What is the best semi-auto handgun for concealed carry?

What is the best semi-auto handgun for concealed carry?

Semi-automatic are popular concealed carry weapons. They offer versatility and reliability for personal defense and can be carried discreetly.

Let’s highlight a selection of the best semi-auto concealed carry guns and learn more about their unique design features and functionalities.

Quick links:

What is a semi-auto pistol?

Glock 19

Sig Sauer P365

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield

Springfield Hellcat

Ruger MAX-9

Kimber Micro 9

Taurus G3C

Walther PPS M2

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What is a semi-auto pistol?

semi-automatic pistol, commonly called a semi-auto, is a handgun that fires a single shot each time the trigger is pulled, automatically loading the next cartridge into the chamber. This allows for better rapid firing than bolt-action or lever-action pistols. 

Semi-autos use the energy from each shot to eject the spent casing and chamber the next round, reducing the effort required between shots. 

The term "semi-automatic" refers to the mechanism that enables this self-loading action, not the rate of fire. Semi-auto guns fire only one round per trigger pull, in contrast to fully automatic firearms which will continuously fire as long as the trigger is held. 

Let’s explore some of the best concealed carry semi-auto pistols and highlight important features to consider.

Glock 19

Glock 19

Glock 19

Image source: https://us.glock.com/en/pistols/g19

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

15+1

Barrel length

4.02”

Weight (unloaded)

21.16 oz

MSRP

$499.99


The ever-popular Glock 19 packs impressive capabilities into a versatile concealed carry package. This 9mm measures 7.36 inches long and 5.04 inches tall, and weighs in at just over 21 ounces unloaded. The G19 also offers a slim 1.18-inch profile for discreet carry.

With a standard 15+1 round capacity, compact size, and proven reliability, the striker-fired G19 is an excellent CCW for all experience levels.

The grip features texturing for friction and rubberized finger grooves for control during rapid fire. Interchangeable backstraps accommodate multiple hand sizes for improved accuracy. A tactical rail allows the addition of lights and lasers.

Concealed carriers rank Glock reliability among the industry’s best. The 19 combines these robust internals with ideal dimensions and capacity for concealed purposes. The G19 hits the sweet spot for personal defense and concealed carry needs.

Sig Sauer P365

Sig Sauer P365 i

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

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Weight (unloaded)

17.8 oz

MSRP

$499.99


The Sig Sauer P365 packs a 10+1 round capacity into a micro-compact pistol. At just 5.8 inches long and 1 inch wide, the nitron polymer-framed pistol conceals with ease. The high capacity is made possible by a double-stack configuration. A flush-fit magazine keeps the P365 slim for discreet carry purposes. 

Despite the diminutive size, a textured polymer grip frame enables a secure hold and reasonable control. The nitrided carbon steel barrel and stainless steel slide assembly promote durability in the field. XRay3 day and night sights come standard to aid shooting in varied lighting. 

A snag-free design, easily concealed size, striker-fired trigger, and the enviable reputation of Sig quality come together in the P365. This pistol presents a well-rounded micro-compact package optimized for discreet everyday carry, backed by Sig's proven reliability.

“Practical accuracy is very good and it's an easy pistol to run. Due to its small size and relatively lightweight you can expect more muzzle jump than a larger and heavy 9mm. This does slow down follow-up shots a tad. But, in my opinion, it performs very well for its size, and I greatly preferred it over my Glock 43.” —David M. Fortier, Firearms news

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

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

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.1”

Weight (unloaded)

20.2 oz

MSRP

$499.99


The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus packs 10+1 flush-fit capacity into a compact, extremely thin, and lightweight polymer-framed pistol optimized for concealed carry purposes.

With an optimal 18-degree grip angle for a natural point of aim and an enhanced grip texture to promote recoil control, the Shield Plus enables accurate shot placement during rapid shooting sequences. The flat-faced trigger guard allows for comfortable and repeatable shooting.

Disassembly is safe and tool-free thanks to M&P’s patented take-down lever and sear deactivation systems. The model includes both 13-round and 10-round magazine options to balance higher capacity with more concealability when needed.

Tactile and audible trigger reset, Armornite's durable corrosion-resistant finish, and low weight complete the everyday carry capabilities. The Shield Plus hits all the key technical and performance marks to shine as a versatile next-generation concealed carry firearm.

