The Top Five Single Stack 9mm Pistols

Single stack 9mm pistols. The ultimate concealed carry?

So you’ve decided to carry, and that Dirty Harry looking S&W Model 29 that wows folks on the range leaves an unsightly Igor-like hump under your shirt that draws curious looks from strangers… and not in good way.

You’ve also come to the conclusion that you’re going to need something less conspicuous for this application. This pistol has got to be capable and reliable for defensive needs without calling attention to itself – or to you.  Enter the single stack subcompact 9mm.

We won’t start with a discussion of caliber choice as that’s an (endless) argument for another day (and another column). In order to narrow the scope for this choice the prosecution will concede that modern defensive 9mm rounds are more than adequate for personal defense use.

If you can get all your rounds on the target, then 9mm will do its job. Assuming 9mm is going to be our caliber, then we can focus on reliability, concealability and accuracy.

Single stack balances terrific concealability with adequate capacity.  What is adequate you might say? Some statistics suggest the average number of rounds fired by a person in a gunfight is 2-4.  Your average small frame revolver is going to offer you five shots.

The pistols in this comparison will carry six to eight rounds in a magazine plus one in the chamber. That’s a good start considering how thin and concealable these pistols are.  That being said, as you evaluate a pistol for your concealed carry needs, carrying at least one spare magazine should be in your calculus.

We took a look at five of the most popular single stack 9mm pistols on the market.

1. S&W Shield 2.0

I was always a fan of Smith and Wesson revolvers as well the old Gen 3 Semi Autos but it took me a while to warm to the modern S&W M&P pistol line. Oh they were solid and reliable enough, very much so, but the ergonomics and questionable triggers always left me wanting.

As you’d hope with a “2.0” product, S&W listened and stepped up their game with the new version. Most appreciated is the improvement in the trigger, with a lighter crisper pull and more a positive reset. The grip texture has been enhanced and front scallops added to the slide for two finger purchase. The eight round extended magazine gives you some extra real estate to get your pinky on, a issue on any of these pistols for most size hands.

Reliable? Perfectly. Boringly so. Which is exactly what you want in a concealed carry firearm.

  • Length: 6.1″
  • Height: 4.4″
  • Width: 0.93″
  • Barrel Length: 4.25″
  • Weight: 18.3 Oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 7/8+1
  • MSRP: $479

2. Springfield XD-S MOD.2

Here we have another updated version of a venerable single stack 9mm sub-compact – the Springfield XD-S MOD 2. What does the MOD.2 bring to the table?

Well at first glance (and grip) you get the new and nicely textured, ergonomic MOD 2 grip design and you get it without the silly “Grip Zone” lettering found on the other XD MOD 2 models. I guess there just wasn’t enough room for the lettering (another sub-compact win!).

You have two different choices of sights on the new XD-S… You can get a steel serrated rear with either a Fiber Optic or Tritium front sight. Viridian also has a nice model specific laser sight for the XD-S for under $100 which will put this tough little pistol on target every time. Springfield now offer 7, 8 and 9 round magazine choices for the XD-S MOD 2.

There are some folks who balk at the inclusion of a grip safety on these models but I never found any evidence of shooters having a functional issue with them. The MOD 2 version has beefed up the profile of the safety somewhat to eliminate any chance of disengagement. If your palm is not engaging the safety – you doing something very wrong!

  • Length: 6.3″
  • Height: 4.4″
  • Width: 0.9″
  • Barrel Length: 3.3″
  • Weight: 23 Oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 7/8/9+1
  • MSRP: $499

3. Ruger LC9s

If you ever tried the original hammer fired Ruger LC9, believe me when I tell you it bears only cosmetic resemblance to the newer striker fired LC9s. Where the original had one of the worst triggers I ever fired, the LC9s is crisp, resets nicely and is a terrific little shooter.

You can use the magazine without the pinky extension for maximum concealment or with it for a little more grip. There is also an extended 9 round magazine available. There are several models available, including a “Pro” model which dispenses with the manual safety and magazine disconnect.

I actually bought the same Talo model pictured here in Contractor Yellow because it was just so damn cool but its accuracy and reliability make it one of my favorite sub-compact pistols.

Ruger has also used this as the basis for its new EC9s model which we’ll soon be taking a look at.

  • Length: 6.0″
  • Height: 4.5″
  • Width: 0.9″
  • Barrel Length: 3.12″
  • Weight: 17.2 Oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 7/8+1
  • MSRP: $449

4. Glock G43

OK, it’s a GLOCK. Which means it looks pretty much like every other Glock of every caliber and class. Which means it goes bang every time you pull the trigger. Being a Glock also means it doesn’t break into 10 pieces when you drop it on the floor… or run it over with a car.. or use it to pound a nail.

It also means everybody make sights and holsters and parts for it. Collectively that all means it is a tool perfectly suited for a job. Which is why people keep buying Glocks.

This is a solid shooter but other than being about 2/10 of an inch slimmer, it’s pretty much the same size as its chunkier cousin, the G26. That will lead many folks to opt for the G26 which offers many more magazine capacity options. But we were talking single stacks here so on to…

  • Length: 6.26″
  • Height: 4.25″
  • Width: 1.02″
  • Barrel Length: 3.39″
  • Weight: 16.2 Oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.4 lbs.
  • Capacity: 6+1
  • MSRP: $479

5. Walther PPS M2 Walter PPS M2

I love this pistol. It has some of the best ergonomics of any pistol in the sub-compact class. Building on the original PPS, which was a fine pistol in its own right, it takes it to another level.

The molded grip has a nice texture to it and feels comfortable in most “normal” sized hands. Walther added front and rear cocking serrations and in the biggest visible modification, and moved from the original trigger guard paddle magazine release to a more “American” thumb style mag release.

In the M2 it did lose the accessory rail that the original possessed, but most won’t miss it. Try it in the Desantis Sof-Tuck IWB holster for a great carry.

  • Length: 6.3″
  • Height: 4.4″
  • Width: 1.0″
  • Barrel Length: 3.2″
  • Weight: 17.2 Oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 6.1 lbs.
  • Capacity: 6/7/8+1
  • MSRP: $449