Pocket Rockets – A Subcompact 9mm Comparison

Lately, the market has exploded with compact, lightweight (polymer) pistol options. Considering that this reviewer has a small frame, some of these highly concealable handguns have more appeal than others. With this in mind, some range time was in order to compare three of the most popular polymer framed 9mm pistols in the CCW field: the Glock 26, the Beretta Nano, and the Ruger LC9.

Of the three, the Glock is the only pistol featuring a double stacked magazine. While that gives it a higher capacity (the 26 boasts 10+1 to the Nano’s 6+1 and the LC9’s 7+1), it also means the grip is wider (1.18”) and bulkier. The Nano has a slim grip (.90”), but it’s round and fits this reviewer’s hand well. The LC9 has a grip similar to the Nano (also .90” wide), but it feels more top heavy. However, Ruger sends a mag with pinky extender standard. That additional purchase allows for a steadier aim in comparison to the two finger grips of the Glock and Beretta.

The Glock 26 is the heaviest of the three, weighing in at 19.75oz, but it feels well balanced and doesn’t interfere with the ability to keep it on target. The Beretta is a little heavier than the LC9 (17.67oz to the LC9’s 17.10oz) and that gives it a more solid feel. That helps to keep it steadier, while also reducing recoil. The Ruger LC9 is the lightest of the three, but the weight doesn’t feel as well balanced (feels top heavy) and, as a result, this reviewer noticed slower follow up shots than with the other two handguns.

The Glock 26 has the least muzzle flip and recoil, and that directly contributes to being able to stay on target better than with either the LC9 or the Nano. However, it’s heavier and features a longer barrel (3.46”) than the other two handguns. The Beretta Nano has a more noticeable muzzle flip, not surprising for the 3.07” barrel, but the snap does take away from speed of target re-acquisition. The Ruger has some muzzle flip and recoil (it has a 3.12” barrel), but nothing that a solid grip can’t handle (much like the Nano).

The trigger on the Glock 26 has the lightest trigger pull of the three, and it broke near to the front of the pull. The light trigger isn’t this reviewer’s personal preference for CCW, but, it did allow for more accurate shots. The Nano has the longest and heaviest trigger pull of the three, and it breaks further back. The Ruger LC9’s trigger doesn’t break as far back as the Beretta, but it isn’t as light as the Glock’s pull. It also felt non-uniform, and that makes keeping the rounds on target more difficult.

The Glock 26 uses notch and post sights, in comparison to the Beretta Nano’s three dot sights. While the Ruger LC9 also has three dot sights, the dots themselves are very tiny. Not only were they more difficult for sight picture alignment, but even seeing them at all caused more strain – especially in low lighting.

The Nano performed well for this reviewer. After over 800 rounds without lubrication, this pistol has only experienced two errors. Using the same ammo, the Glock 26 used for the video experienced one jam within 200 rounds. Overall, Beretta offers a competitive option within the market of pocket size (sub compact) single stack 9mm handguns. It is easier to conceal than the comparatively bulky 26, and easier to keep on target than the lighter LC9 (largely due to the unpredictable trigger pull).

The Glock 26 upholds the reputation Glock is known for in the area of lightweight handguns, and the trigger is its pièce de résistance. It’s only “hangup” in comparison to the little Ruger and Beretta 9mms is the bulk of its double stack mag and the awkward angular grip.

The LC9 may offer the lightest weight with a greater capacity than the Nano, but it doesn’t put rounds downrange with the same ease and accuracy that the Nano accomplishes.

40 comments
GoNavy
GoNavy

Thanks Destinee for the review. I actually saw it on your video a while ago. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of the sub compact. Compact is the smallest I go (4" barrel). Anything smaller, I don't think I have a proper grip on the firearm. I know the industry is heading towards sub compact and single stack for easy carry. My everyday carry is now Glock 19 Gen3. It fits me perfect. Is your Kahr CM9 your everyday carry? Great job on the reviews. Your reviews are excellent as they provide actual specs (looks like you did your research), some range time and your feedback. It's great that your dad is helping you out on the videos too.

JackMurphyRGR
JackMurphyRGR moderator

Nice shooting Destinee, thanks for the review!

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

Odd that you didn't feature the Glock 30.  She's 10+1 and .45

Androus
Androus

Nice overview of the three pistols. For those of us southpaws out there, do any of these feature ambi controls? That's always been my biggest problem with Glocks.

Old PH2
Old PH2 moderator

I own a Sig 239 single stack, I like the feel of the SIg but have always been curious about the lighter guns.  How do your selections stack up against the Kahr and Kel-Tec?  Just curious for your feedback, still trying to find something my wife feels comfortable with.

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @GoNavy Thank you for the kind words :] I've heard great things from those I know who also carry the 19. For me, I have a harder time concealing that size pistol :/ In the winter when I wear a lot of jackets/hoodies, it's a little easier to prevent printing, but I still find myself leaning toward the "baby 9s" for their ease of concealment. I suppose I could just stop wearing skinny jeans, but the "girl" in me balks at that hahaha

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @ACS It's my pleasure! I bet you aren't giving yourself enough credit. I have some pretty chickenly arms myself lol but the .45ACP is the pistol round I most enjoy shooting. For picking out guns for yourself, if you have the opportunity to rent before making a purchase, I highly recommend it. It's the best way of figuring out what works for *you*. That's hard to dictate to another, I think. Best of luck, and have fun! Let me know what you end up going with. :D

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @Tango9 For this video/article, I had a more limited focus comparing a couple "subcompact" 9mms, but I'll definitely do more videos/articles like this, and I'll keep in mind the 30 for the future. Thanks for the recommendation!

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @Androus Forgot to mention... the Nano has no slide release. The only protrusion on the frame is the mag release.

