Concealed Carry

Considerations for Concealed Carry Handguns

Kahr Sights

In a perfect world, all guns would do all things and they would all do them perfectly. Unfortunately, the vast majority of guns are usually only good in just one or two roles. The characteristics that make up certain types of firearms typically correspond to whatever market the manufacturer was trying to tackle. For the deer hunter, a highly accurate bolt-action rifle in a medium to large size caliber does the trick perfectly. Rate of fire and magazine capacity is far less important. For the soldier, rate of fire, magazine capacity, weight, caliber and ruggedness are just a few of the important specifications. For concealed carry, what characteristics make the perfect gun? Has someone already made it?


Kimber 1911
Kimber 1911

If you ask 10 gun store clerks about the best possible concealed carry handgun, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. It is a confusing market with a myriad of players and they all claim to have the best of the best. A good place to start when thinking about carrying concealed is finding that perfect balance between handgun size and caliber. In the old days, many carry guns in use were of smaller calibers. The .22 LR, .25 and .32 ACP covered every corner of the concealed carry market. However, since few calibers came close to having a good combination of power and size, the .380 ACP ended up holding the crown for years. For revolvers, the .38 Special filled multiple roles in both concealed carry and duty guns. This trend continues today as a great number of concealed carry revolvers are .38 Specials. For semi-autos, the 9mm overtook the .380 ACP and tends to be the leading concealed carry cartridge. Newer advances in materials and technology allow manufacturers to design smaller and smaller handguns, without having to sacrifice caliber. Don’t discount the larger calibers however, as some shooters can handle the snappy recoils. Concealable .40 S&W and .45 ACP are commonplace and some don’t mind the slightly increased size.


Once you determine your caliber, it’s time to look at action. If you chose a caliber normally associated with revolvers, then you might be looking at a double-action revolver. This means you don’t have to pull the hammer back before shooting. I don’t know too many people who try to conceal a Colt Single Action Army anyway. Revolvers tend to be comparatively thin, which means easy concealment. Many modern concealable revolvers have an internal hammer as well. This could be a great thing, since you don’t have to worry about the hammer snagging on purses or clothing. Still, a standard external hammer is fine since it gives you the option of pulling back the hammer for more accurate shots at the range. Another advantage to most revolvers is safety. A double action trigger tends to be long and heavy, so you’ll worry less about negligent discharges.

Kahr Sights
Kahr Sights

For the semi-auto fans out there, you have a few choices. Some concealed carry semi-autos are double-action only. This means, much like a revolver, they tend to have a long and heavy trigger every time you shoot. This is a great safety feature but can influence accuracy, especially if the shooter is less experienced. Some of these handguns have thumb safeties while others do not. This is a personal choice only you can make.

Single-action semi-autos, like the venerable Colt 1911 are excellent for accuracy, but you must remain cognizant about the trigger. Once you rack the slide and cock the hammer, that trigger is going to be short and light. While proper safety is always the most important aspect of gun ownership, it never hurts to be a extra careful when dealing with a short and light trigger. I have to say that most of the negligent discharges I’ve seen have been from being careless around a single-action semi-auto.

Single-action/double-action handguns still make up a large portion of the market. The main difference here is you do not have to pull the hammer back on the first shot. As long as you previously chambered a round, a single pull of the trigger will cock and release the hammer. While the weapon cycles, the slide will push back the hammer, which will make your trigger pull much shorter on your follow-up shots. It takes some getting used to and you should always be aware of the position of the hammer.

Striker-fired handguns are a sort of middle ground. When firing a cartridge or loading the chamber, the striker will rest in a partially cocked position. The trigger serves the function of completing the cocking cycle and then releasing the striker or hammer. While technically two actions, it differs from a double-action trigger in that the trigger is not capable of fully cocking the striker. It differs from single action in that if the striker or hammer were to release, it would generally not be capable of igniting the primer.


Another characteristic to consider are the sights. Adjustable sights are always nice, but they may not be completely necessary on a concealed carry gun. Since most defensive situations happen at very close range, high precision shots are not always possible. If you practice with your gun, as you should, you’ll know how it shoots and your firing process will become second nature. Adjustable sights are also more susceptible to breakage. It’s rare, but getting them caught on doorways and other objects can knock them out of alignment or break them off.

Single Stack or Double

Kimber Solo Carry
Kimber Solo Carry

For semi-automatic handguns, there are two main magazine types. A single stack is simply a magazine that holds all your ammunition in a single row, one on top of the other. This makes for a very thin profile and works wonders for concealment. The original 1911 design is a single stack, as is the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. A double stack, like a GLOCK magazine, staggers the ammunition on one side and then the other. This gives you more ammo while retaining a shorter grip. The drawback here is the grip tends to be much wider. The sweet spot is to have a double stack, which is still thin enough to conceal. For many people, the GLOCK 26 is wide, but not too wide to carry. This is a personal preference feature since both types are perfectly valid.

Finding the Perfect Match

Every consideration is important when deciding to carry concealed. Remember this tool could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one. While no gun is absolutely perfect, weighing all the options is a good first step in choosing which handgun is right for you.

What is your perfect concealed carry pistol? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (66)

  1. Great article! I often read comments (even some posted here) about folks carrying different CCW’s depending on the weather or the particular time of year: ex. winter vs. summer. After living most of my life in the northeast, and now living in Texas, one thing I’ve learned is that it’ makes much more sense to me at least, and is also much less expensive, to invest in different holsters for your pistol rather than spending so much money on different pistols. I have 2 concealed carry pistols; a Glock 27 and an H&K P2000.
    Since both are chambered in .40 it saves me from having to buy different caliber ammunition. I use Hornady Critical Defense or Federal Hydra-Shock in both. But the real value is the variety of holsters I use for different times of year or different modes of carry. I wear a Thiess IWB which works well either with jeans or belted shorts and any pullover (including tee shirts) as well as button down shirts. I wear a 3 speed holster when wearing
    beltless shorts such as gym shorts. When wearing dress clothes, I have a cell pal IWB which works great and Blackhawk OWB if wearing a jacket, heavy hoodie type sweatshirt or a jacket that I know I won’t be removing. I have a belly band holster as well, although I seldom if ever wear it because the others do the job well in every type of weather we’re having. I wish I had the budget to support having several different pistols at my disposal, but unfortunately I don’t so I figure this way gives me the most “bang” for the buck! (Pun intended) One other advantage is that these are the only pistols I shoot, and as a result I have become very proficient with both. I take both guns, 200-250 rounds of ammo to the range 3-4 times a month and practice, practice, practice! Also, dry fire (with the P2000) and practicing drawing and sight picture and re-holstering at home has been a definite plus in my book. Stay safe everyone and always remember to be in condition yellow at a minimum and always be aware of your surroundings.
    “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”
    – Author unknown (to me)

