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A concealed-carry handgun is an important tool. You need something that you can use effectively and, more importantly, carry every day comfortably. Go to any gun store and you’ll see that the options can be staggering. There is a wide variety of sizes, styles, calibers, and price points, so I’m here to help you sort through a few of the best concealed carry guns you can buy today.
How I Chose the Best Concealed Carry Guns
I selected a dozen concealed carry guns that either I or the Outdoor Life staff have shot or tested strenuously. I carry every day, and spend a lot of time shooting various handguns. I’ve fired over 10,000 rounds of pistol ammunition in 2023 (as of April), and I’ve gotten an in-depth look at how a lot of these pistols stack up. I made my picks based not only on what the highest performers are, but also on reliable guns at a good value. This provides a spectrum of options from which just about anybody can find something they will like and can afford.
Best Concealed Carry Guns: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Compact: Staccato CS
Barrel length: 3.5 inches
Weight: 27 ounces
Dawson Precision optics mounting system
Dual rod and spring recoil system
High-quality parts and fit
Bulkier grip than some other compact striker-fired pistols
The CS is very controllable. Scott Einsmann
Staccato 2011 (formerly STI) introduced the CS for 2023, and after putting a collective 2,500-3,000 rounds through two of them, I’m sold. I’ve found them to be very reliable with every type of ammunition I could find—from 115-grain ball through 147-grain hollowpoints. easy to shoot, and incredibly accurate. The average of 10 groups I fired from a supported position at 50 yards with three different types of ammunition was .676 inches. Read a full review of the Staccato CS here.
The CS has great ergonomics. Scott Einsmann
At around the size of a Glock 19, just slightly slimmer, the Staccato CS is a downsized 2011 pistol. It has some key differences from larger 2011’s and 2011-style pistols like the Staccato P and Springfield 1911 DS Prodigy. The grip and frame are smaller, and the CS uses a re-designed magazine that’s similar in shape and size to the Sig P365’s magazines. It still uses the 1911’s controls and trigger, but the recoil system has been updated to a dual guide rod system that makes the CS the flattest-shooting compact 9mm I’ve fired.
The Staccato CS is an expensive gun, and the supply bottleneck is resulting in some being scalped for pretty wild prices. Ordered from Staccato, the pistol will cost $2,500, but we’ve seen the tangible benefits you’re getting for the money—both in the build quality and on-target performance.
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches
Weight: 23 ounces
Three-dot night sights
Best in-class capacity
Low recoil impulse
Modular fire control unit
Trigger is a little mushy
The P365 XMacro Tacops comes optics ready. Scott Einsmann
Sig Sauer has been busy over the past few years, producing an array of variations of their front-running models. The Sig Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops is the second iteration of the P365 XMacro, which is an up-sized version of the micro-compact P365 that features a compensator-cut slide. If the XMacro Tacops seems a little redundant, it is, but it is one of the best compact concealed carry guns right now. It’s ultra slim, with unmatched capacity in its class.
The P365 design is very modular. The P365 XMacro Tacops slide can be used on the standard P365 grip module. Tyler Freel
The biggest difference between the Tacops and standard XMacro is a slight simplification. The Tacops is the same overall size, but has a longer barrel because it lacks the integral slide compensator. The XMacro Tacops also features a small magwell that’s effective, but unobtrusive. Compared to the smaller standard P365, the XMacro Tacops has a larger grip and longer slide. The 17-round magazines are the same, and they fit in the P365, they’re just longer. The XMacro Tacops has a similar footprint to the Glock G19 and Staccato CS, but it’s a little more comfortable to carry inside the waistband because it’s thinner.
I’ve expended about 1,800 rounds between two of these pistols, and aside from a couple failures to feed in the first 100-round break-in period, they’ve run great. The P365 XMacro Tacops is an incredibly soft-shooting pistol, and points intuitively. The trigger isn’t too heavy, but it doesn’t have a firm wall. At our 2023 gun test, we did some slow-mo video analysis of rapid fire strings between the Tacops and ported XMacro, and found that the more affordable Tacops showed only slightly more muzzle flip. I couldn’t tell the difference while shooting them. You can read a full review of the Sig P365 XMacro Tacops here.
Barrel Length: 4.02 inches
Weight: 21 ounces
Gen 5 MOS version is optic-ready
Ambidextrous slide stop and reversible mag-catch
Time proven and reliable
Many aftermarket upgrades available
Commonly available holsters
Iron sights aren’t great
Grip angle is different than most other pistols
Glock’s 19th model, the Glock G19, is one of the most prolific and effective concealed carry guns in the world. Glock was an original innovator and is still a superpower in the world of polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols, and the G19 is one of many successful Glock models. It’s one of the original compact, 9mm poly pistols, and still one of the best concealed carry guns on the market today.
