When we think of carrying concealed guns, we oftentimes go back and forth about the pros and cons when it comes to size vs shootability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the argument for either smaller guns to carry versus carrying larger handguns that are easier to shoot under stress. I ended up deciding to take a few of the most popular handgun models on the market and do a simple drill from 10 yards to see how well each does comparatively. Let’s take a closer look at how each pistol did in our popular carry gun shakedown.
Concealed Carry Corner @ TFB:
- Concealed Carry Corner: Carrying In Tough Situations
- Concealed Carry Corner: “Good Enough” Gear
- Concealed Carry Corner: Smaller Isn’t Always Better
- Concealed Carry Corner: Ways to Draw Faster
Grounds For The Test
This is a really simple test to demonstrate what it’s like to shoot at a medium cadence to see the effects of a handgun’s size. I took out a few boxes of Federal American Eagle 115gr range ammo. I decided on 6 rounds for each target with the goal of being controlled but still firing at a decent pace. Each gun will fire 4 rounds into the body target and then transition to a smaller box target and fire an additional 2 shots. Each gun was shot at 10 yards with the goal of being around 6 seconds to keep the pace equal.
Having a midsize handgun offers a ton of advantages while keeping the overall package relatively small. Certain guns like the HK USP Compact, Glock 19, and SIG Sauer P229 were some of the first to offer a higher capacity while keeping the overall footprint fairly small. With modern technology, there are even more options on the market today which offer typically 15+ rounds with a medium-sized frame and slide offering a great balance of control while shooting but while being manageable to carry on a daily basis.
What is there to say about the Glock 19. It really set the standard when it comes to the size and capacity of a concealed carry gun. Even today, the Glock 19 is one of the most popular carry handguns in the United States. This was basically the baseline for us when it comes to looking at overall accuracy. Midsize guns like the Glock 19 are fairly easy to shoot quickly under stress. Also, consider a lack of external safety and the Glock is typically easy for someone to make hits on target consistently.
I started this test with my Gen 5 Glock 19 and from 10 yards I ended up shooting all 6 rounds into the target in a time of 6.02 seconds. It was the benchmark and was almost exactly where I wanted it to be when it comes to time and shot placement. Overall it set the mark for the following guns and I was rather happy with its performance.
SIG P320 Compact
The SIG P320 line of pistols has been growing in popularity over the last few years with its ability to be extremely modular. With replaceable frames, slides and caliber conversions, you can truly make whatever P320 your heart desires. I ended up shooting my P320 Compact with a Wilson Combat grip module and AXG slide on top. One of the great things about the P320 is the ability to buy different grip modules to get that perfect palm swell. I really enjoy the larger grip on the Wilson Combat module so out of all the guns, this by far has the best ergonomics in my opinion.
When shooting the drill, I ended up shooting the P320 Compact slightly faster than I hoped to originally. I ended up shooting a 5.64-second group with all 6 targets hitting the intended space. Out of all the guns fired, the P320 Compact is probably the one I shoot most so it’s not a shocker I sped up just because it’s in my comfort zone. Regardless of what gun you decide to carry, the more you practice with it the better you’ll shoot it when it really counts. That’s true for any firearm so keep that in mind when you’re thinking about going to the range.
When it comes to carrying comfort, nothing beats a small subcompact firearm in the summer heat. These guns are typically some of the lightest options around while offering adequate stopping power and decent capacity depending on the model. As many of you know though, the smaller the handgun, the more unruly it is when talking about recoil management. It’s simple science since subcompact firearms are smaller, lighter, and have less capacity than something bigger like a mid or full-size handgun. Let’s take a look at how these two smaller options did in the same test.
The Glock 43 was a show stopper when it came out. Prior to its release, the Glock 26 was the smallest 9mm carry option from Glock and it was rather thick, to say the least. The 43 was a slim small option for people to carry every day regardless of the weather or what they were wearing. Out of all the guns on this list, it was by far the lightest and smallest one. Glock designed the original 43 to hold a 6+1 capacity in the standard flush-fit magazine before its bigger brother the Glock 43X came along.
After completing the same test as all the others, the nightly Glock 43 made all hits in a time of 7.31 seconds. Out of all the guns, this was the one that had the heaviest modifications and it was the slowest but not by the wide timeframe some like to claim. It was still controllable and easy to shoot despite it being lighter and smaller than all the others. I would have no concerns about carrying this gun over others and for its overall size and weight, it’s an excellent carry gun. The Glock 43X would be a fantastic choice as well since it offers the same low profile with more capacity as well as a larger grip.
SIG P365 XL
SIG rocked the gun industry back in 2018 with the release of the original P365. The small lightweight handgun had a capacity of 10 rounds and offered people an incredibly lightweight gun while offering higher than normal capacity. Fast forward a couple more years, and SIG released the P365 XL. This slightly longer and bigger version of P365, the XL offers a 12+1 capacity while maintaining the low profile of its original little brother.
Finishing out the test, the P365 XL came in with a very tight group and a time of 6.17 seconds. This is typically my carry gun for bouncing around town or running errands. If I’m wearing just a shirt and shorts, I will typically grab the XL and go along with my day. I probably dry fire with this and the Glock 43 once a week so the trigger pull and sight picture are second nature at this point. The extremely low profile and larger grip of the XL lets you have more control while firing a quick cadence. Overall, this one surprised me with the tight groups and ease of follow-up shots.
These 4 options are some of the most common that people carry out in public, but it’s not an all-encompassing list. There are plenty of fantastic options on the market so don’t feel like these are the only options because there are probably 30-35 more handguns I could do the same test with. The point of this test is to show that the difference between midsize and subcompact handguns are measurable but it’s not as drastic as many of you think. With practice and consistency, you can definitely shoot accurately without being slow.
What do you guys think about the data from this test? It’s a fairly simple test but I think it proves you’d not have to carry a midsize gun to be accurate and fast. Let me know what you think about the midsize versus subcompact argument down in the comments below. If you have questions about carrying concealed or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.