11 Best Concealed Carry Guns – The Ultimate 2023 Guide

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We reviewed all the available options and found the Sig Sauer P365XL to be the best concealed carry gun available.

This handgun can carry up to 16 rounds and has an extended grip to help you completely control the gun. This secure hold is hard to find in concealed carry guns, especially if you have bigger hands like me.

That said, the gun is still plenty small enough for concealment.

Buying a concealed carry gun is an important decision, and with so many options out there it can be hard to choose. In this guide we will give you all of our tips to help you choose the best gun for you.

Best Concealed Carry Gun
The author's collection of concealed carry guns that were tested
Just some of the concealed carry handguns we have tried

I have carried concealed and trained shooting handguns for over 20 years. I have took numerous handgun courses, even a handgun course in college, and learned from the best. I have also competed in IDPA and USPSA competitions. Most recently, I completed my certification as a range safety officer.

Needless to say, I have shot thousands of rounds through many handguns. I have also seen many others shoot various handguns, including those on our team.

Over the years I have learned what works for one person isn’t necessarily what works for someone else. You may want something bigger or smaller than the P365 XL, for instance.

Keep reading for our 11 favorite concealed carry guns, plus a full detailed guide to help you choose what is best for you.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorite Concealed Carry Guns

Sig Sauer P365XL

Sig Sauer P365XL


12+1 or 15+1 Capacity

Optic Ready

MSRP: $699

Glock 19 Gen 5

Glock 19 Gen 5




MSRP: $569

Sig Sauer P365 XMacro

Sig Sauer P365 XMacro

17+1 Capacity


Optics Ready

MSRP: $999

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

Good Trigger


Optics Ready

MSRP: $549

Heckler & Koch P30 V3

Heckler & Koch P30 V3


DS/SA Trigger

Full Grip

MSRP: $949

Best Concealed Carry Guns

Sig Sauer P365 XL – Best Overall Concealed Carry Gun

Sig Sauer P365 XL - Best Overall Concealed Carry Gun

Out of all the concealed carry guns I’ve used, the Sig Sauer P365 XL is easily the best overall handgun. It truly impressed me with its exceptional performance.

I’ve found the P365 XL much more ergonomic than other handguns. The extended grip module, featuring an integrated magwell and an extended beavertail, allows for a full firing grip and enhanced control. The result is a comfortable and secure hold that inspires confidence. It even works well for those with smaller hands.

Many gun owners also like the flat trigger profile. However, the trigger is not what I would call very “clean”. It does not have a well defined wall, and has more creep than I care for. It isn’t as crisp as Walther or other concealed carry handguns.

The author comparing the Sig P365XL with the Glock 19
The Sig P365XL (bottom) compared to the Glock 19 (Top)

Of course, I am picky when it comes to triggers. In my experience unless you shoot a lot, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

However, my favorite part is the sight. In fact, I like the standard P365 sight more than my red dot. The sights are bright and easy to pick up. Plus, you can change and try different sights easily if you choose. (I had a red dot for a bit.)

The Author with the Sig P365XL
Our entire team has spent the past year with the Sig P365XL

Having spent considerable time with the P365 XL, I can confidently say it checks all the boxes for most people and is the best value in the concealed carry market.

Be sure to check out our guide on the Best Holsters for the Sig P365 as well.

Recommended for:

If you’re in the market for a concealed-carry gun, the Sig Sauer P365 XL is easily the best.


12+1 (to even 15+1) rounds

Extended grip – full firing grip

Optics Ready

Compact, micro-size


Trigger Creep

Video of the Sig Sauer P365XL

Glock 19 Gen 5 – Best Value Concealed Carry Gun

Glock 19 Gen 5 - Best Value Concealed Carry Gun

Glock is well-known for making reliable, durable concealed carry guns. The Glock 19 Gen5 is no different. It has quickly become one of the go-to firearms for everyday carry and is one of the cheaper handguns. Therefore, it’s a great option for those looking to save money.

The Glock 19 has reduced dimensions that make it a versatile firearm and suitable for concealed carry. Whether I’m carrying it for self-defense purposes or just having fun at the range, the compact size of the Glock 19 allows for easy maneuverability and comfortable carry.

