A frequent question I deal with when speaking to friends, family, and even strangers is what is the best concealed carry weapon? Some people are under the impression that the smallest and most easily concealed gun is the best concealed carry weapon. Others believe the best concealed carry weapon is the biggest most tricked out cannon you fit under a cover garment. So what is the real answer to this question? Let’s discuss both ends of the spectrum and then see if we can find a middle ground that fits everyone’s requirements for the best concealed carry weapon!
Best Concealed Carry Weapon – Go Big or Stay Home
The first school of thought on the best concealed carry weapon is what I call the go big or stay home approach. The idea is that if you are considering what the best concealed carry weapon is, you should pick the biggest weapon you can conceal. The idea here is that bigger weapons carry a number of inherent advantages over smaller guns. A longer sight radius typically translates to better accuracy. Larger framed weapons typically help manage and mitigate recoil better than smaller guns. The capacity of larger firearms will dwarf what a smaller gun can pack into a smaller size. So is this the best way to go when searching for the best concealed carry weapon?
There are also some disadvantages to larger firearms when searching for the best concealed carry weapon. First off, might isn’t always right. A larger firearm may be easier to shoot, but it’s also significantly harder to hide. Typically the issue comes from the grip size because the longer the pistol’s grip, the harder it is to hide. That’s the one part that sticks out when trying to conceal a firearm. The overall size of the gun has an effect also though. Fatter frames made for larger calibers or double stack magazine capacities make for a bigger bulge to hide. Weight is another issue with the big guns. You will absolutely need a proper belt and holster to support the weapon.
Is a Mouse Gun the Best Concealed Carry Weapon?
On the opposite side of the fence from the Go Big guys are the Size Isn’t Important crowd. When discussing what the best concealed carry weapon is you should consider both sides of the argument and look for a happy in between. Advantages of smaller firearms are numerous when discussing the best concealed carry weapon. For starters, the smaller the gun, the easier it is to hide. There’s no getting around that fact. Some pistols are small enough for ‘pocket’ carry where they don’t even need to be strapped to a belt but just stuck in a pocket.
Modern pistols have come a long way with regard to providing options that were previously shortcomings of smaller firearms packages. Where a smaller shot capacity used to be a real issue with smaller weapons, newer guns bring newer options. Many compact sized firearms now work with the full size version of the gun’s magazines. GLOCK is famous for this. The 17 round magazine of a GLOCK 17 will work if loaded into a GLOCK 26 compact pistol. Many other brands have jumped on this concept and provide both a ‘concealed carry’ magazine to help keep the gun hidden and a ‘extended’ version with a lip for adding capacity.
You can configure a compact pistol to mirror it’s full size counterpart. Sights and other options are available for both platforms. The main advantage of the mouse gun is how easy it is to hide. This becomes an especially important argument in warmer months or hotter climates. If you are wearing an abnormal amount of clothing for the weather that can be suspicious in and of itself. Remember the goal here is that nobody knows you have the firearm in the first place. So while the smaller gun may have few advantages over the larger ones, the advantages they do have are significant.
So What’s the Best Concealed Carry Weapon?
The real answer here is simple. The best concealed carry weapon is the one you are carrying when you need it. I want to point out the key point of that statement is the one you are carrying. If you don’t carry the weapon and a problem scenario unfolds before you then it doesn’t really matter what kind of cool toys you have at home. They won’t do you any good if you don’t bring them along. For this reason I’m inclined to recommend to new concealed carry permit holders that they look at smaller weapons. Compact sized guns offer a lot in terms of concealment. While the best concealed carry weapon from a tactical sense might be the hand cannon, it’s no good if its too bulky or too large to conceal and you leave it at home.
I will also caution people against going too small in their search for the best concealed carry weapon. The sub compact class of pistols is popular because of the extra concealment ability they bring with them. However, smaller guns are harder to shoot accurately at distance. Any weapon is better than none if you find yourself in a life and death situation. Given the choice though you don’t want to be trading rounds across distance with a tiny pistol. Be aware of the accuracy limitations of the weapon you are carrying. When deciding what the best concealed carry weapon is for you ask yourself, “Is this going to provide the level of protection I want against trouble I might encounter today?” If the answer is no, perhaps consider another choice.
The Kahr P380 pictured above is a favorite of mine in warmer months because of the ease of concealment it offers. Using the pocket holster I can bring this along in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt just by slipping it into my pocket. That brings me to the next point. Don’t limit yourself to a single weapon. Different weapons have different uses and intent of purpose. The best weapon in T-Shirt and Shorts weather might not be the best in Winter months. Likewise you might be able to get away with carrying more firepower in the winter than what is feasible to conceal in the summer months. A quick trip in the hot sun might make a compact pistol the best choice. Likewise an extended visit to a friend’s house in a rough part of town might make a larger, more capable, firearm a better choice.
There really isn’t one weapon that fits the bill as the best concealed carry weapon. The trick is to rephrase the question and the discussion. Don’t ask yourself what the best concealed carry weapon is. Ask yourself, “What is the best concealed carry weapon for my destination, the local weather, the neighborhood, and the threat level?” Do a mini threat assessment before you decide what you want to take with you. If your funds are limited, start with a compact weapon. After you gain some experience you can decide if you want something smaller in the sub compact realm, or something larger in the full size arena.
Make no mistake folks, with all that is going on the world today your right to keep and bear arms has never been more important. Lawfully carrying a concealed weapon might just make the difference between you or a loved one getting home safely one evening. You may even find yourself in a position to prevent a mass tragedy simply by being in the wrong place at the right time. An armed society is a polite society and never forget how fortunate we are in the United States of America. This is the only country on Earth where our right to be armed is guaranteed.