“Overall, I’m pleased with Smith & Wesson’s new M&P9 Shield Plus. It’s a great addition to the market and offers the enhanced capacity and utility that personal-defense practitioners have come to expect. For fans of American-made M&P pistols, including the trendsetting Shield lineup, the Shield Plus is sure to be a favorite. And for me, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to reunite with a familiar companion.” —Joe Kurtenbach Gunx & Ammo, 

Springfield Armory Hellcat

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

11+1

Barrel length

3”

Weight (unloaded)

18.3 oz

MSRP

$569.99


As the world’s highest capacity micro-compact 9mm pistol, the Springfield Hellcat has an admirably slim subcompact frame measuring just 1” wide. Weighing 18.3 oz empty, the 3” barreled Hellcat offers concealed carry capability with class-leading capacity.

The hammer-forged barrel and high visibility U-Dot sights team up to make the Springfield Hellcat a straight-shooting micro-compact perfect for everyday carry. Users can also opt for the OSP configuration featuring a milled slide accepting today’s most popular micro red dots, like the HEX Wasp and Shield RMSc.

With an aggressive grip texturing and a Gen 2 flat trigger for excellent ergonomic comfort, the Hellcat handles well without compromising concealability. Reversible mag releases, loaded chamber indicators, and non-proprietary rails round out the feature set.

Top slide serrations aid slide manipulation for rapid follow-up shots. A non-proprietary accessory rail allows for optics and light customization. The included flush 11-round and extended magazine options balance concealability with extra capacity.

This YouTube reviewer loves the Hellcat because of its concealability and reliability.

UGC

Ruger MAX-9

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.2”

Weight (unloaded)

18.4 oz

MSRP

$439.99


The Ruger MAX-9’s magazine capacity of 10+1 rounds is packed into a compact frame measuring just 6” in overall length. Weighing 18.4 oz, the concealed carry-focused MAX-9 features an alloy steel barrel and slim 0.95” through-hardened alloy steel slide.

With an optics-ready slide, the MAX-9 readily accepts JPoint and Shield pattern micro red dots via a milled slide. High visibility tritium fiber optic sights come standard for easy acquisition. The glass-filled nylon grip enables secure control thanks to light stippling.

A short, clean-breaking striker-fired trigger activates the fire control group machined into a one-piece precision chassis for consistent pull. Multiple safeties ensure reliable operation, while reversible mag releases offer versatility.

The MAX-9 combines Ruger durability with concealed carry refinements such as optics mounting, generous 12-shot capacity, and snag-free manipulation in an EDC-friendly package.

Kimber Micro 9

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.15”

Weight (unloaded)

15 oz

MSRP

$499.99


With an aluminum frame, the Micro 9 weighs only 15 ounces unloaded for easy carry. The satin silver finish on the slide complements the matte black frame nicely. Sights utilize a low snag tritium 3-dot night sight picture.

The operation uses a single action trigger with a smooth 5-pound pull. The Micro 9 is compatible with a variety of ammunition without adjustments.

The grip frame has finely checkered rosewood panels that provide a secure hold and an elegant look. Forward and rear slide serrations allow easy manipulation of the slide. For concealed carry, an ambidextrous thumb safety provides added security.

The Micro 9 is great for shooters with small hands as well as those who prioritize mild recoil and enough power for self-defense.

Taurus G3C

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

12+1

Barrel length

3.2”

Weight (unloaded)

22 oz

MSRP

$339.99


The Taurus G3C packs an impressive 12+1 rounds of 9mm into a relatively lightweight 22-ounce polymer frame. Smooth rounded edges promote snag-free draws from appendix holsters.

Striker-fired operation offers excellent control via a short, tactile trigger reset for faster follow-up shots. Ambidextrous controls (ambi manual safeties and reversible mag releases) accommodate left or right-handed shooters. Textured grip ergonomics cling securely to maintain aim through recoil.

A Tenifer finish resists wear while the stainless barrel fights off corrosion. Red dot optics pair well with the snappy fiber optic front sight. At a budget-friendly price, the G3C combines generous capacity, an easy-to-conceal footprint, and out-of-the-box personalization in a reliable concealed carry handgun.

This Cabela’s reviewer is satisfied with his G3C.

UGC

Walther PPS M2

Feature

Detail

Caliber

9mm

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.2”

Weight (unloaded)

19.4 oz

MSRP

$479.99


The PPS M2 provides an improved ergonomic design over the original model with better grip texturing and contour for enhanced control and comfort. The shorter trigger break also boosts shooting accuracy.

Reliability is a priority, with tested flawless functioning across ammunition types and a polished feed ramp to prevent jams, even with hollow points.

