Ruger Security 9 Rear Sight

5 Best Compact 9mm Pistols

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Compact can sound like a bad thing in some cases For instance, ask anyone over 6-foot how they feel about compact cars. But what about a compact 9mm pistol?

In lots of ways, compact is exactly what you need. The perfect middle ground that makes even Goldilocks smile.

Be it a carry gun, a CCW, or something to defend your home with, a compact pistol might be the perfect fit. It gives you capacity, options, and feels good in your hand.

But what is the right one for you? Don’t worry, we’ll help you find it!

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What Is A Compact Gun?

There really aren’t any hard definitions about a lot of gun terms that we think of as being important. No governing agency that laid down the terms in stone for us to embrace, no unified theories that are universally accepted.

Really, the best definition I have for what a “compact” pistol is would be anything roughly the size of a Glock 19.

But why? Basically, the Glock 19 calls itself “compact” and is so massively popular that it has spawned dozens of other pistols that are all basically the exact same dimensions.

The United States Office of Weights and Measures has officially codified measurements for what a “foot” is and how it relates to dozens of other measurements. This is even written into US Federal law.

The gun industry doesn’t have that. For firearm hobbyists, we have the Glock 19.

Glock 17 vs Glock 19 vs Glock 26 vs Glock 41 vs Glock 43 WM
(left to right) Glock 17 vs Glock 19 vs Glock 26 vs Glock 41 vs Glock 43

Why Buy A Compact Gun?

Because this is America, that’s why!

Okay, really though — a compact 9mm is just kind of the perfect size for the vast majority of people. Especially if you get one of the newer ones with backstrap inserts that let you change the grip size a bit.

If you need a home defense gun, a compact 9mm normally comes with a 1913 rail for a weapon light and carries 15+ rounds in the standard magazine.

Or maybe you want to carry concealed, a compact is a great in-between size that is easier to carry than a full-size, but doesn’t have the limited capacity and practical precision of a sub-compact.

Even if you can carry a full-size gun, a compact can be easier and allow you more options. Take a compact 9mm and add a large weapon light, red dot, and flared magazine well and you have a substantially larger gun — one that is basically full-size. But now with extras.

Kind of like this one, Glock 19 with a Holosun 407C and Modlit PL350

Try this with a gun that is already full-size and you’ll need to be built like Shaq to pull it off.

Best Compact 9mm Pistols

Here’s a list of my Top Five 9mm Compacts:

  • Glock G19 Gen 4/5
  • S&W M&P 9 Compact 2.0
  • Springfield XD(M) 3.8 Compact
  • Ruger Security 9
  • Sig P320 Nitron

I have owned or shot most of these and can vouch for their reliability. All guns mentioned here have a polymer frame and are striker-fired unless otherwise noted.

Glock 19 Gen 5

Specs
Height 5 inches
Length 7.3 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 4 inches
Weight 24 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1 (can use several Glock magazines up to 33 round capacity)
MSRP $499.00 (Gen 5, $559.00)

We’ll start with the one I mentioned above! One of the greatest compact 9mm pistols ever made.

The G19 is usually the mirror that other compacts are held up in front of to see how they compare.

Being the most-produced Glock makes this gun a force to be reckoned with. While other generations like the 3rd and 4th are solid guns that you can trust, the new features of the Gen 5 really do stand out.

With the finger groves removed, a better cut trigger guard, a more accurate barrel, and front serrations in the slide — this generation incorporates a lot of changes people have wanted for a long time.

Maybe best of all is the backstraps. These can be removed and replaced with a range of sizes, all of which are included in the box, so if you have hands that are smaller or larger than average — you have choices.

The Glock 19 is Glock’s best-selling model for a few reasons, but one of the main selling points is that it checks all the right boxes in terms of length, width, capacity, and reliability.

I daresay there are probably more G19s being carried than most any other brand you could name.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9C 2.0

Specs
Height 4.3 inches
Length 7.3 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 4 inches
Weight 26 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1
MSRP $569

The M&P series has been around since 1899, but we’ve come a long way since then.

Originally designating a .38 revolver to be used by military or police units, the M&P brand has always been one of Smith & Wesson’s better sellers.

Today, that label is used to describe both handguns and rifles. This includes the M2.0 compact 9mm pistol.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9C 2.0

This gun has earned a reputation for concealability and firepower. Featuring a reinforced polymer frame and superior ergonomics, the M&P 9C is found in many concealed carry holsters.

A Melonite-finished slide and barrel mate with a stainless steel chassis to produce a pistol that not only performs well over time but also tends to show little holster wear.

The new 2.0 grip texturing is very aggressive, almost similar to hand-stippling.

