10 Great CCW Guns
This is from an article on 10 great concealed carry handguns. I have changed the article quite a bit and added my own thoughts and advice.
Your mileage will vary when it comes to the guns on this list. For me, I carry a compact .45 ACP, the XD Mod.2 and some of the guns on this list would not be my first choice as my primary carry gun, but they would certainly be a BUG – BackUp Gun. I have mentioned to many of my students that I will on occasion carry my backup gun as my primary gun.
One thing I can agree on is that all of these guns are high quality, reliable guns I would be proud to own and in fact I own two of the guns on the list and one that’s very similar, the Ruger LC9.
On to the article –
Thinking about purchasing a new gun for concealed carry? There’s an option on this list for anyone.
Concealed permit holders must be prepared to defend themselves in violent encounters. Ultimately, you’re responsible for making the decision of what you will carry and when, but as always, when you need a gun, you need one RIGHT NOW!
When choosing a concealed carry handgun, there are things more important than the price tag and appearance.
The minimum recommended caliber for self-defense is a 9mm but it is all about hits…good hits. If I don’t hit but the modern ammo.380 ACP for pistols and .38 Special (+P) cartridges for revolvers.
On the other hand, anything larger than .45 ACP for pistols and .357 Magnum for revolvers can be difficult to control, especially in smaller handguns designed to be concealed.
Ammo capacity is also important. While more is better, after a certain point it’ll affect the weight and concealability of your firearm. There’s also the matter of how expensive the ammunition is: no matter what CCW you get, you’ll want to practice, and cost shouldn’t be one of the things that stops you from doing so.
Ultimately, every user is different, and looking for different things in their firearm(s). You might check with your fellow CCW holders to see what concealed carry weapons they own and use, and you may even ask if you can try one of theirs to see if it’s the right choice for you.
Otherwise, what follows are just a few solid options to consider for concealed carry.
What can be said about the Glock line that hasn’t been said already?
The choice of thousands of law enforcement personnel over the world, the Glock family features no major issues in design or performance, is affordable, easy to maintain, and reliable. It’s lightweight, easy to conceal, and is of a caliber popular with most people.
The Glock 43 has a small frame and a short barrel that were designed for concealed carry. Users enjoy an accurate pistol that may look a little on the boxy side, but simply feels right to shoot.
I’ve shot one and it can have a pretty stout recoil.
Be sure to try one out before buying.
These pistols are either imported from Austria or made in the United States from a plant in Smyrna, Georgia.
Price: $300 – $599
Length: 6.26 in.
Height: 4.25 in.
Width: 1.02 in.
Unloaded weight: 17.95 ounces
Although somewhat large for a pocket carry, the Shield was designed with the CCW market in mind. It works well in belts and holsters, and its polymer frame does not interfere with the ability to draw the firearm quickly and effectively.
The Shield shoots with very manageable recoil, and is consistently praised for its ergonomics. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the M&P line of pistols, the Shield is a solid firearm on its own merits as a high-quality single-stack 9mm.
Like the best CCWs, the Shield is concealable, reliable, and not too heavy.
Capacity: 6+1 (.40 S&W), 7+1 (9mm)
Length: 6.1 in.
Height: 4.6 in.
Width: 0.94 in.
Unloaded weight: 19.0 ounces
This picture shows the very first time I shot a Smith & Wesson Shield in 9mm. I put two Shoot-n-see dots in place of the eye’s on a B-27 target and placed it 15 feet downrange.
The shot on the left was two-handed and done in under 1.5 seconds and is a perfect strike.
The one on the right was one-handed and done in about 2 seconds.
I was showing a doctor and his wife (who took a private class) the importance of accurate fire and as an expert shot, you just know when the gun does a lot of the work and the Shield didn’t disappoint!
The Springfield XD-S was introduced in 2012 as a slim single-stack, striker-fired pistol with a bladed trigger and durable polymer frame. Its slim profile and reliability have made it one of the most popular options for concealed carry.
While its 21.5-ounce weight (23 ounces in 9mm) may seem heavy compared to other concealed carry options, don’t be discouraged—its weight feels nice in the hand, and at just one inch in thickness, it’s still slim enough for everyday carry.
The trigger pull may feel a little long, and some XD-S owners reported a negative impact on trigger quality after the weapon was recalled a few years ago. Others report that the trigger is fine after breaking it in with a couple hundred rounds. Even so, the XD-S is still a top choice for CCW owners.
Price: $405 – $479
Length: 6.3 in.
Height: 4.4 in.
Width: 0.9 in.
Unloaded weight: 23 ounces
The Kahr CW9 is a favorable alternative firearm to the Glock or M&P for users that dislike the trigger safeties included on those models. The Kahr pistols are slightly smaller, and some users may prefer its feel.
I’ve never shot a Kahr but those that have and carry one swear by the shootability of the gun and the comfortable carry.
Price: $332 – $480
Length: 5.9 in.
Height: 4.5 in.
Width: 0.9 in.
Unloaded weight: 15.8 ounces
Ruger LC9s – I own the Ruger LC9
The original LC9 was a hammer fired semi-auto 9mm with a polymer frame and alloy steel slide. My LC9 has a stout recoil but it’s manageable and I like the gun very much and carry it as a primary gun when walking my dogs.
The LC9s was released in 2014 to offer users the option of using a striker-fired system. At 17.2 ounces, the LC9s isn’t a super lightweight, but its slim profile makes it easy to conceal in multiple positions.
