7 Top Compact Concealed Carry Self-Defense Handguns for New Shooters!

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With the right pocket pistol, such as this Ruger LC9s, and proper training, you can have everything you need to effectively defend yourself.

With the right pocket pistol, such as this Ruger LC9s, and proper training, you can have everything you need to effectively defend yourself.

Probably the hottest segment of the handgun market is in guns that fit the concealed carry mode. As a trainer who teaches concealed carry certification in my state of North Carolina, I regularly meet a whole new class of gun owner who may have never owned or even fired a handgun until recently. Certainly, almost any handgun can be carried and used in a defensive situation, but there are certain parameters that truly match the concealed carry citizen’s need. The guns listed aren’t chosen for their level of usefulness for highly trained operators, but rather because they’re easy to learn to shoot well and are powerful and reliable enough to serve as excellent defensive tools.

The Ruger LC9s is a powerful and accurate 9mm. The author shot this sub-two inch group standing at ten yards.

The Ruger LC9s is a powerful and accurate 9mm. The author shot this sub-two inch group standing at ten yards.

The number one rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun. As a trainer, I’m aware that many who have a concealed carry permit simply don’t practice daily carry because they chose a handgun that was too heavy and bulky to make everyday carry comfortable. By description, a concealed carry handgun must be concealable. This indicates a thin profile and small size. It also requires light weight because concealed carry methods don’t allow engineered load-bearing designs.

Obviously, the magazine capacity of double-stack guns is an asset, but compact double-stack concealed carry guns are really only chopped-down service pistols. Most weigh over 20 ounces and are difficult to comfortably hide wearing summer clothes because of their thickness. I remind my students that the average number of shots fired in a defensive confrontation is 2.3. Try to think of an armed citizen account that involved a high round count. It happens, but mostly it happens in the movies. Why not carry a thin gun with a spare magazine?

Of course caliber selection is also critical, and considering that most concealed carry citizens aren’t normally highly trained shooters, competitors or operators, I selected guns in 9mm or .38 Special. No one will argue that larger and more powerful calibers are more effective, but the performance of the shooter is also a factor and most relatively new shooters are intimidated enough by the recoil of 9mm and .38 caliber handguns (much less anything bigger).

 

AUTOPISTOLS

Semi-autos constitute the largest share of the concealed carry market, and for good reason. Compact, single-stack, concealed carry guns can carry very flat, making them easy to conceal, and the triggers of modern striker-fired guns are easy for even novice shooters to manipulate. They also offer greater capacity than revolvers of similar size and are much faster to reload.

Kahr CM9

The Kahr CM9 pistol is a true striker-fired pistol with a unique trigger system. Instead of the normal two-stage, striker-fired trigger so common these days, the CM9 has a long-stroke, double-action-style pull. The CM9’s trigger pull is a long smooth pull, feeling like a double action revolver but lighter, making it very easy to shoot. The result is a pistol that is easy and simple to use, and one that would be right at home in the hands of either a novice or advanced shooter. The dovetailed rear sight has a vertical bar aligning with a pinned-in dot at the front. At just .90 inches wide in 9mm, it’s certainly slim enough and it weighs less than 16 ounces empty. MSRP is $460.00.

To buy a Kahr CM9 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Kahr%20CM9

Glock 43

Glock 43 glock-43-9mm-pistol3The Glock 43 is the newest member of the Glock family. Introduced at the 2015 SHOT Show, it was the long-awaited single stack compact 9mm from the company. No one knows exactly why Glock waited so long to introduce the G43, but it’s certainly a viable choice. Only slightly larger than the Glock 42, the width is just a bit over one inch and weight is just under 18 ounces, placing the G43 in the middle of the pack among the auto-loaders in this story for weight and thin profile. As with other things in life, if you’ve seen one Glock, you’ve seen them all, and this, I suppose, is the main reason for those who dislike Gaston Glock’s brainchildren.  Single stack or double stack, large caliber or small, long or short, Glocks are boringly similar. They are also remarkably reliable and simple to use. Certainly not a visually exciting or even pleasing gun, the 6+1 G43 does everything it’s intended to do and nothing it wasn’t. Solid, easy to shoot, reliable, easy to hide, powerful enough, like the other guns on the list, the G43 fills the bill. MSRP is $529.00.

To buy a Glock 43 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=glock%2043

Ruger LC9s

Ruger LC9sThe original LC9 was a hammer fired semi-auto 9mm with a polymer frame and alloy steel slide. We now live in a striker-fired world (which means it is a hammerless design in which a spring-loaded striker is retracted and released to fire the chambered round) and in 2014 Ruger upgraded the LC9 to incorporate this system. It was dubbed the LC9s. At 17.2 ounces and a width of .90”, the LC9s isn’t a super lightweight, but it’s slim and light enough for easy concealment. The sights are three dot and drift adjustable and the trigger is the bladed type. The LC9s doesn’t have second strike capability. There’s a thumb safety, magazine disconnect safety and a visual chamber indicator port. Magazine capacity is 7+1 rounds and the gun comes with a fingergrip extension for the magazine floor plate for more comfort. In 2015, Ruger introduced a Pro model with neither the thumb safety nor the magazine safety that many experienced shooters dislike. With one magazine and a soft case, both models have an MSRP of $479.00.

To buy a Ruger LC9s on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Ruger%20LC9S

Smith & Wesson Shield

Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Smith & WessonWinstanley PartnersThere’s nothing unconventional about the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, which is available in 9mm and .40 S&W (and has recently been expanded to include the .45 ACP). There’s a polymer frame, steel slide and barrel, the trigger is hinged instead of bladed, but the effect is the same. The trigger pull is the standard two-stage with the first stage for safety and a reasonable, but not remarkable break at the second stage. Weight is 19 ounces with a one-inch thick profile. Sights are three dots with the rear drift adjustable for windage. It’s available with or without a thumb safety. The M&P Shield is a no-nonsense, practical gun that works. Like the other guns in this group it’s affordable, easy to operate and effective. MSRP of the basic model is $449.00.

To buy a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Smith%20Wesson%20Shield

Springfield Armory XDs

Springfield XDs 9In 2012, Springfield Armory introduced the XDs, a slim single-stack, striker-fired pistol for concealed carry with characteristics from the popular XD line. Offered in 9mm and .45 ACP and later .40 S&W, it drew instant attention as a small powerhouse (particularly in the .45 ACP chambering). The XDs is a no-nonsense pistol, polymer framed with a bladed trigger and standard striker-fired system of operation.

The XDs weighs in at 21.5 ounces in .45 ACP and up to 23 ounces in 9mm, making it heavier than other contenders in this class, but I included it because it has a feature none of the other guns in this group offer. A passive grip safety is a feature I feel is a viable addition to a concealed carry semi-auto because concealment offers safety challenges that are less an issue with exposed duty-style holsters. Most striker-fired triggers can be quite light and if they tangle with clothing during the holstering process, this can be an issue. Manual safeties can be disengaged in fastening seatbelts and by clothing. In 9mm, it’s easier to shoot than the lighter guns in this class. MSRP is $499.00 with two magazines, a holster, magazine pouch, and a hard case.

To buy a Springfield Armory XDs on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Springfield%20Armory%20XDs

 

REVOLVERS

There are some who believe revolvers to be outdated relics, but the wheelgun is enjoying a rising level of popularity. It’s true that revolvers suffer in capacity and loading speed, but their extreme simplicity and well-earned reputation for reliability make them a favorite of novices for concealed carry. Just this year at SHOT Show, Kimber got into the growing revolver market with their first revolver, the K6s. The .38 Special chambering of the two revolvers in this list is similar to 9mm Luger in its +P defensive loadings. Capacity and reload speed are a relative disadvantage, but simplicity and light weight might offset this for some users.

Ruger LCR

Ruger LCRRuger is certainly no stranger to revolvers, having a tradition of successful versions of older designs, but the .38 Special LCR is both successful and innovative. It uses a polymer grip and trigger guard frame combined with a steel inner frame to generate a weight of less than 14 ounces. The standard version is double action only, a reasonable operating system for a concealed carry gun, because exposed hammers create an opportunity for snagging on clothing. For those who want an exposed hammer version, there is the LCRx. The sights are a grooved top strap and a pinned front ramp. There are also .22 LR, 9mm, .327 Fed Mag. and .357 Mag variants available.

While revolvers are simple to operate, the challenge to new shooters is learning to manage the long trigger pull required to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer. With proper technique, good trigger management is attainable and the LCR’s exceptionally smooth and light trigger is an asset. Weight is 13.5 ounces; caliber is .38 Special +P. MSRP is $579.00.

To buy a Ruger LCR on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Ruger%20LCR

Smith & Wesson 642

Smith & Wesson 642 M642_163810_LBased on a design with a lineage that’s more than a century old, the 642 line of J-Frame Smith & Wessons has certainly stood the test of time. The frame is aluminum; the majority of the rest of the parts are stainless steel. There’s a machined-in serrated front sight and a machined-in groove rear. With a weight of 15 ounces for the S&W and 13.5 for the Ruger, both of these revolvers are certainly some of the lightest of the seven guns in this group. They do give up some slimness because of the width of the cylinder, but they’re still easily concealable.  The 642 is double-action-only with a concealed hammer. MSRP is $469.00.

