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The essential guide to choosing a concealed carry handgun

Concealed Carry Handgun Recommendations

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.

Ruger LCP

Ruger LCP with Crimson Trace Laserguard

Ruger LCP with Crimson Trace Laserguard

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.

  • Caliber: .380 Auto
  • Capacity: 6+1 / 7+1 with extended magazine
  • Weight empty: 10 oz
  • Recommended accessories: Ruger 7-round extended magazines, magazine holster, IWB or Pocket holster and Crimson Trace Lasergrips
  • Similar alternatives: Kahr CW380, Kahr P380, Sig Sauer P238


SCCY CPX-2 with ArmaLaser TR10 laser sight

SCCY CPX-2 with ArmaLaser TR10 laser sight

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).

GLOCK G19 Gen4

GLOCK G19 Gen4 9mm

GLOCK G19 Gen4 9mm

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.

  • Caliber: .9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Weight empty: 20.99 oz
  • Recommended accessories: Magazine holster, IWB holster and Crimson Trace LG-851 Lasergrips
  • Similar alternatives: Springfield Armory XDM Compact, Springfield Armory XD Compact, Smith and Wesson M&P 9, Kahr P9, Kahr CW9

Smith & Wesson Model 642 Revolver

Smith & Wesson Model 642 Revolver

Smith & Wesson 642 Revolver

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.

  • Caliber: .38 S&W Special +P
  • Capacity: 5 rounds
  • Weight empty: 15 oz
  • Recommended accessories: Speed loader or speed strip, IWB holster and Crimson Trace LG-105 Lasergrips
  • Similar alternatives: Taurus Model 850, Smith and Wesson Model 442, Ruger LCR 38 SPL +P

Springfield Armory XD-S 45

Springfield Armory XD-s Bi-Tone 45 ACP

Springfield Armory XD-s 45 ACP

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.

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 5+1 / 7+1 with X-Tension magazine
  • Weight empty: 21.5 oz with flush fitting magazine
  • Recommended accessories: 7-round X-Tension magazine, Magazine holster, IWB holster and Crimson Trace LG-469 Lasergrips
  • Similar alternatives: Glock G30S, Glock G36, Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm, Springfield Armory XDM Compact, Smith and Wesson M&Pc

Smith and Wesson Model 351 Revolver

Smith & Wesson Model 351 Revolver

Smith & Wesson Model 351 Revolver

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.

  • Caliber: .22 Magnum
  • Capacity: 7 rounds
  • Weight empty: 10.8 oz
  • Recommended accessories: Speed loader or speed strip, IWB holster and Crimson Trace LG-105 Lasergrips
  • Similar alternatives: Ruger LCR Revolver, Taurus Ultra-Lite Model 941, Charter Arms Pathfinder

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