23 of the Best Concealed Carry Guns In 2021 (Updated!)

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Updated 2/11/2021

Looking to go armed, but are stuck in the weeds as to what to arm yourself with? Here are 23 excellent concealed carry guns to cover your six.

Self-defense has moved to the forefront of Americans’ minds, and scores have clamored after concealed carry guns like no other time in recent history. That raises a question. What exactly is the best concealed carry gun? We have some suggestions. But before we move on to our picks for the best covert heaters, we should cover a few key points about going armed and buying a gun for this particular niche. But if the fundamentals are old hat to you, please feel free to skip ahead to our picks.

Concealed Carry Lifestyle

Above all, becoming an armed citizen is a lifestyle choice. By this we mean, your life will conform around your concealed carry gun. Don’t let this scare you off. It’s less daunting than it seems, yet it merits comment.

The greatest demand going armed makes is mastery of your firearm. Just like buying a guitar doesn’t make a musician, purchasing a concealed carry gun doesn’t make you an expert in self-defense nor the use of lethal force. You must educate yourself, practice and continue doing so. Essentially, it’s a lifetime undertaking. Don’t throw up your hands, because it’s the hardest work you’ll ever love with a side benefit of a lot of range time.

Proof of regular firearms training will favor you heavily in the event of a legal battle after a gunfight.
Proof of regular firearms training will favor you heavily in the event of a legal battle after a gunfight.

After purchasing a concealed carry gun, plan on finding a reputable firearms instructor and enrolling in his or her classes. Generally, they’ll offer different levels of training, from basic pistol courses many states require to procure a concealed carry permit, to instruction on advanced concepts such as dynamic shooting, low-light engagements and mindset. Legal education is a must as well. America is a patchwork of self-defense laws, so be certain you find something tailored to where you live and travel so you have a well-formed idea of when, where and how you can justifiably use lethal force.

Once you have basic instruction under your belt, plan on refresher courses in the future. In the meantime, practice. We won’t prescribe a particular regimen here, because it will differ for each armed citizen. Your individual training should result in knowing your concealed carry gun inside and out, from muzzle to butt and all the quirks in between. Range time is the most obvious arena for learning and excelling with your pistol or revolver. But a solid routine of dry-fire drills at home works miracles on a learning curve and doesn’t cost a thing.

Read Also: Dry Fire Traing Guide

The other lifestyle aspect that comes with a concealed carry gun is clothing. Yup, that wardrobe is going to need updating … most likely. Unless you’re still mired in the baggy days of the grunge movement, it’s a safe bet much of your wardrobe won’t keep your gun concealed. Or, if it does, you’ll feel plum uncomfortable. Again, we won’t touch on the fine points here—there are loads of them. Just expect to make a clothing investment along with your concealed carry gun.

Holsters

Hand-in-hand with clothing is a holster. You didn’t think you were going to tuck that baby in your waistband naked, did you? This is a vast topic, given the numerous types of concealed carry holsters on the market today:

  • IWB
  • OWB
  • Shoulder
  • Ankle
  • Bell Band
  • Pocket
  • Various Off The Body

Each has pros and cons and fit certain armed citizens, but not all of them. However, essentially all of them do the same job: retain the gun, cover the trigger (among the most important), protect you and the gun, enhance concealability, make carrying comfortable, and facilitate a smooth draw and re-holster. That’s a mouthful.

Stick with Kydex for your AIWB holster. Leather will become soft over time ... which is a bad trait for an appendix rig.
Kydex is almost always a solid choice for holster material.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the magic bullet so that you hit the perfect holster your first time out. Nobody does. All we can say is, expect plenty of trial and error—and a closet shelf of rejects—before you find the ideal hanger for your concealed carry gun.

Read Also: Concealed Carry Holster Guide

Concealed Carry Gun Fit

No two concealed carry guns are alike nor are two armed citizens. In turn, the pistol that works for you might be unwieldy to your friend. What this comes down to is fit, and there are two basic factors pertaining to a concealed carry gun.

  • How the gun fits your hand
  • How the gun fits your style of carry

Most new shooters tend to think all guns are alike. They pick a trustworthy name and assume all is right with the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A gun needs to fit your hand properly, facilitating a fundamental high grip, otherwise, there can be control issues. Even the relatively mild-mannered 9mm is jumpy if oversized compared to a particular shooter. Gunmakers have engineered some wiggle room into their guns; most new polymer-framed pistols come with replaceable backstraps and palm swells of different sizes allowing for a level of customization. Take the time to find the make/model that fits you best. A good tactic is to go to a range that has a good selection of guns for rent, and give the ones you’re interested in a test drive. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

This shooter controls the recoil in the Glock G35 with good fundamentals of Stance, Position and Grip.
This shooter controls the recoil in the Glock G35 with good fundamentals of Stance, Position and Grip.

