While perusing Twitter, I responded to the following tweet:
While my response didn’t name a specific gun other than what I am currently using for my EDC, it got me thinking about what I think the best gun for concealed carry in the market today is. So that’s what I’m going to explore in this post.
Before getting into the weeds, let me be clear about a couple of things. I’m going to share what I think the best gun for concealed carry in the market today is for me. I’m also going to name several guns which I’ve had experience with. I will mention some guns which I have no experience with but I’ve read or hear about from various sources. Remember everything is my opinion based on my limited experience as an armed civilian without any military or law enforcement background.
I’ve previously mentioned that I think a suitable gun for concealed carry is the one that you can afford, will carry, can shoot well, is chambered in a common and suitable cartridge for self defense, and provides adequate capacity for a self defense encounter. I still stand by that notion, albeit some of the nuances of that notion have evolved for me since I wrote that post. However, the general notion is still applicable.
Let’s get to what I think the best guns for concealed carry in the market today are.
#5 P365 XL Romeo Zero
The P365 XL Romeo Zero is a relatively new to the market. While I have no experience with this variant, I do have experience with at P365 that I own and carry from time to time. Also, from the reviews I’ve come across it does appear to be a good contender for concealed carry.
The P365 XL Romeo Zero is marketed as a micro-compact handgun priced slightly under $750. Currently it’s only available in 9mm with a 3.7″ barrel. Standard capacity for this gun is 12+1 and extended magazines are available which increase that capacity to 15+1. It weighs in right around 21 ounces unloaded (plus or minus a few tenths of an ounce depending on whether or not it has an extended magazine inserted). Variants with smaller form factors, barrels, and without a red dot sight.
Even though this gun seems to get a lot of things right, it’s not at the top of my list for a few reasons. The first reason is that I tend to get a little slide bite with micro-compact guns. This means that I am unlikely to run them in competitions and avoid taking them at the range. Hence, I have to make a deliberate effort to practice with them in order to get proficient with it. This may not be an issue for folks who don’t have meaty hands like I do.
Another reason this gun isn’t at the top of my list is that extra magazines are priced between $50-$60. These magazines will add up quickly.
One more reason this gun isn’t at the top of my list is that I’m unsure if this gun will accept any other red dot sights. While I have no experience with Sig Sauer’s red dot sights, most of the reviews I have come across haven’t been stellar with consistent complaints about battery life. Perhaps Sig Sauer has addressed the issues with this newer red dot sight, but still seems like a risk to me. Then there is the fact that if it is replaced, the ability to co-witness the red dot will be lost as the rear sight is notched into the Romeo Zero optic.
On the other hand, the small size and light weight will make this a gun that is very easy and very comfortable to carry concealed.
#4 Walther Arms Q4 Steel Frame OR
The Walther Arms Q4 Steel Frame OR is another gun that is fairly new to the market. It’s also another gun that I don’t have any experience with. However, it’s one that I find very interesting and I am willing to bet it would be higher on this list if I did have experience with it.
From what I understand, this gun was based on the success of the Q5 Steel Frame and it looks like they got a lot of things right on this one. Currently, it is only available in 9mm with a four inch barrel. It has a standard capacity of 15+1. This gun weighs in at a whopping 40 ounces due to its duty sized steel frame. The OR variant I am specifically including on this list is ready to receive a red dot sight. It’s priced around $1,500.
Let’s break this bad boy down.
This is the most expensive gun on this list. Add a few hundred bucks for a red dot sight to the MSRP of $1,500 and I’m looking at a gun that isn’t very budget friendly. While it does include 3 magazines, extra magazines are going to run around $45. While this won’t be a nonstarter for everyone, it will be for some.
Next up is the size. Personally, I prefer a duty-sized pistol for concealed carry. But I’m also a large framed man with a little extra around the midsection, which means I can easily and comfortably conceal a gun of this size. This won’t be true for smaller framed folks.
We have to talk about the weight. This is a heavy gun and that’s a double edged sword. In terms of concealment, it will require a sturdy belt. But even with a sturdy belt, one will know it is there which may be a nuisance to some folks. On the bright side, the weight will make the recoil from the 9mm round negligible. I’m willing to bet this will be a very fun gun to shoot which will make practicing and becoming proficient with it a joyous endeavor.
Last, but not least, some people prefer other defensive cartridges over the 9mm. For those folks, this will be a nonstarter.
#3 Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P M2.0 C.O.R.E. Series
I’m a fan of the Smith & Wesson M&P series of pistols for concealed carry. I like they way they feel in the hand and the way the shoot. While I don’t own one, I’ve shot several and they without a doubt the second most popular defensive pistol I see at IDPA matches and training courses. They are also available in several of the common defensive pistol cartridges.
While I think they are definitely among the best pistols for concealed carry, they almost didn’t make the list as only a few variants are ready to accept a red dot sight. If you haven’t picked up on it, I’m of the opinion that being ready to receive a red dot sight should be a standard feature on defensive handguns.
However, the Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 with Ported Barrel and Slide C.O.R.E is a 9mm variant of this series of pistols that is ready to accept a red dot sight. This variant comes with a 4.25″ barrel and a standard capacity of 17+1. It weighs in just under 27 ounces and is priced just north of $700.
The weight on this gun is what I consider to be sweet spot for a 9mm handgun. It’s heavy enough to be pleasant to shoot without requiring much recoil management. Yet it’s light enough to carry comfortably.
I’ve already covered the pros and cons of carrying a duty-sized pistol which this most certainly is. As such, the pros and cons still apply.
There are a few other things that helped place this gun in the #3 spot of this list. These include:
- Plenty of aftermarket support to allow folks to customize the gun in just about anyway they can think of,
- additional magazines can be found for under $20 (and up to $40 depending on the magazine manufacturer),
- and it’s reasonably priced given the performance center treatment.
#2 Glock MOS Series
I can no longer count how many times I’ve heard that the Glock 19 is the measuring stick by which all other defensive pistols are measured. Whether that’s true or not, one thing is certain. Glock is by far the most popular defensive pistol I know people carry, see at IDPA competitions, and see at training courses. They are also available in several common defensive cartridges.
Glock’s MOS series of pistols are all ready to accept a red dot sight and are available in several frame/grip sizes, barrel lengths, and chambers (including 9mm, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP). Depending on the model and generation, these guns are priced between $550 and $750.
Due to their popularity, the aftermarket support for these pistols is extensive and highly competitive.
#1 H&K Optics Ready VP9
Unless you are new to this blog, it should be no surprise to find the Heckler & Koch VP9 at the top of my list. Specifically, the new optics ready version of the VP9. Yes, I’m well aware my bias for this gun is showing. But, this list is my list after all.
If I took my bias out partially out of the equation this gun should probably be #3 as I have first hand experience with it and highly recommend it. However, it just doesn’t have all of the variants or aftermarket support that the M&P Shield pistols or the Glocks have. Not to mention extra magazines are going to be a bit more expensive as well. But like I said, it’s my list and the VP9 is what I carry.
I hope you have enjoyed this list and perhaps found it helpful.
What guns would you say are the best in the market today for concealed carry?