Comparing the Top 5 Micro-Compacts Available Today
Nearly 50 years after the original “Wonder Nines” hit the market, we have now entered a new age of “Wonder Compacts” or even “Wonder Micros.” I had the five hottest large-capacity micro-compact and sub-compact pistols on the market shipped to me via the Guns.com Vault.
It’s been fun taking these out to the range. I’ve shot roughly 100 to 200 rounds through each of these guns, and they’ve all been nice and reliable shooters with my stash of Winchester White Box and PMC Bronze. They’ve all also been enjoyable to shoot, but I certainly have a preference of some over others. Since I haven’t put a high round count through any of these, don’t expect an in-depth review here but rather my first impressions. In the end, however, one of these may not be going back.
Rather than getting into a deep discussion about the pros and cons of each make and model, I’m going to simply highlight some features that I typically talk about and offer my thoughts on which model had the best results. At the end of the day, these guns have all shot reliably for me through the first 100 rounds or more. So there may be some things that make them more desirable for you based on what you’re looking for.
You may have noticed from the spec breakdown that not all of these pistols have the same capacity or size. The largest native capacity of the five we have on hand today is the Springfield Hellcat, boasting an impressive 11+1 capacity with its smallest magazine. All of these pistols have extended magazines and, aside from the Sig, they all ship with an extended mag. The P365 does accept larger capacity magazines, but you’ll need to pony up a little extra dough to get them.
Ergonomics, Control Access, and Ease of Use
All the guns fit my hands surprisingly well for how small they are. I’m able to achieve a nice high grip on each gun with my shooting hand, and each gun offers some space for a support hand to be placed. The G3C or the Shield Plus probably give the most room for a support hand, while the P365 gives you little to nothing depending on the size of your meat hooks. Overall, they each feel good in the hand. But the one that feels the best and allows me to get the best two-handed grip is probably the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus.
All the guns have easy access to the controls for single-handed manipulation. I found that the Hellcat seemed to have the easiest and most ergonomically friendly magazine release button. A nod should go to the Taurus G3C though for its ability to not just drop a magazine but shoot it out with gusto. For the droppable mag award, the G3C would be a winner.
When it comes to slide release, all were easy to access for single-handed manipulation. The slides that fell the easiest were the Springfield Hellcat and the Taurus G3C, with an ever so slight nod going to the G3C.
Grip Texture and Slide Serrations
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of aggressive grip texture and aggressive slide serrations. The more I shoot handguns, the more I appreciate these two qualities. The Hellcat is going to give you the most texture coverage. Springfield even covers the index point with a little grip texture, something that I find not totally necessary but a really nice comfort to have.
While I do like the grip texture on the Hellcat, I would say the most aggressive grip texture would have to go to the G3C. It has a highly textured sandpaper feel. When paired with the deep thumb swell, it allows for a nice firm grasp on the gun.
When it comes to slide serrations, my initial impressions are that I like the Ruger Max-9 and the Sig P365 the best. I find they are the most aggressive and quickest to get onto. All of these guns have both forward and rear slide serrations.
When it comes to the sights, two of these guns stand out right away. Both the Sig P365 and the Springfield Hellcat come standard with night sights. The Ruger Max-9 comes standard with a blacked-out rear and a fiber-optic front sight. S&W does offer a night sight for the Shield Plus, but that will come at an added cost. The model I have for T&E has the standard three white dots.
Out of all the sights, I like the Ruger Max-9’s the best. That front fiber-optic sight picks up really nicely, it’s very large, and it gets on target quickly. A close runner-up for me would be the P365, which also has a nice large front sight that glows brightly.
Initial Thoughts on Accuracy and Trigger Time at the Range
All of these guns had triggers and accuracy that are more than adequate for concealed carry. I’m still in the process of breaking these guns in and getting familiar with each of them. So far, I’ve had no malfunctions from any of them. But I can certainly say that there are triggers that I like better than others.
For me, the Shield Plus and the Hellcat triggers are head and shoulders above the rest, with the Shield Plus proving to be my favorite both in terms of feel and accuracy. I could consistently place the best groups with the Shield Plus, including shooting it cold and right out of the box. The first 100 rounds really surprised me because the trigger is so improved on the new Shield Plus.
I only had two notable downgrades for the triggers in the bunch. The trigger reset point for the Max-9 felt really long, especially when compared to the others. The other downgrade I noticed was that G3C has a lot of squish at the top of the trigger pull. It’s not terrible, not too weighted or gritty, but it’s a long way to get to the wall. All that said, I was able to keep center mass at 25 feet with all of these pistols, so I think they are all capable of being carried concealed.
These guns will stay well under $1,000, with the P365 probably drawing the highest price tag and pushing somewhere north of $650 for a new FDE version like the one I got from the GDC Vault. For those who are budget conscious, you can get a brand-new G3C for just over $330 these days, putting it well within the range of even the most frugal of shoppers.
While I haven’t pilled up the round counts on any of these guns yet, there are other reviewers who have. They all seem to be more than effective for concealed carry and personal defense. The one that is best for the individual shooter is going to be a combination of the factors I listed. My suggestion would be try to get to the range and rent as many of these as possible to decide what’s best for you.
At the end of the day, I did pick one of these to keep, and that was the P365. I decided to keep the original trendsetter because it conceals the best, and I can wear it with virtually any outfit. It has been a go-to gun in summer when tighter T-shirts and tank tops often come into play. While I’m keeping only the P365 for now, some of these may be coming back later. In any case, you’re not going to go wrong with any of these pistols.