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  • Ray Campbell

I Ranked And Reviewed The Best Concealed Carry Handguns In 2023

Concealed carry handguns are the perfect weapon for those looking to remain clandestine, but there are a lot of options out there to choose from. Read hands-on reviews of my top ten and compare prices for new, used and certified-used guns.

FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.

1. SIG Sauer P365 - Comfortable and Accurate

SIG Sauer P365

Highlight: It’s small, checking in at just 5.8 inches in overall length, but still has a magazine size of 10 rounds. It is also quite light, weighing only 17.8 ounces.

Helpful review: "I came to enjoy shooting the little pistol and had no problems or difficulty running the gun; inserting mags, getting a grip, firing, ejecting the mag, locking the slide back, etc… The controls seem to be well located for my medium-sized hands and perfectly functional to what I’d expect. Frankly, I was expecting difficulty and never encountered any. Generally speaking, it’s a tiny pistol so shooting 9mm from it means it’s going to be snappier than a mid-sized pistol. That said, I found it very easy to control—even with a modified grip—and easy to make quick follow-up shots. This is especially true when I was using the extended magazine, where I was able to get my whole hand on the grip. I still find it amazing that this short, thin, little grip can hold a magazine with 10 rounds. It seems impossible, yet here it is.
The trigger is plastic and does not have a safety-tab rib, making it a bit more comfortable on the finger pad than most striker-fired pistols’ trigger shoes. The trigger action is very nice for a stock trigger. It has some takeup, a clear wall, and a sort of dull break (not super-crisp). The reset is quite short and a bit soft; not as tactile as you’ll find on many striker-fired pistols. I found the trigger to be very nice when running the gun and, I think, it’s a component that contributes to the easy accuracy.
The P365 has the best size-to-capacity ratio of any subcompact pistol. While small, the pistol’s ergonomic design makes it fit comfortably in the hand and the extended magazine allows most folks to get all of their fingers on the grip. For carry, the pistol is small enough to disappear onto your body no matter what carry location you choose. I found it to be easily accurate out to 15 yards, which is plenty for a subcompact. Sig has seemingly done the impossible here; squeezing 11 rounds into a super-tiny striker-fired pistol that is both comfortable and accurate. It’s the kind of thing that most concealed carriers always wish for. I have to believe that this P365 will eventually become a concealed-carry staple for lots of folks." — Andy Rutledge

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2. Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ - Excellent for Beginners

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ

Highlight: There is an easy to use trigger safety as well as a safety on the grip that is depressed when you hold the gun. There are also passive safety reminders throughout the gun, including a visual indicator when there is a round in the chamber. Aside from that, this weapon is user-friendly and simple to use.

Helpful review: "You might consider the 9 Shield EZ for the fact that it is deliberately made to be easy to rack the slide—as the spring is far softer than is found on most pistols. It is therefore well suited to people who may have trouble manipulating the slide of other pistols. You might also consider the 9 Shield EZ for the 8-round magazines that are extremely easy to load. Pull tabs on either side of the single-stack magazine allow virtually anyone to easily load the magazine to full capacity. Or you might consider it for the fact that it’s one of the few modern poly-pistols that has a grip safety; a feature that some find very appealing and comforting. Despite the prominent visual feature of the large grip safety protruding from the backstrap, I’m happy to report that it is a non-factor in running the gun. I never felt it or noted its engagement. And that’s the way it should be. Yes, it looks a bit weird when the gun is not in your hand, but it’s something one should and likely will get over.
The frame is right in what I consider to be the sweet spot for size and configuration. It’s small enough to be somewhat compact, but large enough so that you get a full grip and full control when firing. The grip features M&P’s M2.0 texture, which is pretty nice, but still not rough enough for my taste. But it’s better than you’re apt to find on most poly pistols. Loading the magazines is as easy as reported and anyone should be able to load them. Similarly, racking the slide to chamber the first round was ridiculously easy. That is one soft spring! I took my first shots for precision and slow fire to get a feel for the gun. Pretty much what I expected; neither too stout nor overly soft-shooting. If feels like a gun its size and weight should feel when shooting 9mm. It was not at all difficult to control the gun in shooting strings. I then picked up the pace.
The trigger on the 9 Shield EZ is pretty darned good. The action is smooth and the trigger breaks at around 4.5 lbs. The reset is very soft; while the spring on some pistols’ triggers push your finger forward in the reset, the EZ’s trigger reset is comparatively weak. I don’t think that’s good or bad, it’s just different from what I’ve found in most triggers. I had no trouble with the trigger and it completed what was, overall, a very easy-to-shoot experience." — Shooty McBeardface

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3. Taurus G2C - The Cheapest Option

Taurus G2C

Highlight: Aside from the price, there’s a lot to love about the Taurus G2C. For one, testers found that it is "very reliable and will never fail to fire." It also has an excellent grip, something that can come in handy during tense scenarios.

