I love mini-skirts - at least on the right frame. I even like some mini cars. However, in most cases I have found that mini guns, that is very small handguns intended for concealed carry, are better for carrying than they are for shooting. Not all of them, though. There are a few very small handguns that are worth looking at, and carrying, and shooting.
I have been playing with a Kimber Solo for the last few weeks. At first I wasnt certain what I thought. It shot well, was certainly concealable, and best of all, came in 9mm Luger rather than the more anemic .380 ACP that is more common in the little guns. Now, after considerable testing, I have decided that the Solo is a great idea. I recommend it for those with enough experience to use it well. It is not easy to shoot, which is a commonality among the smaller guns. Generally, the smaller the gun the more difficult it is to shoot. That is why most folks think that snub-nosed revolvers are inaccurate. Many of the snub-noses are very accurate; they are just hard to shoot well.
The main reason is that there is very little distance between the front and rear sights, so any little bit of movement causes the gun to shoot off by a lot. With a long barrel this is not as evident, thus long-barreled guns are easier to shoot.
One of the first of the micro-guns was the tiny series of revolvers by North American Arms. The first, if memory serves, came in .22 short, then later in .22 long rifle. Now you can get one in .22 WMR. North American Arms also makes a little semi-auto that is available in .25, .32, and .382 ACP.
The problem with the little revolvers, at least at first, was that they were almost impossible to shoot accurately. I played with one for a while and discovered that I had to be within 4 or 5 steps to guarantee hitting my aiming point. At that distance I could keep the shots in a group 8 or 10 inches across. Farther than that and the shots strayed until some of them would miss a full-sized silhouette target. Another problem, or should I say deficiency, was that they were rather slow to shoot, caused by the difficulty of cocking the mini guns quickly. Instead of 2 shots in 2 seconds, it was more likely to take 2 seconds for each shot. These things, combined the fact that they shot only .22 caliber cartridges, I decided to pass on them.
Kel-Tec brought out an ultra-small handgun a few years ago. Sadly, in the beginning they were not usually very durable and functioning was less than perfect. The basic idea had to have some merit, however, because now several companies are copying it. Both Ruger and Taurus have brought out guns that for all outward appearances are almost identical to the original Kel-Tec. I bought a Taurus at Oasis Outback in Uvalde a few months ago, not expecting much except that it would shoot and be concealable. It does all that, and in addition, the little micro-gun is very accurate.
I shot it first at about 5 steps, thinking that I should be able to keep all the shots on the target at that range. Surprisingly, I not only kept them all on the target, I put them all in the X-ring. Then I moved back to 10 yards and after pulling the first shot low, I again put the rest in the original group. Finally at 15 yards I shot the last few rounds I had with me and found that if I held and squeezed, the gun would still put them in the middle. I like it. It is a .380 ACP, and therefore somewhat underpowered, but if concealability is of paramount importance, this little gun is a winner. With the right ammo, such as the new Hornady Z-Max, it rises into the lower ranks of the manstopper cartridges.
The Kimber Solo in 9mm Parabellum is more powerful, which is a great advantage when the time comes that it is needed, but any increase in power has to be paid for by increased recoil. The Solo kicks -- quite a bit. The Taurus in .380 is a smaller and lighter gun than the Solo, therefore more concealable, but it is pretty anemic when it comes to stopping power.
Back in my active duty days the smallest gun on the market that was considered dependable was the Walther PPK, or PPKs. These guns are pretty much identical except that the sights on the PPKs were changed a bit to make it meet the sporting definition that was then in place and required for import. Since the Walther is now made in the USA, that is no longer a problem. The PPK is still a very good choice for a hideout gun, but it is in .380, so again, you are losing some power.
Kahr makes several small guns that shoot powerful cartridges. I have a Kahr P-9 that I carry a good bit. It is in 9mm. This same gun is available in .40 S&W, which brings it up into the major power category. However, a small gun in a large caliber is very hard to control in rapid fire. In this instance I believe the 9mm Kahr is superior to the more powerful version in .40 cal., for the very good reason that it is easier to place the bullets in the right place. With ammo like the 124-grain Speer Gold Dot, 124-grain Federal Hydra-Shok, the new Federal 105-grain Guard Dog, or one of the 115-grain +P loads, it is a fine self-defense choice.
I received a nasty-gram recently from a reader who thought I was far off base by recommending the more powerful handguns. He said he could draw his little Kel-Tec .380 from his pocket and put three shots on a target before I could draw my big, powerful .45 and hit it once. There are a couple of misfires in his logic. First, unless he is a lot better than I suspect, that dog wont hunt. I have practiced for too many years to believe that kind of baseless brag. However, if he so desires, I will be glad to let him come to my range and to prove his boast. He can even bring the witnesses. Second, if he is using hardball ammo in his .380, and the target is a hostile human, he is probably going to need all three of his shots, and then some.
All kidding aside, the larger the caliber, within reason, the better it is as a manstopper. There are too many cases on record that prove that point for there to be any argument, at all. On the other hand, a .380 in the pocket is better than a .45 in the closet. If a .380 is as large a gun as you can comfortably handle, or if the circumstances dictate that you carry a micro-gun, please, carry it instead of a larger gun you are afraid of, or that you wont carry because it pulls your pants down. It is a proven fact that in a gunfight a man with a gun will kill an unarmed man nearly 100% of the time. It is never wise to bring a knife or a stick to a gunfight, so you be the one with the gun.