Best Concealed Carry Handguns
A review about best concealed carry handguns. Carrying a weapon concealed is a serious responsibility. The second you strap that gun to your hip, you’re accepting responsibility to be the top one percent of society. You’re taking the responsibility to act and run towards danger when others run away.
It’s a massive weight to bear, but I can assure you as a former police officer and concealed weapon carrier myself, knowing how to act, when to act, and what the best-concealed weapon to carry makes a profound difference in situations of life and death.
Keeping these facts in mind, let’s discuss the different concealed carry methods and which weapon will best suit the carrier to overcome insurmountable odds.
The use of a handgun in a life or death situation should be taken very seriously. There aren’t many things as important as defending your life by possibly taking another away. You must come to terms with this early on in your training and preparation. Think long and hard about this.
Come to terms with your sense of right and wrong. I sound like a broken record here but hear me out.
There have been many studies involving people who, in life or death situations, allowed themselves to be killed instead of standing their ground and fighting. I can’t train for you, but I can share my experiences and wisdom and set you in the right direction.
Life or death is the most personal choice a person will ever decide. To fight, to survive, understanding the process of “Mental Conditioning” is paramount.
The concept of mental conditioning was originally conceived by the late Col. Jeff Cooper of Gunsite Inc. Mental conditioning is an objective approach and study of the necessary mindset for decent human beings to apply readiness, through the understanding and applications of violence in self-defense.
An average, decent person will have difficulty with the thought of inflicting harm to or killing another human being. In a moral society, we are taught to embrace the standards of equality, fairness, gentleness, and an overall sense of goodwill to others. Sadly, there are people in this world who don’t value life and have no sense of goodness to others.
Two legged wolves walk amongst the flock, and someday, you very well may cross paths with them. These people don’t follow the same rules, they don’t abide by the laws of governments, or apply the same standards of ethical, moral constructs. They consider violence, robbery, and anything horrible you can imagine as their payday.
Many wolves are truly emotionally and clinically disturbed, have no sense of what is right, and what is wrong. The wolf won’t hesitate to kill you, your friends, and your family, all with no remorse. It’s a scary thought yes, but it’s the harsh reality of the world we live in.
Since we are on the topic of facts, let’s quash another while we’re at it. Law enforcement in our society is under no professional obligation to protect us. Law enforcements standard operating procedures cover post response. Investigation and reporting, along with the judicial system is a strictly reactive system.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics indicate that one out of four adults will be a victim of, or a direct witness of violence and interpersonal conflict at some point in their life. Violence is merely a fact of life.
Personal Protection and self-defense is nothing new. Whatever methods or plan of self-protection you apply should incorporate the obligation and responsibility to defend yourself, and your family. The warrior mindset shouldn’t be mistaken for fatalism and paranoia; it’s deciding to answer one of the most pressing questions life will ask, and increasing your peace of mind by being prepared.
Keep in mind, if you decide to carry a concealed handgun, you must not initiate an attack, this is both immoral and wrong. I understand that action is much faster than reaction; you will have to catch up to the dynamics of the situation. The only way to increase the probability of survival is through pre-conditioning, training, and equipping yourself with the proper skills and tools to fight and win.
Keeping these considerations in mind, let’s discuss the best concealed carry pistols on the market for various life or death situations.
Sig Sauer P320
The Sig Sauer P230 is a compact semi-automatic handgun, recently adopted by the U.S. Army after a rigorous series of tests in the U.S. Army Modular Handgun program. The P230 is an excellent choice for concealed carry due to its customizable modular frame design.
The user can customize many mechanical features of the handgun, such as the frame size, internal trigger component system, sights, and ambidextrous magazine and slide release levers.
The P320 is very compact, with an overall length of 7.2 inches, an overall height of 5.3 inches, with a 15 plus one magazine capacity. When carrying concealed, I’d recommend carrying the P320 on the hip, with a ridged belt, or with a reliable small of the back holster.
The P320 is too large for appendix carry; the barrel would interfere with the user’s movements. With enough practice, a shoulder holster is another excellent carry option, just keep in mind, the shoulder holster takes a lot of practice to master.
The Sig P320 comes in the three most popular pistol calibers, the 9mm Luger, the .40 S&W, and the .45 ACP, so there are several options to choose from depending on user preference. One of the coolest features of the P320 is the modular caliber options. Since the weapon can chamber a variety of loads, why not design a handgun that can swap calibers out too?
When using a handgun in a tactical situation, such as military or law enforcement applications, swapping the caliber to a more powerful or less powerful round is an excellent asset to add to your kit.
For the civilian marksman or competition shooter, swapping the caliber to shoot cheaper rounds for practice while acclimating yourself to the nomenclature of the weapon instead of buying a conversion kit or the same handgun in a different caliber is a wonderful selling point to me.