  2. In my opinion, this was one of the best articles on weapon selection as well as ammo considerations.
    Well Done!

  3. For Preacher:

    Best of luck. I am glad that your pistol worked so well for you. I hate to see any good person suffer at the hands of criminals.
    For additional reading on the subject, check out the Miami/Dade FBI felony car stop on two bank robbers. It demonstrated the inadequacy of the 9MM when loaded with the best ammo the FBI could secure.
    There is also the case of a Chicago police officer who emptied two full magazines from a Glock 17 into the chest of his attacker at point blank, or contact, range, while the attacker had his hands on the officer’s throat. The attacker strangled the cop to death and ran for several city blocks before expiring from blood loss. Two full magazines of 9MM from a Glock 17 failed to save the officer’s life.
    I know of no similar events where a .45 ACP was used.
    So, readings like those, both of which I believe are well documented instances of defensive shooting were instrumental in forming my opinions. There are quite a few others, but I do not believe they are as well known.
    I have read that when the Germans crowned the 9MM “Parabellum” (roughly translated “for war”) they knew it was intended to be a wounding or disabling round and not a killing round. They were interested in wounding and not killing because it tied up more of an opposing nation’s resources to treat wounded than deal with the dead. If true, then the 9MM was intended from the inception to wound and not to kill.
    Heaven forbid I ever have to use my pistol but if I must, I want the outcome to be decisive and in my favor. I also hope that one round shall be sufficient, and not the entire magazine.
    Good luck.

  4. For Owen. Wonderful insight and a lifetime of experience to go with it. Thanks for taking the time to write, Owen. I live in a remote place, no neighbors. Last June, I came home, alone, not knowing that there were three men inside my home, and two more outside. It took 25 minutes for the first sheriff to arrive. By that time, I had called on my neighbor for backup and we were holding two men at gunpoint. Another man actually ran straight to a HP car screaming, “Let me in!” So your point about the presence of a weapon being enough is 90% of all cases is right on.

    I guess my only other thought on the stopping force of a 380 is that, if the first shot doesn’t stop the bad guy, the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth shots are all within a half second of each other. And cumulatively, when I unload my 380, it will stop a grizzly or a crackhead.

  5. For Preacher:

    I definitely agree that bullet type is important. But, so is terminal energy. If I hit you, very gently, with a big ball bat, is that going to stop you from attacking me? I might choose the best bat in the world but I am still hitting you gently.
    DOD determined it took a minimum of 300 FT/Lbs of terminal energy to qualify as a minimum defensive pistol round. The .380 doesn’t ever get anywhere near 300 Ft/Lbs and so I do not carry it.
    I believe effectiveness of a round is a mix of energy and bullet type and that weakening either reduces the effectiveness of the round.
    I have read too many accounts of shootings with the 9MM that found it wanting. Of course, some times it works and you do not see a lot written about that. But, let the round fail to work and it gets a lot of attention. I have seen very little written about the .380, the .32, or the .25. However, a great deal is written about the 9MM and it has been found lacking in a number of encounters. The 9MM is loaded with some very good bullets and yet it fails to end, successfully, the confrontation. The .380, in its best loading, never even approaches the energy of the 9MM. So, I reason that I cannot depend on it to save my life.
    I am not looking for confrontation but, at 71 and with at least 50 years experience and dedication to hand gun shooting, and reading or analyzing reports of defensive shootings, I draw conclusions. I am old, have bad knees and failed surgery on my right shoulder. I am basically crippled or physically impaired. If I have to defend my life, or that of my wife, I may only get one shot. I do not believe a .380, or a .32, or a .25 will do the job and so I make the compromises. My .45 Colt and my Ruger SR40C are bigger than most .380’s and I have to make adjustments. However, I do have to depend on my choice to save my life. Sometimes I carry a fanny pack and anyone with experience knows by how it hangs that it has a heavy load, presumably a pistol.
    However, many criminals are lazy and uninformed. They may not know I am armed. But, they know I made eye contact and have exhibited an air of watching them and being ready to resist an attack. I know police officers are taught this skill. There job puts them, sometimes, in harm’s way. Generally, in the US, they carry at least a 9MM and often either a .40 or .45. They have more experience than most. Unfortunately long deceased retired Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper insisted on the .45 as the minimum defensive pistol. However, he lived before the .40 was known. Rex Applegate, who was “Wild Bill” William J. Donovan’s personal choice to teach self defense and hand to hand combat to operatives of the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA, before WWII believed and practiced carrying a .45 ACP as a minimum defensive gun. I had the great privilege to talk to Rex Applegate before his death and got “the word” from his lips.
    One conclusion I have drawn from my experience and reading is that you “have to use enough gun”. Small and low recoil are not my principle criteria. Enough energy to disable or kill my attacker is my principle objective. I do not want to just make the attacker angry.
    Just as I would never hunt lion, tiger, rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo or other large and dangerous game with a .22 rim-fire, I am not going to bet my life on any pistol with less than 300 Ft/Lbs of terminal energy. I would rather make the compromises in size and weight necessary to end an attack. Small and easily carried or concealable is of less importance to me than a belief if I ever have to shoot to same my life, the gun will do the job as I expect. That is why I also practice a lot, both with drills and live fire.
    Besides, if in some cases, as I believe and have experienced twice, if merely exhibiting a gun may end a confrontation, I am willing to go there. FBI statistics document that in mass shooting situations, a person exhibiting a hand gun may end a potential mass shooting. The most recent example of this that I have read about is the shooting at Clackamas Town Center near Portland, OR.
    Sometimes it must be obvious to even the casual observer that I am armed. I accept that and try to exhibit a friendly, but watchful attitude, practicing situational awareness out in public and packing either a .45 or .40 S&W if the situation gets bad.
    My purpose is to help others prevent being victims. I went to an inner city high school for two years and know that even good and innocent people can be victims. Been there, done that. Vowed after getting out of the hospital the 3rd time in my sophomore year, to never be a victim again.

