What is the best double-action concealed carry pistol?

What is the best double-action concealed carry pistol?

Written by Mark Buff , GunZee founder and CEO.

Double-action pistols provide extra versatility and reliability. If the first shot fails, the double-action trigger mechanism allows for a faster follow-up shot. 

This design feature allows the gun to be fired without needing to manually cock back the hammer. Double-action pistols are often used for self-defense, concealed carry, and by law enforcement due to their versatility and ease of use.

Check out our top picks and find out which double-action concealed carry pistol may work best for you.

Quick links:

Keltec P32

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard

Sig Sauer P250

Ruger LCR

Kahr Arms CW9

Get our memory foam pad if you’re carrying your pistol in a rigid KYDEX holster to avoid uncomfortable chafing and gouging. It makes everyday carry a breeze!

Keltec P32

Keltec P32

Keltec P32. Image source: https://www.keltecweapons.com/firearm/pistols/p32/

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

2.7”

Overall length

5.1”

Weight (unloaded)

6.6 oz

Trigger pull

5 lbs

Sights

Front: fixed post

Rear: fixed notch


The KelTec P32 stands as one of the lightest .32 ACP pistols on the handgun market. Its aluminum frame and steel slide keep weight under 10 ounces while maintaining durability. Its shorter barrel maximizes concealability while retaining enough sight radius for defensive shooting at close distances.

The hammer-fired trigger provides a long but manageable trigger pull and protects against unintentional firing or negligent discharges better than lighter, striker-fired options. Ambidextrous controls accommodate both right-handed and left-handed shooters.

Aggressive rear slide serrations allow robust manipulation and cycling of the slide. Manual safety levers on both sides ensure an extra layer of security against unintentional discharge.

With a capacity of 7+1 rounds, the P32 offers more shots per magazine than most pocket pistols. The thin grip frame fits most hand sizes for optimal concealment. A matte black Tenifer finish resists corrosion and scratches during daily carry. 

“On the whole, the Kel-Tec P32 exceeded my expectations, though my expectations were admittedly low. The gun was easy to shoot well and is very easy to carry. The only concerns I have are with reliability. But these are more problems with the .32 ACP cartridge than with the design of the gun.” —Everett C. Baudean, USA Carry

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard.

Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-bodyguard-380

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

2.75”

Overall length

5.25”

Weight (unloaded)

11.9 oz

Trigger pull

6.5 lbs

Sights

Front: stainless steel dovetail 

Rear: windage adjustable stainless steel dovetail


The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard stands out as an ultra-compact .380 ACP pistol. Its lightweight polymer frame enables comfortable all-day carry. The short barrel retains enough sight radius for defensive shooting at typical distances with optimized concealability.

The notably slim profile effortlessly slips into pockets or waistbands without printing. The double-action-only trigger provides a smooth, consistent pull.

Pronounced slide release allows for positive cycling and charging without slipping. The ergonomic controls enable intuitive single-hand operation.

With a 6+1 round capacity, the Bodyguard is a highly concealable option with solid firepower. The textured grip allows a secure draw from concealment. Durable construction stands up to the rigors of daily carry.

Sig Sauer P250 Compact

Sig Sauer P250 Compact

Sig Sauer P250 Compact.

Image source:  https://www.sigsauer.com/media/sigsauer/resources/17SIG2388_P250OwnersManual_8501487-01REV02_proof.pdf

Features

Details

Capacity

9+1

Barrel length

3.9”

Overall length

7.2”

Weight (unloaded)

29.4 oz

Trigger pull

10 lbs

Sights

3-dot sights


The Sig Sauer P250 stands out as an extremely adaptable and modular pistol. Like its larger P250 siblings, the compact model features a modular chassis that allows interchanging calibers, frames, slides, and barrels. Its ergonomic grip texture provides positive control during shooting.

The shortened barrel profile aids with concealed carry while retaining enough sight radius for defensive accuracy at close range.

The P250 Compact’s reduced dimensions combined with 9+1 capacity in 9mm retain sufficient firepower for defensive use. The consistent trigger characteristics across P250 sizes foster seamless training for operators moving between compact and full-sized frames.

