Though I’d bet we have all come across the term mouse gun in our travels before, I’d also bet that we have all come across quite a few explanations as to what a mouse gun actually is (and no its not for exterminating those little rodents looking to get at your cheese, although I am sure most small guns will do the job, especially loaded with rat-shot, though a trap suffices so much better). Anyway, getting back on message, what is a mouse gun and what are the best ones?
A mouse gun is any handgun that can be concealed by just slipping it into a pocket and concealing it comfortably. Sound like a purse pistol, pocket pistol or back up gun? Good, because that’s exactly what it is—a gun that is unusually small in size—and with concealed carry flourishing in the free states, mouse guns are getting a lot more attention too. Yet, with smaller size comes limitations (mostly in power) and, despite the market flood for small, concealable pistols, on more than one occasion I have heard shooters complain that they want their deep concealed carry gun to roar more like a lion than squeaks like a mouse.
Well, the diminutive size requirement rules out pretty much every large caliber handgun and any of the big heavy revolvers out there, but that doesn’t matter because today, in 2012, there are plenty of mouse guns out there that punch well above their weight class. In fact, I think the term mouse guns doesn’t do these guns justice anymore as they have just as much power as their bigger cousins, just as much bite in their much smaller package.
Smith & Wesson has been leading the way for concealable snub nosed revolvers for decades and even with the polymer craze in full swing there are some that still want a good wheel gun. Really what I see is the perfect union of smart, concealed carry driven design and one of the most reliable self-defense rounds in existence.
The five shot 649 is chambered in .357 Magnum in its newest incarnation (certainly no complaints about stopping power there) and is being made in stainless steel (meaning all that sweat and crap that ends up in your pocket won’t bother it like a blued gun). Considering the fury of the round it fires, the gun only weighs a twenty three ounces empty and fits a slew of pocket holsters.
If double action only is your thing, then the .357 Model 640 is right up your alley even if you only load it with .38 Special +P’s (still, not a defense round to sneeze at). It also has a shrouded hammer that still gives the shooter the option of firing the gun single action without having to worry about it hanging up in their pocket—a nice touch for those who want to load high test .357 Magnum rounds and considering most self-defense shootings only involve one or two shots fired.
2. Ruger LCP
You can’t talk about mouse guns that are more powerful than their look may imply without mentioning the Ruger LCP, which has certainly taken the genre of guns by storm recently. With six rounds of .380 in the magazine giving you a total of seven (magazine plus one in chamber), this tiny package is certainly not lacking in firepower. The gun weighs less than ten ounces empty and, at slightly more than three quarters of an inch wide it is about the size of an average man’s wallet although it is not the billfold someone wants to see the business side of. There are similar versions out there from Kel-Tec and a few others also in .380, but the Ruger seems to be gaining the most acceptance as “the mouse gun to beat”.
3. Taurus 709
While I have never been a huge fan of Taurus over the years I have heard some good things about the Model 709 9mm pistol. With the ability to carry eight rounds with seven in the magazine and one in the chamber this little guy packs a pretty decent punch with its 9mm rounds and edges out the LCP by one. The 709 weighs nineteen ounces empty and is six inches overall, roughly the size of a Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver. You could certainly do worse if you’re thinking about slipping a mouse in your pocket.
4. Kahr PM40
The last horse in this race is probably the most compact with the biggest bang. The Kahr PM40 is chambered in .40 S&W and is just less than five and a half inches long and is less than an inch wide. The little Kahr has a five round magazine, six with the extension and weighs less than nineteen ounces empty. This little .40 S & W will certainly ruin any bad guy’s day if this is what someone is carrying in their pocket.
For years when people heard mouse gun, they instantly thought of a little .22 or a .25 and while they might be something to consider, why carry one of those when you can get the same size pistol in a much more substantial caliber?
Just because you have a mouse gun, doesn’t mean it has to be a pipsqueak when it comes to power and any one of the guns I touched upon, when produced unexpectedly from a pocket or a purse, will certainly be a force to be reckoned with—you are not going out in need of anything more powerful.