Humans have no claws, fangs, or other natural defensive tools. Yet, between our power to reason and the use of an opposable thumb, we can fashion our own tools. From the early flint knives to modern rifles equipped with night-vision gear, people have evolved our tools to meet the needs of the environment. There are few better examples of defensive handgun evolution than micro-compact pistols.
Top 11 Micro-Compact Pistols
When I was but a lad, micro-compact pistols were limited to unreliable tools chambered for relatively weak cartridges. Today, however, men and women alike can avail themselves of any number of tiny, but reliable, semi-auto pistols chambered for respectable cartridges.
Let’s take a look at some of the options available today.
As one of the world’s premier manufacturers of firearms, I expect great things from FN. And that’s just what you get with the FN 503 pistol. This micro-compact 9mm pistol conceals easily yet doesn’t feel like a toy an adult can barely wrap their hand around.
With a standard magazine, the gun holds 6+1 rounds, while the extended eight-round magazine gives you more firepower and grip on the pistol.
Accuracy is excellent in a pistol of this size. The 3.1-inch barrel has a recessed target crown. Both the feed ramp and chamber are factory polished. On top of the slide are low-profile, three-dot sights that don’t catch on clothing but are still large enough to use effectively.
If you want to add larger sights, that’s not a problem. FN uses the same dovetail size as the full-size 509 pistol.
For more information, please visit FNAmerica.com.
Without a doubt, Glock is one of the first brands that pop to mind when many people consider self-defense pistols. It’s easy to understand why. The guns tend to be very reliable and are carried by many of the world’s police agencies and military forces.
For micro-compact pistols, the company offers several choices, including the G43. This pistol is a single-stack 9mm pistol that is easily concealed in a quality holster. It allows people of all sizes and shapes to defend themselves against larger, stronger attackers.
I’ve extensively tested this gun and found it to be one of the easier shooters in this category. My personally owned G43 offers reasonable accuracy and has proved 100% reliable with all kinds of defensive ammunition.
For more information, please visit US.Glock.com.
Beating many competing models to the market by years, the Kahr CM9 is a proven option in the micro-compact pistol category. Chambered for the 9mm cartridge, the pistol packs six rounds into a flush-fitting magazine. The gun is light, reliable, and remarkably affordable.
One of the major differences between this pistol and others in this article is its incredibly smooth double-action-only trigger pull. I carried my personally owned CM9 for several years as a police backup gun. Qualifying with the gun was a breeze as the sights and smooth trigger allowed me to quickly put rounds on target at every distance.
Made in the U.S.A., the Kahr CM9 is part of the company’s value line. While some of the detailed machining on other Kahr pistols is not used on this gun, the functional differences are negligible. What an owner gets is a great shooting pistol that can save your life without breaking the bank.
For more information, please visit Kahr.com.
Kimber R7 Mako
Well-known for its rifles and 1911-style pistols, Kimber caused a bit of a stir when it introduced the R7 Mako into the micro-compact market. The polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol packs 11 rounds of 9mm into a standard magazine and two more in an extended magazine.
While the short grip length of small guns can make it harder to control recoil, Kimber uses an aggressive texture on most of the frame to enhance the shooter’s grip.
To assist with accuracy, Kimber includes TruGlo Tritium Pro night sights standard on the R7 Mako. An optional Crimson Trace CTS-1500 red-dot sight is available from the factory. Should you prefer a different optic, the base model pistol will accept any red-dot sight with an RMSc-type footprint.
For more information, please visit R7Mako.com.
Mossberg’s latest pistol is a true corker with a lot of features to consider for your concealed carry needs. This 9mm pistol packs 11 cartridges into the standard magazine while the extended mag gives you three more in reserve. That’s a lot of firepower in a compact package. But the MC2sc’s features include more than just impressive capacity.
Designed to work with any RMSc-type red-dot optic, the MC2sc is a thoroughly modern pistol with a glass-reinforced polymer frame, a flat-faced trigger and an innovative field stripping method that allows you to remove the striker assembly without pulling the trigger.
While all models have an integral trigger safety, Mossberg offers shooters an optional manual safety model. These pistols use a cross-bolt safety that is more common in long guns. The company also offers a model with TruGlo Tritium Pro sights for about $100 more.
For more information, please visit Mossberg.com.
Ruger LCP MAX
Without a doubt, one of the most successful micro-compact pistols of the last 20 years has been the Ruger LCP. Turning the volume up to 11, Ruger now offers the LCP MAX.
Slightly larger than the original, the LCP MAX is still remarkably small—less than an inch wide and less than 11 ounces when unloaded. Yet this tiny pistol packs ten rounds into a flush-fitting magazine. Mags that feed 12 rounds are also available.
