The market is flooded with thousands of different pistols and the number of options can be overwhelming even for the experienced buyer. In this article, we’ve rated the best compact 9mm under $500.
Over the last few years, the market for defensive pistols has grown immensely and manufacturers have responded with semiautomatic pistols with lighter and smaller designs.
We’ve taken a great number of factors when compiling the list such as dimensions, power, ammunition capacity, and price. The result is a detailed guide of the best compact and budget-friendly handguns available.
Best Compact 9mm Under $500 Comparison Table
|Kahr Arms CM9
|Solid frame construction. Simplistic design.
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|Thumb-safety button. Single magazine.
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|Smith & Wesson SD9V
|Long-travel and stiff trigger. Reliable - does not misfire. Available aftermarket options.
|VIEW CURRENT PRICE
|Taurus PT111 Mil-lenium G2
|Convenient manual safety. Compact, lightweight & concealable design.
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|Various color combinations. Trigger reset. Possible misfire at first.
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Best Compact 9mm Under $500 Reviews
#1 Kahr Arms – CM9
The CM9 is the heir of the PM9 with slight modifications that send it in the budget-friendly range of handguns. It has less machining on the slide, the front sight is pinned in place and the roll marks are not re-fined.
Moreover, instead of polygonal rifling the gun offers conventional cut rifling and is shipped with one magazine only. Even though that the CM9 is stripped off unnecessary parts and lacks design, the internal mechanism is the same as the PM9’s.
This striker-fired handgun features a Browning-style locked-breech de-sign and operates with a passive firing pin safety. The pull of the trigger averages 6 pounds and 8 ounces, but it is surprisingly smooth.
Unlike other 9 mm pistols, the CM9 features a nice slide that’s easy to work with. The sights are made of polymer, whereas the front sight has a white dot and the rear has a vertical bar that forms “i” when aligned.
The magazine offers 6 rounds and the body has holes that let you know how many shots you have left. Loading the gun is a seamless process that takes seconds.
The grip of the pistol isn’t bulky, which adds to the shooting experience a lot. This gun is easy to hide, which makes it perfect for a concealed gun and the number one on the list for best compact 9mm under $500.
#2 Ruger 9E 9mm
The heir of the SR9 series is the Ruger 9E, a budget-friendly striker-fired pistol that includes only the essential components of its predecessor. The company took the previous model and removed parts to cut on costs without affecting the reliability.
At first glance, you might have to compare both guns closely to note any differences. The manufacturer has removed most of the cosmetic machining on the slide. It is a bit plainer and features matte-blue carbon steel, instead of the stainless slide on the SR9.
Given the reduced price tag, it is obvious that the design would be more simplistic. What interests us is the performance of the weapon. Fortunately, the handgun functions as perfectly as its predecessor.
The slim grip adds for greater recoil control and the trigger was measured about 7 pounds. We tested a variety of different bullets and the pistol didn’t experience a malfunction.
The thumb safety wasn’t as comfortable as I imagined it, but competitors in this segment don’t even have one. Furthermore, the magazine release was smooth and easy, which was an improvement from the previous model.
We tested the accuracy of the gun on a 25-yard field during the winter. The Ruger showed some magnificent performance, especially in short-range situations.
All in all, Ruger’s 9E model offers reliability, durability and all combined at a great price. It’s a weapon that provides great value for its price. Moreover, the price tag allows for the purchase of an additional magazine.
#3 Smith & Wesson SD9VE
The SD9 VE model of Smith & Wesson’s series is the lowest priced in their lineup. Similar to other budget-friendly guns, the SD9 is shipped in a cardboard box, but with this fine piece, you will receive two chrome-finished magazines.
Even though it’s a budget pistol and some components are omitted, you still receive a very functional and solid firearm. It has all the essentials, but some details such as the manual or grip safety are missing for obvious reasons.
Surprisingly, the gun feels great in the palm and it points perfectly due to the bright, white dot on the front sight. There are no changeable backstraps available, so test the gun before you purchase it.
