These compact versions of the FNS-9 are designed for snag-free deployment from beneath cover, and are available with or without a frame-mounted safety. They ship with three magazines: two 12-round, compact magazines and an extended 17-round magazine. The standard three-dot sights can also be factory upgraded to night sights. In keeping with modern trends, the backstraps are interchangeable to adapt to different hand sizes. You can also have the same-size package in .40 S&W (with 10+1 or 14+1 capacity). (<a target=blank href=https://www.fnamerica.com/products/handguns/fns-series/fns-9-compact/>http://www.fnamerica.com</a>; 703-288-3500)
The tilt-breech system designed into the Px4 Storm Subcompact is engineered to help dissipate recoil energy by directing it into the web of the hand. The controls are either ambidextrous (as in the safety/decocker on the slide) or reversible, and the interchangeable backstraps help it adapt to different shooters. (<a target=blank href=http://www.beretta.com/en-us/px4-storm-subcompact/>http://www.beretta.com</a>)
A modern classic, the G26 (and its .40 counterpart, the G27) was among the very first of the subcompact, high-capacity defensive carry guns. The Gen4 models feature the refinements Glock made to most of its existing product line, including modular backstraps, while the G26—in either Gen3 or Gen4—retains the core capacity, reliability and snag-free design that made it popular initially. It also accepts larger-capacity 9mm Glock magazines, making it an ideal backup to Glock’s G17 and G34, among others. (<a target=blank href=https://us.glock.com/products/model/g26gen4>http://us.glock.com</a>; 770-432-1202)
By adding around a tenth of an inch of width to the subcompact frame of its pistols, Glock is able to build the Glock 30 Gen4 into a true subcompact powerhouse. It’ll strain your pocket at nearly 7 inches long, but it’ll ride all day in a holster, keeping eleven rounds at the ready in a package whose ergonomics are familiar already to all Glock shooters. If that’s not enough firepower, they accept higher-capacity Glock .45 ACP magazines to really extend their real-world utility. (<a target=blank href=https://us.glock.com/products/model/g30gen4>http://us.glock.com</a>; 770-432-1202)
This straightforward subcompact offers double-action-only operation with a snag-free design that focuses on keeping the weight light and the design sleek. Inside, it uses a rugged steel magazine to hold 10 rounds of 9mm. An optional 12-round extended magazine is available as well. The pistol’s extremely light weight (14 ounces unloaded) helps it disappear on your hip, while the minimalist external dimensions help it disappear into your pocket. (<a target=blank href=http://www.keltecweapons.com/p-11/>http://www.keltecweapons.com</a>; 321-631-0068)
This Ruger comes ready to transform from a concealed-carry pistol with its 10-round magazine (which includes a handy grip extender to give your pinky some surface area to grasp) into a midsize gun. Also, the one 17-round magazine it ships with includes a grip extension sleeve that, with the magazine in place, provides you a full-sized grip. The ambidextrous magazine release and frame-mounted safety are surprising, welcome features, and the accessory rail on the frame extends the gun’s utility. (<a target=blank href=http://www.ruger.com/products/sr9c/models.html>http://www.ruger.com</a>)
This DAK-configured P224 features the “Double Action Kellerman” trigger, named for the inventor of this peculiar (and very successful) trigger system. The long double-action trigger stroke breaks at 6.5 pounds, and will do so indefinitely so long as you let the trigger reset all the way forward. But with the longer trigger pull of a DA, compared to a single action, there may come a time when a shooter, under stress, short strokes the trigger (by letting it reset only partway, instead of all the way forward). In a traditional double action, pulling the trigger again before it resets all the way forward does not result in the pistol discharging. On this DAK system, though, there is an intermediate reset point where it is capable of being pulled again to discharge the pistol. A double-action/single-action version of the pistol is also available. (<a target=blank href=http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/pistols-p224.aspx>http://www.sigsauer.com</a>; 603-610-3000)
Sig Sauer takes modularity one step further by involving a stainless steel trigger group that you can remove and transplant into frames of different sizes and mate to barrels of different calibers. In the P320 Subcompact configuration, you have a truly subcompact handgun whose trigger group you can migrate into a larger Compact body (with larger capacity magazines) or the Full Size P320 (with standard capacity magazines and a longer barrel). Since the trigger group is the serial-numbered part, no background check or transfer is necessary to acquire the other frame sizes. One P320 can thus be made into several different handguns.(<a target=blank href=http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p320-subcompact.aspx>http://www.sigsauer.com</a>; 603-610-3000)
While S&W’s Shield (which slightly staggers the rounds in a single-column mag for increased capacity) is a slightly more compact variant of its M&P series, the M&P9c is as small as you’re going to get in a double stack, and that’s just fine for the professionals who carry one as a backup. With the controls (including the optional frame-mounted safety), sights and point of aim the same as the duty and competition-size M&Ps, and its ability to accept the longer, full-capacity magazines, the 9c is an ideal backup to S&W’s full-size M&P line. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_770011_-1_757954_757781_757781_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