To buy a Smith & Wesson Model 642 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.htm?T=Smith+%26+Wesson+642&pagenum=1

We’re fortunate today because there are now so many really good guns available. It’s harder to find a bad gun than it is to find a good one, but some guns are easier for the novice to master. The semi-autos are slimmer in profile and the revolvers are a bit lighter. By choosing one of the seven guns listed above, the novice concealed carry citizen simply can’t make a bad choice.

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{ 146 comments… add one }
  • KellHolliman August 25, 2017, 7:56 am

    your top conceal picks are missing one!! Kimber micro 9. try it you will quickly add to the list probably be no.1

  • Michael MacNeill February 1, 2017, 5:35 pm

    I loved shooting the Springfield XDS 9 mil. Anyone know how shooting the other calibers compares?

  • IraC18 January 4, 2017, 4:09 am

    all these comments on the best EDC what about the Most Important thing, the BELT; if you don’t have a real good belt ‘forgetaboutit.’ You won’t even be able to get your piece out in time, or maybe the weight of some of these weapons may even drag your pants down or the weapon falls over because you’re not wearing a good stiff gunbelt? Why isn’t anyone even mentioning the most important accessory you could have, & there are good ones & bad ones??

  • PaulWVa December 16, 2016, 9:03 pm

    I’m sorry to see the Sig Sauer P-320 not on this list. I have two, the compact (15rds) and the sub-compact (12rds) and I wouldn’t trade for any gun here. The 320s make great, easy to learn autos. I must admit that I tend to carry my S&W 639 Airweight Bodyguard .38 +P revolver. It’s powerful, light and super easy to carry. I use a Blackhawk Soft Pocket holster and Liberty Civil Defense 50 grain, .38 +P defense ammo. A super light EDC package.

    • Zack Reedy January 26, 2017, 1:12 pm

      I love my p320 but it’s just so hard to conceal and comfortably carry. If they made that gun in a single stack variation it would be perfect

  • Dusty December 14, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Hear, hear mutlee!
    IMO- A new shooter looking for a defensive handgun is best served by a small revolver. No malfunction drill beyond pulling the trigger again, no slide manipulations, persons with weak hands can load them easily, and the round count in 99+% of defensive encounters is more than adequate. Administrative loading and unloading is straightforward as well, and that can be VERY comforting to instructors, other students and bystanders as well.

    • mutlee December 14, 2016, 7:35 pm

      Dusty, everything you said is true. Thanks for adding your very important points!
      With ‘new’ shooters my concern is to create confidence…..confidence in both the reliability of the weapon and the shooter’s shot placement. The gun must be reliable, adequately powerful and the shots must be placed properly for max effect. The S&W 649+P with a CT Lasergrip fills that bill.
      FBI says the average gunfight consists of 2-3 shots at 14 ft or closer.

  • mutlee December 14, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Below is what I have learned over the years of teaching CC to NEW shooters:
    New shooters freeze when their pistol jams. And new shooters’ pistols jam…a lot. By adding tap-rack-bang drills, etc to the pistol learning curve it tends to intimidate most ‘new’ shooters.
    For ‘new’ shooters, I believe that there is no better option than the S&W model 649+P with the Crimson Trace Lasergrip. Very fast learning curve! Very accurate at self defense distances up to 20 yards.
    The S&W649/CT is novice friendly, simple to learn, extremely reliable, and it is especially useful for older eyes, low light and defensive point-shooting. The ladies are more comfortable with this type of outfitted revolver. Plus, it is superb for extended dry fire practice and handling familiarity.
    As is well known, self-defense shooting situations are waaaaay different than target shooting!

  • Oliver Klozzoff December 14, 2016, 8:58 am

    CZ Rami 9mm should be on the list…high up…IMHO.

  • FirstStateMark December 13, 2016, 11:28 am

    I have the Glock G42, S&W 642, M&P Shield & Ruger LC9sPro. I refuse to pay for the long awaiting under-capacity overpriced overrated Glock 43. If you ask me, and nobody has, the G43 is not worth the money. I own a lot of Glocks but refuse to buy that one. My EDC is the Ruger LC9SPro.

  • Aaron Tesch December 12, 2016, 2:04 pm

    I have owned and carried both the Sig P239 and P938. Both are light weight, easy to conceal. Very reliable. Should be on the list.

    • don comfort December 12, 2016, 8:28 pm

      I have all 3, Glock 43, Ruger LC9s pro and Sig 938. I like them all but… The 938 is my every day carry gun.
      I also own both revolvers mentioned but in my humble opinion,the 938 leads the pack.

    • Beachhawk December 12, 2016, 9:57 pm

      I also have and occasionally carry both, however compared to the pistols listed in this article, the little Sigs are much more expensive. You could just about buy two LC9s’s for the price of one P938. The Kahr PM9, the upscale version of the CM9, is also a very small easy to carry 9mm, but it too is more expensive than any of the pistols listed. I think the author was writing for cost-conscious people who were looking for reliable protection more than prestige.

    • Daryl James January 3, 2017, 11:23 am

      My EDC is the Sig 938 Black Rubber. It is remarkably accurate for a smaller handgun. The Glock 26 was too heavy to conceal carry so I sold it and bought a Sig 320 Compact, which for me is also too heavy to CC and is my home defense firearm. Prior to purchase, the new gun owner needs to check the weight of the firearm with a full magazine. My girl carries the Sig 238 Spartan, and her home defense is the Sig 320 Sub-compact.

  • John Nicholson December 12, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Once again, one of the best concealed carry handguns is left out. That is the Bersa Thunder .380acp. I’ve used Bersa Thunders for years. I have NEVER had a failure to feed fire or eject with both fmj and hollow points. It is small enough to easily conceal yet large enough to really get your hand on it. I bought my first about 15 years ago. I have four more, all for different purposes. Despite the excellence in so many ways of these guns I’ve never seen them included in an “Top 5…”, “Top 10…” etc. lists. I don’t know but the only reason I can think of for its absence from such lists is “gun snobbery”. It’s made in Argentina, isn’t expensive and it isn’t a Colt, a Smith or Glock, etc.

    • Walt Mather December 12, 2016, 3:10 pm

      I agree and wonder about what seems an underlying condescension of anything non striker fire.
      I’m considering a Bersa Thunder for c/c. I had a S&W MP 9c, which is a well made, dependable handgun but I just didn’t trust carrying it (or any striker fire) with a round chambered. Give me a DA/SA hammer fire any day.
      I currently carry a PX4 .40 sc and for full size, own a Beretta 92FS and Sig 2022 but I’ve been considering the Bersa in a .380 for summer carry. I’m just a little sceptical of .380 for self defense but I do like that gun.

      • IraC18 December 13, 2016, 12:14 pm

        not gun snobbery, it’s a MOUSE gun, if my life depended on it I would NEVER go less than a 9mm; & there are Many good 9mm carry guns out there!

        • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:19 pm

          I’m not so “sure” that “mouse gun” actually applies to the .380ACP round. The majority of homicides I investigated in my past career, were committed with either the. 22LR or the .380ACP. So, from sheer numbers and a subjective experienced viewpoint, either one is far better than a pencil.
          That being said, the sheer number of excellent “small” 9mm pistols now being produced certainly makes ME feel far more comfortable about carrying the sub-compact 9mm pistol I do as a BUG, and I won’t worry about it getting stuck in Evidence if it ever has to be used, the price point makes it very replaceable.
          I’ve fired most of the handguns on this list, and I liked them all, and only purchased one of the list so far…I have peasant hands, huge hands, short stubby fingers, and few of them “fit” me even close. One came the closest, so I purchased it.

        • Sullymayne December 30, 2016, 9:11 pm

          You do realize that 380 and 9×19 are almost identical right ? You wouldnt Call a 380 a mouse gun if someone had it pointed at you a lethal threat is well just that don’t matter the size of the bullet it matters where you place your shot

    • don comfort December 12, 2016, 8:30 pm

      I believe the author,for the purpose of this story limited the firearms to caliber specific 9mm and 38 special

    • Old Guy December 14, 2016, 5:25 pm

      It’s true . Those little Bersas in .380 word reliably . Accuracy is just as good as anything else out there . And I own a lot of tiny very expensive .380s ..for the low price the quality sure seems to be pretty good . I used to have a tainted view of Bersa guns until I spent time shooting one of them . Definitely worth looking at .

    • John P December 26, 2016, 2:57 am

      Maybe the reason it wasn’t included is because, unlike your experience, many Thunder 380’s – including mine – have serious reliability issues. Based on the forums I read, I see that I’m not alone. I’m glad your experiences have been good with these guns but based on my experiences and those of others, I would never buy a Bersa Thunder 380 again.