The rear slide serrations and reversible magazine release are smoother and easier to manipulate than the original PPS. Low-light sights also provide better visibility in darker environments.

The polymer frame may feel cheaper than metal alternatives, and the minimal sights sacrifice long-range accuracy.

“The spring of the PPS M2 is on the stiffer side and yet with more than a dozen loads tested I have yet to experience any reliability issues. What has been experienced is a recoil impulse unusually pleasant for such a small gun.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Walther PPS M2 behaves more like a comfortable bigger gun than a single-stack 9mm.” —Graham Baates, Gun University

Factors to consider in semi-autos

Not all handguns are created equal. These key considerations can make finding the perfect semi-auto easier.

  • Size and weight. Compact and subcompact options suit smaller frames. Lightweight polymer construction helps avoid fatigue.
  • Caliber. Low recoil rounds like .380 ACP and 9mm work better for beginners and manage recoil well.
  • Ergonomics. Thinner, comfortable grips, reduced trigger reach, and smooth slide pull suit smaller hands.
  • Capacity. More rounds (8+) means less reloading, but added weight can be harder to manage.
  • Customization. Swappable grips and backstraps allow for a personalized fit.
  • Functionality. Safeties and a smooth trigger allow precision shooting for those newer to firearms.
  • Training. Formal training builds confidence and develops safe shooting practices.
  • Grip safety. An integrated grip safety adds an element of security for concealed carriers.

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Semi-auto CCW FAQ

What is the highest-rated concealed carry gun?

The highest-rated concealed carry gun is the Sig Sauer P365. It offers 10+1 9mm capacity with an excellent grip and controllability, as well as tritium night sights. The P365 is popular due to its compact size, high capacity, and reliability, making it an excellent choice for concealed carry.

What does more damage: .45 or 9mm?

The .45 ACP generally has a larger bullet and more stopping power than the 9mm. It is known for its ability to create larger wound channels and cause more tissue damage. However, the 9mm has a higher magazine capacity and less recoil, allowing for faster follow-up shots.

What is the safest semi-automatic pistol?

The safety of a semi-automatic pistol depends on factors such as handling and built-in safety features. Some popular semi-automatic pistols known for their safety features include the Glock 19, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, and Springfield XD series. These pistols are designed with multiple safety mechanisms to prevent accidental discharges and ensure safe handling

What is the most powerful semi-auto handgun round?

The .44 Magnum is widely considered one of the most powerful semi-auto handgun rounds. It is known for its significant stopping power and has been popularized by the media and in firearms discussion forums. The .44 Magnum is often used for hunting and personal defense due to its impressive ballistic performance.

Is a revolver or semi-auto gun better for home defense?

Both revolvers and semi-automatic guns have their advantages for home defense. Revolvers are known for their simplicity and reliability, which can make them easier to operate. On the other hand, semi-automatic guns typically offer higher capacity and faster reloads. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences, training, and proficiency with the chosen firearm.

What semi-automatic pistol has no safety?

The Canik TP9SFX, the Sig Sauer P226, and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield are examples of semi-automatic pistols that do not have an external safety. These pistols are designed with internal safety mechanisms and are equipped with a "safe action" system that does not require the user to manipulate an external safety lever.

What caliber is the best for concealed carry?

The best concealed carry caliber is subjective and depends on various factors such as personal preference, shooting ability, and comfort. However, the 9mm caliber is widely popular for concealed carry due to its manageable recoil, high capacity, and effectiveness in self-defense situations. Other popular calibers for concealed carry include .380 ACP and .45 ACP, each with its advantages and limitations.

Is a .380 more powerful than a .38 special?

The .38 Special generally has more stopping power and higher muzzle energy than the .380 ACP. The .38 Special is a revolver cartridge known for its effectiveness in self-defense, while the .380 ACP is a popular choice for compact semi-automatic pistols due to its manageable recoil and size. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences and the firearm being used.

Are rear sights an important feature of a CCW gun?

Rear sights are an important feature of a concealed carry weapon as they play a crucial role in aiming and accuracy. Properly aligned rear sights are essential for acquiring a proper sight picture and effectively aiming the firearm. In a self-defense situation, having rear sights can significantly impact the shooter's ability to place accurate shots on target, making them an important feature of a CCW.

Further reading

What are the best concealed carry guns for seniors?

What is the most comfortable concealed carry holster?

What is the best 9mm single stack pistol?

How do I choose the right concealed carry pistol?

What is the best EDC holster?

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 full-sized pistol?

What is the best IWB holster for full-sized guns?