  6. Owen, excellent story. And it is certainly true that a cracked out meth head is unpredictable at best. There has been a lot of opinion on weapon caliber in this forum. What I think a lot of people are forgetting is that type of bullet is every bit as important as caliber. Which is why I am confident with my 380. The rounds that I carry have a rubber filled hollow point. Upon impact, the rubber tip mushrooms the bullet and it does a great amount of damage. When it comes to concealed carry, the key word is concealed. The LCP is the most concealable weapon I’ve ever seen, other than a little toy derringer. The concealability factor coupled with the stopping power of the rubber tipped hollow’s makes this my choice. I’d still like to know how L4D2 gets his finger in front of the barrel… Preacher.

  7. To L4D2 & Preacher:

    I tend to think of an attacker as an irrational person. I have had two confrontations and exhibiting my .45 was enough in both cases to discourage the attack. One case was “road rage” and the other was a drunk who wanted to steal my car. In both cases, I felt the .45 avoided a more serious conflict, potentially life threatening to me.
    However, a serving police officer was forced to confront a “meth head” armed with a knife. The presentation of his pistol merely enraged the meth head, who upon spotting the pistol, immediately attacked. The officer had to shoot and did, using a .40 S&W, hit the suspect 4 times at a range of less than 4 yards. The meth head finally succumbed when the last round impacted his forehead. I was part of the shooting board for the officer.
    The ninnies on the board with me were more concerned about possible civil liability to be incurred by the department from an officer who actually shot instead of using his mace or collapsible baton. I was the dissenting vote and argued instead for a greater budget for range practice for all officers. I thought and wondered how often an officer would have the time to shoot 4 times in a close contact confrontation. I was outvoted and the officer was dismissed. But, he was alive. There was no litigation, regardless of some posturing by his mother. She had a record every bit as bad as her son and had trouble finding a lawyer who would represent such an obviously obnoxious plaintiff.
    However, had the officer been armed with an .380, with about 1/4 of the terminal energy of the .40, I wonder at the outcome. The officer, who went on to head up a small city police department, stayed in contact with me, as his only defender on the shooting board. He definitely felt that his .40 was a minimum he needed to survive and he mandated all of his officers on the local city department to carry .45’s. He felt the issue was in doubt until his last round hit the perp in the forehead. Three solid body hits did not stop the meth head, or even slow him appreciably. It was only the lucky head shot that ended the conflict, in his opinion.
    I carry a .40 when it is too warm to plausibly conceal my Colt .45 ACP Commander. My Ruger SR40C is significantly smaller and lighter than my all steel Colt .45. One hundred years of history prove the stopping capacity of the .45 ACP. Nothing matches that. I defy you to find anything comparable for the .380, the .25, the .32 or even the .22 (which is otherwise a good penetrating round at close range). Bear in mind that the .380, the .25 and the .32, are either nearly as old as the .45, or are older. If they were that effective as defensive rounds, where is the history to support that?


  8. To L4D2, I’d like to know how you were gripping the firearm in such a manner that you had a finger over the barrel. My wife and I both carry LCP’s. Before writing this, I got my LCP and experimented, and I can’t get a finger anywhere near the barrel. And, anyone who almost shot part of their finger off “several times”, I think the shooter needs some scrutiny. Almost shooting yourself once should be sufficient to learn not to do that certain thing again. But, seriously, how did grip it?

  9. FYI … I had a LCP. I sold it because it was so small that when I gripped it I’d have a finger draped over the end of the barrel. Almost shot off part of my finger several times. That’s why I sold it. Another good reason for practicing with the gun(s) you carry.

  10. I got my CWP a number of years ago, and since then I’ve had to draw my gun 4 times. Seeing someone holding a gun pointing toward the ground has been enough to diffuse the situation (let’s hope it stays that way). Criminals are just like us …. they don’t like getting shot at. I have just about all of the major handicaps when it comes to carrying. I’m short, heavyset and left-handed. Finding a holster designed for a lefty can be difficult. Most times I use the pocket holster sold by CTD (Item: ZAA-917 $5.97). My Berretta Bobcat .22lr, Ruger LCR 38 special, Walther PPK/S .380acp and Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II .45acp all fit inside the holster well enough to conceal what I’m carrying. All of them have lasers, the Kimber also has tritium sights. All of them except the Kimber can be carried in a front jean pocket or a cargo pants side pocket. The Kimber goes in the pocket of my motorcycle jacket or in a black leather day-planner that has a holster and a place for a spare mag. Everyone that sees me carrying it thinks it’s a day-planner or a bible. Just be careful not to lay it down and walk off without it! When I go to work I carry a bag you’d normally see at the shooting range that contains my lunch, laptop, paperback book, etc. In one of the pockets I keep a Kimber Custom TLE II. I still use the pocket holster, mostly to keep anything from getting stuck in the end of the barrel. If I need more than that I’ll use the pre-ban HK-91 .308 I keep in the back of the car.

  11. Hi Shane,

    The Ruger LCR in 357 magnum is light and packs a pretty good punch for its size. the hammerless feature makes it a good carry piece.


  12. Hey Ralph,

    I couldn’t agree more. My carry weapon is a Colt 1911 A1 with Black talons in all three clips.

    Stopping effectiveness is key. Not much does it better than 45 ACP.


