Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A 9mm Prediction

I note that the Pistol Training blog is showing pixs of the new Sig Sauer P290, an ultra-small polymer frame 9mm pistol introduced this week at the IACP show. Hmmmmmm, methinks. One of last year's big winners for Taurus was their "Slim" 709B-series ultra-small 9mm single stack [below].

I think what we are seeing here is the first salvos in The Next Big Thing, ultra-light little 9mms to appeal to the gazillions of people who have bought into the Great .380 Pocket Pistol Sweepstakes. In short, the staggering success of the Ruger LCP and the flood of pocket .380s it released caught the industry totally by surprise...who were these people buying up all the little guns?

Well, I believe a lot of them were the big wave of next-gen CCW holders who are just now coming into what we think of as the gun culture. By next-gen, I mean they weren't involved with shooting/hunting/whatever until they made the decision to get a carry's a younger, more female demo than us Old Skol gun guys, and they were draw to the little polymer .380s because...wait for it...wait for it...they are EASY TO CARRY! And they were cheap. Huge round of "duh!" is appropriate here.

So now that they've carried for awhile, gotten used to the "gun every day" thing, had an introduction into the gun culture (hopefully from watching my shows and checking out DRTV!!!), they're thinking the little blasters are, well, little. More importantly, they've got some time in gun-handling and shooting, and they're more comfortable with the bark and bite of small pistols.

What's the next step up?

How about a little 9mm semiauto, a cartridge at least I consider sufficient for my own concealed carry needs? A 9mm built on the pattern of the successful .380s, because, hey, that pattern WORKS! A quick look in the niche reveals the superb Kahr Arms guns (at a commensurate price, essentially double or triple the cost of the current generation of .380s, with the notable excecption of Kahr's entry into the sweepstakes, the P380) and the relatively unknown Kel-Tec PF9/P11 series...and keep in mind that the market had already overlooked the uber-ploymer .380, the Kel Tec P3AT).

So I'm thinking the next wave is marketing a slightly larger 9mm polymer-framed DAO (or the equivalent trigger system) that look a lot like the .380s? It's an obvious up-sell for .380 owners, the perfect 2nd gun...and lots of people, me included, are pushing the "2 guns are better than a reload"'ll see it on TBD and SG in 2011, for example.

I expect to see Taurus really push their Slim line and Sig with their P290 to try and get in from of the big wave I strongly suspect will be coming...we'll see at SHOT 2011. won't we?

And remember, you heard it here first!


ExurbanKevin said...

Agreed. I've owned a Sccy CPX-1, a knockoff of the Kel-Tec, for a while now, and while it's been a bit of a problem child, it's also durn easy to carry with me in almost any situation.

After all, a gun that's handy to have around is a gun that you'll have handy when you need it.

ExurbanKevin said...

It's also gotta be something that can slip into the front pocket of a pair of dress pants. Yes, it's true that firearms onwers should chose their clothes for their choice of gun and not the other way around, but for people like myself who are still fairly new to the concealed carry world, choices like that just aren't on the front part of our brain. A Kel-Tec PF9 or a Kahr PM9 can be carried all day long by white collar schlubs like me and no one in the office will ever know it.

And this is a good thing.

The Freeholder said...

Been carrying a Kel-Tec PF9 for a while now. Inexpensive and so far, utterly reliable. Never a misfire, failure to eject, anything--even when brand new. I picked it out over any of the small .380s because of the cartridge. Nice to see the big boys are catching on to the why of it.

And by the way, have you seen the Kahr entry in this race? The PM9 with the Crimson Trace Laserguard is made of want. Now if I was just made of money....

Anonymous said...

Seems like the PF9 and PM9 are already out there (and the P11 if your pockets are a little bigger). Of course I wouldn't mind a somewhat more refined version of the PF9 or P11 if someone wanted to start with a blank sheet of paper...

Overload in Colorado said...

