I am on record as hating small pistols. Except that I don’t. I just haven’t found one that works with the kind of reliability I think a self defense weapon requires. My experience with my Kel Tec P3AT was dismal. The Rohrbaugh R9 I had generally functioned well, but was finicky about ammo, required recoil spring changes and cleaning frequently, had a funky tail hook mag release and it’s slippery as a bar of soap finish made it a difficult gun to enjoy shooting. The R9 is great for its occasional use design goal, but if I own a gun, I want to shoot it. Hopefully frequently
The search for the perfect concealed carry pistol has gone on for years. It has to be small enough to hide but not so small that it is difficult to grasp. It should be lightweight but still controllable to allow solid hits at a reasonable distance. Finally, it should be in a caliber that is as large as the chosen platform can accommodate. In my early days in law enforcement, the favorite choices for a back-up and off-duty carry were small frame revolvers such as a Chiefs Special or Colt Cobra, or small autos like the Walther PPK or PPK/S in .380. As with everything else, times have changed and there are more options than ever. One company that has taken the lead in the concealed carry market is Kahr Arms.
A member of Kahr’s Premium Series, the little PM9 ($786) is the smallest 9mm pistol Kahr Arms makes. It’s also one of my favorite “pocket 9s,” and I’ve owned one for a number of years. Fitted with a 3.1-inch barrel, it weighs only 14 oz. empty. When compared side-by-side to the new Glock 42 .380 ACP, it offers the same 6+1 round capacity (7+1 round with the included extended magazine), is 1/2-inch shorter, less than 1/8-inch wider and has the same overall height. And, of course, it’s a real 9mm, not a “9mm short.”