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5 Best Micro Compact 9mm Handguns [Review+Video]

When it comes to the ever-expanding world of micro compacts, you’ve got quite a lot of options.

We’ve covered most of the flagship concealable pistols in dedicated videos previously.

However, outside of the usual suspects like Glock, Sig, etc., there are a lot of peripheral manufacturers submitting their own compact designs.

Micro Compacts
Micro Compacts

While giving each one an individual video doesn’t necessarily make sense; we thought it’d be prudent to do a big micro compact roundup.

We took into consideration models you guys asked for comment sections so we could bring you our thoughts on models you’ve wondered about.

Us reading your comments

Hopefully, this guide will serve as a reference point to help you narrow down just what you’re looking for.

So, keep reading if you’re pondering a micro compact…

Or, ya know, you could tune into our video below.

As always, be sure to head over to Pew Pew Tactical’s YouTube channel to see more guns and gear.

Best Micro Compact 9mm Pistols

1. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

Up first is Smith and Wesson’s M&P Shield Plus.

Boasting a reasonably hefty 13+1 capacity, the Shield Plus offers a flat face trigger for easy, repeatable shots and an enhanced grip texture to help with gun retention when it matters most.

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus
Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus

I’ve shot a few different M&P offerings over the years and have never been particularly impressed by them.

But this is the first time I’ve gotten my hands on any of their concealment-oriented compact models…and I found myself pleasantly surprised.

The Shield Plus’ overall grip shape feels fantastic! Obviously, this is a subjective thing, but I found it points naturally — even if the grip texture itself felt just kind of okay.

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus

Using a thumbs high and forward approach puts just enough pressure on the slide lock lever to prevent it from engaging when empty the majority of the time.

However, that’s kind of just the name of the game, so I’m not going to fault the gun for that.

Trigger-wise, the Shield Plus’ flat-faced design indeed feels like it lends itself to reasonably accurate and repeatable shots.

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus

Though this brief period with the gun was my first exposure, I felt I found that sweet spot for riding the trigger reset.

Its’ safety mechanism is a familiar-looking shoe that must be depressed within the trigger itself.

Drawing from an appendix carry Hidden Hybrid, and Concealment Express holsters felt pretty damn great

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus
Concealment Express for the win!

All in all, this proves a pretty solid choice. (And 13-round mags in the world of micro guns is nothing to sneeze at.)

If you’re looking for that mix of concealability and mag capacity with a grip that facilitates a natural connection between your eyes and irons, the M&P Shield Plus is worth a glance.

2. Ruger Max 9

Up next is the Max 9 from Ruger.

It offers a striker-fired micro compact design, claiming to feature a smooth trigger pull, clean break, and positive reset – all with a “medium” textured frame for a secure and comfortable grip.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9
Ruger Max 9

I’m going to preface this with the point that everyone’s physiology is different. Maybe what works for you doesn’t work for me, but sorry/not sorry, I didn’t find the Max 9 all that pleasant to shoot.

You can rock either 10+1 or 12+1 magazines. Utilizing the 10-rounders we had access to, I found the gun’s diminutive pistol grip just didn’t really provide enough meat to get a solid purchase.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9

This caused it to recoil in a bizarre up and forward motion.

Again, a good amount of that could very well be on me. But I also have average dude hands (between a medium and large in glove sizes) — so similar shooters may want to pay heed.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9

Depending on your personal preference when reloading, you might also find yourself baffled by the slide lock lever design.

To me, this feels like a major overcorrection that winds up making the Max 9’s slide lock lever almost useless due to its size.

Unless I’m missing something obvious here, the entire lever component is a tiny, impossible-to manipulate tab.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9
That slide lock lever is weird, man.

It’ll certainly lock the slide back without issue, but I hope you’re comfy with sling-shotting your gun when empty. That’s realistically the only way to disengage that lever.

A brief glance online confirms that other users experience all sorts of weirdness related to the slide release – either it failing to lock or locking back with rounds still in the mag.

But again, this is one of those design decisions so strange it makes me second guess myself. Like, am I the one just not getting it here?

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9
Questioning everything at this point.

Additionally, the Max 9’s grip just doesn’t suit my hand particularly well.

Its entire grip angle feels sort of vaguely wrong in a way that’s hard to pin down.

The Max 9’s trigger was just sort of….Okay? I guess?

Truth be told, I don’t remember much about it, which probably indicates that it’s a standard polymer striker-fired trigger.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9

A little spongey, which comes with the territory, but overall serviceable if not impressive.

Lastly, there’s a distinctive “crunchiness” to the mag release button that felt downright gross.

Is there a word for whatever you’d call the opposite of ASMR? Because it feels like that in tactile form.

That honestly might be something that clears up over time as the gun gradually wears in.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9
That mag release is just gross.

