A Guide to Sub-Compact Pistols: What to Look For

Posted by Team Springfield

Jun 26, 2018 1:00:00 PM


Compact and sub-compact pistols make for great everyday-carry (EDC) handguns. Some are small enough that they can fit in your pocket with no visible signs. They can also be fun on the range, but the specialty of these small handguns is concealability.

With that in mind, here are a few things to look for in a sub-compact pistol.

Barrel and Grip Length

The entire purpose of a compact pistol is its concealable size. If you’re in the market for a compact pistol, you’ll want to make sure the width, height and length of the pistol are small enough to suit your carry needs. Sometimes people make the mistake of going too small though, resulting in uncomfortable grip, due to lack of grip space.

Don’t just buy a compact pistol off the shelf because it’s small—get your mitts on it and try it on for size. Make sure it feels good in your hand and that you can see the sights clearly.  Also ensure you can manipulate the controls; lock the slide open, and then depress the slide release lever, seat a magazine and then push the magazine release button, and make sure you can flip on/off the manual safety (if applicable).

Weight and Comfort

Carrying around a pistol all day can be surprisingly unnoticeable if you get something light enough. Whether you choose to carry on your hip, appendix, shoulder, small of your back, purse, pack or ankle, carrying something on the lighter side will be more comfortable than carrying a full-size pistol. For EDC, compacts and sub-compacts shouldn't feel excessive in the weight department.

Clothing Compatibility

Another item to consider when shopping for your compact is how well it will fit with your clothing. Having the outline of the grip of your pistol show or “print” (cause an imprint through your clothing) kind of ruins the surprise aspect of concealed carry. So whatever your preferred mode of carry, make sure your pistol choice is compatible and concealable with your dress.

Now, if you’re planning on carrying in a holster, in a purse or backpack, you shouldn’t have any issues. Just don’t leave your bag unattended - EVER!  Also ensure that you have easy access to your handgun. If carrying in a bag or purse is your only option, and you can't get to it quickly, it's essentially useless. 


You also want to take magazine capacity into consideration. When it comes to small, compact pistols, every choice will be a compromise in terms of capacity.  Due to the smaller size of compact pistols, they have less magazine capacity, especially single-stack varieties like the XD-S®. However, you can also get surprisingly high capacity from some smaller pistols, such as a Mod.2™ Sub Compact, that utilize double-stack magazines. Extended magazines can also increase the round count with a compact pistol. 


If you are carrying a pistol every day of your life, everywhere you go, you want to ensure that your carry gun has the safety features you demand.

  • Do you require a grip safety and a trigger safety? Check out our XD®, XD-S® and XD(M)® lines.
  • Are you most comfortable with a double-action first shot for your carry gun? Give our XD-E™ pistols a shot.
  • Is it a deal breaker if your EDC gun doesn't have an external manual ambidextrous safety and a grip safety?  You will love our EMP® 4" with Concealed Carry Contour!  

Whatever your combination of safety requirements, we've got you covered at Springfield Armory®. Find the best fit for you and carry on.  


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Topics: Range Life, Everyday Carry

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual.  These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.

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