As to carry fit, the whole idea behind a concealed carry gun is to keep it concealed. Depending on who you are, how you carry and your particular lifestyle, not every gun will fit the bill. While a 250-pound trucker might easily keep a Government-size 1911 under wraps no problem, a 98-pound business executive might find it more challenging. Think hard about your usual attire (yes, you’ll update some of it), daily routine and potential carry methods as you go through the buying process. These will provide guide marks steering you to the ideal concealed carry gun.

The Best Caliber?

Hoo boy … here’s a can of worms. Ask 100 people the best caliber for a concealed carry gun is and you’ll get 100 answers—probably including 8.5 Mars, .455 Webley and some other oddballs. The topic is so divisive friendships have been lost and gun forums burned to the ground arguing what’s top dog. Presently, the most popular concealed carry calibers are:

  • .380 ACP
  • .38 Special
  • 9mm
  • .40 S&W
  • .45 ACP
  • 10mm
  • .357 Magnum

So, which one is right? The dirty secret is, all of them.

Given ammunition advancements over the past 20 years, particularly bullet design, every one of the cartridges can save your life. The rub is, some of the smaller and lower velocity options—.380 ACP and .38 Special, we’re looking at you—require more homework to find acceptable self-defense loads. The big boys—10mm and .357 Magnum—require more skill to wield effectively. Don’t let either factor turn you off any of those if the particular concealed carry gun that fits you is chambered thusly. Just expect to spend more time making them work.

The Black Hills 125-grain Subsonic HoneyBadger in 9mm has flutes cut to increase effectiveness at low speed. The old-school 23-grain FMJ is ready to go at subsonic velocities—just as it was over a century ago.
9mm, .45 ACP or another choice?

That leaves us with 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. These are the most popular self-defense calibers on the market. Again, we can’t choose for you, only point out each that is an effective option, capable of neutralizing a threat and are widely available. You need to find what you shoot best and that comes in a make/model that fits your lifestyle. A range that rents guns is invaluable for puzzling this out. Take each for a spin before you buy!

What about a .22 LR and other small fries? While inadvisable for most armed citizens, if that’s all you can get or effectively shoot, it’s better than nothing.

2021 Picks for Concealed Carry Guns

23 of the best concealed carry guns to depend on:

Springfield Hellcat

Double Stack 9mm Springfield Hellcat

As pointed out below, the Sig P365 is a game-changer. The Springfield Hellcat is proof. Quicky embracing the micro-compact concept, the Illinois concern cooked up a direct competitor to the popular Sig. And in many respects produced a concealed carry gun option that runs neck and neck with the original.

No larger than a compact .380 ACP, the striker-fired is among the smallest 9mm options available today. By the tape, it measures in at 1-inch in width, 6-inches in length and weighs in at 18-ounce. Pretty dang concealable and easy to carry by anyone’s standards. At the same tick, the Hellcat offers everything you’d expect out of a much larger concealed carry pistol—especially capacity. Out of the box, the 3-inch barreled pistol boasts more firepower than nearly anything in its class, shipping with an 11-round magazine. Invest in a 13-round extended-capacity magazine, well folks, you’ll holster an iron flirting with a full-sized pistol’s capacity.

Outfitted with adaptive grip texturing, the Hellcat offers a positive grip when you need it, yet the ability to reposition your hand when you need to. A flat-faced trigger combined with a featherweight break and short reset ups the pistol’s accuracy resume, as well as allows it to run when needed. Breaking from the heard, Springfield opted for a slightly new sighting system, jettisoning the traditional three-dot sights for a U-notch. Similar in concept, the execution differs in that shooters place the fiber-optic front pipe in the white outlined U-notch. A fast and intuitive system, few will miss the old way of building a sight picture.

