I just did a shootout comparing four .380 pocket pistols, and now I’m continuing my assessment with four different, more powerful, pocket pistols. Let's check out these 9mm handguns from Guns.com’s Certified Used section. You might just find your new concealed carry choice.
 

Table of Contents

Video
9mm vs .380
SIG P938
Kimber Micro 9
Ruger LCR
SIG P365 
Conclusion

Video
 

 

9mm vs .380


Because the differences between the 9mm and .380 ACP cartridges are so minimal, it begs the question, “Why carry one over the other?” 

To me, it all comes down to recoil. The .380 recoils less than the 9mm. If you are a newer shooter or are sensitive to recoil, I would choose the .380. It’s very pleasant to shoot. 
 

9mm ammo in magazine
The choice to carry 9mm (shown here) instead of .380 really comes down to personal preference and experience level. (All photos: Don Summers/Guns.com)


While .380 ACP is not as effective a self-defense round as the 9mm, it is perfectly adequate. The ability to get fast, accurate shots downrange is more important than ballistic performance. If you shoot the .380 better than 9mm, then I would not sweat the difference in power.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced shooter, the difference in controllability is negligible. Because I can shoot the 9mm SIG P938, even though it’s snappier, just as well as the .380 P238, I would take the increased stopping power.
 

SIG P938

In the previous .380 roundup, the SIG P238 ended up on top. It had the best accuracy and reliability, and its weight and form factor made it easy to conceal, fast to draw, and comfortable to shoot. 
 

SIG Sauer P938 trigger
I'm a fan of the trigger on the SIG P938.


In addition, because I prefer shooting 1911s and 2011s, I’m fast with manual safeties and I feel more secure having a positive safety on my CCW guns. I also believe single-action triggers are the best triggers for precision and speed. Finally, I just liked the size, weight, and feel, both in the hand and in the pocket.
 

SIG P238 and SIG P938
The P238, left, and the P938 at right are clearly related.


For all these reasons, in this comparison of more powerful pocket pistols, I liked the SIG P938 the most. The P938 is nearly identical to the P238, except it’s chambered for 9mm rather than .380. It’s just ever so slightly larger than the 238 to accommodate the 9mm cartridge – only 1 ounce heavier and .25 inch longer.

 
shooting P938
The P938 was the most comfortable to shoot of the four test guns.


Both the 9mm and .380 versions accept six-round flush-fit magazines and seven-round magazines with pinky extensions. Some aftermarket magazines and extensions increase the capacity even more. Price-wise, there are lots of models of both the 238 and 938, but in general, the 938 is about $100 more expensive.
 

Kimber Micro 9

Now, moving on to the Kimber Micro 9. This is basically a clone of the SIG P938, which itself is a clone of the Colt Mustang .380.
 

Related Review: Colt Mustang Plus II .380 ACP – 1911-style Pocket Pistol


Many companies have copied the Mustang, and speaking in broad terms, they all work almost exactly the same. They usually have very similar performance. The magazines are even interchangeable. The differences come down to cosmetic, features, accessories, and build quality.
 

Kimber Micro 9 with target
The Micro 9 looks and shoots similarly to the original Colt Mustang.

 

Related Review: Why the Kimber Micro 9 Is My New Carry Pistol


With the Kimber Micro 9, the most striking difference is build quality. When you handle the SIG, you can tell it’s just better built. It feels smoother and more refined. Racking the slide is markedly different, at least on my test guns. The trigger is crisper, and there is less extra movement in the trigger itself.
 

Kimber Micro 9 trigger
I found the trigger wasn't quite as crisp as the SIG P938 trigger.
Kimber Micro 9
Overall, the quality of the Kimber build just seemed to fall short of the SIG.


Also, I’ve had better luck in terms of quality control and reliability with SIG firearms as opposed to Kimber. Finally, the 938 is usually a little more expensive than the Kimber, but not that much more, and not enough to offset the difference in quality.
 

Ruger LCR

The next gun I wanted to throw into the mix is the Ruger LCR. This is my personal LCR in .357 Magnum, but I’m only using it as a stand-in for a general pocket revolver. I wanted to compare and contrast how they carry because there is so much tradition in pocket carrying wheel guns. I would CCW this gun loaded with .38 Special.
 