Plus, the new Gen 5 doesn’t have finger grooves, which makes it much more comfortable to handle. It also features several other improvements, including a flared magwell, ambidextrous slide stop lever, and reversible magazine catch. It also comes with multiple backstraps that you can change depending on your hand size.

The author comparing the Glock 19 to the Glock 43
The Glock 19 (center) compared to a Glock 43 (Top). (Glock 17 on the bottom)

That said, the Glock 19 is larger than others, so I tend to use it more in the winter. For me, it is not the best for IWB or appendix carry, but I like it for OWB carry.

The Glock 19 has renowned reliability. It’s designed to function no matter what. This reliability factor is crucial for a concealed carry weapon, as I need complete confidence that my firearm will perform when it matters most.

Not everyone likes the ergonomics of the Glock (me included). The Sig grip angle is about 18°, while the Glock is about 22°. It might not sound like a lot, but it makes a huge difference.

However, there is a vast aftermarket of parts that allow for easy customization. That’s one of my favorite parts about this gun (and why I had difficulty switching to the P365). From upgrading the trigger to adding a flashlight to the integral accessory rail, the customization possibilities are endless.

Plus, the magazines from the larger Glocks, like the Glock 17, will also fit in this gun. There is even a 31 round extended magazine available. Holsters are very easy to find.

The Author with the Glock 19
We have been shooting the Glock 19 Gen 5 for the past 5 years.

The Glock 19 has exceptional value. It’s a budget-friendly option that you can trust. It doesn’t compromise reliability or performance, and you won’t have to pay $1,000.

Check out our guide on the Best Glock 19 Holsters to see our recommendations on holsters for this gun as well.

Recommended for:

The Glock 19 Gen 5 is for anyone looking to save a bit of money. Plus, if you like the slightly tilted angle of the Glock, this is the best concealed carry option.


Extremely reliable

Very customizable


15+1 capacity


Ergonomics can be hit-or-miss

Video of the Glock 19 Gen5

Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro – Premium Option

Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro - Premium Option

The Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro is a bit more expensive than other concealed carry guns. However, the price is absolutely worth it. I’ve been carrying a Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro for the past few months, and I’m really impressed with it. It’s an overall improvement over the original P365.

It is also our top pick as the best 9mm handgun overall.

What really sets this pistol apart is its capacity. It boasts an impressive 17+1 capacity packed into the slim, iconic profile of the P365. You’ll get the capacity of a full size handgun with this pistol, and you aren’t sacrificing much concealability.

It surprises me how much ammo capacity Sig Sauer could fit into this handgun. (And makes me wonder what in the world other companies are doing.)

One of the things I like most about the P365 X-Macro is the integrated compensator. It really helps to reduce muzzle rise, which makes follow-up shots faster and more accurate. During my range sessions, I experienced significantly quicker target reacquisition, resulting in tighter shot groupings.

The author comparing the Sig P365Xmacro to the Glock 19
The Sig P365 Xmacro (top) compared to the Glock 19

The new Macro-Compact grip module with a standard 1913 rail further impressed me with its comfort and ergonomics. It allows for easy attachment of accessories, such as lights or lasers, allowing you to customize it for your needs.

I’ve used it for hours at the range and appreciate how comfortable it is to shoot, even for extended periods. The gun is also reliable; I’ve never experienced a malfunction, even with low quality ammo.

The Author with the Sig P365 XMacro
We have over 18 months of experience with the Sig P365 XMacro

This handgun comes optics ready, so you can easily add a red dot if you want. That said, it does come with Sig Sauer’s famous XRAY3 Day/Night sights.

Be sure to check out our guide on the Best Holsters for the Sig P365 as well.

Recommended for:

If you have the extra money, get the Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro. It’s only a few hundred dollars more than our top pick, but the integrated compensator and extended capacity make it worth it.


Integrated compensator

Optics Ready

Very comfortable to shoot

17+1 capacity



Video of the Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus – Best Micro Compact Conceal Carry Gun

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus is a solid entry-level concealed carry handgun. It’s cheaper than many handguns, but the quality matches other, more expensive handguns.

I have owned the Shield for about 5 years now. It still proves to be incredibly controllable and accurate. Despite being extremely small and lightweight, the Shield Plus’s ergonomics prevent significant rotation or shifting while firing. This feature allowed me to maintain my grip and shoot more accurately.

