Best Subcompact Pistols of 2020 – Ultimate Round-up

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Finding the best subcompact pistol might be a challenge. But if you know how they work and how they stack up against other pistols on the market, you should have no trouble finding one for yourself.

While a subcompact pistol might be small in size, it should not be underestimated in the slightest. These pistols are heavily favored by a good number of concealed carry users for their ability to remain concealed at all times without any instances of bulging.

And believe it or not, they still maintain a good amount of accuracy and reliability in any given situation. While there are a lot of subcompact pistols on the market, we’ve managed to compile a list of several subcompact pistols that are considered the best. Before we get to the list, we’ll talk about how accurate these subcompact pistols are and how you can choose one for your use. 

Comparison of the Best Subcompact Pistols

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • The capacity of 6 + 1 rounds
  • Chambered to fire 9mm shots
  • Best overall subcompact pistol
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  • Red laser included
  • Capacity of 8 + 1 rounds
  • Runner-up for best overall subcompact pistol
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  • Capacity of 12 + 1 rounds
  • Chambered to fire 9mm shots
  • Best subcompact pistol for the money
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  • Capacity of 12 + 1 rounds
  • Best subcompact 9mm pistol
  • Stock made from high-quality polymer
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  • Capacity of 7 + 1 rounds
  • Best subcompact 45 pistols
  • Barrel measured at 3.2 inches
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  • Best subcompact 380 pistol
  • Barrel measured at 2.75 inches
  • Magazine contains a capacity of 6 rounds
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  • Barrel length is 3.3 inches
  • Best subcompact 45 ACP pistol
  • Contains two magazines, each with 5 and 6 rounds, respectively
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How Accurate is a Subcompact Pistol?

Believe it or not, a subcompact pistol might have the same capabilities as a full-sized pistol. So does that mean it’s just as accurate as a full-sized pistol? That is a matter of debate. However, for the sake of argument, there’s a good chance of being in a close-quarters situation with an attacker in case of a self-defense situation.

Odds are you will be able to hit your target with effective accuracy at about 10 to 15 yards. You may, however, go slightly farther to about 25 yards in an outdoor target shooting situation. But you might be less likely to hit an assailant posing a threat to your life, and the lives of others, from a distance like 50 yards. 

What Makes a Great Subcompact Pistol?

Knowing which characteristics and features make a subcompact pistol great is key. And that’s why we recommend you consider the ones in this brief list below. This will also allow you to distinguish a great subcompact pistol from one that is considered poor in quality and unsatisfactory in performance. Here are some things that you need to look for:

Price

The price tag will certainly be a focal point for many budget shoppers. But that should be secondary to quality and performance. If you are indeed on a budget, you should consider investing in the best quality and performance you can afford. This way, you are not relegated to purchasing a cheap pistol that won’t last you longer than expected.

Reliability

If there is one attribute that should never be overlooked, reliability is it. That’s because you want a subcompact pistol that is useful and will work to your advantage in situations that matter most. This means you’ll need a pistol that will be less likely jam or malfunction. One way of knowing the reliability of such a pistol is by finding out if it’s made from high-quality materials. High-quality will likely equate to excellent reliability, no matter how you slice it.

Accuracy

Accuracy is another thing that should not be overlooked, either. The better the accuracy, the better the chance you are able to hit your shots exactly where you want them to go. This will come in handy if you are in a CQB situation or in a target shooting situation. A pistol’s accuracy will depend on the model. Some will be effective at one max distance and some at another. 

Quick Take - The Best Subcompact Pistols

These are our recommendations for the best subcompact pistols:

  1. Glock G43 G3 9MM
  2. Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield 2.0
  3. Taurus G2C 9MM

Review of the Best Subcompact Pistols

The following is a list of the best subcompact pistols on the market. One of them will, in all likelihood, be the next pistol you purchase. If you must, make note of any features and characteristics that stand out. Eventually, you might come across a pistol you like because of a certain feature that stood out. Remember, this pistol should stick with you for the long term, so it’s best to choose wisely.

