Kimber pocket pistols eg lead
Kimber Solo Carry

With more and more citizens taking on the responsibility of protecting themselves these days, the market for compact pocket pistols has evolved to match this growing demand. Gone are the days of only a few straight-blowback .25 and .32 ACP pistols from which to choose. In fact, today there are more offerings available in this category than ever before.

Want something that is powerful and portable? Compact yet capable? Omnipresent but not overwhelming? Well, there are many choices out there, with a broad selection of compact autopistols and revolvers (as well as interesting derringers and the like) in powerful and capable chamberings available.

So, what kind is right for you? To learn about some of the best options available on the market today, read on to find out more.


By Paul Scarlata

If you have been paying the slightest bit of attention to the U.S. handgun market over the past several years, you are aware that the hottest selling items are compact and subcompact handguns. The reasons for this are twofold. First, as more and more states liberalize their concealed carry laws, demand for such handguns has skyrocketed. And second, increasing numbers of law enforcement agencies now allow, or require, officers to carry a backup and/or off-duty handguns, and small, lightweight handguns are perfect for this task.

To address this growing market, several years ago Sturm, Ruger & Company introduced the LC9. Not being the type of company that rests upon its laurels, recently Ruger unveiled the product-improved LC9S. As can be ascertained from its name, the LC9s is chambered for the 9mm cartridge. Less obvious is the fact that it is a striker-fired pistol (indicated by the “S” in its name).

The LC9S is small—only 6 inches long and 0.90 inches wide. It is built on a glass-filled-nylon frame, which helps pare its unloaded weight to 17.2 ounces. Inside the frame is a hardened alloy insert that provides additional strength and includes rails that the slide reciprocates on. The slide itself is machined from hardened steel with a blued finish, and it is fitted with a set of easy-to-see, three-dot steel sights, both of which can be drifted to make windage adjustments.

Unlike the hammer-fired LC9, and as has become common on most polymer-frame handguns today, the LC9S is a striker-fired design. This provides simplicity of operation, an important feature on any firearm intended for personal protection. Retracting the slide cocks the striker by means of a tail (Ruger calls it a “rudder”) on the end of the striker, engaging the sear. This holds the striker in a fully cocked position, which results with a light, short, crisp trigger pull as the user is not cocking the striker during the trigger stroke.

For more information, visit


  • CALIBER: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.12 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 6 inches
  • WEIGHT: 17.2 ounces
  • GRIPS: Glass-filled nylon
  • SIGHTS: Fixed, three dot
  • ACTION: Semi-auto, DAO
  • FINISH: Blued
  • CAPACITY: 7+1
  • MSRP: $449



By Dennis Adler

With essentially one gun design developed in 1982, Glock has progressed over the past 32 years into an innovative leader in military, law enforcement and civilian firearms. With cutting-edge concealed carry subcompacts complementing all of its standard-size models, there has never been a true pocket-sized pistol from Glock until now. With the new G42, the company has again proven its design paradigm works regardless of gun size or caliber.

The polymer-framed, striker-fired G42 has every desirable feature needed for a .380 pocket pistol, including interchangeable, dovetailed, white-dot sights, an easily operated slide, a reversible magazine catch and a slide that locks back after the last round is fired. The G42 uses Glock’s proven Safe Action system, which consists of trigger, firing pin and drop safeties, which disengage when the trigger is pulled and automatically reengage when the trigger is released.

While brand new, the Glock 42 is not a Gen4 design. It is its own combination of features with a newly engineered dual recoil spring unique to the model and a cold-hammer-forged, 3.25-inch barrel. Even more interesting is that the G42 fires with the barrel and slide locked together, instead of using the traditional unlocked blowback design like most .380s. This results in more manageable recoil. The G42 is small but not what one might refer to as “undersized.” It measures 5.94 inches in overall length with a 3.25-inch barrel, 4.13-inch height, a very pocket-friendly 0.94-inch width, weight of 13.76 ounces (unloaded), and a capacity of 6+1.

Overall, as a pocket pistol, the G42 has more going for it than almost any other .380 in its class. If you already have a large-caliber Glock, the G42 will be a welcome addition to your personal defense needs.

For more information, visit or call 770-432-1202.