I like the well-tuned action timing and recoil spring design. These features made it easier to manage the recoil, improving my accuracy.

The trigger on this handgun is very crisp with minimal creep. The short, audible reset makes this trigger easily one of the best on a concealed carry handgun. The trigger is your interface with a handgun, so the feedback you get is extremely important.

Because the Shield Plus is so small, it has a lower capacity of only 13 rounds. However, it is a great option for those prioritizing concealed carry comfort over firepower. If you’re only going to wear a smaller gun, fewer rounds are better than nothing.

The author comparing the S&W M&P Shield, Glock 43, Sig P365XL
The S&W M&P Shield (Top), Glock 43 (center), and Sig P365XL (bottom)

Another minor gripe I have with the Shield Plus is its lack of an ambidextrous slide release. Our left-handed team member (Blake) finds that using his index finger to drop the slide down slows him down considerably.

Additionally, while I appreciate the sleek design, I would have loved to see a rail for mounting a light or laser. For now, the gun is unusable at night.

The Author with the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
We have over 5 years of experience with the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Series

If you decide to get this handgun, you can purchase it with or without a trigger safety. Which option you choose is a personal decision. Regardless, make sure you train how you carry, and understand how the safety works.

Recommended for:

The S&W M&P Shield Plus works great if you need a very small concealed carry gun. Whether you have small hands or want to prioritize comfort, the small frame of this handgun has you covered.


Outstanding trigger


Great ergonomics


No rail

Lower capacity

Video of the S&W M&P Shield Plus

Heckler & Koch P30 V3 – Best Ambidextrous Concealed Carry Gun

Heckler & Koch P30 V3

The Heckler & Koch P30 V3 is a standout police and security pistol. Its primary purpose is for duty use, but many also carry it concealed.

The first thing I noticed about the P30 V3 was the stock grip. While finger grooves aren’t typically my preference, the ones on the P30 felt exceptionally comfortable. Additionally, the pistol’s unique feature of interchangeable backstrap inserts and lateral grip plates ensures that it can be tailored to individual preferences.

However, with how comfortable the default grip is, I don’t see why many people would change it.

The P30 V3 does not have an external safety level. However, it does have the decocking lever by the hammer. Personally, I consider this a design genius, as it provides an added layer of safety while maintaining a practical trigger mechanism.

The trigger is also astonishing (and I, for one, can’t figure out why more companies don’t take a hint from H&K).

The P30 V3 pistol has a double-action/single-action trigger system that makes it more versatile. The double-action pull is long and heavy, in line with the Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) system. It enables safe carrying with a long first-shot trigger pull. However, the first shot is followed by a shorter and lighter single-action trigger for subsequent shots.

Therefore, after making your first shot, the follow up shots are fast.

The P30 V3 has a distinctive control layout that distinguishes it from popular models such as Glocks and S&W pistols. Its ambidextrous magazine release, placed at the back of the trigger guard, is a great design feature that makes it easy to use for both left and right-handed individuals. For this reason, it’s one of the best concealed carry guns for left-handed people.

Additionally, the fully ambidextrous slide stop lever, extending further back than usual, is a significant advantage for those with smaller hands, providing easier access to release the slide quickly. Our female team member (Kristin) also very much approves of this slide stop level, as it made racking the pistol easier.

Recommended for:

The Heckler & Koch P30 V3 is designed as a duty pistol that can also function as a concealed carry handgun. It’s a great option for anyone that must carry a duty pistol, as well as left-handers that prefer hammer-fired pistols.


Completely ambidextrous

Double-action/single-action trigger

Equipped with a rail


Trigger doesn’t suit everyone

Controls different from other guns

Video of the H&K P30 V3

Kimber K6s DASA 3″- Best Concealed Carry Revolver

Kimber K6s DASA 3"

The Kimber K6s DASA comes in two sizes: one with a 3″ barrel and one with a 4″ barrel. For conceal-carry purposes, I recommend the 3″ barrel, so that’s what I’ll be reviewing here.

I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fan of revolvers. However, I can see the appeal of them, especially if you’re used to revolvers. I leaned heavily on our team member that has used revolvers throughout his life for this pick (he qualified with a revolver in the military a long time ago).