The safety features of the P320 feature an optional manual safety, which I would always leave off, an integral firing pin block that is disengaged only when the trigger is fully depressed, and a safety disconnect that prevents the weapon from firing when the slide is jammed out of battery.
Also, several models of the P320 feature a trigger leaf (think Glock trigger,) that prevents any movement in the trigger unless it’s depressed. All in all, the P320 offers excellent weapon retention in the event a life or death situation turns into a grappling match, the shooter has the edge with this weapon.
The action striker fired, meaning there is no hammer to cock or engage, the trigger pull is a crisp 6-pound pull, which some may consider a double action trigger but striker fired handguns are their own subclass in my opinion.
If you don’t have experience with a striker fired pistol, check out your local gun shops and see if they offer rental handguns to test and get acclimated to the trigger, sounds complicated but it’s best to have insight and make an informed decision.
- Lightweight polymer modular frame
- Ergonomic pistol grip
- Components can easily be swapped out to convert the weapon from sub compact, compact, and full sized without any gunsmithing or special tools
- Winner of the U.S. Army Modular Handgun System
- Comes in the three most popular pistol calibers to meet the needs of various pistol shooters
- Low cost
- The bore axis of the P320 is slightly high compared to other handguns of this size
- The factory sight picture is a little spacey, some marksman can account for this, but I would personally change them
The Glock 26 is a subcompact 9mm handgun, excellent for deep concealment. At 6.49 in long and 4.17 inches high, the 26 is ideal for appendix carry, which is my preferred concealed carry method. The appendix carry is when the user holsters the weapon in the front of their waistband.
I feel like this method works best with sub compact handguns, like the 26, because it won’t obstruct mobility and the weapon is extremely concealed under a T-shirt. When I was off duty, I carried a Glock 26 with a technaclip (http://www.technaclip.com/gun-belt-clips.html). The technaclip eliminated the need for an inside the waistband holster; you just slide the clip on your waistband.
When you carry the 26, you do sacrifice an inch of barrel length that you get from a full-size model but think about the application the 26 will be used in. A sub compact handgun is best suited for extremely close quarters when pistol marksmanship isn’t a determining factor when getting rounds on target at a respectable distance.
In my opinion, I feel like the 9mm is the ideal round with the proper defensive load, the Glock 26 is chambered in 9mm, the felt recoil is minimal and controllable. Follow up shots are consistent up to 25 yards.
One of Glocks biggest selling points for me is the interchangeable magazines between the various sized 9mm models. I could swap my Glock 17 duty magazines out with my Glock 26 magazines and have a sub compact handgun with 18 rounds instead of 11. Just buy a few high capacity mags and a mag pouch.
You can carry 54 rounds vs. 33 if the situation calls for laying down cover fire while you’re covering the retreat of civilians or family members. I love creativity, Glock gives you the option to think outside of the box; I love that.
The Glock 26 is ideal for shooters with small hands. For shooters with large hands, there will be some overhang of the pinky. The overhang can be by accommodated by adding a magazine extension plate to your magazines, allowing for a full palm grip of the handgun, this doesn’t bother me personally, I’ll shoot anything I can get my handguns, pinky or not, but this is a matter of shooter preference.
The safety is the standard Glock Safe Action trigger, all internal safeties apart from the trigger bar safety. I have found external safeties to be extremely difficult to disengage during a life or death situation, no matter how much you train to disengage a manual safety, you don’t want to bank on pure skill when your life is on the line. Simply put, Glocks don’t fire unless you pull the trigger.
- Glock Safe Action trigger
- Ten plus one magazine capacity
- Extremely compact
- Extremely reliable
- An astronomical amount of aftermarket accessories and customizations available for the 26
- The grip isn’t broad enough to accommodate large hands, so adding a magazine extension will make the grip suitable for large hands
- The Glock 26 is a bit chunky
Ruger LCP II
When I was on duty, I carried the predecessor, the Ruger LCP, as a weak side pocket gun in my left pocket. The LCP was very…okay. It honestly felt like a toy. The trigger pull wasn’t very smooth at about 10 pounds. When I first got my hands on the Ruger LCP II, I was pleasantly surprised.
The LCP II made some leaps and bounds, the new grip is much thicker, more aggressively textured, and feels like a much better fit in hand. The size is the same, but the weapon feels much more durable and comfortable. The length of the LCP II is 5.17 inches long, 3,71 inches tall.
The slide release isn’t as stiff as the original; you don’t have to mash on the LCP IIs slide release. Also, racking the slide feels much easier, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to rip the slide off the frame. I really like the new trigger; it features a Glock like safe action trigger bar vs. a long heavy trigger pull. The trigger break is crisp with a shorter reset at a half an inch, with an overall trigger pull of .75 inches.