Now, let’s kick off this list with our best overall choice:

Best Overall:
Glock G43 G3 9MM

Pros

  • Easy-to-pull trigger
  • Provides excellent concealability
  • Great for concealed carry purposes
  • Superior construction and durability
  • Light in weight, even when fully loaded

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

This pistol was a huge hit with new buyers. Right off the bat, they raved about the reliability. They said the pistol went through 100 or more rounds without a single instance of malfunction or jamming. This also had excellent quality that makes this pistol built to last and can even handle scuffs and bumps. One user said he was not disappointed in the pistol at all and was confident in his ability to use it in a self-defense situation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you are looking for what might be the most reliable subcompact pistol on the market, then you’d be hard-pressed to find anything like a Glock. The name alone is tied to reliability. It functions smoothly and will go through round after round without any kind of jamming or malfunctions. If anything, those rarely happen in any Glock pistol. This pistol is at the right size to provide superior concealability, thus making it easy to conceal without bulging that attracts undue attention. Since it’s made from high-quality polymer, it will definitely quell any shock or recoil that might be present. Yet, the firing power is exactly what you expect from a Glock pistol, something that packs a punch.

Who Will Use This Most

For a name trusted by military members and law enforcement in nearly 50 countries, there’s a good reason (or two) why they would depend on a pistol like this. If you are in search of reliability that will be seemingly endless, with accurate shooting to boot, then you may want to consider giving this pistol a closer look. It has all the makings of a concealed carry pistol that will make you an intimidating beast in the eyes of an assailant who should have known better. 

Bottom Line

The Glock G43 G3 9mm is undoubtedly the clear-cut favorite for subcompact pistols. At this point, it will have a firm hold of the top overall spot now and in the future. It has the quality, reliability, and overall awesomeness you might find in very few pistols. Don’t doubt this pistol’s shooting power or accuracy. And believe us, it’s not a pistol you really want to underestimate.

Pros

  • Excellent reliability
  • Provides great concealability
  • Solid and durable construction
  • Fits in most compact-sized holsters
  • Accurate and precise shooting up to 25 yards

Cons

  • Trigger pull could be a bit lighter
  • Trigger quality needs improvement
  • The red laser might not be easy to see during the day

What Recent Buyers Report

This pistol undoubtedly gave new users something to be happy about. For one, this pistol had excellent malfunction-free reliability. Through 100 rounds or more, they were able to hit their targets with accuracy and precision. One user said he was able to hit his targets with effective accuracy from ranges of 10 yards and even 20 yards. He added that, in a run and gun test at the range, he was able to handle his pistol with ease and not lose his balance or accuracy in the process. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like Glock, Smith and Wesson is a name associated with reliability. Granted, Glock and S&W might have locked heads for years on who is the most reliable (which might be a matter of discussion in the future). Aside from such a characteristic, this pistol gains the upper hand in terms of accuracy. The built-in laser sight is, without a doubt, a huge plus for those in search of a pistol that will considerably boost accuracy with the use of this laser itself. If you want a pistol where you will be able to easily hit your targets at close range or at a good enough distance, this is the pistol you may want for the long term.

Who Will Use This Most

This might be a pistol used by shooters who are looking for something easy to shoot and with even greater accuracy. The laser sight will be just as reliable as the fixed sights. So, whether you use the former or not, it will be a pistol that will deliver accurate, precise shooting. If that’s your kind of thing, this pistol will certainly be the go-to option for you.

Bottom Line

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield is without question one of the best pistols in the business. And it might just give the Glock G43 a run for its money. But make no mistake, it has the reliability and accuracy all wrapped into one heck of a pistol. For a pistol of its size, it’s not the kind you want to write off as weak and flimsy.

Best for the Money:
Taurus G2C 9MM

Pros

  • Accurate shooting
  • Great for concealed carry
  • Provides excellent shooting power
  • Easy to conceal in compact holsters

Cons

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were happy with the pistol for a few good reasons. For one, it’s affordable for those on a budget. And they certainly got a lot more than what they’ve paid for. The overall performance was excellent, which meant accurate shooting between distances of 10 to 25 yards out. One user said it was quite effective when shooting targets in a close-quarters battle setting (10 yards). Accuracy-wise, the shooting groups were pretty tight and consistent.

Why it Stands Out to Us

For a pistol its size, it was perfect for maximum concealability. If you want a pistol that will fly under the radar and won’t give away your carrying position, you may want to consider investing in this bad boy. It has the measurables, but will definitely shine in a concealed carry situation. You will be prepared for getting the upper hand over your attackers with quick shooting that can and will provide excellent stopping power against anyone dumb enough to threaten your life (and the lives of your family).

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for a beginner-friendly pistol that will prove itself beyond doubt as being an accurate, reliable, and super-concealable kind of shooting machine, then you should give this a closer look. And don’t forget, it’s a pistol that won’t suck the life out of your bank account. Yes, it has excellent quality and performance in one affordable pistol. And that is pretty much what we recommend if you don’t have a lot of money to play with. 

