Choosing the best concealed carry gun can be difficult. There are so many handguns on the market, and not all of them are good choices for everyone. You will need to know what to look for, and that is where we come in to help.
This guide will teach you what to look for in a concealed carry gun, as well as break down the best concealed carry guns on the market today. Let’s get started!
What to Look for in a Concealed Carry Gun
A firearm suitable for concealed carry isn’t necessarily suitable for other typical uses, like hunting or even general property defense. As a rule, most people want their concealed carry weapons to be small, comfortable, and easy to use.
While you can choose one of the larger pistols on the list, just don’t get one that is so large you get tired of carrying. Your goal should be to carry daily.
Let’s break down what you should look for in a great concealed carry firearm and get you on your way to daily carry.
Naturally, you’ll want to purchase relatively lightweight and small firearms for your concealed carrying purposes. If you try to carry a massive hand cannon like a Desert Eagle in a concealed carry holster, you’ll feel uncomfortable all day and you might not even be able to draw it out of the holster fast enough to defend yourself and/or your family.
In contrast, snub-nosed revolvers and smaller pistols are perfect choices for concealed carrying holsters and for general self-defense. Plus, the smaller your concealed carry pistol is, the smaller holster you can get and the more comfortable you will be.
One thing to keep in mind with smaller guns is that they also usually have more felt recoil. So finding a pistol you are happy with will depend on if you value carry size or felt recoil more. This is a personal preference.
Speaking of caliber, try to find weapons that are chambered for a select number of caliber options as opposed to guns that require massive cartridges.
9 mm is the go-to choice for most concealed carry self-defense experts. It has enough stopping power to be suitable for self-defense, but these cartridges are also relatively low recoil such that even inexperienced users can be accurate with them (at least up close).
But 9 mm isn’t your only cartridge choice. You can also pick up firearms chambered for other types of ammunition, like .22 LR (a common small game or varmint hunting cartridge). We also recommend .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .380 ACP.
All of these cartridges are good enough to defend yourself or, in the case of the Magnum, really do a ton of damage up close. With enough practice, any of these cartridge calibers will be perfect for your concealed carry needs.
One of the exterior things to look for when selecting a concealed carry pistol is a good, textured grip. The grip of your pistol will determine how easily you can draw it out of your holster, particularly in a tense situation when your palms might be sweaty.
Good grips are easy to hold and won’t make you accidentally drop your pistol if you are trying to quickdraw your gun in a self-defense situation. However, the grip should also be well sized for your hands, and comfortable to use.
For this reason, women and smaller men might look into smaller weapons if possible – they’ll be easier to draw and bring to a ready position than larger firearms with thicker grips. My wife prefers the Sig Sauer P365 due to the grip size in her hand.
Optics and Attachments
Optics and attachments can really make your carry gun shine, or make you not want to carry it due to adding extra size and weight. Adding these extras tends to be personal preference.
Red dots on pistols are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. They really can improve your shot if you have trained with them. However, they do have a couple downfalls for concealed carry…size and reliability. If you choose to carry with a red dot, be sure to buy quality!
Flashlights are also great additions to carry guns. You must be able to see what you are shooting after all. However, just like optics, they add size and weight. Decide if this trade off is for you (and if your gun takes them) and go from there.
Reliability and Ease of Use
Lastly, try to prioritize concealed carry guns that are reliable and known for their ease of use. The guns added to our list are from reliable companies that make it easy to use their firearms. If you are choosing a gun not on our list, just be sure to do some research into the gun and its maker.
We also recommend several revolvers below for this very reason, as they are practical, difficult to break, and very easy to use. The trade off with the reliable revolvers on the list is the low capacity.
The easier your concealed carry pistol is to use, the more reliably you’ll be able to fall back on it when necessary. Avoid overly complex or technically difficult pistols that require time and set up to be effective. Simplicity is the name of the game.
The Best Concealed Carry Guns
With all this in mind, let’s break down some of the best concealed carry guns on the market today. You’ll find a brief description of each firearm plus a list of its key specifications so you can make an informed buying decision in the future.
Glock 19 Gen 5
|Barrel Length||4.02 inches|
Compact, economic, and powerful enough to qualify as a service pistol for law enforcement organizations, the Glock 19 is lightweight and even comes with a full-size grip for added security. It doesn’t have any finger grooves, instead opting for a textured grip that improves your accuracy and makes drawing it in a pinch quick and simple.
