Choosing a firearm based on price is probably a good way to waste some money. The best gun for concealed carry is the one that fits you. There are no one size fits all firearms so if a Glock fits you it may not fit your friend. Obviously budget is important and the gun you have is better than the top tier firearm in the case at the gun store because you cannot afford it, but whenever possible budget should be set aside when selecting a firearm because there are so many more important criteria.
First and foremost in my opinion, is the features of the firearm. What features are important to me may be meaningless to you. In fact for all the reasons I like my own carry firearm are the same reasons most people absolutely hate it. So each person must identify what is important to them. Revolver or semi auto? Assuming semi auto hammer fired or striker fired? Single action only, double action only or single action-double action? Manual thumb safety or not? Capacity? Weight?
What about the slide, if it is a semi-automatic pistol can you operate the slide? Smaller lighter firearms will often have heavy recoil springs because if not they can be very snappy. If you cannot operate the slides, you might want to consider a revolver, or practice, practice, practice.
Size, what I can conceal you might not be able to. This is something that is unique to each body frame.
Let’s not even discuss caliber, because the great debate about 9mm vs 45 and 380 vs 9mm will rage on for all time. Shoot the largest caliber you can most accurately and consistently shoot… and this may vary from firearm to firearm based on fit, feel and physics of the firearm. I generally encourage to start at 9mm, which is a very good middle of the range round. You can go up or down from there.
Let’s talk about fit and size. A firearm that has all the desired features may not have the proper fit. Fit is important for natural point of aim. Fit is important for proper operation of the controls such as trigger finger position, safety disengagement, magazine release etc… If the gun does not fit your hand it is not the right gun for you. How do you know if it fits? Well the only way to know is to feel it. Go to the gun store and feel it, squeeze it. Work the control. Press the trigger. If the store has trigger locks which they won’t take off, you are in the wrong store. Make sure it fits your hand.
Something not to be under-rated is the availability of aftermarket accessories such as holsters or sights. While maybe you have no intention of swapping out the sights, you will need some means of carry, and that means is usually a holster. If you cannot find a safe and comfortable holster, you will be less likely to carry.
After you have determined if it fits your hand, or you think it fits your hand, shoot it. Rent it, and shoot it. Many gun stores rent the most common carry guns. The costs can be $10-$20 rental fees. Some stores charge you per firearm others charge you a flat fee for your session and allow you to swap. The stores allowing you to swap are the best IMO, for buying your first handgun.
Now consider budget. You have found the perfect firearm for you. Can you afford it? Let’s hope so. If it is out of your budget is one of the other firearms which fit your criteria of features and fit within your budget? Probably.
Another intangible consideration in regards to budget is if it is too good to drop it, you shouldn’t be carrying it. What does this mean? Well essentially if you are in so much love with your firearm that you are afraid to scuff or scratch, or afraid to lose it due to confiscation of evidence, maybe you shouldn’t be carrying it. This precious type of firearm is sometimes referred to as BBQ carry.
Recommendations for the best gun for concealed carry…
I personally try not to give recommendations of which firearm is better because there is no way of knowing on a case by case basis. Anyone who has taken my class knows the answer to, “Which is better, the 1911 or Glock?” The answer is: “Yes.” Either or can be better depending on your selection criteria.
Because everyone reading these an article about the best carry concealed pistol wants fast answers, here is a list of some of the more popular concealed carry firearms, in no specific order…
Sig Sauer P938
Smith & Wesson M&P9 SHIELD
Smith & Wesson 686
Smith & Wesson 642
Taurus PT-111 Millenium G2
So what is the best gun for concealed carry? It’s the gun that fits you, the gun that you can comfortably shoot, the gun that you can operate, and of course the best gun for concealed carry is the one that you can afford.