Best Concealed Carry Guns

February 21, 2013

Firearms Training

best concealed carry guns

9mm, .40 cal, .45 cal, 38 special


Time and time again, I get asked about which gun someone should buy for themselves, or for someone they know.  Fortunately for you, I’m not one of those guys that’s married to a single idea.  I think there are many different reasons for many different guns.  To keep it simple it comes down to these key factors.

  1. What’s your primary reason for the gun?  Tyrannical government, home defense, defense while jogging, office, car?
  2. Where do you plan to keep the gun?  Safe, nightstand, inside your waistband, open carry, around your ankle, purse?
  3. What are you willing to do to make it happen?

The reason it’s really only down to 3 questions, is because most people who get their concealed carry permit, fail to do two things.

  1. They fail to determine ahead of time how they plan to carry their weapon.
  2. They fail to carry daily because of [insert your own excuse here].
Where you can concealed carry your gun

Shown above: Inside the waistband concealed carry in a Galco Holster.

So make the decision after reading some of the following points.

Since most people are concerned about their personal safety before they think about Tyranny, we’ll start there.  I’m going to assume that you’re on a tight budget like most Americans, and so we’ll focus on one gun that does it all.  A hand gun.

Now before you send me hate mail for dissing a shotgun, or rifle… I’m not.  But since this is really about choosing the best concealed carry guns to defend yourself, the handgun is really the most versatile as you can stick it in your purse, around your ankle, in your car, or on your night stand.  We’ll talk rifles and shotguns in another post.

There are a plethora (notice how only people who try to sound smart use that word?) of guns to pick from.  The things you should consider are stopping power, amount of rounds in your gun, and how much you’ll train.

It has long been debated about which is the best round, so let me just make it simple.  If you have to use a firearm in self defense, you’re looking at at least $30,000 in legal fees if the person on the other end of the front sight doesn’t live, whether justified or not.  If you have to use it in self defense and the person does live, you’re looking at a nightmare situation.

Left to right: 38 Special, 45 Caliber, 40 Caliber, 9mm

Every law enforcement officer, firearms instructor, and attorney I’ve ever asked always says to make sure that your enemy dies of lead poisoning.  And for that to happen, you need to train under stress (another issue for another day), and pick the right ammo.

  1. .45 is probably the most effective stopping power, and easily available under normal times.  Training with this round can be expensive.
  2. 9mm is possibly next on the list.  While it shoots faster, it often penetrates the target and can injure or kill the target behind your intended target.  This round is inexpensive in comparison.
  3. .40 caliber is a nice round for stopping power, without worrying about over penetrating, but you sacrifice magazine capacity.  It’s easier on your wallet than a .45, but more expensive than a 9mm.
  4. 38 Special offers plenty of stopping power, and is readily available… but can you handle the recoil?

Obviously there are many more guns and calibers to choose from, but these are the most readily available rounds, and offer a lot of variations for guns to accompany them, so we’ll keep it simple today.

38 Special (Please note the serial number has been digitally removed for photo purposes)

So let us begin with the first answer that is often given.  “If you plan to just buy a gun and keep it around, but don’t have an actionable plan to get to the range weekly to hone your skills, then you may want a revolver.”

I’m guilty of telling people this, but it really isn’t the right answer.  A revolver is one of the most dependable guns anyone can ever own, but they only hold 5-6 shots on average, and they’re difficult to shoot.  The difficult action of squeezing this trigger often puts the bullets off target.  To make matters worse, not only did you miss your target, but now you’re out of bullets.

S&W J-Frame Revolver shown in ankle holster.

A revolver doesn’t make a great carry gun because of it’s small handle, and bulky chamber.  If you’re planning to carry inside the waistband with this, think again.  However, if you’re set on getting a revolver, realize its limitations, and plan to have it as a back up gun once you become more confident around guns.  In this case, it works as a great “in the car gun” or around your ankle in a holster.

The next gun on the list will be a .45 Caliber.  It has fantastic stopping power, and typically is in a full frame sized gun… big and heavy.  The average female might think this is too big of a gun to carry around all day, but might be suitable for her in a purse.  Please note that I don’t think keeping a gun in your purse is the best option, but it’s better than not at all.  Just realize your purse is already a target, so throwing a weapon in there  won’t help you when it gets snatched.

two great concealed carry handguns

Springfield Armory XDs on top, and XDm on bottom.

My brother has a Springfield Armory XD in the 45 caliber and he loves it.  For his body size and type, he’s able to get away with inside the waistband carry.  Additionally, it’s a more expensive round to train with, but in my opinion it’s the best stopping power a handgun can provide.  For those of you looking for a smaller alternative, consider the Springfield XDs.

The Springfield Armory XDs holds five in the magazine, and one in the chamber.  Additionally, they do have extended magazines available for the XDs, allowing you to have a couple extra rounds in a backup magazine, or two, or ten.  ;o)

The XDs is easily concealed inside your waistband either in the front or back of your pants.  It’s more appropriate for someone who wears tighter clothing, or possibly for someone who likes to go on jogs and wants to have a weapon with them.  It’s thin, compact, and packs a lethal punch.

Springfield XD Subcompact .40 Cal

My personal concealable gun of choice, is the Springfield Armory XD Subcompact in the 40 caliber.  As you can see from the leather holster, it gets well used, and it has saved my life.

To me, it’s a compact gun and fits my body well.  It’s a 40 caliber, so it’s easy to get ammunition for, and not too expensive to practice with.  I don’t sacrifice a whole lot of stopping power, but I am limited to only 10 rounds.  Like it’s younger brother, the XDs, the XD Subcompact has extended magazines available, which I carry with me most of the time.

