Compact Pistols vs. Subcompact Pistols - Which to Choose? thumbnail image

Compact Pistols vs. Subcompact Pistols - Which to Choose?

5D Tactical - 11th Jan 2023

In the world of compact carry pistols there are no shortages of options. Even walking into a local gun shop it can seem like we can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a compact carry pistol. So with so many CCW pistols on the market, which is the best option? What about an even smaller gun such as a micro or sub-compact? A 9mm subcompact can be a great choice for an easy-to-conceal compact carry pistol. So what are some good options to check out? Let’s have a look at a few!

What’s the Difference Between subcompact and compact Pistols?

Many ask what the difference between a compact and a subcompact pistol actually are when it comes to CCW pistols. The answer is really about as simple as it gets - the sub-compact is simply smaller. In the world of CCW pistols capacity and concealability are kings. Subcompacts will usually have a smaller capacity due to size, but make up for it by being easier to conceal. Depending on the size and body style of the shooter, a compact pistol might also be easily concealed however, with the added advantage of greater ammunition capacity.

Subcompact CCW pistols, due to their size, can often be difficult for shooters with larger hands to operate. When hunting for a new CCW pistol we recommend trying to hold and shoot subcompacts especially, as the size can be an issue for some shooters.

Best Subcompact Pistols of 2022

When we discuss the best 9mm sub compact pistol it’s important to note that “best” is very subjective for the shooter. Many great options exist on the market today at every price point. Just because the handgun isn’t listed here doesn’t mean that it is not a great choice - these are just a few of our favorites!

So what are we judging these guns on exactly? We’re looking at reliability, concealability and capacity for the purposes of this list. All of these weapons are from reputable companies that have great reputations. Let’s dig in!

Sig Sauer P365

It would be a serious mistake to not mention the Sig Sauer P635 series on the list for best 9mm sub compact pistol. The Sig P365 is an incredibly modular system - most parts can be swapped out very easily to fit the shooter’s needs! The P365 standard model is a 10 + 1 capacity but then as we get into it the 365 family expands its CCW pistol range to get to 12 + 1 and even 15 + 1!

Thin and easy to conceal for most shooters, the P365 is one of the best selling CCW pistols in America currently, worth a solid look! The Spectre Comp and new X Macro are even available with integrated compensators! Worth a note - the new X Macro is slightly larger, getting into compact territory, but holds 17 + 1 thanks to Sig’s new 9mm high capacity magazines!

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 Subcompact

The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Subcompact comes from the line of M&P handguns that need no introduction for most. Highly reliable and originally S&W’s response to the massive Glock market share, the M&P 2.0 Compact is available in a 12 + 1 or 10 + 1 capacity and with or without a thumb safety. S&W knocked it out of the park with the M&P series and the M&P 2.0 Subcompact is worth a serious look as a CCW pistol and is especially great for beginners.

Shadow Systems CR920 Elite

A newer company in the last few years, Shadow Systems has exploded onto the scene. Fitting into the “Fancy Glock” space, they are essentially a totally upgraded Glock style pistol right out of the box. The CR920 subcompact fits Glock 43X holsters, has a 13 + 1 extended capacity or a 10 + 1 flush fit capacity. The CR920 is also a great looking gun with its bronze barrel and very functional slide serrations, as well as being optic-cut straight from the factory!

A side note - Shadow Systems found out there was a barrel shape issue causing jams with some of the CR920s right after they were released and promptly made an announcement that they would replace the barrel for any customer, having issues or not. That’s some seriously great customer service!

Glock 43X

The Glock 43X is based on the Glock 43 and is almost identical - but the 43X has a greater capacity with a 10 + 1 capacity. The 43X is also available in the 43X MOS - which means it is optic cut. Need more capacity but still want that famous Glock reliability? Check out a company called Shield Arms. Shield Arms has Glock 43X 9mm larger capacity magazines that allow the gun to carry 15 + 1! For more recoil control though, we'd go with the Glock 48.

Best Compact Pistols of 2022

Well, we’ve checked out some sub compact CCW pistols, so what about compact guns? Usually slightly larger than a subcompact CCW pistol, compacts are much easier to control for shooters with larger hands. Incredibly popular choices in the CCW pistol world - options abound in this category so this is just a list of a few favorites in 2022!

Glock 19

Supposedly the best-selling handgun of all-time, the Glock 19 is a great option for a CCW pistol! Featuring a capacity of 15 + 1 or 17 + 1 (magazines up to 33 and drum magazines are also available believe it or not, but not suitable for a CCW pistol) the Glock 19 has a near endless ecosystem of accessories available and can be heavily customized with deep enough pockets. It’s hard to think of a better compact weapon overall for most shooters than the Glock 19.

GST-9 Mod 1

We know, we know, we’re biased. Ever thought about building a custom 9mm? Look no further than our very own GST 9 Mod 1 for a compact carry pistol! The GST 9 Mod 1 is available with multiple slides, grips, and accessories while still utilizing most Glock compatible parts and even Glock 9mm high capacity magazines! Building our very own 9mm compact carry pistol has proven to not only be fun and educational but also a way to have a one-of-a-kind gun at off the shelf prices! Check out the GST 9 Mod 1 here.

Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact

As stated above, the M&P series from Smith & Wesson are excellent choices for CCW pistols. The M&P 2.0C is no exception. The S&W CCW pistol is available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45, multiple barrel lengths, and available capacities of 10 + 1, 13 + 1 and 15 + 1. Optic cuts are available as well as removable backstraps to help fit the gun to the shooter’s hand better. A plethora of accessories and upgrades are also available for the M&P 2.0c.

Build Your Next Pistol with 5D Tactical

We hope this helped you start looking for the perfect CCW pistol. As stated several other times, there are many excellent CCW pistols available in every price range for every shooter. The most important thing is to train and practice with your CCW pistol. Proficiency is always key!

Thanks for hanging out with your buddies here at 5D Tactical! While you are here consider checking out our pistol accessories or even the highly customizable GST 9 Mod 1 as a compact carry pistol! Until next time!