Perhaps best of all, the Hellcat comes in as one of the most affordable options in its class. In turn, it gives little excuse for not going small for every-day carry. MSRP: $569

S&W M&P Shield EZ in 9mm

M&P9 Shield EZ
Yes, He-Man types will scoff at the idea of a slide that takes less than a metric ton of force to rack, but the concept is rock solid. Why muscle those with weaker hand strength—due to age, infirmity or other factors—into a less desirable concealed carry gun? Smith & Wesson sees it this way and has expanded its easy-to-manipulate line of pistols with the M&P 9 Shield EZ M2.0.

A hammer-fired pistol, the 9mm requires much lighter springs than the striker-fired options that presently dominate the market. In turn, this means less resistance to work the slide, thus opening up polymer pistols to a much greater swath of the shooting world. Smith & Wesson didn’t stop at springs with the Shield EZ, incorporating several other features to enhance operation of the pistol, such as aggressive cocking serrations fore and aft and a flared section at the rear of the slide for a better grip. It’s also right-sized for carry, with a 3.575-inch barrel and weighs in at a manageable 23 ounces unloaded.

The only knock, at least for some, the 9 Shield EZ is a single stack with 8+1 capacity. Still, it should prove more than enough for most defensive situations. MSRP: $479

Walther CCP .380 ACP

Concealed Carry Handgun Walther CCP M2

If the easy-to-manipulate concept appeals to you, but Smith & Wesson isn’t your thing, don’t worry there are other options. Walther, for one, has dedicated itself to the idea of a concealed carry dgun accessible to the masses. The CCP M2 is the result.

A veritable engineering wonder, the .380 ACP utilizes what Walther calls Softcoil gas-delayed blowback technology. Essentially, it’s a gas-piston system that aids in the cycling of the gun and requires a much lighter return spring—thus a much more friendly slide in which to work.

Following the same lines as the original 9mm version of the pistol, the 8+1 capacity gun has a wealth of convenience engineered into it. Chief among these is toolless disassembly. And the 3.54-inch barreled single stack is sized perfectly for comfortable carry, at 20 ounces in weight and 1.18-inches in width. MSRP: $469

Mossberg MC2c

Concealed Carry gun Mossberg MC2c

Convenience and capacity—it seems like a never-ending tug-of-war for concealed carry guns. Go for one and you typically drastically affect the other. Aiming to address just this, Mossberg might have hit the sweet spot with a welcome advancement of its MC line of pistols.

Minted the MC2c, the double-stack pistol vastly improves on the original MC1sc’s capacity, while keeping proportions nearly the same. Holding 13+1 rounds with its flush-fit magazine (15+1 extended mag), the pistol doubles the firepower of the single-stack 9mm. At the same tick, its barrel-length and height are only fractions of an inch greater than its older brother. Quite a feat, one Mossberg pulled off by turning to steel magazines for more structural support.

As tidy as the original, the MC2c also boasts the same top features, such as flat-faced trigger, oversized trigger guard and simple takedown. MSRP: $490

Stoeger STR-9 Compact

Stoeger STR-9 Compact

Let’s be honest here, there’s not a lot original with the STR-9. Yeah, it has a fairly unique slide with aggressive cocking serrations, but get under the hood and it’s essentially a Glock clone. Nearly a dead ringer at that. Though, it’s one that comes in at a fraction of the price and offers nearly identical performance.

For this, we should all rejoice Stoeger has extended the line of 9mm striker-fired pistols with the STR-9 Compact. Right-sized for concealed carry, the double-stack pistol might be among the best values on the market today. Interchangeable backstraps, snappy trigger, great reset, it has everything you’d want out of a serious defensive piece.

Of course, it tends to the larger side of concealed carry guns weighing in at 24 ounces. But with 10+1 rounds of 9mm on tap (13+1 extended mag), the double-stack is well worth the extra burden. MSRP: $329

Ruger LCRx 3-Inch

Ruger LCRx 3 357 Mag

Ruger introduced the LCRx 3-inch to its line-up a year ago, but the revolver more than deserves its place on this concealed carry handgun list. All in all, it might be one of the top everyday carry wheelguns out there.

What gives the gun its chops is its 3-inch barrel. Just off the performance of a 6-inch barreled .357, the LCRx packs much more of a wallop than similarly chambered snubbies. In short, it’s got the goods to get the job done. At the same tick, it’s still a compact revolver and plenty easy to conceal even in the lightest garb. Maybe it won’t ride in the small of the back or on the ankle like a snub nose, outside of that the 5-round revolver cuts a slimmer line than most anything else. The only areas of worry are the adjustable target rear sight and hammer. However, Ruger has made these minimal and overall these features should cause little concern of snagging on a draw. MSRP: $669

FN 509 Midsize

FN 509

Cooked up for the U.S. Military’s Modular Handgun competition, the 509 has an unimpeachable resume. While the Compact model certainly comes in a smaller package, the Midsize offers a greater accuracy potential thanks to a few key differences. Boasting a 4-inch barrel, the 9mm has a greater sight radius making it easier to keep a sight picture steady. Furthermore, a longer grip, thus divers the shooter more control over the gun.