The Glock G19’s beauty is in its simplicity. Let’s face it, it’s not beautiful in any other way. The G19 is effective though. It’s relatively easy to conceal, easy to shoot, and very simple to operate. Glock’s built a reputation of reliability over the decades, and the G19 has managed to stay at the front of the pack since the late 80s. Not many similar-sized pistols have bested its 15+1-round capacity, and it’s available in just about every gun store.
The success of the G19 (bottom right), and user modifications and customizations of G19’s has led to several aftermarket G19 clones like the Lone Wolf Arms Dusk 19 (top left).
Despite their motto of “perfection,” there are some things that shooters commonly modify on their Glock G19’s. The factory sights must go immediately. Really they aren’t terrible, but they could be much better, and there is an entire industry of aftermarket Glock-compatible parts, sights, and accessories that has grown up alongside the G19. Companies like Shadow Systems and Palmetto State Armory even offer G19 clone pistols. If you get the Gen 5 MOS version of the G19, you’ll see some updates to the grip, an ambidextrous slide stop, and an optics-ready slide. Even after 35 years, the G19 is one of the best carry guns you can buy.
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 3 inches
Weight: 38 ounces
Polished stainless steel
Interchangeable front ramp sight
Excellent fit and quality
Smooth double- and single-action trigger
Improved frame strength from older Pythons
Full-size grip isn’t the easiest to conceal
There are some folks who subscribe to the theory that real guns are wheel guns, and they’d trust their life to nothing but a revolver. There are some great revolvers to choose from, but one of my favorites has been the Colt Python 3-inch model. In recent years, Colt has breathed new life into its classic Python line, and the 3-inch model is one of their most recent. The short .357 Mag revolver might be a little stubby, but it’s all Python. For a revolver fan that wants to carry under a jacket, it’s one of the best concealed carry guns you can choose.
Everything about the Colt Python 3-inch is Python, just with a shorter barrel. It features the same quality wood grips, same frame and cylinder, and the contemporary Pythons have a bit of reinforcement added to the frame under the rear sight. They hold six rounds and use a transfer bar firing system so that you can safely carry it with a round under the lowered hammer.
The Cold Python 3-inch is as much about nostalgia as performance, and it performs very well. Operation is butter-smooth, and the full-size grip makes full-power defensive loads quite manageable. This revolver isn’t the most concealable, but for OWB carry under a jacket, or even IWB under a loose shirt, you don’t find too many options better—or cooler—than the Python. You can read a full review of the Colt Python 3-inch here.
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Beveled slide for concealed carry
Modular fire control unit and grip design
Great grip texture
Cross-compatible with other OEM and aftermarket P365 parts
Triggers are a little mushy
The ember that seemingly lit the blazing hot micro 9mm pistol market is the Sig P365. There have been many other micro-compact 9mm pistols, but the Sig P365 was one of the first to maximize capacity of the tiny platforms. The Standard P365 holds 10 rounds in its small double-stack magazine, while keeping its ultra-discreet size.
Many other tiny nines have hit the market in recent years, but the P365 is well thought out and still holding its own. The standard black nitron model comes with three-dot Xray tritium night sights and two magazines. Both mags hold 10 rounds of 9mm, but one has a slightly extended baseplate to give the pinky finger some real estate to grip. The ergonomics and grip shape of the P365 are excellent, and the pistol points well. Recoil is a little snappy, but in line with what most micro 9mm pistols feel like.
The P365 is a small and effective platform. This one is using XTech Tactical’s +3 round magazine extension for a total capacity of 13+1 rounds Tyler Freel
There are many P365 models, but the standard is still one of the best concealed carry guns on the market. The strength of the P365 is not just in its performance, but its modularity. The fire control units (FCU’s) of every 9mm P365 are compatible, and you can get upgraded FCU’s, grips, and other parts. You can even swap some parts, such as carrying the P365 XL/P365 XMacro Tacops slide assembly installed on your standard P365 for a longer sight radius and softer recoil while keeping the short grip. You can read a full review of the Sig Sauer P365 here.
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 10+1, 12+1
Barrel Length: 2.8 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Cocking ears on slide
Tritium front sight
Great cocking serrations
Excellent capacity for size
Not very accurate at longer distances
Although small, the .380 ACP cartridge is still popular among the best guns for concealed carry. Ruger saw great success with their single-stack LCP pistol, but recognized room for improvement. As the micro-compact pistol market has surged, and manufacturers have boosted the capacity of these tiny guns, Ruger followed suit.
