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Practically Shooting

Smallest .40 S&W???


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I need a wee tiny little semiauto with a little horsepower. I mean small. What's the smallest sub-sub compact .40 made?

You maybe can talk me into in a 9mm, if it's really small.

I doubt you can talk me into a .380.

Don't try to convince me a Sig 229 is a compact pistol. I have one and it's a good size beast.

Maybe I should hold out for the Colt Pony.


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I am firm believer that guns work best in their original form, especially semiauto pistols.

With that in mind, I am not overly crazy about most chopped versions of guns. That leaves guns that were designed to be small from the start, like Kahrs, Rohrbaughs, etc. Even though smaller, I've had better luck with guns like that than larger "compacts".

That's one point. Hang on a minute and I'll come back to it.

Second point- I think the .40 is a snappy round in a medium sized gun and in the little near-pocket sized guns it can be almost rough. I know people who shoot a lot more and a lot better than me, who also like big bores, but don't like shooting little .40s.

Third point- These guns aren't the easiest to shoot although they aren't bad (I love S&W J-frames but can shoot almost any pocket 9mm better). Still, practice always helps, and 9mm ammo is usually cheaper than .40.

Which brings me to liking pocket size (or near pocket size) 9mms. I'm sort of a Kahr fan, although I only have one of them.

One thing though- even though they work pretty well, we are asking a lot of them. They are a lot smaller than what we thought were small 9mms as recently as 1995. The S&W 3913 and HK P7 were considered really small, and these little nines make them look huge. Don't expect service pistol performance from them. I cut them a little more slack because they are smaller than I ever though we'd see, and might be pushing things.

If you can go a little bigger, I like the S&W 3913 and HK P7 I just brought up. I love the P7 in fact. Both of these guns are bigger than the Kahr-class guns but are a easier to shoot and I feel are a little more dependable. They are also thinner than Glocks, P229s etc, which makes a huge difference to me. Most people get concerned with a gun's weight but its the width that effects whether I carry a gun or not. These size guns are what I use on those rare times I don't feel I can conceal my usual gun well. They practically vanish IWB.

I've had a couple of 3913s and even though I'm not a DA auto fan, I like them still. The only reason I let mine go was because I liked the P7s better. I think the P7 is a great gun, that, despite being handy in size, is one of the easiest to shoot well. I've let people shoot mine and some shoot it as well as their carry gun even though they've never shot a P7 before.

I have been planning a post here just to sing it's praises.

And to shoot down a lot of the myths surrounding them (too heavy, too complicated, unique manual of arms cause problems, they get too hot, etc).

There have been a lot of German police surplus first style P7s sold here in recent years and they are a bargain. I got one for a spare.

So there are my thoughts. And what I do.

I carry a Kahr PM9 Covert in my pocket as a BUG everyday.

When I need a gun smaller than my usual HiPower or 1911, I carry an HK P7 (plus other times when I don't have to, just because).

When I need something really small as a main gun, like the annual beach trip, it's the Kahr.

And I can shoot buckets of ammo through them for less than a .40, .45, etc.

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What about a Ruger LCR in .357? Those things are tiny and light.

Ruger SR40c is small-ish.

Glock 27 is small.

The problem with semi-autos is physics come into play and they can only be so small and still function.

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I generally hate DAO guns and don't like regular DAs much either. I carry either a 1911, Browning HiPower, or HK P7 as "primary", which should tell you something about my trigger preference.

But the gun in my pocket is a Kahr. The trigger is...different, but very useable, even to someone like me whose shots are 99% SA.

People are always comparing the Kahr and J-frames because they see similar use. I hear a lot of them say the Kahr pull feels longer than a J-frame, but I don't think so at all. Quite the opposite in my opinion. I think the Kahr trigger feels like a greatly shortened J-frame pull.

They get compared to Glock triggers too, but I don't think they feel very similar.

A couple of things to know about Kahrs:

I would avoid the "Micro" Kahrs. My first one was an MK9, which is the shortened (slide and frame) version of the K9. I had some instances where the slide failed to fully close on a chambered round. It got better after a break-in but still happened about one time in a hundred shots, which is unacceptable in a carry gun.

The Micro models use a dual recoil spring (Kahr uses the Seecamp patent). When the slide was almost closed on mine, only one spring was pushing. This happened right about where the slide stopped on the feeding problem. So I blamed the recoil spring design.

I looked at some other MK9s in the gunshop and they were the same, with one spring not exerting pressure at the end.

I checked online, and found reports almost identical to my experience.

Maybe Kahr could have done something, but I traded it off. I liked Rhe general idea of the gun, so when I found the regular size K9/P9 used a single recoil spring, I started looking for one. I got that P9 Covert, which has the K9/P9 slide on the short grip frame, and it has been fine.