As far as its ability as a concealed carry gun? Don’t let the 509’s dimensions fool you; it might be a smidgen larger, but conducive to staying under wraps. At 26.5 ounces unloaded, it also won’t weigh you down. Exceptional 15+1 capacity and intuitive controls, the shooters get duty-pistol capacity in a very concealable package. MSRP: $799

Heckler & Koch VP9SK

HK VP9

Nope, no hammer here. Kind of crazy with a Hecker & Koch pistol, but the gunmaker’s modern striker-fired VP9 more than proves it knows more than one tune. As to the VP9SK, it’s the shrunk-down version, offering all the overengineering of the original, in a size perfect for tucking along your waistline. You seldom hear a disparaging word from someone who’s been behind the trigger.

Like most of HK’s wares, the ergonomics are well thought out on the 9mm, with exchangeable backstraps conforming to nearly any hand size. A large trigger guard gives fast access to the trigger, even with gloved hands, and wings at the back of the slide make manipulation a snap. And the trigger itself—{{chief kiss}}—is unassailable, one of the best you’ll find out of the box. MSRP: $529

Wilson EDX X9S

Wilson

Crème de la crème … when it comes to concealed carry guns, you’ve got it right here. Admittedly, a steep price tag will scare many folks off. But if you’re unwilling to compromise on safety the Wilson Combat all-metal masterpiece proves a worthwhile investment.

Essentially a shrunk-down 1911-Hi Power hybrid, the X9S has built a reputation for its reliability—pull the trigger, expect it to go bang! The 9mm does have more heft than many concealed carry options, however, this is a benefit when running the gun fast. It soaks up recoil while maintaining accuracy. As to capacity, it comes with a 10-round magazine, but given it’s compatible with Sig P226/228 mags you can upgrade. MSRP: $2,695

Glock 48

G43X G48 1

Now, there’s no denying both members of Glock’s slimline series—the Glock 43X and 48—are top-notch concealed carry guns. Yet there’s something to be said about going for the slightly larger model. They both have the same height and only 2-ounces separate them in weight, but the G48 has a longer barrel, which when it comes to steady sight—thus accuracy—makes a huge difference. This especially goes for new shooters.

The 10+1, single-stack 9mm is among the most comfortable pistols to carry, thanks to its very svelte width. This also generally makes it easy for most people to get a handle on the gun, thus control it better. Furthermore, like all Glocks, it’s reliable and accurate, to the point of being mundane. Yeah, there’s the grip rake—a bone of contention for some. But overall, there’s a reason why so many in law enforcement officials, military personnel and armed citizen trust their lives to the Austrian pistol. MSRP: $580

Heckler & Koch USP Compact .45

HK USP

Compact .45 ACP pistols aren’t the easiest to pull off, but H&K does it eloquently with the USP. The HK USP Compact is a small frame pistol capable of firing the most powerful cartridges in 9 mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP. Based on the full-size USP models, these handy pistols combine compact size with optimum effective shooting performance.

Despite being a hair taller than some concealed carry guns, the UPS still fits this bill. A lightweight polymer frame qualifies it for every-day carry, as does its reliability. Capacity is a little underwhelming at 10+1, but that’s to be expected with a compact .45. Opted for H&K’s LEM (Law Enforcement Modified) Trigger if you go the USP. A modified DA/SA system, it offers an exceptionally light and clean break after the first shot. MSRP: $1,000

Sig Sauer P365

Sig-P365

The pistol that changed the face of concealed carry? It’s not too much of a stretch. The Sig P365 has proven among the most monumental handguns to hit the market in a spell, serving up what many consider the perfect on-person self-defense package. That a tall boast, but one the demure 9mm more than fulfills.

