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Super-Compact Carry: Top 10 Micro Handguns for Personal Defense

We run down the lightest, most compact carry guns for personal protection. These lightweight micro pistols and revolvers vary in features, price, and chamberings, but all of them are intended to be capable backup guns for self-defense.

Super-Compact Carry: Top 10 Micro Handguns for Personal Defense
To carry everyday, many armed citizens prefer the comfort and concealment of micro-sized handguns. (Photo by Brad Fitzpatrick)

Carry guns come in all shapes and sizes, and what suits one shooter may not work for another. I have a friend who is a retired Ohio State Highway Patrol officer who carries his Beretta 96D .40 S&W concealed every day. At 33 ounces, and 1.5 inches wide, the gun is gargantuan by carry pistol standards. However, he dresses around that pistol, and it works for him. 

That full-size solution won’t work for most shooters. In fact, many people are looking for the lightest, most compact carry pistol they can find. Perhaps you live in an environment with a warm climate and need a pistol that works under light clothing. If you’re thin or small, or both, a more compact pistol is easier to carry and conceal than a larger one. Perhaps you’re carrying the gun in a waistband holster or fanny pack, or even a pocket, and need a firearm that fits comfortably in small spaces. 

If you’re searching for a compact carry gun you have options. We’ve rounded up ten of the smallest, lightest handguns available today. Every gun on this list weighs under 20 ounces, and some are less than half that weight. No gun on our list measures more than 6.5 inches wide, and every one of them is easy to carry and conceal under light clothing. Here’s a rundown of today’s best super compact pistols. 

Beretta 30X Tomcat Get Home Bag

Beretta Tomcat 30X Get Home Bag
Beretta 30X Tomcat Get Home Bag (Photo courtesy of Beretta)

One of Beretta’s most recent Tomcat models is the 30X Get Home Bag (GHB), and just like previous versions it comes with a tip-up barrel that allows you to load or unload a .32 ACP cartridge directly into the chamber without racking the slide. Compared to the traditional manual of arms for semiauto pistols, this method of operation is a major benefit for shooters with hand strength issues. The 30X GHB comes with the new single action/double action Trident Trigger System that makes the trigger pull lighter and smoother than previous Tomcat pistols. All 30X pistols feature an aluminum frame and steel slide and barrel, and the black dovetailed iron sights are tall enough for use with a suppressor and are interchangeable, including for a micro red dot mounting plate. Magazine capacity is eight rounds, which is impressive for a gun this small. 

  • Chambering: .32 ACP
  • Capacity: 8
  • Weight: 16.3 ounces
  • Length: 5.3 inches 
  • MSRP: $599
  • Beretta.com

Ruger LCP

Ruger LCP
Ruger LCP (Photo courtesy of Ruger)

Ruger pushes the lower limits of semiauto pistol size with the 9.6-ounce LCP. This gun fits in a pocket, in a waistband, or fanny pack, and it’s the backup gun I carry while trail running because it’s so compact and light. It’s also durable thanks to the black oxide finish on the through-hardened steel barrel and slide, and the glass-filled nylon frame. The integral sights are basic and functional for close-range shooting, and there’s also an upgraded model that includes a Viridian green laser sight for $339. The LCP holds six rounds of .380 ACP in the magazine, and the finger plate extension magazine is a nice touch because it allows more control over this ultralight autoloader.   

  • Chambering: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 6
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Length: 5.2 inches
  • MSRP: $259 to $339
  • Ruger.com

Walther PPS M2

Walther PPS M2
Walther PPS M2 (Photo courtesy of Walther)

The PPS M2 from Walther is one of the larger handguns to make our list, but it meets our maximum size standards. Plus, being a little larger, it provides more of a big gun feel and fires a standard defensive cartridge, while remaining small and light enough for deep concealment. It comes with a 6- and 7-round magazine, and 8-round magazines can also be had. The gun’s three-dot sights and safety-lever trigger are among the best on the list. The Walther offers excellent accuracy for such a small pistol and the grip is very comfortable, allowing the shooter to maintain control even with stout defensive loads. Slide-to-frame fit is quite good, and at just an inch wide it rides close to the body to prevent printing.

  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Capacity: 6, 7, or 8
  • Weight: 19.4 ounces 
  • Length: 6.3 inches
  • MSRP: $479
  • Waltherarms.com

North American Arms Pug

NAA Pug
North American Arms Pug (Photo courtesy of North American Arms)

At just over 6 ounces and measuring a hair more than 4.5-inches long, the Pug revolver from North American Arms is smallest gun on our list. For that reason, it can be relied on to be carried concealed under just about any clothing. The single-action revolver is chambered in .22 WMR and requires removing the cylinder to reload. These guns are designed only for close-range shooting, but the fact that that carry decent sights means accuracy can be maintained for shots  out to around 20 yards, with practice. Because of its manual of arms and surprisingly potent muzzle blast, the Pug isn’t a gun for everyone. But, if you are searching for the absolute smallest carry revolver on the market this what you’re after.  

  • Chambering: .22 WMR
  • Capacity: 5
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Length: 4.56 inches
  • MSRP: $370 to $525
  • Northamericanarms.com

Ruger LCR

Ruger LCR
Ruger LCR (Photo courtesy of Ruger)

The LCR revolver features an internal hammer and comes in a wide variety of chamberings. All models come with Hogue Tamer Monogrips and a notch rear sight paired with a pinned ramp front. Frame materials vary by caliber, but these guns all weigh under 20 ounces and can comfortably be carried close to the body. The friction-reducing cam allows for a smooth, predictable trigger pull that makes these guns plenty accurate for close-range self-defense shooting, and the simple, robust design ensures that the LCR will work when you need it most. The 9mm version comes with full moon clips for reliable loading and extraction. 

