For many recreational or avid gun enthusiasts, having the correct configuration on the upper receiver of an AR15 or fitting the lower receiver with a match-grade trigger and grip is essential. It stands to reason you’ll want to carry the best and most accurate and dependable rifle possible.
If you expect nothing but the best from your rifle, it follows that you’ll want to carry a top-shelf handgun for concealed carry as well. Although the market is full of quality handguns you can pick, some of them may prevent both comfortable and dependable concealed situations.
The trouble typically begins when you realize there are very few instances of the purchase process when you’ll have the luxury of a seven or ten-day trial period to determine whether the pistol you choose will be a perfect choice. Additionally, there is only so much investigation you’ll have time for when making that final decision.
To help you on your way to a satisfying and less frustrating shopping experience, you may want to consider examining Sig Sauer’s P365 series pistol. Shop around online for some coupon codes and get yourself a great deal on this awesome pistol. Sig Sauer’s P365X and XL series are arguably one of the most preferred handguns for concealed carry on the market today, and there are a host of reasons why.
Best 9 Millimeter Concealed Carry Guns
As mentioned before, 9mm is the most popular caliber, there are many amazing firearms to choose from.
1. Sig Sauer P365
The $500 Sig Sauer P365 is a micro compact gun for its tiny size but do not let its size fool you because it can hold more ammo than you think. The closest comparison I can make is the Glock 26 although it holds a 10 plus 1 and has a double stacked magazine. Still, the gun remains as an inch thick still. Moreover the Sig Sauer P365 has rails for lights or other attachments. The P365 did not have a smooth start as there were some production issues and recoils but it looks like Sig Sauer fixed all of those issues now.
2. Sig Sauer P365X
One of the things that makes the P365X handgun from Sig Sauer a perfect choice is this pistol delivers terminal velocity 9mm stopping power in a micro-configuration that’s easy to conceal and provides flawless and accurate performance.
With a barrel length of only 3.7 inches and a total weight of just under twenty-one ounces, you can comfortably hide this handgun in the small of the back for all-day concealed carry. All it will take is one day spent at the range and a handful of fully loaded magazines for you to decide that the Sig Sauer P365X will end up being your brand-new favorite for concealed carry.
When it comes to dependable operation, Sig Sauer features a stainless slide coated with their patented Nitron® finish that operates smoothly, and the handgun provides reliable operation even in long shooting conditions.
Sig Sauer has redefined and shattered all concealed carry expectations for the last four years, leaving the Sig Sauer P365X and XL series handguns leading from the top of the heap.
3. Sig Sauer P365XL
Additionally, Sig Sauer takes the P365X series to another level with the P365XL, which sports a polymer grip with an integrated mag well for faster reloads, and an extended beavertail that gives you superior hand control and comfort.
The P365X or XL Series handgun Sig Sauer includes its patented X Series flat trigger that promotes smooth pull and predictable break.
Both series feature an out-of-the-box Xray3 day/night front sight that allows far superior and more intuitive target acquisition regardless of low light and even no light conditions.
For the iron-sight perfectionists, Sig Sauer XL series Xray 3 optic systems eliminate the need to switch optics between day and night shooting.
The three-dot Tritium sight system out of the box provides you superior glowing illumination, and the protective steel surrounding the dots protects the sight system from heavy recoil, cleaning solvent and the harshest elements you may experience.
Note for Sig Sauer P365X and p365XL
When loading your P365 X or XL series pistols with accessories, proper concealment and rapid deployment are two things to remember. Each Sig Sauer P365X or p365XL comes with a stock Sig rail, and you may feel the need to attach a laser or flashlight to it.
Depending on the mission, you may require either, but adding accessories means you may need a more prominent or customized holster. These accessory additions may require you to alter your deployment or concealed carry style.
It’s best to understand how adding tactical accessories to your Sig Sauer will affect these two items before rushing out to purchase them.
4. Glock 43
The Glock is known for its reliability and the Glock 43 is no exception, it comes with a single stacked magazine although the capacity is a meager 6 plus 1, it vanishes once you slip it in a holster while being a small gun it has a good grip as well, this one comes in at about 450 dollars.
