It's the million dollar question....What is the ideal and perfect concealed carry pistol? It's the million dollar question, because we all spend tons of money trying to figure it out for ourselves. We buy, we sell, and we trade to find that perfect pistol that will come along for the ride with us as part of our everyday carry.
For this reason I'm compiling my favorite concealed carry pistols that I've owned, or still own. I have had personal experience with all of these fine guns and have no problems or reservations about recommending any of them to you guys and gals. So let's jump in!
The pocket-sized realm of guns is an extremely popular one...and for good reason. The convenience of being able to slip your concealed carry gun into your pocket or other concealed location (permit required) is so handy on a day to day basis. You're 100% more likely to carry your concealed weapon if it's more comfortable. Which is what makes pocket sized guns the most popular ones out there for concealed carriers.
There are a lot of options in this genre/size of guns. Below are the pocket-sized firearms that I would recommend. Based on reliability (which is the most important thing), size and build-quality.
Things to consider: Pocket guns are harder to shoot with accuracy. The recoil can be a bit intense for some people. Your capacity is limited.
The Ruger LCP is one of my favorite pocket-sized .380 Pistols. It's extremely reliable, very small, comfortable to carry and won't shatter your bank account upon purchasing it. Magazines and accessories are widely available for this little pistol as well.
The Keltec P3AT will not win any awards for "Most Handsome Gun". However it's simple in it's operation and it's incredibly reliable in my experience. This is a no-frills gun that you won't mind banging around in your everyday-carry routine. This firearm is extremely inexpensive for it's class as well. (In fact, a new shooter just purchased this firearm upon my recommendation this week...He's loving it.)
Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380
Smith & Wesson is a company who make firearms that simply look good to me. And i've had wonderful experience with their reliability/performance as well. The BodyGuard 380 is no exception to my history with the brand. It looks good and it feels great in hand. And you wanna talk about something that is comfortable to carry? It doesn't get much better than this weapon.
You will pay more for this pistol over the other options. However, the build quality is superior to others in the class.
Kahr CW380 Tungsten
I'm a big Kahr fan and I feel like they're often a brand that gets overlooked. Their pistols are excellent in every sense. They are extremely reliable, have a good feel and are built to high standards. I recommend the Tungsten version of this pistol because it scores extra cool points in my book for looks. As far as I know it's the same as the rest of the CW series. But it just looks better to me.
Again on this pistol - You'll pay a bit more than the Ruger LCP and Keltec P3AT, but you're getting a more precision built pistol. And it's honestly a lot easier to shoot with accuracy, given it's larger size.
Subcompact pistols are also widely popular in the concealed carry world. This is the genre of guns that people fall into for a number of reasons:
- They're still small and concealable
- They often times pack a few more rounds on board than pocket sized guns
- You don't feel as much recoil because they're larger and heavier
- You gain a bit more accuracy/range over pocket guns
This is honestly about as small as I go these days with my pistols. If i'm not carrying a full size pistol, this size range is my go-to. I personally like knowing that I have a shootable gun at distance (if needed), but it's still small enough that i'm not going to see it as a burden to carry every day.
Smith and Wesson 638 Revolver
I tried keeping this article all in 380acp or 9mm...However, it would be flat out wrong to not include the 638 Revolver or any JFrame for that matter. I love the little 38 Special revolvers by Smith and Wesson. They're time tested. You will not find a more reliable carry gun than this simple 5 Shot revolver. And they're incredibly comfortable to carry as well.
Now the tradeoff. We unfortunately live in a dangerous world these days. So 5 Shots of 38 Special may not be your cup of tea. Sure there are speed strips and speed loaders - But are you quick/comfortable to reload those under stress? This would be my only recommendation against this carry gun.
Glock finally did it over the past year or so. They put their Glock 26 on a diet, slimmed it up and renamed it the Glock 43. The 43 is typical Glock goodness. It's reliable as can be and flat out performs. This is another gun that won't win a beauty contest, or be seen as "most unique in it's class". But it's a simple and easy to use weapon.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
As you can tell, I love the M&P lineup of guns. They just feel great in hand. And they shoot wonderfully. Take my word for it about their performance: I have personally shot this pistol at 50+ yards on silhouette paper targets and consistently hit head shots (free hand) with ease.
Smith & Wesson hit a real home-run with their Shield lineup. If I were personally going out to buy a subcompact polymer pistol right now, this would be the one.
