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.

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.

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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.


FNS-9 Compact

Beretta Px4 Storm Subcompact

Glock 26 Gen4

Glock 30 Gen4

Kel-Tec P-11

Ruger SR9c

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

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