Whether you’re new to concealed carrying or a seasoned veteran, trying to pinpoint the best concealed carry gun for you can be grueling. The CCW market is so saturated that it feels like a needle-in-a-haystack situation.
Don’t sweat it, though; we’re here to help!
Instead of giving you an overwhelmingly long list of concealed carry handguns to choose from, we’ll only be shedding light on the absolute best of the bunch. We’ll also talk about the most important factors to consider before buying a concealed carry pistol.
Let’s get right to it!
The 8 Best Concealed Carry Guns in 2022
Whether you’re looking for an ultra-small pistol for a shoulder or pocket carry, or a compact option for an IWB, OWB, or appendix carry, one of the concealed carry handguns listed below will certainly meet your needs.
1. SIG Sauer P365 – Best Overall
When it comes to striking the perfect balance between compactness and capacity, there’s no beating the SIG Sauer P365. It’s a little smaller than the G43 (the smallest 9mm Glock pistol), yet it can accommodate more bullets, with an impressive capacity of 10+1 9mm rounds. You can even fit a 12-round extended mag into it!
The SIG P365 features a stainless steel frame that gives it a bit of heft, which is always great for managing muzzle flip. It’s still a subcompact pistol, though, so it’s fairly lightweight (18 ounces). It has a short barrel length of 3.1 inches, making it an ideal option for an IWB carry.
This micro-compact pistol comes equipped with X-Ray3 day/night sights, which is a three-dot combination that consists of a green front sight and two colorless rear sights. The contrast between the sights allows for high visibility and quick target acquisition.
The P365 is fitted with a bunch of neat ergonomics that make it easy for the shooter to grip high up on the pistol. This helps lower the bore axis and, in turn, reduce felt recoil.
Even though the P365 is remarkably small, it still manages to fit most people’s hands. If you have exceptionally large hands and you find the P365 too small for you, you can opt for the XL version, which is a bit larger. Alternatively, you can opt for the P320 XCOMPACT, which has a 15-round capacity and a 3.5-inch barrel.
- Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.0 x 4.3 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 10+1 rounds
- Barrel: 3.1 inches
- Weight: 18 ounces
- One of the highest capacities in its class
- Comfortable grip and great ergonomics
- Disassembling this gun doesn’t require any tools
- Crisp trigger that’s very easy to get used to
- Available in several variations for different needs
- Doesn’t feature a trigger safety
- Magazine release button is too small
2. S&W M&P Shield M2.0 – Runner-Up
Before the release of the SIG Sauer P365 and Glock 43, which are probably the most popular concealed carry handguns available today, the S&W M&P Shield was considered the best CCW out there.
In fact, the Glock 43, Glock 43X, and Walther PPK were all designed to compete with the M&P Shield. Some firearm enthusiasts would even go as far as saying that these guns are copycats of the M&P Shield!
Capitalizing on the strengths of its predecessor, the M2.0 version came into the picture in 2017, boasting a number of improvements and tweaks that have taken the M&P Shield line to the next level.
For starters, the M2.0 toned down the aggressive texturing that the original M&P Shield had to prevent skin chafing while still ensuring a reliable grip. It has a stainless steel body with a polymer frame and an Armornite finish that looks super cool. In addition, it has a barrel length of 3.1 inches, so it won’t press against your body with an IWB carry.
The M2.0’s slim profile can be attributed to its single-stack magazine design and rounded edges. It’s one of the best options on the list when it comes to quick drawing. It has a standard magazine capacity of 7+1 and uses 9mm rounds.
The trigger on the M&P Shield M2.0 is short, consistent, and crisp. The trigger reset is pretty tactile, so you won’t have a hard time getting acquainted with it. As far as sights, the M2.0 features a three-dot steel sight system that’s both durable and effective.
Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.95 x 4.6 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 7+1 rounds
- Barrel: 3.1 inches
- Weight: 18.3 ounces
- Excellent texturing for a solid grip
- Not too small for people with large hands
- Quick to draw and easy to shoot
- Minimal recoil considering its size and weight
- Outstanding durability and a cool finish
- You won’t find many specialized holsters for it
- Not the most impressive magazine capacity
3. Glock 43 – Best Concealed Carry Glock
If you’re a hard-core Glock fan and you can’t see yourself using any other brand of pistols, the Glock 43 is the best option for you. In terms of build quality, usability, and value for the money, the G43 is simply second to none. It’s the most popular concealed carry handgun for a reason!
This subcompact polymer-frame pistol features a single-stack magazine design and uses 9mm ammunition. It has a standard magazine capacity of 6+1 rounds and features the Glock Safe Action System, which is made up of three mechanical trigger safeties, namely the firing pin safety, drop safety, and trigger safety.
Compared to some of the alternatives on our list, the Glock 43 doesn’t have that impressive of a capacity. If you need a Glock with a higher capacity, you should check out the Glock 43X. It’s slightly larger than the Glock 43, but it has a 10+1 flush fit capacity and is still very concealable.
In terms of accuracy, the G43 is quite the shocker. It performs admirably as long as your grip is firm. The trigger pull is fairly smooth, but not the smoothest. Fortunately, there are plenty of aftermarket trigger options for the G43.
- Dimensions: 6.26 x 1.06 x 4.25 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 6+1 round
- Barrel: 3.41 inches
- Weight: 17.95 ounces
- Thin, lightweight, and highly concealable
- Plenty of aftermarket parts and accessories
- Features Glock’s Safe Action System
- Doesn’t feel like a toy gun in the hand
- Glock pistols are the kings of reliability
- Subpar standard magazine capacity
- Requires a firm grip to mitigate kickback
4. Springfield Hellcat – Best Striker-Fired CCW
When it comes to capacity, there are very few pistols that can beat the Springfield Armory Hellcat. This concealed carry pistol is about the same size as the M&P Shield, yet it flaunts a flush fit capacity of 11+1 and an extended magazine capacity of 13+1!
The Hellcat has a long list of features that have turned the striker-fired pistols market upside down. For starters, it has a single-stack configuration, which is hard to believe considering the gun’s capacity. What’s more, the texturing is aggressive enough to ensure a solid grip without any risk of skin chafing.
The gun features front and rear serrations that are grippy enough for easy slide manipulation. It has a tritium night sight at the front and a U-notch back sight. In addition, there’s a small accessory rail that allows you to attach a light or laser.
There’s a lot to like about the Springfield Hellcat. It’s one of our personal favorites, in fact. The main gripe we have with this subcompact pistol is that it’s a bit too snappy, especially when compared to other pistols of the same size. Apart from that, this gun is downright incredible!
- Dimensions: 6.0 x 1.0 x 4.0 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 11+1 rounds
- Barrel: 3.0 inches
- Weight: 18.3 ounces
- Has one of the best flush fit capacities in its class
- Insanely compact with a single-stack setup
- Outstanding texturing for an unwavering grip
- Crisp trigger with a positive, tactile feel
- One of the most accurate options on the list
- Too snappy compared to other subcompacts
- Some users aren’t into the U-notch rear sight
5. S&W M&P Shield EZ – Easiest to Rack and Load
If you’re into the good old M&P Shield but want an easier-to-rack alternative, the M&P Shield EZ is your best bet. This tiny gun is arguably the easiest to rack and load out of all the options on the list, but that’s not all!
The M&P Shield EZ has a magazine capacity of 8+1 rounds. And in terms of caliber, this pistol is available in a 9mm version as well as a 380 Auto version. Both versions are excellent in their own right, but the difference in caliber comes with a few distinctions.
For starters, 9mm ammunition has more stopping power than 380 Auto ammunition. On the other hand, 380 Auto ammo displays less muzzle flip than 9mm while still packing a pretty decent punch.
The EZ’s grip is notably slim, which makes this gun ideal for shooters with smaller hands. You also get to enjoy a grip safety feature and a Picatinny accessory rail.
Last but certainly not least, this concealed carry gun just looks awesome! It’s one of the best-looking pistols in its class.
- Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.04 x 5.05 inches (9mm) or 6.7 x 1.15 x 4.98 inches (380)
- Caliber: 9mm Luger or 380 Auto
- Capacity: 8+1 rounds
- Barrel: 3.67 inches
- Weight: 23 ounces (9mm) or 18.5 ounces (380)
- The easiest CCW to rack, load, and shoot
- Available in 9mm and 380 Auto
- Perfect for those with small hands
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Great standard magazine capacity
- Prone to teething issues
- May not be ideal if you have large hands
6. Taurus G3C – Best for Budget
Almost the same size as the SIG Sauer P365, the Taurus G3C is a subcompact 9mm pistol with an impressive capacity of 12+1 rounds. What’s even more impressive is that this pistol costs less than $300! So, if you’re not looking to spend $400-$500 on a SIG, Glock, or S&W, the Taurus G3C is for you.
The Taurus G3C has a double-stack magazine configuration, which means that it’s not as slim as most of the options on the list. Regardless, it’s still fairly compact and easy to conceal carry. In fact, you can use the G3C as a pocket pistol without any problems.
This concealed carry gun can take steel and defensive ammo like a champ. It’s insanely reliable, considering it costs nearly half of what the rest of the options on the list cost.
You’d expect such an inexpensive handgun to have subpar build quality, but this thing is very sturdy. What’s more, it looks really cool, boasting front and rear serrations, grippy texturing, and a 3.2-inch stainless steel barrel.
- Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 5.1 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 12+1 rounds
- Barrel: 3.2 inches
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Outstanding magazine capacity relative to the size
- Easy to carry, shoot, and control
- Comes equipped with iron sights
- Comes with three magazines
- One of the most affordable options available
- Not as slim as most of its competitors
- The slide bite is extremely painful
7. S&W Airweight 642 – Best CCW Revolver
When most people think of concealed carry guns, they don’t think of revolvers. Well, we’re here to tell you that there are top-notch revolvers out there that are perfect for a concealed carry, and the Smith & Wesson Airweight is an excellent example.
This small-frame revolver strikes an admirable balance between usability, build quality, and value for the money. It has a snub-nosed J-frame, stainless steel cylinder and barrel, and an enclosed, snag-free hammer. Further, it has an integral safety lock, an integral front sight, and a fixed back sight.
The Airweight 642 has a capacity of 5 rounds and uses 38 S&W Special +P ammo with a double-action configuration. It’s reliable, easy to use, and can be fitted inside a pocket holster with ease. It’s one of the best options for deep concealment.
Even though this hammer-fired pistol is easy to handle, it can be hard to aim due to its small size, especially at distance. So, you’ll need to spend a good amount of time practicing at the range to be able to keep this gun on target. Also, the double-action trigger pull will need some getting used to.
- Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 4.2 inches
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 5 rounds
- Barrel: 1.87 inches
- Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Great option for deep concealment
- Can handle every type of ammo thrown at it
- Lightweight yet sturdy construction
- Perfect for close-range shooting
- You can carry it with or without a holster
- Can only accommodate 5 rounds
- Not the most accurate option on the list
8. Walther PPK and PPK/S – Best-Looking Design
The Walther PPK and PPK/S are single-stack, subcompact police pistols that feature a slide-mounted decocking safety and DA/SA hammer firing. The history of these pistols dates back to the 1920s, when the Pistole Polizei (PP) series was launched.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why do these pistols look so familiar?” Good question!
These pistols look familiar because they’re pop-culture icons, having been the primary pistols used by James Bond. In fact, the PPK or PPK/S is in every single James Bond movie to date.
The PPK and PPK/S aren’t all looks, though. These pistols have a metal frame with a 3.3-inch barrel that’s optimal for concealed carrying. The PPK has a standard capacity of 6+1 rounds, whereas the slightly taller PPK/S has a 7+1 capacity.
These pistols have a double-action/single-action configuration. They’re in double-action mode for the first shot, then they go into single-action mode for follow-up shots.
These pistols have a long sight radius compared to other subcompact pistols, which makes them more accurate. That said, these pistols have fixed sights that can be hard to pick up in a quick-shooting situation.
- Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.0 x 4.5 inches (PPK) or 6.1 x 1.0 x 4.7 (PPK/S)
- Caliber: 380 Auto
- Capacity: 6+1 rounds (PPK) or 7+1 rounds (PPK/S)
- Barrel: 3.3 inches
- Weight: 20.0 ounces (PPK) or 23.7 ounces (PPK/S)
- Arguably the best-looking handguns on the list
- These pistols were designed for police forces
- Lower recoil than other 380 Auto handguns
- Excellent controls and remarkable accuracy
- You get to brag about having James Bond’s gun
- Tiny sights that are hard to pick up
- The trigger guard is a bit too tiny
How to Choose a Concealed Carry Handgun
There are a few factors that you need to consider before buying a concealed carry handgun for self-defense (apart from a concealed carry permit), namely:
Size and Weight
The first and most important factors to consider when in the market for a concealed carry gun are size and weight. For a handgun to be suitable for concealed carrying and everyday carry in general, it has to be compact and lightweight.
Most concealed carry guns tend to measure around 6.3 inches in length, 1.2 inches in width, and 4.5 inches in height. Depending on the size of your hand and your personal preference, you can opt for a pistol that’s a little larger or a little smaller than these dimensions.
You also want to pay close attention to the barrel length. Ideally, concealed carry pistols should have a barrel length of 3-3.5 inches to ensure a good blend of accuracy and concealment. There are micro-compact pistols with shorter barrel lengths (1-2.5 inches), but such pistols don’t usually shoot accurately.
In terms of weight, most subcompact handguns weigh around 17-18 ounces. You can find options that are lighter or heavier, but 17-18 ounces is the ideal weight for a CCW, in our experience.
Caliber and Capacity
There are three calibers that you’re going to encounter in the CCW gun world: 380 ACP, 9mm Luger, and 45 ACP, with the first two options being the most common.
In terms of stopping power, 45 ACP is the most powerful, and 380 ACP is the least powerful, with 9mm Luger sitting somewhere in the middle.
In terms of felt recoil, 380 ACP has the softest recoil, and 45 ACP has the most recoil, with 9mm Luger, once again, sitting in the middle.
In our opinion, 9mm Luger combines the best of both worlds. It has great stopping power and the recoil is easily manageable. If you want more stopping power, opt for 45 ACP. And if you want less recoil, opt for 380 ACP.
As far as magazine capacity, the best concealed carry guns can have a capacity between 6+1 rounds up to 13+1. Simply choose whatever capacity you think is ideal for your needs.
Buying a compact gun is only one part of the concealed carry equation. To ensure an effective concealed carry, you need to invest in a holster that suits your style of carrying, whether it’s an IWB, OWB, appendix, shoulder, or ankle carry.
Generally, you should avoid nylon holsters because they tend to lack in terms of build quality and won’t retain your firearm safely. Instead, you want to opt for a leather or Kydex holster that allows for ease of access and doesn’t fall off upon drawing the gun.
Sometimes, you buy a gun that you’re completely in love with, but over time, or after trying a different gun, you realize that you’re not happy with the trigger, sights, or any other component. In this case, it helps to have a gun that has a lot of aftermarket options, like the SIG P365 or the Glock 43.
If you’re into using lights and lasers, you want to make sure the gun you’re about to buy has an accessory rail. And if you’re into using red dot optics, you should make sure the gun’s slide can accommodate a red dot. Otherwise, you may have to resort to custom milling, which can be expensive.
Generally speaking, though, you don’t want to go overboard with accessories if you’re going for a concealed carry. Too many accessories can make your gun bulky and easily detectable.
There are plenty of reliable concealed carry guns out there, but if we had to choose one, we’d go with the SIG Sauer P365. In our opinion, this gun strikes the perfect balance between size and functionality. It’s quite compact and lightweight, yet has an impressive flush fit magazine capacity of 10+1 rounds and is pretty accurate.
Depending on your personal preference, you may want a gun that’s a bit larger or smaller than the P365, or you may be looking for a different caliber. Whichever the case, one of the above-listed options will surely meet your needs.
Stay safe, concealed carriers!