The K6s DASA is an improvement on previous K6s lines in its accuracy and precision. It offers a wider sight radius, which is something previous Kimber owners had trouble with. It’s also extremely reliable – after all, that is the main appeal of a revolver.

It’s slightly on the heavy side. However, a heavy gun will produce less felt recoil than a light gun. It has a combination of front and rear sights that make target acquisition smooth and natural. The grip is comfortable; I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Despite its impressive sight plane and the large .357 Magnum cartridges, the K6s DASA remains suitable for concealed carry. Its compact envelope, coupled with a six-shot capacity, provides a perfect balance of firepower and concealability. It isn’t nearly as hefty as other revolvers.

I expected a lot of recoil from this revolver. After all, it loads .357 Magnum. However, its weight helps control recoil, and it remains surprisingly useable. It does have a kick (what revolver doesn’t), but it’s not overly abusive.

I wanted to like the trigger of this revolver, but it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The double-action pull is smooth but very heavy. It hits 11 pounds on a Lyman digital gauge. However, you can use it as a single-action pull, which brings it down to 5.5 pounds.

Another downside is the price. It MSRPs for over $1,000, making it pricier than some comparable revolvers. However, for those seeking a high-quality and performance-driven revolver, the investment may be well worth it. It also looks great.

Recommended for:

The Kimber K6s DASA is for anyone looking for a concealed carry revolver. It is one of the best.


Excellent Sights

Low Recoil for its Size

More Compact than Other Revolvers



Heavy Trigger

Video of the Kimber K6s DASA

Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact

Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact

If you want to carry a .45, the Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact is an impressive option. It blends accuracy, reliability, and customization into a very usable pistol.

Unlike other .45s, the HK45 Compact is, well, compact. It is small at .79 inches shorter and 2.72 ounces lighter than its full-sized counterpart. This size reduction makes it ideal for concealment without compromising performance.

The HK45 Compact is extremely reliable. Heckler & Koch makes great, reliable guns, and this .45 is no exception. It’s made with quality craftsmanship (though you are paying for it).

That said, one minor drawback I noticed was the magazine capacity. It feels like it should be a double-stack pistol with 15 rounds. But it only holds 8 rounds. You can get a larger, extended magazine to hold 10 rounds. However, this adds a lot of heft in my experience.

Of course, it’s a .45, so some limited capacity is to be expected.

The HK45 Comapct has an okay grip. It’s very minimalistic with little texturing. The grip is completely different from the original HK45 design. I would have liked more grip enhancements, though this is my preference.

This concealed carry gun comes with the standard 3-dot sight made with phosphorescent paint for extra visibility. I do like these sights during the day. However, these sights don’t replace night sights and must be “charged.”

Recommended for:

The Heckler & Koch HK45 Compact is one of the few truly concealable semi-auto .45s on the market. So, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a .45 handgun to carry daily.


.45 Caliber Power

Good Sights




Limited Capacity

Video of the H&K HK45

Springfield Hellcat Pro

Springfield Hellcat Pro

The Springfield Hellcat Pro is an impressive improvement on the original Hellcat that corrects many initial complaints.

For instance, the extended grip is a game-changer, in my experience. The extension not only provided a more comfortable shooting grip but also gave extra leverage and reduced the upward movement of the gun. My pinkie doesn’t slip off the gun, allowing me to get a more secure grip.

The slight grip increase changes how the gun shoots tremendously.

I have a friend with huge hands (and I mean HUGE) and he likes carrying this gun and shooting it in competitions. I keep seeing more people with this gun.

I love that the Hellcat Pro is optic’s ready (which is a must-have, in my opinion). The milled slide accepts red dot sights easily, enabling your to find your target faster and improve your accuracy.

One of the standout features of the Hellcat Pro is its impressive 15+1 capacity in a compact and easy-to-conceal footprint. Handguns are starting to hold more and more rounds, and the Hellcat Pro has followed suit.

That said, this pistol does have a poor trigger. It takes longer to reset. While some gun owners prefer this, I do not (and you might not, either).

Additionally, while the Hellcat Pro shines in many aspects, the slide stop lever isn’t ambidextrous. But, the magazine button is reversible for left handed shooters.

