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Sub-Compact 9mm...

JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior MemberPosts: 6,557 Senior Member
I like all these new sub-compact 9mm pistols out there. I'm not a .32 or .380 fan and 9x18Mak is limited in pistol varieties.

I handled four separate guns at my LGS the other day:

Kimber Solo Carry
S&W Shield
Ruger LC9
Sig P938

My brief take on them:

Kimber Solo

The quality in this pistol seemed to spill from this gun. It is ALL metal and I like that. The sights were intuitive in acquisition. It has a 6+1 capacity typical in these size pistols. An extended magazine is available for an extra round. The thumb safety as with all of these pistols is not confidense inspiring, but was the easiest for me to disengage compared to the Shield and P938.

The grip is uniform in size and 1911 in style. Hand purchase on the pistol was surprisingly good even on such a short grip. I have large hands (7.75"L x 4"W) and all but half of my ring finger and my little finger were on the grip.

A feature I found important is that the Solo had the lowest barrel axis of them all, too. This will mitigate as much recoil as possible given its small size.

My ONE real gripe is that given the frame is metal, the front strap and back strap is smooth and wet/sweating hands would make recoil control difficult. The front and back straps need to be textured. This is easily done in the after market, but the cost listed below makes is a bit unmotivating to have done.

The price in the $650-700 range makes it expensive.

S&W M&P Shield

This pistol definitely feels well made and is polymer framed, as expected in the S&W M&P line. I found the safety nearly useless. This is not a massive problem as the trigger is a long DA draw, as they all are, in fact, except the P938.

My first gripe is that the grip width just behind the trigger is narrower than the rest of the grip sides. This caused my hands to have a slightly awkward purchase on the grip. I felt more confident in a two-handed grip as a result. But I feel these pistols need to be practiced in a one-handing shooting scenario--strong and weak hand. I would feel less likely to do so given the grip feel.

A plus is that it comes with a standard 7 round magazine and a 8 round extended one. The 8 round did add for me a nicer feel by getting one more finger on the grip, but even in the 7 round magazine felt fine.

The sights are normal three white dots, but this pistol is meant to point shoot as they all are given the scenarios they were designed for.

It comes in .40SW, too, but I'm not a fan in a pistol this small.

Price: $380-420

Ruger LC9

I tried to stay objective when looking at these pistols, but this one felt the "cheapest".

The grip is very narrow--thinnest of all I held. It, too, had narrower sides on it behind the trigger like the M&P, but narrower. The grip felt very awkward to me. Purchase on the grip, other than grip thinness, was good.

The first thing I noticed about this pistol when I brought it up and pointed it was how high the barrel axis was. It is VERY high. This will contribute to more snappy recoil. The grip texture is aggressive and would help out keeping the pistol under control.

It is 7+1 capacity and the frame is very narrow. Concealability seems good, but not as well as the Solo or P938. The safety is also relatively useless like on the M&P.

Price is $350-380

Sig Sauer P938

This pistol is interesting. The grip is very short. I had the least purchase on this grip of them all. This poses a problem:

One, this pistol has many manipulation points: thumb safety, slide release (1911 style), mag release and an exposed hammer. I feel this was also the least safe handling of all the pistols-especially for newbies. It is an amalgamation of a single and double action pistol.

Two, the exposed hammer for a pistol of this size was, in my opinion, a poor choice. De-cocking the hammer which is small itself may be a dangerous proposition. Granted, one should empty the pistol entirely before decocking it, but people will decock on a loaded chamber. It is inevitable.

The safety was bulky in movement. It was not well-refined and feels clunky.

It comes with night sights as well and is 6+1 capacity. It also has a fairly low barrel axis which would help mitigate recoil.

It is in the $650-700 range like the Solo. In this price range, the Solo would get the nod from me.



I enjoyed handling the Solo first and the M&P second. I may buy a Solo, actually, before the year is out. This is by no way a comprehensive analysis, but just by initial impressions of these and getting to hold them side-by-side.

-Jason
“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers

Replies

  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,715 Senior Member
    Thanks
    I'll stop looking for a Shield then because of the grip.
    Shut up-----KAREN; OK Cynthia
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 21,096 Senior Member
    Nice review :up:

    I've handled 3/4 of your list (not the sig) and I still chose my Kahr PM series
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • GunnerK19GunnerK19 Senior Member Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    Have you tried this one?

    http://www.berettausa.com/products/nano/

    Definitely a CCW 9mm, price isn't bad either...
    I'm a Conservative. How conservative? Only Alex P. Keaton has me beat.

