With the release of the KelTec P-11 in 1995, a whole new category of firearm was born. This easy-to-carry 9mm handgun brought concealed carry into the modern era. And other manufacturers followed suit. Kevin Michalowski briefly reviews six similar firearms that are great for getting beginners into shooting.

9mm Handgun Similarities and Differences

These concealed carry firearms are all 9mm and polymer framed. All but one is striker-fired. Each gun holds at least 10 rounds of ammunition in double-stack (or “stack-and-a-half”) magazines. Kevin classifies them as “pocket-plus” pistols. They’re light, easy to conceal and easy to use.

KelTec P11

This KelTec is the original high-capacity mini pistol, with competitors not jumping on the bandwagon for quite some time. It has a 3-inch barrel and 10-round capacity. The P-11 was likely introduced as a result of the 90s assault weapons ban, when there was a 10-round limit on magazines. This is the outlier in the group in that it is hammer-fired.

This 9mm is double-action-only and has a shrouded hammer, allowing its second-strike capability. The KelTec P11 was discontinued in 2019 but can still be found on the market.


Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 5.6 inches
Weight: 14 ounces
Capacity: 10

Source: KelTecWeapons.com

Taurus PT-111

This 13-round gun (12+1) is super small. Unlike the KelTec, this G2 version from Taurus is striker-fired. It has a resetting trigger and works well as a dry-fire tool. There is also a frame-mounted safety. When that safety is engaged, the entire mechanism is locked up.


Barrel length: 3.2 inches
Overall length: 5.6 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Capacity: 12

Source: TaurusUSA.com

Springfield Armory Hellcat

The Hellcat Kevin reviews is his own. This 9mm is 11+1, and there is a 13-round magazine available. Following the trend, this pocket-plus pistol has a 3-inch barrel. One advantage over some of the other similar handguns is the large U-notch sight. The Hellcat is fast and on-target. It’s easy to carry and feels good in the hand.


Barrel length: 3 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Weight: 18.3 ounces
Capacity: 11 or 13

Source: Springfield-Armory.com

SIG Sauer P365 XL

This XL version of the SIG P365 is equipped with the Romeo Zero red dot sight. And it’s probably the most popular handgun in the country right now. This little gun is just about everything a concealed carrier needs. And it’s rigged up well for red dot sights if one likes. It’s bright, easy to use and allows you to co-witness. The P365 has a small overall profile and is easy to carry.


Barrel length: 3.7 inches
Overall length: 6.6 inches
Weight: 20.7 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 12

Source: SIGSauer.com

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

The Smith & Wesson Shield Plus is new to the market. It has a similar magazine — slim but capable of carrying 10 or more rounds. It’s comfortable to shoot and is small in the holster. One thing Kevin noticed, though the S&W is comfortable to carry all day and shoot, is the trigger guard is just a little bit small.


Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 6.1 inches
Weight: 20.2 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 13

Source: Smith-Wesson.com

Ruger Max-9

The U.S. Concealed Carry Association just opened up this Ruger Max-9, it’s so new. It has a big, bright green fiber-optic sight on the front. The magazine holds 10 rounds, but the Max-9 still has a slim profile. It’s also equipped to add a red dot sight.


Barrel length: 3.2 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Weight: 18.4 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 12

Source: Ruger.com

Which 9mm Is Best for You?

All of these guns are great concealed carry options. But the point is to get a gun that you’ll use. So test them all … and more. Then buy the one that works best for you. This popular category of firearms — 9mm, increased capacity, step-up from a pocket pistol — provides the power you need for self-defense.