On the topic of triggers, I should note the improved trigger guard. The original featured a tiny, rounded trigger guard. The LCP IIs trigger guard is much larger, extending further onto the end of the frame. The only pitfall I can think of with this improvement is adding a wraparound laser sight; the new trigger guard will require a new laser sight.
The LCP II still has the low-profile sights of its predecessor, very small. Granted, the small sights will make quick drawing easier without running the risk of snagging the weapon on clothing, but aiming with the LCP II is strenuous on the eyes. Keep in mind, a handgun of this size is best used in extremely close combat, so marksmanship isn’t a must.
The magazine capacity hasn’t changed, still at six plus one in the chamber. A substantial amount of .380; which is a formidable pistol round with the proper ballistic coefficient.
Next, the recoil. The LCP II is, well, I’ll be honest, it kicks, A LOT. It could all be psychosomatic, but I felt like the recoil transferred right up my arm into my shoulder. It’s not bad, I was using Critical Defense ammo, but it was strong. It’s manageable yes, but be aware of the fact.
Overall, the LCP II is a much better sub compact pistol than the original. Ruger really did an exceptional job in the re-design. I’m sure they had a lot of feedback from LCP shooters. The weapon lacked some features that were incorporated into the LCP II. The gun is extremely affordable with how exceptional this weapon feels and shoots in hand.
- The LCP II is an improved design, breathing life into a potentially excellent original.
- Six plus one is an impressive amount of lead to sling for a such a tiny handgun
- The grip is more aggressively textured and thicker. The original LCP was slim and harder to grasp.
- A much better trigger. Instead of a heavy, double action trigger pull, the new trigger breaks crisp with a shorter reset
- The trigger guard is wide, allowing various finger sizes.
- The recoil is pretty substantial
- The original LCP magazines aren’t interchangeable with the LCP II
Concealed Carry Handguns For Women
Recently, a female acquaintance of mine expressed keen interest in self-defense. I didn’t sense lots of interest in the weapons themselves, more so an interest in the tactics and combative aspects. I must say, she was an incredible shot and ate the training up. There are some considerations for female shooters I’d recommend for self-defense that must be considered before picking a weapon.
Women’s hands biomechanically differ from a man’s hands. Smaller hands with longer fingers, women should choose a handgun that accommodates a smaller palm, but thick enough to account for longer fingers. I say this generally of course, but a woman’s hands aren’t as strong as men’s hands. Their bodies are smaller as well.
Just because we share anatomical differences, it certainly doesn’t mean women can shoot handguns as well as males. It does mean women may have a different style or preference when it comes to weapon type, what caliber, and which weapon would be more suitable to conceal compared to concealment for males.
Since women are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, I highly recommend females carrying a larger caliber than a .380, stopping power is key here. I have a few female friends who opt for carrying a .40 S&W or a .38 Special.
This is smart on their part because when you’re in a life or death situation where the odds are you can be physically over powered, you want the biggest round you can at your disposal. Incapacitating the threat and escape is the best tactic for this instance.
Be sure to choose a handgun you can carry and conceal comfortably. If you go overboard with your selection and choose a full-size pistol, not only will the weapon be cumbersome, the odds are you’ll get tired of and uncomfortable with carrying the weapon every day.
This is a fallacy of concealed carry weapon holders, avoid recommendations from the salesman if you have a feeling the weapon will over encumber you. The worst place for your gun is at home.
Smith and Wesson M&P Shield
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield is an excellent choice for female concealed carry holders; the weapon is sub compact, slim and streamlined to the contours of the female figure. The Shields overall length is 6.1 inches, the height is 4.6 inches, and the width is slightly over an inch, which makes the weapon very concealable in some wardrobe choices or a handbag.
The magazine carries seven plus one in the chamber, or eight plus one with the magazine extension, which I highly recommend for the Shield. The factory three dot sights are excellent out of the box, I know a few shooters who swapped them with night sights, but I think it’s a little overkill for a concealed carry handgun.
The Shield comes in both 9mm Luger, and .40 S&W, both of which are very controllable. I credit the ergonomic grip and low bore axis for the controllability, the stippled grip is thick enough to grasp the weapon firmly but isn’t thick enough to fatigue your hands after running a few hundred rounds in practice.
One of the pitfalls of the Shield is the fact that the weapon is single stack, limiting magazine capacity, which isn’t a deal breaker, just preference, after all, the Shield makes up for this by having deep concealability. The eight rounds in the weapon and a spare magazine will give you 16-18 rounds of 9mm or .40 S&W, more than enough to incapacitate the threat and escape if need be.
The Shield is ideal for concealed carry both on the waist with a sturdy Inside the Waistband holster, appendix carry, or even in a pocket; like I always stress, practice, practice, practice your draw, regardless of the option you choose. Training how you fight is the difference between victory and defeat.