  • mutlee December 12, 2016, 11:57 am

    Since this article is about self-defense handguns for new shooters/etc, there is probably no better option than the S&W model 649 with the Crimson Trace Lasergrip. Very fast learning curve!
    The S&W649/CT Laser equipped revolver is not just novice friendly……it is #1 ‘very reliable’ and it is especially useful for older eyes, low light and defensive point-shooting.
    Self-defense shooting situations are waaaaay different than target shooting. Teach that!

    • IraC18 December 13, 2016, 12:21 pm

      I have had & do have a few snubbies both 38 & 357, [S&W 686+, Ruger SP 101, & a Taurus 85 CHULT] and I would much rather (in a fight where my life depended on it) have a min. of 9mm CC pistols which are Much easier & faster to reload if you were in trouble??

  • August Bender December 12, 2016, 10:57 am

    I have a Virginia “Permit to carry a concealed handgun” even though open carry is legal with no permit required. The only time I carry a handgun is when I’m out riding my bicycle on trails and rural roads. I carry the gun in my jersey pocket for protection from dogs. When I was younger I was a bike racer and I was fast enough that I could outsprint any dog that chased me. Now I’m considerably older and slower and I’m not so sure I could get away from an unfriendly rottweiler or pit bull. I usually carry either a Beretta Model 950 .25 auto or a S&W Model 351PD .22 WMR 7-shot revolver. Both guns are lightweight, easily fit in my rear jersey pocket and I believe would be sufficient to discourage a dog attack.

  • Dan December 12, 2016, 10:42 am

    Why was the Kimber 380 or 9 mm Micro not included?

    • Beachhawk December 12, 2016, 10:04 pm

      I think the author probably omitted the little Kimbers for the same reason he omitted the little Sigs: They are all much more expensive than the pistols he included.

  • Jack December 12, 2016, 9:26 am

    I carry the Clock 43. Easy to carry, feels nice on the body. I carry an extra mag just in case.

    • Tom December 12, 2016, 10:51 am

      I have the G43 also — carry it everyday since I walk my dogs starting at 3am. I really like it both to carry and practice. When hiking (in Arizona) I carry a 40cal since there are bears and cougars but on the street the G43 is perfect to hide. At the range, practice picking up the sight as quickly as possible and then one handed shooting (try both hands separately). Dry firing is also my friend (I was a competitive rifle shooter and spent years dry firing) to train the mind on trigger pull. I certainly hope I NEVER need to use it in life but in the event things go south and that nuclear bomb is coming at me that I need to defend myself against, I am confident I’ll be ready.

  • Douglas Pope December 12, 2016, 9:01 am

    The best C.C. gun is one that you are comfortable carrying. The thing that matters most is that you carry the firearm , and you practice with it . When you get to the point that you think you are in control , practice some more , remember practice makes perfect.

    • Larry December 12, 2016, 3:55 pm

      Douglas, you hit it right on the head. My wife and daughter are very small, and I have a whole safe full of guns they didn’t like because of recoil. They both now have guns they really like, and like to shoot on a regular basis. Their guns will never make a list like this, but if they like the gun, will train with the gun, and will hit where they aim, then that is the right gun for them.

      • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:21 pm

        I concur completely with Doug and Larry.

        • Ed Pilkington August 25, 2017, 8:36 am

          Absolutely wholeheartedly agree withDoug, Larry and T.P.!! There’s too much Gun Snobbery here…

        • Ed Pilkington August 25, 2017, 8:39 am

          Absolutely wholeheartedly agree withDoug, Larry and T.P.!! There\’s too much Gun Snobbery here…

  • Joe December 12, 2016, 8:33 am

    A dirty truth of compact handguns is “Not all ammo performs properly in short barrels.” Do some research on carry ammo for your short barreled handgun because your life depends on it. The results will be surprising. Dont believe the advertising hype.
    Revolvers can malfunction and are nearly impossible to get back into action quickly. You might get by a rare dead primer but they can jam or break. Been there more than once and I still carry one on occasion. Proper ammo selection in a 2″ barrel is especially critical. Most dont work as advertised since they are designed for 4″ barrels.
    No matter how reliable a firearm is, ammo can malfunction. Shoot enough rounds and you will have ammo related malfunctions. It can be a dead primer, a backed out primer, a squib, a heavy powder charge or a set back bullet in a round that has been chambered too many times.

    • Chris December 12, 2016, 10:08 pm

      Completely disagree and I am a 41-year Life Member of the NRA and a shooter for longer than that and worked four years in the gun business. Any decent short-barreled revolver (Colt, S&W, Ruger, Charter) will shoot any ammo properly with no malfunctions. I own two S&W M36 1 7/8′ in. barrels and they digested all factory ammo and my handloads. Don’t know why you posted misleading info.

      • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:26 pm

        Sorry Chris. I agree with Joe in his post, as I have personally witness ammunition malfunctions in backup revolvers from fellow officers,(in real life where it counts-not range malfunctions of which I’ve seen far too many) wherein the factory ammo never came close to the advertising hype, nor is ANY handgun from ANY manufacturer, ever 100% reliable. Our experiences differ widely,, however, “any decent short barreled revolver” is more “reliable” than an auto in my professional and personal experience.
        So, I don’t feel nor believe Joe’s post was “misleading” in any way at all. And no, I do not “know” Joe at all.

  • Cyrus December 12, 2016, 8:08 am

    I will stick with my HK45c. 45 cal stopping power that is easy to carry and very concealable!

    • E.W Ingalls December 12, 2016, 9:59 am

      BUURGA,

      The rounds fired per confrontation is standard Law Enforcement training. Whether its pound for pound or clip for clip it happens in a phone booth. You better get it right with the first one. I have trained people for two days and still they miss 13, 15, 16 times with a heinie ninie because they are scared. Here’s one more tip, never shoot to an empty mag. In a fight a professional can’t remember uh, did I fire 2 times or 4 times much less 11 times or 14 times? Carry what fits and feels good to you, that’s always “the best gun” for you. Good luck.

      • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:27 pm

        Excellent real life counsel! Well said.

    • Ben Slam December 12, 2016, 9:30 pm

      The “stopping power” of a 9mm is the same energy as a 10# weight dropped .75”. The 45 caliber “stopping power” is the same energy from that 10# weight dropped from 1.1”. You can watch videos like a small framed female being shot by a cowardly robber, with a 357 magnum, and she never moves after being shot, much less “blown off her feet.” Yeah, like the “500 ft lbs will knock a man off his feet” and other such bull. With handguns, there is no stopping power on a determined assailant unless you get a CNS hit. At law enforcement velocities, a handgun doesn’t kill by shock. The person hit with a handgun round bleeds out, like a bow and arrow hit. Now you put an itty bitty .224” 50 gr bullet at 3, 250 fps into a suspect, and that creates a shock wound. Anywhere in the vicinity or major organs and now you have stopping power caused by massive damage and hydrostatic shock. Dirty Harry’s 44 didn’t even do this, even if he would’ve carried magnum rounds. If your bullet isn’t impacting at 2,000-2,200 fps, all you can do is get 12-15” penetration and 1.5 times the diameter of expansion, and many 9mm bullets do over that. There just is no significant difference in a 9, 40, or 45 on a human target. I saw this first hand on ballistic shoots near the turn of the century. The FBI finally admitted it in 2014. Their research on stopping power after the Miami shoot outs led to the 10mm and 40 cal. They have now rescinded that. The 45/9mm debate was old. Not many agencies would turn in their 9mm for 45. But the 40 cal was the new toy, and it was a way to get their hands on those post 1994, now illegal hi cap 9mm mags all of us cops were carrying. So after the FBI was on the “need more power trip”, business built the “better” mouse trap that earned them a lot of money, dropped shooting scores by 40% nationwide, created a less reliable, more maintenance required gun in the 40. You just can’t miss fast enough with a 40 to win a fight. I like .380’s, but with the packages in concealed carry guns today, the 9mm makes the most sense. Just my 25 cents (inflation).

  • Tatt2Jack December 12, 2016, 8:07 am

    We have, among others, a S&W 642 WITH a Crimson Trace grip. It adds a little length and front to back width for a better hold AND a system for shooting in Low Light! It makes a big difference.

    If you can, get a weapon with a CT option. You never know under what conditions you might be in when you have to defend yourself or others.

