What is the best 9mm subcompact?

What is the best 9mm subcompact?

The subcompact 9mm is among the most popular and fastest-growing gun categories in the world. If you value concealability above all else, a subcompact 9mm might be just the piece for you.

Quick links:

S&W M&P9 M2.0

Sig Sauer P365

Glock 43

Walther PPS M2

Kimber R7 Mako

How do I choose?

Subcompact 9mm pistols are an excellent option for an everyday CCW gun.

Let’s explore our top picks for the best 9mm subcompact.

Whatever you’re packing, apply a GunZee holster pad to that rigid KYDEX holster and breathe a sigh of relief.

S&W M&P9 M2.0



Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-9-m2.0

  • Barrel length: 3.6 in
  • Overall length: 6.6 in
  • Weight: 25.3 oz
  • Height: 4.98 in
  • Capacity: 12+1 rounds
  • Action: striker fired

Compared to the original M&P design, the ergonomics of the M&P9 have been refined with a more aggressive grip texture and a slightly re-shaped grip for better control. The flat-faced trigger and improved trigger action provide a cleaner, more consistent break. Accuracy is excellent, thanks to the upgraded barrel and rear sights.

Reliability and durability are hallmarks of the M&P series, and the M2.0 maintains that tradition. The rugged polymer frame soaks up recoil nicely. Controls are intuitive and easy to manipulate. The aggressive grip texturing ensures a solid purchase even with sweaty hands. The M2.0 retains the Picatinny rail for accessories and interchangeable palmswell grip inserts.

The major downside is that the trigger still has some creep before it breaks, although it's still smoother than the original. An aftermarket trigger could easily remedy this issue for more discerning shooters.



Enhanced ergonomics

Heavier than other subcompact pistols

Reliable and durable design

Easy to control recoil

Intuitive controls

Picatinny rail and interchangeable grips

This redditor loves “the fact that it came with 4 different size backstraps”. 


Sig Sauer P938

Sig Sauer 938

Sig Sauer 938.

Image source: https://www.sigsauer.com/p938-sas2b-micro-compact.html

  • Barrel length: 3.0 in
  • Overall length: 5.9 in
  • Weight: 16 oz
  • Height: 3.9 in
  • Capacity: 6+1 rounds or 7+1 rounds (with extended magazine)
  • Action: single action only

The Sig P938 delivers the power of the 1911 design in a concealable subcompact package. The crisp single-action trigger provides excellent accuracy for such a small pistol. The ergonomic grip size fits most hands well, even with the 6 or 7-round magazines.

Reliability is very good thanks to the quality internal components and tight tolerances. The external extractor and beveled magazine ensure smooth functioning. All controls are ambidextrous and easy to operate. The only manual safety lever provides peace of mind for pocket carry.

The subcompact frame and short sight radius compromise accuracy—but you’ll find this issue on all subcompacts to different degrees. 

The P938's recoil, while not excessive, takes some dedicated practice to control rapid follow-up shots. However, the smooth 1911-style action helps mitigate felt recoil better than most other lightweight 9mm subcompacts.



Excellent accuracy and trigger

Short sight radius

Reliable and durable construction

Only comes with manual safety, no other options

Good ergonomics and ambi controls

Smooth, manageable recoil

If you carry your P938 in an IWB KYDEX holster, apply our memory foam padding and experience premium comfort like never before.

Glock 43

  • Barrel length: 3.41 in
  • Overall length: 6.26 in
  • Weight: 16.23 oz
  • Height: 4.25 in
  • Capacity: 6+1 
  • Action: striker fired

The Glock 43 stands out for its slim, easily concealable design that still provides a 6+1 capacity of 9mm. The single-stack magazine and 1" slide width allow the pistol to disappear under clothing with minimal printing.

The lightweight polymer frame soaks up recoil nicely, making the G43 comfortable to shoot despite the small size. Reliability is excellent, with most users reporting flawless functioning out of the box. Accuracy is more than sufficient for short-range defensive use.

The minimal sights and shorter barrel do limit the G43's effectiveness past 7-10 yards. Capacity also trails many other compacts. However, these tradeoffs allow for an unmatched level of concealability.



