Best 9mm Compact Pistols [2021]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / May 27 2022

If you can only own one pistol, get a compact. Why?

Compact pistols can fill the roles of both home defense and concealed carry. They won't serve as well as the specialized types, but get the job done on a tight budget.

Compact pistols can be concealed in a holster on your waist, under a shirt. They can't be concealed with your waist exposed.

Overview

Sig p320 X-Compact
Pistol Size Length: 7.0-8.5". Any longer and it becomes hard to carry while seated.
Height: 5.0-5.5". Any higher and it's likely to print against your clothing.
Frame Material Polymer. Less weight in the frame makes it comfortable to carry all day and prevents injuries from long-term carry.
Weight 1.0-1.5 lb. Any heavier and they become painful to carry long-term.
Ammo Caliber 9mm.The best balance of power, recoil, and ammo capacity for everyday self-defense.
Ammo Capacity 15+ rounds. Robberies and the like often have 2 or more assailants. If they're determined, it can take several shots to stop one.
Best Upgrades Pistol light, Threaded barrel, Compensator, Laser Grips or Red Dot (optional).
Storage Concealed carry holster or quick-access safe.

  1. Standard Compact Pistols
  2. Optics-Ready Compact Pistols


Standard Compact Pistols

These pistols aren't compatible with a red dot sight (RDS),but are cheaper.

  1. Under $400
  2. $401-600
  3. Over $600

Best Compact Pistol under $400

The Canik / Century Arms TP9SF Elite offers unbeatable value for the price. It's like a cheaper, upgraded Walther PPQ M2. Any holsters for the PPQ will fit this pistol. Like the PPQ, it has more mass behind the wrist when you hold it, so design makes the recoil tougher to manage. To offset this, the TP9SF Elite is a bit heavy for its size (1.8 lb. vs. a 1.3 lb. for a Glock 19). If you have lower back problems and are looking for a compact carry pistol, consider a lighter option.

Updated hourly

Century Arms TP9SF Elite
$382.69
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$382.69 @ Impact Guns
15+1
1.8 lb
7.28"L x 1.5"W x 5.3"H
  • Like the Walther PPQ, but with upgraded Fiber-Optic sights and a match-grade barrel
  • If you can't find it near you, try a Walther PPQ to see how it fits your hand
  • Worst recoil


Best Compact Pistols for $401-600

The Glock 19 is the Honda Civic of pistols. It's a popular, solid choice with tons of aftermarket support. It's the benchmark for compact pistols. If you love Glocks, you can't go wrong here. If you're new to Glocks, make sure you can use the slide release and magazine release easily. Several of my students had issues with them when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc., and it's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts.

That said, the CZ P-10 C has better controls (the slide release and magazine), a better trigger, and to top it off, it's cheaper. Most Glock 19 holsters work with the CZ P-10 C, too. To make a Glock 19 equal a CZ P-10 C, you'd need to buy $150 in upgrades and install them.

Or, you could just buy a CZ P-10 C and save a bunch of money.

Updated hourly

CZ P-10 C
$543.10
$505.96
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$505.96 @ Impact Guns
$519.00 @ Midway USA
$543.10 @ Impact Guns
$543.10 @ Midway USA

Glock 19
$599.99
$455.40
@ Primary Arms
Compare Prices
$455.40 @ Primary Arms
$476.00 @ Primary Arms
$539.00 @ Primary Arms
$539.00 @ Gritr
$539.11 @ Impact Guns
$599.99 @ Rainier Arms
15+1 15+1
1.6 lb 1.3 lb
7.3"L x 1.3"W x 5.2"H 7.3"L x 1.3"W x 5"H
  • Great trigger
  • Fits in most Glock 19 holsters


Best Compact Pistols over $600

The H&K VP9 is the best compact 9mm pistol for lefthanded shooters. It's fully ambidextrous. You don't have to switch any parts around, it just works for both hands. The tradeoff is that it has a paddle magazine release by the trigger guard, instead of the common thumb-button release. It takes some getting used to, but some people love it. You won't know until you try.

It's also the best compact 9mm pistol for shooters with small hands. Why? Two reasons: First, it has tabs at the back of the slide to help you grip it and pull it back (like when you lock the slide open to show clear, or clear a jam). Second, it has the most adjustable grip out of any pistol, ever. You can adjust the size of the back strap, and each side panel. No pistol matches its ergonomic adjustments.

The VP9 also comes optics-ready as the standard for all pistols made in 2020 onward. This is an upgrade that most companies charge an extra $100-150 for, but H&K streamlined their manufacturing and just made it the norm for all VP9s. If only more companies followed this example.

The Walther PDP may otherwise be a better choice. It has a standard magazine release, better sights, and is compatible with red dot optics. It's easier to find holsters for it, too. If you aren't lefthanded and don't have small hands, the Walther PDP offers a better value at this price point.

