Small vs. Larger Handguns for Concealed Carry

Small vs. Larger Handguns for Concealed Carry

Selecting the right firearm for concealed carry involves weighing the trade-offs between small pistols and larger handguns. Smaller firearms offer discreet concealment and ease of carry, ideal for those prioritizing comfort and concealment.

Larger models, though harder to conceal, deliver advantages in firepower, accuracy, and recoil management, catering to those valuing performance in various scenarios. Understanding these differences is key to choosing a firearm that best meets individual needs and preferences for personal defense.

Should You Use a Small or Large Pistol for Concealed Carry?

Choosing to use a small or large gun for concealed carry will depend on the individual. It comes down to a trade off between comfort and discreetness vs being equipped to handle various threats. The reality is that some days you may need a smaller pistol, and others a larger one.

However, not everyone can afford to purchase multiple firearms to carry. The answer for you might be to find a middle ground. The size of gun you choose to go with will depend on how you view the information below, and how each choice meets your individual needs.

At the end we will give you a third option, that may be a happy medium.

The Appeal of Small Pistols

Small Handgun
Ruger MAX 9 9mm pistol


Small pistols stand out for their superior ability to be concealed, catering to individuals who prioritize stealth and subtlety in their choice of concealed carry.

Their diminutive dimensions make them exceptionally adept at being hidden under a wide range of clothing options, from casual to business attire, thus enabling carriers to blend seamlessly into their surroundings without drawing unwanted attention to the presence of a firearm.

Comfort and Portability

Beyond their concealable nature, small pistols are lauded for their lightweight construction. This key feature significantly diminishes the physical discomfort often associated with carrying a firearm over prolonged periods, making them a preferred choice for daily carry.

The reduced weight ensures that the carrier does not feel weighed down, which can enhance the likelihood of consistent carry, ensuring that one’s means of defense is always within reach.

Quick Accessibility

The compact design of small pistols not only contributes to their concealability, but also enhances their accessibility in urgent situations. In moments where every second counts, the ability to swiftly and discreetly draw one’s firearm can be decisive.

The ergonomic advantage of a smaller frame allows for quicker deployment, offering a potentially lifesaving edge in close-quarters encounters where the immediacy of response is critical.

These qualities collectively underscore the appeal of small pistols for concealed carry, highlighting their balanced approach to practicality, comfort, and readiness. For those navigating the complex landscape of personal defense, small pistols represent a strategic choice that marries the need for discretion with the imperative of accessibility and effectiveness.

Drawbacks of Small Pistols

Limited Capacity

One of the main drawbacks of small pistols is their reduced ammunition capacity. Due to their compact size, these firearms often have smaller magazines that hold fewer rounds. This limitation can be a significant concern in self-defense situations where multiple threats are present or if the first few shots do not neutralize the threat, potentially necessitating a reload under stress.

Increased Recoil

The smaller the firearm, the less mass it has to absorb recoil, leading to increased perceived recoil for the shooter. This can make small pistols more challenging to shoot accurately, especially for those with limited experience.

The increased recoil can also lead to longer recovery times between shots, potentially affecting the effectiveness of follow-up shots in a critical situation.

Handling and Ergonomics

Due to their diminutive size, small pistols may offer a less secure grip, particularly for individuals with larger hands. This can affect overall control and accuracy, as a full and firm grip is crucial for effective shooting.

Additionally, the smaller controls (such as safeties, slide releases, and magazine eject buttons) can be more difficult to manipulate quickly and reliably, which could complicate their use under the pressure of a defensive scenario.

These limitations highlight the importance of weighing the benefits of concealability and comfort against the potential compromises in firepower, control, and shooting performance. Understanding these trade-offs is essential for choosing a concealed carry weapon that aligns with one’s skills, needs, and scenarios they are preparing for.

Advantages of Larger Handguns

Large Handgun
Wilson Combat CQB Elite

Enhanced Accuracy

Larger handguns typically offer enhanced accuracy benefits, thanks to their longer barrels and sight radii. The extended barrel length allows for a longer distance between the front and rear sights, providing a more precise aiming capability. This feature is particularly beneficial for engagements beyond close quarters, where precision can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Greater Capacity

With their ability to accommodate larger magazines, larger handguns provide the advantage of higher ammunition capacity. This increased firepower means that the shooter can engage multiple threats or sustain fire without the immediate need to reload. In high-stress situations where every second matters, having additional rounds readily available can be a critical advantage.

Ease of Control

The larger frame and increased mass of bigger handguns help absorb recoil more effectively, resulting in a more controllable shooting experience. This reduction in perceived recoil makes it easier to maintain accuracy during rapid fire or when executing follow-up shots. Furthermore, the larger grip area allows for a more secure and comfortable hold, enhancing the shooter’s ability to manage the firearm under various conditions.

