The 23 Best Concealed Carry Handguns of 2023

Updated: Nov 18



Millions of Americans carry concealed weapons every day. In fact, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, over 21.5 million concealed carry permits were issued in 2021. Many millions more already have their permits or simply don't need a permit to carry in their state.


If you are a Delaware Resident, we strongly recommend getting your concealed carry permit. It is a lengthy process, so we have an article to make it as simple as possible for you! Check out How To Obtain a Concealed Carry Permit in Delaware in 6 Steps


Choosing the right handgun to conceal is incredibly important. It is not a straightforward choice, especially since the market is flooded with plenty of quality options. Then you also have to get a comfortable holster you can carry, and decide on other attachments and ammo.


Today, we aim to narrow down your handgun choices and show you a handful of the top-tier concealed carry weapons on the market. Before we start talking about specific handguns, though, let's look at a couple of things you should focus on before making a purchase.


Choosing a New Concealed Carry Weapon


Your concealed carry weapon may very well be the most important firearm choice you ever make! This weapon could save your own life or even the lives of your loved ones. So you want to make sure you take your time and consider everything you can while making your choice. Let’s look at a few of the most important questions you should ask before buying.



Image source: pixabay


Is It Concealable?


How big is the weapon? Is it going to print(show through your shirt)? Some weapons are just too big to successfully carry concealed. These larger framed guns are generally much nicer to shoot but can be challenging to hide.


Your ability to hide a larger framed gun will depend on your body type and how you plan to carry it. Some people will be able to hide a larger handgun better than others. The best way to test this is to try on some different handguns. Once again, you can go to a range and rent one, see if your friends would be willing to let you try theirs on, and you may even be able to try them on at the store. This will be the best way to determine what size handgun you can successfully carry concealed.


After trying several guns on, if you are still unsure which one will be concealed best, then you should err on the side of caution and purchase a compact or subcompact model. Most anyone can hide these types of pistols well.



Image source: pixabay


What Caliber Is It Chambered In?


Caliber will affect how easy the gun is to shoot, which will affect the accuracy and possibly even reliability. For example, if you pick a lightweight 10mm handgun and your wrists aren't strong enough, then it can be extremely painful to shoot, and it may not be that reliable because "limp wristing" a semi-automatic pistol can cause the gun to fail to eject the spent casing.


Most concealed carry weapons are chambered in .380 Auto, 9mm, 38 special, 40cal., or 45cal. The majority of people can comfortably shoot .380 Auto and 9mm pistols. If you aren't sure if you can handle one of the bigger rounds, stick with 9mm pistols.


These smaller rounds are still plenty strong enough to stop an aggressor, and there is a plethora of excellent ammo for these rounds on the market. These smaller rounds tend to be easy to shoot and, therefore, more accurate as well. They are also cheaper and make it easier to practice more often.


How Accurate Is It?


Most defensive handgun shootings occur at distances of less than 7 yards. This isn't very far, and most pistols will be perfectly capable of shooting a good enough group at this yardage to be used for concealed carry.


The most important part of the accuracy equation may be how the gun fits your hands. If the gun is too small or too large, you won't have a good grip on it and likely won't shoot it very well. This can be easily determined in a store when you are picking out a handgun or at a range where you can rent several different guns to test out.


Additionally, you need to understand your and your gun's limits. If you are shooting a tiny snub-nosed revolver or even a small pistol, then you will need to know your maximum effective range and remember this if you ever are unfortunate enough to need it.



Image source: unsplash


How Heavy Is It?


If you plan on carrying the handgun all day on your waist, then the weight is definitely something you should think about before you buy. Especially loaded weight.


A tactical belt and a good holster will help spread the gun's weight around your waist, but the lighter the gun, the more comfortable it will be to carry all day, assuming you have a comfortable holster.


There are always trade-offs. A lighter gun will kick more than a heavier gun of the same caliber. Plus, a pistol with a larger magazine capacity will also weigh more. The best way to find out which one will work best for you is to try them out at a local range.


How Many Rounds Will It Hold?


Capacity is important, especially for compact or subcompact handguns. Generally, most people want as many rounds as possible. If you get into a defensive situation, the last thing that you want to happen is to run out of ammo.


That said, in most defensive situations, around 3 shots are fired. That means that for most self-defense situations, basically any handgun besides a derringer, which you won't find on this list, will do the trick. More rounds may be a good thing, but guns with a higher capacity tend to be bigger and heavier.


Additionally, some states have magazine capacity limitations. Before purchasing a pistol, you will need to check your state laws to ensure that the pistol you want is legal for you to own in your state.


List of the Best Concealed Carry Handguns


Now that you know a few things to look for, let’s look at some actual handguns. There are hundreds of models of handguns to choose from. Below are what we believe are the 23 best handguns for concealed carriers, in no particular order. Included are pistols and revolvers chambered in the most popular concealed carry rounds. There is something for everyone on this list!