This is a particularly nice choice if you want your concealed carry pistol to feel like a compact service weapon, offering enough power and performance to protect you and your family time and time again. This popular Glock model also comes in a variety of sizes and with different attachments or customization options depending on the retailer.
Few modern firearms are as prolific as the Glock 19. It had some bad press and negative reviews back in the 90’s, but overcame those to become probably the most carried firearm for both civilians and police forces worldwide. It has earned its reputation despite some criticism and the ‘Tupperware pistol’ moniker.
Even if you hate Glocks, accept that the Glock 19 is the standard on which modern day carry pistols are graded. When we look at size, weight, and capacity in modern handguns, our perception of those numbers is based on the Glock even if we don’t realize it.
Glocks were a revolution and existed without challenge for over a decade, but as more companies enter the striker-fired, polymer pistol market, Glock is going to have some stiff competition. Still, for size, weight, and price there are few guns that can beat a Glock. I have carried the G19 for years and have learned to trust it.
|Barrel Length||3.41 inches|
A popular variant of the Glock 43, the 43X model comes with an additional four rounds but overall has the same features as the standard Glock 43, including a textured and slightly longer grip than average.
It also has a slightly wider frame, but it’s still a very small pistol (only slightly larger than the very popular concealed carry weapon, the Sig P365). All in all, this is a great choice if you want a solid Glock concealed carry pistol with a few extra rounds of ammunition in case you don’t like carrying an extra magazine with you.
|Barrel Length||3.1 inches|
A staple of the concealed carry pistol category, the Sig P365 is arguably the most popular concealed carry pistol overall. Characterized by an angular grip butt and a relatively small capacity, it can also be purchased with an optional 15 round extended magazine.
The P365 is quickly becoming know as the “go to” concealed carry gun. Every time I am at the shop, I see someone buying one. It’s both a great concealed carry pistol for experienced shooters and for new firearm owners alike.
|Barrel Length||3.7 inches|
As the name suggests, the Sig P365XL is an extra-large variant of the above pistol model, featuring a 12 round magazine by default, instead of a 10 round standard magazine. The grip, of course, is taller than the normal P365’s standard magazine, but it is about the same size as the P365 with the 12 round magazine inserted.
More importantly, the trigger is a new, flat, X-series that feels great to use. The beavertail is extended for greater user accuracy and the slide is perfectly designed for the installation of a red dot optic – if you choose to add one.
Sig P320 XCompact
|Barrel Length||3.6 inches|
Sig’s P320 X-Compact is an innovative variation of the standard P320 X-Carry, featuring a shorter magazine and barrel (3.6 inches versus 3.9 inches, respectively). Despite its shorter grip, it still holds 15 rounds of 9 mm ammunition.
Like other X-series pistols from Sig Sauer, the P320 X-Compact’s trigger is flat and feels phenomenal to use, offering consistent reliability without requiring lots of finger force. It’s a great pistol for squeezing off accurate shots in rapid succession.
Sig P229 Legion Compact
|Barrel Length||3.9 inches|
This admittedly heavy offering from Sig Sauer has a lot to like, starting with outstanding ergonomics and ambidextrous safety controls. That means both left and right-handed users alike will be able to use this firearm safely. By default, your purchase comes with three magazines. So it’s a perfect pick for concealed carry users that also like to have spare mags in their pockets.
The P229 Legion Compact is also a quality choice because of its comfortable and durable G10 grip plates, low recoil, and fantastic accuracy at a distance. This is partially because of its 5.7-inch sight radius, which is larger than average. The built-in day or night tritium lamp sights don’t use batteries and will last for thousands of hours or years to come without any input on your part. This firearm is available in Single Action Only, as well as Single Action/Double Action.
|Barrel Length||3 inches|
The Springfield Hellcat has a low, flush magazine that nonetheless fits 11 rounds in the pistol, offering excellent versatility for a concealed carry user. An extended magazine is available from select retailers. It’s also one of the smallest overall 9 mm pistols on the market, making it one of the best competitors to the Sig P365.
The trigger break is crisp and the pistol supports red dot optics if you decide to add them to your firearm later down the road. The Springfield Hellcat is one of the top 10 selling pistols last year, and that didn’t happen by accident.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus
|Barrel Length||3.1 inches|
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus has two different capacity options to pick from, either 10 rounds or 13, plus optional white dot or night sights depending on your preferences. The “Plus” in its name refers to the optional manual thumb safety you can add to your purchased firearm, affording concealed carry users another layer of security to bring them peace of mind.