  • Chamberings: .22 LR, .327 Federal Magnum, 9mm Luger, .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 5 (.38/.357, 9mm), 6 (.327), or 8 (.22)
  • Weight: 13.5 to 17.2 ounces
  • Length: 6.5 inches
  • MSRP: $739 to $859
  • Ruger.com

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

Bodyguard 380
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 (Photo courtesy of Smith & Wesson)

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 is an internal-hammer-fired, semiautomatic .380 pistol that comes with two 6-round magazines and weighs less than three-quarters of a pound. It comes with a stainless-steel slide and barrel and metal drift-adjustable sights that are very good for this class of pistols. The frame is made from high-strength polymer, and its molded finger grooves paired with the extended magazine baseplate can make the pistol quite comfortable to shoot, despite its light weight. The internal hammer’s design allows “second strike” capability, like double-action pistols, and a left-side manual safety comes standard. Beyond the base model, there’s also a Bodyguard 380 with an integral Crimson Trace laser, as well as an engraved version with a stainless slide.

  • Chambering: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 6
  • Weight: 11.9 ounces
  • Length: 5.2 inches
  • MSRP: $399 to $479
  • Smith-wesson.com

Kahr CW380

Kahr CW380
Kahr CW380 (Photo courtesy of Kahr)

The CW380 from Kahr is a compact .380 semiauto carry pistol with a matte stainless slide and a black polymer frame. The slide itself measures just .75-inches wide, and the drift-adjustable rear sight and pinned polymer front are fairly austere by big gun standards, but they’re some of the better options on our list of minimalist micro-sized carry pistols. And, if you need an upgraded option, a front night sight model is offered. Kahr’s CW380 pistols feature a double-action-only trigger which requires a strong trigger pull to activate a cocking cam, move the striker rearward, compress the striker spring, and, finally deactivate the firing pin block. That sounds like a lot, but in operation it’s a smooth, safe, and reliable system that makes it a popular backup or deep concealment firearm. One six-round steel magazine comes standard with these guns.    

  • Chambering: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 6
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Length: 5.0 inches
  • MSRP: $457 to $504
  • Kahr.com

Taurus 380

Taurus 380
Taurus 380 (Photo courtesy of Taurus)

With the 380 model, Taurus is offering a rare .380 ACP-chambered revolver. It’s a lightweight, compact carry gun chambered for a suitable self-defense cartridge, making it a great backup firearm. The five-shot revolver weighs right at a pound and measures just under six-inches long. It also comes with Taurus Stellar Clips for easy reloading. Sights are basic but functional for close quarters shooting, and the large rubber grips help make the Taurus 380 more manageable to shoot. The DAO design is easy to operate, so if you’re looking for a light, low-recoil carry revolver, this one should be on your short list. Black and stainless finishes are available.

  • Chambering: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 5
  • Weight: 16.0 ounces
  • Length: 5.95 inches
  • MSRP: $561 to $576
  • Taurususa.com

KelTec P32

KelTec P32
KelTec P32 (Photo courtesy of KelTec)

The KelTec P32 is one of two .32 Autos to make the list, and if you’re looking for an ultra-light deep concealment autoloading pistol it’s a solid option. It brings new meaning to the term austere, but the simple notch-and-post sights and minimized controls mean this pistol won’t dig into your skin when worn close to the body, or hang up when you draw. It’s a scant .75-inches wide which allows it to ride so close to the body that it won’t print under very light clothing, and the magazine offers a capacity of seven rounds. The rugged polymer frame will stand up to the toughest elements and the P32 is one of the few semiauto pistols that’s small enough to be effectively carried in a pocket holster. Pair it with high-quality hollow point self-defense ammunition and this is an effective and easy-to-conceal defensive pistol.  

Recommended


  • Chambering: .32 ACP
  • Capacity: 7
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • Length: 5.1 inches
  • MSRP: $360
  • Keltecweapons.com

Smith & Wesson 340 PD

340 PD
Smith & Wesson 340 PD (Photo courtesy of Smith & Wesson)

How is it possible Smith & Wesson can offer a 11.8-ounce .357 Magnum? The answer is scandium, a rare earth metal that offers a weight similar to aluminum but strength that’s on-par with steel. To be clear, if I carried the five-shot 340 PD double-action revolver I would probably do so with .38 Special defensive loads to help mitigate recoil and muzzle blast, but that would make a very light, compact, and sufficiently powerful defensive rig. The basic rear notch sight is integral to the top of the frame, but the bright green fiber-optic front sight is highly visible, even in low light. A polymer grip allows you to comfortably hold the pistol when firing, and the enclosed hammer design prevents snags and hang-ups when drawing the 340. It’s part of Smith & Wesson’s compact J-frame series of revolvers, and is a proven performer that’s small enough to be pocket carried.

  • Chambering: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 5
  • Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Length: 6.31-inches 
  • MSRP: $1,149
  • Smith-wesson.com

Sound Off

Did we miss a favorite micro? Is there another carry category you want us to look at? Let us know! Email gaeditor@outdoorsg.com and use "Sound Off" in the subject line.




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