What is the best full-size 9mm for concealed carry?

What is the best full-size 9mm for concealed carry?

Written by Mark Buff, GunZee founder and CEO.

Full-sized 9mm pistols are a great choice for range shooting and self-defense, providing superior recoil control and accuracy. But they are less ideal for concealed carry than compact and micro-compact concealed carry pistols.

Full-size guns offer greater magazine capacity but can be cumbersome for daily carry, so the decision between convenience and size is all up to you.

Quick links:

Glock 17

Springfield Armory Echelon

S&W M2.0

Walther PDP

CZ P-09

How to choose?

Issues with full-size guns

With GunZee’s large holster pad, your concealed weapon carry will be more comfortable than ever before!

Glock 17

Glock 17

Glock 17. Image source: https://us.glock.com/en/pistols/g17

Feature

Details

Magazine capacity

17+1

Barrel length

4.49”

Overall length

8.03”

Weight

22.05 oz

Sights

Fixed sights

MSRP

$499.00


The Glock 17's design enhances its utility as a personal defense pistol, including front slide serrations for easy manipulation and a precision-machined slide to tight tolerances. Other user-friendly features are an ambidextrous slide release, reversible magazine release, and a grip with a flared mag well to support swift reloads.

With its Safe Action trigger system, the G17 is safe and enables quick, precise shots during rapid firing. The accessory rail also accepts today’s tactical lights and lasers. The standard white-dot sights acquire quickly in dim conditions yet remain drift adjustable for fine-tuning.

The Glock 17 is easy to learn how to operate and maintain, making it an ideal choice for new shooters.

It is a popular choice for law enforcement officers and military personnel around the globe.

Pros

  • Extremely reliable and durable
  • Easy to disassemble and maintain
  • High magazine capacity
  • Light recoil and accurate shooting
  • Tested and trusted reputation
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Large grip makes it sub-optimal for small hands
  • No manual safety

“Really can’t beat this firearm… it’s just that good,” says this YouTube commenter about his G17.

UGC

Springfield Armory Echelon

ECHELON™ 9MM HANDGUN

ECHELON™ 9MM.

Image source: https://www.springfield-armory.com/echelon-series-handguns/echelon-handguns/echelon-45-9mm-handgun/

Feature

Details

Magazine capacity

17+1

Barrel length

4.5”

Overall length

8”

Weight

23.9 oz

Sights

Tritium dot sights

MSRP 

$679.00


The Echelon’s centralized operating group (COG) provides a self-contained, serialized housing for the patent-pending operating system, improving accuracy and durability.

The Echelon comes equipped with fast-acquiring tritium U-Dot sights. The U-Dot system provides an intuitive, heads-up sight picture for rapid target acquisition. The tritium gives the sights bright visibility in all lighting conditions. 

The Echelon's most innovative feature is the variable interface system (VIS) for mounting optics. By utilizing movable pins, the VIS enables a low, direct-mount platform for a wide variety of optic solutions. This level of adaptability paired with an unparalleled, heads-up sight picture gives the Echelon tremendous flexibility and ease of use.

The Echelon's full grip size and modular ambidextrous design make it ergonomically friendly for those with larger hands or flexibility constraints. Its standardized COG system and focus on adaptability also lend well to new shooters configuring their first-duty weapon.

Pros

  • Modular design allows for customization
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • Red dot compatibility
  • Excellent ergonomics and grip texture

Cons

  • Among the more expensive firearms covered in this article
  • Tritium sights don't offer brightness adjustments like fiber optics

This redditor says “Echelon 9mm is the best 9mm I have ever shot.”

UGC

Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. Image source: 

Feature

Details

Magazine capacity

17+1

Barrel length

4.25

Overall length

7.4”

Weight

27.8 oz

Sights

White dot front, adjustable 2-dot rear (tritium night sights optional)

MSRP 

$629.00


The Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 is a striker-fired pistol. An extended stainless steel chassis fits a wide range of hand sizes with an ergonomic full-size grip profile. 