A huge downside that we found with the gun is the trigger. It features quite the long travel and it breaks at around 8.5lbs. This would be a troublesome experience for beginners, especially in tight areas such as your home.
When it comes to reliability, the gun surprised us greatly. No matter the ammunition used, the gun hardly ever jams. The SD9 VE is a well-made budget pistol that’s cheap to run and has aftermarket options available for customizations.
#4 Taurus PT111 Millennium G2
The Taurus G2 is a compact polymer gun ideally sized for concealed carry. With a 3.2-inch barrel length, the handgun is neither big nor too small as it fits perfectly.
At first, we were surprised to learn that the PT-111 is single-stack. With this model, the manufacturers have incorporated a finger ledge on the base of the magazine for a full grip.
The design is lightweight and unobtrusive, which makes it suitable for concealed carry. Yet, you are still carrying a 9mm holding 12+1 rounds. Also, the frame of the grip is comfy and allows for a tight hold.
Another pleasant surprise proved to be the magazine, which drops quickly and allows for fast reloading. When tested on the field, the gun shows some incredible performance. Not a single hiccup in all the shots we made throughout our practice.
Even though it is small in size, we found that the pistol offers great accuracy. It uses an easily adjustable 3-dot sight, but we find it quite accurate as it is.
Note that there’s a manual safety switch, which might slow you down when you try to shoot in emergency situations.
The trigger has a travel distance of 2 lbs, with a 6 lb. break. There’s al-so a second-strike option if the bullet jams. However, we personally prefer taking the bullet out of the weapon if it misfires.
Given the information above, we can say that the Taurus is good and a solid weapon. What makes it even better is the MSRP price of just $320 and a street price going as low as $250.
Overall, we have a very capable concealed-carry gun. You can’t expect it to compete with higher-priced models, but in most aspects it surely does.
#5 SCCY CPX-2 9mm
The SCCY CPX-2 is a budget-friendly handgun that features a fantastic design and an important improvement from its predecessor – the manual safety.
SCCY offers a variety of combinations for their guns, such as a stainless and black slide finishes, as well as nine different grip colors, al-lowing for customization according to the client’s personal preferences.
CPX-2 is a subcompact, polymer-frame, double-action handgun. The slide, barrel, and receiver are all machined from bar stock. The receiver contains the entire trigger, hammer assembly, slide rails, and slide lock. It fits into an injection-molded polymer frame and is help stable with two pins.
When it comes for measurements, CPX-2 weighs around 15 oz. and is just a little over 5”, which is a proper size for a comfortable carry.
However, a major disappointment is the trigger of the gun that brings some serious reliability issues. Of course, the trigger can always be replaced with a better one to remove this issue.
The trigger pull is advertised at 9 pounds by SCCY, but tests by users show 8.2 pounds. The magazine is metal and features a double-stack design with 10-round capacity.
When picked up, the gun feels comfortable and secure, which might be due to the finger-groove extension of the magazine as it adds another half an inch to the length.
Since it arrived on the market, the model turned out to be a successful one as it grew in popularity quickly. There are many aftermarket parts available for customization.
Overall, the gun is unlikely to win any competitions for accuracy and performance. However, it is compact, stable, light and budget-friendly, which makes it a good option for a beginner.
The handgun market is growing rapidly each year and manufacturers tend to release new improved models frequently. In this article, we’ve reviewed some of the best compact 9mm under $500 available on the market.
Each gun has its own unique traits and some offer features typical for high-end guns only. Choosing a gun is a matter of personal preference, so we hope that our article was informative enough to make the right choice for you.
A Bulgarian native law student, and a gun aficionado. I’ve graduated from a British International school and have successfully taken a number of Cambridge certificates such as PET, FCE, CAE, GSCE, IGCSE & IELTS. I found love in firearms early on in life when my father took me hunting for the first time. A few years later and an unknown number of rounds fired, I have the opportunity to combine my home defense & firearms expertise with the public.