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @Androus The Gen4 26's have reversible mag releases, ditto the Nano... The LC9? I haven't found anything on their site that refers to the controls being ambi. If I find anything more on that, I'll be sure and let you know.

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

 @Androus The HK line is best for ambi due to the trigger drop mags.  I'd recommend the P2000 for smaller carry, comes in .40 flavor.

b66_b
b66_b

 @Androus I know the LC9 doesn't, but the XD-9 subcompact has an ambidextrous mag release and is an all around good gun IMO. The grip safety is a bit different, but I actually like it. 

AnotherLaura
AnotherLaura

 @Old PH2 I bought a Kahr E9 (that one's not made any more, but it's equivalent to the K9 (slightly longer barrel than the CM9) about 13 years ago and I still love it. It's been a solid performer and the fact that it's all steel helps with the recoil considerably. If your wife has smaller hands and is worried about the kick of a sub-compact pistol, I highly recommend she give it a try. The only drawback is that it's got a pretty long trigger pull, but it's a DAO so really, it's not a surprise. Oh, I'm also short-waisted so sometimes I have trouble carrying it when wearing more fitted clothing. But all in all, I can't say enough good things about the Kahr. 

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @Old PH2 Haven't put many rounds through Kel-Tec, but I did do some thorough review on the Kahr CM9. Solid performing gun, especially for the price tag. Nothing much to look at, but when you're planning to conceal it, that becomes quite minor, and the fact that it has such a small footprint becomes extremely valuable. I do prefer the Nano, but only slightly. It's slightly heavier, and seems to soak up recoil a bit better. But, the Kahr has a smoother trigger... both are great options, though (for CCW, namely). What I'd really like is to get my hands on the SIG 938 and see how it handles...

AnotherLaura
AnotherLaura

 @FateofDestinee  I couldn't agree with you more- concealing while still dressing like a woman is the biggest challenge for me, as well. We need more real solutions for day to day carry- mom jeans are not an option! (And don't get me started on the bra holsters and purses...ugh). ;-)

Androus
Androus

@FateofDestinee No way to lock the slide back? That's a deal breaker for me for anything except a BUG

Androus
Androus

@FateofDestinee Fair point on the new Gen4 and I'll eventually buy one, but not thrilled about the lack of interchangeability with earlier Gens.

Androus
Androus

@Tango9 P2000 is nice, in fact I have one in .357 sig. However I really don't like the trigger guard mag drop has you have to shift your grip on the gun to engage. Plus I don't like DA pistols.

Androus
Androus

@b66_b Thanks, but I really don't like the slide stop on the XD pistols. VERY difficult to engage for a lefty.

AnotherLaura
AnotherLaura

 @GoNavy  @FateofDestinee    Ha! The infamous bra holster... those make me laugh. If only it were that easy... ;-) Seriously though- more often than not the average attacker is going to come up from behind a woman, which would make accessing the weapon difficult if you aren't able to break away. Worse yet, they might even find it and disarm you depending on where they grab. IMO, the abdominal carry- while it does take some getting used to- is one of the better options for both accessibility and concealment. 

GoNavy
GoNavy

@FateofDestinee @AnotherLaura Have you tried to wear the "flashbang" holster? That was on one of your video's Destinee. I wonder what women think about that holster. You are both right. It is more difficult for a woman to conceal carry especially with your tight fitting clothes / fashion styles. Guys are definitely more easier.

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @AnotherLaura Lol! I feel ya there! I understand the dressing around the gun... but wearing jeans that encroach on my belly button drives me nuts x.x nor do I want to run around in hoodies or shapless sweaters all the time. I'm still working on my "ideal" carry setup.

AnotherLaura
AnotherLaura

 @Tango9  @FateofDestinee Ah, I see now... just had a chance to google it. That's interesting- will definitely be looking into that. Thanks again!

AnotherLaura
AnotherLaura

 @Tango9  @FateofDestinee  Thanks Tango9, I'll have to check them out. If I'm picturing it right, I'm sure it would help keep a better profile, but the catch (for me, and I don't think I'm alone on this) is that my jeans are generally fitted and have a relatively lower rise. So, for my IWB holster, it pretty much sits on the flare of my hip, instead of hiding in my natural waist like a guy's would. I've been working with an abdominal carry lately, which seems to be okay- it's a bit awkward and the draw still feels weird.  

 

Now a dress on the other hand... that'd be waaay easier to work with. ;-) Seriously though- I get the concept of dressing around the gun, but I don't want to wear big floppy clothes all of the time. Kind of defeats the purpose of being a lady, you know? 

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

 @AnotherLaura  @FateofDestinee Have you guys considered CC undershirts?  UnderArmour type fabric, breathable, fairly comfortable.

 

For a small compact you might find them workable.  Draw time is going to be an issue (you have to lift up whatever outer shirt you're wearing), and the velcro is not a good idea.  I remove it... last thing I need mr. tweeker to do is hear "riiiiiiip!" as I'm pulling out my pistol behind the Cheetos rack.

 

But it's better than nothing.  And the best advice I ever got was dress around the gun, don't gun around your dress (pun intended... yeah... guys).

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

 @ACS  @FateofDestinee In this video, both the Ruger and the Glock are rentals. ;] At my range, I pay an hourly fee for range time, and a rental fee if I want to rent a gun.

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

 @ACS  @FateofDestinee Lots of ranges let you "rent" pistols to try them out.  Now most of these are gun clubs where you have to pay an annual fee or some such, but many have daily rates.

Androus
Androus

@Tango9 Well maybe I have short thumbs, because I spent a lot of training time to adapt to that mag release...yet no joy.

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

 @Androus  @Tango9 It's definitely something you either love or hate.  Believe it or you you can train your thumb to drop it as quickly as you would off a standard button release.