The grip features an aggressive new texture pattern that provides enhanced traction and retention through rapid-fire sequences. This combines with an intuitive 18-degree grip angle derived from the trusted S&W M&P line.

White dot front and adjustable rear sights enable fast sight alignment and target acquisition. Optional TruGlo TFO sets add low-light visibility for superb optics across all conditions.

A tactile, audible, flat-face trigger delivers precise single-action breaks with a discernible reset characteristic. This trigger optimizes control and shot-to-shot accuracy while an embedded safety blade provides further reinforcement.

Pros:

  • Low barrel bore axis makes it more comfortable to shoot
  • Optimal 18-degree grip angle
  • Four interchangeable palmswell grip options for optimal hand fit and trigger reach
  • Aggressive grip texture for enhanced control
  • Extended, rigid, and embedded stainless steel chassis
  • Armornite® durable corrosion-resistant finish.

Cons:

  • Heavier than polymer-only framed pistols
  • More expensive than other options

Walther PDP

Feature

Details

Magazine capacity

18+1

Barrel length

4.5”

Overall length

8”

Weight

22.3 oz

Sights

3-dot sights

MSRP 

$699.00


The Walther PDP’s optics-ready slide comes complete with adjustable steel sights. The frame incorporates ample texture for weapon control along with an extended, ergonomic grip for intuitive handling.

A Precision Duty Trigger delivers exceptional feel and control with a light take-up and crisp break, while large steel magazines hold an impressive 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Front and rear cocking supports ensure positive manipulation, with an easy-access disassembly latch for straightforward field-stripping and maintenance.

With its long slide and full-size frame offering a balanced weight distribution, the PDP is ideal for those with small hands looking for a full-sized gun.

Pros:

  • Optics-ready slide with adjustable steel sights installed
  • Excellent ergonomics and modular grip customization
  • Crisp 4.5 lb Precision Duty Trigger
  • High 18+1 round capacity
  • Ambidextrous controls and charging supports

Cons:

  • Slide optic mounting requires separately purchased adapter plates
  • Larger grip and heavier
  • On the higher end for polymer duty pistol pricing

Although he doesn’t “like how snappy [PDP] is”, this redditor is “pretty happy with it generally.”

UGC

CZ P-09

Feature

Details

Magazine capacity

19+1

Barrel length

4.52”

Overall length

8.1”

Weight

30 oz

Sights

Luminescent

MSRP 

$489.00


The P-09's updated polymer grip includes interchangeable backstraps to customize fit feel for shooters. Front and back strap texturing enable positive retention when firing, complemented by a set of three-dot steel tactical sights for rapid sight picture alignment.

The P-09 comes standard with a cold hammer-forged barrel resistant to shot erosion for preserving precision as round counts climb.

The CZ's Omega trigger system enables single and double-action capability through an integrated decocker. In single action mode, it provides precise 4-4.5 pound pulls while retaining safety decocking conversion. This combines with an oversized trigger guard and beveled magazine for seamless manipulations.

Pros:

  • Good price
  • High magazine capacity 
  • Minimal recoil
  • Sizable, comfortable grip
  • It comes with interchangeable backstraps and two baseplates

Cons:

  • Lack of built-in rail for pistol lights
  • Not many aftermarket parts

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

How do I choose the right full-size 9mm for concealed carry?

Balance shootability and defensive effectiveness with comfort and concealability when you’re choosing the best full-size 9mm for CCW

Here are some priorities you should follow:

  • Ergonomics. Consider backstrap configurations, grip textures like stippling, and control positioning that enables consistent draw grip and weapon retention. Natively ambidextrous operation is also a plus.
  • Concealment. Carry profile matters, so examine slide and frame milling options and look for rounded edges that prevent snagging.
  • Trigger quality. Look for 4-5 lb clean breaks with short resets for reliable precision.
  • Optics compatibility. Find options with slides cut for popular optic footprints that allow for  backup iron sight use and improve concealment capability.
  • Reliability reputation. Opt for options based on actual round count testing data rather than just trends or marketing claims.
  • Holster options. Think about how you will be carrying and what holster options you have before you make your final choice.