  • Bruce December 12, 2016, 7:42 am

    Personally I prefer to carry a 1911 in .45ACP. I like it for two reasons, stopping power and when I am under a stressful situation I just shoot it more accurately. If you don’t hit what you aim at it doesn’t really matter what caliber it is. When carried in the proper holster the weight is not an issue for me. I use a CrossBreed SuperTuck in horsehide and like it very much. It didn’t take very long to break in and become very comfortable. I know Alien Gear Holsters and other make similar holsters but I have not tried them yet. My BUGs are Kel-Tec P3AT or PF9.
    No matter what you carry, practice, practice and practice some more. Most ranges wont allow you to practice your draw from concealment but you need to do it. I found a great little app, IPSC Shot Timer, that is a great way to practice your draw. When you press start a beep will go off at a random time and start the timer. You can adjust the sensitivity low enough that it will pick up the sound of a dry fire. You can practice draw and see how long it takes for you to draw and fire. I will do this several times a week. Sometimes I change shirts when I realize it interferes with my draw. Remember if you are going to dry fire practice at home verify the firearm is UNLOADED. And if you are going to dry fire practice at home verify the firearm is UNLOADED. And if you are going to dry fire practice at home verify the firearm is UNLOADED. Okay, now that you have verified the firearm is unloaded, and I seriously do check it several times before I start to practice, also make sure when you draw your firearm it will be pointed in a safe direction. You may find your current method of concealment takes too long and you may want to explore other methods of carry. For example, one IWB holster I carried to start with I had a problem with when I started practicing my draw, it liked to come out with the firearm. With practice and a good holster my average time to draw from concealment and fire is just a little over a second.

    • JJ357 December 12, 2016, 9:40 am

      Alien Gear makes excellent holsters they come with several spare parts and can be adjusted which I am sure cross breed also does. It depends on your frame size as to what size firearm you can carry concealed. The FBI Recently studied ammunition again and switched back to 9mm. With technology advancements a good 9mm hollow point round such as Hornady Critical Duty will produce a wound channel Identical to a 45. Bonus being you have 6-12 more rounds with a 9mm.

      • KillRbee18 December 12, 2016, 12:32 pm

        I will totally agree with JJ357, Alien Gear is the way to go!

  • Mort D Leith December 12, 2016, 7:02 am

    I STILL like my Sig .380 with hollowpoints and a spare mag..
    It’s light, and works very well with the IWB holster

  • Lee November 21, 2016, 10:11 am

    I own or have owned many ccws.
    My very first in 1982 was charter arms snubnose .38.
    It took me until 2012 to start carrying an LC9 and then a glock 26.
    I had to carry the LC9 for a year before I felt comfortable with carry without a safety, then went to the glock.
    I just started carrying a M&P 9c with the apex foward sear and sear block.

    The gist of my message is even starting out some shooters will have pre-conceived notion on what the want. I.e safety lever, 45 cal gun, or whatever they heard or read.

    But my bottom line is in my opinion the first gun should be .38 snub nose revolver to take into consideration the lowest common person.

  • Lee November 21, 2016, 10:11 am

    I own or have owned many ccws.
    My very first in 1982 was charter arms snubnose .38.
    It took me until 2012 to start carrying an LC9 and then a glock 26.
    I had to carry the LC9 for a year before I felt comfortable with carry without a safety, then went to the glock.
    I just started carrying a M&P 9c with the apex foward sear and sear block.

    The gist of my message is even starting out some shooters will have pre-conceived notion on what the want. I.e safety lever, 45 cal gun, or whatever they heard or read.

    But my bottom line is in my opinion the first gun should be .38 snub nose revolver to take into consideration the lowest common person.

  • BUURGA September 28, 2016, 2:47 am

    For 3 more ounces you can get an XD9 Sub with 14 rounds. And, exactly where did that rounds fired per confrontation come from? What caliber, and of those rounds how many were lethal? Why would ANYONE stop at under 3 rounds from any pistol in a life threatening situation?

    • James October 2, 2016, 2:24 pm

      As to your last question, “why would anyone stop at 3 rounds…” the answer is that you will go to prison, most likely, if prosecutors can show that you kept firing after the attack has been stopped. So, bullet in the carpet under the dead guy or angle of entry and exit wounds showing the guy was down already = you are very likely to end up in prison AND bankrupt.

    • BeResponsible October 30, 2016, 1:01 am

      When, in all of your life, in all of your friend’s or family’s lives, have you or they ever found themselves in a situation where deadly force was justified?

      Probably never.

      You stop when the threat is stopped. You don’t fire until there is an immenent threat of death or great bodily harm to you or another person or persons. IMMINENT THREAT of DEATH or GREAT BODILY HARM.
      Not because some one is stealing your TV. Not because some average joe punched you in the nose because you were acting like a jag.

      Not even if some one is approaching you from 50 yards with a bat shouting “I’m going to kill you!”… the threat has to be imminent.

      21 Feet is usually the rule of thumb for imminent with a blade or blunt weapon, or if the guy is 300 pounds of muscle. They need to have a delivery system to cause death, they need to have intent, and it needs to be imminent…

      how many rounds should you shoot some one with? None, you should do you damndest to get the hell out of the situation… unless you’re an off duty officer and a violent felony just unfolded in front of you. Or unless you’re left with NO other option, and you or some one else is about to have their life taken from them… then draw down and stop the threat. You shoot only as necessary until the threat is stopped, whether that’s 2 rounds or 7 rounds… once the threat is stopped NOT ELIMINATED… Stopped… then stop firing…

      you’re trying stop the threat, not kill the person….
      The use of deadly force is the intentional use of a fire arm of other instrument that when used will result in a HIGH PROBABILITY of death or great bodily harm…. probability meaning that by stopping the threat with deadly force, the subject may die… but they may not… because killing some one is never your intention… stopping the threat is.

      do not confuse the two, because when you’re on trial for homicide for shooting some one 15 times because they called you a pussy and grabbing your wife’s ass, or keying your car… you’ll wish you knew the difference, and when it was okay to discharge your weapon.

      • Brad Scruggs November 26, 2016, 8:20 pm

        Very, very well put.

      • Twister Jones December 12, 2016, 12:15 am

        I too agree with everything you said. I would add another level of protection to your arsenal. In addition to my EDCW I have added a Stanley PowerLock 25 foot tape measure and a portable digital scale set to pounds. To be sure I comply with all State and Federal guidelines before I engage a potential attacker I make sure he/she is at or above the 300 lb. weight classification and secondly I bust out my Stanley to assure he/she is well within the 21 foot rule of engagement. This has saved me 3 times now from what I am sure would have been life w/o parole for me and I thank God for giving me the insight to have added these items to my EDC attire. I must also add that on these 3 attempts on my life the first guy beat me so bad while I was trying to weigh him I spent 2 weeks in a coma and only had 1 broken arm and leg. The second time was a woman and, you guessed it, she broke my neck while I was bent over trying to read the scale and only spent 1 week in ICU from a collapsed lung where she stabbed me 6 times but hey, I didn’t shoot her and we both lived. The 3rd time was close though. After I weighed both the guys and confirming both were over the 300 lb limit, I had just finished taping off the 21 feet when one of them snuck up behind me, cheating of course, and hit me with a pipe of all things, and down I went again as the other guy kicked in my ribs and stomped on and broke my back in 2 places. I stayed conscience this time though, no coma for me buddy. I only spent 2 months in rehab to learn to walk with a brace and a walker for the rest of my life but hey, we all lived and yipee!! No prison for me haha, those 2 things saved me from a life behind bars, I am a free man, I can come and go as I please. Although I must say, It is a heck of a lot of trouble to lug a wheelchair everywhere I go so even though I can come and go as I please, I really don’t feel much like going anywhere any more, but hey, I’m not in prison buddy boy no-sir-reeeee haha no-sir-reee. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

        • Michael Keim December 12, 2016, 11:01 am

          Lmao.

        • Knorske December 12, 2016, 12:10 pm

          I think the tape and scale are the best to carry. If the idea is not “hurt” anyone, even though there is the idea they mean to do you harm, or steal, or anything else some believe to be “naughty,” why carry a firearm. As Twisted points out, you can do the measuring and weighing, and if the other person is over 300 pounds and within 21 feet, you can tell them you have all the data to show (to the jury) how bad they are behaving, and just how much trouble they’ll be in after you testify. It will make them stop and think, and there’s a good chance they’ll realize how naughty they have been and decide to reform on the spot.

        • don comfort December 12, 2016, 8:38 pm

          Uh… just a guess, but it appears your shorts are too tight, resulting in the blood flow being cut off to your brain

        • DJ Burns December 13, 2016, 9:54 pm

          LMFAO

        • John P December 26, 2016, 3:19 am

          I love it! Some of the ridiculous advice to be so overly measured is what that leads to innocent loss of life – yours! If your primary concern is legal trouble, maybe carrying a firearm is not your best option. I’d rather be competent with my firearm (training, training, training) and the laws governing its use than to be so consumed with legal consequences that I fail to defend myself and those around me. This hysteria over the stars needing to be lined up before drawing your weapon shows the ignorant mindset of many CC operators.

          • James Burriss May 2, 2017, 1:14 am

            I think everyone should check the state they live in and your right to use deadly force..its great to hear from ex cops with experience BUT most are very opinionated…but they are not lawyers

      • Patterson g December 12, 2016, 11:31 am

        GREAT MESSAGE. VERY QULIFIED ANSWER.