  13. To those of you who consider a laser as a primary sighting device, I offer the following. First, I was taught years ago to rely exclusively on iron sights and not on anything mechanical. Iron sights never fail, or, almost never fail and when on those rare occasions that cause iron sights to fail, you probably have a myriad of other problems which would also render a laser inoperable. I do believe in tritium inserts as there is nothing mechanical or powered to fail. I trust my brain and training to allow me to react as necessary, with iron sights. If my brain fails, what does it matter anyway.
    Second, I outfitted a relative I like a great deal with a laser because he was not then and unlikely to ever train enough to be a competent shot with iron sights. The laser was from a reputable company. However, first the battery failed after a period of time with the gun in storage in Florida and the moisture corroded the contacts, rendering the laser unusable. I new laser was acquired and fitted. It only worked intermittently and was not entirely reliable. I had no confidence it would work dependably when he might need it. Finally, I had his gun outfitted with an XS Extreme sight set. It has an oversize front tritium sight.
    I taught him the old police dictum: In a fight, front sight. I reasoned that if he ever had to shoot in self defense, it was likely to be at or under the 7 yard range often given for defensive handgun actions. He did not need bullseye accuracy out to 50 yards. @1 feet was max. With the Extreme front sight, he can hold a reasonable group and a deadly group at that range. Being tritium filled, it works very well at night. Nothing to fail. No huge skill level required. Just basic handgun safety and handgun manipulation. Nothing is perfect, but that is as good as it gets for him — and it is more than adequate for close range self defense. He shoots a full size .40 S& W with +p ammo. I am confident he can defend himself and there is almost nothing to fail.

  14. reference comment #10, about the laser telling the burgler he’s in jeopardy … it also gives away your position to him if he sees the dot on the wall or something else before you get it on him … not a handgun owner (yet), so I have a pump 12gauge for home defense with a laser and light on the mag tube, plus a red dot sight on top if the laser is situationally inappropriate.

  15. I started carrying a handgun while in the Marine Corp in Viet Nam. My job was clearing the supply lines entering from Cambodia at night with a squad of 5 others. We carried our M16’s always without tracer rounds to avoid any signature.

    Since it usually involved running through the jungle at night in close combat (50 meters or less), I found my Colt 1911 to be more useful and effective. Our armorers gave us very heavy loads (280 gr. hp) that would lift the enemy clear off the ground when hit. You knew he was dead. Even a near miss took off an arm.

    I kept my M16, but noticed the mag was still full when we got back to our fb. At the same time, I’d go through at least 10 mags for my Colt each night. It saved me numerous times and still carry one today. Yea, it’s heavy. But you never have to worry about a bad guy getting back up.

  16. I have been carrying concealed since the day I received my CHL, 4 years ago. I started out with the XD-9 Service on the strong side in a Blackhawk Level 2 SERPA with two spare mags on my off side. The weapon was comfortable to carry and the spare magazines helped “balance” the load. I am a bigger guy and the weight didn’t bother me. As time progressed and I became more familiar with additional options I converted to the XD-40 Service using the identical setup as the 9. I carried that configuration for right at 2 1/2 years before deciding I wanted to step up in stopping power. My thinking is that I pray I never have to use my weapon but if I ever do, I want to be on the winning side. So I went from the XD-40 to the XD-45 Service with the same holster and spare mags setup. After doing some research on the polymer holsters I decided to move up to a Galco Avenger holster. About 6 month ago I started paying more attention to “printing” and while it has never been obvious that I was carrying, a trained eye would probably have been able to tell if they looked closely. It was then that I went to the Springfield Mil-Spec .45, again in an Avenger holster and the usual 2 spare mags. The Mil-Spec, while and excellent firearm, and creating much reduced printing, was a bit heavier than I preferred so I went looking for a lighter, more compact model. I tried staying with Springfield but the waiting list was about 18 month long and I am not that patient. So I did a lot of research on what was available on the 3-4″ .45 barrels and eventually acquired a Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II. I still use the Galco Avenger, having tried other offerings I continue to return to the Avenger. I have been carrying this configuration for a little over 6 months and find it suits my needs perfectly. It has plenty of stopping power, Critical Defense and DRT Frangible rounds alternate in the mag, rides close to my body and creates far less print, is of lighter materials and is extremely accurate.

    As any concealed carrier will probably tell you, you will go through several machinations of holsters and firearms before you find the “right” one for you. Holding it in the gun store and feeling good will not necessarily translate to working well for you in the field. I would HIGHLY recommend you spend a lot of time at a range that rents handguns and try out as many as you can before you actually buy. If you have friends that are CHL holders see if they would be willing to take you to the range so you can try out their preferred weapon. You will probably also wind up with a drawer full of holsters before you find the right one for your particular needs, likes and dislikes. I have polymer belt holsters, shoulder holsters, SOB holsters and just about every configuration and major vendor you can think of but, as I said, I always gravitate back to the Avenger.

    One last note, once you find your perfect combination, practice, practice, practice and remember, under stress you will only be approximately 46-60% as proficient as you best day in practice.