Updated hourly

H&K VP9
$839.00
$549.99
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$549.99 @ Impact Guns
$619.90 @ Midway USA
$639.99 @ Impact Guns
$678.29 @ Impact Guns
$739.90 @ Midway USA
$759.99 @ Brownells
$839.00 @ Rainier Arms

Walther PDP Compact 4
$649.00
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$649.00 @ Impact Guns
$649.00 @ Impact Guns
17+1 15+1
1.6 lb 1.7 lb
7.3"L x 1.3"W x 5.4"H 7.5"L x 1.3"W x 5.4"H
  • Best grip adjustment for small or large hands
  • Tabs at rear of slide to help with racking
  • Great trigger
  • Upgraded sights
  • Models from 2020 onward all come with an optics cut
  • Fully ambidextrous magazine release
  • Magazine release is a paddle rather than a standard button; may take extra practice to get used to
  • Compatible with all common red dot pistol sights
  • Deepest optic cut of any optics-ready pistol
  • Great trigger
  • Iron sights can be replaced with Glock sights
  • Must send request for a free optics plate
  • Stock recoil spring is 17 lb when it should be 15 lb; when shooting 115gr practice ammo, load magazines to 17 rounds instead of 18 to prevent jams, or get the PDP-F model
  • Lube the firing pin block every 50-60k rounds or you'll get failure to fire jams


Optics-Ready Compact Pistols

These pistols are compatible with one or more red dot sights by default. Check the icon on each entry to see which red dots a pistol is compatible with.

  1. Under $600
  2. Over $600

Best Optics-ready Compact Pistols under $600

The CZ P-10 C OR is the optics-ready version of the CZ P-10 C, which is like a Glock 19 with $150 in upgrades, but instead of costing $150 more, it costs at least $100 less. The optics plate on the CZ P-10 C is also perfectly designed. It's compatible with the rear iron sight instead forcing you to choose between a red dot and a rear iron sight, and it's twice as deep as competitors, so your shots stay more accurate at close range. This model also has an upgraded front sight.

My only complaint is that optics-ready pistols should come with suppressor-height sights, as standard iron sights aren't tall enough to work as backup sights with a red dot. However this is a problem with nearly all "optics-ready" pistols on the market today.

Updated hourly

CZ P-10 C Optics Ready
$623.00
$616.07
@ Gritr
Compare Prices
$616.07 @ Gritr
$623.00 @ Impact Guns
15+1
1.6 lb
7.3"L x 1.3"W x 5.2"H
Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro
  • Great trigger
  • Upgraded sights
  • Deep optics slot
  • Fits in most Glock 19 holsters (with an optics cut)
  • Adapter plates not included; sold separately for $40-60


Best Optics-ready Compact Pistols over $600

The Glock 19 MOS is a solid pick at this price point. If you have other Glock pistols, this is probably your best bet for an optics-ready handgun. If you're new to Glocks, make sure you can use the slide release and magazine release easily. Several of my students had issues with them when doing reloads, locking the slide open, clearing jams, etc., and it's no concidence that two of the most common aftermarket upgrades for Glocks are for those parts.

Another issue is the MOS mounting slot is shallow, and the mounting plates from Glock are unreliable. After a few thousand rounds the plate will fail, throwing it and your optic off of your Glock. Get an aftermarket mounting plate such as the Forward Controls Design OPF plate for the Glock MOS to prevent this.

Otherwise, the Walther PDP offers more value for the money, with better controls (magazine and slide release) and trigger. Better yet, it has the deepest optics slot, and reliable mounting plates that work with every slide-mounted red dot on the market today.

The catch? It doesn't come with mounting plates, but you can request one for free for your specific optic from Walther. Unless you already have other Glock pistols, the real choice here is between the Walther PDP and the CZ P-10 C OR, above.

Updated hourly

Glock 19 MOS
$745.00
$556.00
@ Primary Arms
Compare Prices
$556.00 @ Primary Arms
$620.00 @ Primary Arms
$620.18 @ Impact Guns
$679.99 @ Rainier Arms
$745.00 @ Midway USA

Walther PDP Compact 4
$649.00
@ Impact Guns
Compare Prices
$649.00 @ Impact Guns
$649.00 @ Impact Guns
15+1 15+1
1.3 lb 1.7 lb
7.3"L x 1.3"W x 5"H 7.5"L x 1.3"W x 5.4"H
Holosun 507C, Holosun 508T, Trijicon RMR, Deltapoint Pro All common pistol red dots
  • Compatible with all common red dot pistol sights
  • Deepest optic cut of any optics-ready pistol
  • Great trigger
  • Iron sights can be replaced with Glock sights
  • Must send request for a free optics plate
  • Stock recoil spring is 17 lb when it should be 15 lb; when shooting 115gr practice ammo, load magazines to 17 rounds instead of 18 to prevent jams, or get the PDP-F model (which comes with a lighter recoil spring)d
  • Lube the firing pin block every 50-60k rounds or you'll get failure to fire jams

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