What is the best Smith & Wesson for concealed carry?

What is the best Smith & Wesson for concealed carry?

Smith & Wesson, a renowned leader in firearms, offers several high-quality handguns for concealed carry. Models like the M&P Shield and Bodyguard 380 are popular for their compact size and reliability, making them excellent choices for those prioritizing quality and discreet carry.

Quick links:

Shield EZ

M&P 2.0 compact

Equalizer

Shield

340PD

How to choose?

Let’s go through the best concealed carry Smith & Wessons in different calibers so you can find the right one for your needs! 

If you carry your S&W in an IWB KYDEX holster, apply our memory foam holster padding! It is so comfy, you’ll forget it's there.

Smith & Wesson Shield EZ

Shield EZ

Shield EZ

Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-9-shield-ez-manual-thumb-safety

Features

Details

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

8+1

Barrel length

3.675”

Overall length

6.8”

Width 

1.04”

Weight (unloaded)

23.81 oz

MSRP

$529.00


The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ stands out as an ideal pistol for concealed carry, home defense, and recreational shooting. The easy-to-rack slide makes this 9mm handgun accessible for those with limited hand strength, and the smooth, light trigger with audible reset allows for accuracy during rapid fire.

With an 8+1 round capacity in a slim, lightweight polymer frame, the M&P9 Shield EZ offers concealed carry versatility. The grip safety prevents accidental discharge, while tactical rails allow for the addition of accessories like lights or lasers. The white dot sights align quickly on the target, aided by an intuitive 18-degree grip angle.

The two 8-round magazines are included with load assist tabs for fumble-free reloads. The reversible magazine release, grip texture, and deep slide serrations are optimized for a wide range of hand sizes and strengths. 

Detailed features such as the tactile loaded chamber indicator and Armornite finish make the M&P9 Shield EZ a well-rounded option for shooters of all experience levels.

“Shooting the M&P9 Shield EZ was easy. Our first shots were hits. The comfortable, textured grip frame features a high cut at the back of the trigger guard, which allows for a high and secure grip on the gun. The combination of the grip and the short trigger reset made rapid follow-up shots a simple task.” —Keith Wood, Guns & Ammo

Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0

Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-9-shield-m2.0

Features

Details

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

4”

Overall length

7.25”

Width 

1.5”

Weight (unloaded)

24 oz

MSRP

$749.00


Smith & Wesson builds on the respected M&P polymer pistol platform with the new full-size M&P M2.0, optimizing critical aspects of this compact handgun for enhanced performance. The extended stainless steel chassis reduces flex for steadier shooting, while the low bore axis mitigates muzzle rise for faster follow-up shots. The M&P M2.0 further stands out with its fine-tuned crisp trigger, now with a cleaner break, lighter pull, and tactile reset.

For individualized fit, the M&P M2.0 includes four interchangeable palm swell inserts and aggressive stippling that allow shooters to tailor grip circumference and trigger reach. The optimal 18-degree grip angle lends itself to instinctive aiming and rapid target acquisition. 

The meticulously manufactured barrel ensures 1-in-10" twist accuracy. With excellent ergonomics, rugged and durable finish, customizable fit, and tuned-up trigger, the M&P M2.0 Compact pistol demonstrates Smith & Wesson’s dedication to consistent innovation. 

Smith & Wesson Equalizer

Features

Details

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.675”

Overall length

6.75”

Width 

1.04”

Weight (unloaded)

22.9 oz

MSRP

$599.00


Smith & Wesson’s Equalizer lives up to its name as an equalizing force among subcompact concealed carry pistols. Extremely easy to operate, this lightweight semi-auto packages next-generation features that enhance shooting comfort, control, and accuracy.

The easy-to-rack slide is central to the Equalizer’s draw, catering to shooters with limited grip strength and recoil tolerance. The crisp single-action trigger offers short take-up and fast reset for quicker follow-up shots. Optimized grip texture promotes weapon retention without compromising comfort for concealed carry.

Versatile 10, 13, or 15-round magazine capacities amplify its power in a remarkably compact size. The Equalizer further modernizes subcompact performance with an optics-ready slide cut and extended sight radius from a 3.675-inch barrel. 

Picatinny rails, thumb safety, durable finish, and three included mags allow shooters to feel confident and enjoy real-world defensive power.

This YouTube commenter uses the Equalizer as his EDC gun. “I’ve put a couple thousand rounds through it with no issue,” he noted.

UGC

Smith & Wesson CSX

Features

Details

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Overall length

6.1”

Width 

1.12”

Weight (unloaded)

19.5 oz

MSRP

$619.00


The uniquely slim Smith & Wesson CSX redefines micro-compact 9mm concealability without compromising shootability or capacity. Built on an aluminum frame with textured polymer backstraps, this 12+1 semi-auto handgun is highly customizable for ultimate concealed carry versatility.