Just beyond the range of subcompacts, you find this, the smallest .45 ACP double stack that Smith & Wesson offers in its M&P line. The gun will even accept larger-capacity .45 ACP M&P magazines if the 8+1 standard capacity isn’t quite enough. Look for the same ergonomics as the rest of the M&P line, but in a package that’s as concealable as they get among S&W’s .45 ACP offerings. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_766269_-1_757782_757781_757781_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
The latest version of Springfield’s XD double-stack subcompact pistols, this 3-inch-barreled Mod.2 is available in 9mm and .40 S&W, and it features a high beavertail and grip relief to promote a grip closer to the bore axis for improved control. The slide is narrower, with “Posi Wedge” serrations for improved grip (especially if wearing gloves), and a narrower grip frame. Perhaps most notable are the pistol’s fiber-optic front sight and low-profile, extended rear sight. (<a target=blank href=http://www.springfield-armory.com/products/xd-mod-2-3-sub-compact-9mm/>http://www.springfield-armory.com</a>; 800-680-6866)
This Mod.2 variant applies all of the series’ ultra-modern design and milling to a beefed-up frame built to provide a significant 9+1 capacity of .45 ACP. The pistol’s light weight gives little indication of its firepower until you load up the magazine, though you may notice the red fiber-optic front sight and “Posi Wedge” serrations on the slide before anything else. The pistol’s grips features innovative GripZone technology, which offers shooter’s three textures to simultaneously enhance their grip on the firearm. (<a target=blank href=http://www.springfield-armory.com/products/xd-mod-2-3-sub-compact-45acp/>http://www.springfield-armory.com</a>; 800-680-6866)
This .40 S&W version of Taurus’ Millennium G2 is ready to handle the increased recoil and muzzle flip of the larger round. In part this is accomplished by the 1.2-inch-wide grip, which is slightly wider than the slide while remaining concealable. The trigger safety is augmented by a frame-mounted safety for those who prefer the extra peace of mind from that 1911-style safety. The adjustable combat-style sights help you stay on target across a wide range of training and defensive ammunition. (<a target=blank href=http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=873&category=Pistol&toggle=&breadcrumbseries=MP1>http://www.taurususa.com</a>; 800-327-3776)
The smallest double-stack .45 ACP in Taurus’ line, this is the latest-generation of the company’s 24/7 models with design elements from its 800 and OSS series. This 12-shot pistol offers lots of .45 ACP firepower, second-strike capability and a frame-mounted safety in the familiar, 1911-inspired position. The contoured grip provides purchase for two fingers, with grip-enhancing surface texturing to help manage the gun despite the heavy recoil of .45 ACP rounds. (<a target=blank href=http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=756&category=Pistol&toggle=&breadcrumbseries=247>http://www.taurususa.com</a>; 800-327-3776)
Subcompact pistols are the smallest versions available of full-sized, full-power handguns. Typically retaining the features you love about the full-sized models, these subcompacts shrink the length and height—and only marginally shrink the capacity—into models that are ready for deep concealment, backup use and other specific purposes.
RELATED STORY: 12 Proven Concealed Carry Pistols for Self Defense
While you can’t use subcompact magazines in full-sized pistols (they aren’t long enough to get the top round in line with the feed ramp), most subcompact pistols can accept the larger-capacity magazines of their full family line. You should be able to take the magazine out of your duty pistol and use it reliably in the subcompact version—providing, of course, they are the same caliber and model family. This makes your full-sized magazines something of a one-size-fits-all magazine whether you’re using the full-sized pistol, its compact or subcompact counterpart.
This suggests that you can carry a subcompact as a backup gun without having to carry a second type of spare magazine—just your spare magazines for the full-sized pistol. Even when carrying your subcompact as a primary defensive arm, there’s no need to carry the lower-capacity subcompact magazines for it. Just carry a full-sized spare. If you ever need it, you’ll be thankful for the additional firepower, and the extra length of it sticking out of the grip won’t bother you at all. Be sure to consult the owner’s manual for your gun to see what the manufacturer says about mag interoperability, and thoroughly test its reliability with every magazine you intend to carry.
RELATED STORY: 30 Semi-Auto Rifles For Home Defense & Urban Survival
Some manufacturers have started shipping their subcompacts with a full-sized grip extender that is a component of the magazine. This makes target shooting more fun with subcompacts, and, if you can conceal the slightly taller pistol with that magazine installed, it gives you the additional capacity and ergonomics that extend the subcompact gun’s utility.
Whatever your lawful purpose and practical need, subcompacts provide you a solid, reliable platform for deep-concealment primary and backup guns.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Beretta Px4 Storm Subcompact
Glock 26 Gen4
Glock 30 Gen4
Sig Sauer P224
Sig Sauer P320 Subcompact
Smith & Wesson M&P9c
Smith & Wesson M&P45c
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 3”
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 3.3”
Taurus Millennium PT-140 G2
Taurus 24/7 G2
A look at Bill Wilson's life, legacy and love of guns—GUN GUY is a must-read...
by Robert A. Sadowski / Mar 14, 2016