I have a P3AT. It's a pocket gun. I have a bunch of small 9mm guns, but none of them are pocket sized. This is true also with weight. A small 9mm can weigh 16oz, a P3AT is 8oz.

Overload in Colorado said...

Forgot to add:
Once you leave the pocket and go belt holster, you open yourself up to a much wider range of pistols as the belt supports a lot more weight and size than pocket fabric.
A subcompact .45acp can weighs 25oz on the low end.

Gunmart said...


Glock 26!

Gunmart said...

BTW - I covered the new SIG on my blog today too.... Several more pics here:

Anonymous said...

The new Kahr P380 looks like an excellent tool as well. I haven't had a chance to try one yet but if they're anything like their larger kin, they should be outstanding tools.

Anonymous said...

There might be another factor in the popularity of the .380, and now the small single-stack 9mm autos. Hand size. As a male of small stature and correspondingly smaller hand size than average, I value the little .380s because I can shoot them accurately. If I pick up a full-sized 1911, it's immediately obvious that its far too large for me to manipulate properly. This is why revolvers are my first love, as their grips are quite independent of the size of the ammo; although I've found that I enjoy owning and shooting the NAA Guardian (small .380) and Walther PPS (single-stack 9mm).

As more women come into the gun-owning population, I'm glad to see manufacturers creating products for them, because they're also products that I can usually use as well. (Except for the pink ones...)

Overload in Colorado said...

Ummm, the 1911 has one of the slimmest grips of any handgun.

.45acp isn't very long, and the 1911 uses a single stack magazine. I have tiny hands and enjoy using a 1911. Yes, it's heavy, so I don't want to fire 800 rounds one handed. I have no problems with two hands keeping a full size 1911 on target for 800 rounds. I will say that being heavy I felt its weight on my hip and felt muscles adjusting and cramping throughout the course of the day. That may have been holster position, as I normally use a 1911 for USPSA and have no problems.

Anonymous said...

The market overlooked the Kel Tec P3 AT? Kel Tec was producing something like 50,00 a year and you call THAT being overlooked?

It was the success of the P3 AT that persuaded Ruger to copy the Kel Tec.

Statements like that are why some accuse gun writers of being whores.

K. Rihanek said...

I mostly like my Taurus PT709 slim. My opinion is that it's a little heavy for pocket carry. It looks like the SIG won't be any lighter. Pity that the market doesn't pay more attention to the Kel-Tec PF9. The Kahr PM9 is very nice. The Kahr's price will put many off. Having lots of choices is a good thing. You can argue that X is the best choice but people have all sorts of non logical reasons for their decisions.

CJS3 said...

Has anyone heard anything about the Bersa BP9 (cost, release date, etc)?

Anonymous said...

Little 9's are being bought by the pocket-gun crowd that's realized (or head in the sand, you pick) that if they don't go trolling for drugs and hookers, they don't need the hassle of a belt holster and lugging a full-size "manly" .45 around. Same group that buys all those J-frames except the volume per round ratio is crap. (No, they aren't being bought as "BUG"s, sorry)

atlharp said...

The 9mm is inevitable just due to basic economics. For the life of me I could never figure out why .380 was so popular to begin with! What use is a carry pistol if you can't find or afford the ammo?

Anonymous said...

My BUG/pocket gun started as a NAA 22 mini in a Sparks pocket holster. It morphed into a NAA 32 Guardian then a LCP/CT combo. Will it become a mini 9? Probably not, next step up for me will be my AMT 45acp Backup. 6 rounds of “manly” .45 in a 1” wide package smaller than a G26/27. BTW a friend carries his G27 as a daily carry in a Kramer pocket holster. Plenty of practice has made him fast and accurate with this combination. Point is all of these are capable of getting the job done if you spend the time to train and practice technique with them. First rule is “have a gun” and all of these have fulfilled that requirement. IMHO second rule is “know how to competently use that gun”. After that you can worry about caliber, action type etc. Personal preference comes into play here. I have always had a hard time justifying carrying a smaller caliber in the same size frame that I can stuff a .40 or .45 into. Round count isn’t my big goal. Shot placement with a caliber that will stop the fight (that hopefully never occurs) is. Now I know that sounds contradictory to my BUG choices, but you can see how they have progressed over a 25 year period. They are about to join my first choice for a belt gun. A 45 of some type.