  • CALIBER: .380 ACP
  • BARREL: 3.25 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.94 inches
  • WEIGHT: 13.76 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Polymer
  • SIGHTS: Fixed
  • ACTION: Safe Action
  • FINISH: Black, surface-hardened
  • CAPACITY: 6+1
  • MSRP: $637



By Dennis Adler

Springfield Armory cut its teeth making custom-crafted 1911s and has been building them since the mid-1980s. The experience Springfield gained over the years in fine-tuning 1911 actions and building specialized frames, slides and barrels has also given them the capability to produce a target-grade 1911 for what amounts to little more than the price of a standard pistol. The first proof came in 2011, with the Range Officer Government model. The Range Officer provided shooters with a competition-ready .45 ACP for under $1,000, and now they’ve done it a second time with the new Range Officer Compact.

Unlike the Government Model Range Officer, the Compact uses a polished bull barrel and has a dual recoil spring and full-length guide rod, features that generally run up the price of a 1911. The 4-inch, match grade, stainless barrel has a fully supported ramp and a full-length guide rod. To minimize carry weight, the Compact uses a forged aluminum alloy frame, while the 6.25-inch-long slide is forged carbon steel. This is the same forged national match frame and slide used on the considerably more expensive Springfield Trophy Match and TRP models. At the rear are dovetailed, white-dot, low profile combat sights, and on the business end sits a raised, dovetailed blade with red fiber-optic insert. The Compact has a flat, finely checkered mainspring housing, raised palm swell and beavertail grip safety, serrated Delta-style hammer, single-sided thumb safety, a skeletonized, lightweight speed trigger averaging 5 to 6 pounds of pull, and a lowered and flared ejection port.

On the test range, the Compact’s custom features contributed to less felt recoil and faster sight acquisition between shots. Average trigger pull on the test gun was 5.3 pounds and best five-shot groups from 15 yards averaged 1.5 inches, with Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX clocking 910 feet per second (fps).

Overall, for a compact 1911, this newest version of the Springfield Armory Range Officer, priced at $989, delivers the most gun for the money while providing premium features, precision slide and frame fit, excellent sights, a lightweight trigger, very manageable recoil and the accuracy demanded from a close-quarters sidearm.

For more information, visit or call 800-680-6866.


  • CALIBER: .45 ACP
  • BARREL: 4.0 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 7.6 inches
  • WEIGHT: 28.5 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Wood
  • SIGHTS: White-dot rear, red fiber-optic front
  • ACTION: Striker-fired
  • FINISH: Parkerized
  • CAPACITY: 6+1
  • MSRP: $989



By Denis Prisbrey

Featuring one of the most revered and respected brand names around, Smith & Wesson has one of the most extensive lines of pocket pistols of any maker anywhere. Never one to rest on its laurels, the company has been expanding its line of compact carry handguns to offer options for just about any need. Take a look at two of their newest available, along with three other classic favorites.

M&P Bodyguard 380 Crimson Trace

Based on the new-for-2014 M&P Bodyguard .380 laserless semi-auto Bodyguard .380 pistol, S&W announced a collaboration with Crimson Trace for a new version with an integrated laser sight. The polymer-framed pistol retains the stainless steel barrel, dark stainless slide, black steel drift-adjustable sights and manual safety. Not significantly larger than many .25 ACP autos, the flat Bodyguard 380 is a near perfect size for all but the tiniest pocket, and still retains recoil levels easily managed by most shooters. This diminutive double-action-only pistol is one of the safer autos to carry. It can’t be cocked for either carry or shooting. The thumb safety is both stiff enough to stay where you leave it (on or off), and it is protected in a slightly recessed area in the frame to resist accidental activation if you choose not to use it at all. M&P-style fish scale slide serrations at the rear, two finger grooves and two stainless six-round mags (one with finger rest extension, one without) finish up the package.

M&P Bodyguard 38 Revolver Crimson Trace

Continuing on with the partnership, the radical polymer-framed five-shot Bodyguard 38 revolver first introduced in 2010 now features its own integral Crimson Trace laser for low-light backup to its fixed sights. A simple-to-use, lightweight, point-and-shoot pocket prospect, the Bodyguard 38 easily handles a wide range of popular .38 Special loads, and it’s fully rated for +P pressures if you don’t mind the increased recoil levels in this 14.36-ounce package. Another feature of this innovative revolver is the ambidextrous cylinder release, moved from the left side on S&W’s traditional designs on up to the top, where it’s equally accessible to either hand. Offering the same firepower in the same size as the company’s long-running classic J-Frames, but without the weight of either the steel or alloy versions, the Bodyguard 38 with Crimson Trace laser is state-of-the-art in small personal-protection revolvers.