      • Patrick A December 12, 2016, 9:08 pm

        I disagree, In many states like Florida if you see a forcible felony occurring you are allowed to intervene with deadly force. This is not being a vigilante because you are not out looking for trouble, but if you see it and you can stop it, do so. What the bumper sticker says you can’t carry a cop in your pocket. Not the case in most of the Northeast. Also it’s a good idea to kill the person you shoot because if you don’t then it’s 2 stories not one, a retired cop the one that gave me my concealed carry course told me that… Never shoot at anything you can’t see.

        • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:32 pm

          The overwhelming majority of ALL persons who CCW legally, will never ever face anything more threatening in their lifetimes than a car payment.
          Coulda, shoulda, woulda is always sorted out in Criminal and/or Civil Court, regardless of Castle Doctrines.
          The greatest threat to our civil liberties, are attorneys.

      • Ben Slam December 12, 2016, 9:47 pm

        Well put. I would add this. Imminent is a subjective term. That handgun isn’t a light saber. There’s no death at the mere sound of a shot. 30 feet is the newer standard with a blade. The problem I have with that is, that is how far away someone has to be, for the average person to get off an accurate shot or two before they get to them. Well, how much damage did Platt do in the FBI shootout, AFTER he sustained a lethal hit with a handgun. Remember, your bleeding out the suspect with a handgun unless you get a CNS hit, you’re not killing with shock with your AR-15. SO, just so it’s clear, I’m not waiting to see the “Louisville Slugger” label coming at me head before I fire. He’s just not getting that close. Now we’re on the same page. You don’t put the threat down, and then dump 4 more in for good measure. You had better be able to articulate that he was getting back up, wouldn’t stay down, wouldn’t drop the knife, etc. But just so many don’t read in to your message that you have to be “next to death” to use force, you need to use it when that person shows intention or the ability to use force against you that would cause great bodily harm. I have covered as many homicides by bare hands as opposed to guns. People shoot then stop, and medical science saves the wounded, good or bad. Repeated head bashing into concrete doesn’t save them. The point is, last I knew, 90 some % of people shot with handguns live. This includes the self inflicted head wounds in suicides that normally result in death 100% of the time. That shows, you don’t put 1-2 rounds in a person and instantly kill them. By definition, and handgun is a purely defensive weapon. Again we are on parallels. I just didn’t want need gun permit holders or new cops to think they have to see their life flash before their yes before they pull the trigger, or stop pulling the trigger. You do it until the threat is stopped, and isn’t continuing, and possible you can move away after your first volley in order to show even more so, that your goal all along was to get away and survive.

      • Tommy January 13, 2017, 11:19 pm

        You are a very wise person and you have captured in few paragraphs what every CCW permit holder should repeat to him or herself every day. Thanks for spreading the word.

      • gunsmith June 13, 2017, 12:04 am

        very true and very well put. there are too many “tactards” and too many people out there that are itching to pull their firearms and use them but will be the first ones crying like babies when they get sent to prison like the chubby guy in Shawshank Redemption.

    • E.W Ingalls December 12, 2016, 8:56 am

      BUURGA,

      The rounds fired per confrontation is standard Law Enforcement training. Whether its pound for pound or clip for clip it happens in a phone booth. You better get it right with the first one. I have trained people for two days and still they miss 13, 15, 16 times with a heinie ninie because they are scared. Here’s one more tip, never shoot to an empty mag. In a fight a professional can’t remember uh, did I fire 2 times or 4 times much less 11 times or 14 times? Carry what fits and feels good to you, that’s always “the best gun” for you. Good luck.

  • jim persinger September 22, 2016, 6:20 am

    I Noticed a lot of conceal carry autos are only 6 or 7 rounds these days,I have a Glock 43 ,A Sig,S@W,HK,and many others for Conceal Carry,,But if Im only going to depend on 6 or 7 rounds I will carry my colt cobra 6 rounds of .38 its an easy carry no worries about a malfunction FTF etc,I don’t have to worry about the mag its lighter also with no Magazine i think and much more reliable when you pull that trigger something is going bang,I do not have to worry about feeding issues etc,And I can always carry a Glock .43 auto as a backup or carry my cobra as a backup in case of a malfunction,If you just need 6 rounds a small CC wheel gun like the colt cobra is the way to go.Reliability when your in a tight situation is what you want.

    • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:39 pm

      For me, from my subjective personal and professional experience, I personally prefer capacity over the convenience of my snub nosed revolvers. I started out as a rookie officer on Dec.31, 1977 and have since retired. Carried a .357 magnum revolver and never felt outgunned nor out-classed. These days, many of the thug demographic are in groups of multiples of thugs, so capacity became my main concern.
      As another poster said above, the fight will take place at phone booth distances, for you youngsters who have NO clue as to what the means, think “bad-breath distance”, yeah, it IS that close.

  • Kody Loveless September 9, 2016, 12:54 pm

    I have the Smith and Wesson M&P9. It is a great gun. It is too big to carry in the summer, though. I really like the look of the Shield. I like that I can get it in a 9mm or 40cal. I will have to go to my local gun shop and check it out. I think it would be a good gone for my wife and I. I could get her the 9 and get me the 40.

    • Dee December 12, 2016, 2:22 pm

      I love my Shield. 40 cal it’s a great gun you should get it for your wife as I am a female and I believe she will like it.

  • Ralph July 31, 2016, 8:20 am

    I own both a LC9 and a LC9S. I have to say that the LC9S has a GREAT trigger on it right out of the box and accuracy is superb. The LC9 took quite a while to get the trigger broke in but it never came close to the S.

    • pf flyer December 12, 2016, 10:39 am

      My thoughts exactly! I would’ve traded in the 9 on the S but figured why not keep it. Yet it would be the last pistol I’d use from my arsenal.

    • larry presnall December 12, 2016, 5:08 pm

      I agree on the little Ruger. My wife and I have his and hers .380 LCP’s. Great for summer weather carry when I can’t hide the Glock or SW .40. Although one of those will always be in the vehicle and one by the bed. Whomever is breaking into my house can make a game out of guessing which one’s by the bed.

  • Robert LaRocca July 19, 2016, 9:48 pm

    I am about fed up with the trigger pull on every gun that I either buy or not. For some reason, at the gun store the trigger seems lighter but when I get to the range the pull seems to be intolerable. When I shot on a pistol team in 1961, I bought a S & W K38 masterpiece and I brought it to a friend and he filed the sear down and the pull became 2.2 lbs (Perfect). I still have it and it is the best revolver, 6 shot, single action gun. It better that the other 26 pistol that I have. The people that make these guns just don’t understand that, if you are buying a gun to target shoot you don’t want a 9 lb trigger. I just shot 2 S&W 9mm at the range today, aside from the heat, the trigger pull on both started at 9 lbs and reduced to 8 after 3 hours. My old K38 in 1961 cost $78.
    Try to find a gun off the shelf that can be shot well without buying a kit or trigger kit to lower the action. They all make me sick.
    Bob LaRocca

    • G.M. July 22, 2016, 1:53 pm

      Do not pull the trigger, squeeze the trigger. Of all the jobs I’ve done on pistols that have come through my shop a feeb universal truths stand out. A steady hand, knowing the front sight is everything in accuracy, no matter how light your trigger is…knowing how to shoot correctly and creating muscle memory by practice is more important than having a 2.2lb trigger.

    • Terry July 31, 2016, 1:14 am

      Well you would think someone with so many guns would know that a semi-auto takes about 200 rounds to break in the recoil spring and at least 500 to 1K rounds to smooth out the trigger with some exceptions i.e. Springfield 1911, SIG SRT and some other high end ones without a trigger job.. However I would spend the same money on ammo and get some practice in whole smoothing out the trigger at the same time..

  • Larry Koehn July 19, 2016, 10:30 am

    I think that the 9mm is the optimum concealed carry cartridge and only the modern ammo makes that so. I think that I have the ultimate concealed carry pistol on order, the Springfield Armory EMP4. Single action pistols carried cocked and locked just have it over striker pistols and we are talking saving your life so no compromises. 380 is too anemic and 45 too big and bulky and heavy. I have 2 380’s. One is my computer room gun and the other is my bathroom gun. For carry I have rotated between a Glock 23 with a Taran Tactical 3.5 pound trigger, a Lone Wolf ported barrel, and a stainless guide rod with a 20 pound spring to make the 40 cal. S&W cartridge easy to shoot. I have been blessed with 80 acres and this is what I carry around the property. Last rattlesnake had 13 buttons very unlucky for him. I carry a Hi Power for conceal ability but it is heavy. I also have a Ruger SP101, a 10mm and a 22 but all just are unsuitable for concealed carry. I think that the EMP 4 will be the perfect packing pistol.

