Top 10 Concealed Carry Guns

pocket gun

Lots of people will give you their list of top 10 weapons in any category, but lists like these are largely subjective.  What one person considers the best conceal weapon of all time might sound like a ridiculous option to another.  But that’s the beauty of firearms:  To each their own.  A small framed female might feel comfortable keeping a Kel-Tec P32 in a holstered handbag, while a 6’4″ guy might keep a full-size hi-cap Springfield .45 on hand, but who’s to say little miss diminutive isn’t packing a Raging Judge?  It happens, I assure you.

That being said, we have a unique perspective in that we sell these guns, so we can see who is buying what.  This list is of the top 10 concealed carry guns that regular, everyday people are actually buying.  There’s probably some manufacturer in New Zealand that no one’s ever heard of that makes an incredible pistol for $3000 that’s contoured to your body or something like that, but that doesn’t help the average person.

Now, in order to prevent this list from becoming a Top 10 Guns Ever list, we’ll have to instill some restrictions.  For the purposes of our list, a concealed carry gun will have to include the following:

  • Manageable Weight - Notice I didn’t say light weight.  As mentioned before, some people are dead set on keeping a 1911 on hand at any given moment, but let’s face it, I highly doubt you’ll find many responsibly armed citizens with a Desert Eagle tucked in their pants (funny enough, I’m sure I’ll get flack about that).  To rule out Brobdingnagian handguns, our concealed carry guns will be less than 32 oz., or about the weight of two cans of corn — yes, we have little old ladies calling and asking to compare gun weights to cans of corn.
  • Reasonable Barrel Length - I don’t want to intentionally rule out full-size firearms, but the idea of concealed carry doesn’t typically involve a 6″ barrel.  There’s a certain length where unholstering becomes an awkwardly time consuming ordeal, so let’s keep them under 4″.
  • Standard Capacity - Having over 10 rounds in your magazine has many advantages: fewer magazine reloads on the range, having to carry fewer magazines to the range, and more time shooting and less time loading at the range.  But when you’re out and about (read: not at the range), a 33 round Glock mag might be a little tough to fit under your t-shirt.  God forbid you should find yourself in a situation where you need over 10 rounds, but you carry a gun for defense, not offense, so we’re going to stick to guns with 10 rounds or less.  California and New York will thank me.
  • Foolproof Operation - There are a few different schools of thought here.  Many people would feel comfortable carrying a Sig P238 cocked and locked, but many others prefer the Kodak method: point and shoot.  For the sake of argument, let’s eschew the learning curve and focus on Double Action Only (DAO) and DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action), as well as their variants (i.e., striker fired).  Unless you’re Doc Holliday, I doubt you’ll be interested in a single action revolver.*If you’re new to firearms, tune in to our How-to section for explanations of commonly used terms.

With this criteria in mind, here are the Top 10 Selling Concealed Carry Handguns at for 2012.


1.  Ruger LCP

This one is a no-brainer.  Since its introduction in 2008, the Ruger “Lightweight Carry Pistol” has been one of the most popular ultra-light subcompacts ever.   At a scant 9.4 oz., it barely weighs half a pound and its slim profile and rounded edges allow it to slide in and out of your holster or pocket with ease.  It carries six rounds of .380 ACP ammo and with a bevy of accessories available, it’s easy to make one as comfortable as any full-size.  Comfortable, compact, and most important of all, reliable, there’s a reason this gun tops the list.  Some might argue that a .380 doesn’t pack enough punch to stop an attacker, but regardless of your caliber, no one wants to be shot with any gun.  Don’t believe me?  Then here, stand in front of my little Derringer real quick.  No?  Didn’t think so.

Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Weight: 9.4 oz.
Capacity: 6 (+ 1)


2.  Hi-Point C9

The Hi-Point C9 9mm is on here for one huge, glaring reason — price.  But make no mistake, Hi-Point is about as reliable as they come.  While more bulky and heavy than the LCP, the C9 boasts two extra rounds in the magazine versus the LCP, a more powerful load in the 9mm and a dummyproof design.  (Every manufacturer and gun nut will tell you to clean your gun on a regular basis, Hi-Point actually discourages disassembling their firearms for cleaning and recommends simply swabbing and oiling the gun periodically.  How’s that for simple?)  At this price it’s easy to assume a product is cheap, but the reality is that we just don’t get complaints on Hi-Points.  Hi-Point uses all polymer construction for their frame and slide, which greatly reduces manufacturing costs, and they focus on reliable performance over aesthetics.  So, even though it might look more beast than beauty, it’s easy to see why so many people opt for the inexpensive and dependable Hi-Point C9.  Oh, and all Hi-Points include a free gun lock.  There, you just saved another $10.

