Enough Gun: Are Modern Micro 9s the Do Everything Pistol?

Enough Gun: Are Modern Micro 9s the Do Everything Pistol?

For the past decade, the hottest sector of the firearms market has been the concealed carry market and an obvious trend has been the invention and mass manufacture of handguns that are ever-smaller and friendlier to concealed carry. While many dedicated enthusiasts do carry compact or full-size double-stack autoloaders, the vast majority of concealed carriers who are more casual in their approach do not find carrying such guns on a daily basis practical, or even achievable.

Until recently, carrying a gun usually involved the choice between carrying a substantially sized auto-loading pistol or full-size revolver, or carrying a smaller pistol in the pocket auto or snub revolver category. While small-frame revolvers and tiny pocket autos have long been, and remain popular carry choices, people have generally agreed that such weapons are compromise guns that are easy to carry but not as capable as full-size pistols. For civilian self-defense, however, even such small carry options generally suffice.

The new crop of micro auto pistols chambered in 9mm and capable of holding 10+ rounds has significantly changed the game. Several years ago Sig Sauer released the Sig P365 which was smaller than even the well-established Smith and Wesson Shield pistol which had reigned supreme among the “single stack” 9mm options. The Sig P365, of course, also crammed 10 rounds of 9mm into the same flush-fitting magazine profile that the competition was only offering in 6 or 7 rounds. This was, indeed, a game-changer, as 10+ rounds has long been the unofficial difference between small gun and duty gun capacity.

On the heels of the P365 have come several other options that also pack significant capacity into shockingly small packages, the most notable being the Springfield Hellcat, which actually has a flush-fitting magazine capacity of 11 rounds of 9mm. Having such capacity in guns that are as small, if not smaller, than the longer established single-stack autos is quite amazing as most would agree that, all else being equal, more capacity in the gun is certainly better than less.

So, how have these guns changed the concealed carry game, or have they? With such tiny weapons offering such capacity, do full-size pistols or their compact counterparts even serve a purpose in concealed carry at all? Do smaller options such as pocket pistols still serve a role?

Size and Carry Mode

Let’s first address the comparison between these modern micro autos and the longer established deep-concealment options such as small revolvers and pocket autos chambered in 380acp or the like. While the new breed of micro 9s are very small indeed, most people will still find that they are best carried on the waist in some capacity. While there are people out there who seem to be able to carry guns even as large as the Glock 26 in a pocket, this is not practical for most. The majority of people who would be interested in carrying a pistol in the pocket will likely find that even these very tiny 9mm guns will not be well-suited for pocket carry.

Autoloaders are difficult to carry in the pocket due to the shape as the tang makes them prone to snagging on the pocket while being drawn. The truly small autos, guns such as the Ruger LCP and the like, are indeed pocket-carry guns as they are small enough to make such snagging a limited issue. Likewise, small revolvers, even though they appear about the same size as the micro 9s, are shaped in a way that makes them much more feasible for pocket carry as the rounded profile conceals better and the lack of a tang on the pistol reduces the issues of snagging on the draw. While the micro 9s are truly small, most will find that they are great belt-carried guns, not pocket guns, and the tiny pocket autos and revolvers still serve an undeniable purpose for such modes of concealment.

Size, Shoot-ability, and Capability

So, how do these micro 9s compare to compact and full-size autoloaders? Here is where there is an undeniable difference in size. Guns that are, essentially, compact versions of the full-size weapon, typically have reduced grip and slide length but the same thickness. The best-known handgun family that illustrates this would be the full-size Glock 17, the ever-popular compact Glock 19, and the sub-compact Glock 26. The Glock 19 is easier to carry than the Glock 17 but it is still, essentially, a full-size duty pistol. The Glock 26 is shorter than either in the grip and slide length and it is easier to carry than either of the larger guns for most people, but it is still a fat little sucker that has the same thickness. Many other pistols, such as the Smith and Wesson M&P and Sig P320 families, have similar breakdowns in frame sizes.

Compared to these full-framed guns, the micro 9s are, undeniably, easier to carry. Guns like the Sig P365 and Springfield Hellcat are much thinner and generally shorter than compact or sub-compact versions of the full-size service pistols. Such reduced dimensions make inside-the-waistband carry easier, more comfortable, and more concealable. With a capacity of 10-12 rounds in these guns, many consider the carry of full-size or compact service guns obsolete for civilian concealed carry. Is that the case?

There is no doubt that the micro 9s offer excellent capacity for their size, and it is the opinion of this author that they are, at this point, perhaps the best “do everything” solution for many concealed carriers. They are small enough that most people will be able to carry them under most conditions with even a mild level of dedication, and they offer capacity that makes them relevant, competitive, and capable in our modern world. However, there are three aspects of full-frame pistols that still offer an advantage over these micro guns that should not be dismissed:

First, full-size guns and their compact versions offer greater capacity still, even compared to the new breed of micro 9s. A gun such as the sub-compact Glock 26 can take magazines that range from 10 to 33 rounds of ammunition. While I don’t consider this the primary advantage of full-framed guns, it is still a significant consideration.

Second, full-size guns, and even many of the compact models, make the attachment of lights, lasers, and other accessories more feasible as most of the micro 9s are so small that some don’t even offer a rail. This may not be that big a deal for a concealed carry gun, but in terms of a home defense gun, full-frame pistols offer an obvious advantage here.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the laws of physics always apply and the micro 9s, while quite shootable, are simply not as shootable as full-frame guns for most people. Most individuals will find micro 9s more shootable than snub revolvers or pocket pistols, but less shootable than full-frame or compact autos. Granted, the micro 9s may be, arguably, plenty capable of the shooting tasks demanded for concealed carry self-defense, but in terms of performance, larger pistols obviously maintain the advantage here.

What is the final verdict on micro 9s? The new breed of micro 9s are, indeed, an excellent option for a compromise between concealability and capability and they hit the sweet spot for many, if not most, concealed carriers. Personally, I would feel comfortable carrying any of these new micro 9s and feel adequately armed. However, when circumstance dictates truly deep concealment the pocket auto and snub revolver still prove necessary for many, and for those who are willing to invest the effort to conceal larger guns, the shootability advantage of full-frame pistols is undeniable.

So, while full-size guns and true pocket guns have certainly not been usurped by the new breed of micro 9s, I propose that the micro 9 has made it possible for most people to carry a very capable defensive handgun under almost all circumstances and to do so with minimal effort. I call that a win for the concealed carrier.

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