Ever since Sig Sauer released the P-365, the “micro” compact class of handguns has taken off. Previously, one of the cons of micro compacts was the lack of capacity. But the P-365 was an engineering marvel, designed around a 10-round stack-and-a-half (for the lack of a better classification) magazine. Twelve- and 15-round magazines followed quickly.
Other manufacturers have taken notice of Sig’s success and have ventured into this area also. First was the Springfield Hellcat, which offered a 12-round mag. But the first run felt rushed. The trigger was spongy and gritty, and even the slide felt like it had a couple grains of sand in it. That was cleared up with the second run of Hellcats, but the damage was done.
Now, Sig Sauer is suing Springfield Armory for infringement of patents it holds on the design of the magazines. We’ll see how far this goes. It won’t affect either company in any way that we, the consumers, will notice.
Now Ruger has dipped a toe into the micro-compact field with the release of the MAX-9. The basics look familiar: Striker-fired, polymer lower, 12-round magazine. The MAX-9 comes with a tritium or fiber optic front sight and a drift-adjustable rear sight. It comes with a optics-ready cut in the slide for red dot sights that will co-witness with the iron sights.
Ruger has been busy as of late with the acquisition of Marlin Firearms from Remington. I hope they aren’t stretching themselves too thin and the MAX-9 will turn out to be a quality firearm. I did happen to note a quasi-help wanted sign on their website.
Taurus has also announced a new micro-compact with the G4. It’s only got a 10-round mag, but they are offering interchangeable backstraps. That about ends the bells and whistles, as this is going to be a sub-$400 pistol. All the others are $500 and above. It’ll probably come in a cardboard box and not a nice plastic case.
Now, I’m not a personal fan of micro-compacts. I see and respect their niche, but I just can’t shoot them as accurately as I can larger-frame handguns. I like a bigger grip in my hand, and I don’t want my pinky finger hanging off the bottom of a firearm. I don’t drink my tea like that, so I don’t shoot like that.
Most of these micro-compacts offer a pre-cut slide for a red dot optic. This is another direction the CCW crowd is going. While red dots have been popular in the competition handgun world for the past few decades, they’re just now coming into the concealed-carry world.
Because most gun owners are hard-headed, stubborn and afraid of change, a lot of people are talking them down. Why talk down about anything that will get you on target quicker and more accurately? And they’re an option. If you don’t like them, don’t put one on your gun.
I like the concept of micro-compacts, even if they’re not for me. They’re easier and more comfortable to conceal, and now they have the capacity of larger handguns. With those parameters, they’re a no-brainer for CCW fans.
Capt. Cayle Wills is a USCCA-certified firearms instructor and gunsmith at Higher Power Outfitters (1826 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Contact him at 941-916-4538 or Cayle@HigherPowerOutfitters.com.