There’s no denying the feeling of potential instilled by a handgun. And when that gun fits your hand just right, the feeling is even better. The last decade has seen a resurgence in the popularity of the .45 ACP, a round whose reputation has been built by more than a century of proven results. Here are 5 .45 ACP concealed carry pistols that push the limits of form and function.
#1 Springfield Armory XDS 3.3” or 4.0”
Let’s start right at the top of the list and avoid the artificial drama. The XDS.45 has proven to be durable and reliable. I’ve had my copy for a couple of years now, and I’ve fed all kinds of ammo through it. I’ve yet to have a failure of any kind. The slimness of the XDS is now legendary at exactly 1”. And at just under 4 ½” tall it disappears when carried. Add a crisp short-stroke trigger and great stock sights, and it’s a born shooter. Down sides to the XDS include hard recoil and low round capacity (5+1 with the flush mag). Tiny enough to carry inside the waistband (IWB) in any weather, no manual safety to manipulate under stress, and the reliability it has demonstrated make this my first choice every time. MSRP ranges from $600 to $650, depending on finish.
#2 Glock 30S
One thing the Glock 30S is not – slim. It’s a double-stack .45 ACP with a grip circumference to match. But in every other way it is about as svelte as the Glock 19, and just a hair thicker at the slide than the Springfield XDS. At 1.18” the 30S is not at all uncomfortable to carry nor especially hard to conceal. Smart holster choice and proper cover garment selection, and even the rotund grip becomes a non-issue. What you get in return is eleven (10+1) rounds of .45 ACP! And that’s in the standard magazine. Did I mention that the G30S will also accept the standard mags for the G21/G41? Yep. So your backup magazine can hold 13 rounds, and if your duty weapon or home defense pistol is a full-frame Glock, the G30S will integrate nicely as a backup or alternate. Easy to field strip, easy to maintain, and easy to shoot (downright fun, actually). I put the Glock 30S at number two because I consider it to be the most reliable, durable, and best compromise of caliber and capacity out there. Should be priced under $600 at your local shop.
#3 Kahr PM45 / CM45
Kahr Arms has been making some superb firearms for some time, and the PM45 is no exception. The CM45 is not as refined, and relies on forged rather than milled primary components – but that aside, there is no evidence I’ve seen to suggest any deficiency in performance. I include them both as #3 with it coming down to a price range choice.
Kahr makes a finely engineered and constructed pistol. And tight. When I purchased a Kahr years ago, it took several hundred rounds before I didn’t bruise my fingers just trying to field strip it. Tolerances are taken seriously at Kahr, and it shows in performance. The PM45/CM45 uses the double-action-only (DAO) trigger. The pull is heavy and very long, but silky smooth. It is also very thin, at 1.01” and the height is about 4 ½” exactly. The Kahr holds 5 in the mag and one chambered, and extended magazines of up to 7 rounds are available. There are several configurations, with prices ranging from $855 to $1,022 for the PM45. The CM45 is more budget friendly, at $460 – but only comes in one flavor.
#4 The Ubiquitous 1911
Which brand 1911 and in what length would be a long story on its own. So I’m lumping them all together. I know guys that carry a full size 5” 1911, people who prefer the commander length (4 ¼”), and many who love the 3” ultra-compacts. The 1911 in most any configuration has one common trait – it’s thin. Even the tiny versions usually accept 7 round magazines. The platform is so well supported that parts, accessories, and options are virtually limitless. What it usually comes down to is this – “cocked n’ locked.” You are either comfortable with that or you’re not. Unlike all the previously mentioned guns, the single-action-only 1911 requires some extra skills and training to make it a safe and effective choice. Among the 1911’s I personally prefer the commander length – 4 ¼” barrel, for carry. The 3” models can be extremely finicky (the Browning design never intended it to be that short). A couple of brands have mastered it – a gunsmith I trust swears by the Kimber when it comes to 3” models – but most others will malfunction. For those who train to carry and use the 1911, there are endless variations and options out there and probably always will be.
#5 Glock 36
The G36 is a polarizing conversation piece among gun folk, some love it and swear by it, and some don’t see why it exists. I’m somewhere in the middle of that debate, but I do think it belongs on the list. The G36 is about the size of the G19/23 in both frame and slide. This makes it very appealing for concealed carry – especially in the thickness dimension. Glock kept the polymer frame as thin as possible. So, why doesn’t everyone just carry a G36 instead of a 9mm G19 or the .40 G23? Mostly – capacity. The 36 is a 6+1 capacity handgun and there are no alternate magazines for it. The mags for this pistol are not compatible with any other Glock, and vice versa. But if you’re okay with that, it is a reliable and dependable Glock that is easy to carry. Expect retail to be closer to $550 on this one.
There you have it – my list of the Top 5 .45’s for concealed carry. Disagree? What would your list be?