5. Taurus G2C
Maybe all of the above is outside your budget, if it is a problem then look no further than the Taurus G2C, it goes for about $200. Now you might think that at such a price there must be some compromises, there really isn’t, it is as large as the P365, comes with a double stack 12 plus 1 and is reliable as well, you’re getting a lot out of a mere $200 with the G2C.
Best 380 Acp Concealed Carry Guns
Guns with this caliber are also easy to conceal. Compared to the 9mm guns, 380 variants are often thinner and smaller, this comes at the cost of power and penetration but not much so that it becomes useless in a self-defense situation.
Another thing I want to mention is that 380 guns tend to have a long pole, makes it hard to shoot in a stressful situation. If you are buying a 380 gun, you should get a new trigger, that said what 380 guns are viable as a concealed carry.
6. Ruger LCP II
Similar to guns its size, the Ruger LCP II has a six plus one magazine. The LCP II is known as one of the best pocket guns for its size, some even carried around as a backpack weapon, its predecessors did not perform as well which prompted Ruger to create this improved variant. Moreover, there is a bit of customization in terms of colors as there are many to choose from.
7. Glock 42
As always, the Glock made it into our list once again, similar to the Glock 43, the Glock 42 comes at $400, it has a single stack, 380 magazine, it is just as reliable as the 43 making it the perfect choice if you like Glocks or want something a little smaller than the 43.
8. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ .380
The EZ .380 is very tiny but still packs enough punch out of all the guns in this list, the EZ .380 is the easiest to rack and the softest gun, this is an ideal choice for those without arm strength or don’t like the kick of other guns. The only downside I can think of is that it will set you back about $500.
Best 38 Special Concealed Carry Guns
38 specials are the 38 special plus P are typically used for revolvers. Many people think that revolvers are bulky making them a bad choice for concealed carry, but there are a few that fit the bill. For this, I recommend finding ones that are light and harmless, with these two characteristics in mind there are many recommendations for 38 special concealed carry guns.
9. Bodyguard 38 Revolver Crimson Trace
This is yet another offering from Smith and Wesson, they are one of the largest manufacturers of revolvers and their offers vary greatly in terms of shape size and finish.
The crimson trace is very light because its frame is constructed from a single piece of aluminum, it’s achieved its small frame size due to the lack of an external hammer and short barrel. Moreover, it’s very easy to use and rated for plus P, making it the perfect candidate for a 38 special concealed carry gun at 470 dollars.
10. Ruger LCRx
The Ruger LCRx has an aluminum frame and polymer part making it lightweight, it can also fire plus P if you want more power behind your shots. Unfortunately, the LCRx has a hammer so I recommend practicing with it until you’re certain you can draw without snagging it on your clothes.
11. Ruger LCR Revolver
The Ruger LCR revolver is a lot like the LCRx except it has an internal hammer for a smoother draw. The downside is that this variant is limited to double action which may hamper accuracy. Both the Lcr and Lcrx cost about five hundred dollars.
Things To Consider
You can’t just strap any gun under your coat and call it a concealed carry. The stealth requirement demands that only certain guns with the right characteristics are viable, these characteristics are:
This is quite obvious the size of your firearm plays a huge role in determining whether it is viable for concealed carry. Choosing guns with a large caliber or those that come with double stacked magazines means that they will be larger, larger guns are harder to hide if you wear tight clothes or if they are thin, the gun will poke through your clothes and it will look very obvious to others that you’re carrying.
Clothing also plays a big role in choosing a gun in cold places where jackets and sweatshirts are the norms, you have the option to go for bigger guns since your jacket can hide your gun pretty well, also a bigger gun is actually needed as a potential attacker will wear more in thick layers of clothes too, that must be penetrated first if a round is to do some damage. So consider what clothes you typically wear and consider how they can hide your gun. In an ideal situation, you want to have two firearms: one for hot and one for cold months.