This was maybe six years ago or more, and I've heard Kahr has made a change to the short ones to correct that problem mine had. I don't know what they did, if anything.

Second- Don't carry a spare magazine loose in the pocket. Besides being a bad idea generally (gets pocket fuzz in it and it turns around so you never know which end is which) the magazine can self-empty. The top round pops out pretty easily compared to most magazines, and they can come out while moving around during the day. I found as many as three live rounds loose in my pocket after a day of carrying the mag without a pouch. I made a little pouch thing that covers the feedlots and it keeps it mostly upright, and it has been fine.

And lastly, I want to make another pitch for the 9mm over .40 in this size gun. The recoil can be sharp in the .40, practice ammo that is a must with these costs more, and since I think we are getting on the ragged edge of size/function we need to give it all the help we can get by staying with the cartridge it was chambered in first.

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Originally Posted By: G-MAN
Kahr PM40.

What are your feelings on DAO?

I guess these little DA guns with 6.5-7.0 # pulls aren't so bad. I'm so darn spoiled by feather trigger SA guns. grin

The last thing you want on a concealed carry, self-defense pistol is a light trigger. In a SD situation you aren't going to be taking aimed shots. It's going to be up close and personal. You want a smooth trigger, but you want it to require enough effort that there is no chance you let a round go unless you absolutely mean to.

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I've read that in places before. I wonder what they think is an acceptable trigger weight.

At the National Tactical Invitational one year, participants were provided with a pistol having a 14 pound pull, then ran through an exercise that was basically a setup for a startle situation. IF they were not maintaining proper trigger finger discipline, they had an ND every time. If they were using proper trigger finger discipline, they did OK.

An article in Police Marksman by George Williams a few years ago covered a medical study showing that "involuntary convulsive reflex" (startle response) caused the larger fingers to generate 50 lbs or more of force.

The problem is the finger being in the wrong place.

I'm pretty convinced that an ND with a four lb trigger would still have happened with a seven lb trigger. Or ten. As long as all else is equal.

I do suspect the pull travel might prevent one now and then. Maybe.

I'm not saying we should petition Jewell to start making 2 ounce triggers for the most popular pistols. Not all NDs happen when the shooter has the gun in position to fire. Plenty of them happen when holstering (the majority I've seen or saw almost happen were while holstering) or when clearing a gun for cleaning or odd things like when something shifts in the pocket where a gun is carried and gets pressure on the trigger. In some of these cases, a little more trigger weight or travel might help. I carry my Kahr in a pocket (in a pocket holster covering the trigger guard) but would not carry a SA auto that way.

But back to my point (it's the finger, not the trigger).

I'm guessing most self defense NDs happen when holding someone at gunpoint. How were they doing this? Or, more specifically, where was their trigger finger? While I haven't been to a ton of classes, of the ones I have been to, only one addressed holding someone at gunpoint. That's not to fault those other classes, because they were shooting/gunfighting classes and not detaining classes. And besides, I think the aspect of having to hold someone at gunpoint is something that doesn't get much thought devoted to it. It crosses most people's minds, but that's about it.

Then they are stuck having to do it. There they are, having to hold someone at gunpoint who broke into the house at 3 am. It's also about the time the initial shock wears off and the adrenaline hits, the wife starts yelling from the bedroom asking what's going on, the kids start crying, the alarm is getting annoying...

Where is the trigger finger?

Probably on the trigger. If thinking with reason, the homeowner reasons out he needs to be ready to shoot this guy immediately if needed and the time needed to get his finger on the trigger is too long. If thinking unreasonably, the homeowner is so angry at this guy that he hopes he makes a move. Either way, the finger is on the trigger and we have a time bomb. I think if that trigger is going to get pulled, it is going to get pulled whether it's four pounds or 14.

At any rate, I think it's hard to say a trigger pull of X pounds is more prone to ND than one a couple of pounds heavier.

Its a gunhandling problem; not a trigger problem.

BTW, As for the presumed need to have the finger on the trigger when holding someone to save time "in case he makes a move", time it sometime. If one has a shot timer, they can easily check how much difference it makes between keeping the finger registered on the frame or on the trigger. Hold the gun with sights on target ready to shoot, and time it both ways, with the only difference being trigger finger placement. I bet that if you see any difference at all, it will be about what the shot-to-shot variation is. It sure won't be enough to matter. It can sure matter on whether you ND.

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What is the intended use? CCW? How will you carry it?

The Sig P250 compact is pretty small. I don't know if I would want anything smaller than that in a .40. The DAO trigger on the P250's has an easy pull.

When I CCW, I pocket carry, and I think the Sig is probably too big for that. At least for my pockets. I usually carry a Bobcat (.22LR), Tomcat or PPK (.32 ), Sig P238 (.380) or an LCR. The LCR is a nice carry gun, as is the PPK.

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