Above all, what makes the P365 such a spectacular heater is size. The 3.1-inch barreled pistol is a mere 1-inch in width and tips the scales at a scant 17 ounces or so, creating one of the most concealable and easy-to-carry pistols out there. Sure enough, there are smaller handguns, but in nearly every case they’re a compromise in power or capacity. Not so with the P365. Shipping with two 10-round magazines, the mighty mite has a payload identical to many compact models that come in nearly twice its size. Not enough on tap? Simply solved, given there are 12- and 13-round extended magazines available to improve your firepower.

Shooting-wise, the micro-compact shocks for a pistol its size. An abbreviated sight radius provides a challenge for those unfamiliar with the touchiness of small guns, yet Sig arms shooters with the tools to keep it steady. In addition to aggressive grip texturing, the striker-fired’s exceptionally light trigger ups the gun’s accuracy potential. To boot, the 9mm is also quite easy to manipulate—an often overlooked asset. All in all, Sig cooked up a gun that is a true game-changer. MSRP: $599

Bond BullPup 9

Concealed Carry Handgun Bond

You want niche? Here’s niche. Texas-based Bond Arms is long known for its Derringer-style and other micro pistols, taking pride in their commitment to total USA-made production of small, powerful personal protection weapons. Officially introduced in late 2018, the Bond BullPup9 looks to hit its stride.

Chambered (obviously) in 9mm, the BullPup9 is an eye-catcher with its ultra-short barrel and muzzle that sits flush with the front of the trigger guard and Bond’s signature rosewood grips adding a bit of style to the overall look. At just over 5 inches total length, the 3.35-inch barrel posed a unique challenge to the designers: how to feed the ammunition when the chamber sat directly above the magazine.

In most semi-autos, of course, the ammunition is pushed forward into the chamber as the slide cycles. Not so with the BullPup9: Instead, due to its unique design, rounds are pulled from the magazine from behind, lifted even with the chamber and then shoved into the barrel.

While most ammunition will work with the BullPup9, Bond Arms acknowledges that uncrimped ammo, such as rounds made by Blazer, risk being pulled apart in the magazine, as the pull force in the chambering mechanism can yank the casing and bullet apart, spilling gun powder into the magazine and causing a malfunction. So far in testing, Bond has found no other ammunition that causes this problem consistently. If you’re a Blazer ammo fan, this isn’t the gun for you. For everyone else, you’ll be just fine.

The 7+1 capacity, double-action-only BullPup9 comes with two magazines and is made in very limited production – only 150 per month. MSRP: $1,099

Walther PPK

Concealed Carry Handgun Walther

You already thought it, but I’ll say it: Bond, James Bond. Yes, it’s that gun — the legend of the silver screen. Now, before you go off all half-cocked (look that one up for an interesting history of a cliché), we know this isn’t a brand new gun. In fact, it’s a rather old design, first introduced in 1930. But it has been redone for 2019 while hanging on to the heritage that made it famous.

While the gun has a bit of a checkered past (Hitler offed himself in his underground bunker with a .32 caliber version), it’s most recognizable for its stainless-steel frame flashing in the limelight in the hands of one 007. The reborn version, absent from Walther’s arsenal since 1992, is chambered in .380 ACP to hold a bit more ammo than the 9mm version. With a gun this small, that extra round can make a difference. Plus, today’s .380 cartridges are more powerful than in years gone by, so you’re not really sacrificing much with the slightly smaller round.

All the controls are right-handed, as is tradition in older models, both original and redone. The magazine is a scant 6+1. However, for one extra round, pick up the sport (PPK/S) version that features a slightly longer grip with a 7+1 magazine and single color black finish.

Production of this venerable weapon has moved from Germany to Walther’s US headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas, making this a truly American-made gem. MSRP: $749

Remington RM380 Executive Pistol

Concealed Carry Handgun Rem

The .380 has a special place in the hearts of pocket carriers, with its slightly smaller diameter, often allowing one more round in the magazine than its 9mm cousin. And with today’s better bullets, there isn’t a big power difference anymore between the rounds. Remington has taken advantage of the love with their new RM380 Executive Pistol. It’s still a pocket pistol, so it only holds 6+1, but the convenient size fits easily into dress pants or khaki pockets — with a holster, of course, for safety.

Similar in size and shape to the popular Smith & Wesson .380 Bodyguard, the RM380 takes pocket pistol styling up a notch with an all-aluminum frame, stainless slide and wood-tone accents on the grip, giving it a polished look often lacking in lower-priced firearms. While the abundance of metal makes this gun a tad heavier than most of its competition, it makes up for the excess weight with its runway model looks.