  17. To Shane G. & Preacher:

    I agree with much on this post but fear use of an inadequate caliber/cartridge and the potential life denying affect of “too little gun”. I tend to prepare for a worst case scenario. My worst case scenario envisions a “meth head” in a frenzy, impervious to most pain and amped to the max on drugs. I have never shot anyone and hope never to do so.
    I have some experience with meth heads, both personal and empirical, and they do not respond to normal stimuli and are quite immune to pain that would disable a normal person. They also can exhibit super human strength. If confronted with such an antagonist, and if necessary to use deadly force to disable him, I want sufficient force available to overcome his drug induced frenzy. I do not believe any .380 is going to do that. Period. It might increase his anger but is not going to be disabling unless shot through the eye in an upward trajectory directly into the brain. Under stress, I cannot guarantee that level of accuracy. I may only hit center mass. So, I carry a .45 as a first choice and a .40 S&W as a second choice.
    I do not want to plan to save my life by further infuriating an enraged opponent. That falls into a Joe Biden moment — just call 911 and wait for the police to respond 20 minutes to an hour later. The DOD used to maintain that 300 Ft/Lbs was a minimum acceptable energy. .380 does not ever get there. 9mm barely does, except with super ammo. Why, for years, in IPSC shooting was 9mm “low power” and .45, .40, .44 “major power”? Why have so many police departments left the 9mm for larger calibers with greater energy and shock potential? Why did HRT go back to .45 ACP?
    Study ballistic tables, read “after action reports” of real defensive shootings, look at history of our experience in the Philippines with low energy pistol rounds, look at the British experience with the MAADI in the Sudan and the Zulu’s in South Africa. In the end, it was always the .45 ACP or the .455 Webley. Look up the old Thompson & LaGarde study done near the turn of the last century, using both actual cadavers and adult pig carcasses. Look at their evaluation of the 9mm and the .45 ACP. Why must we continually repeat the mistakes of history and have to continually relearn the same lessons?
    SAS, when required to go to the 9mm developed the “double tap” because it took two 9mm, fired almost simultaneously, at the same point of aim, to duplicate the stopping power of 1 .455 Webley.
    I consider myself at least an adequate shot but cannot guarantee that under stress I can deliver two near simultaneous shots to the same point of aim. I am somewhat confident I can get off one. In the case of an attack, I can only be somewhat confident of one shot. That one shot has to do the job. Before I will shoot, I have to believe my life depends on it. Otherwise, I won’t shoot. In those circumstances, I want confidence my one shot has to do the job. I do not have that confidence in a .380, a .32, a .22 and only barely in a 9mm. No margin for error.
    Having said all that, I find the Ruger SR40C, in .40 S&W disappears in my front right hand pocket in a DeSantis Super Fly pocket holster. I lose the use of the pocket but no one yet has thought anything other than I carry a pocket full of junk. The Ruger is small, adequate power and concealable. It is also somewhat easier to shoot than some other .40 S&W pistols because it positions your hand closer to the bore alignment than generally on other pistol grips. I have found it superbly accurate. Why, it is almost as good as my .45 ACP.
    I offer this to assist younger and less experienced shooters. I am 71, have shot all my life, have competed and have read a great pile of reports on shootings. I would hope to assist someone without all those years of experience and all that empirical research.

  18. To Mr. McCullen, first I would like to thank you for your insight on the issue that I raised of over penetration! I agree. As for Ralph S.’s comment, the gizzy sounds like the decock feature on my wife’s ruger p95 dc which will safely drop the hammer w/o discharging the weapon after you jack the slide to chamber a round……???

  19. There is always the hip pack to conceal, even in hot weather. Then you can carry any size arm you want, regardless of what you’re wearing.

  20. For Ralph S. — I, too, prefer the Colt, in the Combat Commander in .45 ACP. Do you not carry “condition two” cocked and locked? What exactly is the “gizzy” that snaps the hammer back? Please help.

    Owen McCullen

  21. To Shane G, My wife and I both carry a Ruger LCP. It is a 380 auto. The most concealable little gun I’ve ever seen. For ammo, load it with Hornady 90 grain FTX rounds. The rubber tip expands the round for max stopping power in a mid sized round. Also a simple gun – no safety, which I like. You have to chamber a round before firing. Not having a round chambered makes the gun intrinsically safe, as you are not relying on a mechanical safety to prevent the gun from firing. Also, you never miss a shot because you forgot to switch the safety off.

  22. One and only for me – Would I ever leave you in Springtime – summer – winter or fall………..NOPE!!! Been a Colt 1911 man for over 50 years – just love my Colt Defender with the little gizzy that snaps the hammer back, so I can carry one in the tube – always carried a 45 – BECAUSE they don’t make a 46

  23. I have been carrying guns for 40 years and now I carry the xds 45 cal. springfield. By far the best carry concealed weapon on the market.

  24. I have a Sig P232 and S&W 5906. The Sig is small, thin, super accurate at up to 40 ft., though with some hand torque because of it’s size and short handle. The handle fits perfectly in my hand, though, and I’m 6’1″ and 190. It conceals very well with a minimalist holster (I forget the brand) that requires no snap to hold it in place, even when I bend over. I keep it close to my gut on the left side, for super fast cross carry deployment. Needs only a vest or light jacket zipped up an inch or two for perfect concealment.

  25. Hey All. Great information here. I am new to the concealed world and I am looking for a true warm weather concealed firearm. I started with a Glock 23c and realized this was to bulky for warm weather. I have since purchased a H&K USP 9mm Compact. While I feel the 9mm is much more manageable in a “heat of the moment” situation for follow shots in rapid fire, I hate giving up the punch. The Ruger LCR .357 look like and intriguing prospect for me but still looks bulky. I am used to shooting .45 with my 1911 but again I have not found a suitable carry weapon for South Florida weather. I am looking for some advice from more experienced carriers. Thanks!

  26. My best ? Have owned several .. Colt 1911 Officers Model, many Colt 38S Detective Specials and a sweet Colt 357 Lawman III 2.5″ .. now even a Taurus 617 / 357Mag 7 ( seven ) round 2.5″ and best is my Taurus Gen 2 – 24/7 PRO .45 Cal Compact 3.5″ 10 / 12 round

  27. Since 1978 it has been a Colt Commander in. 45ACP for the Winter. Now, for the Summer, I have a Glock 27 in .40 S&W. Both have CTC laser grips. Three spare Chip Mc ten round mags for the Colt and a seven shot mag in the well plus one in the spout. Thirty-eight shots total to stop life threatening behavior towards me, mine, or you, if you are being mugged. The Glock gets one in the tube, a nine round concealment mag loaded, in the gun, with two (22 shot) magazines for reserve (54 total). Gun and magazine loads balance out on my belt.

    Do not carry a backup, I intended to get one, just never did… My guns have always worked so I will not rush my choice. If wife carries, it is her Glock, in the purse. Don’t like purse carry since they get ripped off the shoulder. I have enjoyed all of the comments. Shoot often, maintain the weapons, and then carry lawfully.