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3.5″
Weight: 29 oz.
Capacity: 8 (+ 1)


3.  Ruger LC9

The Ruger LC9 is the big brother to the LCP.  It’s slightly more robust in each dimension, which is necessary to handle the more robust caliber, 9mm.  Beyond the size differential, the LC9 features a manual thumb safety to lock the gun from firing whereas the LCP lacks a safety.  The safety can act as an added safeguard to prevent an accidental discharge of your firearm, but the LCP’s lack of safety can be seen as one less barrier to discharge your firearm in a stressful situation, ideal for a concealed carry gun that you might need to pull out and shoot at any given moment.  Eventually, it comes down to the preference of the individual carrier.  Each gun does have a “loaded chamber indicator” on top of the slide to let you know when a round is chambered.  In addition to being a smidge bigger, the LC9 houses one more round than its little brother.  The LC9 and the LCP are perfect examples of the trade-offs necessary when trying to satisfy a particular need; if you want the smallest and lightest, you’re going to compromise on caliber and capacity, but if you want a higher caliber and capacity, you’re going to have to compromise on size and weight.  Though, the landscape is rapidly changing.

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3.12″
Weight: 17.1 oz.
Capacity: 7 (+ 1)


4.  S&W 642

The first revolver on our list, the Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight .38 Special is a tried and true name with an unparalleled reputation.  Chances are if you’ve never touched a gun in your life, you still know the Smith & Wesson name.  The revolver design dates back almost 200 years ago and there’s a reason it’s still popular today.  Unlike a semi-automatic pistol that has a detachable magazine requiring an initial chamber action prior to firing, a revolver needs only to have the swing-out cylinder loaded, closed, and fired.  This isn’t necessarily an obstacle to anyone familiar with the operation of firearms, but for someone that wants the utmost ease of use in their gun with the fewest amount of parts, a double action revolver can be ideal.  Couple that with the light weight and compact size of the 642 and you have a natural for the #4 spot on our list.  Smith & Wesson is based in Massachusetts, who really needs to lighten up.

Caliber: .38 Special 
Barrel Length: 1.875″
Weight: 15 oz.
Capacity: 5


5.  Kahr CW9

The Kahr Arms CW9 is a 9mm semi-auto compact pistol also known for it’s flawless function and reliability.  Kahr is part of the Magnum Research family, makers of the coolest guns movie bad guys are notorious for, but also famous for their dependable function.  The CW9 shares many similarities to the Ruger LC9 in terms of size and functionality, the most notable difference being the lack of thumb safety on the CW9.  The CW9 is one of the more modestly priced Kahr pistols on the market today.  The fact that they were able to achieve such an attractive price point and maintain the Kahr name makes this a very attractive buy.  Kahr is also made in Massachusetts.  For a state that doesn’t care for handguns, it’s ironic so many are made there.

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3.5″
Weight: 15.8 oz.
Capacity: 7 (+1)


6.  Kel-Tec PF9

Kel-Tec has a reputation for churning out some of the most innovative products in the market, but it’s not just limited to the elusive or hard to get.  The ultra compact PF9 9mm is the smaller and lighter successor to the “smallest and lightest 9mm ever made,” the P11 (see no. 9 on the list).  The validity of that claim on either of these pistols is objectionable now, but the truth remains that the PF9 is an undoubtedly small pistol that packs a punch.  Its polymer frame provides a light package while the finger extension allows for a much more natural grip.  Kel-Tec makes some very accurate pistols, which is great to know when your life might depend on each shot.  You can find the PF9 in a bevy of different color combinations, but black on black is by far the most popular.  I guess black is the new black.