    • G.M. July 22, 2016, 1:59 pm

      Make sure you’re having a professional install those triggers. Most who do it themselves forget to change their firing pin spring. It’s best to let a professional do those things but read the fine print and make all changes even if they ‘ seem ‘ irrelevant. There’s a reason it’s there be sure and do it. See it all the time with people who put ghost triggers in themselves they forget about the things you have to do that doesnt come with a kit

    • TPSnodgrass December 14, 2016, 6:42 pm

      Larry,
      Would LOVE to hear more on your personal real life experience with the EMP4. I love the balance that pistol has in my hands, and I can’t get a hold of one locally to “test fire”. While I prefer the 9mm round myself, the EMP 4 platform to me, “SEEMS” about right in either caliber.
      Thanks!

  • Glock.223 July 19, 2016, 2:00 am

    I carry a glock 17. I like to know that I’m going to hit what I aim at. Comfort to me is being alive at the end of the day.
    It’s never let me down (and it holds 17 rounds ).

  • Brian cohen July 18, 2016, 9:30 pm

    Top 10 self defense handguns

    To. Not have Sig Sauer is a joke

    • E.W Ingalls December 12, 2016, 9:58 am

      Mr. Cohen,

      I consider myself a professional in these matters, not an “expert” but a professional. I carried a Sig for probably 8 years not because I wanted to , but because I was mandated. Don’t get me wrong Ive defended the Sig to many a gunsmith who said “the Sig sucks because you can’t do squat with them (in terms of menaingful upgrades). I carried a Sig for most of 8 years never shot less than expert with it, just like the Barretta 92F before it. I believe any Sig shoots straight and will fight all day and all night. I’m 5’8” and meduim stocky build, the Sig P226 I was mandated to carry was like trying to coneal a full size brick. I lost my L5-S1 disk carrying the Sig P226 on surveillance. My other beef is the 9mm chambering. It was never a secret nor was it rare to see a 147 grn 9mm duty load launched from any duty sidearm in competition hit a steel plate squarely with the “ping” and see the plate stand firm, in fact hardly move. A CCW weapon must be concealable and it must hit hard enough to take out a real badass with 1 or 2 hits. If you know of a Sig delivering all the requirements, then recommend it. To be right honest, I don’t really reccomend any of these handguns for one reason “the hit hard enough to stop a real badass” requirement. Ive trained people to shoot, and if you can qualify with a heinie neinie you can qualify with a .40 S&W. I do not throw the .45acp in the same argument. I carry a Colt Defender .45acp with a Crimson Trace. Ive recently started training with a Springfield Armory EMP 3″ .40 S&W. I heartily recommend both. There are other options in .40 cal and .45acp in DA/SA platforms. I like the EAA Corp Witness compact pistols in .40 S&W and the Ruger SR.40c. At the end of the day, the very best CCW firearm is the one you are certain you can make perform. I have served my country, my community, and my family for 40+ years and I stood firm to protect your right to have this discussion and carry any legally obtained firearm to defend your life, your family, and your home. I am happy to see you exercise your rights sir, God speed Mr. Cohen, – Earl

  • LBear July 18, 2016, 9:03 pm

    I CC a Glock 26, 9mm. Due to large hands I have a magazine extender on both mags which also allows for 12 cartridges. I find this pistol comfortable to wear in the small of my back. The weapon shoots well with nice groupings and have had no problems with its operation. I do miss the manual safety and have to really concentrate not to put my index finger on the trigger when quickly removing it.
    I also occasionally open carry a Beretta .380 84 F which I love. I’ve had a weapon like this for 40 years. Metal all the way! Super smooth, great groupings, never had a problem. It is a little hard to rack but I’m used to it now.

    • Michael July 22, 2016, 8:42 am

      I installed a siderlock trigger safety on my Glock 27(all of my Glocks). I had a concern about no manual safety for my carry.
      They are fairly easy and straight forward to install. IMHOP worth a look for your concern.

  • Ken Baumann July 18, 2016, 6:46 pm

    I have taught concealed carry classes for many years and have had the opportunity to instruct many new shooters. My experience is that new shooters find every possible way to make a gun malfunction. I even had one lady “limp wrist” my wife’s Buckmark .22lr. I have never had any student have a malfunction with a double action revolver. The extreme reliability and the simplicity of no safety, virtually impossible to discharge without pulling heavy on the trigger, no danger of discharge from dropping and pull again for another chance, have lead me to ALWAYS recommend a DA revolver for new shooters. In an extreme situation you always revert to your lowest level of training. DA revolvers meet that level.

    Thanks for letting me express my opinion.

    • Tom Grounder August 23, 2016, 6:01 pm

      As a fellow instructor , I agree with you 100%.

  • Paul Strickland July 18, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Where’s the Sig Sauer P-320? I’d take a compact or sub-compact 320 over anything on this list. Better trigger, better sights. I looked into everything on the list plus others. I bought a 320 compact, 9mm, night sights….it really wasn’t a hard choice.

  • jtns July 18, 2016, 6:01 pm

    naming a best ccw piece is tough. certainly a 9mm is an excellent choice for the high availability and low cost of ammo, with many platforms. however as others have said, as the ccw market expands to seniors and females we need more pieces chambered in smaller, softer rounds, e.g. 32acp; and wider availability of softer shooting ammo, e.g. hard to find 38 wadcutters and 38 cbc shorts, for already prevalent pieces. for example the ruger lcp is a handful in 380acp but would be nice in 32acp. my edc in summer is a naa guardian 32acp, all steel but small, reliable and handy. its weight negates any recoil making it pleasant to get all important practice. if only 32acp ammo were as widely available and cheap as 9mm.

  • John Derrick July 18, 2016, 5:16 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Sig Sauer P-238 in .380cal. When I tested this pistol against comparable Glock 43 and Colt models, the Sig was hands down superior, but this is just my opinion. They are each finalists of course….

    • Wally July 20, 2016, 3:12 pm

      Right John – Good quality, dependable – Carry chambered, cocked, safety – No surprises ever —

  • Walt Mather July 18, 2016, 4:10 pm

    In my opinion neither Glocks nor any other non-hammer fired pistol should ever be suggested for most “new” shooters. Highly trained LEOs maybe but (as the article implies) new shooters – never.
    Since the most obvious reason for CC is self defense and the need may come with out warning, the added time to jack the slide may be just enough to make your defense too late.
    On the other hand, a weapon with a chambered round that only requires a very slight pressure (of anything) against the trigger to fire is asking for trouble. Can enough training negate that possibility? Maybe to some degree but there is evidence that even trained LEOs have had mishaps. The point is most “new” shooters will likely never acquire AND maintain the level of training needed.
    In my opinion, DA/SA, hammer fired pistols should be what all new shooters start with and in most cases, stay with.

    • Jon Wilob July 23, 2016, 10:22 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more Walt! A .38 spec. full wad cutter placed anywhere in the “boiler room” will, in most instances, negate any further aggression from a harm doer(s). A nice little 5 shot DA revolver with the first two out the bbl. at standard factory velocity and the next 3 out the tube being Critical Defense or equivalent will, almost assuredly, change any harm doer’s mind in short order. Easy access to a couple speed loaders will round out the ensemble nicely. I picked up a like new S&W 49 and the wife shoots it like a pro at the normal PD distances. No issues learning to shoot it accurately and effectively. Only change I made were Decelerator grips.

  • John Nicholson July 18, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Once again, the gun I consider one of the very best concealed carry weapons is left out. The Bersa .380acp Thunder. Especially the concealed carry version. It has a nine shot capacity, isn’t too big, isn’t too small, a very decent DA/SA trigger and is all steel yet not particularly heavy. I actually have five of these, four in .380 and one in .22 rimfire. I have NEVER had a failure to feed, fire or eject and that’s with hollow points, fmj’s and truncated flat nose. I carry mine every day, all day.

    • Alvin York July 18, 2016, 3:51 pm

      I am with you John, I have owned two Berea’s and loved them, very reliable and accurate.

    • Charles R. Erps July 27, 2016, 9:22 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, the Bersa 380 is a superb handgun. I’ve owned one for years and shoot it regularly. Never a failure to fire or failure to feed, and a silky smooth trigger pull, first round double action, the rest single action. Why buy a PPK or PPKs when you can have the same thing for about 1/4 what you’d pay for a Walther. It’s all metal, so felt recoil is negligible, it’s accurate, and it’s a pleasure to shoot. The only trade off is its weight. Being all metal it’s heavier than some of the new polymer framed handguns such as my carry pistol, the lightest of the bunch, the Taurus PT380 which weighs next to nothing, is DAO and has rudiment sights. Bersa makes a great handgun!

  • Dave July 18, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Once again .380, 25acp and .22lr take the back seat, when the discussion of CC begins.
    To all those who claim that 9mm in the smallest “effective” caliber for CC, I say, the statistics PROVE otherwise.
    According to FBI reports more CIVILIANS are shot – and DIE – each year from .22lr than from ANY other caliber.
    What the American market NEEDS is a reliable, economical equivalent to the 60’s / 70’s era “Saturday Night Special.”
    Compact, concealable, reliable and CHEAP with a HIGH capacity. There was a good reason that pistols like the Italian made Titan .25 and the American made Excam sold so well back then, and it was that they filled a GAP in the market, which still exists today. 9mm is extremely SNAPPY and HARD to fire with accuracy from these SMALL frame pistols, particularly for older adults – who are becoming the MAJORITY in the American population. The market needs to respond to the “special needs” of SENIORS who WANT protection, but also a want a MANAGEABLE – CC weapon. Take a senior or even a smaller woman to the range and put a LC9 in their hand, and they will most likely NEVER come back, after only a FEW shots. But give them something like a .25acp Colt Junior or a .380 Astra A-60 and they will happily shoot for an HOUR. No such CONTEMPORARY weapon exists, in a REASONABLE price range, and that is a PROBLEM which needs to be addressed.