Aside from this aspect, it’s a solid firearm through and through with a flat face trigger (which facilitates repeatable and still accurate shooting), an enhanced grip texture to ensure you keep your palm on the weapon, and an audible trigger report.
This newest release of a concealed carry gun from Smith & Wesson is sure to be one of the top 10 selling guns this year. The greatness of the Shield line continues on!
Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact
|Barrel Length||4 inches|
Another M&P classic, the M2.0 Compact comes with two different barrel lengths, either 4 inches or 3.6 inches. The longer barrel provides greater accuracy, at the expense of requiring a larger concealed carry holster. But the longer barrel does come with less muzzle flip, which makes it a great choice for less experienced shooters.
Regardless, either model will feel phenomenal in your hand thanks to its excellent ergonomics. Each M2.0 Compact comes with a matte black finish and is made with super durable materials. This is also a relatively affordable concealed carry firearm compared to the competition.
Shadow Systems MR920 Combat
|Barrel Length||4 inches|
While often out of stock due to high demand, Shadow Systems’ MR920 Combat is a stellar pistol built for tactically minded concealed carry users. An evolution of the previous MR918 Combat, this MR920 is a low recoil and easy to control pistol with a specialized recoil control ledge for your supporting hand’s thumb. This reduces muzzle flip, even when firing rapidly over and over.
Other nice features include the three removable back straps, the removable magazine well, and even an included back strap removal tool. As you can see, this is a fairly customizable pistol. The slide and barrel are both precision-machined and built to last, and most major pieces are made of high-quality stainless steel to facilitate long-term consistency and performance.
Based out of Plano, Texas…Shadow Systems is a newer firearms company quickly gaining massive popularity. The popular Warrior Poet Society’s signature gun is a custom MR920.
Shadow Systems CR920
|Barrel Length||3.41 inches|
The CR920 is Shadow Systems first entry into the micro compact concealed carry gun market. They are well known for their larger models such as the MR920, XR920, and DR920.
What makes Shadow Systems a welcome sight is that they include many features that are not always standard, and they offer them at a great value.
To learn more about this gun specifically, be sure to check out our Shadow Systems CR920 review.
|Barrel Length||5 inches|
A semi-auto streamlined pistol, the M9A3 is a single or double-action model you can customize according to your unique preferences or budget constraints. Each pistol is made in Italy with expert craftsmanship, which ensures long-term reliability and durability. This low recoil pistol is extremely easy to use, even for newcomers to concealed carry.
To facilitate low recoil, the slide is designed with a heavy profile. Plus, the grips feature rubber wraparound panels, which also make the pistol ergonomic and comfortable to use for hours on end. The dovetailed front and rear sights are replaceable depending on your customization desires. Of course, this is also a great Beretta pistol overall, so it’s a versatile firearm for home defense and target shooting competitions alike.
Beretta 92 FS
|Barrel Length||4.9 inches|
The Beretta 92 FS is another great Beretta for concealed carry purposes. It’s a military-style weapon chambered for 9 mm ammunition and designed for match-grade accuracy right out of the box. As a result, professional shooters, military personnel, and off-duty police officers will get a lot of mileage out of this pistol purely because of its high-performance standards.
They can be purchased in either double or single action varieties. But regardless, it comes with a short-recoil delayed locking block system. This results in a faster than average cartridge cycling time, even if you use the pistol to fire thousands of rounds over its lifespan.
It also comes with a number of tactical features, like a reversible magazine and ambidextrous safety decocker (so lefties and righties can use this pistol equally well).
Springfield XD (M)
|Barrel Length||3.8 inches|
A modern evolution of the Springfield XD, the XD-M is a hyper-accurate pistol suitable for both target shooting and concealed carry or self-defense needs. It’s available in several frame sizes and barrel lengths, plus a variety of chambering choices. No matter what, your Springfield XD-M will come with interchangeable back-straps to facilitate excellent customization.
The fully cocked striker trigger is crisp and smooth, and the magazine fits flush against the grip. This makes it a great pistol for concealed carry needs. All magazines are double-column and most major parts are made of durable stainless steel to afford long-lasting performance.
