The past five years, single stack 9mm handguns have become a very popular choice among concealed pistol carriers. The “single stack” refers to the thin single column magazine in which the rounds are stacked. These small and light handguns are easy to carry, fun to shoot and help give people the confidence they need in a defensive situation.
We also see many firearm manufacturers develop their own single stack 9mm model to get in on the buying surge due to the increased number of people who are taking on the responsibility of carrying a gun on a daily basis. The old saying that “carrying a gun is not comfortable but it is comforting” applies, as many people are asking what type of handgun will provide a decent amount of comfort (if that’s possible), and yet provide reliability and stopping power against a threat when needed. The popular choice is the single stack 9mm handgun.
Weighing the differences of fewer rounds available in the magazine versus the comfort of a lighter gun to carry is a decision that each carrier will have to make. I know several people who would never consider carrying a gun that houses less than 15 rounds. However, even these people agree that a single stack 9mm (or .40 or .45 ACP) will provide and excellent back-up gun. Carrying a holstered handgun on the hip and another smaller one in the pocket is a carrying trend, but that’s a different article for another day.
The single stack 9mm handguns featured in this review is the Kahr CW9, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield and the Glock 43. I chose to compare these three handguns because of their fine reputation for quality and reliability.
The Kahr CW9 is my personal everyday carry gun. I balance the need for firepower with a spare magazine in the pocket with the lightweight pistol that shoots amazing. The CW9 has a 3.5-inch barrel (which is the longest of the three), yet shares the same slide length as the Shield and Glock 43. The Kahr CW9 featured has a beautiful carbon fiber finish that is not only aesthetically pleasing but offers an enhanced (sticky) feel to the grip. Kahr Arms knows how to pack an incredible amount of technology into a small package to create the lightest and easiest concealable guns in today’s market.
The M&P Shield has been a hit with CCW folks from day one. It’s simple and reliable design provides thousands of people the confidence needed for their self protection. S&W took the features of their popular M&P line and packed them into a small and lightweight package that sent people running to their local gun stores. The Shield provides both a seven- and eight-round magazine that is actually staggered stacked, but due to its thin grip, it is still considered a single stack 9mm.
For years people wondered if and when Glock would enter the single stack 9mm market. Eventually, they created the Glock 43 and, like most Glock products, it became an instant hit. Aftermarket companies began to produce additional parts and accessories (which is consistent with Glock) to add rounds to the six-round magazine, along with upgrade sights and so on. Glock created a much-awaited reliable single stack 9mm that many people are proud call their carry gun.
Watch the video below, as I compare the three pistols, and let us know your favorite single stack 9mm handgun. We look forward to hearing your experiences with these and other models that were not mentioned.