Why are full-sized guns good for concealed carry?

Full-sized handguns, when properly set up for concealment, offer underrated everyday carry capability. While smaller compact pistols minimize detection signatures, full-size pistols feature better ergonomics, sight radius, and magazine capacity.

Advantages full-sized pistols have compared to their smaller counterparts include

  1. Accuracy. Full-size guns typically have longer barrels that allow the bullet more time to stabilize in flight, leading to a more accurate shot.
  2. Recoil management. Larger guns often have better recoil management due to their increased weight and size. 
  3. Ammunition capacity. Full-size guns often have larger magazines and hold more ammo before needing to be reloaded.
  4. Durability. Larger guns are often more robust and durable, can withstand more wear and tear, and are often designed for heavy-duty use.
  5. Range. Due to a combination of factors, including the longer barrel length and the ability to use larger, more powerful ammunition, full-size guns have a longer effective range.
  6. Frame size. Full-size pistol frames can accommodate a wide variety of calibers and slides while sharing magazines and providing a consistent grip feel.
  7. Accessory compatibility. Full-size guns can often accommodate a wider range of accessories and modifications, such as scopes, suppressors, and extended magazines. 

These advantages come with trade-offs. Full-size guns are typically heavier and less convenient to carry, which can be a disadvantage for concealed carry or personal protection. They may also be more difficult to handle for individuals with smaller hands or less physical strength. 

Full-size 9mm FAQ

What 9mm pistol is good for concealed carry?

The Sig Sauer P365 XL is a good 9mm pistol for concealed carry. It combines 12+1 9mm capacity with a compact size that's easy to conceal while still allowing a full firing grip for recoil control, aided by a 3.7" barrel length that limits velocity loss. Its durable stainless chassis withstands excessive use.

Which 9mm pistol has the highest capacity?

Full-size duty pistols like the FN 509 Tactical offer impressive 24+1 round capacity thanks to double stack magazines, setting the bar high for 9mm handguns.

Which caliber is best for concealed carry?

9mm Luger remains the overall best concealed carry caliber with great stopping power, recoil control, magazine capacity, and general availability. Modern bullet designs enable 9mm rounds to penetrate deeply and expand reliably from short pistol barrels.

Which 9mm bullet is best for self-defense?

Leading hollow points like Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, and Hornady Critical Duty balance penetration depth and consistent performance thanks to specifically engineered nose cavities making them great for self-defense purposes.

What is the best size for concealed carry?

Compact pistols spanning 3-4" barrel lengths with shorter grips enable comfortable IWB carry while retaining enough sight radius, velocity, and round capacity for accurate defensive use, making them great general-use CCW options.

Can you conceal a full-size Glock?

Yes, with a proper concealed carry IWB KYDEX holster, combined with an untucked cover garment, full-size handguns can be carried out of sight.

Is Glock 45 too big for concealed carry?

The Glock 45 is not too big for concealed carry. It utilizes a slimline SF grip frame for improved concealability. The shorter barrel does give up some velocity in comparison to a Glock 17 but allows for discreet transportation and increased comfort.

Is a .38 or 9mm better for concealed carry?

9mm is generally superior for concealed carry purposes thanks to higher capacity, energy transfer, and more reliable expansion potential compared to .38 Special ammunition. However, .38 Spl +P retains its appeal in compact revolvers.

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

The best single-stack Glock

The best deep concealment pistol

What is the best concealed carry handgun for women?

The best subcompact pistols

What are the best micro-compact pistols?

The best concealed carry firearm without manual safety

What is the best concealed carry handgun for seniors?

How do I choose the right concealed carry gun?