Opinions are mixed on the many safety features of the LC9s. The trigger is bladed with a long, seven pound pull that is unlikely to result in accidental discharge. There’s also a thumb safety, magazine disconnect safety and a visual chamber indicator port.
If you aren’t a huge fan of these additional safety features, the LC9s Pro introduced in 2015 removes the thumb and magazine safeties for experienced shooters.
Magazine capacity is 7+1 rounds, which is one more round than many 9mm pocket guns. The LC9s comes with a fingergrip extension for the magazine floor plate which gives you a better grip at the bottom of the gun.
Price: $300 – $480
Length: 6.0 in.
Height: 4.5 in.
Width: 0.9 in.
Unloaded weight: 17.2 ounces
While it may not have as much name recognition as some firearms produced by larger companies, the Bersa Thunder is accurate, reliable, and very affordable.
The Bersa Thunder 380 CC is constructed from alloy with a steel slide. While it’s not as light as a regular polymer handgun at 20.1 ounces loaded, the Thunder 380 CC is still slimmed-down for concealed handgun use, with low-profile sights and a bobbed hammer for more convenient drawing.
The magazine holds eight rounds of .380 ammo. It’s certainly not the most powerful round available, but it brings more ammunition than other small revolvers and may be more controllable than other small handguns with large cartridges.
The Bersa Thunder 380 CC doesn’t have a laundry list of high-tech features, but at an average going rate of approximately $300, anyone on a budget serious about concealing and carrying a firearm should consider the Bersa Thunder 380.
Price: $292 – $360
Capacity: 7+1, 8+1 (.380), 10+1 (.22)
Length: 6.6 in.
Height: 4.5 in.
Width: 1.3 in.
Unloaded weight: 18.9 – 20.0 ounces
Sig Sauer P239 – I own this handgun
The capacity of the Sig P239 is slightly limited at eight rounds, and it may be too large for some users to conceal the weapon reliably. However, the added weight means that the gun is fairly controllable and reported by many to be quite accurate.
It’s not a bad looking handgun and is the top choice for many in the CCW market.
The Sig P239 is an all-metal handgun with a rail that runs the length of the gun.
The additional weight of the gun helps with felt recoil and the full length rail helps with controllability and accuracy. I own and carried this gun for about three years before going to a .45 for my primary and it shoots wonderfully.
My daughter is featured on my website shooting this gun. It’s her favorite.
Price: $780 – $850
Length: 6.6 in.
Height: 5.1 in.
Loaded weight (9mm): 25.2 ounces
Beretta Px4 Storm
At 17+1 rounds, the Px4 Storm has a higher capacity than any other item on this list. It’s easy to handle and easy to shoot, thanks to its weight, decent trigger, and quality sights. Of course, the weight and dimensions of this gun might make it difficult for some to conceal on their person.
The Px4 also has a slide-mounted safety that many experienced shooters dislike, but that can be easily modified. Overall, this Beretta is a solid choice for a concealed carry weapon especially if high capacity is an important factor.
Price: $490 – $640
Capacity: 17+1 (9mm)
Length: 6.8 in.
Width: 1.4 in.
Height: 5.0 in.
Unloaded weight: 27.3 ounces
Ruger LCR .38 Special
It’s true that revolvers aren’t at the top of the list in capacity and loading speed, but their extreme simplicity and well-earned reputation for reliability make them a favorite of novices and experts alike for concealed carry.
Ruger’s LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolver) line comes with a nice, even trigger pull. At a weight of less than 14 ounces, it’s light and highly concealable even in shorts and a t-shirt.
The standard version is double action only, eliminating the opportunity for an exposed hammer to snag on clothing. For those who want an exposed hammer to enable single-action mode, there is the LCRx. There are also .22 LR, 9mm, .327 Fed Mag. and .357 Mag variants available.
Magnum loads in a lightweight revolver can be painful to shoot and require a lot of practice to become proficient. The really nice thing about a revolver is they can be used as a contact weapon where you can push the gun directly against an assailant and fire the weapon without fear of a malfunction.
Price: $355 – $499
Length: 6.5 in.
Height: 4.5 in.
Width: 1.28 in.
Unloaded weight: 13.5 – 17.1 ounces
Based on a design that’s more than a century old, the 642 line is a CCW option that has stood the test of time. It’s light, compact, easy to carry, and offers excellent power considering its size. It’s easy to operate and proven to be a reliable firearm.
With a weight of 15 ounces, the S&W ranks as one of the lightest guns in this group and shoots perfectly right out of the box. The 642 is double-action-only with a concealed hammer, which removes the possibility of an exposed hammer getting caught on clothing. Accidental activation of the trigger is also quite rare with double action revolvers.
The .38 Special’s cylinder will give up some slimness, but they’re still easily concealable — some would argue the rounded shape is more comfortable to carry and easier to conceal than boxy, angular firearms.
I added the Crimson Trace Laser Grip to my 642 and the projected laser gives me un-sighted fire. As a backup, if I have to draw it, things have gone very bad and if I’m on my back, I simply need to place the laser center-mass and go to work.
These sub-compact guns are consider expert guns and are only good out to the length of your arm or maybe the width of a car. I do carry this as a primary gun at times but not a lot of the time, I’d rather have a compact handgun with a caliber that starts with a .4
Price: $300 – $400
Length: 6.375 in.
Height: 4.5 in.
Width: 1.19 in. at the cylinder
Unloaded weight: 15 ounces
While each entry on this list is a solid choice for concealed carry, everyone has their own opinion.
Which ones did I miss?
Please share with me any thoughts and recommendations of your own so I can pass them onto my other CCW students.