Top 5 Best Concealed Carry Handguns

Walther PPK

Here are the top 5 best concealed carry handguns, according to one of our readers:

By Sam Lopez

This is a short list of the pistols that are at the top of the heap, so to speak. Many times, when looking for the ideal pistol, people get caught up in calibers and frame materials. No gun is perfect and there are always going to be five to ten pistols that most people can agree on as being the leaders in the concealed carry category. These are my personal favorites–the ones I consider to be the best concealed carry handguns.

If you're looking for another point of view, check out Matthew Maruster's top four Glock EDC guns, or if you're in California, Matthew's top California Compliant EDC guns.

Springfield XDM Compact

best concealed carry pistol

The XD line of pistols originated in Croatia as the HS2000 and started being sold in the U.S. in 2002 under the famed Springfield Armory name. While I felt that the company’s deceptive name was a bit shady, I could not help but thoroughly appreciate this pistol. They have many models and are typically feature rich and have earned a reputation for high quality and a good value.

The XDM compact, the best concealed carry pistol in my opinion, is a polymer framed, striker-fired pistol with many safety features including a grip safety, a trigger safety, and a firing pin block. It also has a picatinny rail, adjustable back straps, and a loaded chamber indicator.

I have a lot of experience with the 9mm and my first reaction was how mild the recoil was compared to a similar sized Glock, because the Springfield has a heavier slide. The XDM is chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP–and standard capacity magazines are 13, 11, and 9, respectively. The combination of features, reliability, and durability make this my top choice in this category.

These pistols can be found for around $600 in most places, and elsewhere for less.

CZ 2075 RAMI

CZs are known the world over for their high quality build level, reliability, and comfort. The full sized CZ 75 and its derivatives, the RAMI being one of them, is one of the most popular handguns on the planet and also one of the most copied. The CZs as a whole are relatively scarce in the U.S., although they are rapidly growing notoriety and popping up at local gun stores all across the country.

Their popularity has grown due to readers like you who are seeking out information on-line and demanding more choices. The RAMI is a hammer-fired double action/single action alloy framed double stack pistol. It's available in 9mm and .40 S&W and ships with a regular (10 in 9mm, 7 in .40) and extended (14 in 9mm, 9 in .40 S&W) magazine.

There have been rumors of the .40 S&W caliber model being discontinued, so you may want to start your search if you’re in the market. The RAMI comes in a safety model with regular sights and a tactical model with a decocker and night sights. Not surprisingly, the decocker model is highly sought after and even harder to find. It’s also a bit more expensive.

MSRP is listed at $614 and the street price isn’t too far off from that, at this time.

Walther PPK

The PPK has been around for a long time, since 1931 to be exact, and is commonly found in the .380 ACP cartridge, although other variants do exist. It gained popularity as one of the sidearms used by Nazi Germany and later as fictional super spy James Bond’s firearm of choice.

There are many variants available today, but most have the same simple, reliable, blowback action, 6 or 7 round capacity, and are the standard in concealability and accuracy. Many concealed carry pistols are scaled down versions of original full sized designs, whereas the PPK is the original small pistol. It is a thin, steel-framed pistol that you can hide on your hip, small of your back, in your pocket, or on your ankle and is thus very versatile. The PPK is also a double action/single action pistol with a manual safety and old-school fixed blade sights.

A variant currently in production is the PPK/S, which has a slightly larger height than the original PPK. They are produced in the U.S. by Smith and Wesson under license from Walther. These are not too easy to find new, but their long history means that there are many used pieces around.

MSRP is listed at $700 and can usually be found in excellent used condition for around $550.

Glock Sub-compacts 26, 27, 29, 30, 39, 33

Glocks are either adored or despised, and rarely anything in between. Even if you are a Glock hater, you must acknowledge them as the pioneer in modern pistols, popularizing both lighter, polymer framed pistols as well as the striker fired mechanism.

All Glocks function the same. Some are larger than others, and are chambered in different cartridges, but those are the only major differences. The Glock family have no external, manual safety features, have polymer frames, and are short recoil-operated with a locking breech. They have risen to be a favorite among law enforcement and civilians alike for their reliability and ease of use.

Cleaning, maintaining, and disassembling a Glock is also far easier than a hammer-fired pistol, but are often criticized as being clunky and visually unappealing.