There are many to choose from, ask around and people often gravitate towards to 9mm or 45 ACP, these are the most popular options but you can also look at what the law enforcement military and government agencies use. The fact that they use a specific caliber means that it works for their purpose, so it should be fine for you as well. More often than not, all the research will point you back to 9 millimeters.
Suppose you want to use a 22 long rifle, sure it might deter an attacker but I don’t recommend it for concealed carry. For one, it has poor penetration, it is not punched through many layers of clothing well, this means if you live in a colder area where people tend to wear thicker clothing your 22 long range will not do much damage. In case of an attack, the bullet might pierce the jacket but will not do enough damage to stop the attacker, if this is your only option then use it since having something is better than nothing.
Otherwise, you’ll want something a little bigger, let’s take a look at some of the best-concealed carry guns for your convenience. I will group them based on their caliber.
Concealed Carry Accessories
Concealed carry is not only about the gun though, as mentioned at the start is also about how you bring it with you, in addition to clothing, you need the right holster and belt for your gun. You do not need any other accessory, this is because most engagements are at very close range and slapping, any more bells and whistles on the gun only makes it bulkier which defeats the purpose of concealed carry.
The first is a concealment holster, there are countless holsters out there but only a few are good enough for concealed carry, a good concealed carry holster should be made from a sturdy material and provides total trigger coverage with good retention and concealability. Moreover, it should isolate the gun from the body, meaning that your skin should not touch the gun and it should have a positive grip. Let’s discuss some of these characteristics.
- Material wise: You want something that is sturdy and light that could be kydex or leather, another important thing is to make sure that it does not irritate your skin. The holster will stay on your skin for a long period of time so you want it to be as comfortable as possible.
- Good retention simply means that it holds the gun firmly in place without it rattling about in the holster. You want your firearm to be held tight in its holster, the best way to test this is to slip the gun into the holster and hold it upside down, if your gun falls out the holster has bad retention and needs to be adjusted, it should hold the gun in place until you need to pull it out.
- Positive grip simply means that you would have a full combat grip the moment you pull the gun out, that means you can pull the gun out with one hand, disengage the safety and shoot, ditch the holster if you need to do any more than this. In addition the holster should allow you to draw and fire from any position even with your weak hand, that way you can still fire even when the attacker is right on top of you.
Belts are probably the last thing you think you need for concealed carry but they have their importance, you want to have one that is sturdy enough to hold a loaded handgun and its magazine but without being built in such a way that people know immediately that you’re carrying.
I love to hear from you guys about your choices, what handgun do you use and what caliber.
Suppose you’ve decided to change from the Xray3 sights and go to a red dot optic system. In that case, several options are available, but one of the best for the Sig Sauer P365XL series is the Holosun 507K.
Not only is the Holosun a perfect addition for many different handguns, but the Holosun 507K Red Dot meshes precisely with the Sig Sauer P365XL series using the RSMc footprint, which is standard on the P365XL.
Even with a change of optics, such as adding a Holosun 507K, the P365XL fits a variety of crossbreed holsters, including concealed carry favorites such as Dropslide and Reckoning holsters.
While choosing the right concealed carry pistol breaks down to a personal choice, you’ll want to understand which one is right for your carry style. For many gun enthusiasts, the decision may be a pistol such as the Glock 43X or the Glock 19. While these pistols make great concealed carry handguns, think of this before you choose. Introduced only four years ago, the Sig Sauer P365X and XL series pistols have won numerous awards, including the coveted NRA Handgun of the Year award in 2019, a single year after introducing this pistol on the market.
If you’re still uncertain after your comparison shopping, stack the P365X and P365XL against either the Glock 43 or Walther PPS M2. In comparison, you’ll discover that the Sig Sauer P365 series features a twelve-round magazine. While extending the length of the gun by the narrowest measure, the Sig Sauer P365 Series provides you twice the magazine capacity of the Glock 43 and almost twice the capacity of the Walther PPS.
