Best Single-Stack 9mm Handguns for Carry [Top Six List]
When it comes to concealed carry guns, single-stack 9mm pistols are the most popular options by far. Guns like the Glock 43, M&P Shield, and Ruger LC9 have been some of the best sellers of the decade, especially compared to most other CCW options. Which is why we’ve put together this list of the best single-stack 9mm handguns.
We’re going to cover the best and most popular single-stack 9s so that you can have a good place to start your search if you’re looking to pick up one for yourself. I’ve personally owned or otherwise extensively tested every gun on this list, and I’ve carried all of them for at least a month.
Let’s take a look at why you want a single-stack 9mm, and what the advantages are. After that, we’ll dive right into some recommendations.
Let’s get to it.
Why a Single-Stack 9mm?
You probably already know this, but I’m going to go over some of the benefits of a single-stack 9mm to give you some things to think about as we go through this list of best single-stack 9mm handguns.
First, the chambering. Why 9mm?
For me, and my purposes, I pretty much only carry 9mm pistols. Yes, .45 ACP and .40 S&W are out there, yes they’re good cartridges, but they can’t top the shootability and capacity of a 9mm. No disrespect to you Old School shooters still carrying a 1911, but maybe give a 9mm a try. I bet you shoot it better.
Next up, the single-stack part. I just talked about preferring the additional capacity of a 9mm, so why limit myself to the lower capacity of a single-stack?
Most of the time, I don’t feel the need to carry “more gun”. I’m not a police officer, nor am in the military. I don’t wake up with any possibility of purposefully and intentionally walking into harms way. I don’t need a full-sized handgun, I need a gun that carries in a way that is both comfortable, and well concealed.
You guys know if you see me at Starbucks (and actually recognize me, which is unlikely) that I’ll almost certainly have a gun on me, but nobody else in line that’s never read my stuff needs to know that.
I live in the South and live a pretty active lifestyle as well, with lots of hiking and other outdoor activities involved, so I’m typically in a t-shirt and shorts for most of the year, so I want something that’s not going to print under that kind of material.
Yeah, yeah, modify my tactics, wear something different, whatever.
The truth is, if you’re walking around hot and sweaty and uncomfortable for hours, you’re going to be less observant, and less prepared to respond quickly to a threat. That’s just a fact, and any soldier, cop, or security guard that’s been posted up outside in the sun for hours will back me up.
I’ve been that poor asshole working security in the sun for hours with no cover but a ballcap, and buddy, if I’d had to wear something to conceal a handgun completely from view during that time, I’d have walked home.
In short, I’m not wearing a longer/heavier shirt to cover a full-size handgun and sweating my ass off, when I can just carry a smaller and lighter handgun.
Alright, so now we know why the single-stack 9mm is so popular, let’s look at the best single-stack 9mms out there.
M&P9 Shield M2.0 Crimson Trace
The original M&P Shield was a runaway bestseller when it came to market, but there were some things that a lot of owners, myself included, thought could be better.
The first and most obvious place was the trigger. I’m generally forgiving of cheaper, defensively-minded pistols having sub-par triggers, but on the original Shield (and original M&P in general) the trigger was bad. Like, “how did you let this out the door, Smith and Wesson?” kinds of bad.
On the new Shield, the trigger is actually good. Not great. Not even very good. But good. It’s now more than acceptable, and certainly better than it was.
The new version also includes a vastly improved texture that is miles better than the original. This is the biggest improvement other than the trigger. Beyond that, you get some scallops on the front of the slide that I absolutely despise the look of, but that’s personal preference. They do make it easier to rack the slide from the front, or do a super tactical press check.
So, the scallops are meh, the trigger is alright, why buy it and why is it on this list?
Like the original, you get some surprisingly usable three-dot sights, and a very nice 8+1 or 7+1 capacity depending on whether you’re using the flush-fit mag, or the one with the extended grip that lets you get your pinky firmly on the gun.
It also shoots really well, and the grip angle is very comfortable and intuitive. In classes I’ve run or been a part of, many people have shot the Shield as well or even better than larger handguns. I highly recommend picking one up at a rental range, or borrowing one from a buddy and seeing how you like it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy, that’s why I included it on this best single-stack 9mm list.
Finally, since the original Shield came out, Crimson Trace was bought by S&W’s parent corporation, so you can get an integrated Laser Grip for not much more than the standard Shield M2.0 if you’re into that sort of thing.
Overall, the Shield M2.0 is a solid little gun with a great capacity and an excellent track record. Neither my original Shield or my M2.0 version have ever malfunctioned with defensive ammo, and the only issue I’ve had in almost 1000 rounds on the new has been that it doesn’t like low-powered range loads which is basically a non-issue in a defensive gun.
The Glock 48 and 43x are some of Glock’s newer releases, and they’ve both already gained a pretty impressive following. I personally love them both, and carry the 43x the most out of all my Glocks.
If you’re already familiar with the Glock platform and you’re looking to get another for CCW, these are the two I would look at as the best single-stack 9mm Glock’s. They carry well, and they fill holes in Glock’s lineup.
They have the improved Gen 5 trigger, and have done away with that awful magazine well cutout that we all hated. They also have the front slide serrations that many felt were missing from the first run of Gen 5s.