But I’m also not positive I’ve experienced an unpleasant creakiness like this outside of crusty old milsurp guns.

The irons are at least decent, with a fiber optic front sight that’s easy to pick up in bright daylight.

Micro Compacts Ruger Max 9
Sights are decent, though.

Honestly, that’s probably the only part of the gun that felt like it worked well enough to highlight.

If you hadn’t caught the drift by now, I didn’t enjoy much about the Ruger Max 9, outside of a relatively low MSRP of about $550 or so.

3. Springfield Armory Hellcat

We turn now to Springfield Armory’s Hellcat — which describes itself as the highest capacity micro-compact handgun in the world.

A standard magazine that sits flush in its grip holds 10+1, while an extended magazine offers 13+1.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat
Springfield Armory Hellcat

You might notice that I opened with a gun also featuring 13+1 magazines…

It seems worth pointing out that the Hellcat is about 6-inches long with a 3-inch barrel… and so is the M&P Shield plus.

The Hellcat brings a variety of features. It serves up aggressive slide serrations up top, loaded chamber indicator, railed frame for lights or LAM units, and a reversible magazine release.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

First impressions here…the Hellcat’s sights are decent.

The high vis tritium green front lines up nicely with the almost oversized Tactical Rack U Dot rear sight.

Its slide is also optics cut, with Springfield themselves recommending a Hex Wasp, JP Enterprises JPoint, or Shield RMSC.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

The gun’s minimal profile does create a snappy recoil impulse – not anything gnarlier than you’d expect from other micro compacts, though.

It’s probably on par with something like the stock Sig Sauer P365.

While shooting with disgustingly sweat-drenched hands, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t getting a fantastic grip on the gun. Its grip texture felt a bit subpar.

Right up front, ahead of the takedown lever, sits an inward impression with some grip texture as well.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

The intent? You’ve got a bit of a ledge to apply pressure, helping you stabilize the gun.

While I respect the attempt here, going with an inward dimple rather than an outward ledge doesn’t feel like it works particularly well.

Lastly, the Hellcat we had access to also appears to have a rather large and pronounced casting seam.

It makes its presence known by aggressively recoiling into your palms.

I have a complete stream of consciousness list of bullet points I recorded on my phone while we were shooting these micro compacts.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat
That right there feels not so great.

For posterity, I want to point out that my fugue-state notes on the Hellcat were “Rear grip casting seam recoils blood pain into your meat hands ow.”

(This is probably the part where the comment section tells me to sandpaper calluses into my dainty mitts.)

Real talk, though, the Hellcat isn’t necessarily a bad gun, and it shot well enough overall.

But micro compacts are already unpleasant enough to shoot on a good day.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

In my opinion, if you’re picking up a carry gun, you may have to use; you probably want one that’s comfortable to train with often.

For me, that’s not a Hellcat, but for you, maybe it is.

Do you like the Springfield Armory Hellcat? Let us know by giving it a rating below.

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (19)

Your Rating?

4. Sig Sauer P365X

Up next, we’ve got two different recent additions to Sig’s P365 lineup that felt worth mentioning without doing complete spinoff videos of their own.

The P365X takes the original P365 slide and adds a different grip module.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365X
Sig Sauer P365X & XL

This lengthens the pistol grip and alters the trigger to create a package that tweaks most of what I dislike about the OG 365.

While that grip length isn’t a massive difference in terms of a couple of inches tacked on, for me, it makes all the difference.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365X
P365 on top of the P365X

That addition of a 12-round magazine sitting flush in the 365X’s grip doesn’t hurt either.

Considering that one of my biggest gripes with the stock P365 is the short grip length, I appreciated the extra space.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365X
Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365X

Our Sig 365X also came with a Romeo preinstalled — losing the rear sight for that add-on — but the combination feels fantastic.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365X
Sig Sauer P365X

Additionally, the X’s trigger has been redesigned to bring a much flatter profile that breaks at 90-degrees.

It’s a noticeable improvement over the original 365’s mushy trigger.

5. Sig Sauer P365XL

In an adjacent category sits the P365XL — running the same extended X profile grip module as the 365X, but with a similarly elongated slide.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL
Sig Sauer P365XL

Personally, I feel like the combination shines.

The extra 0.6-inches of x-axis length feel like it bumps this micro compact up from something that feels like an angry squirt gun to “yeah, this is a gun.”

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL

The slightly longer sight radius, slide, and grip combine to create a package that points incredibly well.

I think I wound up preferring the 365XL to the X although the latter came equipped with a red dot.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL

Everything else is, more or less, the same as the X.

But for those of you out there who don’t need the most concealable profile gun possible, do yourself a favor and check out the P365XL.

6. Glock G43X MOS

Ok, so some of ya’ll yelled at us in the comments for originally excluding the Glock from our list. So, here we are.

