July 25, 2022
Most people who carry never have to draw their gun (nor do they want to), but when it happens, we must be prepared to respond effectively. We all have a responsibility to choose a dependable firearm that can do the job when engaging a deadly threat.
The market for sub-compact, striker-fired 9mm pistols has exploaded, and every manufacturer is working to bring the best features optimized for everyday carry. From red-dot ready to capacity, modern everyday carry (EDC) and conceal carry (CCW) pistols are bringing peak performance.
Luckily, the Handguns editors have fired and reviewed all these pieces, and we're here to help you choose the best sidearm, while also stirring a healthy debate on the subject. Take a look at the 10 options below and find the carry gun that works for you.
SIG Sauer P365 Series
SIG Sauer changed the everyday carry game when they launched the first 10+1 capacity sub-compact pistol. It quickly became one of the most popular everyday carry pistols on the market, and SIG Sauer has expanded the P365 to include an extensive line of different models and features.
This striker-fired 9mm is comparable in size to similar .380-chambered pistols, but it even beats many of those options in capacity. Many expected it to be a sharp-recoiling pistol, and while it may not be quite as smooth as a full-size 9mm, it shoots incredibly well. New additions in the P365 series include red-dot ready options, compensators, superior trigger options, and longer slides like in the P365XL. The P365 is great to conceal carry. Its slim design hardly prints at all, even in tighter clothing, and there are extensive holster options available for each model.
Springfield Armory Hellcat Series
The Springfield Armory Hellcat is one of the most popular sub-compact pistols on the market today, and the line has expanded greatly from the original Hellcat. When it first launched, it set a new standard for 9mm magazine capacity with its 11- and 13-round mags.
Now, the line includes red-dot ready options along with compensators and a new Pro model. The Hellcat grip is a favorite among CCW carriers, and it is highly accurate and easy to shoot. With the launch of the Hex red dot line, the Springfield Armory Hellcat has options ready to go off the shelf with no need for extensive upgrades.
This award-winning pistol is the premium offering in Springfield Armory’s EDC/CCW lines, and has a track record of extreme reliability and performance, making the Hellcat a first look for many new CCW carriers.
Walther PDP F-Series
The Walther PPQ pistol has been a staple of law enforcement and self-defense around the world for years, but they really stepped up their game with the launch of the PDP series. The Walther PDP Compact is a great EDC pistol for everyone. Now, Walther has launched a new pistol truly optimized for women.
The new F-Series PDP uses a two-piece striker for a 20% reduction is slide-racking force. It also uses a female-ergonomic, reduced-circumference grip that sits well in a woman’s hand. This modular, red-dot ready pistol is feature-packed and available in 3.5- or 4-inch models. Another great feature for women is the reduced trigger reach. The trigger sits farther back inside the triggerguard, so it doesn’t require a long finger reach to shoot.
With extensive design and testing for women shooters, the F-Series PDP is a great option to round out the new Walther PDP line.
Kimber R7 MAKO
Kimber offers many excellent EDC/CCW handguns, and they’ve been a popular option for years. Their latest offering is the R7 MAKO, a striker-fired 9mm sub-compact pistol. The R7 MAKO is an interesting new option from Kimber, as most of their EDC pistols are hammer-fired.
The MAKO exemplifies Kimber quality, featuring a premium trigger, ambidextrous controls and full-wrap grip texturing. It has a respectable 12- and 14-round magazine, and it boasts best-in-class accuracy.
It’s optics-ready, cut for the common Shield/J-point mounting interface, and it also uses tritium iron sights with a Glock-cut rear sight. For an off-the-shelf, ready-to-go EDC pistol, the Kimber R7 MAKO is a great option that won’t need tons of upgrades.
Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O.
Taurus is a favorite brand for those looking for affordable firearms. They hit the EDC market hard with an extensive line of sub-compact pistols, but their premium CCW offering is the Taurus G3 T.O.R.O.
The T.O.R.O. is basically identical to the popular G3 offering, but it is red-dot ready out of the box. The G3 boasts a Picatinny rail section for mounting lights or lasers, and it has an impressive 17-round capacity. That’s a lot of firepower for a striker-fired 9mm sub-compact.
The trigger leaves the factory around 6 pounds, and it has a smooth, clean break. It also has an adjustable rear sight and a fixed front sight. For those looking for a good EDC pistol in an affordable package, the Taurus G3 T.O.R.O. is definitely worth a look.
Most known for their shotguns and rifles, Mossberg entered the EDC market with their MC1sc pistol. It was well-received as an reliable sub-compact handgun ideal for concealed carry. They’ve updated the line with the MC2sc. It boasts several upgrades that keep it competitive with the EDC standard of the day.
The MC2sc is red-dot ready and uses the Shield/J-point mounting pattern. It uses an 11-round flush and 14-round extended mag, which gives it an impressive 15 rounds with one chambered for concealed carry. It has a great, flat trigger and nicely textured grip with an ergonomic palm swell. There are several different models available that offer manual safeties, TruGlo iron sights and more. As a good EDC pistol should be, it’s highly reliable, and there are extensive holster options available for concealed carry.
Smith & Wesson Shield Plus
There are tons of Smith & Wesson Shield pistols already in circulation, and they’re one of the most popular defensive handguns you’ll find. To stay competitive with the EDC market, S&W launched the Shield Plus, but it’s much more than just an upgraded Shield Pistol.
This striker-fired 9mm sub-compact boasts 10-round flush and 13-round extended magazines, and the trigger has seen some significant work from the original Shield pistols. The Shield Plus is available with red-dot ready, thumb safety, and various iron-sighted options, and the Performance Center Shield Plus features all the bells and whistles for those looking for the full Smith & Wesson package.
In the sub-compact, everyday carry pistol market, the Ruger MAX-9 is one of the smallest, lightest 9mm options available. It weighs in at just 18.4 oz., and it is less than 1 inch wide. Still, it boasts a 10-round flush and 12-round extended magazine.
The grip texture makes it easy to shoot, and it has great iron sights with a short, smooth trigger. It is a highly shootable sub-compact 9mm pistol. There are several different models available, including red-dot ready options as well as one option available with a factory-installed Crimson Trace 1500-series red-dot sight.
A true made-in-America design and build, the Ruger MAX-9 is incredibly reliable and easy to operate, making it one of the favorite EDC/CCW pistols on the market today.
Stoeger STR-9 Compact
Stoeger is another firearms manufacturer that is most known for their shotguns. However, the STR series pistols have made some serious waves. In truth, they are pretty much a Glock clone, but they smoke Glock on price while maintaining Glock quality.
The STR-9 Compact is a solid, affordable choice for everyday carry, and it has all the features that are standard for the day. It is red-dot ready, uses 10- and 13-round magazines, and it’s small enough to carry concealed without serious printing concerns. There are dedicated holster options for the STR series, but the STR-9 Compact is even compatible with many Glock holsters, an additional value save if one already owns Glock holsters.
Founded in 2016, Shadow Systems has steadily gained ground in the market. They’re often compared to “Gucci Glocks,” but they are far more reliable and shootable. They offer an extensive line of full-size pistols, but the Shadow Systems CR920 is their premium EDC pistol.
It looks sharp, but the aggressive styling is for more than looks. The entire design is optimized for easy operation and handling. From the trigger to the aggressive grip design and slide cuts, the CR920 is one of the easiest sub-compact pistols to manipulate.
They’re red-dot ready, and they are compatible with Glock 43X MOS and G48 MOS holsters. With a smooth, crisp trigger pull, and 10- and 13-round magazines, the Shadow Systems CR920 is a growing favorite in the CCW community.