The biggest drawback to the RM380 is a common problem with pocket pistols: trigger weight. At 10 pounds, you’ll need a determined index finger and practice to pull the trigger and keep it on target at the same time. MSRP: $405

Kimber EVO SP

Concealed Carry Handgun Kimber

Long known for their hammer-fired semi-autos, Kimber is bringing out their first ever striker offering in the new EVO SP, chambered in 9mm. Available in four different finishes — from two-tone to custom — the EVO SP offers a ton of features in a lightweight, compact package. The frame is aluminum with a stainless slide finished in FNC black. Each variation offers a different grip texturing that feels and looks unique to the chosen style. Speaking of style — where it meets function — all four variations include changeable backstraps.

Target acquisition is made easier through tritium night sites, standard on all four variations, and putting rounds down the 3.16-in barrel onto that easily-acquired target comes through a 6-7 pound trigger with integrated safety.

One of the smaller magazines on the market, the EVO SP holds 6+1, a surprisingly low number of rounds in today’s industry race to stuff as many bullets as possible into compact and subcompact semi-autos. MSRP: $856 to 1,047

Glock G19X

Concealed Carry Handgun Glock

What’s a new gun review without something from Glock? The G19X officially entered the market in early 2018 but has yet to hit its stride, so you’ll no doubt see a lot of publicity push at SHOT 2019 and throughout the year.
Glock’s entry into the US Army’s tough-fought and potentially lucrative HMS contract program (ultimately won by the modular Sig P320 – with the drop safety issue apparently solved), the G19X is a hybrid design of new features, old features and features from two different existing Glock models, all wrapped in a new coyote color scheme — a drastic departure from the traditional Glock black.

Based mainly on the Gen 5 updates, the G19X is basically a combination of the G17 grip coupled with a G19 slide and Marksman 9mm barrel. The muzzle has been rounded off to enhance draws and reholstering, but not dramatically, so the gun still fits into standard G19 holsters.

The idea of a shorter barrel coupled with a longer grip, while uncommon, is not new in the gun world, ever since the commander-style 1911s first hit the market almost 70 years ago, so this hybrid pairing isn’t so outlandish.

The Army had very detailed requirements when selecting their new handgun to replace the aging Beretta 92/M9, including a manual safety, ambidextrous slide stop, and lanyard loop at the base of the grip, features never before seen on Glocks. For the civilian version, the manual safeties are gone, but the lanyard loop remains.

One important feature that didn’t make it over to the G19X is the magazines. Thanks in part to the lanyard at the bottom of the grip, the G19X only accepts Gen 4 mags, a first for the normally backward-compatible functionality found in other Glock models. Fortunately, Gen 4 mags are very popular and not hard to get.

The G19X comes with two flush-fit 17-round magazines and two 17-round +2 extension magazines. MSRP: $749

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Performance Center Ported

SW-MPShield-9-2-Perf - concealed carry guns
Whether I say it’s the best carry gun or not, America has chosen, and 20 percent of concealed carry guns sold in the U.S. are Smith and Wesson Shields. That’s a huge segment of a very large market, and it reflects the faith of a lot of people that the Shield is a good choice. With a weight of 19 ounces, a capacity of seven or eight plus one, striker-fired action and an MSRP of $479, the Shield represents a good compromise on everything. Simply put: It works.

Arm Yourself With More Concealed Carry Knowledge

Of course, even the most popular concealed carry gun in America can be improved, and with the introduction of the Performance Center Ported Shield, Smith and Wesson has done just that. I recently tested the Performance Center Shield equipped with a Crimson Trace Laserguard Pro, and the addition of both light and laser improve the overall performance of an already great gun for personal defense. With an MSRP of $519 for the gun and $279 for the Laserguard Pro, it’s versatile, effective and affordable. MSRP: $519

Read More: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Full Review

Glock 43

Glock 43
With an unloaded weight of less than 18 ounces and a small profile, the Glock 43 is slim, light and allows comfortable daily concealed carry — 365 days a year. It has good sights and is simple to operate. The 9mm caliber is a reasonable stopper, and even those who don’t like Glocks won’t argue with the reliability of a Glock. The Glock 43 is easy to learn to shoot and carries enough ammunition in the supplied magazine, and larger magazines are available. MSRP: $529

