One of the hottest trends in the firearm world is the micro-compact CCW pistol, a slim handgun of (usually) 9mm caliber with a capacity of 10+1 or greater, in a remarkably small package. Since everyone and their dog is now making one of these pistols and they are selling like proverbial hotcakes, it’s worth a discussion of the top accessories and red dot optics for this new category of concealed carry guns.
Let’s go over the key categories and types of useful add-ons, and then we’ll clue you in on our picks for some of the frontrunners.
Table of Contents
- CCW holsters: essential for micro-compact pistols.
- Best weapon-mounted lights (WML) for micro-compact CCW pistols.
- Pistol-mounted ultra-compact mini red dot optics for CCW pistols.
- Store your carry weapon and gear in a Liberty safe.
CCW holsters: essential for micro-compact pistols
It should go without saying that if you’re going to carry a concealed-carry pistol, you need a good holster. While you might get away with slipping a revolver into your jacket pocket, you really should have a holster for any CCW gun, to protect the trigger from interference (you know, bang!) as well as to keep dust, lint, grit, and other stuff out of the action of the gun (you know, no bang?). We’re not going to go into a rundown of the best concealed-carry holsters because we’ve already done that for you, so check out our full article by clicking the link.
Best weapon-mounted lights (WML) for micro-compact CCW pistols
Even before a red-dot optic, the first CCW accessory we typically recommend for almost everyone is a good weapon-mounted light (WML) to provide white light in dark places where most bad things happen. Target identification is an absolute must, and a good WML has the additional benefit of potentially deterring bad actors by shedding some light on the situation. As most police officers will tell you, when you turn the lights on, bad guys and cockroaches scatter. Let’s go over some of the top choices for weapon lights that are compatible with today’s micro-compact CCW pistols.
Surefire usually wins most head-to-head durability tests in harsh environments, and takes reliability and durability very seriously, with mil-spec hard-anodized aluminum housings and heavy-duty components throughout. However, you pay for this reputation and performance, with the Surefire XSC retailing at around $330 from popular online retailers, which is more than double the price of some other options (see below).
The bezel/lens of the XSC doesn’t protrude much past the muzzle/dust cover of a Glock 43, for a size example, though the vertical thickness is pretty significant, filling the entire space in front of the trigger guard. The XSC puts out a useful 350 lumens of white light via its intuitive, ambidextrous, momentary- or constant-on paddle switches. The XSC uses Surefire’s proprietary B12 rechargeable 3.7V lithium battery for 30 minutes of constant-on run time, so you’ll need to keep it charged with the included charger and USB cable. It’s a good idea to buy a spare battery (around $65) so you can charge one while you carry the other.
If money isn’t an object and hard-use durability is the priority, Surefire might be the top choice.
Streamlight TLR-7 Sub (and TLR-6)
Streamlight is a brand that is often compared to Surefire but at a lower price (typically), and offers multiple weapon lights for this category of tiny carry pistols. The frontrunners are their TLR-6 and TLR-7 Sub models. The primary differences between the two are in size and lumens, with the TLR6 being truly tiny, fitting completely below the abbreviated dust covers of the SIG P365 and Glock 43 as an example, and with a white light putting out 100 lumens. There is also the option of an included laser sight below the white light bezel on the TLR-6.
The TLR-7 Sub is a slightly heftier, larger WML with a significantly greater output of 500 lumens, with no provision for an included laser if desired. The nose or bezel/lens of the TLR-7 Sub protrudes in front of the dust cover/muzzle of the SIG P365 and Glock 43, and makes for a more substantial overall package. In a good carry holster, the differences in size between the TLR-6 and TLR-7 Sub will be a wash. However, the practical differences between 100 and 500 lumens are actually pretty significant, and we would probably recommend the 500-lumen TLR-7 Sub in most cases for most people.
The utility of a laser sight on a defensive handgun is debatable, and the extra lumens certainly do come in handy, particularly in a partially lighted situation or outdoors. However, if compact size and/or pocket carry is your first priority, and you foresee the use of your WML in pitch-black indoor situations, the TLR-6 might be the way to go.
If price is a factor, the TLR-6 is a bit cheaper, with a street price of around $100, and the TLR-7 Sub is available at around $140-150 from online retailers.
Olight PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie
Olight blasted onto the US market a few years ago with some impressive flashlights for tactical use and has built serious inroads with customers due to their almost unbelievable price, size, and performance. The Olight PL-Mini 2 Valkyrie is a popular choice for micro-compact CCW pistols due to its low price, diminutive size, easy mounting method, magnetic charging cable, and best-in-class 600-lumen output. It’s also available in either black or desert tan if the color choice is a concern.
The PL-Mini 2 sells for around $90 at popular online retailers, and though its battery is a rechargeable type, it comes with a super-handy magnetic charging cable that looks like a circular disc connected to a cable. You just get it close to the bottom of the light and it clicks automatically into place. Very slick. The included sliding/adjustable rail adapter means you can move the actual light body forward or backward according to your preference and your gun’s size, which is another very handy feature. The 600-lumen output with a max runtime of 60 minutes is another industry best in this category.
