What is the best 9mm for IWB carry?

What is the best 9mm for IWB carry?

Written by Mark Buff , GunZee founder and CEO.

Concealed carrying a 9mm handgun inside the waistband (IWB) is a popular option for personal defense. Choosing the right pistol requires a balance of firepower, ergonomics, accuracy, and ease of concealment.

Check out our list of the best 9mm pistols for IWB carry. We highlight some of their most notable features to help you decide which model best suits your concealed carry needs.

Quick links:

Why 9mm?

Glock 43X

Sig Sauer P365

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

Springfield Hellcat OSP

Ruger LC9s

Kimber Micro 9

How to choose?

IWB carry enthusiasts, try out the GunZee memory foam holster pad and experience a new level of concealed carry comfort.

Why is 9mm so popular?

Here are some of the main reasons why 9mm handguns have become popular picks for concealed carry:

  1. Compact 9mm sizes and weights keep them easily portable for comfortable daily concealed carry. Less heft makes a big difference over long hours.
  2. With smaller casings than rounds like .40 S&W and .45 ACP, most 9mm handgun models offer greater ammunition capacity per magazine. More shots before reloading is a key tactical consideration.
  3. As one of the most commonly produced handgun rounds, 9mm ammo is affordable and widely available. This makes practice shooting cheaper and finding fresh rounds easier.
  4. Though no firearm caliber eliminates recoil forces, most 9mm loads generate less felt recoil than larger defensive calibers. Lower recoil facilitates quicker, more accurate follow-up shots which is crucial in self-defense situations.
  5. The 9mm now provides proven stopping power for defensive use with modern bullet configurations (like hollow point rounds). The versatility of the 9mm round offers a range of options so operators can get the right ammo for their needs.

We’ve picked some of the best 9mms for IWB for easy and reliable everyday carry.

Glock 43X

Glock 43x

Glock 43X

Image source: https://us.glock.com/en/pistols/g43x-us

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.41”

Overall length

6.50”

Weight (unloaded)

18.7 oz

MSRP

$499.00


The Glock 43X shines as a concealed carry gun for those seeking a slim 9mm with enough grip to control accurately. Though single-stack, the frame is slightly wider than the G43, which allows 10-round capacity in the flush-fitting magazine. This higher capacity in a nearly identically sized package makes it easier to handle the snappy recoil of the 9mm cartridge.

The medium grip size helps mitigate felt recoil for faster follow-up shots. The grip also incorporates Gen5 styling features, such as the built-in beavertail to promote a high hold and natural point of aim.

Other features that lend well to concealed carry include the flush-mounted rear sights that won't snag, and front cocking serrations to rack the slide one-handed if injured. The serialized trigger mechanism is interchangeable with other slimline models for those who want to swap frames for different carry needs.

The G43X is particularly well-suited for inside-the-waistband concealed carry. The slimline frame and 10-round flush-fit magazine limit printing against clothing. The modest weight keeps the gun comfortable for all-day carry without sagging the waistband excessively. The aggressive grip texture and beavertail allow for a secure grasp when drawing from concealment.

“It’s a gun that’s very easy to carry IWB and absolutely disappears under a t-shirt. The large grip ensures an easy and safe draw. I do like that Glock has reinforced the beavertail on the pistol. The original Glock 43 would take chunks out of my hands with slide bite. That issue has disappeared with the Glock 43X.” —Travis Pike, Crossbreed holsters 

Sig Sauer P365

Sig Sauer P365

Sig Sauer P365. Image source: https://www.sigsauer.com/p365-380.html

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Overall length

5.8”

Weight (unloaded)

17.8 oz

MSRP

$599.99


The SIG P365 packs 10+1 rounds of 9mm into a micro-compact platform not much larger than many single-stack pistols. The petite slide tops a polymer grip long enough to allow a full 3-finger hold, offering more control than tiny subcompact designs.

Despite its size, the P365 brings full-size features to the table. The crisp XRAY3 day/night sights and narrow profile eliminate snagging while drawing from concealment. An optional 12 or 15-round extended magazine turns the micro-compact P365 into a compact-sized grip that retains concealability. The higher capacity also helps smooth out recoil for quicker shots on target.

Inside-the-waistband carriers will appreciate the P365’s thoughtful design. The flush magazine vanishes against the body without printing under light clothing. At just 17.8 ounces unloaded, the lightweight polymer frame won’t weigh down belts or pants. Texturing on the grip and high beavertail promote a consistent secure hold when drawing and handling.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Overall length

6.1”

Weight (unloaded)

17.9 oz

MSRP

$599.00


The M&P Shield Plus refines the popular Shield series for everyday carry. Subtle design tweaks make for a more shootable concealed carry gun without sacrificing concealability.