These advantages underline the reasons why some individuals might prefer larger handguns for concealed carry, despite the challenges associated with concealing a bigger firearm. The trade-offs between size, firepower, and control are central to the decision-making process, emphasizing the need for potential carriers to evaluate their priorities and skills in the context of their personal defense strategy.

Disadvantages of Larger Handguns

Concealment Difficulties

Large handguns, by virtue of their size, pose significant concealment issues. Their extended barrels and larger grips increase the likelihood of printing. This not only compromises the element of surprise in defensive situations but may also attract unwanted attention in public spaces.

Effective concealment of a large handgun often requires more strategic planning in terms of clothing choices and may limit the carrier to specific holster types or carrying positions.

Increased Carry Discomfort

The weight and bulk of larger firearms can lead to discomfort when carried for extended periods, especially when the carrier is on the move. This discomfort can discourage daily carry, potentially leaving the individual without protection at critical moments.

The need for additional support equipment, such as reinforced belts or specialized holsters, adds to the complexity and cost of choosing a large handgun for everyday carry. Furthermore, the imbalance created by a heavy firearm can cause physical strain, impacting posture and leading to back or hip discomfort over time.

Overpenetration Risk

Larger handguns, specifically those chambered in more powerful calibers, carry an inherent risk of overpenetration. This means that a bullet could pass through the intended target and potentially harm bystanders or damage property beyond.

In densely populated environments or situations where background safety cannot be assured, this poses a significant safety and legal risk. Selecting a caliber and ammunition type that balances stopping power with control and safety considerations is crucial to mitigate this risk, emphasizing the importance of responsible firearm selection and use in concealed carry practices.

Choosing The Right Handgun For You

Choosing the right firearm for concealed carry is a nuanced decision that hinges on balancing personal needs, preferences, and the specific contexts in which the firearm will be used.

With an ever-evolving market, manufacturers are recognizing the diverse requirements of concealed carriers and are innovating accordingly.

A notable trend is the emergence of firearms that blend the advantageous features of both small and large handguns, aiming to offer a middle ground that maximizes both concealability and performance.

New Breeds Of Concealed Carry Guns

Sig Sauer P365 XMacro
Sig Sauer P365 XMacro
  •  Optic Ready Slide
  •  (2) 17rd Steel Magazines with High Visibility Followers
  •  Interchangeable Small, Medium, and Large Backstrap Included
  •  XRAY3 Day/Night Sights
  •  Available with Manual Safety

View Current Price
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

One exemplary model that highlights this innovation is the Sig Sauer P365 Macro. This firearm is designed to offer the compactness and ease of concealment found in smaller pistols, while also providing the enhanced capacity and grip comfort typically associated with larger handguns.

With its expanded magazine capacity and improved ergonomics without significantly increasing the overall size, the P365 Macro stands out as a versatile choice for those seeking the best of both worlds. It represents a shift in the industry towards creating more adaptable concealed carry options that do not force buyers to compromise between concealability and firepower.

What To Consider

When deciding on the most suitable concealed carry gun, it’s essential to consider several factors:

  • Personal Comfort and Fit: How the gun feels in your hand, as well as your ability to carry it comfortably for extended periods, are critical.
  • Concealability vs. Capacity: Evaluate your needs regarding the ease of concealment versus the desire for higher ammunition capacity.
  • Shooting Performance: Consider how well you can handle the recoil and shoot accurately with the firearm. Training and practice with your chosen model can significantly influence this aspect.
  • Lifestyle and Clothing: Your daily activities and typical clothing choices may influence the size and type of firearm you can carry without drawing attention.

The introduction of firearms like the Sig Sauer P365 Macro into the market is a testament to the industry’s responsiveness to the concealed carry community’s needs.

By offering models that straddle the line between the compact ease of smaller handguns and the robust performance of larger models, manufacturers are providing a broader array of options to meet the varied demands of concealed carriers.

It’s an exciting time in the concealed carry market, with innovations that continually expand the possibilities for personal defense. When choosing a firearm, it’s advisable to handle and, if possible, test fire a range of models to find the perfect balance for your unique situation.


Read Best Concealed Carry Guns

In the end, the choice between small and large handguns for concealed carry boils down to a personal decision that must account for individual needs, preferences, and circumstances.

Innovations in the firearm industry, such as the Sig Sauer P365 X Macro highlight a growing trend towards models that combine the best features of both worlds—offering both concealability and capacity.

Ultimately, the best concealed carry weapon is one that you are comfortable with, can handle proficiently, and will carry consistently. Regular training and familiarization with your chosen firearm are paramount to ensure effectiveness in self-defense situations. As the market continues to evolve, so to should the approach of those seeking the most suitable concealed carry firearm, always prioritizing safety, legality, and personal defense readiness.

If you would like to improve your concealed carry experience, check out our Guide to Concealed Carry.

Similar Posts