Beginners might find it challenging to navigate through the dozens of 9mm handguns on the market. Where do you even start? Luckily, we’ve narrowed down the options to the best compact 9mm handguns for self-defense, open carry, and concealed carry applications.
Top 5 Best Compact 9mm Handguns for Self-Defense Shooting
1. Sig Sauer P365 XL
The Sig Sauer P365 XL has a standard 3.7-inch barrel and weighs a meager 17 ounces. Although, the muzzle has an extra three ounces, which makes the pistol easier to aim and shoot compared to other options in its class. The model variants range from $700 to $900.
One feature that sets the P365 apart from its predecessors is its trigger. It has a flat, 2.61-inch trigger with a lengthier pull that is generally easier to pull and handle if you have large hands. And since the Sig Sauer P365 XL only measures six inches, most hands would seem comparably large for this pistol.
New users might find the textured handgrip irksome to use. Over time, however, you will quickly get used to it and might even find that it also helps one gain control over the gun.
The Sig Sauer P365 XL is an overall excellent handgun for self-defense and everyday carry. If you have an extra grand and want to invest in a quality handgun, definitely add this to your prospective list.
2. Taurus G3c
The Taurus G3c features a semi-automatic, recoil-operated 9mm handgun equipped with a 3.2-inch stainless steel barrier and a 4.5-pound trigger with restrike capability. Shooters can choose between a 10 + 1 and 12 + 1 magazine capacity.
What sets the Taurus G3c apart from any other handgun on this list is its small, compact frame. At just 3.2 inches, it has one of the smallest barrels on the market—even smaller than its predecessor: the G3. You can easily squeeze this inside your trousers for concealed carry applications in various situations.
Another feature most shooters might appreciate is its pricing. You can already get a standard model at most gun shops for less than $310.
The low price tag paired with the possibility for aftermarket upgrades makes this the best compact 9mm pistol for beginners looking into exploring gun ownership for the first time.
3. Mossberg MC2c
The MC2c is the later variant of the MC1sc—the first handgun Mossberg introduced to the market in the past century. It features a slightly larger four-inch barrel, weighs 21 ounces, and has a magazine capacity of either 15 + 1 rounds or 13 + 1 rounds.
Mossberg’s original MC1sc was already a reliable handgun. It gas light, compact frame that most average-sized shooters can easily squeeze in their pants without even having to untuck their shirts.
However, like many other 9mm handguns in its class, the MC1sc was hard to impossible to handle. Unless your target is standing right in front of you and you’re shooting point-blank, you might need a few seconds to adjust the optics and aim the barrel. Fortunately, Mossberg improved this feature with the MC2c.
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Plus, the MC2c offers excellent value for your money, considering you can get one for $450. It does not have the fine-tuning and refined mechanism high-end pistols do, but most shooters should have no problem cocking the barrel or pressing down on the trigger.
We highly recommend the MC2c to any looking for the best 9mm compact handgun under $500. You can easily use these for concealed carry applications, and most shooters should be able to handle the four-inch barrel pretty easily.
4. Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ does not classify as a target gun. However, compared to the other best sub-compact 9mm handguns in its class, you’d be hard-pressed to find another that offers that same accuracy and handle as this pistol does.
The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ features a light, compact 23-ounce, 3.7-inch barrel. Its patented stainless steel Armornite finish gives it the extra resistance it needs to tolerate daily wear and tear damages.
When it comes to cost-efficiency, this pistol also offers excellent value. You’d find most gun shops selling the standard 9mm luger white-dot sighted handgun for just under $430.
If you want an accurate, compact concealed carry weapon, try out the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ. Although, we discourage beginners from using this pistol in crises where you have to shoot a moving target positioned more than 20 yards away.
5. Springfield Armory Hellcat
The Springfield Armory Hellcat has a tiny 3-inch barrel with an 11 + 1 and 13 + 1 magazine capacity and stands at a meager four inches. You can easily fit this pistol in your pocket without making a noticeable bulge.
As shooters, there are two things we primarily loved about this model. First, it has a high-impact barrel. Despite its small frame, the Springfield Armory Hellcat packs quite a punch and does not take too long to aim and handle.
Second, you can easily add optics to the weapon. The Springfield Armory Hellcat already has an accurate sight and easy-to-handle frame, but add in extra optics, and you might be able to use this pistol for a bit of target practice.
The handgun comes with a slightly steeper price tag of $570. Although, the premium-quality features and mechanisms justify what Springfield charges for these pistols.
If you need something discreet, high-impact, accurate, and you have the extra funds, go for a Springfield Armory Hellcat.
Check out this video by BestProducts where they feature their own compilation of the best compact 9mm handguns on the market:
Every shooter has varying needs and preferences. We encourage shooters to explore all the pistols available and see which ones best match their lifestyle.
Although, when it comes to shopping for the best compact 9mm handguns, stick to compact, high-capacity pistols you can easily hide in your trousers—bonus points if you don’t have to wear oversized shirts! Remember: handguns were made for self-defense, so swiftness and agility take precedence over firepower.
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