Some Thoughts On Single Stack Nines

I still shake my head every time someone tells me all about how much they love their single stack 9mm. You see, I’m not a fan, and for a lot of reasons. I get that they’re concealable as all get out, and light to boot, but I’m not a fan of small guns as a general rule.


To each their own, of course.

However, Tamara Keel wrote about some of the drawbacks on single stack nines over at Shooting Illustrated, and they’re worth sharing:

So, if these are the obvious upsides, what are the downsides to carrying one of these handy single-stack 9mms?

Well, for starters, they’re harder to shoot well than their larger kin, and for numerous reasons. The shorter sight radius is one, but probably the least significant. More importantly, the stubby, small-diameter grips of these guns generally mean a two-finger grip with the dominant hand and the support hand is unable to provide as much clamping force as it would on a larger gun. With less grip on the gun, small errors in trigger-finger placement can be dramatically magnified. I’ve found, for example, in my own Glock G43, that the addition of a flat-faced TAC trigger shoe from Overwatch Precision paid big dividends, since it gave more tactile feedback when my finger was in the right place on the trigger or not.

The small grip on a single-stack 9mm also affects recoil control, obviously, as do the lighter weight and shorter barrel. Multi-shot strings are going to be noticeably slower because of this. I’ve seen shooters turn in amazing performances with little guns like these, but much like the J-frame revolver, a mini-nine is not an easy gun to run well without a lot of practice.

Another area that’s affected by the diminutive size of the single-stack 9mm is terminal ballistics. Reducing barrel length from the 4.5 to 5 inches you find on duty guns to 3 inches or so can have noticeable effects on velocity. After some chrono testing with a G17 and a G43, I noticed that the shorter gun gave up roughly 100 fps to the full-size model.


That’s not all of it, mind you. Not by a longshot (no pun intended). Yet I agree with these completely.

For me, however, the biggy is recoil control. While one shot may well end the fight, it also might not. That means you need to put more rounds downrange, and you need to do it quickly.

As Keel points out, some people can do it effectively, but it takes a lot more practice to do it out of a subcompact semi-auto than it does out of a gun the size of a G17 or G19. A lot more practice. That means added expense for ammunition, something most people simply will not do.

A gun isn’t a magic talisman for warding off evil. It’s a tool that can be used to defend your life, but you have to become proficient with it. With a single stack nine, that’s just not going to happen for most folks.

Keel finishes off her piece by saying:

The armed citizen who carries a single-stack 9mm owes it to him or herself to know exactly what can or cannot be done with it.

Again, I couldn’t agree more.

For me, those drawbacks are just too much. What about you? If you carry a single stack 9mm, why do you do it? If not, why?


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