Saying that a certain gun is the best-concealed carry gun is pretty subjective and honestly, fairly outlandish on our part.
We want to preface this blog with the disclaimer that the best-concealed carry gun varies from individual to individual and what works best for one person might not be the right fit for the next guy.
I know that some of you will read this and start to get an involuntary twitch in your eye as you see some of our recommendations, that’s ok, it’s natural.
But the purpose of this article is to help inform the general public who might not be self-proclaimed concealed carry gun experts as to what models might be a good fit if they are looking to get into the CCW world.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at what in our opinion, is the best concealed carry pistol.
Concealed Carry Gun Criteria
There are some important criteria to look for when choosing the best concealed carry gun.
Again, the best concealed carry gun will vary from person to person, but it’s important to keep in mind a few key things to help you make the right choice
Is it Concealable?
I recently heard someone in the industry say to ‘carry as much gun as you comfortably can‘.
For some that may be a Glock 17 while others will top out with a Sig P365. It just depends on your body type, clothing, and belt/holster setup.
Your Concealed Carry Pistol should be compact enough that you can easily conceal it with your everyday attire.
The best thing to do is go to your local gun shop in the clothes that you are most likely to wear when carrying a CCW (concealed carry weapon) and see what pistol is easiest for you to conceal.
Is it comfortable?
I know this sounds a bit weird but your concealed carry weapon should be comfortable to carry. If it’s not comfortable you will inevitably stop carrying the pistol altogether.
I should note that a lot of the comfort comes from the holster you carry. Either way, ensure the pistol you are carrying rides well and doesn’t jab into you or cause abrasion.
Is it big enough to use?
One common mistake when choosing a concealed carry pistol is going too small. This is especially important if you have larger hands that would cause a loose grip on the pistol.
Ensure you take the pistol to the range and ensure you can rapidly fire it accurately while maintaining a good solid grip.
Is it reliable?
A concealed carry pistol should run flawlessly, especially since it might be your first line of defense. A lot of concealed carry pistols tend to jam up because manufacturers are so concerned with making them small over being reliable.
Are there a lot of accessories available?
I know this might not be a common suggestion but it is a valid one. A lot of times you might purchase an off-brand/model and have a difficult time finding holsters, replacement parts, upgraded sights, magazines, or even ammunition. Purchasing a more mainstream pistol will ensure you can customize it as needed.
Common Concealed Carry Calibers
The most common concealed carry calibers are .380, 38 Special, 9mm, and .45ACP. While we could spend hours trying to argue what caliber is the best the biggest take away is that the larger the size of the round the less you’ll be able to carry. There are plenty of 9mm concealed carry pistols that can hold up to 15+ rounds while most .45ACP concealed carry pistols will cap around 7+ rounds.
9mm vs .45ACP
Now, this might cause a few people to grab their computer and throw it at the wall out of rage because we are going to pooh pooh all over their .45ACP 1911 concealed carry pistol. But we recommend carrying a 9mm over a .45ACP.
The common argument is that a .45ACP offers more stopping power meaning if you hit your target they are more likely to stop whatever they’re doing that you didn’t want them to do. I personally advocate relying on shot placement over caliber type in any type of engagement.
A well placed .22 round will kill someone better than a grazed .50cal round. Just because your round hits your target doesn’t mean it’s going to somehow magically take them out of the fight. Only a well-placed shot will produce the desired effects.
A 9mm round offers very effective stopping power with increased magazine capacity, plain and simple. Most of the main US Law Enforcement Agencies have switched to the 9mm platform to include the FBI. Again, this isn’t the blog where we fully argue one over the other, we can do that later, but it is our recommendation that if you’re choosing between a 9mm and a .45ACP, go with the 9mm.
.38 Special vs 9mm
The .38 Special is the most common round for revolvers and offers some serious punch. The .38 special is .357inches in diameter compared to a 9mm’s .355inch diameter meaning it packs a little extra punch.
The .38 special’s velocity is around 700-1000 fps compared to the zippier 9mm round that ranges from 1000-1300 fps. If you’re looking to choose one over the other they’re actually fairly similar in nature. The real reason you might choose one over the other would come down to your decision to carry a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol.
.380 vs 9mm
The .380 is also very similar to the 9mm round but is smaller, making it a common concealed carry round. The diameter of the round is the same as the 9mm but the cartridge is smaller giving it less “punch" or stopping power.
The .380 itself is pretty much a dedicated concealed carry round while sub-compact, compact, full size, and rifles all come in 9mm making it a more versatile round.
The only reason you should choose a .380 pistol is if you’re in the market for an ultra sub-compact pistol that you can throw in your pocket, otherwise, we recommend getting something in a 9mm.