The steel sights provide durable aim acquisition, while aggressive front and back strap checkering give a secure, ergonomic grip texture. 

Ruger LCR 

Features

Details

Capacity

5

Barrel length

1.875”

Overall length

6.5”

Weight (unloaded)

17.10 oz

Trigger pull

10 lbs

Sights

Fixed rear sights


The Ruger LCR delivers lightweight, concealed-carry capability as a small-frame double-action revolver. An aluminum alloy frame with a stainless steel cylinder keeps weight under 18 ounces for easy carry. The short barrel provides a balance between concealability and sight radius.

A high-strength polymer fire control housing manages recoil for smooth shooting. A crisp trigger break promotes accuracy in rapid firing, while a textured trigger guard aids rapid-fire weapon control.

The LCR handles +P loads for extra firepower and self-defense. The included Hogue Tamer grip manages recoil with cushioning while texturing aids weapon retention. Steel integral sights allow target acquisition, while the enclosed hammer is less prone to snagging on clothing.

With a 5-round capacity in .38 Special +P, the Ruger LCR brings an ideal balance of power, capacity, and concealability. A perfect discreet personal protection option for both new and experienced shooters.

“It [Ruger LCR] is one of the lightest in its class with the same characteristics of other J Frame revolvers. It is light, small, durable, concealable, and dependable. It is a gun that will serve you well within the niche it is intended for.” —Christian Gun Owner

Kahr Arms CW9

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

3.6”

Overall length

5.42”

Weight (unloaded)

15 oz

Trigger pull

8 lbs

Sights

Drift adjustable, white bar-dot


The Kahr CW9 is a slim polymer-framed concealed carry gun. The lightweight polymer construction keeps weight under 1 pound. The short barrel retains accuracy at close defensive distances and allows for effective concealed carry.

The textured grip manages recoil while providing weapon retention and control. Drift adjustable sights allow fast targeting on the draw.

The CW9 takes standard 9mm rounds for accessible ammunition with manageable recoil. The flush-fitting 7+1 capacity magazines provide decent firepower without printing. The enclosed hammer and smooth trigger prevent snags during quick draws from concealment.

With its lightweight polymer frame, smooth DAO trigger, drift sights, and 7+1 9mm capacity, the Kahr CW9 offers an optimal balance of concealability, shooting comfort, and defensive firepower in a reliable CCW pistol.

With our holster padding, your DAO pistol will disappear under clothing for effective concealed carry—get one today.

What is double action?

The term double-action or double-action-only (DAO) refers to firearms that need two actions to fire a round. The double-action trigger needs to accomplish two tasks to fire each round:

  1. Cock the hammer or striker back into position, compressing the spring to prepare the mechanism for firing.
  2. Release the cocked hammer or striker to drop and strike the cartridge primer, discharging the round.

Unlike single-action designs, double-action modes do not require manual arming of the hammer or striker before shooting. 

The term "double action" refers directly to the trigger pull tension completing both the cocking and subsequent release of the firing mechanism for each shot fired.

Why are double-action guns good for concealed carry?

Here are some of the main reasons why double-action firearms are well-suited for concealed carry:

  1. Smoother, snag-free draw. Since there is no need to manually cock the hammer before firing, a double-action gun has a smooth trigger pull from start to finish. This makes it less likely to catch on clothing during a quick draw from a concealed carry holster.
  2. Increased safety. Heavy DA trigger pulls (8-12 lbs) reduce the risk of an unintended discharge if the trigger is accidentally brushed up against while carrying. This safety margin is important for concealed guns stored near vital organs.
  3. Second strike capability. If there is a failure to fire due to a bad primer, a DA trigger allows the user to just pull the trigger again since it automatically cocks and releases the hammer. 
  4. Consistent trigger pull. The heavy trigger pull is present for every shot so there is no change in pull weight or travel between the first shot and follow-up shots. 

Double action vs single action

While both double-action and single-action handguns offer unique strengths, their trigger mechanisms create key trade-offs in different functions.