Glock 19 (9mm) Inside the waistband

I always told my wife, “We’re going to have firearms in the house, and I just want you to know how to load and unload a gun, so you know its basic functions and aren’t afraid of it.”  One thing lead to another, and now she joyously shoots a Glock19.

She chose the Glock19 because of the cheap ammo price of 9mm, and the way it felt in her hand… (Probably the same reasons she picked me… too far?)  I trained her on a Sig Mosquito (.22 caliber), and the Glock was an easy upgrade for her to transition into.

The 9mm is a good round as I have mentioned, but since my wife weighs in at a whopping 105 lbs, it’s not practical for concealed carry for her… so she takes me with her, and often leaves the Glock in the car or by the bed.

Springfield XDm 9mm

Fortunately for her, the gun holds plenty of ammunition, and has accessories that allow her up to 100 rounds of ammo for that gun before changing the magazine to one of those Senator Feinstein specials.

Another alternative to someone who is not set on a specific brand, although now I sound stuck… is the Springfield Armory XDm.  It’s a 19+1, meaning it can hold 20 rounds in a standard magazine.  It’s similar in size to the Glock19, but for someone like me who often carries inside the waistband, I prefer to have the handle safety that comes standard on all XD guns.

In other words, if you snag the trigger digging it out of a purse, a car, or waistband, it wouldn’t accidentally discharge a round.  You’d have to have your hand firmly placed on the handle of the gun to engage the handle safety.  This little feature is why I’ve leaned towards Springfield XD’s, instead of Glocks over the years.  But like anything, it’s all about what works best for you.

Maxpedition Concealed Carry Bag

The last way I wanted to cover to carry concealed, is the Maxpedition line of bags.   They have fantastic bags, in all colors, that conveniently conceal virtually any firearm, and enough ammo to fight a small war.  If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to be someplace without the ability to carry, this bag is for you.  It’s great for hiking, camping, fishing, or even the mall (where legal). This is the Jumbo size, and easily carries any of the guns shown at the top of this blog.

Whatever method you choose, think it through, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Also, we’ll be covering this live on my weekly radio show, “The Gun Show.”  Join us Monday, February 25, 2013 at 7PM EST.  Feel free to call into the show with any questions you may have… and if you miss it, all episodes are archived for your convenience.

Finally… consider what you’re willing to change to make concealed carry a part of your EVERY DAY life.  Would you buy close that fit differently?  What about special underwear that allow you to carry around your house while in pajamas?  Situations that call for lethal force aren’t always predictable, so it’s your job to carry everyday in case the worst happens.  What would you do if someone tried to harm you right this instant?  Is your gun within arm’s reach right now?  If not, it should be…

Stay safe, stay legal, stay lethal.



6 Responses to “Best Concealed Carry Guns”

  1. David Goodman Says:

    Great article, Dave. My brother-in-law carries the Springfield XD .45 with the mag grip extension – I definitely dug the feel. I’ve been looking for a good CC gun and that’s my new top of the list. I’ve already got a Glock 17 9mm. Between its size and the safety issue, it’s just not gonna cut it as a carry weapon.


    • Dave Says:

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I love the gun, and now own more than I need. 😉 It’s saved me twice now, once from a potential armed robbery/assault, and the other from a coyote trying to eat my puppy if that one counts. I’m excited to hear what you end up doing for concealed.


  2. Burt Says:

    good article Dave, thanks for your input,
    myself I carry an LCR 357 by Ruger, and get to the range about twice a month, it may hold only 5 shots but all 5 are in a 6 in circle at 25 feet. I use a custom made in the belt holster which I have designed myself for the handgun, I have made 42 of them for other friends that shoot, and the best thing is that you can not even tell I am carrying, yet with use, you have it out and in your hand with ease,,


  3. Connie Says:

    Hello Dave. This is exactly the type article I’ve been looking for. I took a training course on how to use a pistol. I am new with firearms but I want to have one at home for home protection. I have a home alarm but we have lots of windows and I want to be able to defend me and my family should I need to. I am new at that but now that I have taken a class I am no longer afraid of guns. I want to have a pump action shotgun in the corner of my room near my side of bed but a handgun velcroed to my nightstand. The concealed weapon is the one I needed help with to buy. Your article helped with that. I will try out the ones you suggested before I buy just like the one I will use at home. I will also have my son, who is 21, trained in the use of these guns. He cannot carry because of being in college-not allowed on campus but still, when I am not home, I want him to be able to protect himself. I appreciate you stepping up to help those of us who need advice.


    • Dave Says:

      Thanks for your comment Connie, and I’m glad to hear that you’re being proactive in becoming un-afraid of guns. It was a learning curve for me, and I’m sure it is for many other people as well. Bottom line, get lots of training, and shoot as often as you can.

      May I also suggest that you view this other article on our site, “Shooting Glock 9mm low” as it will have many good resources for you to help increase accuracy (With any gun).


  4. D O Says:

    I agree with the article. After reviewing various experts opinions I have to disagree on stopping power of 45 vs others. If you have good hollow point ammo there isn’t much difference in the stopping power of a 45 vs a 9mm when it comes to a human being. It’s like the difference between squashing a fly with a brick or a bigger brick. They’ll both do the job. Shot placement is far, far more important, along with ammunition type.

    Great review of the various types of concealing weapons and important issues related to that and how to be pragmatic about it. Definitely will book mark it for my less experienced colleagues.


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