Despite its compact size, the CSX refuses to compromise with features such as ambidextrous slide releases, safeties, reversible mag buttons, and a chamfered snag-free ejection port. The easy-rack slide with an EZ tab, flat face trigger with safety, and optimal 18-degree ergonomic grip angle further enhance functionality.

With slender proportions, generous capacity, responsively engineered controls, and extensively configurable fit, the CSX is perfect for operators who are looking for a reliable pistol that prioritizes concealability.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Features

Details

Caliber

.40 S&W

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Overall length

6.1”

Width 

0.95”

Weight (unloaded)

33.76 oz

MSRP

$519.00


Smith & Wesson puts the proven power of their full-sized Military & Police pistols into the new streamlined Shield model to cater to everyday carry needs. This slim striker-fired pistol retains the trusted M&P pedigree for professional-grade defensive performance within an impressively concealable package.

Despite its petite profile, the Shield offers some signature M&P features such as optimal 18-degree grip angle, aggressive grip stippling, and consistent, short trigger pull enabled by the patented no-pull takedown design.

The lightweight Shield manages recoil for all-day carry comfort through an embedded rigid chassis system. Extended and flush magazines help optimize capacity and ergonomics. 

“Great gun, never failed,” says this YouTube commenter about his Shield. 

UGC

Smith & Wesson 340PD

Features

Details

Caliber

.357 Magnum

Capacity

5+1

Barrel length

1.88”

Overall length

6.31”

Width 

1.3”

Weight (unloaded)

11.8 oz

MSRP

$1149.00


Smith & Wesson builds on their venerable J-Frame revolver repertoire with the Model 340PD, optimizing the proven concealed carry capabilities of the Centennial series for the modern era. This ultra-light snubnose packs a full-power .357 Magnum punch from a featherweight scandium and titanium alloy frame weighing just 11.8 ounces.

Despite its airy construction, the 340PD incorporates a steel barrel liner and titanium alloy cylinder rated for durability through continuous +P use. Visibility-enhancing HI-VIZ green fiber optic sights facilitate rapid sight acquisition in stressful encounters.

The snag-free, enclosed hammer allows smooth, sweep-free draws from concealment while the single-action function provides crisp trigger breaks well for precision shots under pressure. For decades of dependability, an engineered scandium frame soaks up recoil forces while resisting corrosion.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard

Features

Details

Caliber

.380 Auto

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

2.75”

Overall length

5.25”

Width 

0.75”

Weight (unloaded)

11.9 oz

MSRP

$399.00


Smith & Wesson engineered the Bodyguard 380 specifically for concealed carry, packing 6+1 rounds of .380 ACP stopping power into a high-strength polymer frame weighing just 11.9 ounces unloaded. Its compact 2.75” barrel and matte stainless slide keep the overall length barely over 5 inches, while integrated sights, ergonomic texturing, and manual thumb safety ensure practical shooting dynamics.

The double action only trigger mechanism allows second strike capability should a primer fail to ignite, while an external takedown lever-aided disassembly mirrors duty-grade M&P pistols. Though scaled down for discreet everyday carry, the Bodyguard 380 maintains shooter confidence through features like drift adjustable steel sights, sturdy slide stops, and a stainless barrel and slide that provide long-term corrosion resistance.

How do I choose the right S&W concealed carry pistol?

Smith & Wesson offers several excellent concealed carry pistols, so choosing the right one for your needs and preferences can get overwhelming. To find your best match, consider the following factors:

  • Body type. Larger pistols can be harder to conceal on petite or slender frames. Full-size grips may print significantly through clothing. But tiny pistols sacrifice controllability and ammo capacity. 
  • Hand size. A compact pistol grip that fits snugly in a smaller hand may feel cramped and awkward for someone with thicker fingers or larger palms. Conversely, generously sized grips can feel loose and unwieldy in smaller hands. 
  • Hand strength. Polymer frames help reduce fatigue compared to all-steel builds since they weigh less. This allows you to carry it comfortably for longer, but it is important to note that recoil may be sharper. Those with weaker hand strength may prefer calibers with softer recoil like 9mm over .40 S&W or .45 ACP.
  • Carry position. Guns carried in an appendix holster require a shorter barrel and grip to avoid discomfort and printing issues when sitting. Positioning a handgun at 4-5 o'clock on the hip can conceal full-size models well, especially for larger people with bigger backs.
  • Priorities. Increased ammunition capacity requires larger magazines, but guns with high round counts tend to be less concealable. If power is important alongside concealability, larger calibers like .45 ACP offer enhanced stopping power but come with more punishing recoil compared to smaller rounds.
  • Accessories. While lights, lasers, and red dot sights can enhance a pistol's capabilities, they also add bulk that is detrimental to concealed carry. Only add accessories that align with your intended use and balance their utility against concealability needs.
  • Handedness. Left-handed shooters will benefit most from ambidextrous magazine and slide releases. Though not necessary, they do provide more flexibility.