The G43X adopts that oh-so-familiar Glock aesthetic, although in a much smaller package than your standard G17.

Glock G43X
Glock G43X MOS

Being more minuscule than some of its siblings means that you’re limited to a 6+1 capacity. (Though you’re not stuck with OEM mags as Shield Arms makes some BAMF G43X mags.)

39
at Gunmag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It measures about 6-inches in overall length with a barrel at 3.41-inches. Weight-wise, you’re looking at just over 23-ounces.

Though the G43X sports a rail of sorts upfront, it’s waaaay tiny. Like, you’re not going to be able to pop on your Streamlight TLR7 or 8 and go.

Like pretty much every other tiny gun on our list, there’s some snap to this gun when fired. Again, to be expected though.

Glock G43X Mag Yeet
Glock G43X

That said, it feels more controllable than the Sig P365, in my opinion though.

Overall, how did it shoot? Like a Glock…meaning it did what it was supposed to do reliably and consistently.

But what do you really expect from the Apple Inc. of the firearms industry?

479
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want to learn more about the Glock G43X? Check out our full review.

7. Taurus GX4

Want an affordable pistol that also happens to be pretty darn concealable?

Taurus shook things up with the introduction of its GX4 – a micro compact aimed at providing a budget-friendly option priced at $392.

Taurus GX4
Taurus GX4

The striker-fired GX4 stands 4.4-inches tall and measures 5.8-inches in overall length. Weight-wise you’re looking at about 18.5-ounces.

The magazine release might be too shallow for my liking, but it’s billed as a carry gun, and carry guns typically carry smaller controls.

As far as shooting, it feels way less snappy than I anticipated.

Taurus GX4 In Hand

The trigger offers a shallow reset, and it felt okay. Nothing spectacular or noteworthy.

Accuracy-wise it’s okay for a small gun. I hit center mass on a target set up at 7-yards right out of the box.

The GX4 occupies a wallet-friendly space for budget-minded consumers.

Conclusion

In my mind, it makes sense to pick the 9mm micro compact option that fits your needs best. Frankly, no one can tell you what those needs are except you.

Micro Compacts
Micro compacts galore.

Generally, these pistols suck to shoot, but that’s the nature of the territory you get into when concealment becomes your primary concern.

There’s not much you can do to get around that.

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus
Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus

But given that you should probably be proficient with the tool you’re carrying, you probably want to snag a gun that you can train and become proficient with.

For me, that leaves the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus or the Sig Sauer P365 XL as the best contenders.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL
Sig Sauer P365XL

But, if possible, I’d still recommend getting rounds through multiple sub/micro/nano compact models to truly determine what works for you.

As always, you can watch these guns in action in the video below.

What’s your preferred micro compact? Let us know in the comments below. Want to explore more carry options? Check out the 12 Best Concealed Carry Guns (By Popular Caliber).

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25 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Charles Willoughby

    I have daily carried a SCCY 2 for the last 3 years. Now available in striker fired. Never a problem in my many trips to the range. Don't understand why this pistol is ignored other than it is a better bang for the buck. Mine is heavy trigger and no safety.

    September 7, 2021 5:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bob G

    G43X MOS. Now available: Holosun HE407K-GR X2 Green Dot 6 moa dot size with shake awake tech, and Streamlight TLR7 Sub light, both of these will mount up. Just try finding a decent holster tho, but available only in Kydex plastic.

    September 5, 2021 7:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jimbo

    Most people don't realize that Beretta has a micro compact 9mm - the PX4 Storm Subcompact. Holds 13+1, double stack, DA/SA. Shoots any kind of ammo, if you use a good grease to lubricate the slide. I think that one should be in the list of the best Micro 9s, but I'm not sure where on the list it should go, because I haven't personally shot any of the ones on the list.

    September 3, 2021 5:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jimbo

    Most people don't realize that Beretta has a micro compact 9mm - the PX4 Storm Subcompact. Holds 13+1, double stack, DA/SA. Shoots any kind of ammo, if you use a good grease to lubricate the slide. I think that one should be in the list of the best Micro 9s, but I'm not sure where on the list it should go, because I haven't personally shot any of the ones on the list.

    September 3, 2021 5:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jimbo

    You left off the Ruger EC9S. Under $300, can be easily pocket carried, 9mm, shoots accurately and reliably, and does not overly kick.

    September 3, 2021 11:10 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Luke S

    Kimber micro 9 ESV is better than the m&p i think. I have shot both side by side. To me the fit in my hand is better, more comfortable. It does kick but rounds always go were i put them.

    September 3, 2021 9:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Schoch

    Why is the Fusion Firearms Grand Sport 2011 not on the list? With it's 7-Inch barrel it should be a contender. If you're worried about magazine capacity, I just added a +9 mag extension. I had the slide milled with a picatinny cut and added an LPVO just to balance it out and help utilize it's maximum long range capabilities.