The trigger features a trigger safety which is disengaged as soon as the trigger is pulled back. You’ll have to remove about a half inch of slack before the weapon fires; Which is fine because, in a self-defense handgun, we’re not worried about shooting at a target from 25 yards. You can shoot the Shield accurately at these distances, but in my experiences with the Shield, 10 yards or less is where this weapon truly shines.
- Very slim, sleek, and concealable
- Ideal for everyday carry, the size is small enough to be comfortable to wear with any outfit, but it’s still easy to draw the firearm quickly and efficiently
- The grip is very comfortable for various hand sizes
- Seven plus one, eight plus one with the magazine extension
- The single stack magazine limits the round count in the weapon
- If you don’t seat the magazine aggressively, I’ve observed a few failure to feed malfunctions; this is operator error, just keep this in mind while training
What would a concealed carry pistol review be without discussing a wheel gun?! In recent years, semi-automatic handguns have been all the rage, revolvers have fallen by the wayside. Today, we will give credit when credit is due and talk about a fantastic, lightweight snub nose revolver.
Many polymer, featherweight revolvers are a bear to shoot with stiff recoil, difficult to control and reload and terrible sights. I’m pleased to say there is an exception to the rule with the Ruger LCR.
When the LCR was first released back in 2011, I wasn’t too impressed with the .38 Special model, I noticed an improvement in the smoothness of the double action trigger, but the recoil just felt messy in my hand. I know a few LCR owners who carried the LCR in .38 special, merely because they didn’t shoot it much!
This defeats the purpose in my opinion. If you’re not going to practice with your weapon, you won’t improve your skills. Thankfully Ruger wised up and released the LCR chambered in, wait for it, 9mm!
The 9mm LCR is built on the .357 magnum LCR frame; the upper is aircraft grade aluminum with a stainless steel lined barrel. The lower of the LCR is polymer construction. The overall length of the LCR is six and a half inches, the height is four and a half inches, and the width is a slim 1.28 inches.
The trigger is a nine pound, double action trigger pull, which is heavy compared to most of the semi-automatic triggers we have on the list, but it’s a revolver, just takes some getting used to. I will say the LCR trigger is very, very smooth and breaks clean compared to other double action revolvers, which are stiff and clunky, the LCR will leave you surprised in this aspect.
The cylinder holds five rounds of 9mm, which if you load up with a hot, high grain defense load, should be plenty to stop any threat. Keep in mind, reloading a revolver is much different than swapping a magazine in a semi-auto. Practicing speed reloads with a revolver will take hours to become proficient at but hey, if you like revolvers, it’s time well spent.
- Extremely lightweight revolver, with a featherweight aircraft aluminum frame, stainless steel lined barrel and cylinder, and a polymer/rubber grip
- Comes chambered in various centerfire rounds, such as the .22 LR, the .38 Special, the .357 Magnum, and the 9mm Luger
- The front sight is removable, so you can swap it out with a good night sight, a fiber optic sight, or just a conventional dot sight. The rear sight is a notched in U sight that extends the top of the weapons frame
- The moon clips are much easier to load the LCR compared to speed loaders
- Very enjoyable to shoot compared to other subcompact revolvers in this class
- The recoil is slightly diminished, yet a revolver is a revolver, and it’s still felt significantly
- Requires a lot more repetition and specialized training than a semi-automatic handgun, if you do choose to go the wheel gun route, make sure you find an instructor who can run you through drills to get you quick with the operation of a revolver
- The double action trigger pull may be a little too long for some shooters preferences
Thank you for coming by and reading my review of the best concealed carry handguns on the market today. As always, I hope you have learned a lot and gained some valuable insight into the warrior mindset, the gravity, and responsibility of choosing the higher calling as a person who can make a profound difference in the world we live in.
Even though I’ve mentioned this earlier, I can stress the importance of mental conditioning and tactical proficiency. Use this guide as a launch pad for your research. Learn everything you can about your local laws, which combative’s and tactics will work best for you, and find the best weapon for your body’s bio mechanics.
Remember, this isn’t paranoia; it’s reality. Being a warrior in a garden is much better than being a gardener in war. It’s sobering and intimidating but trust me when I say the more you sweat in training, the less you’ll bleed in battle.
Make your choice, come to peace with whichever god you pray to, make peace with yourself. Become a student of combat and embrace it. Walk humbly knowing your family and yourself are safe because you’ve already made peace with the fact that someday, the wolf very well could come knocking, be ready to answer the call with self-control, precision, and focus.
Do no harm when the time for violence has stopped, but know when that time is. This will save your life someday. I hope you can walk a little taller today. Happy shooting folks!!