    Taurus 605 .357, Ruger .45 Vaquero, Colt frontier commemorative .22 SA, Pietta 1860 .44 snubnose
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,398 Senior Member
    Grab a kel tec PF9. Price to function IMHO its hard to beat. None of them are made for range time and the PF9 is light and more accurate than it should be.

    Is it real comfy? no
    can you go +P all the time? no
    Does it have target sights? no

    Will it hit a man sized target at 25 yards? pick a pocket
    Can you put it in your pocket and make it disappear? unless you are wearing hot pants
    Does it go bang every time the switch is pulled? so far

    I just don't get all excited about a 500+ dollar pocket pistol that by its very nature is made to be just barely adequate. I handled the Kahr and the Ruger and bought the Kel-Tec

    FYI, 285.00 after tax and check fees OTD at the expensive LGS
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,628 Senior Member
    Varmintmist is right-on. GunTests gives the KelTec an A rating, American Rifleman also liked it. The PF9 is smaller, thinner and lighter than any of the 4 weapons mentioned, and a far better value.
  • glockman0422glockman0422 Member Posts: 216 Member
    I have been carrying a PF9 for 4 years now and it has been great. Its very comfortable to carry all day and it has been 100% reliable. It is a handful to shoot. People that are recoil shy and some females will not enjoy shooting it. It has decent accuracy, I get 2 and 3 inch groups at 15 yards which is more than adequate for me.It does much better if you take your time and stage the trigger which by the way is a bit long but relatively light and predictable. I can say that it may not be as refined as say the Kahrs or the Solo but for the money the keltec is hard to beat. I would pick the PF9 over any Taurus Anyday.
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,973 Senior Member
    Last months American Rifleman reviewed the Beretta Nano in 9mm and I thought the review was impressive. You might take a look at it.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    I sold my Kel-Tec PF9 on the reason that I could not grip it even half-way comfortably. I had a Kahr CW-9 that I had the same qualm with. Furthermore, no matter how I carried it (I dont pocket carry), the magazine of the PF9 or CW9 would manage to get released and a couple times nearly fell to the ground.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • cappy54cappy54 Member Posts: 269 Member
    Very good report and analysis, in today's market as seen the choices are endless and in my humble opinion as an instructor for many years and what i have suggested to people is what ever feels good, just like a house we'll never find the perfect one and or vehicle, fishing rod or whatever but we can make a choice that will make us at least feel good. I try to convey to be practical and learn the mechanics of shooting in case the situation should arise, its not the gun but the shooter. my 2 cnts. But a very good and excellent report.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,398 Senior Member
    JasonMPD wrote: »
    I sold my Kel-Tec PF9 on the reason that I could not grip it even half-way comfortably. I had a Kahr CW-9 that I had the same qualm with. Furthermore, no matter how I carried it (I dont pocket carry), the magazine of the PF9 or CW9 would manage to get released and a couple times nearly fell to the ground.

    Nope, not real comfy, but it isn't a target pistol. My paws are 8X4.5 and a finger and a half is the best I can do. Didnt really get enough with the others to justify the price.

    How were you carrying that you hit the mag release? I have pocketed, IWB small of back mexican style, and tossed it in my back pack, never had the mag release. I am looking for a holster, just havent found one I like.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    That's one of the reasons I LOVE the release on the Walther PPS (HK like, with the little lever under the trigger guard) for a deep concealment gun. Never had an issue with a mag releasing on it's own even in my pocket. Did not take much training wise to get used to the different system and I don't think it's any slower than the button type.

    Very valid point about the HK style mag release. I just used to dispise it for being "different" and harder to get used to, but now I will look at it with its purpose in mind!
    Nope, not real comfy, but it isn't a target pistol. My paws are 8X4.5 and a finger and a half is the best I can do. Didnt really get enough with the others to justify the price.

    How were you carrying that you hit the mag release? I have pocketed, IWB small of back mexican style, and tossed it in my back pack, never had the mag release. I am looking for a holster, just havent found one I like.

    Every which way. I tried them all (except pocket carry...me no like). Appendix, SOB (small of back :tooth:), 4 oclock, 5 oclock--all my usual comfortable positions. No dice. It managed to do it everytime. Well not everytime; but once was enough! If I bought a $90 Raven OWB holster for it, it would be ok. But that is 30% the cost of the gun...
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    Nope, not real comfy, but it isn't a target pistol. My paws are 8X4.5 and a finger and a half is the best I can do. Didnt really get enough with the others to justify the price.

    Just to add...

    I run my guns aggressively. If I cannot get a good hand purchase on the gun, I tend not to care for it. It increases the odds of fumbling or misstepping with the firearm. I am safety conscious, so I do not feel it poses a hazard to myself or bystanders, but I won't be as efficient with it as possible. Confidence = success.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • ChuckXXChuckXX Banned Posts: 103 Member
    JasonMPD wrote: »
    I like all these new sub-compact 9mm pistols out there. I'm not a .32 or .380 fan and 9x18Mak is limited in pistol varieties.

