There Is No Best Concealed Carry Handgun...But One Might Be Best For You
People LOVE to bicker and pontificate about the "best concealed carry handgun." Get on Facebook, on forums and comments sections all over the internet - a series of tubes invented by Al Gore - and chances are some people are having it out.
It's pointless. There is no "best" handgun. There may be, however, one that's best for YOU and what you want in a concealed carry gun.
How do you choose one? There's no one feature or design element that's going to matter to everyone, but there are definitely some things you need to get straight before you take the plunge.
Figure Out What You Want In A Concealed Carry Gun
The first step is determining what you want in a concealed carry gun. What are your priorities when it comes to a pistol?
Chambering and capacity are definitely things to think about. Do you have to have .45 ACP, 10mm or .40 S&W, or are you settled on 9mm? How much does carrying capacity matter to you? Do you feel undergunned with less than 10 rounds in the gun?
The firing mechanism is another. Some people refuse to have anything other than a striker-fired gun, but there are also people who prefer the hammer-fired DA/SA system and then you have people who prefer a cocked-and-locked single-action pistol. Do you have a preference there?
Then you have the overall dimensions. Some people feel that a compact gun like, say, a Glock 19 is too big, and some people refuse to carry anything smaller than one. Some prefer to Go Big Or Go Home, and carry a full on service pistol every day. Others still feel that a pocket pistol is small enough to always have on you and therefore carry a micro or subcompact.
Is something like a service pistol what you're after? Would you rather have a small pistol that's easy to conceal and effortless to carry? Or would you rather have something in between that you can easily put up with, but with generous capacity and easy shooting?
There's no right or wrong answer; there's what you want and what you don't.
So start with what your priorities are. If you figure out the kind of gun you want, or at least think you want, that gives you a good starting point. Remember, a gun is ultimately a tool, and you should ultimately pick the best tool for the task you have in mind.
The Best Concealed Carry Gun For You Will Be A Good Fit
Everyone has heard some platitude or bromide about putting yourself in the best position for success, and something like that is true with finding the best concealed carry gun for yourself. You need to pick a gun that enables you to use it competently and handle it safely, just as you have to choose a concealed carry holster that you don't have a problem with using every day.
Fitment is rather easy to determine. You handle the gun and it fits comfortably in your hand. You easily get a good grip, and your finger should find the face of the trigger without issue. If you feel as if you have to consciously reach for it, the gun isn't a good fit.
It should feel as though it points with your hand naturally. You should easily be able to bring the sights to a target. If you don't, then the gun doesn't really fit you.
This much is up to you, though. Some people are fine with adapting themselves to the gun for its (perceived) advantages, and others would rather start with a gun that's a good fit and adapt everything else - cover garments, belt, concealed carry holster - to the gun.
If you were to ask the guy writing this, there are a number of guns I wouldn't buy for this reason, despite the gun in question being very good and also popular. For instance, the Sig P365 - which is an excellent pistol - is a bit too small for my hands, so I have to alter my grip and bring my trigger finger back to press the go switch. I do not have to do so with a Sig P320 X Compact or Sig P365 XL. While the X Compact and 365XL are larger than the P365, I'd eschew the smaller gun for the better fit and make it easier on myself to shoot well.
But that's for me - you have to work that out for you.
The gun should also be a good fit for your experience level. 1911 pistols, for instance, are great guns, and quality examples are as good as handguns ever get...but they aren't the best guns for beginners. The single-action system requires a good amount of practice to get and maintain proficiency, and you don't want to skimp on upkeep; they need to be kept clean and well-lubricated.
The best concealed carry gun for you fits you as well as your priorities.
The Best Concealed Carry Gun Is One You Can Operate Well
And, of course, the most important part of picking the best concealed carry gun for you can't be determined on paper, and that's how well you run the gun. For that, you need time behind the trigger. Without that, everything else doesn't really amount to much.
If you're looking to buy a new handgun, get yourself to a range that has rentals and try one out if you can. You'll know pretty quickly whether or not the gun is a good fit for you or not. It isn't so much that you won't feel recoil; that's always going to happen. Instead, pay attention to your instinctual reaction. If you feel that you can deal with it, that's fine. If your reaction is "I don't like shooting this thing!"...then you need to move on.
Try to work in a few shooting drills, if possible. A malfunction drill and reloading drill would be a good idea, as you need to learn if you can easily run the controls.
Also be sure to see just how accurate you can actually shoot with it. Accuracy and competency are what makes the difference if you have to use the gun in defense of your life, and if a gun makes either harder for you...it's just not a good fit.
Ultimately, the best concealed carry gun for you is the one that you can operate the best and can carry with minimal discomfort. Maybe that's a compact revolver, maybe it's a Glock 19, maybe it's a Lightweight Commander 1911, but that's what counts more than anything else.