The lever-lock rail mounting system isn’t the most streamlined, but it certainly works. If bang-for-the-buck is what you’re looking for, the Olight tops our list.
Pistol-mounted ultra-compact mini red dot optics for CCW pistols
Red-dot optics are taking over the handgun world today in the same way they took over the tactical rifle world a couple of decades ago. Dots are more intuitive to learn, quicker to align, more accurate at longer range, and obscure less of the target and the area around it. If you want to learn more about the advantages of a red dot optic on a handgun, plus tips on shooting a dot well, please refer to our full article: Handgun red dot basics, pros, cons, and shooting tips.
The industry standard for “micro red dot optics” is the Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) sight, which has proven to be nearly bomb-proof in multiple durability tests, including repeated drops from shoulder height directly onto concrete when mounted to a full-size duty pistol. However, that durability comes at a price, literally and figuratively. Sure, a Trijicon RMR is expensive, with most models’ MSRP at well over $700 and street prices starting at around $450 on sale, but they’re also comparatively porky, tall, and wide, with their “ruggedized” aluminum housings hanging over the sides of even the chunky Glock slide. The models with protruding adjustable brightness buttons on the sides extend that even further. The RMR also weighs around 1.2 ounces with a battery, and depending on your pistol, you might need to add another ounce for a solid mounting plate and longer screws. This may not sound like much, but this extra weight can potentially impact the reliability of your pistol, since it slows slide velocity and changes the timing of the feeding cycle. Some people find that mounting a red dot to the slide turns their favorite, most-reliable carry pistol into a jam-o-matic.
For these reasons, as the RMR and similar small optics began to explode in popularity for use on duty-sized handguns, several manufacturers saw the need for a smaller, lighter “super-micro” red dot, if you will, for use on pocket pistols and micro-compacts. Whether these smaller red dot sights are called “ultra-compact” or “slimline” or “super-mini-micro-itsy-bitsy-teensy-weensy,” these optics are even smaller than the “micro” red dot optics of yesteryear. For use on a super-slim micro-compact CCW pistol, these are some of our top recommendations.
JP Enterprises JPoint Micro-Electronic Reflex Sight
The JPoint is one of the original ultra-compact micro-sized red dot optics and has proven more reliable than many others over the years. It’s lighter than the average at about 0.5 ounces and has no external buttons to catch on stuff or wear out, and even the wiring underneath the housing is encased in a waterproof epoxy, so you can immerse this optic without damage. The JPoint mounting footprint is the same as the Shield RMSc footprint (see below) and is pretty much the industry standard now for ultra-compact micro red dots.
The housing of the optic overhangs the edges of the super-slim slide of the Springfield Hellcat a little, but not as much as a full-size Trijicon RMR or similar, with the benefit of a noticeably larger window than flush-mount-sized optics. Batteries last about a year (you can’t turn the dot off but it automatically adjusts brightness based on ambient light). Recently JP Enterprises dropped their MSRP quite a bit on these excellent optics, so for around $230 street price you can have one of the highest-quality, competition-proven micro red dots around, with either a 4MOA or 8MOA dot.
Shield RMSc and RMSx
The British Shield RMSc or “Reflex Mini Sight Compact” was one of the pioneers in this space, along with JPoint. These sights feature very clear optics, 4MOA or 8MOA dots, a 3-year battery life, full military-grade aluminum bodies, a choice of anodization colors, and now you can choose between glass-coated acrylic or full glass lenses. Like the JPoint, there are no buttons or external switches to fail. The dot brightness automatically adjusts and is usually visible even in dark rooms when you activate a weapon-mounted light (but be sure to test it on your rig before trusting your life to it).
The RMSx is essentially the “widescreen” version, with a blown-out frame that extends the lens out to the sides of the slide a little for what Shield says is an 80% larger viewing window. For newer shooters that have a hard time finding the dot, this can be useful. Adding an optic to a micro-compact pistol does add a bit of bulk, but even the wider RMSx is still so slim on a 1” wide slide that it probably won’t bother you when in a holster. You may be able to tell a little difference in the “printing” or concealability of your rig with the RMSx in place, but depending on your carry holster, method of carry, and body type, it may not make any difference at all. There’s also the (theoretical) possibility of the larger RMSx optic’s lens frame being more exposed to damage in case of a dropped gun, particularly if it lands directly on its side, so weigh that factor when you’re considering your options.
The RMSc weighs just .57 ounces, is less than an inch wide, and less than an inch tall, with a length of 1.7 inches. It’s pretty much the ideal size for use on today’s super-slim 9mm micro-compacts, all of which aim to have a slide width of 1” or less. The Shield RMSc sells for around $349 street price lately, though you may be lucky and find one for less. They are high quality and are used in some British military settings if that helps justify the somewhat higher price.
SIG Romeo Zero (ROMEOZero) and Elite
SIG’s ROMEOZero is an almost ridiculously light and small optic with a polymer housing and even a polymer lens, in the case of the Romeo Zero, weighing in at just 0.4 ounces. SIG says the Romeo Zero is constructed with a “Weapons Grade textured polymer body” and includes the “SpectraCoat HD Polymer lens system.
