45 pistol

The 6 Best .45 Pistols For Concealed Carry

Trying to nail down the best .45 pistol for concealed carry? We have some solid candidates for you.

Some people are going to whine about this list, probably because we left out this or that or what have you. Well, you can't always please everyone. Even Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everyone liked; they left that to the Bee Gees.

But that said, here are 6 rock-solid choices. You might find something you like a little more, but you won't go wrong with any of these .45 pistols as a carry gun.

Glock 30 .45 Pistol

Glock 30

It's a polymer world out there, and one of the best poly-frame, striker-fired .45 pistols for daily carry is the Glock 30. There are, in fact, two compact Glock .45 ACP pistols, the Glock 36 and the Glock 30. The 36 is a single-stack, the 30 uses a double-stack magazine.

The Glock 30 and Glock 36 both employ the same 3.8-inch barrel, and ultimately the difference between them is the Glock 30 is only 0.2 inches wider (1.38 inches in width overall) yet carries 10 rounds in the standard magazine compared to the 6-round capacity of the 36's magazine. With that, you get the Glock operating system, which is dead simple and dead reliable.

So why the 30 instead of the 36, which is slimmer? 0.2 inches in extra width won't make it unconcealable, and you get 4 more rounds. Unless you had a compelling reason not to (like the 36 just fits you better) why wouldn't you?

S&W Performance Center M&P45 Shield: Compact .45 Pistol With Bells And Whistles

M&P45 Shield

If you wanted a compact .45 pistol of the polymer frame, striker-fired variety, it's worth dropping a little extra cash for the S&W Performance Center M&P45 Shield. The additions to the gun make it worth the extra expense.

The basics of the 45 Shield are still there; 6+1 or 7+1 of .45 ACP, with a 3.5-inch barrel and the M&P striker-fired trigger system. The base 45 Shield is a very decent pistol, but it's what the Performance Center variant adds. The barrel and slide are ported, helping to tame muzzle climb, which is important in a small pistol firing a big bullet. Tritium night sights (or HiViz fiber optics) are also added by the factory, and the action is tuned by the Smith and Wesson Performance Center

While those upgrades cost you - MSRP is $636 - it would cost you more to get that work done on your own, and will pay off in terms of easier shooting.

SW1911 Performance Center

There are a number of lightweight Commander 1911 pistols on the market, but one of the smarter picks is the SW1911 Performance Center model. 

What it brings to the party is S&W's scandium alloy frame, a round butt (bobtail cut) frame, ambidextrous safeties and an external extractor for improved reliability compared to internal extractors...which have largely gone the way of the dodo. The gun is hand-fit by the smiths in the S&W Performance Center.

It's a semi-custom compact .45 with an MSRP of $1645, which is actually kind of a bargain. You could get a less expensive equivalent, but not with nearly the same build quality. 

H&K USP Compact: An Upscale .45 Pistol For Daily Carry

USP Compact

Image credit: Heckler & Koch

The H&K USP 45 Compact is a touch on the big side, but it's compact enough to be tenable as a concealed carry gun. However, since it does have a bit of heft, that means it will be controllable.

The USP is a classic service-type pistol, with a DA/SA firing system and a decocking safety mounted on the frame. There's an accessory rail for mounting a light, a polymer frame to save weight. However, unlike the HK 45 Compact, it's actually compact, with a 3.78-inch barrel, putting overall specs close to that of a Glock 19. Capacity is 8+1 or 10+1, depending on the magazine.

It's one of the few pistols of the type in .45 ACP that are legitimate compacts. Granted, you'll pay for the privilege; MSRP starts at $1100...but you're paying for quality.

S&W M&P Compact .45

The S&W M&P Compact M2.0 in .45 ACP is a bit on the large side, as it's broadly the same size as a Commander 1911 or the H&K USP Compact .45.

However, the upside is that carrying capacity is 10+1 of .45 ACP. It's not 

The .45 pistols in the M&P lineup have always been quietly considered some of the best in that caliber, so don't sleep on this one. 

Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact 

The updated XD-M pistols - the XD-M Elite line - takes the premium trim level of the XD series and makes it better. The 3.8 Compact model in .45 ACP is worth looking into for a big-bore EDC pistol. 

Dimensions are roughly similar to the Glock 30, with a 3.8-in barrel and 10+1 standard capacity, which can be extended to 13+1 with the 'stendo and magazine sleeve. Refinements include Springfield Armory's META trigger system, a grip safety with memory bump, a removable mag well, and grip panels that can be changed to adjust the fit. A Picatinny rail on the dustcover of the frame is standard, and the gun comes with an OSP slide should you want to mount an optic. 

It's compact, slim at 1.2 inches in width, and has very decent capacity (10+1 of .45 ACP) relative to its size (roughly that of a Glock 19) and comes with a lot of premium features that normally add quite a bit in aftermarket purchases. The MSRP ($653) seems a bit stiff but is actually kind of a bargain in that regard.  

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Writer sam hoober