Bottom Line

The Taurus G2C 9mm pistol is the go-to solution for budget shooters. And it might serve as a first-time choice for newbie users. It’s no slouch when it comes to quality and performance, which is a really good thing if you’re familiar with how firearms work. 

Best Subcompact 9mm Pistol:
Sig Sauer P320 Sub-Compact

Pros

  • Excellent durability
  • Provides superior firing power
  • Accurate and reliable shooting
  • Perfect for self-defense and target shooting
  • Perfect size for out of plain sight concealed carry

Cons

  • Guide rod may break after long-term use
  • May not be suitable for large-sized hands
  • May be difficult to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance purposes

What Recent Buyers Report

This pistol was perfect for those who fancy themselves fans of the 9mm caliber. And of course, there were also a good number who were newbie users, as well. But nonetheless, they all came to the same conclusion: it’s effectively accurate at close quarters and is considered to be really reliable through well over 500 rounds. One user even said he managed to store this in his IWB holster of choice, thus making it really comfortable to carry and easy to draw. He said it was surprisingly useful in a range shooting situation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

SIG Sauer is another name that is trustworthy with many concealed carry users who have been around the block for quite some time. And it might be a good pistol to start with, assuming you are a beginner. If you want reliability, accuracy, and a pistol that can be easily handled due to the lack of recoil, this is perfect. Also, if you are training for a CCW permit and need a pistol prior to starting the course, then you may want to invest in this. 

Who Will Use This Most

It will be a great pistol for beginner or seasoned users. It’s a pistol that will be easy to shoot and will, in all likelihood, be the go-to option when you want to make sure anyone who breaks into your home will regret their decision. For close-quarters or target shooting for fun, this pistol is without question a no-brainer decision for most users.

Bottom Line

The SIG Sauer P320 Sub-Compact is a well-constructed pistol and certainly will get the job done in a self-defense or target shooting situation. It’s at the right size for the purposes of concealed carry and will make sure you get a no bulge carry (aside from some of the other cool benefits).

Best Subcompact .45 Pistol:
Walther Arms Inc PPS 3.2in 40 S&W

Pros

  • Excellent durability
  • Superior concealability
  • Provides excellent firing power
  • Fits in most compact-sized holsters
  • Perfect for self-defense and EDC carry

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, this pistol was quite impressive with most users. In fact, a lot of new users were able to conceal carry this pistol in their favorite holsters (compact and sub-compact compatible holsters). So it leads to no bulges, no discomfort, and out-of-sight carry. The performance overall was smooth, reliable, and effective in accuracy at various distances. So far, no complaints on their end. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Walther name might be one of the less heard of names (unless you have heard it in Bond movies). But make no mistake, this German manufacturer has gained a reputation for making excellent pistols from the inside out. So the quality will be excellent and gives American pistols a run for their money. With high-quality comes superior reliability. This pistol has also proven to be effective in hitting targets in CQB and distances up to 25 yards. For a subcompact pistol of its class, it might outperform any given .45 pistol on the market in so many ways.

Who Will Use This Most

If you have been a concealed carry user for quite some time and want a pistol that is an upgrade in performance (and maybe a downgrade in size), this pistol might be a great option for you. Whether it’s for concealed carry or target shooting, this weapon has an easy to pull trigger and allows for quick, accurate shooting. 

Bottom Line

This Walther Arms Inc. PPS 40 S&W might be the best .45 pistol you’ve invested in for a few good reasons. It’s a durable pistol that will excel in accuracy and reliability. This may outperform any .45 you can think of. Not bad for something that is a subcompact pistol, right? 

Best Subcompact .380 Pistol:
Ruger LCP 2.75" 380 Auto

Pros

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

This pistol was a hit for shooters who were mostly women. They were looking for a pistol that was easy to conceal and easy to use in the event of an attack. One user said this pistol fit her perfectly. She added that it was easy to shoot and really easy to handle due to its light weight. Furthermore, she said concealed carry was simple and the gun felt comfortable resting in her holster.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pistol is chambered to fire .380 caliber rounds. Not to mention, pistols of this caliber are among the easiest to use for women, newbies, and even those with weak hands. Simply put, it’s probably the easiest pistol to use. Make no mistake, it’s accurate and not as heavy when fully loaded. And the quality makes this a long-lasting pistol that will be useful for years down the road. If this pistol checks off many of the boxes of what you are looking for, this might be the best subcompact pistol to invest in. 