Feature

Double action

Single action

Trigger operation

Pulls back and releases hammer or striker

Releases only, hammer cocked separately

Trigger pull weight

Heavy, typically 10lbs+

Light, usually 4-6lbs

Trigger pull distance

Long

Short

Pull consistency

Same for all shots

Changes after first shot

Second strike capacity

Yes

No

Manual cocking required

No

Yes, for each shot after first

Safety

Heavy pull prevents unintentional discharge

Less safe

Precision shooting

Less optimal

Very accurate due to light, crisp trigger

Concealed carry suitability

Excellent—smooth draw, no cocking

Poor—can snag on clothing


Double-action concealed carry FAQ

Is double-action safe for carry?

Double-action handguns are very safe options for concealed carry. The long, heavy trigger pull typically requires over 10 pounds of force, which helps guard against unintended firing. This safety margin gives even novice CCW holders confidence in keeping a round chambered safely.

Why would you want a double-action pistol?

Double-action semi-auto pistols provide excellent functionality for defensive concealed carry. They offer second-strike capability if a round fails, smooth draws that won’t snag clothing, and consistency with the same trigger pull from the first shot to the last allowing solid muscle memory. 

Do you need to pull the hammer back on a double-action revolver?

You do not need to manually pull back the hammer on a double-action revolver. The long, heavy trigger pull serves to cock the hammer back as well as release it to fire each shot.

Which caliber is best for concealed carry?

While personal preference varies, 9mm ammunition is the best CCW caliber choice as it minimizes recoil and allows for accurate follow-up shots, while providing sufficient stopping power for self-defense situations. The 9mm bullet provides a solid balance of capacity, stopping power, and shootability.

Which is better, a single or double-action pistol?

There is no definitively “better” action type. Double-action mode favors concealed carry, consistency, and second-strike ability. Single-action pistols have superior precision shooting capabilities through light, crisp trigger breaks—but require more diligent safety procedures.

Are Glocks double-action pistols?

No, Glocks operate with an internal “Safe Action” striker-fired mechanism with a consistent trigger pull of around 5.5 pounds for each shot. So while not a true double-action pistol, they do avoid requiring a manual cocking stroke before shooting.

What is a triple-action pistol?

A triple-action pistol builds off double-action capability allowing repeated strikes via a second internal hammer/striker mechanism if the first malfunctions, providing backup ignition not seen on other pistol formats. They are still very rare.

Which are better—striker or hammer-fired pistols?

Both hammer-fired and striker-fired guns offer reliable functionality. Strikers are often favored for concealed carry since they avoid an external hammer spur that could snag. But hammer types provide a second-strike ability if the primer fails to ignite.

What are the most popular duty handguns?

The most popular handguns for police and military use include venerable options such as:

  • Glock 17 and 19
  • Sig Sauer P226 and P320
  • Smith & Wesson M&P
  • Heckler & Koch VP9
  • Beretta M9
  • FN 5.7
  • CZ P-10

These reliable pistols combine high capacity, accuracy, and shooting comfort for demanding professionals.

Do all striker-fired pistols have grip safeties?

No, grip safeties are not universally present across all striker-fired triggers and service pistols. Some models like Springfield XDs integrate grip safeties into the polymer frame as an extra drop-safeguard, while guns like Glocks rely solely on their firing pin block.

Does lighter trigger pull help accuracy?

Lighter trigger pulls around 4-5 lbs with a clean break characteristic allow greater precision and potentially tighter shot groups compared to heavier pulls requiring more force to fire.

What are the advantages of striker-fired triggers?

Striker-fired trigger systems dispense with an external hammer in favor of an internal striker to ignite cartridges upon firing. This provides a consistent trigger pull and avoids potential hammer snagging during concealed carry.

Which grip angle allows faster target acquisition?

More natural grip angles between 105-115° minimize wrist torque for quicker instinctive pointing and target acquisition after the draw, compared to perpendicular grips.

Do full-size grips assist control during a rapid-fire?

Full-size grip frames with higher round capacity magazines provide ample surface area for a secure grasp, helping mitigate muzzle rise and maintain solid arm extension for faster follow-up shots.

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.

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