Glock produces pistols in full size, compact, sub-compact, and single stack in a wide variety of calibers. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. As a general rule, the more powerful cartridges have lower capacities than the less powerful cartridges. The sub-compact models provide the best of concealability with ammunition capacity.

The sub-compact line features 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .45 GAP, 10mm, and .357 SIG caliber options. The most popular calibers are 9mm, .45 ACP and .40 S&W, whereas the .45 GAP, 10mm, and .357 SIG are less popular which make them more expensive and harder to find.

Glock sub-compacts pistols range between $550 and $650, depending upon caliber.

Smith & Wesson J-Frame Revolvers

No list of the best concealed carry handguns would be complete without a revolver. Smith & Wesson started making J-Frame revolvers over 60 years ago and they are the default revolver of choice for concealed carriers. While most people appreciate the capacity and reloading capabilities of a semi-automatic, a sizable minority of carriers prefer a revolver.

Revolvers are touted as being the ultimate in reliability. While revolvers can malfunction, the common perception is that it is much more unlikely than a semi-automatic which is why most police offers carried revolvers as their duty weapons well into the 1990s. The downside of revolvers is capacity and slower reloads even with a speed-loader. New shooters also like their simplicity.

The most common calibers for small framed self-defense revolvers are the .38 Special +P and the .357 magnum. Those chambered in .357 are able to shoot the .38s, but the reverse is not true. The .357 ammunition is easy to find but more expensive and significantly more powerful. As such, these revolvers produce very heavy recoil. The model 360 is a very light, scandium framed .357 which is my go-to carry revolver.

The model 360’s MSRP is $770, but is easily found new for $650 or less.

There you have it, my take on the top 5 best concealed carry handguns. Which guns make up your list of favorite guns? Let us know in the comments below.

All photos taken from respective gun manufacturer's websites.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. sam jones on October 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

    The guns listed are all suitable for personal concealed carry. However, I take exception to the CZ and the Walther as being on the most popular list. I shoot regularly at a major gun store and indoor range in the Dallas area, and they do not have either in stock. The gun that should have been listed is, I believe, the best selling Smith & Wesson Shield. I carry one every day, as do many of my shooting friends. S&W recently stated that they had reached the one million sales level for the Shield. I doubt that the CZ and Walther will ever reach that plateau.

    • Joshua on October 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Thanks for the comment, Sam. These are just one man’s pick of favorite concealed carry guns, nothing more. They aren’t necessarily all what I’d pick either, but that’s what makes this country great. Thanks again!


    • Mike on January 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Josh, I’ve shot a number of handguns and I purchased two CZ P07’s, one to put by my ed and the other to carry in my jeep. I got rid of my XDS because it just wasn’t that accurate. i am looking at a smaller from .40 cal to carry every day. My P07 is a little too big for me. The S&W MP may fit the bill.

  2. Josh on October 24, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    From one Josh to another, thanks for the reviews!
    Curious what’s your take is on the XDs? I have a full size XDM 9mm and absolutely love it. But I’m not a very big guy and was curious you thoughts on the XDM compact vs the XDS.

    • Joshua on October 25, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Hey Josh, keeping in mind that this was a reader submitted list, I do have plenty of trigger time with just about every XD ever made, minus the latest, XDe. I can say that I have no issue recommending any of the XD line of pistols as long as you’re comfortable training with your carry piece on a regular basis. Some pistols can get away with a limp-wristed shooter (though certainly not recommended), but the XD will malfunction on a limp-wrist or too week of a grip.

      I know this because I’ve tested it out with a few of them, and sure enough depending on what I was doing, it would sometimes malfunction.

      Also, XD-s Specific, I’m not a big fan of the grip itself. Not sure if it’s my gorilla sized hands, or what, but the XDm is just more comfortable in my hands. I hope this helps, and thanks for the comment,


      P.S. No matter what gun you’ve got, you need to practice with it.

  3. Howard Harris on February 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    your choice of the Walther can be replaced with the Bersa thunder plus at 350.00 to 400.00 and is a double stack 15 +1 on the same frame as the ppk. I also love my Beretta 84fs 380 with a 13 + 1.


  4. Steven on February 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    I am suprised you did not include the H&K family of compacts. They are also made of a polymer frame with the steel slide it is one of my favorite weapons that I carry all the time both in my truck and on my person

  5. Shawn Rajoo on April 21, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Hi Guys, 2 really small high capacity & low budget value arms are the SCCY CPX 2 & the Taurus PT111 c. Shawn

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