I’m a picky person when it comes to a lot of things; the beer I drink, coffee I enjoy, soap I use, and of course, the gun I carry. I also swap them out a lot, which may drive some people crazy, but that's the nature of being a firearms writer - always evaluating a variety of different weapons and carry options.
When it comes to small weapons designed for concealed carry I have to carry them to assess them fully. This has given me a wide breadth of experience with different guns as well as some strong opinions. Today, my views are going to be based on semi-automatic concealed carry guns, explaining what I like about the guns I like.
Here are my Top Semi-Auto Concealed Carry Guns.
A .32 caliber pistol is admittedly a bit anemic compared to modern standards. The LWS 32 is the smallest of the Seacamp family and by far one of the smallest semi-auto pistols on the market. It’s honestly one of the most excellent made guns as well. The entire weapon is made from stainless steel, and it does weigh 13.25 ounces fully loaded. I chose the .32 over the .380 because the .32 ACP is the smallest and lightest configuration and is very pleasant to shoot. The .380 is a little stout, and the .25 ACP is a bit anemic, but the .32 Auto is just right for this little fella.
The Seacamp LWS is like the fine whiskey of pocket pistols. It's exceptionally well made, rust-resistant, and small and light enough for easy carry. The trigger is DAO only, which does make it a great contender for pocket carry, with an appropriate pocket holster of course. The lack of an external hammer means nothing is going to snag as you draw the gun. The DAO action is quite smooth and one of the better examples of a DAO pocket pistol. The weapon does lack sights, has a European heel mag release, and a low capacity, but in its role as a deep concealment gun, it shines. It’s 5th on the list because its a bit niche and bit hipster, but I love it.
I went back and forth a lot on the Walther PPS and the PPK and PPK/S series, I own both and love both. Let’s be honest, though: the Walther PPS more modern, more comfortable to carry, in a more potent caliber with more modularity and even lighter recoil in a more significant caliber. The PPS and its modified Browning cam-lock system mean less recoil with the more powerful 9mm round. The PPS holds anywhere from 6 to 8 rounds of 9mm, features interchangeable backstraps, a variety of magazine-sized that change grip length, and full-sized three-dot combat sights.
The Walther PPS is a very comfortable shooting gun that’s accurate, controllable, and well suited for concealed carry. The PPS M1 is my chosen gun, but the M2 has its merits. Choose either, and you’ll have an overall excellent concealed carry gun. The Walther PPS is superbly thin and perfect for an appendix carry holster. It’s a bit big for pocket carry but small enough for all kinds of IWB carry. The Walther PPS was the original thin single stack 9 and is one of the best.
It took Glock wy too long to jump into the single stack 9mm game, but they did with their usual flair. By flair I mean It’s a boring square without anything that makes it stand out. That’s okay though because like all Glocks the Glock 43 runs. It runs dirty, wet, dry, and with any 9mm ammo, you toss in it. The Glock 43 is a great gun that comes from one of the most dependable companies in the world for handguns. The Glock 43 has proven itself over and over and this year sold their 1 millionth gun.
Part of Glock’s strength is their aftermarket support. You can find any holster you can dream of You can find spare magazines of multiple sizes, different barrels, and even slides modified with miniature reflex optics. Glock is everywhere, from 80 percent lowers from Polymer 80 to custom built race guns from Zev. You'll never run out of ways to customize and personalize your Glock. The Glock 43 is also small, light and easy to carry. You can toss it in an OWB, IWB, or appendix carry holster and hit the streets. It’s just small enough for pocket carry, and the right pocket carry holster is of course key.
Man, do you guys remember years ago when the Shield was one of the hardest to get guns on the market? They ruled the market and people were paying massive amounts of money for a Shield. That was the first few days, but these days the Shield is one of the most affordable and high quality concealed carry guns on the market. Whenever I’m asked for a suggestion for an affordable CCW gun, I point to the Shield. It comes in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. There are models with and without a safety as well as Performance Center models with plenty of custom features.
These guns always go bang and plenty potent with capable self-defense ammo. They are a little bulky but still easy to carry. Toss it in an OWB holster, and you have one of the most comfortable and reliable guns at a very affordable price point. The Smith & Wesson Shield gets the number 2 spot because not only is it accurate, reliable, and easy to handle but it's affordable. The M&P S&W Shield is a rock-solid performer and one of the world’s most popular concealed carry pistols.
The SIG P365 is one of the newest weapons in the concealed carry market, and it’s become an instant favorite. Admittedly it had some initial teething issues but seems to have smoothed those out. The gun I own has always been a rock-solid little performer, and it quickly became my favorite EDC gun. The magic behind the SIG P365 is the magazine. It holds ten rounds in a weapon that has the same dimensions as most single stack 9mms. Capacity is great, but the gun itself is very well made and houses a lot of good ideas.
The iron sights are XRAY3 sights by SIG that is both a high viz day sight and a brightly glowing night sight. The SIG P365 also features an outstanding trigger, a grip that prevents slide bite, and is a very comfortable gun to shoot. It’s small enough to carry any day of the year and perfect in an IWB, appendix, or even OWB holster. It’s well designed, accurate, and is honestly priced very well. Good enough to compete with guns that don’t pack near as many features.
Do you agree or disagree with my list? Any feedback you'd like to give to other readers?
Sound off in the comments below, we'd love to hear from you!
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.
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