With the slightly extended magazine, the LCP Max holds 13 rounds of ammunition, and is only slightly thicker than the original single-stack design. It’s easy to shoot, reliable, and small enough to stick in a pocket. With the high-performance projectiles we have today, a high-capacity .380 pocket pistol is still a formidable defensive concealed carry gun.
The Ruger LCP Max is reasonably accurate out to 15 yards or so, but it’s most effective at very close range. The slide cycles fast, and the recoil feels a bit snappy, but there isn’t much muzzle flip and the pistol is very easy to control. You can read a full review of the Ruger LCP Max here.
Capacity: 11+1, 13+1
Barrel Length: 3.71 inches
Weight: 20 ounces
Beveled slide for easy holstering
Good optic-mounting system
Some pistols have reliability issues during break-in
Taurus is known for affordable pistols, and their GX4 and GX4XL have turned out to be excellent values in the market of concealed carry guns. The GX4XL is a sub-compact 9mm with a slightly longer barrel (3.7 in.) than its predecessor, the GX4 (3.06 in.). It comes with an 11- and 13-round magazine, and the T.O.R.O. model comes optics-ready with an RMS pattern and removable rear pillars.
The GX4 and GX4XL are built in a similar fashion as the Sig P365 Line. Rather than slide rails molded into the frame, the trigger assembly and slide rails are in a removable stainless steel chassis that sits in the grip module. Like the P365, this allows modularity between models, and the GX4XL is similar to the P365 XL in size. With the longer slide and recoil system, the GX4XL is surprisingly soft shooting. It has a good trigger that isn’t light, but it is crisp.
In putting more than 1,000 rounds through two different GX4XL T.O.R.O. pistols, I noted that one of them had some reliability issues at first. When chambering, the slide would stop about ¼-inch out of battery. After about 250 rounds fired, the gun broke in and I didn’t encounter any more function issues. The second pistol never malfunctioned. These pistols can be found for between $350 and $400. Considering the feature set, shootability, and price, this is a great value among the best concealed carry guns. You can read the full review of the GX4XL T.O.R.O. here.
Capacity: 11+1, 13+1
Barrel Length: 3.37 inches
Weight: 23 ounces
Enclosed slide with ejection port
Great grip texture
Good sights and optic mount
Unique design that isn’t modular
The R7 Mako was new territory for Kimber when they introduced it a short time ago. They’re better known for fine 1911-style handguns. This polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol performs as a heavy-hitter in the micro-compact 9mm market. It features a delightfully contoured and textured frame and, notably, a top-covered ejection port. It’s designed from the ground up as a concealed carry pistol.
Looks aren’t the pistol’s strengths, and it isn’t one that I’d normally pick off the shelf. I had the chance to put quite a few rounds through it at our 2022 gun test, and I was quickly won over. It’s a tiny-but-effective 9mm pistol that’s really pleasant to shoot.
The Kimber R7 is available both in optics-ready format and outfitted with a Crimson Trace CTS-1500 reflex sight. It comes with two high-quality magazines with capacities 11+1 and 13+1 rounds of 9mm. The extended magazine features a nice base plate rather than a magazine grip sleeve that many other manufacturers use. Recoil feels a little snappy, but all-in-all, it’s a great micro nine and a top contender among the best concealed carry guns. See the full Kimber R7 Mako review here.
Barrel Length: 3.41 inches
Weight: 23.1 ounces
MOS model is Optics-ready
Front and rear cocking serrations
Increased capacity from G43
Comfortable to shoot
Not best-in-class capacity
The G43X is the pistol that keeps Glock’s sub-compact line in the running with other pistols like the P365. The Glock G43 has long been one of the best concealed carry guns, but the single-stack format has fallen out-of-favor with many shooters.
Adding capacity to the Glock 43, the 43X incorporates a 3.41-inch barrel, and slim frame with front and rear cocking serrations. It uses a 10-round magazine, a significant boost over the standard G43’s 6 rounds. You won’t find a lot of frills, but if you’re a fan of Glocks, you know what you’re getting—a reliable pistol that’s ultra-comfortable to carry and shoot.
The MOS version of the G43X is optics ready, and you can find G43X and optic packages at an affordable price. The newer G48 has generated lots of interest too—it’s slimmer and has the same capacity. However, several shooters I’ve talked to weren’t pleased with the feel of the G48 when shooting and still prefer the G43X.
Smith and Wesson
Capacity: 10+1, 13+1
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Weight: 20 ounces
Stainless steel slide and barrel
Orange-ring tritium night sights
Flush and extended magazine
No accessory rail
The M&P Shield Plus from Smith & Wesson is an updated version of the Shield and Shield 2.0, with increased capacity. Although it doesn’t include a light rail, the grip texture, handling, and ergonomics of the Shield Plus are excellent. For folks who are fond of the Smith & Wesson M&P line and shoot them well, this is one of the best carry guns out there.