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3″
Weight: 12.7 oz.
Capacity: 7 (+1)


7.  Bersa Thunder 380

Bersa is an Argentinian manufacturer and, in comparison with the competition on this list, little known.  But don’t let their relative obscurity fool you, they make some of the most dependable firearms available.  In fact, while we receive very few complaints from our customers over Hi-Points, Bersa is by far, hands down, the most uncomplained about brand of guns we carry out of any style.  (Is uncomplained a word?)  People who buy a Bersa are satisfied, pure and simple, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?  I personally carry a Bersa as my concealed carry weapon of choice.  And whether or not you’ve heard of them prior to now, it’s obvious they are popular enough to earn the #7 spot on our list.  The Thunder is Bersa’s most popular series of firearm and the 380 is the best selling model.  With such a well performing machine at such a modest price, there’s no doubt why.  The Thunder 380 has an aluminum frame, a fixed barrel, and is DA/SA with a long initial trigger pull for added security.  Thunder was also my favorite American Gladiator.

Caliber: .380 ACP 
Barrel Length: 3.5″
Weight: 23 oz.
Capacity: 7 (+1)


8.  Kahr CM9

The Kahr CM9 is the little brother to #5 on our list, the CW9.  Boasting the same reliable structure as it’s brethren, the CM9 shaves just a little bit of real estate off in each direction creating a smaller, more pocket friendly package.  In turn, the CM9 loses magazine space, bringing it capacity from 7 to 6.  But no matter what you’re looking for, Kahr has a solution for your need.  And have fun gauging the confusion on people’s face when you say your weapon of choice is a “Car.”

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3″
Weight: 14 oz.
Capacity: 6 (+1)


9.  Kel-Tec P11

The Kel-Tec P11 is an oldie but a goodie.  The predecessor to the PF9, the P11 was once the king of its kind, like many guns are at the time of their creation.  The P11 touts many of the same features as the PF9, such as its caliber and polymer construction, but increases its capacity by 40% at 10 rounds, which makes it much nicer when practicing at the range.  The P11 is a great way to get the most ammunition in as small a package as possible while still having an accurate fire and stable function, one of the best bangs for your buck.  Where have I heard that line before?

Caliber: 9mm 
Barrel Length: 3.1″
Weight: 14 oz.
Capacity: 10 (+1)


10.  Ruger LCR

Ruger rounds out its trifecta with the LCR, a lightweight, reliable and easy to use revolver in the .38 caliber.  You’re going to find a lot of similarities between the S&W 642 from earlier, most notably the double action, internal hammer, 5 round cylinder and +P rating for ammunition.  If you prefer the small revolver, it really just comes down to personal preference between these two.  But the most amazing characteristic the two revolvers share?  They’re both legal in California, New York, and Massachusetts.  That’s like finding a leprechaun riding a unicorn over a rainbow.

Caliber: .38 Special 
Barrel Length: 1.875″
Weight: 13 oz.
Capacity: 5



Taurus 738 TCPS&W BODYGUARD 38Glock 26S&W 442Walther PPS

Just to reiterate, this is not a subjective list of firearms based on preference.  These are the most popular concealed carry firearms we have at this time.  New guns come out all the time, like the S&W SHIELD or the Springfield XDS, and while they may be great guns, sometimes they can be hard to find and it’s difficult to defend yourself from an attacker if your gun is on back order from the manufacturer.  There are lots of other guns that other people carry and most of them are great weapons (how many Glock owners are surprised it’s not on the list?), but that’s the beauty of firearms.  What do you carry?

Disclaimer: Articles in this blog may not be written by BGS Staff and the opinions expressed in the articles are not that of BudsGunShop, LLC. They are meant to be for informative entertaining articles.
avatar BudsGunShop Staff (188 Posts)

Budsgunshop staff is a mix of expertise and are willing help in anyway they can. If you have questions email us directly at

28 Responses to Top 10 Concealed Carry Guns

  1. avatar Sreksuhn says:

    I’ll break the ice. I now carry a Beretta Nano. I have to carry small. I had a PF9 and then a PT709. Both were fine weapons but I just couldn’t get over the reliabilty hump in my mind.