Related Review: Ruger LCR .357 Revolver – A Modern Classic?


The .38 Special round is ballistically not as effective as the 9mm, but in terms of recoil, it’s closer to the 9mm kick than .380 ACP. That’s why I’m throwing it in this review. Also, the LCR is close in price to the Kimber.
 

Ruger LCR and Kimber Micro 9
There is a cylinder bulge on the LCR, which makes it noticeably thicker around the middle than the Micro 9.


When looking at size, the weight, length, and height are very similar to the SIGs and Kimber. The most glaring difference is width. Pocket revolvers must contend with the width of the cylinder. In the LCR’s case, that’s almost 25 percent thicker than the semi-autos here. And it’s not a uniform thickness; it’s a notable bulge.
 

Ruger LCR in pocket holster
I still carry my LCR in a pocket holster with no problems, though.


Don’t get me wrong, revolvers have been pocket carried effectively for decades. It’s fine concealed in the pocket, but I found the cylinder bulge perceptible. That’s my first con.
 

Ergonomics


Next, I find compact revolver ergonomics less effective than semi-autos. I get better recoil control with the SIGs than most small revolvers. I think this is because I can get more of my support hand on the 938 than the LCR.
 

shooting P938 vs Ruger LCR
My hand position on the P938, left, compared to the LCR at right.
 

Lastly, five rounds of a .38 Special is not as good as eight rounds of 9mm. Statistically, five rounds is probably enough for a real-world encounter, but for the same size, weight, cost, and recoil, I’d rather have more capacity of a more powerful round in a more ergonomic package.
 

Ruger LCR cylinder
The other drawback with the LCR is the five-round capacity. While simple and reliable, this wheel gun just doesn't hold as much firepower as a semi-auto.


However, I do own this LCR. There are some great use cases for it, but it’s not my preferred pocket carry.
 

SIG P365

The fourth and final pocket pistol I’m comparing is the SIG P365. This is my personal 365 XL where I’ve swapped the grip frame to a classic 365-sized one. I’ve also installed some iron sights, because the red dot tends to get caught in my pocket. (Forgive me, these aren’t the exact right iron sights, but they’re good enough for the purposes of this review.) Also, the slide is slightly longer than the classic P365, but it is a minor difference.
 

Related Review: Original SIG P365
 

SIG P365 sights
I swapped the red dot for some iron sights on my personal SIG P365.
SIG P938 and SIG P365
Side by side, the P938 and P365 are similar in size.


I think this is an important comparison, because the 365 is the embodiment of the modern high-capacity sub-compact pistol. In terms of size, the length, height, width, and weight are very similar to the SIG P938. The P365 actually costs less.
 

Capacity and Trigger


The two points we need to discuss are capacity and trigger. The 365 in this configuration is 10+1, versus the 938, which is 7+1. Is that a big disparity? How should it be considered?
 

SIG P365 trigger
While the 365 has a flat blade-style trigger, I preferred the trigger on the 938.


For fighting, a few rounds can make a difference, but I think eight is adequate. To me, the single-action trigger of the 938 trumps those three additional rounds. The better the trigger, the easier it is to be fast and accurate. In a self-defense situation, you want to cheat as much as possible. A good, crisp, single-action trigger with a short reset is a cheat code.
 

Cost-Benefit


But yes, it is a cost-benefit analysis: better trigger versus more capacity. And, security of a manual safety versus being able to deactivate the safety in a stress situation.
 

comparing SIG P938 and P365
While the grips are comparable, the slide is longer on the 365 than the 938.


I lean toward the P938, because I’m very familiar with manual safeties and single-action triggers. I shoot it well, and I’m very likely to carry it because it’s so small and easy to conceal.

However, I also own the 365 because it’s such a versatile platform, and I just did a breakdown of all the configurations possible with the 365.
 

Conclusion

 

four 9mm handguns
Any of these handguns would be a good pick for your next pocket carry gun.


In conclusion, any of these guns will work as a CCW pocket carry. I personally like the P938 the most, but I don’t think it is perfect. No gun is perfect – it just depends on how you want to split the cake.

revolver barrel loading graphic

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