The 18-degree grip angle points naturally for rapid shots on target. Texturing on the front and back gives a secure non-slip hold. The flat-face trigger allows for superior leverage and feedback for accurate consecutive shots compared to curved triggers.

Upgraded sights stand up better to concealed carry conditions. Tactile and audible reset clicks make it obvious when the long smooth trigger resets for faster follow-ups. A streamlined snag-free profile draws cleanly from compact holsters and prevents printing under a light cover.

The lightweight polymer frame helps the Shield Plus disappear against the waistband for comfortable concealed carry. The slim profile and smooth edges also allow the pistol to be drawn cleanly from concealed carry holsters without snagging.

Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3”

Overall length

6”

Weight (unloaded)

17.9 oz

MSRP

$633.00


The aptly named Hellcat OSP raises the bar for micro-compact concealed carry pistols. Springfield Armory managed to minimize size while maximizing shootability and firepower. The diminutive Hellcat disappears against the waistband yet provides up to 13+1 rounds of 9mm on tap before reloading.

The versatile Optical Sight Package slide accepts micro red dots for enhanced aiming speed and situational awareness. Tritium U-Dot sights provide an intuitive sight picture in any lighting conditions. The grip adapts to the shooter’s hand strength for a consistently secure grasp while concealed.

The billet machined slide and hammer-forged barrel make the featherweight Hellcat durable and accurate enough for defensive use. At just 1” wide and 17.9 ounces unloaded, the Hellcat is optimized for comfortable inside-the-waistband concealed carry.

Ruger LC9s

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

3.12”

Overall length

6.0”

Weight (unloaded)

17.2 oz

MSRP

$349.99


The LC9s shines as a sub-compact carry gun great for all-day IWB carry. At just 17.2 ounces with a slim 0.9” slide, the lightweight LC9s tucks discreetly into waistbands without sagging pants or weighing down belts. The textured nylon frame improves grip security to aid drawing and firing under duress.

Manual safeties promote safe handling when reholstering the LC9s, while integrated trigger safeties instill confidence that the pistol won’t accidentally discharge inside garments. Bright iron sights deliver rapid target acquisition.

With its stainless steel slide and easy-to-manipulate controls, the Ruger LC9s offers 7+1 rounds of 9mm firepower in a super compact, ergonomic pistol purpose-built for comfortable concealed carry. The slim dimensions, and lightweight, rugged construction make the LC9s a popular choice as an inside-the-waistband sub-compact pistol.

Kimber Micro 9

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Overall length

6.1”

Weight (unloaded)

15.4 oz

MSRP

$499.99


The Kimber Micro 9 strikes an ideal balance of shootability and concealability with  7+1 rounds in a compact and lightweight platform. The slim 1" stainless steel slide profile reduces printing against clothing for seamless IWB carry, while smooth edges allow for snag-free drawing from concealment.

Textured rosewood grips offer added control and positive grip when rapidly presenting the Micro 9, despite its truncated dimensions. Low-profile 3-dot sights enable swift sight acquisition coming out of a concealed holster, while single-action operation retains intuitive 1911-style controls.

The 3.1-inch barrel utilizes a 1:16 left-hand twist rate to stabilize a variety of bullet weights, boosting the Micro 9’s versatility as a concealed EDC pistol. The angled slide release lever guard prevents accidentally engaging the release, yet allows rapid access when needed for swift slide lock manipulations.

How do I choose the right 9mm for IWB carry?

When you choose a 9mm for IWB carry, you should consider several factors. The 9mm Luger is often recommended for concealed carry due to its balanced stopping power and recoil management. 

Here are some tips for choosing the right 9mm handgun for IWB carry:

  1. Carry caliber. A caliber of at least 9mm is generally recommended for a concealed carry handgun, as it offers good stopping power. However, the recommendation shouldn't override your comfort level.
  2. Concealability. Consider the size of the handgun for concealability. Micro and subcompact pistols in 9mm are often recommended for IWB carry due to their enhanced concealability.
  3. Magazine capacity. Smaller calibers like 9mm usually allow for higher magazine capacity, which can be advantageous in self-defense situations. Consider the balance between capacity and concealability.
  4. Body type and comfort. The choice of handgun should also take into account your body type and comfort level when carrying IWB.
  5. Practice drawing. Whichever position you choose to carry your gun, it's important to practice drawing an unloaded firearm from the holster to ensure you can do it effectively if needed for self-defense.

About GunZee

GunZee is committed to making concealed carry a breeze. No more uncomfortable KYDEX holsters digging into your waist. Enhance the comfort of everyday carry with our high-performance holster pad, perfect for your EDC holster and all body types!

Our memory foam holster padding conforms to your body’s natural shape and wears like a dream. After using it, you’ll wonder where we’ve been all your life. 