  28. Regarding the comment that overpenetration or a missed target could hurt an innocent bystander, the reason it is virtually impossible is because, when the altercation begins, most bystanders leave, especially if there are weapons present. Also, the majority of self defense situations happen when nobody else is around. Bottom line is this, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “I’d rather be judged by 12 men than carried by 6.”

  29. Reply to Garry about concerns of over penetration or hitting an innocent when defending your self or family. I am not expert but have read a great deal of reports of confrontations involving a defensive shooting. I know that, in theory, the danger always exists. However, in all the reports I have read, there has never been a mention of an actual innocent being hurt by either a missed shot or round that penetrated too much. Obviously, it could happen. However, from what I have read and seen reported, it rarely, if ever, actually happens. I suspect that the fear of an innocent injury is more real than the event itself. Further, in a life threatening situation, most people are going to be focused on the threat and not all the surrounding circumstances or innocent parties. I suspect it is more of a theoretical concern than a regular occurrence. In any event, in the end, I suppose it is a matter or first principles or priorities. The issue is should you risk likely and possible serious injury or death and fail to fire because there is a remote chance you might hit/injure an innocent bystander, or not fire and accept the immediate affect of being hurt or killed by not firing. I suspect most people will concentrate on the target and saving their life and later worry about unintended consequences. At least, they might well be there to deal with the unintended consequence and if they did not fire, it might never be a concern when they are in the hospital or morgue.

  30. I am 71 years old and have carried for more than 45 years, professionally and privately. I have never shot any one and hope to never do so. However, I believe I can if necessary. I shot my dog and I liked my dog.
    I seem to recall a Department of Defense sponsored study that determined that a minimum of 300 Ft/Lbs of terminal energy was necessary to kill/disable an average opponent. Around the turn of the last century, a study was done in the Chicago stock yards, using both cadavers and mature pig carcasses. All current hand gun cartridges of the day were used. .45 ACP was the overall winner. Thompson LaGarde being googled will get you to the research.
    While I have never shot anyone, I have always felt that if I had to, I wanted to be the survivor and for that reason decided if I was to carry, I wanted enough gun/energy to do that job. A noted and experienced expert, Bryce Tousley, reported said he liked any defensive hand gun cartridge that began with a 4. I concur.
    I carry three different guns, depending on weather and dress. First is my .45ACP Colt Combat Commander, as modified to my tastes with Extreme tritium night sights, loaded with Buffalo Bore +P hollow points of Hornaday Extreme Defense. It is carried in a Galco small of the back holster on my strong side and two spare magazines are carried inside the waist band on my left side, in an old Iphone case, behind my cell phone. I like the Wilson or Chip McCormack magazines.
    My second gun is a Ruger SR40C with 15 rounds of Critical Duty or Federal or once in a while, Remington Golden Saber. I carry it in my front trouser pocket in a DeSantis “super fly” holster. I fills the pocket but works well. The Ruger positions my hand high in relation to the bore axis and that softens felt recoil of the .40 ammo. The Ruger has a manual safety that I like for safety reasons and caused me to abandon my old Glock 27, a find pistol but lacking a manual safety. I have found the Ruger surprisingly accurate at the range. Again, I carry two spare mags on the left side, inside the waist band in the same Iphone carrier.
    My third gun is a Kahr PM40 and it also slides into my front pocket. It has a delightfully light trigger pull but is a bit of a handful with hot .40 ammo. However, I have shot 100 consecutive rounds at the range with +p ammo during the break in. It was not a lot of fun for the last 30 or so rounds, but I now know I can do it. The Kahr is also amazingly accurate at any reasonable combat range and the trigger pull is delightful.
    I tried a Springfield XD in both .40 and .45ACP right after the pistols first hit the market. The pistol was fine but the trigger pull on both guns was horrendous. I was informed that a factory trigger job could be done on both guns for nearly $500. I sold both pistols and never looked back. If a gun does not have an acceptable trigger, or can be easily and inexpensively modified, I do not want it. If my life, or the life of my loved one, might depend on my skill, I want every edge possible. That includes trigger, grip, cartridge power and bullet type at a minimum.
    Most of my guns have either skate board tape or decal grip tape cut to my specifications to aid in control and grip when my hands might be sweaty.
    I try to shoot once a week with full power loads and at least 50 rds at a time. I practice various drills several times a week with an unloaded gun. I carry 24/7 except where it is specifically illegal to carry.
    I carry at least a .40 because I have read far too many law enforcement cases where a lesser or lower powered cartridge failed to do the job. I never want to shoot anyone, but if forced to shoot someone, I want them to stay shot and no longer represent a threat to me or mine.

  31. I read most if not all the comments and I’m surprised that no one seemed to mention anything about one of my concerns with what to carry as to sidearm, caliber,bullet and powder load specifications when it comes to the issue of over penetration and subsequent injury to an innocent bystander in a close quarters or even in an outdoors self defense situation. I realize that one should always take into consideration what or who is behind the intended target,but with that being said I would very much appereciate seeing some helpful input on this subject.

  32. Invested in a S&W SCANDIUM Air-Lite .357mag/.38 SP a few years ago. Five round revolver that weighs 11 oz unloaded. Usually in a pocket holster in my jeans, or in a jacket inside pocket,that has little print, and very easy to carry and conceal. Sometimes on my belt in a four way holster that I usually carry horizontally. Single/double action model..small enough to go anyplace, lite enough to not be a pain and a .357 mag certainly has enough stopping power. A couple of EZ load clips on my belt for extended occasions come in handy.