    • Bob July 18, 2016, 4:18 pm

      My Beretta Tomcat in .32 ACP is accurate , super easy to load and fire. No way I would pick a .25 over it .

      • Dave July 18, 2016, 8:50 pm

        Don’t underestimate the .25acp. The FMJ rounds can penetrate 11 inches into ballistics gel and even the .25 ACP – Speer Gold Dot JHP rounds routinely penetrate 8 inches when fired from a 2.5 inch barrel. Six or Eight WELL placed – low recoil, rounds of .25acp WILL stop any would-be assailant. The key is to FIRE – then ESCAPE. And seeing that MOST armed encounters happen within 10 FEET, according to law enforcement, the .25acp is MORE than capable of being a useful CC option. Ask yourself if YOU would want to be shot by even ONE round at that range.

        • TPSnodgrass July 19, 2016, 7:10 pm

          I have not seen a single fatality from a defense or criminal shooting that involved anything that fires a .25 ACP round(in cases I investigated). I have seen 12 unsuccessful suicides, where the intended victim used a pistol firing the .25ACP cartridge. While I won’t dispute your experience with the .25ACP round, it is better than a pencil, in my experience, but I’m just not sure of how much better it actually is.
          I personally believe that the .22LR is “better” than a .5ACP round for self defense out of a similar-sized pistol, but that is merely my subjective opinion based solely upon what I’ve personally witnessed in two and a half decades of criminal investigations in Southern California prior to retirement.
          Hey, ANY handgun, is better than nothing, and you have to fight with what you’ve got, not, what’s back in the drawer at the office or home! Something is, better than a stern look!

          • Will July 31, 2016, 1:25 am

            I’ve seen a successful .25 acp suicide. And I know of several other deaths from .25’s. That’s not to say there aren’t better choices, because there certainly are. But all those Europeans who overwhelmingly carried .25’s in the political turmoil of the pre-WW2 era found them pretty useful.

        • BirdsOfFire July 26, 2016, 1:53 pm

          Apparently, nobody has bothered to do a reality check with the “State Security Services”. The KGB and CIA agents carry .25ACP (Makarov) and .32ACP (Colt 1903). Yeah, every person shot dead by a CIA agent was shot with a .32ACP. The “issue weapon” for the CIA is the Colt 1903 chambered for .32 ACP. Why is there only one production run of Colt 1903’s per year? That’s right, gentlemen, that’s when the new classes for CIA agents begin.

    • TC July 18, 2016, 8:25 pm

      Once again, a completely useless statistic is quoted. So .22lr’s kill the most people, great. Let’s pretend it’s effective and say it kills the attacker in 60 seconds, which is a pipe dream; how much damage do you think the other guy with his 9mm will do to you in 60 seconds? So you’ve killed him with your .22 while having taken 5 rounds of 9mm yourself……I guess that makes you the winner. Right?

      P.S. As an LEO, I saw a guy who had a .25 put to his head(forehead) and the trigger pulled, the .25 stuck in his forehead making him a unicorn. The Doctor in the ER pulled the .25 round out of his forehead with forceps, bandaged his head and sent him home.

      You can keep your mouse guns, I’ll keep my .45 and somehow manage all that recoil, roll eyes.

    • mossback July 19, 2016, 8:13 am

      I’m hoping my liberal gun-shy niece will got for a D/A – S/A .22 Mag hammered revolver as a first gun.

  • Georganne Greene-Douglas July 18, 2016, 1:36 pm

    I am a NRA-certified pistol instructor. A friend and I run three women’s groups for self-defense. We offer Concealed Carry classes. Many of our clients are retired and have various limitations such as hand strength and arthritis. We encourage ALL participants to actually try various handguns and calibers. We keep many handguns available for clients to try at our range. We DISCOURAGE spouses/significant others from purchasing a handgun for their mate. It is too personal a decision based upon fit and capability. Handgun purchases are final so if you buy one and it doesn’t fit, you have just wasted your money.

  • Robert July 18, 2016, 1:10 pm

    Why do they make small guns for women and then put a 8 or 9 pound trigger in them. My wife is 5’1′ 130 pounds, it takes so much effort to pull the trigger she pulls off target????

    • Sarah Moesher July 18, 2016, 2:11 pm

      Although not mentioned in the article, the Glock 42 is a lovely, accurate, and fun to shoot gun. The trigger is easiest of all I’ve tried and made easier when replaced with a Ghost. I have tried many handguns and this is my favorite carry. Next, for accuracy, lightweight, and reasonable trigger is SigSauer P938. It is however, a bit heavier than the Glock 42. The Ruger LCR is a nice lightweight gun but a bit bulkier if looking for slimline.

    • john July 18, 2016, 2:41 pm

      find a GOOD gunsmith too lighten her trigger.

    • Mookie July 18, 2016, 6:02 pm

      Lawyers!?!

  • David Pyron July 18, 2016, 11:26 am

    I own & shoot the Ruger 43 and Kahr cm9 and have high regard for both. Both functioned 100% out of the box and Kahr recommends a 200 round break in. The Ruger is slightly more accurate in my hands @ 25 yards. The Ruger sights are 3 dot variety but I prefer the Kahr’s white dot front and white bar rear…faster alignment for me during speed drills. Triggers are completely different in style and pull. Glock is typical Glock. Kahr is like pulling the trigger on an older Smith & Wesson revolver in double action. It took a bit of shooting to get comfortable with the Kahr. Bottom line…both are really nice.

  • dan July 18, 2016, 11:16 am

    as normal a insturctor of firearms promotes the his idea of a perfect cc weapon!!!!!!!!! he forgot the most important thing to learn propley the fire arm needs to fit the person<<<<and be afordable to them for thew price of one of his top seven !!!!! i can buy a taurus pt111 g2 and a hole lot of ammo to pratice with…. and be a so called insturctor also.. he does not mention his certifactions

    • Rob July 18, 2016, 12:28 pm

      I’ve carried a Taurus PT111 Millennium Pro in 9mm for years, IWB carry. I recently add the PT709 slim and it too is a very nice carry. I’m accurate with both to the point that I’ll never carry anything else in a full size handgun. The cost for both was less than the cost of the Glock 43 plus I get 13 rounds in the 111 and 8 rounds in the 709. Not to mention but, G & A found the 709 to be the most reliable single stack pistol produced today.

    • LCDR USN Ret July 18, 2016, 12:41 pm

      Dan,
      I’m sorry, but your statement is incoherent. It is rife with misspellings, ungrammatical structures, and lack of capitalization.
      What are you trying to say?
      Thanks,

      • Peter July 18, 2016, 2:01 pm

        I think he’s saying that he’s imperfect and is not arrogant. Nor does he feel cuperiorr to uthers in this sperts brutherhood.

      • Charles R. Erps, Chief Petty Officer, U.S.N. Retired July 27, 2016, 9:32 pm

        And I think you Sir, are an arrogant prick.

        • Rb September 27, 2016, 8:41 pm

          Chief
          With you all the way

    • Tod July 19, 2016, 12:39 am

      What??
      I hope you are joking.

      • Gary Cooper August 11, 2016, 8:44 pm

        Tod – it’s called sarcasm.

  • DJ Davis July 18, 2016, 10:07 am

    Apparently cc is like rearends, nerly everyone has one and we all think ours is best. Personally I prefer the Taurus Curve in 380. It does not require a holster and is comfortable to carry all day.

    • TPSnodgrass July 19, 2016, 7:14 pm

      While I have in the PAST….received “compliments” on my rear end, at “my age NOW” not so much, nor ones I could actually hear!
      Each of us is responsible for whatever works for US! You are correct, whatever we got is what is best, at the time we NEED to deploy it. Nothing else is going to matter.
      None of my CC handguns are “comfortable” to carry at all, however, they CAN be “comforting” at times. I hate having to carry all the time, unfortunately, I am far too much a realist to dispute that trouble can indeed find you, no matter where you are, and no matter how much situational awareness you practice.

  • Bob. Hoekman July 18, 2016, 9:57 am

    The one you did not mention was the Sig p238 the slide action is real light the only gun i found that my wife could operate at 70 years old.

    • TC July 18, 2016, 8:29 pm

      Great gun, I have and carry one as a backup myself, occasionally as a primary in formal summer events.