In the rapidly developing field of micro-compact pistols, capacity is important, and the 9mm Shield Plus comes with flush and extended magazines with 10+1 and 13+1 capacity respectively.
The M&P Shield Plus really shines in its early adoption of the new .30 Super Carry cartridge from Federal. The smaller-diameter cartridge produces similar ballistic performance as the 9mm but with increased capacity. The .30 Super Carry Shield Plus will hold an impressive 13+1 and 16+1 rounds in its flush and extended magazines, while delivering 9mm performance.
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches
Weight: 20.7 ounces
Tritium front sight, U-notch rear sight
Excellent grip and grip texture
Flush magazine with great capacity
Recoil is notably snappy
Like many of its peers, the Springfield Hellcat Pro seeks to strike a perfect balance between concealability and magazine capacity. In that regard, it does a good job. It is a hair smaller than a Glock 19 and a hair larger than the Micro-9s but has a 15+1 capacity with flush-mounted magazines. It is also trimmer than a G19 and has low-profile controls for snag-free carry.
Like other Springfield pistols, it is spec-ed out with a solid list of features. It has a reversible magazine catch, a loaded-chamber indicator on the top of the slide, it comes with two quality magazines, has a tough Melonite finish, a generously-sized accessory rail, and cocking serrations on the front and rear of the slide.
The Hellcat Pro OSP is a heavy-hitter in the sub-compact market, and it’s a reliable, solid choice among the best concealed carry guns. Although the muzzle flip isn’t bad, the Hellcat pistols tend to have slightly snappier recoil than other similar-sized guns, but they still aren’t bad to shoot. They are one of the best at packing a lot of ammunition into a slim, small package.
John B. Snow
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 1.87 inches
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Convenient and compact
Aesthetics aren’t exceptional.
Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to a carry gun, and some folks find that a compact .22 LR revolver suits them fine. The Ruger LCR .22 holds 8 rounds of ammo, and features a comfortable Hogue grip. The revolver is easily concealed, and can be constantly on-duty for pests or threats. The .22 is arguably underpowered for general self-defense applications, but the gun you have on you is better than the one you don’t. One way to resolve that issue is to go with .22 LR ammo that is purpose-build for self defense.
This revolver isn’t as handsome as many others on the market, but it’s fun to shoot, easy to maintain, and can be carried as an EDC option, or used as a trainer for larger-caliber revolvers. OL Shooting Editor John B. Snow tested the Ruger LCR hard and you can read his full review here.
How to Choose the Best Concealed Carry Gun
The Colt Python at the firing line. Tanner Denton
If you’re wondering, What’s the best concealed carry gun?, well, the answer depends. Choosing the best concealed carry gun for you means considering several factors:
Carry position and where you prefer to carry your gun
Your clothing style and how well it conceals a gun
How well the concealed carry gun fits your hand
Picking a concealed carry gun is a personal matter, and everyone will have different preferences based on their individual needs. However, there are excellent starting points, and our team has been able to thoroughly test and vet every gun on this list. Whether the feature set, size, or budget is most important to you, you’ll likely find a concealed carry gun on this list that will fit your needs. Most importantly, get some qualified training before you start carrying.
Read Next: Best 9mm Ammo
Q: What is the best gun to carry while running?
It’s most important to carry a gun that you can shoot safely and effectively, and for running, a holster that holds the gun securely to your body is more important than the particular handgun you choose. A concealed carry gun that’s light enough to carry on your day-to-day will work just fine for running, but a micro-compact will be your most concealable option.
Q: What is the safest concealed carry?
There are many methods to conceal carry that are very safe, whether inside the waistband (IWB), outside the waistband (OWB), or even off-body in a purse or bag. The most important factor is that you have a holster that’s designed to hold your particular gun securely and keep the trigger protected at all times when it’s in the holster.
Q: Which caliber is best for concealed carry?
The most popular caliber for concealed carry is 9mm. It’s moderately sized, but effective. The best caliber for you will depend on the gun you carry, how well you shoot it, how you want to carry your gun, and of course, your personal taste.
Final Thoughts on the Best Concealed Carry Guns
Choosing which gun to carry every day is an important decision, and the best concealed carry gun will be different for many people. There’s lots of things to consider when picking one, but a fortunate certainty is that you have a lot of options to choose from. Pick something that you can shoot well, and that you’ll carry every day. An EDC pistol won’t do you any good sitting in the gun safe at home.
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