  33. Just as you said, “ask 10 gun store folks what is the best concealed carry gun and you will likely get 10 different answers”, the same holds for all we readers. Fat, thin, tall, short, heavy clothing, little clothing – it all matters as to what weapon size and shape works for each of us…and as some point out, seasonal changes and day -v- night place us in different carry outlooks. The perfect answer is obvious: There IS NO perfect answer. What works for you is what is best for you, although the caliber argument could go on forever. What I see not mentioned, surprisingly, is the need for excellent belting if you are a waist carrier. No rig is any better than the waist band/belt that supports it. Unless you are in formal dress a 1&1/4″ or
    1&1/2″ belt is essential and will hold up your pants/shorts more readily. Do not buy cheap department store belts if you carry. Go to the pro level and spend the $$ to get the proper support and conceal ability. I recently discovered and found truly outstanding belts for dress, casual and tactical wear. Their Bullhide dress belts not only look good but will support your gear. There are many other great resources for “gun leather”, so make certain that you seek them out and wrap yourself with appropriate support.
    …And, oh yes, I am a CCW holder and prefer the Ruger LC9 and my sweet Kimber Ultra Carry CDP II. Occasionally my S&W 442 Centennial finds its way into a pocket.

  34. I have never read of anyone on your site who uses a derringer for daily carry. I carry an American made Cobra in 38 special, and have jacketed hollow points in it.
    I think it has the stopping power that I need, without being too big to conceal in my pocket. I am not too worried about more than 2 shots being needed, as this little “hand cannon” is accurate up to 25 feet.

  35. i carry a sig 938 in small of my back or in a pocket its about the same size as their 238 only in 9mm its accurate with managable recoil plus its small size allows for many different carry options depending on the time of year

  36. Logic says .22 long rifle quite inadequate. However I do like my Browning 19911 A1, 10 shot .22rf pistol. So far it has been completely reliable with whatever I put though it. Unlike my Kahr .380 which is basically a single-shot. I like the Browning, I like to shoot it & I think those two things are appropriate parts of the selection process for a carry gun.
    I would agree completely with those who say .45ACP best, maybe .357 magnum or .357 SIG. But they don’t fit with my fat old body & ammo, when found, too pricey to enjoy just banging around at hanging targets & such.
    I’ll stay with the possibility of putting about ten wimpy .22 rounds in & about my assailant’s head.

  37. John, when in police work back more years ago than I like to remember. We on a shooting call at a bar one nite, guy had on his biker jacket and had been shot 3 times by a guy with a 25cal. And it really pissed him off and he beat the hell out of the guy that shot him. Had to call EMS for the guy that had the gun, the guy that had been shot went on his way.

  38. I live in Memphis so the temp swings are drastic. I normally carry an XD9 4″ in the winter IWB and my Berreta Nano IWB in the summer when wearing pants, but for shorts and T-shirt I carry my Taurus TCP in a Desantis Superfly pocket holster. I picked up the TCP super cheap and do not enjoy firing it at all but I find myself more and more often reaching for the convince of its tiny easy holster matter the weather. Don’t really like the caliber for EDC but any is better than none or in my car. Get what u will take with you and practice. That’s all that matters.

  39. I love my S&W model 642 wheel gun in 38 Special. No hammer and very light. Guaranteed not to jam. Carry in inside the belt holster or pocket holster to hide the print. Don’t forget a speed loader in another pocket.

  40. I have a 13 round double stack Beretta 84 FS. Its a 380, easy to conceal and almost no recoil. What a sweet gun.

  41. I love to shove my Ruger SR9c down in the waistband. I recently bought a Beretta 9m Nano to try going into the summer cause it’s a little smaller. I love my 9s but have cut back on target practice and always searching for ammo.

  42. I carry the S&W bodyguard .380 with a build in laser sight and have others but after I got the bodyguard the rest just stay in the safe. Being DAO it has no safety just pull and shoot and with 6+1 capacity single stack mag it drops into my front pocket. If I think I’m going some place where I might find trouble I just carry 2 extra clips in a separate holster.

  43. What works for one person may or may not work for another. Before making a recomendation I ask questions. A firearm at home in the safe because it’s too (fill in the blank) won’t be any help when out and about. I have several to meet specific needs. For general carry I used to carry a custom 1911-A1 with 4 spare mags for balance and because threats often come in multiples. However I replaced it with a Sig M11-A1 9mm to reduce weight because I have enough trouble keeping my pants up. An unbuttoned shirt over a t-shirt keeps it hidden. Dressing up calls for the Sig P238 in a pocket or the S&W Mod 60 .38 in an ankle holster. Formal wear such as my Tux calls for the Sig P232 in a sholder holster. I regularly practice with all my firearms even those I don’t carry. If one is not willing to spend the time learning and working with the more complex firearms then a revolver may be the best choice for simplicity and concealability. Even a well meaning friend is not doing you a favor if they snap to a certain make or model, more so a store clerk. 1. what are your climate ranges and how will you adjust? You want to be able to get to should the need ever come. 2. Can you handle the weight of the firearm and extra ammo? A firearm that doesn’t seem to bad at first might get heavy at the end of the day. 3. where and how do you plan to carry the firearm? (on your person) 4. Are you comfortable with shooting the firearm? and it’s recoil? Just a few things to think about.

  44. Have many I have tried concealed here in hot south climate, but my favorite go to now is my S&W Bodyguard 380. It’s light, small and very accurate. My baby Glock 9mm is my cold weather carry.

  45. S&W airweight 642 in 38 special +p. Practice with wadcutters,carry +p’s in Hornady Critical Duty. Weighs less than a pound loaded, fits in most pockets with Sticky Holster.Fool proof, easy to clean, pull trigger, go bang.

  46. I was completely new to the conceal arena and did plenty of research before selecting the Kahr CM9.
    My focus was size(I’m a thin guy), and safety. I was in the military and used to safety’s on all weapons so was a little apprehensive about no safety’s on carry handguns. So at first i was looking only at handguns that had safetys. I’ve heard the cautions that in the heat of the moment you may forget to switch off the safety and defeat the very reason you are carrying. After months of trying out weapons at the range I settled on the Kahr CM9 which has NO safety switch. The reason this particular model won out (besides being one of the thinest) was the trigger pull. It requires a very long easy smooth pull (5lbs) before the weapon discharges. Even for me this was enough peace of mind and it does not affect my accuracy (because of the mooth pull). I can put 7shots (max mag) into a small grouping at 25 ft with no trouble. Now in the heat of the moment whos to say but one thing is for sure I will be firing and not stumbling trying to get the safety off.
    Noteable drawback–
    This weapon is manufactured to high tolerance specs. This makes the pieces fit very tight together in the beginning and requires you to break the gun in first. This has its benefits because it forces you to go to the range and shoot a few hundred rounds thru it. What better way for you and your new lifesaver to get better aquatinted!! I am currently at around 250 rounds and the action has loosened up a bit and working very smoothly. Plus I am VERY comfortable with shooting it as well.
    Cleaning it is a very easy quick process and can be done in a few minutes. Overall I am very pleased with this weapon and I feel you will as well, especially if you are new to conceal carry and concerned about the same issues as I was.
    Enjoy shooting and don’t forget to join the NRA to keep our rights to carry!
    Be blessed!