What are the pros and cons of S&W guns for concealed carry?

While Smith & Wesson concealed carry handguns have earned trusted reputations among shooters, their enduring platform designs do impose some trade-offs worth considering for individuals looking for the ideal option.

Here are some pros and cons of the Smith & Wesson concealed carry pistols:

Pros

  • Reliable and accurate. S&W has a proven track record for dutifully performing when needed. 
  • Ergonomics. Grip angles, texturing, and controls are purpose-built to perform under stress. 
  • Customization. M&P backstraps, mag releases, and sights adapt for fit, handedness, and eyesight to maximize shootability.
  • Options. From tiny J-frame revolvers to full-size guns, S&W offers a range of sizes to cater to different needs.
  • Value. Used by countless police forces and civilians, Smith & Wesson provides high-quality firearms without boutique gun price tags.

Cons

  • Capacity limits. Revolvers only hold 5-6 rounds. Single-stack semi-auto mags usually top out around 10.
  • Few accessories. Unlike open-built Glocks, most S&W models don’t offer a high level of customizability when it comes to lights and optics.
  • Thicker dimensions. S&W guns are often thicker than competing polymer options.

S&W FAQ

Why is M&P Shield so popular?

The M&P Shield is popular for several reasons. It offers a slim profile, a quality pistol grip, and a smooth, crisp trigger pull with a short reset, making it a great fit for concealed carry. Additionally, it is reliable, accurate, and has a reasonable cost, making it an attractive option.

Is Glock or S&W better?

Glock and S&W are both reputable firearm manufacturers, and the choice between them depends on individual preferences. Both brands offer a range of models with different features, so it's essential to consider factors such as ergonomics, reliability, capacity, and concealability when determining which is better for a specific purpose.

What is more powerful: 9mm or .40 Shield?

The power of a 9mm or .40 Shield depends on various factors such as bullet design and powder load. The .40 Shield has a larger bullet and more energy than a 9mm, making it more powerful. Keep in mind that the 9mm offers higher magazine capacity and less recoil, which can be advantageous in certain situations.

What pistol round is the best for personal defense?

The best pistol round for personal defense is subjective and depends on individual needs and preferences. The 9mm is a popular choice due to its manageable recoil, good terminal ballistics, and consistent availability. However, some people prefer the larger caliber and heavier bullet of the .40 S&W for personal defense.

Which is the no.1 revolver in the world?

Smith & Wesson emerges as the world's number one revolver manufacturer through continuous innovation of iconic American designs. Some of the best models include the Chief's Special snub nose J-Frames, and the modern Model 686 delivering full-power .357 Magnum loads from a masterfully crafted stainless steel frame.

Are revolvers better for concealed carry?

Revolvers have advantages and disadvantages for concealed carry. They are known for their simplicity and reliability, but they typically have a lower ammunition capacity compared to semi-automatic pistols. Revolvers are also usually bulkier than pistols due to their cylinder design and larger calibers. 

Whether or not a revolver is better for concealed carry depends on individual preferences and needs.

Which revolver is better: Colt or Smith & Wesson?

Colt revolvers are rich in history, but they cannot match the accuracy of modern Smith & Wesson revolvers. S&W uses upgraded materials and production methods. They combine precise computerized machining with expert hand-fitting designs. As a result, Smith & Wesson revolvers deliver unmatched out-of-the-box accuracy and shootability. This makes them better suited for concealed carry and home defense.

What sights are important for a CCW gun?

Iron sights, including both front and rear sights, are an important feature of a CCW. While red dot sights offer advantages such as improved accuracy and faster target acquisition, iron sights provide reliability and precision, especially at longer ranges. 

The rear sight, typically rectangular with a "U" shaped notch or a "V" shape, plays a crucial role in aligning with the front sight for accurate aiming. Some shooters choose to customize their rear sights, such as by blacking them out for better contrast and focus on the front sight.

Further reading

What are the best double-action revolvers for concealed carry?

What is the best Smith & Wesson for women?

What is the best IWB holster for women?

What is the best AIWB holster?

What is the best snub nose 38 Special revolver for backup?

What are the best CCW guns for big guys?

What is the best IWB KYDEX holster?

What is the best compact handgun for IWB carry?