A Scope Report issued by the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) last month included figures that reflect a gradual change in pistol buying preferences. According to the trade organization’s findings, consumers are purchasing smaller handguns when it comes to those chambered in 9 mm Luger.
“While data from 2019 to date shows the compact category has consistently had the greatest sales performance, hovering around 40 percent, the biggest changes have occurred in the micro-compact category,” the study explains. “From 2019 to date, the micro-compact market has grown from an 18 percent to 25 percent share, making them a quarter of the 9mm semi-automatic handguns sold. Also notable is the fact that micro-compacts have taken a majority share in the combined sub-compact/micro segment.”
A 2021 survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found 33 percent of first-time gun owners that year were female. Using that figure, the NASGW report concluded, “It’s reasonable to assume the rise in micro-compact sales is at least partially due to the rise in female gun owners. No matter how you spin it, it’s impossible to deny women generally have smaller hands than men and different concealed carry preferences. Dozens of articles exist online and in magazines listing models ideal for concealed carry as well as considerations to take when carrying concealed. The general consensus is that though smaller guns have more recoil than larger frames, they are lighter and more easily concealed whether in a purse or in a holster.”
The evidence is solid, although 9 mm subcompacts are not always the ideal solution for every female shooter. American Rifleman visited Money Quick Pawn and Guns in Fayetteville, N.C., and asked store manager Danny Garcia about the trend.
“Although we sell a lot of micro 9 handguns, such as the Glock G43, the SIG Sauer P365 and the Springfield Armory Hellcat,” he said, “we have a number of customers bring them back to exchange for a compact handgun, such as a Glock 19 or Sig P320, because the recoil of the smaller micro 9s can be surprisingly heavy.”
His observation isn’t unique, according to a statement made by Jason Cloessner, vice-president and product development manager at Lipsey’s, in the NGSW report. “Instead of guns getting smaller in .380 ACP and 9 mm, we are trending back to slightly bigger models like the Springfield Hellcat Pro, Glock’s 43X and 48, the SIG P365XL and the just-released P365X-Macro. The market has come to appreciate the thin 1"-wide platform and now want it in their ‘duty-size’ guns, too.”