  47. My first cc was a Beretta 22 lr, small package very easy to conceal. I also did my homework in regards to caliber. Contrary to popular belief, a 22 round is deadly at 100 yards. It will penetrate a 3/4 pine board at that distance. I also have 2 9mm, one is a Ruger, the other is a SCCY. I am currently looking at a Taurus 25 cal. my big concern is availability of ammunition. Would like to hear feed back on the 25 cal.

  48. I have viewed the video of the DEA Agent Firearms Instructor who shot himself in the foot with a Glock as he was placing the gun in his waistband holster. And, I read a similar incident of a Football Player shooting himself with a Glock while placing the gun in his waistband. I also, read several stories where negligent discharges occurred, two in indoor gun ranges. Due to the Glock take down procedure of having to pull the trigger.

    A 1911 Series 80 Has 3 Safeties. Grip Safety, Thumb Safety and Firing Pin Block Safety. A Series 70 not having the Firing Pin Block. Unless the thumb safety is released and the grip safety depressed, the 1911 is not going to fire.I have only read of one negligent discharge of an 1911. That person had the 1911 pointed down at his leg with finger on the trigger as he racked a round into the chamber, neglecting the two most basic rules of firearm safety. Barrel pointed in safe direction and finger off the safety.

  49. Many guns, many carry options dependent upon need & situation for the individual as you pointed out in the article. I carry a Taurus 740 Slim for daytime use. Light, powerful and accurate. At night I carry a Springfield XD 40 cal. with Viridian light/green laser with a Tacloc holster. XD allows me illumination for visibility in dimly lighted areas. More used as a safety feature. The laser lets the target know they are in eminent jeopardy.

  50. I have several concealed carry guns, but my favorite, hands down, is the Kel-Tec 9mm. It is small, very light and with the integral belt clip, conceals very nicely without the need for a holster. I also like my Para-Ordinance P12-.45 which is a subcompact 1911 style .45. Also very small, however it is much heavier than the Kel-Tec and as such is a bit harder to conceal. Lastly, I have a S&W .357 Wheel Gun with a 2.5 Barrel. While small, that sucker weighs so much that it is impossible to conceal with a shoulder holster. Just not very practical at all. Many people don’t like the Kel-Tec and think they are cheaply made, but for a true concealable defensive weapon they are hard to beat.

  51. The wife and I both carry a Ruger LCP 380 auto. She also has a LC9 9mm and I have a S&W 38 Special and a 22Mag, but, for sheer concealability coupled with stopping power at close range, the LCP is the winner – no contest. Also, this gun never jams. Traded in a SCCY 9mm for her LC9, then got the LCP later. The SCCY jammed a lot. The kids can handle the LCP too. Ammo is reasonable enough that we can afford to practice. Buy some blunt nose for practice and some good hollow points for carrying.

  52. Being I have been carrying a 1911 45acp.for over 22 years in Law Enforcement and I carry one off duty. Now retired I still carry the 1911 45acp. But being a big guy I am able to carry it easy. The last 15 years I carry it middle of my back with the guns barrel going along like the belt. The 45 is a full size 1911 but I have been Blessed to have being able to say that I have always made time to practice in a number of different ways I may need to use it. But My one thing I say carry what you like and practice with it.

  53. I have 3 that I carry depending on where I am going, weather and what mood I am in. I carry a Berretta 22 Bobcat as it is light and easy to conceal. I have an AT 380 backup which I really like as it is heavy and absorbs recoil well as I have artritis in my hnads and the light weight 9s even hurt. I also carry my Fruge LCR 22 Mag. which is a really nice little piece. I The 380 is my favorite and gets carried more than the others.

  54. When I have concealing clothing my carry gun is a Colt 1911A1 in a cross-draw shoulder holster loaded with Black Talons. Otherwise I carry a Walther PPK/S in the waist or on the ankle loaded with JHP.

    For my wife I have a Ruger LCR, chambered in 357 magnum. It’s light,hammerless, and fits in her purse. Ammo-38 special for the range, 357 JHP for defense.

    I like the Critical Duty and Critical Defense ammo for carry. Pricey but effective.

  55. Hands down for me is my Springfield XD .40 subcompact ,for the wife a very nice Taurus .25 . The .25 has a better safety allowing a round to be chambered at all times where as the XD I would not recommend doing so unless the operator has the proper training and experience.

  56. I carry an M&P 9c w/o the thumb safety. I know this article is specific to the conceal carry, as to which, the shield being thinner would probably rate higher with most people. I find the 9c, even with it’s double stack mag, to fit very comfortably inside my waistband. I view it more as an all round gun AND a great conceal gun. The comfort of the grip is so much better than the thin grip on the shield that you can shoot it all day at the gun range. It feels like a full size when you shoot it but with the compact size you get great concealability. Also it takes the full size 17 round mags for the full size M&P so when you get home you can pop in the larger mag for your home defense needs and back the 10 (or 12 if you have that mag) for your personal defense needs.

  57. Have to weigh in on this one.I believe I have 2 of the best carries XDs 45 w/ Crimson Trace trigger guard. LCR 357 Crimson Trace.I practice point and shoot w/o laser then with. 357 I use the Magsafe lightweight bullet, but very fast and hand friendly.

  58. Another consideration is location and time of year. Those living in the north may be able to do a full up 1911 in the winter, but have to switch down to .380 in the summer months.

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