Extremely slim and concealable design

Small grip may be tricky for some to control

Minimal recoil for size 

Lightweight and durable polymer frame

Good grip angle

“My hand easily found that ‘perfect place’ with the web of my hand high on the back strap and my fingers wrapped comfortably around the grip. I appreciated that the front strap didn’t have finger grooves, which in most cases don’t fit the lay of my fingers, requiring me to squirm and or spread my fingers into these preset locations.  I could get a firm, comfortable and functional grip quickly and easily.” —The Well Armed Woman

Walther PPS M2

  • Barrel length: 3.2 in
  • Overall length: 6.3 in
  • Weight: 19.4 oz
  • Height: 4.4 in
  • Capacity: 5-8+1
  • Action: striker fired

The PPS M2 provides improved ergonomics over the original model with better grip texturing and contour for enhanced control and comfort. The shorter trigger break also boosts shooting accuracy.

Reliability remains excellent, with tested flawless functioning across ammunition types. The polished feed ramp prevents jams even with hollow points.

The rear slide serrations and reversible magazine release are smoother and easier to manipulate than the original PPS. Low-light sights also provide fiber optic visibility.

The polymer frame may feel cheaper than metal alternatives, and the minimal sights sacrifice long-range accuracy.



Crisper, shorter trigger break

Large grip not ideal for small hands

Smoother slide and controls 

Sub-par long-range accuracy

Excellent reliability and durability

This YouTube reviewer loves PPS M2 because it is easy to shoot and comfortable.


Kimber R7 Mako

  • Barrel length: 3.37  inches
  • Overall length: 6.2 inches
  • Weight: 22 oz
  • Height: 4.3 in
  • Capacity: 11+1 flush magazine, 13+1 extended
  • Action: striker fired

The R7 Mako’s hammerless design enables snag-free draws from concealment. Testing shows the smooth single action trigger consistently delivers 2.5-3” groups at 10 yards when proper time is taken to aim. The crisp break and short reset aid rapid fire.

The rounded mainspring housing can cause issues establishing a proper grip if hands are too small. The manual safety takes practice to swipe off during the draw stroke but provides extra safety and reassurance.

Durability holds up well over thousands of rounds, though finish wear shows with extensive use. The aluminum frame lacks the resilience of steel alternatives but enhances portability. Night sights optimize low light use, although target acquisition is slowed.



Hammerless snag-free design

Finish wear is visible after extensive use

Aluminum frame

Ambidextrous magazine release

Dot sights

Tritium night sights

“Shoots beautifully and is super comfy,” says this redditor about his Mako.


How do I choose the right 9mm subcompact?

There are so many 9mm subcompact pistols to choose from. To figure out the best one for you, consider the following factors:

  • Body type. Your height, build, and how you dress influence how easily you can conceal different pistol sizes and shapes. More slender individuals can often hide a wider range of subcompacts compared to individuals with larger body types.
  • Hand size. Those with smaller hands should focus on finding a grip that fits comfortably and allows proper trigger reach. Trying out different models in person is the best way to find the right fit.
  • Strength. Operating slides and manipulating controls takes some hand strength. Make sure you can comfortably rack the slide and press buttons with the subcompact models you're considering.
  • Carry position. Where you plan to carry dictates ideal sizes and shapes. IWB, ankle, and pocket holsters work better with smaller, lighter pistols without protruding controls.
  • Priorities. Consider your most important factors—capacity, comfort, concealability, reliability, caliber, etc. Rank these to narrow down your options.
  • Accessories. Availability of CCW holsters, sights, grips, and magazine extensions can factor into decisions. Aftermarket support differs between brands.
  • Handedness. Left-handed shooters often prefer ambidextrous or reversible controls for ease of use. Right-handed models still work but may not be ideal.

What is the best double stack 9mm subcompact?

For CCW enthusiasts who prefer high capacity and shootability, double-stack 9mm subcompact pistols are an excellent choice. While still compact for carry, they provide over 10 rounds of ammunition with a secure, ergonomic grip.

Here are our top picks:

  1. Glock 26. The legendary "Baby Glock" set the standard, packing 10+1 rounds in a 1.2" wide frame. Proven to be ultra-reliable with abundant accessories and aftermarket support. Although it is small, it packs a lot of rounds, thanks to its double-stack magazine.
  2. Springfield XD-S Mod.2. Impressively slim at just 1" wide yet holds 10+1 rounds. Enhanced grip texture and ergonomics improve control.
  3. CZ P-10 S. Streamlined subcompact with excellent ergonomics. 10+1 capacity in a 1.2" frame. Known for light, crisp trigger pull and accuracy.

What is the smallest 9mm subcompact?

The smallest 9mm subcompact pistol is the Smith & Wesson CSX, with dimensions of just 0.88 inches wide and 5.7 inches long. This compact size makes the CSX easily concealable for deep-cover carry.

However, the slim single-stack magazine only provides a capacity of 10+1 rounds. While reasonable for a subcompact, some may desire the higher capacity that larger pistols provide. Extended magazine capacity is available to add extra rounds if desired. 