For more information, visit or call 800-331-0852. 


Bodyguard 380 Crimson Trace

  • CALIBER: .380 ACP
  • BARREL: 2.75 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.25 inches
  • WEIGHT: 12.3 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Polymer
  • SIGHTS: Fixed, Crimson Trace laser
  • FINISH: Matte black
  • CAPACITY: 6+1
  • MSRP: $449

S&W Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace

  • CALIBER: .38 Special +P
  • BARREL: 1.9 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 6.6 inches
  • WEIGHT: 14.36 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Synthetic
  • SIGHTS: Fixed, Crimson Trace Laser
  • FINISH: Matte black
  • MSRP: $539


By Paul Scarlata

Kimber Manufacturing is well known for its high-end 1911 pistol and rifle lineups. But when the company saw the burgeoning market for concealed carry handguns that has developed in this country, it set about providing a product to satisfy it. The result was the Kimber Solo Carry.

The Solo is unlike other subcompact 9mm pistols. While polymer frames are all but de rigueur with the competition crowd, Kimber produced a pistol with an alloy frame that does not need any alloy/steel inserts to strengthen it, while the rails can be machined integrally, both of which provide greater overall strength. Separate grip panels and 1911-like ergonomics also set it apart from its contemporaries. The slide is made from stainless steel and carries a set of three-dot sights and a generously proportioned ejection port. The exterior of the pistol is “melted” to remove all sharp edges.

Like many of its contemporaries, the Solo is a striker-fired design. The trigger stroke has a bit of takeup before the striker is released by a light let-off. It has an ambidextrous thumb safety that is well positioned for easy manipulation but small enough not to compromise drawing from concealment. Cartridges are fed via a six-round box magazine, and its ambidextrous bona fides are further enhanced by magazine releases on both the right and left sides.

One of the newer additions to the Solo line is the Solo Carry DC (LG), a carry-ready compact pistol with an all-black DLC (diamond-like coating) finish for toughness and low visibility. The LG variant comes equipped with a pair of Crimson Trace Lasergrips for enhanced targeting. All in all, this is a very appealing variant of the popular Solo Carry line.

For the purposes of testing, Kimber provided me with a standard Solo Carry to evaluate for our readers. I was immediately impressed with the pistol’s size, or should I say lack of size. At only 5.5 inches long and weighing a mere 17 ounces unloaded, the Solo really is tiny. Quality of materials, fit and finish were all top notch, as you would expect from a company with Kimber’s reputation. The trigger displayed a bit of “mushiness,” but the let-off was crisp and light. The sights were large and easy to acquire and the safety levers worked very smoothly.

For more information, visit or call 888-243-4522.


  • CALIBER: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.12 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.5 inches
  • WEIGHT: 17 ounces
  • GRIPS: Synthetic
  • SIGHTS: Fixed
  • ACTION: Striker-fired
  • CAPACITY: 6+1
  • MSRP: $1,204



By Robert A. Sadowski

Taurus has a clear view of what it takes to make an effective compact defense gun. Concealed carry convenience may seem an oxymoron in terms, but the concept is now a reality. The old-school philosophy of carrying a big pistol in a big caliber definitely has its merits, but for those who choose concealed carry it is not an option. The CCW crowd wants all the firepower a big caliber has to offer, but they want it in a small, compact package. It should also be easy to operate, extremely safe, lightweight, easy to maintain and economical to own and train with. That’s no small order to fill. The reality is that many want a concealed carry pistol that’s as easy to carry around as a cell phone, wallet, purse or car keys. The Taurus 85VTA “View” revolver fits that need.

The View is a radical-looking, five-shot revolver. What makes the View so distinct is the Lexan side plate on the right side of the revolver’s frame. This clear side plate allows a user to “view” the mechanism of the revolver. The trigger is chromed and the bobbed hammer has a bright gold finish. In the hammer is Taurus’ Security System, which allows the user to use a key to immobilize the mechanism.

