They make look cute and cuddly, maybe even nostalgic, but that's not what you need when the fight starts.
The world of compact handguns is absolutely massive. If you want to find one for concealed carry, then you have what’s basically a buffet of pistols in front of you. Some are outstanding choices, some are okay, and some absolutely suck. We gathered five of the worst guns for concealed carry, and we not only explain why they’re bad but better alternatives for those guns.
Derringers possess a certain kind of cool that can’t be replicated by modern pistols. These small, double-barrel pistols can be chambered in anything from 22LR to 45 Colt. Some derringers, like the Bond Arms derringers, are brilliantly crafted guns. However, they are among the worst guns for concealed carry.
You get two shots, a single-action-only trigger, teeny tiny grips, and super short barrels. The combination of these three features gives you lots of recoil, a slow follow upshot, and a very slow reload time. Derringers might be cool, but they are not a good choice for concealed carry.
Suppose you want a small gun that’s super easy to conceal with the Ruger LCP or LCP 2. These teeny tiny 380 ACPs provide you three times the firepower at just a little more size than a standard derringer. Plus, they are semi-automatic and magazine fed.
I love shooting powerful revolvers. The recoil, the power, and the challenge make them fun to shoot and perfect for hunting and even self-defense against bears. A finely tuned revolver in 44 Magnum or 454 Casull provides a joy most other guns cannot replicate. Sadly that translates over to one of the worst guns for concealed carry.
They are much too big and too hard to conceal carry and will weigh you down rather quickly. Also, these big calibers are a bit much for concealed carry and often way too powerful for daily carry. A round that works on a bear might be a bit much for a bad guy. On top of that, good luck on your follow-up shots.
Want a good concealed carry wheelgun with Magnum in the title? Well, check out the Ruger LCR in 327 Federal Magnum. This little fella provides a lot of punch for its small size. It’s such a thin round a traditional five-round chamber can hold six rounds of 327 Federal Magnum. The LCR is plenty small and easy to conceal, and the 327 Federal Magnum packs a punch without being hard to control.
Why someone ever wants to squeeze a 5.56 or a 7.62 x 39mm round into a single-barreled pistol astounds me. What even bothers me more is the fact this pistol is advertised for concealed carry. A single-shot firearm sucks already. Popping a rifle round into a super short barrel kills the potential of a rifle round in the first place.
In a pistol, these rifle rounds create massive amounts of flash and concussion. They deliver poor ballistic performance, and overall, are just kinda sucky. They are a novelty, and you should never trust a novelty to defend your life with. These might be the absolute worst guns for concealed carry.
If you want rifle-like performance in a pistol, then check out the Ruger 57. The 5.7x28mm isn’t a rifle cartridge necessarily, but it falls into a weird category of PDW round. It offers excellent performance at 100 yards and delivers excellent penetration. On top of that, it has low recoil and a very high capacity. Albeit this gun is a full-sized pistol so you’ll need a good holster and belt.
Surplus pistols are an ever-growing group of guns, so it’s tough to say all surplus pistols occupy the worst guns for concealed carry. Surplus 1911s, Makarovs, and certain Berettas are all acceptable, but there are lots of surplus pistols that are not suitable for concealed carry. For example, guns like the Tokarev TT-33 are not drop safe, and CZ-52s are notorious for firing when decocked.
Lots of surplus guns have tons of issues with reliability, poor magazines, and old, hard-to-find ammunition. Oftentimes their ammunition sources are minimal, and finding quality defensive ammunition can be next to impossible. Also, these guns tend to be big with low capacity, making them inefficient for concealed carry.
If you want an old-school handgun from the depths of Europe, then check out the Walther PPK series of pistols. You get the old school European design, but a safe and compact pistol for concealed carry. Additionally, 380 ACP is super popular, and you can find proper defensive ammunition for it. Plus, it’s the gun of James Bond.
Why these things ever got popular, I’ll never know. .410 revolvers became super popular a few years ago, and some companies made compact variants for ‘concealed carry.’ They are also chambered in 45 Colt, and if you want an unnecessarily large and inaccurate 45 Colt, then go ahead, I guess. .410 through these guns suck, and that’s why they are one of the worst guns for concealed carry.
.410 revolvers lack velocity, provide unpredictable patterning of buckshot, are huge, heavy, and downright silly. I put them in the novelty category, and they are fine for having fun, but beyond that, they are not very good at anything.
Do you want a big revolver for concealed carry? Well, choose an S&W 686 revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel. You get a 357 Magnum revolver that provides a punch, and you get six of those punches. The S&W 686 sets the standard for combat revolvers and provides shooters with a big gun that’s actually effective and highly efficient.
Concealed carry is a very serious activity, and when you choose your gun, you are making a huge decision. Do not pick one of the worst guns for concealed carry. Be smart; choose a capable and efficient gun that fits your needs. Plus, it helps you can find holsters for all of our Better Alternatives.
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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