Best Concealed Carry Pistol
Sig Sauer P365 (RE Factor’s Choice)
The Sig Sauer P365 is RE Factor’s choice as the best overall pistol currently available on the market for concealed carry. With a 10+1 capacity and a 1" width, it’s one of the slimmest CCW pistols you can find that still has a robust magazine capacity. While users experienced issues with the first models, Sig quickly got the kinks ironed out and the newer models run almost flawlessly.
If you’re looking for comparison the Sig P365 carries 10+1 rounds compared to the Glock 43 which runs 6+1. This is even more impressive considering the two weapons are almost identical in size. We also like the Sig P365 because it comes with a front mount rail that allows the use of pistol lights and lasers, something the Glock 43 also lacks.
One other thing we appreciate about the Sig P365 is the overall ergonomics and feel. Shooting the pistol feels similar to that of a full-size pistol and it’s easy to grip if you have larger hands. While this isn’t the smallest pistol on the market it is the best all-around option… according to us of course.
The Glock 19 is the largest model we suggest for concealed carry and for most, it will be very difficult to conceal. That being said the Glock 19 is a battle-proven design with endless accessories and upgrades. Further, while the Glock 19’s MSRP ranges from $499 – $799 it’s easy to find used models on sale, making it a fairly affordable option.
In the RE Factor Tactical Team Room Facebook Group, readers rated the Glock 19 as the best-concealed carry pistol by far. The Glock 19 offers the largest magazine capacity with 15+1. However, this capacity comes at a cost with the Glock 19’s width coming in at a 1/4" wider than the Sig P365. This includes a barrel that’s almost an inch longer, making the weapon more accurate but also harder to conceal.
In addition, the Glock 19’s magazine capacity makes it a lot heavier when fully loaded, almost 24 oz. The bottom line, the Glock 19 is an extremely durable and accurate pistol that’s a very safe go-to. However, you will most likely find it cumbersome and difficult to conceal on a daily basis, especially if you’re smaller or wear tight clothing.
The Glock 43 is a newer pistol to Glock’s lineup but they made it specifically as a sub-compact concealed carry weapon. That being said, it’s around the same size as the Sig P365 but lacks many of the Sig’s features. Many CCW users like the Glock 43 due to its familiarity with other Glock models and the fact that it carries Glock’s name.
The Glock 43 is much smaller than the Glock 19 and a lot lighter (18oz). With a 6+1 magazine capacity, the Glock features a single stack design that allows it a slim, easy to conceal profile. If you like Glock’s design the Glock 43 is a great option. However, users with larger hands might face issues with comfortably holding the pistol due to its short profile. This can be fixed with the use of extended magazines that are easy to find on the market.
Revolvers are actually a great concealed carry pistol for a few reasons. One, revolvers are small and lightweight, making them easy to conceal and carry. Two, revolvers are pretty much fail-safe in the sense that when you pull the trigger it’s going to fire. There’s a very low chance revolvers will jam mainly because they have less moving parts like a removable magazine or slide release.
The downside to revolvers is that they only carry 5-8 rounds, are slow to reload, and can be difficult to fire quickly and accurately. Many revolvers have extremely short barrels making them only useful in close engagements.
With all that being said the Smith and Wesson 642 Airweight is a great option if you decide to go the revolver route. At an overall weight of 14oz this is one of the lightest pistols on our list and with an overall length 6.3" it’s very easy to conceal. However, our biggest complaint is the 5 round capacity. If budget is the main factor, this is a great option with the pistol coming in at $320!
The Smith and Wesson BodyGuard is arguably one of the most popular concealed carry pistols on the market and for a good reason. The BodyGuard is small, reliable, and very inexpensive. In fact, the BodyGuard is the lightest and least expensive pistol on our entire list, it’s also the most compact.
That being said there are a few reasons you might want to steer clear of the Body Guard. First, the BodyGuard features a long, heavy, double-action trigger that makes it a bit more difficult to fire. In addition, anyone with hands larger than a toddler might have some issues holding on to it.
The BodyGuard also has a 2.75" barrel which is shorter, making it less accurate than similar models. However, with a width of just .75" the Body Guard can conceal in almost any clothing choice you go with. At the end of the day, the BodyGuard is a great weapon to throw in a bag, your pocket, or vehicle but not one that we’d recommend carrying habitually as a CCW option.
So we will make this short and sweet. Don’t carry a .45 for concealed carry. The biggest reason is that what you make up for in stopping power you lose in the ability to easily conceal the weapon and round capacity.
Most .45s are bulky, difficult to conceal, and heavy. Now… IF YOU MUST carry a .45ACP, we recommend the Glock 30. Weighing in at 30oz fully loaded it’s almost twice the weight of some of the other options, however, it is still lighter than other options on the market.
The Glock 30 does offer a 10 + 1 round capacity, which is fairly generous given the caliber. At 1.35" wide it’s not the slimmest .45ACP available on the market, but it’s close. In short, it’s about as good as you’re going to get for that caliber. Again, this is all according to us.