Recommended for:

If you’re looking for a micro-compact pistol that is optics-ready out of the box, the Springfield Hellcat Pro is undoubtedly one worth considering. The shining feature is the grip, which is great. It works wonders for those with larger hands or who prefer more grip space.


Extended grip


15+1 capacity


Slide Stop Not Ambidextrous

Slow trigger

Video of the Springfield Hellcat Pro

Walther PDP Compact

Walther PDP Compact

In my opinion, Walther is an undervalued brand that deserves more second looks. The Walther PDP Compact is their latest concealed-carry handgun.

It’s not your typical sleek, slim handgun. From an aesthetic point of view, this may be a downside. However, I expect the tall slide to be easier to grip and add some extra weight. That additional weight translates into better recoil management, allowing for more controlled and accurate shooting.

This gun can accommodate 15 rounds. While this is about average, its larger size makes me wonder how they couldn’t fit more. I mean, just look at the Sig Sauer P365 X-Macro.

I like the slide serrations, which allowed me to grip the slide more easily. I’ve had issues with smoother slides being harder to rack, so the serrations are appreciated.

I have always loved the triggers in Walther handguns, I think they are one of the best. The PDP improves on the previous PPQ model. I have shot the Q5 (which is the full size competition version of the PPQ) in numerous matches, and the PDP’s trigger is very similar.

I really like the slide stop lever. Not only is is ambidextrous, it is large and easy to operate. I find that I can hit the leaver consistently while reloading with my thumb. This is impossible with a lot of other guns. I don’t have to come back over the top and rack the slide, which saves me a ton of time on reloads.

The Walther PDP Comapct is optics-ready out of the box. Therefore, you can mount whatever sight you want right out of the box. Plus, you can get this gun for a surprisingly low price. It isn’t the cheapest, but it’s affordable for a Walther.

That said, this gun is larger than most. Therefore, concealing it can be challenging. It won’t just disappear under a T-shirt.

Recommended for:

The Walther PDP Compact has a few unique features, such as its excellent trigger and slide serrations. If any of these features stand out to you, you may want to consider this handgun.


Slide serrations

Low Felt Recoil

Great Trigger

Large Slide Stop Lever


Harder to conceal

Video of the Walther PDP Compact

Smith & Wesson CSX

Smith & Wesson CSX

Out of the box, the Smith & Wesson CSX feels and looks very well-made. It’s built solidly out of aluminum alloy, which gives it some reassuring heft without making it too heavy. The glare-reducing serrations on the top seem like a thoughtful touch, though I’m not sure how effective they really are.

Like many modern handguns, it does come with interchangeable, textured backstraps. Therefore, you can easily customize the grip to fit your hand.

The CSX isn’t a competition pistol. However, it still performs well as a concealed carry handgun. The single-action trigger is crisp with a short, tactile reset, contributing to my accuracy. You can really feel when the trigger is reset, in other words. I really like good feedback from a trigger.

Because this handgun is so small, it’s easy to conceal. I particularly like the 18-degree grip angle, though this is largely a matter of personal preference. The EZ tab integration on the slide allowed for smooth and straightforward racking, which is particularly crucial in high-stress situations.

Sadly, CSX’s capacity isn’t great. It can have either a 10+1 to 12+1 capacity, depending on the mag you’re using. That’s not very much, especially compared to other concealed carry handguns.

Additionally, the single-action operation and manual cocking of the hammer may require some extra practice and training for those accustomed to other types of pistols. However, other people absolutely love it. (I am not one of those people.)

I also didn’t like the magazine release buttons, which are somewhat recessed. They’re harder to press than necessary and were an aspect of the gun I really struggled with.

Recommended for:

If you are looking for a small concealed carry gun with a single-action hammer trigger, the Smith & Wesson CSX is the best concealed carry handgun you can choose.


Great, crisp trigger

Textured backstraps included

18-degree grip angle

Compact Size


Low capacity

Recessed magazine release buttons

Video of the S&W CSX

Glock 48 MOS

Glock 48 MOS

The best thing about the Glock 48 MOS is its slimline design, which still impresses me to this day. It shares the same length and height as the compact Glock 19, but its reduced width is similar to the Glock 43. This makes it an ideal choice for concealed carry. It’s a lot of gun in a very slim frame.