The View is based on the Taurus Model 85 revolver, but you will not recognize the View as a Model 85. The grip is a radical departure that is well suited for concealed carry. The diminutive grip is contoured and sits in the palm of your hand. The stubby barrel is 1.4 inches long. The barrel’s housing is titanium, while the barrel liner is made of steel. A ramped front sight is machined into the titanium. A groove in the top of the frame serves as the rear sight. The View’s frame is aluminum and the cylinder is titanium. It weighs a mere 9 ounces unloaded. Loaded, it weighs about 17 ounces, depending on the cartridge weight. At an overall length of 5.6 inches and a width of 1.4 inches, the View is highly concealable. It dropped into a pocket of my cargo shorts and no one was the wiser.

For more information, visit or call 800-327-3776.


  • CALIBER: .38 Special
  • BARREL: 1.41 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.67 inches
  • WEIGHT: 9 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Checkered polymer
  • SIGHTS: Fixed
  • FINISH: Colored aluminum
  • MSRP: $599


By Mike Detty

A few years back, Kahr Arms purchased Magnum Research, Inc (MRI). Known primarily for its iconic Desert Eagle, few people realize that MRI also produces a line of centerfire rifles, large-bore single-action (SA) revolvers as well as rimfire semi-auto rifles. MRI also imports a couple different styles of semi-auto pistols from Israel. The company’s 1911-style guns are manufactured by Bul, and the Baby Desert Eagle pistols are made by the prolific Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI).

I had a chance to review the 1911U (“U” for undercover) and was favorably impressed. It is a SA semi-auto .45 ACP built on an aluminum frame for weight savings and uses a 3-inch barrel for an extremely compact, lightweight concealed carry gun that packs a serious punch.

The 1911U possesses some value-added features that make this pistol extremely attractive to those looking for a compact 1911 concealed carry gun. For starters, the frame’s frontstrap is machine checkered at 30 lines per inch (lpi). The frame is also undercut at the junction of the frontstrap and triggerguard, allowing the shooter’s third knuckle to ride higher for comfort. Used with the high-sweep grip safety, the shooter can get a nice high grip on the gun. Bul also fits an extended thumb safety to the 1911U. It snicks on and off every bit as crisply as the trigger, which, by the way, breaks at a very clean 3.25 pounds. There is no firing pin safety on this Israeli import. Its trigger tracks cleanly without any vertical or horizontal wobble and has been adjusted for zero overtravel.

For more information, visit or call 508-635-4273.


  • CALIBER: .45 ACP
  • BARREL: 3 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 6.85 inches
  • WEIGHT: 25.8 ounces
  • GRIPS: Checkered walnut
  • SIGHTS: Adjustable rear, dovetailed front
  • FINISH: Matte black
  • CAPACITY: 6+1
  • MSRP: $946



By Dennis Adler

The CCP, available in two-tone or Cerakote black, is an innovative design that offers compact dimensions for ease of carry and, like the popular Walther PK380 and striker-fired subcompact 9mm Walther PPS, the CCP also utilizes a polymer frame. However, unlike any previous Walther model, the CCP combines blowback operation (used on models like the PPK) with innovative gas-piston technology.

Field stripping the CCP reveals an amalgamation of old and new technology, with a PPK-style fixed barrel and a single, large recoil spring. Aside from that, however, the operation of the gun is unlike any other Walther. The CCP utilizes a “Soft Coil” gas-delayed blowback action. When fired, a portion of the gas pressure from the ignited cartridge is directed downward through a small port in the bottom of the barrel and into a chamber located inside the frame. Think of it as a secondary recoil system that is otherwise passive if the gun is not being fired. This allows the primary recoil spring to be lighter, reducing slide resistance when chambering a round or clearing the gun. In operation, the gas piston, which is attached to the underside of the slide, fits into that chamber in the frame and uses the gasses from the discharged round to create back pressure. As the blowback action drives the slide rearward, the piston pushes against the trapped gasses, slowing the slide’s recoil until the bullet exits the barrel and releases the remaining internal pressure, after which the slide is allowed to end its rearward motion, opening the breech and ejecting the empty cartridge case. The reduced recoil effect decreases muzzle lift, allowing faster sight acquisition and more manageable control of the pistol.

While larger than many subcompacts, it has very concealable dimensions: an overall length of 6.41 inches with a 3.54-inch barrel, width of 1.18 inches and a leggy 5.12-inch height, which allows an eight-round magazine, giving the CCP an impressive 8+1 capacity and a carry weight of only 22.2 ounces unloaded.

For more information, visit or call 479-242-8500.