I was truly impressed with how “sandpaper-like” it was and since I like very aggressive texturing I was pleased with the handling improvements S&W has made from the 1.0 model to the 2.0.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9C 2.0 Grip

Aside from the grip texture, what really stands out about the 9C 2.0?

For me, it was the way it fit my hand. S&W has put a lot of money in R&D where ergonomics are concerned and it shows.

This is one of those guns that just “feels right” in my hand. The grip circumference is not too great, plus you can more or less get all three fingers on the grip with the flush magazine floor plate in place.

Add to that a lower bore axis than some previous S&W semiautos had and the 1911-like grip angle and you have one very shootable pistol.

Accuracy is there, along with reliability.

Springfield XD(M) 3.8” Compact

Specs
Height 4.75 inches with flush magazine, 5.75 with X-tension magazine
Length 6.75 inches
Width 1.18 inches
Barrel 3.8 inches
Weight 28 oz. with flush magazine, 29 oz. with X-tension magazine
Capacity 1 – 13 round flush magazine and 1 – 19 round X-tension magazine
MSRP $631

Using the Glock 19 as the gun that we compare others against, the XD(M) is a quarter-inch shorter with its flush 13-round magazine and about a half-inch shorter in length.

Springfield XD(M) 3.8” Compact
Springfield XD(M) 3.8” Compact with external Magazine

However, using the extended 19-round magazine, the XD(M) is about an inch taller but gains four more rounds.

The grips aren’t for everyone, some love them and some hate them. But besides that, this is a great gun that delivers when you need it to.

Front serrations, easy-to-use magazine release, 1913 rail, and those big 19-round extended magazines — Springfield has a real winner on their hands (or in your hands).

Something you don’t see very often these days is a grip safety. While popular on the 1911, it has largely fallen out of favor on most modern guns.

Springfield is trying to bring it back with the XD line, but it hasn’t caught on yet. If you’re a fan of a physical safety that you don’t have to actively manipulate, this might be the gun for you.

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Taurus G3C

Specs
Height 5.1 inches
Length 6.3 inches
Width 1.2 inches
Barrel 3.2 inches
Weight 22 oz.
Capacity 10 or 12 + 1 (two alloy magazines included)

A lot of Taurus guns have a really bad reputation… a lot of them. And while I can’t recommend their revolvers, the G3C is a shockingly great pistol. One of the best compact 9mm pistols I’ve shot, even.

It feels strange for me to say, but Taurus made a great gun with this.

Taurus G3c title 2
Taurus G3C with extended magazine

Slightly shorter than the Glock 19, but with about the same grip length, the G3C is a bit easier to carry and a touch lighter.

10+1 standard flush magazines or 12+1 extended mags means the G3C is a little behind in capacity, but it’s also much less expensive.

Available in models with and without a manual safety, you have some decent options at least.

Personally, I would rather carry a Glock 19. But the G3C comes in at about half the price or less (normally) and that is some real savings.

If you’re pinching pennies, I strongly recommend a Taurus G3C.

Sig P320 Compact

Specs
Height 5.3 inches
Length 7.2 inches
Width 1.3 inches
Barrel 3.9 inches
Weight 25.8 oz.
Capacity 15 + 1 (two magazines included)
MSRP $679 with SIGLITE night sights

Something magical with the Sig Sauer P320 is that Sig has done a whole new way of building a gun.

Most pistols make the frame of the gun the serialized part that is legally the “firearm”. Sig Sauer came at this in a different way.

Instead, Sig made it so that the internal fire control group was the serialized part. In other words, they’re awesome.

This means that one FCG can go in many frames. Slap on the slide you want and you quickly move from a full-sized gun to a sub-compact.

The result is one of the best guns of a generation.

If you want a compact P320, then pick up the Compact model. Your second option is to just get any size and then an aftermarket frame/size combo. Your pick.

An outstanding gun, the “compact” version is basically what was adopted by the military as the M18 while the full-size version became the M17. However, there are some minor differences.

These are guns that are designed for long lives. Long, hard lives. From CCW to home defense to combat zones, the P320 is a modern fighting pistol.

With a P320 you’re not just getting one of the best compact 9mm pistols, you’re getting a whole family of guns.

Conclusions

We’ve talked about Goldilocks and her middle-ground-is-best philosophy.

Only you can decide if a mid-size gun is right for you. Getting the best of both worlds in terms of size and capacity, the compact 9mm is definitely worth taking a look at.

We’ve examined five of the best – now it’s up to you to choose the one that works for you!

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  1. Mike, always enjoy your articles. You said “10+1 standard flush magazines or 12+1 extended mags” for the G3c. The G3c is a 12 round, flush fit mag…just a little Taurus love.

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