Shooting experts note the CSX's reduced size can make control and rapid fire more difficult compared to larger subcompact 9mm options. Those with smaller hands may find the CSX's size perfect, while larger hands may prefer something bigger.

What is the best 9mm subcompact with a laser?

Quality subcompact models with integrated lasers provide an all-in-one solution without the need to add accessories later.

  1. Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ with Crimson Trace Laser. This lightweight polymer-frame single stack includes an ambidextrous laser activation button under the trigger guard. The easy-to-operate slide and crisp trigger make it shooter-friendly.
  2. Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 OSP with Crimson Trace. Impressively slim at just 1” wide, this subcompact packs a 6+1 9mm capacity with an integrated front activation laser in the grip. Enhanced ergonomic grip texturing aids control.
  3. Ruger MAX-9 with Viridian E-Series Laser. This concealable single stack comes with optic front sights for easy addition to the compact E-Series laser module. A reliable and accurate pistol with fast target acquisition.

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9mm subcompacts FAQ

What is the best 9 mm pistol to carry?

With its slim profile and excellent capacity, the Sig Sauer P365 stands out as a top choice for carrying a 9mm pistol. Weighing just 17.8 oz unloaded, this micro-compact's 10+1 capacity hits a sweet spot between portability and firepower. 

A smooth, consistent trigger and snag-free design make the P365 a wonderfully shootable and concealable 9mm companion.

What is the most reliable small handgun?

The Glock 43 earns top marks for a small reliable firearm. Glock's proven reputation shines through in the 6+1 round single stack 9mm 43. With simple mechanics and robust design, it just goes bang every time you pull the trigger. The Tenifer finish and weather-resistant construction hold up to daily carry.

What compact 9mm has a safety?

For those desiring manual safety on a compact 9mm, the Sig Sauer P320 Compact is an excellent choice. This modular polymer-framed pistol provides a consistent, smooth trigger with a frame-mounted safety lever. 

What is the most durable 9mm pistol?

When it comes to durability, all-metal construction and proven battlefield credentials are hard to beat. The Beretta M9 showcases rugged dependability with over 30 years of service as the U.S. military's standard sidearm. Built on a stainless steel slide and alloy frame, the M9 soaks up tens of thousands of rounds while still going strong.

What pistol do most Navy SEALs carry?

Navy SEALs use SIG Sauer P226 and Glock 19 the most. SEALs helped test and evaluate both pistols, influencing adoption across law enforcement active duty teams. These high-capacity 9mms deliver serious firepower in full-size packages ready for harsh environments.

What type of 9mm is best for self-defense?

For self-defense purposes, most experts recommend a modern hollow point or expanding 9mm load. Rounds like Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, and Hornady Critical Duty provide excellent terminal performance. They penetrate barriers while expanding reliably when encountering resistance to stop threats decisively.

What is the strongest pistol in real life?

The Desert Eagle pistol chambered in .50 Action Express is widely considered the most powerful production semi-automatic pistol, generating over 1,500 foot-pounds of muzzle energy thanks to its large caliber cartridge and gas operation.

What Glock is smaller than 9mm?

The Glock 42 chambered in .380 ACP is a smaller caliber than 9mm. The G42 provides a slim 0.94-inch width and ultra-compact size with a 3.25-inch barrel. Weighing only 13.76 oz unloaded, it is significantly lighter and easier to conceal than 9mm models. The G42 holds 6 rounds of .380 ammunition, adequate for a backup or deep concealment role.

What is the highest capacity micro compact 9mm?

The Springfield Armory Hellcat holds an impressive 13 rounds with its extended magazine, the highest capacity of any current micro-compact 9mm. Measuring just 1 inch wide, the Hellcat's ingenious dual magazine design allows 11 or 13 shots on tap in a minuscule package. Impressive engineering packed into a petite but powerful pistol.

What is the best concealed carry caliber?

While personal preference varies, 9mm is considered the best concealed carry caliber due to its  blend of stopping power, capacity, and shootability. The 9mm offers sufficient penetration with modern defensive ammo while minimizing recoil for faster, accurate follow-up shots compared to larger calibers.

Further reading

What are the best concealed carry guns for seniors?

What is the most comfortable CCW holster?

What is the best 9mm single stack pistol?

How do I choose the right concealed carry pistol?

What is the best EDC holster?

What is the best compact pistol for appendix carry?

Concealed carry revolver vs semi-auto

What is the best 9mm with grip safety?

What is the best IWB holster for full-sized guns?