Ruger LCP Max
|Barrel Length||2.8 inches|
Ruger’s LCP Max is a stellar firearm chambered in .380 Auto with a compact and lightweight frame. It’s almost pocket-sized but comes with a built-in optic using a tritium lamp for lasting performance. It’s under 1 inch wide and under 11 ounces in weight, so it can fit in the pocket holster that comes with your purchase.
Also nice is the ergonomic grip designed with the barrel’s surface texture. Shooters will also appreciate the secure action trigger, which facilitates a short and smooth pull with a clean break and a positive, tactile reset.
Ruger LCP Max-9
|Barrel Length||3.2 inches|
A variant of the above described LCP Max, the Max-9 features many of the same advantages described above, including a striker-fired trigger with a short and smooth trigger pull. But this gun is chambered for 9 mm ammunition.
The grip is slightly longer and thicker, so it may be a better choice for those with larger hands or folks who want more stopping power with their self-defense pistol. This pistol is a great competitor to the popular P365 and Hellcat.
|Barrel Length||1.87 inches|
A concealed carry revolver with a polymer frame and a snub-nosed design, the Ruger LCR is a fantastic choice for those looking for a reliable but simple firearm for self-defense purposes. It can work with either a pocket or belt holster thanks to its small size and light weight.
Most important, its 38+P caliber means it carries enough stopping power to adequately defend you and your family at near point-blank ranges. This pistol comes with a mostly black aesthetic, helping it stay stealthy and concealed even if someone gets close.
FN 509 Midsized
|Barrel Length||4 inches|
This lesser-known concealed carry pistol is nonetheless a phenomenal choice for self-defense and even general target shooting purposes. Featuring a slightly shorter grip compared to the standard FN 509 model, this pistol is suitable for service duty work and has a larger than average magazine of up to 15 9 mm cartridges.
This pistol is durable, built to last, and can even be relied upon in inclement weather. Check it out if you want a high quality, service-duty-level pistol for your self-defense needs.
FN 509 Compact
|Barrel Length||3.7 inches|
The FN 509 Compact is an excellent weapon for current or former law enforcement or military personnel thanks to its sturdy performance, double-action operation, and ambidextrous controls. It features a low-profile but high visibility front dot sight, plus a compact shape that makes it perfect for combining with standard concealed carry holsters.
You can pick this pistol up with either 12 or 15 round capacity magazines. The sights are designed to be snag-free and it’s an altogether perfect choice for waist-level concealed carry holsters.
CZ P-10 C
|Barrel Length||4 inches|
CZ’s P-10 C is a 9 mm handgun with some of the best ergonomics in the industry, as well as a striker-fired trigger. The deep beavertail and mild palm swell combine to create a comfortable pistol that’s easy enough for anyone to use. The interchangeable grips are also great to ensure a perfect fit with your unique palm size.
The pistol comes with built-in three-dot sights for fast target acquisition. Meanwhile, the specially designed trigger reduces trigger creep and feels crisp and smooth with every pull. The frame is finished with a nitrite material to ensure corrosive resistance.
|Barrel Length||3.39 inches|
A new variant from HK’s popular VP series, the VP9SK is an ergonomic and comfortable pistol with a top-tier trigger and a relatively short magazine. Despite its small size, it can hold 10 rounds of ammunition and extendable magazines for 13 and 15 rounds. These magazines are available for purchase from select retailers.
This subcompact handgun is also somewhat modifiable, featuring swappable back straps and interchangeable lateral grip panels. As a bonus, this pistol features ambidextrous controls, so lefties shouldn’t feel unbalanced wielding this firearm in self-defense.
|Barrel Length||3.06 inches|
Taurus’ GX4 is a so-called “micro-compact” 9 mm pistol. Indeed, it is quite small but still manages to fit 11 rounds into its compact magazine. With a black finish and established aesthetic, this is truly a sidearm worthy of some of the smallest, tightest concealed carry holsters on the market.
This pistol is streamlined yet rugged and designed crafted for ultimate reliability in the field. Its stainless steel frame and barrel will ensure long-term durability and performance. It’s also a relatively lightweight pistol at just 18.5 ounces. It features a fixed steel white dot front sight and a serrated drift adjustable rear sight.
|Barrel Length||4 inches|
A sidearm with a striker-fired trigger, the PPQ is a crisp, clean firearm built to last and capable of providing phenomenal performance for years to come. Each trigger pull feels exactly the same, and the gun overall is quite ergonomic thanks to its textured grip with slightly elevated finger indentations.
