Best Sub-Compact Single-Stack 9mm for CCW By: Trevor Dobrygoski

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What is the best concealed carry gun? This is a subjective question. 

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Concealed Carry Guns
Concealed Carry Guns (L to R: Gen 4. Glock G19, Smith & Wesson Shield, Sig Sauer P238)

You’ll have the 1911 guys who love that full-sized gun under their bowling shirts.

Meanwhile, the Glock guys prefer the G19 because they feel it’s easier to conceal.

So, who’s right?

As I said, it’s subjective…but personally, I like the weight, size, and concealability of a single-stack 9mm. If you’re here, chances are you do too.

Smith & Wesson Shield

But which single stack should you consider adding to your gun collection?

With plenty on the market, it’s not always easy to narrow down. So, let’s take a look at some options we think deserve a spot in your gun safe.

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best for Carry

    Sig Sauer P365XL

    Not technically a single stack, but not a double stack either…but great for carry

    $599 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  2. Most Options

    Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield

    Lots of options, including easy to rack models, decent price point.

    $449 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  3. Most Dependable

    Glock G43X

    It’s a Glock, so it’s durable, relaible, and will hit your targets every time

    $479 at Brownells
    Jump to Details
  4. Editor’s Pick

    Springfield Armory Hellcat

    Eats steel cased ammo, reliable, and compact

    $549 at Brownells
    Jump to Details

Table of Contents

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What Is a Single Stack?

A single stack magazine has one row of ammo — bullet on top of a bullet.

On the other hand, a double-stack magazine staggers the rounds — essentially making two rows of ammo.

single stack vs double stack magazine
Left: Single Stack, Right: Double Stack.

The benefit to a double-stack magazine is more ammo in the magazine.

But the benefit of a single stack magazine is the gun can be thinner overall.

S&W M&P Shield EZ magazine
Single-stack magazine

For example, a Glock G26 holds 10+1 rounds and offers a width of 1.18 inches.

In comparison, a Springfield Armory XD-S holds 7+1 rounds and is 0.9 inches wide at the grip. That’s a little over a quarter of an inch difference.

I know 0.28 inches might not seem like a lot, but if you set them side by side, it really is. 

Glock 26 and XD-S 9mm comparison pic
Glock 26 and XD-S 9mm comparison

While you lose three rounds, the thinner size makes it easier to hide, an ounce or so lighter, and is more comfortable for some people.

What Makes a Gun a Sub-Compact?

A sub-compact to many people is considered a pocket gun or a backup weapon. Personally, I like the sub-compact size for CCW because they are lighter and easier to carry anywhere.

Womens Concealed Carry IWB
Smith & Wesson Shield in an IWB holster

Sub-compact barrels are typically around 3.25 inches, though some are a little longer, some shorter.

The overall length hovers around 6.25 inches, but some with stubby barrels come in at less.

Some sub-compact concealed carry guns feature bigger grips than others. This can be a benefit if you have larger hands or just don’t like your little finger left with no place to rest.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

Alright, let’s get down to the fun stuff…the recommendations. 

These are the tried and true, battle-tested, single-stack, 9mm sub-compacts that should be on anyone’s list when choosing a new CCW.

Best Single Stack 9mm CCW Pistols

1. Sig Sauer P365

Okay, we know — it’s not technically a single-stack. It’s not really a double-stack magazine either, though.

But it’s close enough and fits within the size of most single-stack guns…so we’ll allow it. (It’s our site, we make the rules!)

P365 Upgrades Great Big Magazine!
P365 Upgrades Great Big Magazine!

In our experience, the P365 family of guns is by far one of the best CCW options on the market.

From the size to the ergonomics to the extra options like the P365 XL with a larger frame and slide to the SAS that is streamlined for pocket carry — the P365 just offers everything.

On top of that, you’re getting a 10+1 or a 12+1 or even a 15+1 magazine that packs a lot of firepower into an incredibly small and comfy shooter.

Best for Carry
599

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

599
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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Personally, I love the P365 XL with a micro red dot.

2. Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield

This is an all-around great gun — light, smooth, and most people can get their whole hand on the grip. There isn’t a lot more you can ask for.

