Over the past couple of years, the micro-compact guns category seems to be the new trend. If you’ve peeked at gun sales or spent much time at your local gun shop, you’ll see that these firearms are flying off the shelves. Writers, manufacturers, and guns shop owners are quick to point out the positive attributes of these firearms. The ability to stow a gun inside the pocket or a small compartment for off body carry, such as a handbag, is appealing to many buyers. But what about when you put that gun to use?
Lately, I’ve had several conversations on this topic with friends in the industry, including our Director of Training, Austin Davis. Through these discussions, we’ve landed on a prediction – 2024 may likely be the year that we see a shift, and those who carry guns will opt for larger or full-size handguns. While micro-compact guns look appealing, when you pull back the curtain, they are often problematic in use.
The Drawbacks of Micro-Compact Guns
First, let’s look at our hands. Roughly 20% of your grip strength comes from the pinky, and it’s not uncommon to see students show up with a gun that doesn’t allow for a full firing grip.
Without the use of your pinky, it is inherently more difficult to manage recoil. This creates an unpleasant experience for the user at the range, and that doesn’t inspire much confidence.
But wait, your gun has a pinky extension. That’s great, but can that gun now hold more ammunition, or do you simply have an extension?
This question leads us into our next topic, which is capacity. While some manufacturers have figured out how to cram more ammunition into smaller guns, the category of micro-compact guns is predominantly made up of handguns that have less capacity. When searching for a firearm whether it be fore concealed carry or home defense, more ammunition is a good thing.
However, when looking at the violent actions of criminals, especially when it comes to home invasions, we see that criminals often choose to strike in pairs, and at times, in a group. So the first gun you select is one that’s more difficult to shoot proficiently, and you have less ammunition… does that sound like a good combination?
Capacity aside, let’s explore proficiency a bit further. Through enough training and practice, there are individuals who can shoot micro-compact guns proficiently. But for the average gun owner, I’m not convinced that the investment required is a good use of time, and those results aren’t immediate, meaning that the investment doesn’t pay out today.
The immediate benefit to you is to purchase a larger handgun.
Another issue is reliability. Talk to an engineer and they will tell you that when you shrink any item those components will not have the same reliability or long-term endurance as their larger counterparts.
What this means is that it’s not expected for a sub-compact handgun to last as long. Over the past year, I’ve witnessed several micro and compact handguns fail during live-fire courses. These were guns made by established manufacturers and models that remain popular choices at your local gun shop.
Additionally, ammunition selection is also more of a concern for these smaller guns, as sub-compact guns tend not to function as reliably across a broad range of ammunition types. Just something to think about.
Lastly, we have accessories. There is no denying that optics have become an accepted addition to most handguns. Optics allow us to use our eyes as intended by focusing on our target, or a singular point/object. What’s deemed to be proper sight alignment remains a difficult task for many, as trying to align our sights with a target or multiple points is not how our eyes work best.
In addition, for users with failing eyesight, optics have proven to be tremendously helpful.
Those are just a couple points, but what I’d like to focus on are available options. For micro-compact guns, you don’t have as many options. Owning a small firearm also means that you are forced to select a similar optic. Much like the micro-compact guns themselves, those also prove to be less reliable for reasons we previously discussed.
You’re also limited to a smaller weapon-mounted light should you choose to mount one. That’s a topic for another day, but again, something to think about.
I’ve heard countless individuals make attempts to dissuade buyers from carrying a larger gun, claiming that it cannot be done comfortably. While I don’t have the space here to walk you through all my tips and tricks, carrying a larger firearm isn’t the arduous task it used to be, thanks to the vast array of holster options that exist today, as well as other belts and gadgets.
At the end of the day, purchasing your first, or perhaps your fifth firearm is very much a personal choice. I hope this article has been enlightening, and please be sure to look at the online and in-person training we offer, as we’d love to have you as a part of our Concealed Coalition family.
And while on the range, please remember – no one cares how well you shoot; we care how safe you are.
This article was guest-written by Yates Crawford, one of our Concealed Coalition Territory Training Directors.