This is also a suitable pistol for concealed carry purposes thanks to its small size, though it is a little heavy at 24 ounces. Still, it’s an ultimately excellent concealed carry gun with the size and stopping power needed to take down an attacker in one or two shots provided you are accurate.
|Barrel Length||3.4 inches|
Mossberg’s MC1sc was designed for concealed carry from the ground up, featuring a dehorned and slim profile that ensures snag-free drawing every time. It only weighs 22 ounces and has a polymer construction. Its palm swell is comfortable and ergonomic and its specialized grip panels have aggressive texturing to prevent you from dropping the pistol.
The flat profile trigger improves the pull, and it is bolstered by a safe takedown system that doesn’t require you to pull the trigger during disassembly for regular cleaning. The snag-free dovetail white three-dot sights will help you acquire your target quickly in a tense situation.
Springfield Ronin Operator
|Barrel Length||4.25 inches|
The Springfield Ronin Operator is a popular if pricey 1911 pistol. It’s an Officer model rather than a Commander, though it has a barrel more suited for Commander-style pistols as it measures in at 4.25 inches. It’s a heavy pistol overall, despite its aluminum alloy frame, but it’s still quite a good concealed carry choice thanks to its durability and reliability.
For example, it has a high-quality barrel brushing system and a steel slide with specialized checkering on the mainspring housing. This facilitates reliable performance even after lots of discharges.
The large safety is easy to use but won’t create friction with your holster. It’s also quite a beautiful gun through and through, featuring wood panels on the grip. The fiber-optic front sights will do a lot for boosting your accuracy.
Colt Lightweight Commander
|Barrel Length||4.25 inches|
Here’s another suitable 1911 pistol for concealed carry purposes. This is a Commander frame 1911 with an aluminum frame design. The Colt Commander features an undercut trigger guard and brilliant Novak sights, improving accuracy across the board.
It also comes with a dual recoil spring system, which should improve your accuracy up close and at a distance, especially if you need to squeeze off multiple rounds quickly. It’s a crisp feeling firearm through and through, though it does feature a drop safety system that may take some getting used to if you haven’t used a firearm with one before.
Fusion Firearms Riptide-C
|Barrel Length||4.25 inches|
We’ve got one more 1911 pistol to consider for your concealed carry purposes: the Fusion Firearms Riptide-C. while still pretty pricey relative to other options on this list, this model is an impressive choice overall, featuring mainspring and front strap checkering, plus a lowered and relieved ejection port. Other improvements from earlier 1911 models include a 100% steel barrel and a fastback grip cut, which makes the pistol ergonomic overall.
More importantly, Fusion offers to customize your Riptide-C if you are willing to spend a little extra cash. We’d heavily recommend doing so if you want a custom concealed carry self-defense pistol.
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace
|Barrel Length||1.875 inches|
The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace is a mouthful of the name, but it’s well worth it: it’s a little revolver chambered in .38 special + P, meaning you can do plenty of damage up close despite its lightweight and small size.
This is a hammerless revolver, as well, so you don’t need to worry about cocking anything before drawing your pistol and pulling the trigger. Plus, it comes with a specialized crimson laser you can use to ensure you hit your target, even in a chaotic environment.
The laser comes built into the pistol so there’s no need to install anything on your end. The one-piece aluminum frame keeps it simplistic and consistent, even after years of steady use.
Colt King Cobra Carry
|Barrel Length||2 inches|
Last but not least is the Colt King Cobra Carry: a solid revolver chambered in .357 Magnum with a six-shot capacity. There’s plenty of stopping power here to take on even a large attacker. We also really like the bobbed hammer and the 2-inch barrel, making it easy to conceal and draw from a tight holster without worrying about the hammer or other parts catching on the material.
This is a double-action-only pistol, which is safer even if it doesn’t let you squeeze off shots as quickly. It also comes with a stainless steel barrel and frame, plus a brushed finish for more durability and an excellent aesthetic.
As a side note, you can choose to pick one of these revolvers up chambered for .38 special ammunition instead.
Ultimately, any of the above guns will be a great choice for general self-defense purposes. Find one in your budget, and is in stock, and enjoy!
After your firearms purchase, you have at least 3 or 4 more things you must get. Training, a quality holster, and a good gun belt are a must! We also recommend all gun owners become a member of USCCA as well!