How to Pick the Best Concealed Carry Gun

From hand fit to lifestyle fit, choosing the best concealed carry gun takes careful consideration. Here’s what to look for.

So, you’ve recently made the decision to carry a handgun for personal defense. Congratulations! We understand how much thought goes into a decision that big, and we also realize that you’re far from alone. In fact, more American citizens have recently gravitated to the armed lifestyle than any other time in history. Welcome to the lifestyle!

And once that decision is made, the next most common step is to ask this question: What’s the best concealed carry gun? It’s a great question and one that must be asked by every concealed carry permit holder. However, the answer is not as simple as the question, because choosing the best concealed carry handgun is like choosing the best side dish to go with steak.

Tastes vary widely.

We’ll get to a list of suggestions for today’s best concealed carry guns, but there are a few brief—yet important—considerations that must the addressed before the shopping can begin.

Your New Lifestyle

Choosing to carry a gun daily for self defense is much more than just selecting the best concealed carry gun for you—it’s a full lifestyle shift. Said another way: Your life will be altered to mold around the concealed carry lifestyle. Fear not, however; this is less daunting than it initially seems, but your daily perspectives should change.

In many situations, carrying concealed won’t change the way you live once you find the best concealed carry gun for you. After all, it can’t be the “best” for you unless it carries comfortably … regardless of where you go.

But what about if you need to enter a school or a federal building. You can’t take your gun there, which means you need to think about what you’re going to do with it while at these off-limits locales. In many situations, that means securing your defensive handgun in your vehicle … and the glove box is not secure (think in-vehicle vaults). And what about clothing? Does your current wardrobe accommodate full concealment yet quick access to that gun? Things to think about.

Again: None of these hills are too steep to climb or are so life-altering that they should challenge your decision to carry concealed, but they’re all best addressed before you strap up.

Knowledge is Power

Just like buying a pair of skates doesn’t make you a hockey player, purchasing a handgun for concealed carry doesn’t make you an expert in self defense.

After you find the best concealed carry gun for you, hunting up good training should be as high on your priority list as finding ammunition to feed your new pistol. Once again, don’t let this seem like a hurdle. In fact, it’s an opportunity to partake in a labor of love that you already enjoy: more range time.

The good news is that Stock & Barrel offers classes catered to whatever your skillset requires. From the Permit to Carry and New Shooter/Basic Handgun courses for those with only a few rounds downrange under their belt, to Draw from the Holster and Judgement Skills classes for on-going concealed carry training, you can combine education with enjoyment to build out your specific skillset.

And, for those who really want the paramount treatment, Stock & Barrel also offers private lessons. So, skip ballroom dancing and take a private couple’s course with your significant other.

Handgun shooting is a depreciating skillset, which means that proficiency training is not a one-and-done affair. Your motor skills, as well as your decision making, need frequent and focused honing.

Caliber Considerations

The firearm that you give the nod to as the best concealed carry gun might not work for your significant other … or even your best friend who is physically very similar to you. Preference is king in the world of defensive handguns, and that pertains as much to caliber as it does brand.

And, speaking of friends, don’t lose one while arguing over which caliber best serves the CCW armed citizen. Currently, the most popular include:

  • .380 ACP

  • .38 Special

  • 9mm

  • .40 S&W

  • .45 ACP

  • 10mm

So, which is best? All of them … and none of them. But it’s wise to fully understand that the ammo you feed your defensive handgun is much more important than the number stamped on the barrel. Bullet construction cannot be overstated.

It’s no secret that the 9mm reigns supreme in popularity, mostly because it checks all the adequacy boxes: available ammo and guns, capable of neutralizing a threat, and produces mild recoil. Sure, a .45 ACP delivers more energy to the target at defensive ranges, but the increase in felt recoil is significant. Very significant.

Be honest with yourself when it comes to a gun and a caliber that feels good … and feels right. Lucky for you, Stock & Barrel rents guns, which means you can test drive as many combinations as you’d like.

Finding the Fit

Black polymer handguns might all look alike on the shelf, but things can change dramatically when you begin to wrap your fingers around each one—and even more so when you begin pulling triggers.

Again, personal preferences is paramount here, but you should run each gun you handle against two main factors before you dub on the best concealed carry gun: how the gun feels in your hand, and how the gun works into your style of carry.

In regard to grip, the gun should promote a fundamentally high grip to help prevent control problems. If the gun is too big for your hand, even a smooth-shooting 9mm will become jumpy.

And in regard to your carry style, you’ve got to be honest with yourself and your general wardrobe. A 280-pound construction worker might easily conceal a full-framed .45 ACP, a 170-pound businessman with form-fitting suits might require a completely different setup.

Test drive some guns, and then test drive some more. Besides, Stock & Barrel has more ammo in stock than you’ve seen in one place in a very, very long time.

Models to Test Drive

Alright, alright … as promised. Here’s a list of some of the best concealed carry guns as dictated by models that are currently very popular:

  • Sig P365

  • Springfield Hellcat

  • Springfield XDe

  • Glock 48, 19x and 43

  • FN 509 Midsize

  • S&W M&P Shield 9mm

  • Walther CCP .380 ACP

  • Walther PPK

But this can’t be said enough: We cannot choose the best concealed carry gun for you. That decision is yours … and yours alone. But before you decide, you owe it to yourself to try a bunch to see what fits your hands and your lifestyle.

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