If I were to try to list all the potential handguns that I consider best for concealed carry and the reasons why, I would quickly be over my word limit. So, what I will do instead is to give some important parameters to help you select the very best concealed carry handgun … for you.
The Best Handgun for You Feels Good in Your Hands
If a handgun you are considering does not feel good when you hold it at the gunshop, it is not the gun for you. You have got to be able to secure it firmly in one hand. (Worry about the two-hand feel later.) If it is a semi-automatic pistol and feels too large for your hand, see if it is equipped with grip adaptors. Then have the salesperson fit it with a smaller size. The pistols grip should also not be too small in the hand. Tiny automatics are notoriously hard to control. If it doesn’t feel great to hold when empty, its sure not going to feel good to fire.
Can You Conceal the Gun Comfortably in Multiple Holsters?
Don’t pick a handgun that can only be carried in one holster due to its large size. (Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum comes to mind here.) The best concealed carry guns can be carried in multiple styles: inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, waist pack or pocket holsters. You will want to have multiple carry options.
Revolvers from Colt, Smith & Wesson and Ruger have reputations for relentless reliability built over many years. Revolver reliability stems from the fact that the actions run from direct human mechanical power via the trigger. Those are opposed to the recoil, blowback or gas systems that operate semiautomatic pistol actions. However, there are many semi-automatic pistols that are exquisitely reliable. Most malfunctions in semiautomatic pistols are operator-induced.
No Assistance Necessary
Picking a handgun that you can’t load, unload, field-strip or operate without help is dangerous. If the trigger is too difficult to pull with just one trigger finger or if the slide can’t be racked easily, then that gun is not right for you.
Revolvers, being much simpler and easier to operate, might also be a good option for those challenged with smaller hands or weaker grips. S&W M&P Bodyguards and Ruger LCR’s both feature improved trigger geometry to accommodate a wide range of users. Another solution might be pistols like the S&W EZ .380 and 9mm pistols that feature specially designed, easy-to-retract slides.
Recoil and Muzzle Blast Must be Tolerable
There are a lot of great calibers to choose from these days that allow you to tailor the gun to you and make it a pleasure to shoot as well as effective. Cartridges like the .22LR, .32 H&R Magnum, .380 ACP, .38 Special and 9mm are some of the best calibers available for concealed carry users who are searching for controllable calibers with a reasonable amount of power. I left the .45 ACP as well as other great calibers like the .38 Super, .357 SIG, .357 Magnum and 10mm off the list because they have stouter recoil and sharper muzzle blast.
Think About Access
Are there children in your home or that visit? Do you have other family members or friends from which to think about securing your firearm? For instance, even though my son has been trained carefully about the dangers of firearms when misused, I still feel more comfortable carrying double-action revolvers and semiautomatics or semiautomatic pistols with 1911-style manual safeties in addition to any built-in trigger safety mechanisms. The addition of a manual safety lever gives me more peace of mind.
But Which Handgun Is Best?
I can’t tell you that, as I said at the outset. The gun which makes the best concealed carry handgun for me may not be for you and vice-versa. There may be a lot of trial and error. You may want to start your search at a gun dealer with a range facility where you can rent and shoot various handguns before purchasing. Doing that will likely save you a lot of money in the long run. Though nothing says you have to stop searching for the best concealed carry gun after your first purchase!