  • CALIBER: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.54 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 6.41 inches
  • WEIGHT: 22.2 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Polymer
  • SIGHTS: White dot
  • ACTION: Striker-fired
  • FINISH: Matte black frame, stainless slide
  • CAPACITY: 8+1
  • MSRP: $469-$489


By Jorge Amselle

Sig Sauer pistols are the top choice of federal law enforcement, elite military professionals and many citizens focused on personal protection. It is hardly surprising that one of Sig Sauer’s most popular personal protection handguns is the P238, chambered in the venerable .380 ACP cartridge. This semi-automatic, locked-breech, short-recoil-operated, hammer-fired, single-action pistol features a 7+1 capacity with its extended magazine and 6+1 with a flush-fit mag.

The P238’s profile and design are immediately familiar to fans of the classic 1911 pistol as this gun closely resembles it, minus the barrel bushing and grip safety. The pistol’s steel, Commander-style skeletonized hammer must be cocked for the pistol to fire, and the left-side-mounted thumb safety makes “cocked and locked” carry easy, making it the preferred method to keep the pistol in a defense-ready state for most.

The P238’s grips are a tactical gray and black Hogue G10, with very aggressive checkering for a secure hold. The front and the rear of the grip frame feature vertical serrations that also aid in securing a firm hold. The rear grip frame serrations are actually on the polymer mainspring housing. The area underneath the triggerguard has a slight upward indentation that helps get a better grip. Even with my large hands, I was able to get a full two fingers on the front of the grip. For those looking for a high-quality concealed carry pistol, there is definitely a Sig Sauer out there for you.

For more information, visit or call 866-345-6744.


  • CALIBER: .380 ACP
  • BARREL: 2.7 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.5 inches
  • WEIGHT: 15.4 ounces (empty)
  • GRIP: Hogue G10
  • SIGHTS: SigLite Night
  • FINISH: Black Hard Anodized
  • CAPACITY: 7+1
  • MSRP: $752



By Richard L. Johnson

Founded in 2003, SCCY Industries manufactures pistols that are reliable, easy to use and very affordable. A terrific example of this in the company’s lineup is the CPX-2 CB pistol. With a suggested retail price of only $314, it certainly meets the affordability standard. Throw in the SCCY lifetime warranty and the overall value of the gun improves even more.

Chambered in 9mm, the CPX-2 is a compact, hammer-fired pistol. It uses a black polymer frame built on a 7075-T6 aluminum alloy receiver to strike a balance between durability and affordability. The receiver is machined from bar stock. The trigger has a 9-pound pull from the factory. Since the gun features double-action-only (DAO) operation, the pull is consistent from shot to shot.

Although small and lightweight, the CPX-2 comfortably fills the hand, unlike some other compact pistols on the market today. One of the interesting features baked into the design is the recoil-reducing cushion on the backstrap of the grip. When the gun is fired, this section of the gun compresses, reducing felt recoil. The triggerguard is undercut where it meets the grip. This allows the shooter to get more hand on the pistol without having to lengthen the grip. Also, this moves the hand slightly higher on the gun, allowing for better recoil management. The grip also features integrated finger grooves. The CPX-2 is one of the better values on the market today.

There are two major lines of SCCY pistols: the CPX-1 and the CPX-2. Both are compact 9mm pistols that are hammer-fired and DAO. Although similar in appearance, the addition of an ambidextrous manual safety is the major difference that sets the CPX-1 apart from other SCCY pistols. To fire, the user sweeps the safety down before pulling the trigger. Since the SCCY pistols are DAO, the safety does not act as a decocker.

For those looking for the maximum amount of performance with a minimum outlay of cash, the CPX-1 and CPX-2 series pistols from SCCY certainly should fit the bill. Tough, reliable, powerful and effective, these guns provide the CCW shooter on a budget with a top-tier performer.

For more information, visit or call 866-729-7599.



  • CALIBER: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.1 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 5.7 inches
  • WEIGHT: 15 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Polymer
  • SIGHTS: Three-dot
  • FINISH: Black nitride
  • CAPACITY: 10+1
  • MSRP: $314



  • CALIBER: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.1 inches
  • OA length: 5.7 inches
  • WEIGHT: 15 ounces (empty)
  • GRIPS: Polymer
  • SIGHTS: Three-dot
  • FINISH: Satin stainless slide, matte black frame
  • CAPACITY: 10+1
  • MSRP: $334

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