Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ruger LC9, Sig P290 join the growing field of slim, subcompact 9mms

As the King James says, old age succoth. You can look it up.

The sweet wife and I both caught a nasty virus a week or two before Christmas and we're still not over it. In my case it affected my balance and I'm hobbling around with a cane like a much older version of my ancient self.

As a veteran with no private health insurance, I'm experiencing the joys of government-run health care courtesy of the VA. As one of the VA doctors observed during a visit last week, "The system is broken." When Obamacare gets into high gear, you'll find out what I'm experiencing, government health care for the masses.

Anyway, I took a minor fall at the gun shop yesterday so I'm off work until Monday and finally have time and motivation for a new blog post. So I thought I'd comment about the emergence of two new slim subcompact 9mm pistols.

Until now the field has been small for single-stack slim concealable 9mms, you can plunk down $600 for a Walther PPS or a Kahr PM9, both fine pistols but a bit pricey, or under $300 for a Kel Tec PF-9. All three have about 3" barrels, polymer frames and double-action-only triggers.
I've had a PF-9 for some time which I recently upgraded with a Crimson Trace Lasergrip. It's a very shootable little pistol with a long easy trigger pull. If I take my time, I can shoot a fairly tight group at 10 yards.

My profile photo on Facebook is a head-shot group, which I whimsically turned sideways after someone commented it's a fairly good smiley face. Ironic now since I took a topple sideways in the gun shop yesterday. I was holding a $1050 S&W pistol in a wood box at the time and held onto it rather than dropping it to catch myself. Seemed like the thing to do at the time, as Clint told the judge.

Ruger blatantly copied the Kel Tec P3AT .380 pistol when they introduced the LCP two years ago. So they've done it again this week with the introduction of the LC9, coming to a gun store near you in February or March. Let's compare the two.

The PF-9 is a semi-automatic, locked breech pistol, chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge. It has been developed from our highly successful P-11 and P-3AT pistols with maximum concealability in mind. The PF-9 has a single stack magazine holding 7 rounds. It is the lightest and flattest 9 mm ever made. Firing mechanism is Double-Action Only with an automatic hammer block safety. The PF-9 will be available in blued, parkerized, and hard chrome finishes. Grips will be in black, grey, and olive drab.


Calibers: 9mm Luger                      9 x 19 mm
Weight unloaded: 12.7 oz.                           360g
Loaded magazine: 5.5 oz.                             156g
Length: 5.85"                               149mm
Height: 4.3"                                 109mm
Width: 0.88"                                22mm
Barrel Length: 3.1"                                 79mm
Capacity: 7 + 1
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs                                22.2N
And now Ruger's specs for the LC9:
Catalog Number: LC9 | Model Number: 3200 | Caliber: 9mm Luger
Slide Material: Through-Hardened Alloy Steel Slide Finish: Blued
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel Barrel Finish: Blued
Barrel Length: 3.12" Length: 6.00"
Width: 0.90" Height: 4.50"
Weight: 17.10 oz. Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Capacity: 7+1 Grip Frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Twist: 1:10" RH Grooves: 6
MA Approved & Certified: No CA Approved: No
    Suggested Retail: $443.00
See any similarities? Even a blind man can't miss that.

And now for the second new entrant in the slim, subcompact 9mm field, the Sig Sauer P290 9mm.
THE P290 SUB-COMPACT 9MM, is our newest and most innovative and versatile polymer pistol. Designed to be the ultimate in conceal carry. This unique 9mm pistol is the perfect small defense handgun that meets the demands of today’s law enforcement professionals as a backup duty gun, and responsible citizens as a conceal carry gun. The removable grip plates allow for customization with aluminum, wood, and polymer and can be engraved with your initials for a true customized pistol (coming soon).
  Caliber 9mm
  Action Type DAO
  Trigger Pull DAO N/A
  Overall Length 5.5 in
  Overall Height 3.9 in
  Overall Width 0.9 (1.1 in with slide catch lever)
  Barrel Length 2.9 in
  Sight Radius 4.3 in
  Weight w/Mag 20.5 oz
  Mag Capacity 6 - 8 Rounds
  Sights SIGLITE® or Contrast Sights
  Frame Material Black Polymer w/removable plates
  Frame Finish Black polymer
  Slide Finish Nitron® or natural stainless
  Accessory Rail Built-in for optional laser
  Options Customizable grip plates, mini laser
No MSRP is available yet for the P290, but I suspect it will be more in the Walther PPS/Kahr PM9 $600 range than in the Kel Tec/LC9 $300/$400 range.

The only knock on Kel Tec pistols is they are not built for heavy use. A round count of 400-500 is probably as high as you want to go before buying a new one. Presumably the Ruger and Sig entrants are more stoutly built and will last longer, so I may at some point get either or both of them. But until then, I will continue to carry my PF-9 with confidence.


Anonymous said...

More of a rant than a review, and rather biased at that, coming from a Kel-Tec bigot. The community would be better served by an honest evaluation.

Anonymous said...

The complainer is a liberal ruger fan lolol

netfotoj said...

Kel-Tec is the Rodney Dangerfield of pistols, they get no respect from bigots who think if you pay under $300, it must be junk. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, 400-500 rounds and the gun is wore out? You should really get out & shoot more. Then maybe you can form some honest opinions, based on experience instead of conjecture.

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