Further enhancing the defensive potential of this pistol is the standard inclusion of a front night sight. A tritium vial surrounded by a bright white outline helps you accurately deliver rounds when you are fighting for your life in low light conditions. The rear sight has a wide notch to help you find the front sight quickly.
Further, the leading edge has a hard edge to use for one-handed slide manipulation in an emergency. The great thing is the pistol will still ride easily in a pocket.
For more information, please visit Ruger.com.
Sig Sauer P365-380
Sig Sauer gets a lot of attention with its P365 line of pistols. I can understand why. The guns are feature-rich and pack a lot of ammunition for their size. Recently the company expanded the line to include the .380 ACP cartridge.
Promising less recoil than its 9mm counterparts, the P365-380 retains many of the features found throughout the line. One of the most important commonalities is the lower half of the pistol which uses the same grip module and trigger group to ensure the same feel of the pistol in your hands.
Sig includes night sights on the pistol, and all the P365-380 slides are cut for an optic. Not visible is the lighter recoil spring that requires less force to operate. That means people with reduced hand strength should be able to manipulate the slide more easily when clearing malfunctions.
For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.
Smith & Wesson CSX
Lest you assume that micro-compact pistols are only available with plastic frames, I’d like to introduce you to the Smith & Wesson CSX. This single-action pistol is hammer-fired and equipped with a manual thumb safety. It matches an aluminum alloy frame to the stainless steel barrel and slide. The result is a sweet shooting little gun that breaks many people’s ideas about concealed carry.
The single-action trigger is light and crisp for easy shooting. Metal three-dot sights give you a sight picture that is in line with what many shooters are seeking. Don’t think, however, that this is some kind of retread pistol.
Chambered for the 9mm cartridge, the CSX features interchangeable backstraps to fit the hand of the shooter. That’s not a feature common to metal-framed pistols. And the pistol packs plenty of firepower. A flush-fitting magazine holds ten rounds, while the slightly longer one adds a pair more.
For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP
Without a doubt in my mind, the Hellcat OSP is one of the best options for a micro-compact defensive pistol. It is chambered for the respectable 9mm cartridge and packs 11 rounds in a standard magazine.
An included extended magazine adds two more, while optional 15-round magazines are also available. I’ve found my Hellcat to be utterly reliable with all kinds of defensive ammunition, which is a must for a defensive firearm.
One of the things that really sets the Hellcat OSP apart from similar weapons is the use of U-Dot sights. Springfield Armory uses a large photoluminescent sight up front. With its tritium insert, it offers a bright aiming point in all lighting conditions.
The rear sight uses a large U-notch that allows for fast front sight acquisition. Then to round it all out, the gun allows for the direct mount of any RMSc-type red-dot optic. Eliminating the need for a mounting plate brings the optic closer in line with the bore of the barrel.
For more information, please visit Springfield-Armory.com.
Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O.
Taurus continues to innovate, and the GX4 is an example of what customers can expect from the company. A micro-compact pistol chambered in 9mm, the GX4 feels like a serious pistol and is positioned for serious work.
Flush-fitting magazines hold 11 rounds, though 10-round versions are available for rights-restricted states. Extended 13-round magazines are also available for the pistol.
While there are several versions of the GX4 available, the T.O.R.O. model is the one that most interests me. Taurus designed the slide for easy direct mount of RMSc-type optics—no gunsmith training required.
Taurus put a lot of thought into the pistol. For example, the company designed the magazine and grip with recessed areas that improve your ability to strip the mag from the pistol if you encounter a malfunction.
While I’ve never encountered a malfunction with the GX4, real-life combat can introduce problems not encountered on the range. Having a way to address a problem more easily is a feature, not an indicator of a bug.
For more information, please visit TaurusUSA.com.
Walther PPS M2
Walther handguns have been famous for many years, yet the company’s modern pistols don’t seem to get the attention they should. Case in point: the Walther PPS M2. This compact 9mm pistol has some of the best ergonomics of any small handgun.
Even with a flush-fitting magazine, the pistol feels good in the hand. An included extended magazine gives you even more to hold onto, which turns the gun into a real delight to shoot.
Walther seemingly also takes pride in its triggers, as the PPS M2 has one of the best in this roundup. It is smooth, with a clean break and a reasonably short reset. I’ve owned one of these pistols for years and carried it extensively.
The gun is incredibly reliable and accurate. Hitting center mass at 25 yards is no problem with any ammo I’ve run. Likewise, hollow-point and FMJ ammo both run reliably in this gun, even cheap reloads shot with a loose grip.
For more information, please visit WaltherArms.com.