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.
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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.
RELATED: Where to Buy Ammo? What You Need To Consider When Buying One
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.
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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After 34+ yrs in service as a weapons instructor and 7-yr LE,I’ve determined that the best knock-down power is in a .45 ACP CALIBER. 9MM has made a vast improvement in the last 15+ yrs with cartridge modifications…but nowhere near what 1-hit in the upper thorasic area with a .45 will do. I’ve seen the results on the streets and in ‘Nam.
Why carry anything else that has proven knock-down power than a .45.
I agree with that comment about the 45 vs. 9mm knock down. That is what the 45 was originally designed for. Some people’s hands can not control it. So, they have to make do with what they can handle. 7 rounds of 45 or 14+ rounds of 9mm. Also easier control of the 9mm for follow up shots when the first one does not finish or misses.😲
I agree —- Thanks Len. 28 years state firearms instructor, 15 year state Armor and 20+ years academy firearms instructor. The 45ACP is the preferred caliber, yet small handed Officers are not comfortable. Therefore in comes the 40 or the 9mm. The 40 and 9mm also hold more rounds.
Len, I agree with you concerning the power of the .45 ACP. Like you, I served in Vietnam
with SF-SOG, 5th Group and the .45 ACP did the job. Also, like you, I served in LE for years
and firmly believe that the .45 is a great service round. John Moses Browning got it all
right when he designed the 1911 for the .45 ACP cartridge. In addition, relating to the 9mm,
I highly recommend the Heckler & Koch, Model P30 as a fine concealed-carry (CCW), weapon. Although it runs high in price it nevertheless is a quality and “RELIABLE” handgun.
One other factor that did not come to light was why we chose the German (foreign), 9mm
cartridge over our better .38 Super caliber. Another John M. Browning design that could
and should have been adopted for an additional pistol to complement the 1911, .45 ACP.
This caliber would have been useful for support personnel and rear echelon types who
did not require a 1911, .45 ACP combat pistol. Another reflection of “why not”.
pictures and pistols dont match , for starters !
My gun of choice is the Ruger C-9 with extended grip
bought a 9mm ruger security 9 compact;shoots well with my one eye. will probably buy lazer sight with my handicap.
How can you take an article seriously when they don’t bother to show the correct firearm??
Shooting firearms for over 50 years now and having owned or still own many various handguns I have to say that Glocks do it for me.
Pictures do. not
match weapons pictures
Bob Mead, I have a Rugar 9mm and get along with it just fine.
They all have their pros/cons
9 mm is jist a more versatile round than the .45 or .40, which can be snappy too. Glocks are judt so simple and easy to shoot and even my 14 yr old daughter does well with the G19.
I personally own a Ruger P95DC 9mm, it wasn’t shown as a good cc but it is not very bulky, it has low recoil, even my wife has no problem with handling it and she small hands.At the time I purchased it some thirty years ago it was really low priced about $280.00 unfortunately Ruger has discontinued this model. As time has gone by I have realized that .40 cal is better over all. Especially since most law enforcement carry that caliber.
Try proofing your pictures as a mossberg is not a Glock, and a beretta 92 is not a Smith.
None of the pictures are the correct pistols. Therefore you have zero firearm credibility.
Your cover photo demonstrates poor example of placement of trigger finger.