Smith & Wesson Equalizer

Released November 2022, the Smith & Wesson Equalizer is a new take and much-needed update to the Shield EZ line. There are a ton of updates, and while we were skeptical at first, especially with the massive EQUALIZER stamped on the slide, it is a solid gun.

equalizer, 15 round mag, pistol
S&W Equalizers, with and without thumb safety, shown with the 15 round magazine

Pretty much every feature except the grip safety has been upgraded

  • Trigger? check - little to no take up, crisp break, nice reset.

  • Optics Ready? Yes

  • Capacity? Takes Shield Plus mags, and comes with a 10, 13 and 15 round PLUS a Maglula speed loader!

  • Optional Thumb Safety? Check - it comes with and without thumb safety.

  • Pic Rail? Check

  • Aggressive Slide Serrations? Check

  • Easy to Rack Slide? Check

  • Left Handed? Mag release is reversible

About the only things to complain about are the grip safety and the stock white dot iron sights. The Grip Safety is a feature that has been part of the Shield EZ line, so including it isn't a surprise. While we try to steer people away from grip safety, many people want them.

The stock white dot iron sights make sense, especially to keep the price of the gun sub $500. Sending the gun out with a nice pair of sights when most people are going to slap a red dot on the gun just doesn't make sense. Equalizer With Thumb Safety Equalizer No Thumb Safety


Feature wise, it could be considered similar to a 1911. It has the same 18-degree grip angle, grip safety, and (optional) thumb safety.



Image source: Sig Sauer


SIG P365X MACRO


The Sig P365X MACRO is a very unique, reliable, and accurate pistol. What makes the P365 MACRO so unique is that it has a modified double-stack magazine. This modified magazine is what makes the pistol capable of carrying 17 rounds in the magazine while still only being slightly over one inch wide.


This is pretty impressive for a pistol that can be used for concealed carry. The P365X MACRO is also designed to decrease muzzle flip using Sig Sauers integrated compensator. Lastly, this pistol also sports an accessory rail so that you can attach a light or laser.


This pistol is similar in size to the Glock 43X, although it likely weighs a few ounces heavier, especially when fully loaded with 17+1 rounds. This pistol is extremely concealable and should be easy for anyone to conceal from view.


Like other Sig Sauer handguns, this one is no exception and is reported to be accurate, reliable, smooth, and extremely comfortable in the hands.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 17

  • Overall Length: 6.6 in

  • Overall Height: 5.2 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Empty Weight: 21.5 oz

  • Stack: Modified double

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: X Ring Supply


G19 Gen5


The GLOCK 19 Gen5 is an updated version of the most popular handgun in the United States. It's a mid-sized, striker-fired pistol that is extremely reliable and accurate. Many people report it as being extremely comfortable to handle as well.


The newly designed Glock 19 Gen5 is slightly smaller than its predecessor, has a customizable grip, and can be customized to be shot by either left or right-handed shooters. One thing to note is that Glock handguns do not have an external safety.


If you prefer to have an external safety, then you will need to pick a different company. If you have perfect finger control, then you don't really need one, as these guns are equipped with three internal mechanical safeties. In reality, the holster is the safety for any pistol without a manual safety.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 15

  • Overall Length: 7.28 in

  • Overall Height: 5.04 in

  • Overall Width: 1.34 in

  • Loaded Weight: 30.16 oz

  • Stack: Double

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: X Ring Supply


G43X


The GLOCK G43X is a subcompact handgun that was designed for concealed carry. It has a match-grade barrel, comfortable grips, and is extremely accurate for its small size. It can also be customized and shot by right and left-handed shooters.


Because it is a single-stack handgun, it is one of the slimmest on the market. Therefore, it can be easily concealed by most people. Which is exactly what this gun was designed for. If you don't like that it comes with standard 10-round magazines, you can upgrade the mag and purchase a 15-round magazine.


One downside to this gun is that if you generally need to customize your pistol grip size, you may be disappointed to find out that the G43X doesn't have customizable backstraps. That said, the grips on this gun are very nice and should fit most people very well.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 10

  • Overall Length: 6.5 in

  • Overall Height: 5.04 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Loaded Weight: 23.07 oz

  • Stack: Single

  • Trigger Action: Striker



Image source: X Ring Supply


G48


The G48 is essentially a compact, slimmed-down version of the G19. This makes it more user-friendly for people with smaller hands, but it's also a catch-22. The gun is reported to be a bit snappier than heavier pistols or those with larger frames.


In all honesty, this is to be expected with most compact or subcompact handguns. The smaller frames and lighter weight of these guns can make them a little more difficult to shoot. With practice, it shouldn't be much of an issue.