Handgun Women SW Shield 9
S&W Shield

It is a little larger than some sub-compact pistols, but it’s not quite as compact, so that’s why it’s on the list. 

Many small carry guns have a looooong and hard trigger pull. While the theory behind this is safety, in reality, it kinda sucks. 

Womens Concealed Carry IWB
Shield in an IWB holster

But the M&P9 Shield has a nice, smooth, shorter pull. The reset point for the trigger is good and you’ll be able to squeeze off a few rounds pretty fast if you need to.

The nice thing about the Shield Series is options…from the EZ models to the Shield Plus. Plenty to choose from.

Most Options
449

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

449
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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What do you think of the Shield? Let us know by rating it below.

Readers’ Ratings

4.92/5
(1967)

Your Rating?

3. Springfield XD-S 3.3

Another gun with a larger grip so you can get all of your fingers on it the Springfield XD-S’ textured grip also helps you hold onto it easier. 

With the XD-S, you get a fiber optic front sight for easier target acquisition in lower light.

Springfield XDS .45 vs 9mm
XDS in .45 ACP and 9mm (Photo: Guns.com)

The serrations on the slide are deep and make it easier to rack, which means you need less grip strength to hold onto the slide. 

I like this a lot because when you’re in a stressful situation, you might be a little sweaty and shaky and your hand could slip off the slide.

399

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


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399
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)
  • Gunprime (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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This also makes it an excellent gun for disabled shooters who may have arthritis or other wrist/hand problems that could interfere with racking a slicker slide.

4. Glock 43x

Glock’s answer to the post-P365 world was an upgrade and updated version of their G43. The G43x is basically the same thing but better in a lot of ways.

Glock G43X
Glock G43X

Giving 10+1 in the standard magazines the G43x also comes with all of the Gen 5 upgrades like a better trigger, barrel, and improved magazine followers.

Other than that, though… it’s a Glock.

If a Glock is what you want, a Glock is what you’ll get. Now that also opens the doors for a host of modifications and upgrades!

Most Dependable
479

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

479
at Brownells

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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Check out our reviews on the Glock G43X and G48 here. Or, if you want a little red dot action, read up on the red dot capable Glock G43X MOS…psst, you can also watch the video below.

5. Walther PPS M2

A successor to the Walther PPS, the PPS M2 carries over some of the features from the PPS… but with a thinner design.

It also offers a different grip texture Walther borrowed from the PPQ models.

You’ll get large white dot sights so you can quickly acquire your target. The thin 1-inch thick frame gives you an easy-to-conceal gun that’s large enough to fit your whole hand on.

399

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

399
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Primary Arms (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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The PPS M2 has front and rear serrations, so you can rack the gun easier. You don’t have to rely on your grip strength.

5. Springfield Hellcat

Another not technically single-stack gun, but close enough like the P365.

The Springfield Hellcat was the first big release CCW after the P365 made shockwaves, and Springfield did an outstanding job on it!

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat
Springfield Armory Hellcat

Reliable, cost-effective, 11+1 magazine, and optics ready from the factory — the Hellcat offers a ton of function in a small package.

Something that stood out and impressed us with the Hellcat was how many types of ammo it could run with no problem.

Micro Compacts Springfield Armory Hellcat

Even feeding it horrible steel-cased ammo, it still never had a problem.

While we would NEVER recommend carrying sub-par ammo, it does make training cheaper if you can run the cheap ammo. In times like these, that’s a big deal.

549

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

549
at Brownells

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

    Copied!
    Visit Merchant

Final Thoughts

Choosing a single stack sub-compact is a matter of preference. Finding one that’s comfortable in your hand, that you can shoot accurately, and you are confident carrying in the event you need to use it is the real key.

Shield EZ, Sig Sauer P365, Glock 43
Shield EZ, Sig Sauer P365, Glock 43

Now that you have a few choices for a sub-compact single-stack 9mm, you can start to get into the specifics that are right for you.

What’s your fave sub-compact single-stack 9mm? Let us know below. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our recommendations for Best Range & Defense 9mm Ammo and Best Concealed Carry Holsters. And if you’re a lady, head over to the Best Handguns for Women.