Helpful review: "This gun is very popular in the US market due to its price point, as the Millennium G2C comes in at under $250 in most shops. The magazines themselves are fairly affordable at around the $25 per piece price point and have a nice yellow follower that’s very easy to see. You can actually turn the gun parallel then tip it up slightly, and the empty magazines will still shoot out of the gun. It is really quite impressive. The magazines do not have a flush back base pad, but instead, they have a pinky extension that allows you to get all three fingers from your pinky up to your middle finger on the grip of the gun. You really can’t expect anything more from a gun at this price point. The walls of the grip are pretty thin, which makes the grip feel good in the hand. But the downside of that is there’s not enough material to chamfer on the interior of the mag well to help you guide in the magazine.
Ergonomically, the Taurus G2C feels great in the hands. This gun is really an amazing size. And considering when it was introduced in 2013, it was really ahead of its time. The only other offerings that were available then were the Glock 26 and the Glock 19 as well as the M&P series and the Glock was a chunky awkward feeling gun. The Taurus is that perfect Goldilocks size for most people. The thicker grip over something, like a single stack Smith and Wesson Shield, gives you a little confidence than a single stack would. Holding 12 rounds in the magazine doesn’t hurt either. And the gun is just thin enough that you feel like you have complete control over it.
Overall, it’s very ergonomic and easy to use. You can ride your thumb on the safety if you so wish, which is what I would suggest. The safety itself is very thin, so there’s not a whole lot of room to grab onto it. But as long as you train to use it, you’re not going to have any issues activating that safety. If you’re a new shooter, this gun is probably going to have more recoil than you would expect from handling it. It has quite a heavy slide, or at least it kind of appears heavy when you’re feeling it, and that leads to quite a decent little bit of recoil. It’s exactly what you can expect from a budget-priced gun." — Harrison

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4. Springfield XD-S - For Concealed Carry in Different Types of Clothing

Springfield XD-S

Highlight: With an overall length of 6.3 inches and a weight of 23 ounces, the XD-S definitely works well for concealed carry. It also has a 7+1 magazine, which is not bad at all. It’s easy to fire, comfortable in hand, and surprisingly controllable for a gun of its size.

Helpful review: "Springfield has been making minor tweaks to the XD-S over the years, but this time they did a major overhaul. The pistol combines many of the attributes that existing XD-S fans know and love with some upgrades that might draw a completely new following. Springfield could’ve simply rechambered the existing 45 ACP XD-S Mod.2 in 9mm. Instead they designed a new version around the 9mm round itself. By doing so, they were able to package it into a smaller frame with a slimmer profile. One of the things that keeps guys with Dremel tools and soldering irons in business is the inability or unwillingness of gun manufacturers to take a clue from their base and design their polymer frames with the kind of textures and contours that shooters love. Springfield appears to be one of the few companies that has figured out they can offer many beloved grip features right out of the box.
The Mod.2 “GripZone,” as Springfield has christened it, features three different textures around the grip to enhance shooter comfort and control. Zone 1 covers the frontstrap and lower portion of the backstrap with a skateboard-tape-style texture. Zone 2 covers the peripheral areas, where the palm and fingers wrap around the grip, offering a slightly more aggressive variation of the same texture. Zone 3 is a slick portion extending up the middle. These varying degrees of texturing make for a comfortable yet secure gripping surface that won’t rub your abdomen raw when it’s concealed under your shirt. The Mod.2 also has a higher cut tang to lower the bore axis and place the shooter’s hand closer to the slide. The deep undercut on the trigger guard combined with the extended beaver tail allows for a higher grip and provides excellent recoil management.
The Mod.2 upgrades were chosen to perfect the XD-S for everyday carry. The front sight has been upgraded to a bright AmeriGlo Pro-Glo tritium sight for quick sight acquisition during day or night. The rear sight has been replaced with Springfield’s serrated “tap-rack” sight, with a shelf that offers a positive surface to rack your slide (e.g. against a belt, boot, doorway, etc.) should one-handed slide manipulation become necessary. One surprisingly under-advertised advantage built into Springfield’s XD line of pistols is its standoff capability. During an extreme close-quarters confrontation where you might find yourself in a clinch with an attacker, it may be necessary to make a contact shot. The danger is that press contact will likely push the slide out of battery, preventing the gun from discharging. The XD series full-length guide rod protrudes slightly past the muzzle, providing a contact surface that takes the pressure off the slide and keeps the slide in battery. It’s not foolproof, but it increases the odds in your favor.
The Mod.2 has three passive safety mechanisms. The trigger safety blocks the trigger from moving to the rear unless the safety lever and trigger are depressed simultaneously. The grip safety located behind the tang must also be depressed for the gun to fire. An additional “drop-proof” striker block safety is connected to the grip safety. This prevents the striker from moving forward and striking the primer until it’s disengaged during the firing sequence. All three safeties work in unison to ensure the gun won’t go off unless it’s in your hand and you’re pulling the trigger." — Chad McBroom

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5. Glock G42 - The "Compromise" Firearm

Glock G42

Highlight: The G42 is an excellent choice for those who want to conceal carry but can’t get out to practice shooting all of the time. It is comfortable enough to ta