Because it is slimmed down, it's easier to conceal when compared to the G19. It's only marginally wider than the G43X. This pistol is sort of in the middle of the G19 and G43X in terms of size.


If you think the G19 is too big and the G43X is too small, this may be the pistol for you. Like the G43X, it also has a match-grade barrel and can be converted for right and left-hand shooters.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 10

  • Overall Length: 7.28 in

  • Overall Height: 5.04 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Loaded Weight: 25.12 oz

  • Stack: Single

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: X Ring Supply


G26 Gen 5


The G26 is a forever popular subcompact double stack 9mm handgun designed for concealed carry. The new model includes Glock's Marksman Barrel, removable finger grooves, and front serrations.


The marksman barrel should increase the accuracy of this short handgun, while the front serrations will help with grip if you have slimy or sweaty hands and may otherwise have trouble racking a slide with a smooth finish. Like the other Glocks discussed above, this one can be converted for left or right-hand shooters.


This pistol is on the wider side because it is a double-stack pistol. That said, it's shorter than single-stack pistols. If the G43X or G48 feels too narrow, this may be the gun for you. The trade-off is the shorter frame. If you like this pistol but not the short frame, you can get a magazine extension to give your pinkies room on the grip.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 10

  • Overall Length: 6.42 in

  • Overall Height: 4.17 in

  • Overall Width: 1.30 in

  • Loaded Weight: 26.07 oz

  • Stack: Double

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: X Ring Supply


G42


The G42 is the smallest pistol that Glock has ever made. It's a tiny subcompact pistol chambered in .380 Auto and designed for ultimate concealment.


If you want a pistol that is extremely easy to conceal, this is the pistol for you. The small size does have trade-offs, though. Those shooters with larger hands will have a more difficult time comfortably holding this pistol, and it will likely be less accurate than a larger pistol because the site radius is smaller.


Some people may not appreciate that this pistol only holds 6 rounds. It's not many, but in most self-defense situations, only half of the rounds would be used.


Even though the pistol is small, it is reportedly very easy to shoot and not too snappy. Because of its size, it is extremely easy to carry, and if a gun is easy to carry, you will be more likely to carry it more often.


Specifications

  • Caliber: .380 Auto

  • Capacity: 6

  • Overall Length: 5.94 in

  • Overall Height: 4.13 in

  • Overall Width: 0.98 in

  • Loaded Weight: 15.87 oz

  • Stack: Single

  • Trigger Action: Striker

For a full comparison of the most popular Glock Models, check out our complete review with tons of pictures!

Image source: Sig Sauer


Sig P320 Nitron Compact


The SIG P320 is a popular handgun for concealed carry. Although a bit heavier than most Glocks for concealed carry, it still carries well, and the additional weight sometimes helps with the pistol's kick. It's also available in several different rounds, including 9mm, .357SIG, .40S&W, and .45ACP.


This pistol features a nice trigger, your choice of contrast or night sites, and multiple rounds to choose from. This gun has extremely good reviews (4.8 out of 160) on the Sig website. It's also reported to be extremely reliable, well-balanced, and easy to shoot. Many people also shoot exceptionally well with this gun.


Something to consider is that it will be a little on the large size for some people to successfully carry concealed. It's a third of an inch larger in width and over an inch longer than some other guns on our list. The larger size makes the gun easier to shoot and handle than some of the subcompact models.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 10 or 15

  • Overall Length: 7.2 in

  • Overall Height: 5.3 in

  • Overall Width: 1.3 in

  • Empty Weight: 25.8 oz

  • Stack: Double

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: Sig Sauer


Sig M11-A1 Compact P229


The Sig M11-A1 Compact P229 is Sig Sauer's militarized version of the P229. This model was for military use and met or exceeded all military standards. Sig decided to coat the internal parts of this model by phosphating them to help keep the pistol from corroding in extreme weather conditions.


Additionally, the outside of the pistol is also treated and passes the military's corrosion test. If you are looking for an extremely durable pistol, then this may be the pistol for you. Like any good gun for concealed carry, this one is reported online as a reliable, easy-shooting, accurate pistol with tight tolerances.


This gun is similar in size to the P320, albeit a little shorter but also wider. That said, many people still choose to carry this gun concealed. The P320 is extremely reliable. It's even used by the US military and is still small enough to be concealed by most people.


Lastly, the Sig P229 can drop the hammer again if the round doesn't go off the first time. This may give you an advantage if you ever have a failure to fire. The second blow of the hammer to the primer may be enough to make the round go off and get you back in action.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm

  • Capacity: 10 or 15

  • Overall Length: 7.1 in

  • Overall Height: 5.4 in

  • Overall Width: 1.5 in

  • Empty Weight: 29.6 oz

  • Stack: Double

  • Trigger Action: Hammer



Image source: Sig Sauer


SIG P365XL


Like the SIG P365X MACRO, the P365XL has a unique magazine. Essentially the top several rounds are a double stack, and the rest below are more like a single stack magazine. This allows the pistol to hold more rounds while still keeping its small size.


