Rise of the High-Capacity Mini-Pistol


A lot of the time when I hear people talking about little guns that hold lots of rounds, I hear things like, “Revolutionary!” or “It’s a game-changer!” or “A tiny gun with all this ammo — what a fantastic, new innovation!”

Most people I talk to absolutely love having the option of a small, concealable handgun that happens to hold a lot more ammunition than similar-sized firearms. But are these micro-compact guns that boast high-capacity, double-stack magazines an exciting new fad … or a cleverly revisited favorite?


Let’s look at some of the firearms getting all the hype right now. A lot of excited talk and rumors started up when SIG Sauer announced the 10+1 capacity P365 in January of 2018. I was at SHOT Show when the handgun debuted. I checked it out and immediately put the P365 on my “wish list.” It’s now one of my EDC guns. Having been recognized as “Handgun of the Year,” the 365 is still gaining in popularity, with optional 12- or 15-round extended magazines, as well as the newly released, anti-snag P365 SAS with its flush-mounted sights and the P365 XL, which features a flat trigger and extended beavertail.

The year 2019 also brought us the Glock 43X, which has 10+1 rounds and features the short profile of the Glock 43 slide — with the grip length of the Glock 19 — and the Glock 48, which is a bit longer in the slide but also offers 10+1 magazines.

Mossberg didn’t wait long to introduce its MC2, which builds on the popularity of the MC1 but features 13+1 or 15+1 magazines. Springfield Armory also recently announced the Hellcat. This micro-compact with a flat trigger and U-dot sights comes with an 11+1 and a 13+1 magazine (and it quickly made its way into my husband’s EDC rotation). I asked what he liked about the Hellcat besides the extra ammunition capacity. He told me, “I like the ergonomics of it. It’s a lot like the XD-S. But it also holds a lot of rounds!”


Most of these high-capacity mini-pistols have only been around for the last couple of years. But even though the hype is pretty big right now, the idea isn’t quite as contemporary. What about the Kel-Tec P-11, which debuted around 1995 (more than 20 years prior to these other top sellers)?

“I’ve had a P-11 for years and years,” commented Ed Combs, senior editor of Concealed Carry Magazine. “Not only was it an excellent option when I was fresh out of college and short on money, [but] I find it one of the better handgun instructors around. If you can train on and master a trigger like that one, you’re going to be able to run pretty much anything.”

Kel-Tec’s P-11 is a small, lightweight 9mm with a 10- or 12-round magazine. But it also has a 9-pound, double-action-only (DOA) trigger. That could be a bit of a struggle for some gun owners to use efficiently. And interestingly enough, production on the P-11 stopped in 2019, just when these competitors were hustling to get their newest and best out on the market.


Has the rise of micro-compact concealability with full-sized shootability won over the industry? Possibly. This clever and convenient option definitely seems to be growing in popularity. But will the larger capacity magazines make it unnecessary to tote around spares? Or will the extra rounds potentially make people overly confident in their self-defense skills?

No matter what gun size or magazine capacity you select, just be sure to remember the “perceived penalty for a miss.” Never take warning shots. Never take uncertain shots. The penalty for a miss could disastrously mean a visit to jail, a stay in the hospital or a trip to the morgue.

About Beth Alcazar

Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers column, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.

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