Micro compact pistols are having a moment right now. It seems like every other month a different firearms manufacturer comes out with a new and improved version, and shooters are buying them up as fast as manufacturers can make them.

As concealed carry is getting increasingly popular, so are tiny pistols. There’s a good reason for that. It's a heck of a lot easier to conceal a Sig Sauer P365 than, say, a Glock 17, especially if you're small in stature, and as a 5-foot woman with small hands, I can attest to this.

However, as good as micro compacts are getting, they may not be the right choice for everyone. If you're currently running a tiny gun, should you give something bigger a try? Let's take a look at five reasons why you should consider a full-size pistol.

1. Grip Size

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but small pistols can be more difficult to grip. It took me trying many different pistols and a few years of experience to understand this. When I started shooting, I figured a small pistol was the best choice because I had small hands. Spoiler alert: That option wasn't my favorite.

I currently carry a Glock 48 MOS most of the year. It's not exactly a full-size pistol, but it's much larger than my first one, which was a Ruger LC9. It's even a bit larger than my Glock 43 that I carry in the summer.

Ruger LCP compared to G43
My Ruger LC9 (left) has a pinky rest on the magazine and my Glock 43 (right) has a +1 extender. If not for these additions, my pinky would hang off both pistols. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)

The more contact you can get with your grip, the more control you'll have over your pistol. That means connecting with the gun with all of your fingers and as much of your palms as possible. Even with small hands, my pinky would hang off the bottom of both my Glock 43 and LC9 if I didn't use magazines with a pinky rest or extension.

My Glock 48 MOS just feels better in my hands than my Ruger LC9 or even my Glock 43. I feel like I have room to spread out and get a solid grip while maintaining control. The caveat is that if your finger can't reach the trigger, the pistol is too large for you.

A bigger pistol can be easier to draw from concealment, too. When the gun's grip is longer, it’s easier to make contact when it's pressed against your body. I can draw my Glock 48 MOS faster than my Glock 43 because it's easier to grab.

2. Recoil and Muzzle Flip

Larger pistols are typically heavier, which means they will have less felt recoil. If you've ever heard anyone describe a tiny pistol as being "snappy," they're referring to recoil. If you've ever shot more than 100 rounds at a time out of one, you probably left your range session with your hands and arms feeling a little beat up.

Walther PDP-F
I recently purchased a Walther PDP F-Series. It’s about the same size as my Glock 48 MOS, but 4 onces heavier, which I can feel when shooting. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)

The lighter weight and short barrel on tiny pistols give them increased muzzle flip as well. Recoil and muzzle flip can affect follow-up shots, making it harder to get back on target, and it can impact your grip while shooting

These two factors tend to make a pistol not fun for training. I don't know about you, but I will train longer when I enjoy myself.

3. Round Count

Midsize and even subcompact guns are trying to catch up in this area, but generally, full-size pistols hold more rounds. The typical modern micro-compact carries between 6 and 10 rounds, while a full-size gun will usually hold between 15-20 rounds.

CZ P-07
The CZ P-07 standard capacity magazine is 15 rounds. I added a +2 extender to bring it up to 17. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)

Not to state the obvious, but the more rounds you have, the better off you are when it comes to a defensive situation. You don’t have to worry about carrying multiple extra magazines or swapping as much if you did happen to get into a gunfight.

4. Accuracy

Full-size guns have longer barrels, which means a longer sight radius when using iron sights. This makes them easier to shoot accurately, especially beyond 15 yards.

The Grey Ghost Combat Pistol and CZ P-07 are too large for me to carry, but I enjoy shooting both because they are heavy and have very little recoil. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)

Accuracy is a significant factor if you are faced with a defensive situation. Even if you train a lot and shoot well, many factors will be out of your control. Defensive situations are highly stressful, and stress affects the mind and body. A larger pistol may provide you with more accuracy if you’re forced to act under stress.

5. Home Defense

Full-size pistols are great for home defense, mainly for the above reasons. Maybe you're a casual shooter who doesn't train as often as you'd like. A larger pistol on your nightstand makes sense because of the better accuracy, increased round count, larger grip size, and decreased recoil and muzzle flip.

home defense
I prefer a larger pistol for home defense even if it’s too big for me to carry concealed. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)

A full-size pistol also means you can easily add a light. In your home, defensive situations are likely to happen at night, so the light gives you an advantage when grabbing the pistol from your nightstand.


There's no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to choosing a pistol for carrying or home defense. If you think micro compacts are your only option, you may change your mind after trying out a full-size or even a compact pistol. Even if you can’t conceal a full-size gun, something larger may still be worth adding to your arsenal. After all, there's nothing wrong with having choices.

revolver barrel loading graphic