In our experience, the polymer lens is pretty easy to scratch, so it’s worth paying the $20 upcharge for the Romeo Zero Elite model with a glass lens, along with an auto-shutoff feature to save battery life. (SIG claims a 10-year battery life but at what brightness setting is unclear, and we wouldn’t bet on that 10-year number.) Since you have to remove the optic from the slide to install a battery, the auto-shutoff alone is worth the additional price, but the glass lens is preferable also. There’s also an available steel protective shroud that you can install for a little more durability.
This is one of the thinnest optics top to bottom, and you can direct-mount it to some pistols (without an adapter plate) for a truly low optic profile that you can co-witness with your iron sights if desired (though we don’t recommend slaving your dot to your irons).
Some downsides: The button to put these optics into reticle adjust or brightness adjust mode is very annoying to find and use, and the “tap the housing to adjust brightness” feature is frankly stupid. But if you want one of the lightest red dot optics for a .22 slide, perhaps, the Romeo Zero might be a top consideration. Street prices are around $159 for the Romeo Zero and $179 for the Elite.
Crimson Trace CTS-1550
The CTS-1550 has a polymer housing that’s thick enough to be reasonably rugged, as long as you’re not dropping or throwing your gun around. The CTS-550 is a tad wider than some other “ultra-compact” sights in this category, so if you don’t like the housing of your red dot overhanging your slide at all, this one isn’t for you, unless you have a more traditional carry pistol like a Glock 19 or similar. This is another sight that mounts very low in the slide and can allow for co-witness with the iron sights on some pistols, such as the Ruger Max-9. For an entry-level red dot, at $139 from popular online retailers, with a 3.5MOA dot, this could be a good choice.
Holosun HS407K and 507K X2 slimline
These rugged optics feature 7075 T-6 aluminum frames and coated glass lenses, and full-featured electronics packages such as selectable reticles (in the case of the 507K; the 407K is dot only), manually adjustable brightness, shake-awake, button lockout, and more. The Holosun HS507K X2 micro red dot sight is one of the most popular RMSc-footprint red dot sight for subcompact guns like the Sig P365 and others. It’s thinner than “full size” optics, so it mounts more flush with slimmer slides, but it’s still about the same weight as an RMR, so make sure your pistol runs reliably with it installed. Most do.
The Holosun “K cut” pattern for ultra-compact optics mounting is a modified version of the JPoint/RMSc footprint. While the original JPoint/RMSc footprint includes four raised locating pegs or tabs at each corner of the footprint with two screws in the middle, the K cut eliminates the two rearmost pegs and shaves down the two front pegs significantly. Otherwise, the pattern is the same, so RMSc and JPoint pattern optics will fit on K-cut footprints, but not the other way around without modification to the gun.
One key benefit of this platform is the external battery tray that allows changing of the battery without removing the optic from the slide and (typically) re-zeroing. This saves a lot of hassle and is a very desirable feature. Around $300 at online retailers, and in our view, well worth the price.
Swampfox has been carving out a significant share of the red-dot market over the past few years, earning a reputation for good optics, great prices, and excellent customer service. The Swampfox Sentinel is their offering for this micro-compact platform, and there’s a lot to like. The lightweight body is made of hard-coated 7075 aluminum and the lens is multi-coated glass for excellent clarity and durability. You can choose between manual adjustment with shake-awake or auto-adjust brightness models, as well as green or red dots. There’s even an up-armor add-on available with a steel protector called the Ironsides Shield. For around $200 at popular online retailers, the Sentinel provides a lot of quality and features for not a lot of money.
Holosun EPS Carry
The Holosun EPS Carry is an enclosed emitter optic like the Holosun 509T, but much smaller and it features an RMSc mounting footprint. Users can directly mount this optic on modified RMSc footprint handgun slides (or the Holosun “K cut” pattern) without any special adapter plates.
This optic is built with 7075 T6 aluminum so it’s super rugged. It has all the goodies of the Holosun 507K series, with an external battery tray, external brightness buttons, selectable circle-dot reticle, auto-sleep/shake-awake, available solar failsafe, etc., but the salient point of the enclosed-emitter style optic is it has both front and rear lenses, with the LED emitter enclosed in the waterproof space between. This means there’s no chance of dirt, debris, snow, or water interfering with your LED emitter like in all of the other open-emitter style optics we’ve discussed. If there’s mud, blood, dirt, dust, or Twinkie crumbs on the lenses, you just wipe it off and there’s your dot, just like nothing happened. For a serious-use optic for micro-compact pistols, the EPS Carry should be on your list for consideration. Around $330 at online retailers.
Store your carry weapon and gear in a Liberty safe
So there’s your rundown on the hottest accessories and red dot optics for your micro-compact CCW pistol. Whatever gun and accessories you decide are right for you, be sure to keep them free from theft, unauthorized access, and damage in a US-made Liberty gun safe or handgun vault. Check out our online catalog, or visit a dealer near you to see them in person.