Who Will Use This Most

If you are a woman, someone who is a beginner in concealed carry, or someone who has struggled with shooting a pistol due to arthritis and other mobility issues, this might be a pistol worth choosing. You can use this to your advantage in a concealed carry situation if and when it’s warranted. Your life is too important to give up. And the last thing you want is a pistol that might not work in your favor because limitations on your end. 

Bottom Line

If you want one of the easiest to use subcompact pistols right in your hands, the Ruger LCP is the kind of pistol you’ll depend on. Don’t be shocked if this ends up being your favorite pistol in the long run. It is a godsend to many users because of the easy-to-pull trigger, accurate shooting, and potent firing power. Let’s not forget, it’s pretty sneaky when it comes to concealability too.

Best Subcompact 45 ACP Pistol:
Springfield Armory XD-S Mod2

Pros

  • Durable and solid
  • Firing power is superb
  • Trigger pull is smooth and light
  • Easy to carry in compact holsters
  • Perfect for self-defense and target shooting

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, new users were impressed with the shooting power of this pistol. Most said it packed a pretty good punch and left a good amount of damage on paper targets at the range. One user said the handling ability of the pistol in both a stationary position and while in motion (run and gun) were superb. Not once did he lose control of the pistol and there was not a lot of recoil right out of the box, as well. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pistol comes with two reliable magazines that will give you smooth feeding and deliver accurate shooting at close-quarter battle ranges. That’s just about what you need in a self-defense situation. And you can take this just about anywhere, seeing that it’s at the right size. So if you want to keep yourself and those around you protected from danger, this pistol will certainly be useful. People don’t have to know what you are carrying and this pistol won’t expose your carrying position either. 

Who Will Use This Most

This will be the perfect pistol for anyone who prefers the .45 over all other calibers. Yes, it has stopping power, velocity, and tight shooting groups that will be useful at close-quarter distances. On top of that, it’s an easy to use pistol that will leave a lasting first impression on beginners. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned vet to concealed carrying, this pistol might be quite useful in a lifesaving situation at home or in public (should danger arise). 

Bottom Line

The Springfield Armory XD-S Mod 2 will deliver accurate, hard-hitting shots in a self-defense situation. Make no bones about it, it’s a pistol that will rise above the pack and deliver a sharpshooting performance each time you pull the trigger. It’s solid in construction, light in weight, and will be easy to control each time you hold it in your hand. Once you pull the trigger, you won’t get enough of shooting it again and again. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

It’s always a good idea to make a well-informed decision. So we’ve managed to put together a few common aspects you should consider prior to purchasing a subcompact pistol. This will also help you make the best decision possible when it comes to choosing a pistol that will be useful to you in any application. Here’s what you need to mull over:

Should I Purchase One Before I Take a CCW Course?

If you are planning on taking a CCW course, instructors will most likely require you to use your own pistol. This way, you’ll be able to learn how to use it and get to know it better as the course progresses. Furthermore, it just gets the task of purchasing a gun for concealed carry purposes out of the way. 

Which Caliber Will Be Best For Me?

There really is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to choosing calibers. Either way, as long as you can use your pistol in a situation where defending yourself is a must, any caliber should have enough stopping power to incapacitate or even kill an assailant, depending on where the bullet hits. 

Do I Have to Use it For Concealed Carry Purposes?

Using a pistol for concealed carry purposes doesn’t have to be the only application. You can use a subcompact pistol simply for the intent of shooting at targets. You can even use these pistols for the purpose of competitive shooting if you are more comfortable with that. 

Conclusion

The best subcompact pistol is out there and one of those listed above could be yours. Find one that will not only be fully functional but has the best quality possible, so you can use it for the long term. You might find it hard to resist purchasing one for the sake of concealing it out of plain sight. And believe us, it’s a lot better to be the only one aware that you are carrying, so you can take attackers that dare threaten you or those around you.

People Also Ask

The following is a list of frequently asked questions you can use as a guide to help you make a better decision on which pistol is suitable for you. These are questions asked by potential buyers like yourself. Here’s what they asked:

Are Subcompact Pistols Worth it?

Absolutely. If they weren’t, then why do we bother doing reviews for them? But in all seriousness, if you are looking for a pistol that will allow for maximum concealability, then the answer of whether or not they are worth it is a resounding yes. 

What Makes a Pistol Subcompact?

A subcompact pistol will have a barrel that is shorter than a compact pistol. The grips will also be shorter, as will the overall height of the pistol itself. A pistol’s barrel that is below four inches is classified as subcompact. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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