Ask a group of gun owners and permit holders what the best conceal and carry gun is and you will likely see a fight break out. Consensus is impossible. You will get passionate answers from those who carry .22 “mouse guns” to those who advocate carrying full size 1911A1′s. Nobody is right or wrong. You have to find what is right for you.
Below are 9 of my favorites. I either own or have owned each of these pistols and spent considerable time shooting each of them. I recommend that you try a few of these and find what is right for you. My guess is one of the guns on this list will meet all your conceal and carry criteria.
If you need help deciding what is most important in a concealed carry weapon, check out our article Choosing a Handgun.
Conceal and Carry Holsters
Glocks seem to be like Mac’s you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Regardless of which camp you fall into Glocks are one of the one of the most popular semi-auto handguns. They are very accurate, light weight and extremely reliable. If you are considering your first conceal and carry gun I would suggest you try one.
They are small and are a particularly good choice of Conceal and Carry Weapons. It is 6.29″ long, weighs just under 1 1/4 pounds and fits very well in your hands. If you find that the grip is a little short they make after market hi-cap magazines with grip extenders for a bit more heft. The Glock 26 will hold 10 rounds in the standard size magazines, and the 27 will hold 9.
The Walther PPS is probably my favorite sub-compact auto. It is built on a polymer frame and very light, thin with a vertical stack magazine (6, 7 or 8 round mags). It is dead-on accurate and the recoil is very manageable. It shoots like a much larger gun. (BTW, I highly recommend getting the 8 round magazines).
This is very similar in size to the Glock 26 or Glock 27. It is 6.3″ long and weighs just under 1 1/4 pounds. The Walther PPS also comes with multiple backstraps to customize the fit of the pistol to your hand.
The Walther PPS comes in both a 9mm and .40 caliber version. And, like the Glock, I prefer the 9mm version. To me, the recoil is more manageable and I find I can relocate the target much faster for repeated firing.
Some have complained that they have had problems with the Walther PPS jamming, but I have never had a problem. It seems that this model is a bit finicky about the quality of ammo. The problem seems to be isolated to inexpensive ammo. I use Federal and have never had a problem.
This pistol was my first introduction to the Kimber brand, and I am very impressed. At just 17 oz this gun is very light and easy to carry. The Kimber Solo is EXTREMELY accurate and while the recoil is a little snappy, it is very managable. The standard magazine holds 6 rounds of 9mm.
You can see that much of the styling is influenced by the classic 1911. The original body is machined from aluminum and the slide is stainless steel. In addition to what is pictured here they also make a stainless version as well. (My preference is the stainless edition).
This is perhaps one of the nicest guns I have ever shot. I highly recommend it.
It is hard NOT to love the Ruger SR9C. While it is a bit bigger than the other small frame weapons listed here, at 6.85″ and just a shade under 24 oz. it is still very light and easily concealed.
Couple this with an extremely manageable recoil, fantastic accuracy, and the ability to find the target quickly for rapid firing makes this one of my all time favorites.
The magazine holds 17 rounds of 9mm, which is one of the highest capacity weapons in my list. It also has a convenient front rail for accessories such as laser sights or tactical lights.
I highly recommend giving the Ruger SR9C a try.
Based on all of the automatics on my list you would think that I have a bias toward the semi-autos, but this really isn’t the case. I very much prefer the feel and reliability of a revolver.
The Ruger LCR is one of my favorites for conceal and carry. It is very light (13.5 oz) and it is extremely accurate at self defense distances. One of the best things about this gun is the trigger pull, it is one of the most comfortable I have ever shot. It has a bit of a snap when you fire it, but the grip is extremely comfortable and makes the recoil quite manageable. It is also one of the most affordable guns on the list (not that price should be one of the main criteria for choosing a conceal and carry weapon).
I would recommend sticking with the regular .38 loads and not the +P’s. I find that they make the gun jump too much to consistently get back on target for repeated firing. (And forget about the .357 magnum version of this gun)
If you like a nice revolver, this is certainly one to check out. (Also, click through and check out the video Ruger put together for this gun. It is very well done and will give you a good appreciation for how nice this gun really is.)
It is hard to have a list of credible CCW weapons and NOT have the Springfield XD on it. It is one of the absolute most popular conceal and carry semi-autos.
It is similar in size to the Glock 26 but it is packed with features including an extra safety mechanism in the grip that helps prevent accidental firing, striker indicators, chambered round indicators and a host of other features.
Despite all these advances the XD is a very simple gun to operate. It comes in a variety of calibers from 9mm, .40 caliber, .357 SIG, .45 GAP and .45 ACP. My preference for concealed carry is the 9mm on the small 3″ sub-compact frame. For home defense it is hard to beat the 4″ model.
For those of you who prefer a bigger caliber for conceal and carry the Springfield 1911 is one of my favorites. The model pictured is .45ACP Mil-Spec Compact. They also make a 1911A1 Compact Operator with a front rail that I find is a bit nicer. However, it’s nearly twice the price of the Mil-Spec model.
I find these compact .45s to be extremely accurate and easy to shoot. I have had no problems with a wide variety of ammo.
The biggest downside to using this gun for CCW is its weight. It is right around 2 pounds and it is a substantial weight you always notice. However it is small enough to conceal well.
If you like a big caliber gun this is one worth considering.
Confession time… based on my fantastic experience with the Kimber Solo I decided to check out the Ultra Carry II which I have been hearing great reports about. I usually have a bias against bigger caliber weapons in smaller size frames, but this has to be one of my favorite pistols of the collection presented here.
The Kimber Ultra Carry II is a dream to shoot. The recoil is extremely manageable, the trigger pull is very nice, and the accuracy can’t be beat. It holds a 7-round magazine, weighs 25 oz. empty and it is 6.8″ long. This puts it on the bigger side of the guns presented here, but this is still an excellent choice for CCW – especially if you like large caliber weapons.
The 642 is one of the most popular personal defense and conceal and carry weapons for a reason — it is light (15 oz.), powerful, accurate, safe, and extremely reliable. These guns are very hard to beat and they are reasonably priced.