  2. avatar BudsGunShop says:

    The slim line guns are getting really popular so those will be on this list soon, but most of them haven’t been around all that long so they have some catching up to do. The Nano is an awesome gun.

  3. avatar Greg says:

    I have both the Bersa Thunder 380 and Ruger LCR. I prefer the Bersa. Although it’s not the lightest sidearm, it is comfortable. It’s extremely reliable and very accurate. It eats up and spits out anything I’ve fed it. It’s also very easy to strip down and clean. It also fits nice in my hands. The LCR feels great in the hands as well. It’s obviously not as accurate as the longer barreled Bersa but is accurate enough for it’s intent. It’s hard to believe Bersa hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves. I always get asked at the range what it is. And you can’t complain about the price as it is generally on the lower side as it’s counterparts. But very well made.

  4. avatar BudsGunShop says:

    Bersa is notorious for eating everything, they’re coming along and will get the recognition they deserve soon. I carry a Bersa myself.

  5. avatar chris says:

    This might be your life…Do not carry a hi-point. My friend had one and I bought a C9, we went to a shooting school. On day 2, my friends gun had catastrophic failure and I constantly had jams. Would not risk my life with this weapon..Why is my SW .38 not on the top 10, I am trusting my life to this weapon.

  6. avatar BudsGunShop says:

    Great comment. Feedback like yours is what helps other people become more informed on making a decision, I’d love to see more personal experiences. And we did have a S&W .38 on the list, the Airweight at #4. VERY popular model.

  7. avatar Dan says:

    I have a variety of carry weapons. Something you may want to consider is your environment and weather. Here in North East Florida, I wear jeans or shorts and a T shirt almost 8 or 9 months out of the year.

    I’ve bounced back and forth from J-framed .38s and mouse gun .380s for every day carry. I supplement those small caliber pistols with heaftier sidearms when the situation and the clothes I’m wearing allow it. 1911 patern pistols make for great concealed carry pistols, especially the more compact models. Their single stack nature really keeps the width down, especially when using slim line grips.

    I am very fond of my STI 9mm compact 1911, they make more than a few in 9mm, .40, and .45, mine being the ‘Shadow’ model. One thing to consider with 1911s is that glitches do come up very often inside the first 1k rounds put through it. Should you decide to carry one, put at least 5 or 6 hundred rounds through it, with as many of those rounds being hollow points or self defense ammunition. My STI had some left to right machining marks on the feed ramp and HP rounds would sometimes snag on them. Be able to budget some time and possibly money to consult a gunsmith, or the manufacturers customer service rep (the free route) on making your pistol 100% reliable. They call the 1911 a rich man’s gun for a reason, haha.

  8. avatar Freedom says:

    I have a Glock 19 and a 26. When the 19 seems too big to carry, the 26 is just right. I can’t beleve it didn’t make your list!

  9. avatar Tman says:

    Taurus Model 445. .44Special, 2″ snubby Ultra-Lite revolver. Always goes bang, big round, easy to shoot and easy to carry.

  10. avatar Eddie says:

    You have to be kidding to exclude the Glock 26 or 27. Common knowledge that Glocks are the most reliable handguns aroung bar none.

  11. avatar Eddie says:

    OOPs around !!

  12. avatar John Pappalardo says:

    The TAURUS 709 Slim and PT 111, PT 745 , would be great choice and good price.

  13. avatar Christy says:

    I have the Bersa Thunder 380 and love it. I had never shot a gun before and while I shopped around this gun was the most comfortable in my hands. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. No regrets at all.

  14. I can't believe Glock did not make the top 10. Why aren't people buying the Glock 19 or Glock 27 for concealed carry?

  15. glock 19 is so hard to find

  16. avatar James Clay says:

    I love my S&W M&P Shield 9mm. Less than an inch wide and very reliable. I also love the Glock 26/27, also very compact. I hear the Sig P250 is very nice as well but I've not held one.

  17. It's a great gun, but this list is for designated pocket pistols, as in only good for deep concealment and no range work.

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  19. avatar Zach Parry says:

    Hi-point does not use all polymer construction on the frame and slide. If they did that would be one light, dangerous gun. The slide is made from zinc-alloy.

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  22. .40 S&W EMP. it is a tad heavy but packs a better punch than 9mm or .380

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