Springfield Armory XDe

Springfield - XDE9 339B_Flush_L_2- concealed carry -handguns
Springfield Armory’s XD series of pistols has been a huge success, and the standard XDs sports the added security of a grip safety and is a great gun in its own right. The newer XDe is the gun for a guy who just doesn’t trust a striker-fired trigger, and no one can argue against the advantage of second-strike capability. At 25 ounces, it’s a bit heavy for my criteria, but it’s certainly the best choice for a double/single-action gun, and heavier guns are easier to shoot well. It’s both affordable and reliable. MSRP: $519

Read More: Springfield Armory XDe Full Review

Related GunDigest Articles

Kahr CM9

Kahr CM9
Lighter guns are more pleasant to carry, and the Kahr CM9 is both reliable and easy to concealed carry at just 14 ounces. It’s smaller than the above 9mms and packs a lot of punch with a six-plus-one capacity. It uses a long-stroke trigger system that feels like a light double action, but it lacks second-strike capability. The trigger is different than other striker-fired pistols, but it works really well for some people. Recoil is greater than heavier guns and not for the meek of heart, but it’s manageable with some practice. For those who just have to have more horsepower, it’s available in .40 S&W and .45 ACP with a bit more weight. MSRP: $460

Read More: Kahr CM9 Full Review

Ruger LCP II

Ruger LCP II
Sometimes you just have to go small, and of the little guns, the Ruger LCP II is a winner. The LCP II corrected all the shortcomings of the very successful LCP by improving the sights, converting to a striker-fired-type trigger and providing slide lock on the last round. The beauty of the LCP II is its diminutive size and weight. If you can’t hide this gun, you can’t hide a gun. Yes, it’s just a .380, but modern, defensive .380 ammunition is better than the 158-grain round-nosed .38 Special loads that were once the standard for law enforcement. Another advantage is how easy it is to cycle the slide, which can be a big issue for older people and women with low hand strength. The LCP II is also quite affordable. MSRP: $349

Read More: Ruger LCP II Full Review

Smith and Wesson 340 PD

Smith and Wesson 340 PD
The Smith and Wesson 340 PD wasn’t on the website for a few years, but now it’s back and it’s the ultimate Noisy Cricket. Like the explosively powered gun Will Smith fired in Men in Black, the 340 PD packs a serious punch at both ends. True, the 2-inch barrel degrades the performance of the .357 Magnum caliber, but even from a short barrel, it’s on par with a 9mm with a 5-inch barrel. At less than 12 ounces, it’s almost as light as the diminutive LCP II, though it does have a thicker profile. Lighter weight and power come at a price — $1,019 to be exact — and it’s not an easy gun to shoot because of brutal recoil. If you think it’s a bit much, there’s always the S&W 442 in .38 Special at just less than 15 ounces. MSRP: $1,019

Updates were contributed by David Workman and Elwood Shelton.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.




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15 COMMENTS

  1. WHY enter two RUGER pistols that are the least likely to be carried and omit the excellent 9 mm RUGER LC9s??
    LET’S SEE YOUR CRITERIA FOR COMPILING THIS LIST!

  2. I understand that gun magazines have to exhibit a certain degree of hype in order to continue to get advertising from the big brands. But having said that, I and my wife still love our Taurus G2Cs. Excellent guns that are reliable and accurate, as well as being very comfortable to carry, both ergonomically and in terms of carrying with a round in the chamber because they are SA/DA guns.

  3. Did I read this incorrectly?; “The .380 has a special place in the hearts of pocket carriers, with its slightly smaller diameter, often allowing one more round in the magazine than its 9mm cousin.” Are you honestly saying the .380 has a smaller diameter than the 9mm? You may want to get your calipers out and check that diameter again. There’s a reason the .380 was called the Browning 9mm Short.

  4. A great list… I do own an older Walther PPKS. I love it, no matter the lower round count, weight and 380. It does what I want and can be concealed well. I also own a FEG SMC 380 (PPK clone) and it is a good piece. I do want a small 9mm. My only 9mm is a Ruger P89… the Timex of 9’s…. just bulky. I do own 3 revolvers… Dan Wesson 15-2 but it is bulky. 2 38 spls.. old series Colt Cobra and a new Taurus 85 Lite. All are reliable. All my others are large frame large calibers..not concealed easily.

    Right now I am thinking of a Sig P365 or even the Springfield Hellcat. Both small nines with decent capacity.

