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