Despite being slim, the grip is long enough to provide a secure hold. I don’t have to worry about my fingers slipping off the end while I’m shooting. I concealed carried this gun for a few years and never had trouble concealing it.

I also didn’t find that the slim profile impacted my shooting ability. It doesn’t affect the accuracy of the gun, in my experience.

The Glock 48 MOS, in particular, comes optics-ready and has a rail for a light. I highly recommend it over the regular 48, as you can customize it with an optic. Plus, it isn’t that much more expensive!

While the Glock 48 MOS received some criticism for its grip texturing, I personally found it to be serviceable. I don’t hate it. It provides passable control over the firearm and didn’t hinder my shooting performance. But it isn’t my favorite.

The Author with the Glock 43
We have over 5 years of experience with the Glock 4x line of handguns. This is a Glock 43 shown.

I do like the 48, but it only has right-handed controls. As a right-handed shooter, this wasn’t a significant concern for me. The magazine release can be swapped to the other side, but the slide stop remains single-sided. However, our left-handed team member, Blake, was quick to point out this drawback.

Recommended for:

The Glock 48 MOS is for anyone that wants a Glock but doesn’t like the thickness of the Glock 19. The slim profile of this gun is appealing and the grip is just as good as the larger Glocks.


Slim profile

Optics-ready with rail

Long grip for added control


Right-hand controls only

Small capacity

Video of the Glock 48 MOS

The Best Concealed Carry Gun Features and Tips

The best concealed carry gun can mean something different for each person. However there are some important features that they all have in common.

For more details, see our how to choose a concealed carry handgun guide.

The author's top concealed carry gun, the Sig Sauer P365XL
Our top pick, the Sig Sauer P365XL

Size and Weight

This is the first feature to keep in mind. Obviously, a smaller gun is easier to concealed and more comfortable to carry than a big heavy one. But, there is some compromising here since a very small gun can be difficult to shoot.

Type and Action

We recommend a semi-automatic striker fired handgun almost exclusively. They are easy to use, reliable, and have a high capacity.

Some people that have weak hand strength may prefer a revolver. I have found some older people have a hard time racking the slide on a semi-automatic pistol. Revolvers are simple, reliable, and easy to use but have a low capacity and are hard to reload. But they are also usually heavy.


The caliber, or the size of the bullets the concealed carry gun fires, plays a big part in the size of the handgun and the amount of felt recoil. In general, larger caliber handguns are heavier, have more recoil, and have a lower round capacity.

The author showing the range of calibers for concealed carry handguns
Concealed carry calibers can range from 9mm (left), 5.7mm (center), to .357 Magnum (right)

In general we recommend 9mm for a concealed carry handgun. It’s a balanced choice, offering a good combination of stopping power and low recoil. Most 9mm handguns have a high round capacity as well. Plus, there are a ton of ammo options available.

The Author's various 9mm bullets, both self  defense and training
There are many 9mm ammo options available.

Also, the cost of 9mm ammo is also lower than most other calibers. This is an important consideration in addition to the cost of a concealed carry gun. I use a lot of ammunition for training.


The capacity of a concealed carry handgun is important. In some states you are limited, but in general get the highest capacity that you can. It is better to have too much than not enough.


Being able to efficiently operate a concealed carry handgun is critical to being able to use it properly. If you can’t hold it correctly or can’t reach the mag release, training will be frustrating.

Look for a handgun that has exchangeable backstraps. Also, look for mag release and slide lock levers that are prominent and not hidden. The texture of the grip is also important, but you can always add more texture with grip tape.

If you can, go to a range and rent a few guns before you buy them. Keep in mind that ranges are notoriously expensive, so don’t feel pressured by the salesman.

Trigger Characteristics

Most modern handguns have good triggers. None that we have recommended here have “bad” triggers. When I first started shooting, I really couldn’t tell the difference in most triggers. Over time I was able to differentiate between them.

After a lot of training and range time, I can really tell the difference now. I can say that once you start training with a handgun, don’t bounce between different ones. I have developed a sort of muscle memory for my gun, and when I try a different gun I have to slow down and get used to it first.

In general, I look for a trigger that when I pull it, there is a steady even pressure up to a point. Once the trigger starts getting hard to pull, you have reached the “wall.”

