Written by Greg Ellifritz
When the start of an article reads “What are the best guns for concealed carry?”, I usually cringe and run away. Most articles of this type are horrible. Many are written by people who have likely never fired the guns they are recommending. Others are written by professional “firearms journalists” (read “whores”) who get paid to speak nicely about certain manufacturers products.
Last week when I saw another such article on the web, I almost clicked past it…until I saw that his first recommendation is the same gun I carry concealed almost every day. Wait a second! We might actually have some good information here!
The article was posted on the humanevents.com website and was called: The Top 10 CCW guns.
It was a quality article! One of the first such articles I’ve read that actually make some sense. I liked many of the author’s recommendations. Go up to the link and take a few minutes to read the article.
Rather than rip on the article or contradict everything the author wrote (another common “firearms journalist” tactic), I thought it might be more valuable to share some additional experiences I’ve had with these same guns. While I don’t think the author’s suggestions are the absolute best, they are fundamentally sound and serve as a great place to start a discussion.
Below are the author’s choices for best CCW guns and some additional considerations from my experiences as a full time firearms instructor for the last 13 years:
Glock 19 – The author’s first choice and mine as well. This is the gun I carry 90% of the time while I’m off duty. You’ll find a huge number of professional firearms instructors carry the same one.
Why? Because it works. It’s reliable, accurate, and easy to shoot well. It fits almost every hand size and is small enough to conceal if you plan your wardrobe around it. If it is a little too big to conceal, buy it’s little brother the Glock 26.
Springfield XD-S– This is an accurate and reliable little gun. Inherently, I think the XD series is more accurate than both the Glock and the M&P. A lot of people really like it. There is one serious downside. The grip safety locks the slide. You can’t rack the slide without depressing the safety lever. I’ve seen some difficulty with sweaty hands or weak-hand only malfunction clearing exercises. Some folks can’t get the proper hand position to rack the slide if they are injured or fatigued. Buyer beware!
Smith & Wesson M&P Compact –Another great choice. When you look at the instructors who teach at TDI, you will find that every one of us carries either a Glock or an M&P. The M&P is a nice option if you want a little more grip adjustment than you can find with the Glock. It is proving every bit as reliable as the Glock over long term testing. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Smith & Wesson “Hammerless” J-frame –This is my choice for an everyday carry backup. No one does revolvers better than Smith and Wesson. If you are looking at the J-frame, get a shrouded hammer or hammerless version if you plan on carrying in a pocket. I’ve seen far fewer issues with the “airweight” rather than the “airlight” guns. Stick to the airweights.
If you have poor vision and you want to switch sights, make sure you get one of the more expensive models with the pinned front sight. Those are the only ones that can be changed without a milling machine and a lot of work.
Also, don’t discount the K-frame snubs like the models 10 or 12. As my friend Ed Lovette says “They’re snubs, but they shoot like real guns!” The K-frame gives you one more round, a better grip, and a better trigger pull. It isn’t much harder to hide than the J-frame.
Beretta Nano –This is the only gun on the list that I’ve never shot. It seems like a good carry piece, but its lack of a manual slide lock troubles me. I want to be able to lock the slide back without having to rely on an empty magazine to do it for me. Some malfunction clearances require locking the slide to the rear. You can’t do it with this gun. That takes it out of consideration for me, but your criteria for a defensive pistol may be different than mine.
Ruger LCR – This is a nice take on the traditional .38 snub. The guns that I’ve shot have been extremely accurate and the trigger pulls seem to feel lighter than their actual weight. Nice revolvers! They also make a .22 caliber version for cheaper practice or for those who are seriously averse to recoil.
Kahr PM9 –When I’m not carrying one of my Glocks, this is usually the gun I’m carrying. It conceals easily under a T-shirt and will even fit into a larger pants pocket. The trigger pull is long, but not heavy. If you are a revolver shooter, you will be very familiar with the feel.
It’s a very reliable auto pistol. I’ve only noticed one issue. It will often fail to fully chamber the first round out of any magazine if you rack the slide from slidelock. The round will chamber if you use the slide release lever (as suggested in the manual). This isn’t a big deal for me, but may be an issue for some.
Overall, these are some pretty good recommendations. I would add the S&W Shield in place of the Beretta Nano if I was writing the article, but most of the other recommendations are right on. If one of these is your daily carry gun, you have planned well!