    I handled four separate guns at my LGS the other day:

    Kimber Solo Carry
    S&W Shield
    Ruger LC9
    Sig P938

    My brief take on them:

    Kimber Solo

    The quality in this pistol seemed to spill from this gun. It is ALL metal and I like that. The sights were intuitive in acquisition. It has a 6+1 capacity typical in these size pistols. An extended magazine is available for an extra round. The thumb safety as with all of these pistols is not confidense inspiring, but was the easiest for me to disengage compared to the Shield and P938.

    The grip is uniform in size and 1911 in style. Hand purchase on the pistol was surprisingly good even on such a short grip. I have large hands (7.75"L x 4"W) and all but half of my ring finger and my little finger were on the grip.

    A feature I found important is that the Solo had the lowest barrel axis of them all, too. This will mitigate as much recoil as possible given its small size.

    My ONE real gripe is that given the frame is metal, the front strap and back strap is smooth and wet/sweating hands would make recoil control difficult. The front and back straps need to be textured. This is easily done in the after market, but the cost listed below makes is a bit unmotivating to have done.

    The price in the $650-700 range makes it expensive.

    S&W M&P Shield

    This pistol definitely feels well made and is polymer framed, as expected in the S&W M&P line. I found the safety nearly useless. This is not a massive problem as the trigger is a long DA draw, as they all are, in fact, except the P938.

    My first gripe is that the grip width just behind the trigger is narrower than the rest of the grip sides. This caused my hands to have a slightly awkward purchase on the grip. I felt more confident in a two-handed grip as a result. But I feel these pistols need to be practiced in a one-handing shooting scenario--strong and weak hand. I would feel less likely to do so given the grip feel.

    A plus is that it comes with a standard 7 round magazine and a 8 round extended one. The 8 round did add for me a nicer feel by getting one more finger on the grip, but even in the 7 round magazine felt fine.

    The sights are normal three white dots, but this pistol is meant to point shoot as they all are given the scenarios they were designed for.

    It comes in .40SW, too, but I'm not a fan in a pistol this small.

    Price: $380-420

    Ruger LC9

    I tried to stay objective when looking at these pistols, but this one felt the "cheapest".

    The grip is very narrow--thinnest of all I held. It, too, had narrower sides on it behind the trigger like the M&P, but narrower. The grip felt very awkward to me. Purchase on the grip, other than grip thinness, was good.

    The first thing I noticed about this pistol when I brought it up and pointed it was how high the barrel axis was. It is VERY high. This will contribute to more snappy recoil. The grip texture is aggressive and would help out keeping the pistol under control.

    It is 7+1 capacity and the frame is very narrow. Concealability seems good, but not as well as the Solo or P938. The safety is also relatively useless like on the M&P.

    Price is $350-380

    Sig Sauer P938

    This pistol is interesting. The grip is very short. I had the least purchase on this grip of them all. This poses a problem:

    One, this pistol has many manipulation points: thumb safety, slide release (1911 style), mag release and an exposed hammer. I feel this was also the least safe handling of all the pistols-especially for newbies. It is an amalgamation of a single and double action pistol.

    Two, the exposed hammer for a pistol of this size was, in my opinion, a poor choice. De-cocking the hammer which is small itself may be a dangerous proposition. Granted, one should empty the pistol entirely before decocking it, but people will decock on a loaded chamber. It is inevitable.

    The safety was bulky in movement. It was not well-refined and feels clunky.

    It comes with night sights as well and is 6+1 capacity. It also has a fairly low barrel axis which would help mitigate recoil.

    It is in the $650-700 range like the Solo. In this price range, the Solo would get the nod from me.



    I enjoyed handling the Solo first and the M&P second. I may buy a Solo, actually, before the year is out. This is by no way a comprehensive analysis, but just by initial impressions of these and getting to hold them side-by-side.

    -Jason
    JASON; Get yourself a CZ75P-01 "compact" pistol. Mine came with "two 14 round magazines" and I installed "tru-dot night sights". I really love this compact pistol. It is NOT a sub-compact but I consider it a much better choice than the 4 you had listed. In a true life or death situation I want "fire-power". I love the 14 round mags much better than 6 or 7 round mags. I always envison two bad guys coming in with their AK-47's. I want FIREPOWER. If my pistol weighs a few extra ounces I really don't care. I carry mine in a Galco Sto444 inside the pants holster at 2 o'clock. I truly love this pistol. Extremely accurate I might add. Take Care. ChuckXX
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