If the trigger jumps and has different pressure as I pull, I have found it is either a bad trigger or the gun is really dirty.

Once you hit the “wall” you want to apply even pressure and the trigger has a clean break. If it moves and sort of jumps as you apply more pressure before it finally breaks, it is not a very good trigger either.

In the end, you want a nice wall to pull to, and a nice point where you know the gun will go off. If you have to pull and pull and can’t tell where it will go off, try a different gun.

The author showing the flat trigger on the Sig P365XL
Flat triggers can provide better feedback than curved triggers


The sights on the gun you choose should be easy to see and durable. The front sight should have a prominent mark that allows you to see it easily as it comes into view.

More and more red dot optics are more popular, especially for those with bad eyesight.

If you purchase a handgun that is made by a prominent company there will usually be plenty of aftermarket sights available. I also recommend that you purchase a handgun that is optics ready so you can add a red dot later if you want.

Again, renting a gun first will allow you to see for yourself.


In general, in my experience a separate external safety is not needed on a concealed carry handgun. Modern striker fired semi-automatic handguns have built in safeties that protect against discharges unless the trigger is pulled. The Glock Safe Action system is a well-known example of a trigger safety.

However, if you do want an external safety, do not become complacent with it. Still treat it like it is loaded and never touch the trigger unless you are ready to fire.

Also, train with the safety just like you plan to use it everyday. That means switching it off when you draw and switching it back on when you holster. You don’t want to draw it in a self-defense incident and it won’t fire because you forgot the safety.

The author showing the thumb safety on his concealed carry handgun
A separate thumb safety is available on some concealed carry guns


A concealed carry gun must be reliable. If it is not there is no point in having it.

Guns made by well known manufacturers are almost always reliable. The only exception may be a gun that is a brand new model, but not very often.

All of the guns above are known to be reliable. Stay away from off brands or anything that a local shop may try to sell you that you have never heard of. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.


A concealed carry gun must obviously be concealable. Don’t forget your purpose. Some of the bigger all metal guns are very nice, but not very practical to carry.

While smaller guns are easier to conceal, they are harder to shoot as well. Look for a compromise here. As with most things, somewhere in the middle is best.

Kristin with a Sig P365XL and a Belly Band Holster
Kristin with a Falco Belly Band Holster and the Sig P365XL

In my experience, knowing that others can’t tell I am carrying is best. You never want someone to say “there is a man here with a gun.”

Aftermarket Support

Before you buy a handgun for concealed carry, make sure that it has aftermarket support. Can you find a proper holster? I have found it is hard to find holsters for new guns that just came out. Holster manufacturers need time to start production.

If you are going with an optics ready handgun, make sure what type of mounting system it has. There are multiple options available, and not all red dot sights will work on every gun.

Ambidextrous Capability

If you’re left-handed, you of course need a firearm that has ambidextrous controls. Some handguns have this built in and others require some user changes. Others do not have this capability at all. We detail this above since Blake is left handed and knows very well the struggle of left handed shooters.

What is the Best Concealed Carry Handgun for You?

The only way to know whether or not a concealed carry gun works for you is to purchase it, practice with it, and wear it. It’s taken me months to figure out that a gun just wasn’t working. Often, you have to wear it through several seasons.

I recommend choosing whatever gun fits your needs the most. Don’t overthink it, as all the guns on this list are a great choice. The Sig Sauer P365 XL is the best option for most shooters and the one I most recommend.

However, you may want to try the Heckler & Koch P30 V3 if you’re left-handed or the Glock 19 Gen 5 if you’re looking to save some money.

Purchasing a gun online is often easier than many people think, and it usually provides you with more options. The number of guns available online is practically endless, allowing you to select the perfect gun for you – not settle for whatever your local gun shop happens to have. Usually, they just have something that they want to sell, and it may not be the best for you.

These links to Palmetto State Armory and Guns.com describe how it is super easy to buy a gun online. Also check out our guide on how to purchase a gun online.

Of course, owning a firearm isn’t the only part of being prepared to defend yourself. Be sure to go through our full concealed carry guide for everything you need to know.

Next: Concealed Carry Gun Safety Guide

Go back to the Main Concealed Carry Guide

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.