    I appendix carry mine and with the added claw to my holster I barely print, even when I wear my extra tight super slim skinnier than skinny jeans and my shmedium t-shirts. If your t-shirt has the YouTube hunk Garand thumb's (Travis Haley's son) face on it, no one will ever notice if you're printing. A t-shirt with David Hasselhoff on it works almost as well, plus you will get numerous compliments from the ladies.

    John, you need to think outside the box when reviewing CCW pistols. Also, you can't claim to be a Gucci gear nerd until you own t-shirts with Garland Thumb's majestic face on it. I have them in multiple colors and his face works with all of them. The Hasselhoff t-shirts only work in back, white, and tie-dye.

    September 3, 2021 6:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    rbsWelder

    What about the Kimber Micro 9?

    September 3, 2021 6:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Roger A. Grimes

    I went through years of searching for the right subcompact 9mm for me, and after trying over a dozen guns I found the right fit for me - Diamondback DB9. Bigger than most subcompacts, but still very light and easily fits in my pocket. Just the right combo of size and weight. There were supposedly some reliability issues with them years ago...you can see a YouTube post or two, but I have three of them and I have shot many thousands of rounds of all sorts of ammo without a misfire. Did I mention I used to buy them for $200 but they don't look or feel like cheap $200 guns. I love them. If I have any problem is that they are hard to get these days and when you search to buy one the DB9 pistol rifle often comes up instead.

    September 3, 2021 5:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dan Lane

    How come none of the reviewers ever look at the Canik pistols? I have watched several videos on the TP9SC version and they all are surprised and highly praise the it and the other models. Seems like all of the reviewers look at only pistols made by S&W, Sig, and other popular brands. The SC comes with a 12 round and 15 round mag. Why not break out of the box and take a look at some of the other brands out there?

    September 3, 2021 5:16 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Zac

    My CC is a 43x with a shield arms 15 rd. magazine and ameriglo night sights. I also wear a L glove size and the grip holds my whole hand on it. Grip texture is my only complaint.

    September 3, 2021 1:45 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe Nunzio

      Have Hogue grips on most of my Glocks. Tremendous improvement for just a few bucks.

      September 6, 2021 3:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Stephanie

    Gotta love an host man, the Honest Outlaw shines.

    I found this review very helpful. I've been looking to add another carry option and wasn't sure if the XL or new S&W would be a better choice. After shooting both, I now want to try the new Kimber polymer before making a purchase.

    Anyone shot the new Kimber yet?

    September 2, 2021 8:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ro Gal

    No hammer fired pistols?

    September 2, 2021 7:49 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      K

      Sadly the CZ RAMI was discontinued, but is an excellent pistol and if you prefer hammer fired pistols will fill this micro-compact niche for you if you can find one.

      September 2, 2021 10:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brian J

    I Have the 1911 Springfield EMP 3" 9mm (9+1) rounds, and absolutely love it! It has a metal frame so its a few oz. heavier, but the weight and build helps keep it from becoming snappy...

    September 2, 2021 7:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Stephanie

      I like that gun, glad to hear positive feedback about it.

      September 2, 2021 8:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jason

    Glad to see the Hellcat made the list. Such a fantastic gun. The snap recoil isn’t bad and the gun fits very comfortably in my hands.

    September 2, 2021 6:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bob Hern

    I shoot the hell out of my Hellcat and have never gotten an ouchie.
    Casting lines are pretty much invisible and I love the grip texture wet or dry.

    September 2, 2021 6:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jason

      Same. The gun fits my hands very comfortably and I’ve never gotten an ouchie (such a funny word haha). I freaking love my Hellcat.

      September 2, 2021 6:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David K

    Check out the Diamond back AM2. It is in between the size of a Glock 26 and a Glock 19.

    September 2, 2021 5:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Johnnie Johnson

    No Kimber Micro 9 … ?

    September 2, 2021 5:36 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      DiverLou

      I agree. Why all striker fired? The Kimber Micro 9's especially the black ice are in my opinion the best Micro 9's available.

      September 3, 2021 4:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Regular Guy

    Rami? 14 plus 1, CZ craftmansship, slide on a lower axis for better control of follow up shots. No argument with selected pistols...just Rami is pretty damn sweet.

    September 2, 2021 3:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      LazrBeam

      I’ve got a Rami. I really like it but had feeding issues with 4 different makes of 9mm ammo, both ball and JHP. Sent it back to CZ, they got it back to me in about 2 weeks, and whatever they did apparently worked. Aside from one empty case sticking to the breach face instead of completely ejecting, with the first mag after returned from CZ, the next four 14 rd mags functioned flawlessly. Also, if a pistol can be pretty, it is.

      September 10, 2021 9:32 pm