    • TPSnodgrass July 19, 2016, 7:15 pm

      We have several friends “in that age range” all of them carry (some matching) SIG 238 pistols and love them. Sadly, I am not a fan of them(238), enough to want to get one for myself, I have fired them a lot, and yes, SIG’s are reliable. Nothing else matters.

    • TPSnodgrass July 19, 2016, 7:24 pm

      I have found that in my professional lifetime, we “only” had a choice of three brands starting out of the police academy in 1977, Colt, Ruger, or Smith and Wesson, and, you could “only” have a 6 shot revolver in .357 magnum. The “old guys” that were really experienced carried a back-up gun and many of them carried in uniform the 1911 in .45ACP or .38 Super.
      Now-a-days, my mind is blown away by the choices for the consumers! It’s a great thing, that there isn’t a “perfect handgun” for every person. Well, there is, but it’s a very subjective and PERSONAL choice, that is based on what FITS YOU, and you alone.
      Not much else will matter when you need it. Rent them at the local indoor range it’s worth it in the long run.

  • Richard Grzybowski July 18, 2016, 9:38 am

    This discussion is akin to “which lady would you choose for your wife”
    Just list 10 handguns, describe their advantages and disadvantages and let the reader decide.

  • christopher lair July 18, 2016, 9:36 am

    I call BS! This article did no mention the Kel-Tec P3AT obviously who ever wrote this drivel has never carried a concealed gun all day long!

    • Ross Walters July 18, 2016, 10:51 am

      Having carried the S&W 642, Kahr CT380, Taurus PT738, and Kel Tec P32 I can vouch for the fact that a person who carries day-in, day-out for many hours at a time the Kel Tec P32 (same size/weight as the P3AT) is the easiest most comfortable to carry.
      We’re talking comfort here…not firepower but I’d rather buy a gun of any caliber that I don’t mind carrying than purchase another safe queen.

  • Larry Geoghagan July 18, 2016, 9:23 am

    I carry a S & W Ported Shield .40 from their performance center. It shoots great and easily conceals.
    My Springfield XDS .45ACP is for home defense, along with the (heavy) Sig P229 Stainless Elite .40.

  • J.P. July 18, 2016, 8:40 am

    Can you say H&K P30sk? Try it. This firearm is ambi, holds 10 (+1) rounds and the LEM version has a trigger that gives a CZ “Shadow” a run for its’ money.

    • Rick July 18, 2016, 9:10 am

      As an owner and shooter of a HK P30SKS, I agree 100%. It may not be as slim as some of the mentioned firearms, but holding 10+1 rounds of 9mm is an important advantage. Reliability and precision is guaranteed!

      • Monroe July 18, 2016, 10:35 am

        I have found the number one reason that a person, me, doesn’t carry every day is because the weapon weighs too much. 21 ounces can be a bit heavy. I EDC a Colt Mustang .380, weighing in at 15 oz. How much does the HK weigh?

      • The SGM July 18, 2016, 11:13 am

        I agree the HK is good but you should try the CZ 75B Omega, the trigger pull is a consistent light breeze.

  • John Dsonice July 18, 2016, 8:10 am

    G43 by Glock is the best choice. Reasonable price and total reliability with just about any ammo.

  • Cyrus July 18, 2016, 7:12 am

    Where is the D/A S/A Beretta PX4 Storm Sub Compact in 9mm? One of the most accurate compacts I have ever fired. It is my wife’s CC gun and for many good reasons!

  • BOB July 18, 2016, 6:59 am

    I would rather have a walther pps, than a springfield xds or a glock 43 or a s&w shield.

    • Rick Sands July 18, 2016, 8:06 am

      Amen to that! Superior ergonomics and higher capacity than the 43. The Walther wins!

    • Junkman1231 July 18, 2016, 9:02 am

      I had a Glock 43 and sold it 2 weeks after getting it.
      never shot a Walther. Firend has one and loves it.
      I car a Kahr PM9, VERY similar to yhe CM9 but a little shorter barrel and hand grip.
      Holds 6+1 9mm rounds.
      Pros: Very smooth double action. Accurate and lightweight. Made in USA. All steel slides and barrel is Stainless. even if Black oxide finish, the steel underneath is stainless steel. rust resistant when carrying and possibly sweating on the gun, or getting damp. Very rugged carry piece.
      Cons: Don’t like the fact there is not a safety, but they claim that the 2x action is considered the safety.
      I have kids and refuse to leave one in the chamber when home. I can rack the slide as fast as I pull it out, but wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I wish I had one in the chamber and didn’t

      there are many out there and I am sure many opinions. I like this one and am NOT a Glock fan at all…
      Only owned the 43 and got rid of it immediately. Did NOT like it….
      Some swear by Glock. I own a total of XERO Glocks out of my 45+ collection.

    • Brian July 18, 2016, 10:57 am

      I have owned an XDS since it was introduced, it is a fine gun, but in 45 cal. it is a bit much. I recently switched to a Walther PPS M2 and it beats the XDS hands down. Slim, light, and accurate with great ergonomics. I now have two Walthers (PPQ). Go try one and you’ll see for yourself. Simply fantastic pistols.

  • Duane Nickols July 18, 2016, 5:56 am

    Why did you pick the LCR .38 Spl +P? Ruger makes and LCR .357 Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum. Both shoot more than one type of ammo. The .57 Magnum will also shoot .38 Spl. The .327 Federal Magnum will shoot 4-5 types of ammo. It will shoot .32 HR Magnum, .32 S&W Long, .32 S&W Short and it can shoot .32 ACP in a pinch. The rim is not as big on the .32 ACP. The LCR also comes in 9 mm. So again, why pick the .38 Spl +P?

    • gary wilson July 18, 2016, 11:14 am

      Read the last paragraph of the intro for answer to your question… article is for new shooters that may be intimidated by recoil, etc.
      Makes sense to me.

      • Lonny Haddox July 18, 2016, 7:53 pm

        Makes sense to me, too. I’m not a new shooter, but I was interested in buying an LCR, so I shot my friend’s LCR .38 special. At 13 ounces, I found that it was pretty darn snappy. After shooting 10 rds of +P, the web of my right hand felt like I’d been stung by a bee. So much so, I was done with it for the day, and spent the rest of the day shooting my XDS .45 cal. I still wanted an LCR though, but when I’d save enough and stopped by the local gun shop, the LCR .38 special was out of stock. However, they had an LCR .357 cal that I bought for $20 more. Man, what a difference the additional 3 ounces made. I can shoot a whole box of .38 +P or .357 cal with this LCR .357 with no pain at all. I love it. It’s easy to conceal and easy to clean. It’s my EDC during the hot & muggy days of summer in Charleston, SC. XDS .45 cal the rest of the time, or a Kahr .380 cal when I need something to just slip into my pants pocket.

  • Brian July 18, 2016, 5:43 am

    For the cooler months I have a Springfield Armory XD Mod 2. 45 acp subcompact with a Crossbreed holster with belt and dual ammo pouch.
    For the warmer weather I have a Kimber Micro Raptor Stainless Steel 380 which is very nice but it only holds 6 or 7 depending on the clip/magazine you use.
    God Bless the USA and Springfield Armory!

  • eric July 18, 2016, 4:03 am

    glock 43 all the way.

    • AndyP July 18, 2016, 8:27 am

      Agree on the G43. Because, when the SHTF, reliability is paramount.

  • Mark N. July 8, 2016, 10:50 pm

    Personally, I prefer my CW9 to the CM9. It is 16 oz empty, has an extra half-inch of barrel, one additional round in the mag for 7+1 capacity, all for the same price, and they can be found for $100 off MSRP. Width is the same on all the Kahrs (I think), as are the triggers. The differences are in barrel grooves, frame material, and size, with the high end steel framed guns (versus polymer) going for about double what these little pocketable pistols cost.

    Of all of these guns, I would own any one except the Glock (not a fan).

  • Martin B July 8, 2016, 5:44 pm

    For some people with disabilities, or the infirmities that come with age, hand strength becomes an issue. This is not something most firearms instructors will personally have experience with. This can cause problems with racking the slide of a semi auto, or with simply pulling on the heavy trigger of a revolver. The Ruger LCR is the best revolver by far in this respect. Having a handgrip designed for YOUR hand can be important too. Changing the grip can make all the difference. The new Hogue revolver grip looks good, with laser sights. I believe the Glock 43 and the Walther PPS M2 have the easiest slides to rack in the concealed category. And recoil could also affect level of proficiency through practice. Sometimes it might be necessary to go down a level, say to a Ruger LC380, to find an acceptable degree of compromise in effectiveness and ease of use.

    • Magic Rooster July 18, 2016, 4:00 pm

      When you are talking Concealed carry, you must group the potential users by age and sex. I know women who cannot pull the DAO trigger on a S&W Bodyguard .380 or “work” the slide on most any semi auto. But if you get a decent set of springs on a S&W J frame, they have fewer problems. I absolutely agree that you don’t go buy your sweetie a gun. You let her shoot several and pick it out for herself. Most any indoor range will rent you any one of several guns to see what suits you/her.

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