to a great reputation. With a 13-round 9mm magazine capacity in a very compact frame, the Hellcat has proven itself to be a reliable and accurate carry gun. My experience with the Hellcat has been nothing but positive and I enjoy the fact that the extended 13-round magazine allows for a full grip. I also appreciate the sub-compact dimensions, with a six-inch overall length, four-inch height, and lightweight – weighing in at only 18 ounces. The optics-ready version (OSP – Optical Sight Pistol) has a milled slide designed to accept some of the smallest, most popular micro red dot sights on the market, including the HEX Wasp, JP Enterprises JPoint, and Shield RMSc. The Hellcat recently went through a 20,000-round torture test, proving its durability and reliability in a test with Federal Ammunition. The Hellcat OSP is commercially available with an average price of $589.
These are just a few choices based on my personal preferences – there are many great compact carry pistols on the market…do your research, get some training, and shoot as many of them as you can to make sure you’re making the right choice for you.