  5. DJ, while trying to pare the list to just 11, it is a daunting task that has several GLARING omissions. The biggest one being the P365, admittedly plagued with a few issues Sig stepped up and made it right. This little guy caught everyone asleep at the switch and is still outselling any of your picks 5 to 1. Springer 9MM

  6. Can’t disagree with this list too much. I carry the Shield Performance Center (though usually a .357 EAA Windicator AND/OR USPc .45) but the gun that easily beats out my Glock 26, 19, Shield(s), and even USPc (in comfort for carry though both are quite easy) is the HK P30SK. Sure, the Walter, and imo the SIG P225 and P228/9 are two of the best ever for carry, but P30SK /w custom finger extensions (found on ebay) for 15 round mag along with flush 10 round and 10 round /w extension, grip config and mag extensions make it the most versatile and modular sub compact ever. Also the trigger works amazin in live fire, while underwhelming in dry-fire to some the SA really comes alive and allows for fantastic follow up shots. I’m a one-eyed asshole injured overseas in combat with quite a few other injuries so im rather particular about my firearms. Including the ones i used over there (sudeams in this case). For an easy walk for lower cap CCW the P30sk /w .357 snub as backup for that, or the SIG P225 pretty much takes it. SIG P229 still might be the best ccw/carry/duty weapon out there. The HK P30 and P30 L being the best grips and two of the very toughest and safest, yet fastest 9mm ever made in DA/SA

    If we’re talking $1200-ish an HK P7 m8 has been something ive had in private security teams and wish i could have kept mine. The M13 too. The M8 is my #1 carry pick in 9mm for striker or DA/SA. P30 and 229 are equal and the Walter, Shield and new SIG sub compact (P320/365?) has up to 15 rounders and is the most natural point shoot ive felt in a new gun in awhile, and ive always dreamt of a single stack G19. So many great offerings these days, hard to go wrong! I will again say the SW Shield Performance Center is one of the most natural shooting pistols out there and feels like an American James Bond gun, lol

  7. About the Walther PPK… Did the author have a stroke half way through the wright up?

    “chambered in .380 ACP to hold a bit more ammo than the 9mm version”

    Huh? There is no 9mm Luger version. 9mm Kurz is the German name for the .380acp (metric system and all). Then there is this nugget:

    “However, for one extra round, pick up the sport (PPK/S) version that features a slightly longer grip” The “S” stands for “Speziale” which is German for special. The special is the American market after the 1968 gun control act. The lengthened grip was necessary to import the handgun.

    You don’t have to know history since this is something that happened just a couple of years ago but when talking about the Glock 19x, this comment: “Sig P320 – with the drop safety issue apparently solved” is further evidence of a possible stroke. The M17 never had a drop safety issue. It’s safeties are different than those found in a plain Sig 320. There was no recall on the M17, from it’s inception it was perfectly fine.

  8. Not sure why Hitler offing himself with a Walther is relevant to carry concealed regardless, like JR Looney and Andrew, I do not understand why other options were not considered. Not for concealed, but I like the Springfield 1911, Beretta 92 and Sig 226. I believe there are better options than this list, but that’s my opinion … just like carried concealed does not necessarily have to be small.

    At 6′ 2″ I have big hands and do not care for subcompacts. I do like the Sig P225, P229 compact, 320 compact, and a few others. 30 years ago when I was a cop, I carried a boot gun S&W 649 while carrying an S/A sidearm. I had to put larger Pac grips on the 649 due to the small wood grip.

  9. I know this is an opinion-based article, and therefore is completely unscientific, etc. …But to not see a single Sig Sauer on the list, like the P238 or P938 listed. Yes, they’re expensive, but as hardware goes, they are second to none. Both are ultra-concealable, the 1911-style SAO means that no trigger pull is gonna take so much effort that it screws up your aim (can’t say that about the M&P, for sure…). Plus most come with tritium night sights that are perfectly serviceable in both daylight and darkness.

  10. I simply do NOT understand why people have this idea that a concealed carry handgun NEEDS to be an underpowered, and tiny handgun that is harder to handle than a mid or full size handgun.
    I would rather carry a round that I KNOW will put a two- or four- legged varmint down with a minimum of effort, and rounds expended.
    I am 5’5″ tall, and I have been carrying a full size Gov’t Model 1911 .45 ACP concealed for the better part of 40 yearsm with no difficulty whatsoever.
    And on the off days when I do not feel like carrying a pistol that I can also beat someone to death with, I carry a S&W J-Frame STEEL revolver, which has less recoil, and also packs a whallop if I do not feel like actually pulling the trigger…

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