ExurbanKevin said...

The pocket .380 market took off because there was a need for a small, ultra-compact semiauto in a semi-adequate caliber for concealed carry use, and that market had (at the time) only one player, the Kel-Tec P3AT. I own a P3AT and it's been very reliable and very handy, but if the LCP had been around at the time, I'd have probably bought it instead.

Flash forward three years, and now we have a market that's very similar: The only people playing in the pocketable 9mm market are Kel-Tec and Kahr (I'll leave my Sccy out for now, as it's essentially another Kel-Tec, only moreso).

For some reason, Kel-Tec products have the perception that there stuff is shoddy and down-market, I'm guessing price point has a lot to do with this. Kahr has a solid product but the price point is bit high and like the Kel-Tec, it's not the first name that comes to mind when you think "semi-auto pistol".

So in essence, we have a market with a low-end product with poor brand recognition and a high-end product with no brand recognition, which leaves the market wide-open for someone like Ruger or S+W to enter with a small 9mm (Call it an SR-9UC, for "Ultra-Compact" if you want :) ) to hit the same sweet spot of product, price and positioning that the LCP hit a few years ago.

Matthew said...

If "two is one and one is none" then when I carry the gun and two reloads I really have just one reload and no gun at all...


I have to second ExurbanKevin,

I've been carrying for twenty years now and like to dress professionally, in a classic sense. That means fitted clothing without extraneous pockets (cargo pants and vests).

Smaller, lighter serious caliber guns can help when it's too hot for a sport coat or blazer but you can't wear an untucked polo or short sleeved dress shirt.

It'd be nice to have an (affordable) 9mm in the "just larger than my Colt Mustang" size range for pocket, tucked or ankle carry.

WV: delyz - what de anti-gunners tell

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Anonymous said...

Hey I'll take 1 glock over 2 keltecs any day. Keltecs are much too even on quality control.

In addition the P290 is vaporware; I know from a source. Might be out well after the 2011 SHOT show probably not in volume until the second half of the year knowing how SIG has handled the previous P250 roll out.

P30man said...

I've been saying for the last year on that what the market needs is more small, light, very compact single stack 9mm/40cal guns. It doesn't need another single stack 45 1911 brought to market, but I'm sure well see plenty.

The problem is the darn ATF import "points" regulations pretty much hurt/kill the market unless foreign manufacturers decide to set up shop in the US. Also, Keltec doesnt help it either with their very low cost guns with marginal quality.

Overload in Colorado said...

if you're correct, that leaves an opportunity for an american company(s) to capture this market. Colt had the Mustang, Pony, and right before they pulled out of the civilian market, the Pocket 9. (not to mention their early 1900s pocket pistols. An updated Pocket 9 could do very well in this market. How would I update it? The stock Hogue wraparound rubber grips could be replaced with slimmer grips. The grip is short, so a finger extension magazine (like the Pearce) would help, or at least be an option. Serrate the front and back straps. I guess you could go with a polymer frame maybe. I do remember a suit by Kahr against the Pocket 9, but I assume it's been finished for a while.

As a wild idea, do a 9mm 1903/1908 Pocket Hammerless. A very slim gun that known to conceal well and even pocket carry (jacket pocket, not jeans).

I do think this 'category killer' will have to have a polymer frame to keep weight down. The Kahr pm9 is just about the perfect pistol for this class, but is too expensive.

Liston Matthews said...

I just went KelTec P-11 for a backup to the Ruger SR9.

See my write-up here:

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