Different Models Of The P365XL
There are a variety of different models that you can get on the P365XL platform, allowing you to get the exact type of pistol that will work perfectly for your specifications. You can get models that come with a manual thumb safety for added peace of mind when carrying. However, it is important to note that the addition of a manual thumb safety requires a lot more practice on the draw to ensure you deactivate the safety.
The debate between semi-auto vs revolvers for a concealed carry pistol has raged for decades. Many experienced concealed carriers actually do not recommend a striker fired pistol because it adds complexity to your draw which can make it more difficult to fire on target faster and reliably resulting in a terrible outcome.
Modern striker fired handguns come with multiple passive internal safeties to ensure the gun will never go off unless the trigger is pulled and adding a manual safety on top of that is often seen as redundant.
Additionally, if you invest in a high quality Kydex holster, the trigger will always be protected preventing it from accidentally getting pulled.
Of course, it is up to you whether you want the additional safety or not and some people still prefer to have it when they first start carrying and then move on to a non-thumb safety model later down the line once they have more experience and get more comfortable with carrying a loaded firearm.
Other models of the P365 Xl 9mm semi automatic pistol offer slide cuts allowing you to mount a red dot on the slide and some even come with a SIG Sauer Romeo Zero red dot sight already installed.
Red dots on concealed carry pistols have become increasingly popular over the years resulting in a wide variety of red dot sights to choose from.
Like anything else, the use of a red dot sight on your concealed carry pistol requires much more training to get the dot to appear in your sight picture but once you master it, you will be getting on target much faster.
You can also get models that only come with 10 round magazines if you live in a state with magazine limit restrictions or you can get models with the full 15 round capacity in a tiny pistol that you can easily carry.
There are also multiple colors to choose from Coyote Tan to just regular black Finish and a combination of a tan frame with a black slide.
These options are why the SIG Sauer P365 XL 9mm micro compact pistol is one of the most popular on the market today allowing you to get exactly the pistol that you want at a price point that isn’t insanely high.
Built to Perform and Priced to Move
Competitively priced just under five and six hundred dollars, respectively, the compact P365 and P365XL pistols from Sig Sauer hit the sweet spot for any concealed carry enthusiasts searching for the perfect handgun that performs dependably without breaking the bank.
Smaller in the frame, equipped with a short barrel and full-capacity magazine, the Sig Sauer P365, P365X, or P365XL line of pistols have quickly become the pistol of choice for concealed carry. When looking for a gun that provides the best accuracy and ease of handling and stays hidden until it’s time for action, the Sig Sauer P365 line of pistols is arguably the only choice to make. (1)
Review Of The Best 1911 Pistol For the Money
If you’re looking for more on handguns, take a look at our review of the best 1911 pistol for the money.
Best Glock Upgrades On The Market
If you’re a Glock owner, our article on the best Glock 19 and 40 & 43x mods is worth checking out.
- USCCA, Concealed Carry. Retrieved from https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/resources/terminology/carry-types/concealed-carry/
Dakota Potts is a gunsmith, armorer and gun rights advocates. He enjoys learning about firearm history and technology. He has his own website at pottsprecision.com. You can also find more info on Barret Rifles here. Or follow Dakota Potts on Youtube.
1 thought on “Best Concealed Carry Gun: Top Compact Pistols (CCW Handgun)”
Although these mostly all good options, I think you’re discounting larger concealable firearms that are much better shooters (less recoil) which people will enjoy shooting more.
This is highly subjective, but what I consider to be my top five carry gun pics out of the dozens I’ve owned. The first three are larger than anything on your list but are perfectly concealable:
1. SIG P229 in either 9mm, .40S&W, or .357 SIG (I use all three)
2. Beretta PX4 Storm Compact (LTT version), 9mm (the best & most underrated G19-sized carry gun ever)
3. Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Subcompact, 9mm (the most flexible of anything mentioned, similar to a Glock 26)
4. Smith & Wesson Performance Center Shield M2.0, 9mm (rightfully on your list)
5. Ruger LCP II, 380 (also on your list, and a truly amazing pistol. Ounce per ounce, it’s one of the best firearms available IMHO)