Beyond that, these are your standard Glock offerings, each in 10 round capacity. The G48 has the same height and overall length as the Glock 19 you’re probably already familiar with, but it is about .25” thinner than the G19. That may not sound like much, but in hand or in the waistband, it’s a noticeable difference.
This slimmer frame and slide really do make carrying more comfortable, and you still get 10 rounds in the mag.
The 43x, which is my favorite Glock to be released in years, uses the same frame as the G48, but a slide that’s .75” shorter. This makes for a dramatically smaller-feeling gun that still has a full-grip. This form factor makes it great for carry, while still maintaining the easy-shooting characteristics of a larger gun.
Here’s a better look at the differences if you’re curious.
Glocks are typically a love ‘em or hate ‘em kind of thing, but there’s not denying that they work. If you’re looking for the best single-stack 9mm from Gaston’s armory, these are the ones that I’d look at first.
Ruger LC9s Pro
The Ruger LC9s was Ruger’s original foray into the striker-fired pocket gun market, and in typical Ruger fashion, they released it with a bunch of Safety Sally features nobody looking for a defensive handgun wanted, like an external thumb safety and a magazine disconnect safety.
Thankfully for those of us who like Ruger’s products (me) and those who like pocketable 9mm handguns (also me) they quickly released the LC9s Pro which does away with those extraneous safeties, and just gives us the trigger and drop safeties.
On top of that, you get two 7-round magazines with an optional extended floorplate to give your hands a little more real estate on the grip. That grip is checkered on all sides, but isn’t too terribly aggressive. I added some skateboard tape to mine because I’m a hooligan, but you might be fine with it as is.
The rest of the gun is nicely rounded, with beveled edges that keep it from digging in when you’re sitting, or have it in your pocket at a weird angle. This is one of the most comfortable to carry guns I own, and for that reason alone, it gets carried quite a bit.
The sights from the factory are standard three dot sights that are dovetailed into the slide so you can knock them out and put night sights in there like a good, God-fearing American should have in their carry gun.
The trigger is one of the best on this list (I’d say second best, maybe third) and really makes shooting such a small mouse gun easier and more fun.
Beyond that, the gun comes in at $300 or less most of the time, so it’s hard not to recommend it as one of the best single-stack 9mm handguns.
SIG P365 XL
I’m going to go ahead and say it up front…if I could only have one gun from this list, it would be this one.
If you’re on the fence, and money isn’t an issue, and you don’t care about Glocks, and you don’t want a laser…buy this gun.
The Glocks have a 10 round capacity. The Shield has an 8 round capacity with the pinky extension. The LC9s can hold 7.
The Sig P365XL, which is actually the same length and width as the Glock 43x and is also shorter holds a whopping twelve rounds in the standard magazine.
I don’t know who sold what to the Devil to get this bit of engineering done, but SIG has managed to bring a magazine to market that I’m going to call “one and a half stack”. They’ve done this with a kind of staggered loading design that’s completely new in the industry, and that they’ve hidden away from other manufacturers behind three separate patents.
In other words, don’t expect anybody else to be able to make a magazine with these dimensions and this design for a very long time.
On top of that, you get a full-hand grip (unless you have bear paws) and a trigger that, while not best-in-class, is certainly one of the better triggers on a gun of this size.
You also get the benefit of SIG’s new modular approach to handgun design, so you have a variety of slides and grip modules and such you can swap in and out without buying a whole new gun. You just need P365-compatible parts and you’re good to go.
Finally, you know I’m not going to put a gun on a list of “best” anything if it’s not reliable, and I can say that, in the four months and a thousand rounds this pistol has gone through with me, I’ve had precisely zero failures of any sort.
It eats what you feed it, goes bang when you need it, and that’s all I really want.
Being able to go bang 13 times before I need to reload is just one of the reasons this handgun is on the list of best single-stack 9mm pistols.
You probably noticed that all the guns so far have been striker-fired. Well, for those of you who like a good hammer, I’ve got something for you too.
There are a number of larger-framed single-stack guns out there in 9mm, mostly 1911s and 1911 clones. And if you want one of those, that’s great, but I’m keeping this list to CCW guns, not full-size blasters, so there’s really only one mini-1911 I can recommend in 9mm and that’s the SIG P938.
The P938 is, essentially, a 1911 that’s been miniaturized and chambered in 9mm. It’s small, about the size of a Glock 43, making it one of the smallest guns on this list. In typical 1911 fashion, it has a hammer, is single-action only, is fairly slim overall, and has a thumb safety so you can carry it cocked and locked without fear of putting a hole where you don’t want it.
The controls are all exactly placed where you would expect your 1911 controls to be, the only exception is the removal of the grip safety, but it does come with a transfer bar safety so I think losing the grip safety is a good call.
Finally, the gun is both accurate and reliable (it may be one of the most reliable 1911s under $1000 in my experience) and comes in a variety of finish options so you can get one that matches your watch or whatever so the kids on Instagram think you’re cool.
Really though, some of the finishes are really good, and there’s nothing wrong with a good looking gun. To that end, I would definitely say this is the classiest of the firearms on this list, and if that matters to you, the extra cash is probably worth it.
There are a lot of great single-stack 9mm handguns out there, but these are the ones that represent the best value, and the best options for keeping you and your family safe. I would trust my life to every pistol on this list (and have). I can’t give them a higher recommendation than being the best single-stack 9mm handguns available.