Look what Corey has to say about our amazing holster pad for compacts!

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Keeping your trusted EDC piece in tip-top shape calls for our foolproof handgun cleaning kit. We've also got an all-in-one universal kit that handily covers cleaning pistols, rifles, and shotguns—basically everything you need for your firearm family.

9mms for IWB carry FAQ

What is the best 9mm for concealed carry?

The best 9mm for concealed carry is subjective and depends on various factors such as personal preference, hand size, and comfort. However, the SIG Sauer P365 and the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 are highly recommended for concealed carry due to their compact size and reliability.

What is the most reliable pistol for concealed carry?

The most reliable pistol for concealed carry is the Glock 19 Gen 5 which has a well-earned reputation as the gold standard in reliability across compact polymer frame pistols. Its workhorse simplicity paired with Gen 5 upgrades like nDLC slide finish, reversible magazine release, and flared magwell with no finger grooves reloads smoothly while enhancing durability and corrosion resistance.

What 9mm has the least recoil?

The 9mm that likely has the least felt recoil is the innovative Walther CCP M2 utilizing a gas-delayed blowback system to reduce slide resistance. This Softcoil gas piston technology results in very soft shooting follow-up shots facilitating quicker shot strings essential for compact personal defense handguns. The easy to manipulate slide also enables smooth racking ideal for recoil-sensitive shooters.

What 9mm pistol do police use?

Many police forces use the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 5 MOS as a standard reliable service pistol that stands up to heavy use. The full-size frame effectively mitigates recoil even during sustained rapid fire, while the nDLC finish boosts corrosion resistance for harsh conditions. The optics-ready slide can accept miniature red dots if desired to further enhance accuracy and target acquisition speed.

What safety is important on a concealed carry gun?

The safety features important on a CCW gun include trigger safety, a firing pin block, and manual safety. These features help prevent accidental discharges and ensure safe handling.

What is the best 9mm handgun for large hands?

An excellent 9mm handgun for large hands is the CZ P-10 F. Its full-size frame has swappable backstraps enabling optimizing grip fit feel for proper trigger finger placement and recoil control. Aggressive stippling covers the grip and sides for an incredibly secure non-slip hold, even with sweaty hands or gloves. A generous magazine capacity of 19+1 rounds of 9mm fills the substantial grip area for a comfortable grasp.

What is the most popular full-size pistol in 9mm?

The most popular full-size pistol chambered in 9mm is undoubtedly the Glock 17 Gen5, which serves as a standard issue sidearm for numerous military and police agencies worldwide. Its reputable 5th-generation updates deliver next-level durability and longevity with the corrosion-resistant nDLC finish protecting components from abrasion and rust. The generous 17+1 flush fitting magazine capacity is a tactical benefit

Which 9mm pistol is the easiest to rack?

The easiest 9mm pistol to rack is the innovative Walther CCP M2, utilizing Softcoil gas piston technology to reduce slide resistance dramatically compared to typical short recoil actions. By harnessing gasses to slow rearward movement, Walther engineered a smooth manipulating slide that is great for those with limited grip strength and recoil sensitivity without compromising function.

Which Glock is the easiest to conceal?

The Glock 43X or Glock 48 models are some of the easiest Glock pistols to conceal thanks to their extremely slimline frames sized just under 1 inch wide. They balance a 10-round magazine capacity with minimal dimensions perfect for undetectable inside the waistband carry. 

What compact 9mm has a safety?

A nice compact 9mm pistol option with a manual safety is the Sig Sauer P2022 which has a double action/single action trigger system. An accessible ergonomic decocking lever allows safely lowering the hammer providing a second strike capability on a dud primer when needed without compromising positive manipulation. The DA/SA functionality retains intuitive operation for those accustomed to carrying 1911 platform handguns.

What is the best handgun for female senior citizens?

The Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ is a good choice for female senior citizens. This gun has an easy-to-manipulate slide and crisp light trigger pull weight. Aggressive grip texturing covers the nylon polymer frame front and back enabling very secure grasp control, which is further aided by generous front and rear slide serrations. An integrated thumb safety provides additional security to prevent accidental discharge during stressful circumstances.

About the author: Mark Buff is the founder and CEO of GunZee. He is an ardent firearms enthusiast and has been carrying concealed for more than 15 years. He created GunZee to solve his own problem: that of uncomfortable KYDEX holsters. His patented GunZee memory foam holster pad makes inside-the-waistband carry super comfortable.

Further reading

What are the best concealed carry guns for seniors?

What is the most comfortable CCW holster?

What is the best 9mm single stack pistol?

How do I choose the right concealed carry pistol?

What is the best compact pistol for appendix carry?

Concealed carry revolver vs semi-auto

What is the best 9mm with grip safety?

What is the best inside the waistband holster for full-sized guns?