When it comes to choosing the best firearm for concealed carry, the 9mm pistol stands out as a top contender. Known for its balance of power, manageable recoil, and widespread availability, the 9mm is a popular choice for concealed carry caliber among both new and experienced gun owners. Considering factors such as size, capacity, reliability and ease of use, we’ll reveal some of the options for best 9mm pistol so you can make an informed decision to ensure your safety.

Why Choose a 9mm Gun for Concealed Carry

The 9mm cartridge is often recommended as the universal choice for training and personal defense for several compelling reasons. Many firearms instructors agree the 9mm hits the sweet spot of usability for the vast majority of shooters. Usability equates to ease of handling and the ability to accurately hit a target with single or multiple shots on demand. In a full- or compact-sized pistol, the low recoil of the 9mm makes it easier to shoot compared to larger calibers, making it an ideal concealed carry caliber.

Ballistically speaking, the 9mm’s trajectory is relatively flat to 50 meters, and it maintains its lethality there and beyond. Bullet weights range from 50 to 160 grains, offering options from lightweight composites to conventional lead, depending on the application.

From a logistical standpoint, the 9mm is a more globally available cartridge. Even though prices vary greatly, the 9mm is less expensive than comparable centerfire handgun loadings in the same market. This means training with your favorite personal-defense firearm is easier and universally more likely in today’s environment.

How to Choose a 9mm Pistol for Concealed Carry

Selecting the right 9mm for concealed carry can be a daunting task given the multitude of options available. To make an informed decision, it’s important to consider several key features that will ensure the firearm meets your needs for personal defense.

Size and Weight: The size and weight of your 9mm pistol are crucial factors for concealed carry. A smaller, lighter gun is easier to conceal and more comfortable to carry throughout the day. However, it’s important to find a balance, as very small guns may be harder to handle and shoot accurately.

Capacity: Magazine capacity is another important consideration. While smaller pistols are easier to conceal, they often hold fewer rounds. Determine how many rounds you are comfortable with for self-defense situations and choose a model that meets those needs without compromising on concealability.

Reliability: When your life may depend on your firearm, reliability is paramount. Research reviews and user experiences to find models known for their dependability. Consider brands and models with a proven track record of performance.

Ease of Use and Maintenance: A good concealed carry 9mm should be easy to operate under stress. Look for a pistol with intuitive controls, a smooth trigger pull and straightforward disassembly for cleaning and maintenance. Practicing with your chosen firearm will also improve your proficiency and confidence.

Ergonomics and Comfort: The way a gun feels in your hand can significantly impact your shooting experience. Choose a pistol with a grip that fits your hand comfortably and allows for a firm, secure hold. The ergonomics of the gun should enhance your ability to control recoil and maintain accuracy.

Top 9mm Handguns for Concealed Carry

There are multiple size categories to consider when selecting the best 9mm for concealed carry: micro, mid-sized and full-sized.

Best Micro 9mm

A good micro 9mm pistol is the SIG Sauer P365. It has a magazine capacity of 10 to 12 rounds, a barrel length of 3.1 inches and weighs only 17.8 ounces. It’s reliable, accurate and has a superb trigger. An optional ambidextrous 1911-type manual thumb safety is also available.

Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 5.8 inches
Weight: 17.8 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 12

Best Mid-Sized 9mm

After nearly three months of daily carry, the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact 4-inch stands out as the best mid-sized 9mm pistol. With a 15-round magazine capacity, it weighs 25.8 ounces and features tall sights and optional 1911-type ambidextrous thumb safeties. This combination makes it an excellent choice for concealed carry and law enforcement.

Barrel length: 4 inches
Overall length: 7.3 inches
Weight: 25.8 ounces
Capacity: 15

Best Full-Sized 9mm

Choosing the best full-sized 9mm was challenging, but the Glock 17 emerges as the top choice. Known for its reliability and widespread use as a police duty pistol, it’s easy to customize. The Glock 17 is lightweight, accurate and reliable, making it an excellent full-sized option.

Barrel length: 4.49 inches
Overall length: 7.95 inches
Weight: 24.91 ounces
Capacity: 17

Pocket-Plus 9mms

With the release of the KelTec P-11 in 1995, a new category of firearm was born. This easy-to-carry 9mm handgun brought concealed carry into the modern era, prompting other manufacturers to follow suit.

These concealed carry firearms are all 9mm and polymer-framed. All but one is striker-fired. Each gun holds at least 10 rounds of ammunition in double-stack (or “stack-and-a-half”) magazines. These are classified as “pocket-plus” pistols. They’re light, easy to conceal and easy to use.

KelTec P-11

The KelTec P-11 is the original high-capacity mini pistol, with competitors not jumping on the bandwagon for quite some time. It has a 3-inch barrel and 10-round capacity. This 9mm is double-action-only and has a shrouded hammer, allowing for second-strike capability. The P-11 was discontinued in 2019 but can still be found on the market.

Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 5.6 inches
Weight: 14 ounces
Capacity: 10

Taurus PT-111

The Taurus PT-111 G2 is a striker-fired 9mm with a 12+1 round capacity. It features a resetting trigger and a frame-mounted safety. When the safety is engaged, the entire mechanism is locked up.

Barrel length: 3.2 inches
Overall length: 5.6 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Capacity: 12

Springfield Armory Hellcat

The Springfield Armory Hellcat is a pocket-plus pistol with an 11+1 round capacity, and a 13-round magazine is available. It features a large U-notch sight, making it fast and accurate on target. The Hellcat is easy to carry and feels good in the hand.

Barrel length: 3 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Weight: 18.3 ounces
Capacity: 11 or 13

SIG Sauer P365 XL

The SIG Sauer P365 XL is equipped with the Romeo Zero red dot sight and is one of the most popular handguns in the country. This 9mm is well-suited for concealed carry and is ready for red dot sights. It has a small profile and is easy to carry.

Barrel length: 3.7 inches
Overall length: 6.6 inches
Weight: 20.7 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 12

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

The Smith & Wesson Shield Plus is newer to the market and offers a slim magazine capable of carrying 10 or more rounds. It’s comfortable to shoot and small in the holster, though the trigger guard is a bit small.

Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 6.1 inches
Weight: 20.2 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 13

Ruger Max-9

The Ruger Max-9 features a big, bright green fiber-optic sight on the front. The magazine holds 10 rounds, but the Max-9 maintains a slim profile. It’s also equipped to add a red dot sight.

Barrel length: 3.2 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Weight: 18.4 ounces
Capacity: 10 or 12

There are many other choices out there. Which 9mm handgun is your favorite? Leave your picks in the comments!

Choosing the Best 9mm for Your Concealed Carry Needs

Selecting the right 9mm for concealed carry is a personal decision that depends on various factors, including your lifestyle, preferences and comfort level. The pistols highlighted in this article are some of the best options available, offering a range of features to suit different needs. Remember, the key to effective concealed carry is not just the firearm itself but also proper training, regular practice and a commitment to safety. By carefully considering your options and prioritizing your safety and comfort, you can find the perfect 9mm pistol to confidently carry and protect yourself.

This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Scott W. Wagner and Kevin Michalowski.