This article is part of our series on concealed carry handguns.
There’s no magic handgun (semi-auto or revolver) that will work for everyone in every situation. We all have different requirements, objectives, limitations and overall criteria for selecting a specific model of gun.
In order to find out what matters most to you, I recommend you start by reading our guide to concealed carry handguns, then after defining your requirements, review these specific models as a start to your research.
The guns listed below were chosen based on reliability, price, availability of accessories and the specific models ability to fill a role or meet a defined objective.
Please remember that no gun, no matter how good, will make up for a lack of training. You need to train frequently if you want to be proficient with your firearm.
The Ruger LCP is one of the most widely popular small semi-automatic .380s on the market. It’s extremely reliable and comes in at a lower price point than many of the other “pocket” .380s. The capacity is limited to 6+1, so I recommend you purchase a couple of Ruger 7+1 extended magazines. The LCP is offered both with and without the Crimson Trace Lasergrips.
If you’re looking for a small frame semi-automatic but still want a gun chambered in 9mm, check out the SCCY CPX-2. This little DAO pistol has a capacity of 10+1 and leaves you with plenty of money left to purchase a holster and laser. They also offer a version with a manual thumb safety (CPX-1).
The Glock G19 Gen4 shares many similarities with the extremely popular Glock G17 but in a slightly smaller package. The G19 is chambered in 9mm, provides 15+1 capacity and features a 4” barrel. The gun also includes a modular back strap design, allowing it to adapt to an individual shooter's hand size. The G19 features the standard Glock accessory rail, allowing the addition of a numerous rail mounted laser or lights.
For those looking for a concealed carry revolver, you need not look any further than the S&W Model 642. This J-Frame is one of the most popular revolvers currently in production. Chambered in .38 Special, the 642 has a 5 round capacity and weighs in at 15 oz, unloaded. Since you’ll be limited to 5 rounds, I recommend you invest in a speed loader or speed strip. With practice, this will provide reload speeds that revival a semi-auto.
Looking for a smaller .45 ACP for concealed carry? The XD-S might just fit the bill. The Springfield Armory XD-S 45 is a slim profile semi-automatic pistol chambered in the powerful .45 ACP. It comes with two interchangeable backstraps, allowing shooters of varying hand sizes to get the perfect grip. The XD-S also features a bright red fiber optic front sight which aids in target acquisition.
Similar to the 642, the S&W Model 351 is a J-Frame revolver. Only this revolver comes chambered in .22 Magnum and offers a 7 round capacity in a slightly lighter package. While I normally recommend a larger caliber for defensive purposes (.380 ACP and above), some individuals have physical limitations and are unable to handle larger calibers. For these individuals, the Model 351 is a good compromise.
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