Sig Sauer P938
This is one of my personal carry pistols right now (the "Extreme" model). And I love it. It shoots like a dream, is built like a tank and has been 100% reliable for me. I honestly bought this pistol and put it into my carry rotation because of it's looks (yeah I don't care to admit that)...But also it's feel in hand. It feels like a bigger gun than it is.
And yeah sure, it's definitely more of a "showboat" piece. It's expensive and built to the highest of standards that i've seen on a production gun. But if you've got the extra money to put into a carry gun - I'd recommend it.
I'm a huge fan of the Glock 26. Again, no beauty contests with this little guy - It's all business. It's consistent with Glock's reliability.
Unlike it's slimmed down brother the Glock 43, this dude is a little more on the pudgy side. However, with the extra weight and bulk it is packing 10+1 rounds on board. You can easily buy mag extensions to bump it's capacity up to 13+1 as well. Which is a huge selling point for me. It's essentially a full size pistol in terms of capacity, in a much smaller frame.
FULL SIZE PISTOLS:
Along with the subcompact pistols, this is my most carried size of gun. I dress around my carry gun and I'm not bothered by the extra weight of a full size pistol. I've found the right belt and holster combo - Which is big part of the challenge you'll find when trying to conceal carry a full size pistol.
So, why would a person want to carry around a big hoss of a gun like this? Well, for me - I like knowing that I have a pistol inside my waistband that is packing 15+ rounds. And I love knowing that I can shoot my full size pistol with consistent accuracy out at distance. I pray I never need to do this, unless i'm poking holes in paper or ringing steel targets...But still - It instills confidence that i'm carrying a pistol that I am consistent and comfortable with.
Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Full Size
I'm a broken record about the M&P Lineup...I know, I know. But the M&P9 Full Size is seriously one of the best shooting pistols out there. I shoot this pistol just as well, if not better as any of the other more expensive full size guns on the market. And you can often times find this pistol as a police trade-in. There's absolutely nothing wrong with going that route...You save a lot of money and still get an excellent pistol. (This is currently my EDC Gun of Choice, along with the Sig Sauer P938)
This particular pistol has a lot of aftermarket holsters, magazines, sight options and accessories these days as well. So you can really make it your own.
This is a gun that I rope into the same category as my Smith & Wesson M&P9. It honestly feels a lot like the M&P and shoots very similar as well. I would honestly probably give the edge to VP9 in it's shootability. I think more people would find this gun easier to shoot. However, there's a noticeable price difference in the two. So this would be a factor to consider.
The VP9 is honestly built to slightly tighter tolerances than the M&P's - But is the price difference worth it? I honestly can't say - Which is why I have kept both. Between the 2 you would honestly have to shoot both and decide which is your preference (or just buy both lol).
Glock 19 or 17
You're getting a two for one here. The Glock 19 (or 17) is a wonderful option for concealed carry. As you've already picked up from my talk about Glock's above....They just simply work. If you want a gun that you know you can trust 100% of the time, buy a Glock. That can be said about other guns as well - But a Glock is like buying a Craftsman screwdriver. You know it's gonna work when you need it.
The Glock 19 and 17 are both excellent guns. You obviously have a slightly longer barrel/grip on the 17 - But both can easily be concealed with the right apparel and holster setup. (The aftermarket for Glock is unreal as well...If you want a certain customization for your Glock, it's more than likely out there)
Sig Sauer SP2022
This is a pistol that I don't see enough press over. The Sig Sauer SP2022 is one of my favorite full size pistols out there. If you aren't familiar with it, please do yourself a favor and watch some YouTube videos on it (Nutnfancy did a long review on this gun that's worth a watch).
I honestly like a gun that has some character to it...Which is why I love Sig Sauer's. This is not your typical striker fired/single action style of gun. This is a double to single action pistol that is unlike anything else in it's size range. It's a bit heavier than the rest of the pistols i've mentioned here - But with that extra weight and heft, it makes up for it in shootability. I've never handed this pistol to anyone who couldn't shoot it like a champ. Definitely give this pistol a look the next time you're at your local gun store.
Let's hear from you!
These are obviously some of MY personal favorite pistols that I find suitable for concealed carry. Whether they're large, small or smaller. But what are you carrying? What do you absolutely love and view as the perfect concealed carry gun? We'd love for you to chime into the comments below and talk with us!* Please observe all local, state and federal laws concerning firearms and concealed carry.