This gun is considered a micro-compact and is plenty small enough for virtually anyone to conceal carry. It has an extended slide and a special grip that should make the gun even easier to shoot than its predecessors. If you want to carry even more rounds, you can upgrade to a 15-round magazine.


One reason to get the P365XL would be to save some weight with a slightly smaller magazine. This gun has the same dimensions as the P365 XMACRO but carries fewer rounds.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 12

  • Overall Length: 6.6 in

  • Overall Height: 4.8 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Empty Weight: 20.7 oz

  • Stack: Modified double

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: Sig Sauer


SIG P365X


The SIG P365X is a well-liked micro-compact pistol designed for concealed carry. This is one of the smallest 9mm guns on the list. It comes standard with the X-SERIES 365 Grip Module, a flat profile trigger, and night sights. The night sights are a big plus because you usually have to pay extra for them and have them installed after the purchase.


Many people seem to enjoy this sweet-shooting small 9mm pistol. It has a great capacity for its size. Especially considering the G42, Glock's smallest pistol, is only slightly smaller, holds fewer rounds, and comes in a smaller caliber.


If you are a fan of Sig Sauer pistols but think the P365 XMACRO and P365XL are too large, this might be the perfect concealed carry gun for you.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm

  • Capacity: 12

  • Overall Length: 6 in

  • Overall Height: 4.8 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Empty Weight: 17.8 oz

  • Stack: Modified double

  • Trigger Action: Striker

For a full round up of p365 models, including the X-Macro, check out our full Sig p365 models review!

Image source: Smith and Wesson


M&P 9 Shield Plus


The M&P 9 Shield Plus is one of the most popular carry guns of all time. The new micro-compact M&P 9 Shield Plus improved the design of the original M&P Shield. They also increased the magazine capacity; you can choose between 10 and 13-round magazines.


The increased capacity is because of the new magazine design that they call stack and a half. It slightly increased the magazine width, but we were only talking less than two-tenths of an inch. The weapon is still narrow and highly concealable at only 1.1 inches wide.


It also has a new grip angle which improves firearm handling, and a flat trigger that should help with accuracy. The gun also features M&P's easy-to-use disassembly system. Unlike Glocks, you don't have to pull the trigger to take apart the gun.


Being a micro-compact gun, it will probably be a bit snappy for you, but that is typical of small framed pistols and can be considered a trade-off for its easy concealability.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 10

  • Overall Length: 6.1 in

  • Overall Height: 4.6 in

  • Overall Width: 1.1 in

  • Empty Weight: 20.2 oz

  • Stack: Stack and a half

  • Trigger Action: Striker


Image source: Smith and Wesson


M&P M2.0 Compact


The M&P M2.0 Compact is the newest pistol in the M&P polymer line. Almost everything about this pistol is new. It's designed for reduced muzzle flip and to have one of the nicest triggers available on a stock handgun. It also has an easily customizable grip.


This pistol is available in three different calibers, including the 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and the 45 Auto. Being a compact pistol, the 9mm round will be the easiest for most people to shoot. That said, if you want a little more firepower, you can always step it up to the 45 Auto.


It's also available with or without an external safety. This pistol is concealable but larger than several other models on our list. This pistol will be harder to conceal than the M&P Shield Plus, but it will also be easier to shoot and handle for people with larger hands.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 9 mm

  • Capacity: 15

  • Overall Length: 7.25 in

  • Overall Height: 5 in

  • Overall Width: 1.3 in

  • Empty Weight: 27.0 oz

  • Stack: Double

  • Trigger Action: Striker




Image source: X Ring Supply


S&W 12058 M&P Bodyguard


The S&W 12058 M&P Bodyguard is one of the only revolvers to make our list. This small, super reliable pistol is designed for self-defense and concealed carry. One of the nice things about this revolver is that it lacks an external hammer, reducing the chance it can snag when drawn. It also comes stock with an integrated Crimson Trace laser.


If you want an incredibly simple handgun to carry, this one is worth looking at, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Unlike semi-automatic pistols, it only carries 5 rounds, but remember that in most self-defense cases, only around 3 shots are fired.


This pistol also has a small barrel and a much smaller sight radius than the other guns on this list, so for most people, it will likely be the hardest to shoot at longer distances. This pistol is designed for close quarters self–defense.


Specifications

  • Caliber: 38 S&W Special +P

  • Capacity: 5

  • Overall Length: 6.6 in

  • Overall Height: Not reported

  • Overall Width: Not reported