Make Mine a Chunky Nine

If a slim nine just doesn’t cut it for you as a self-defense gun, perhaps a chunky nine will do. Don’t get me wrong: Slim nines are great. But sometimes you want more heft, more grip and more capacity. And you’ll give up some measure of concealability to get it. A handful of guns meet these criteria, including Glock and Springfield XD subcompacts. And for a while there’s been a Ruger American Compact to add to the list of choices.

Ruger’s American pistol debuted in duty size and the company followed up with a compact — and many variants thereafter. In any variant, this is a bold-looking and robust-feeling gun. In any variant, you have a dead-nuts reliable shooter, accurate and durable. In any variant you have myriad features which not only are functional but also serve to put a smile on your face at the range. My preferred variant is the compact 9mm you see here. It’s a chunky gun but in its most concealable form — with the flush-fitting magazine — it weighs just over 29 ounces and has 12 rounds on board. It’s no slim nine, to be sure. But in this variation, I get a gun that’s easier to grip and that shoots better, making it more accurate than most slim nines out there. As such, I’ll make it work as a carry gun.

Interestingly enough, 30 years ago we were bragging on how we could conceal much larger guns. Twenty years ago we were bragging on how we could conceal much smaller guns. Ten years ago the guns got even smaller; the slim nine era began. Now, market fluctuations and innovations being what they are, we’re carrying guns of every size and shape. All this to say: It’s a great time for those who carry concealed.

Ruger American Compact’s specs and features underscore that point. With a retail price of $579, the gun measures 6.65 inches in length with a 3.55-inch barrel. A stainless-steel, black-nitride-finished slide measures 1.05 inches in width. The height is 4.48 inches. Atop the slide are Novak LoMount Carry 3-dot sights — they’re excellent for stock sights — and the American also comes with ambi mag and slide releases. What else? A Picatinny rail and modular wrap-around grip system allow for even more functionality and personalization. It’s +P rated, so fire away with the big stuff and enjoy the crisp trigger and distinct reset. Prefer a manual safety? There’s a variant of the American with that too. When it’s time to take down the pistol for cleaning, a single lever makes that possible with no trigger pull required.

My favorite feature: Well, all of them plus the fact that this gun includes two nickel-Teflon-plated steel magazines. One, as I mentioned, holds 12 rounds. The extra holds 17 rounds with a grip extension. So, 17+12+1=30. Thirty rounds of 9mm in an absolutely dependable, reliable, durable and customizable carry rig.

Make mine a chunky nine.