Let’s face it. Concealed carry is a daunting enough process for newcomers as it is. With what seems like a myriad of things to remember from gun safety and function on top of a $120 price tag, choosing the right CCW hassle to end all hassles. There are tons of firearms capable of serving as concealed carry implements that can be gauged from price range, firing system, caliber, and more. However, the most important part of finding the right concealed-carry firearm is making sure it is ready when you need it. Here are some of the best tips that will help guide you in choosing the best firearm for concealed carry.
First things first: let’s make sure we are on the same page about what concealed carry actually is. It is a practice and a discipline at heart. Those with CWPs are legally issued the responsibility of safely and discreetly carrying a firearm for the purpose of self-defense or the defense of others. In place of the fun attachments one might attempt to install on a typical modern-day firearm, , a concealed carry firearm is meant to serve its purpose, by being somewhat minimalist and small enough to carry inconspicuously.
Now that doesn’t mean the smallest, least versatile firearm is the best-concealed carry implement for you. There are a variety of sizes that handguns come in to suit the needs of individuals with different hand sizes and concealment capabilities. The sizes of handguns are as follows:
- Micro pistol
Full-size pistols like the Glock 17 are tried and true Everyday carry (EDC) implements that boast a larger-than-life size. With its size, comes less recoil and more ammo capacity compared to smaller firearms. While these can make for great self-defense implements in the home or state in which open carry is legal, these are not the best suited for concealed carry.
Sub-compact pistols feature a smaller frame than full-sized pistols but are not specially designed for concealed carry. A slightly reduced grip means less ammo capacity but an easier time concealing despite the smaller available options. The Glock 19 is a great example of a sub-compact pistol in that it is both great for EDC and CC in some holster styles. Sub-compact pistols have reduced recoil compared to compact and micro pistols but are often still too wide for appendix carry. Various other options exist in this category that may be more suitable for concealed carry, however, usually at the expense of ammo capacity.
Compact Pistols are pistols certainly designed for concealed carry. They offer enough mass to reduce some amount of recoil, however, are primarily designed to be discreet carry options for CWP holders. Notable features that generally show up in compact pistols are smaller grips, barrels, and thinner frames. Thinner frames allow for the wearing of tighter clothing and the not-so-safe pocket carry. The only downside to pistols in this category is heightened recoil especially frames that are polymer-based instead of steel, like the Kimber Micro 9.
Micro pistols are absolutely the smallest of the small. And while they are perfect for concealed carry, their use is generally viewed as a failsafe. People are more apt to carry either subcompact or compact pistols for the ammo capacity alone, as micro pistols typically suffer from severely reduced magazine size. These kinds of pistols can be concealed almost anywhere in one’s person: in a shoe, a sock, a purse, etc. The possibilities for concealment are almost endless with micro pistols, but you must be prepared to sacrifice some of the more useful features of larger pistols.
What caliber should I choose for Concealed Carry?
Caliber choice is typically high for firearms, but when it comes to concealed carry calibers, there is one factor that rules them all: stopping power. Stopping power is the force of impact of a projectile giving it the ability to immediately neutralize an oncoming threat. While it is true that all firearms possess the lethal capability, stopping power is what decides how close a threat may get until it can no longer advance. Calibers below 9mm do not typically have great stopping power than larger pistol calibers. However, that doesn’t mean that a .22lr is completely useless in a self-defense situation. Bullet size itself has little effect on the effectiveness of the incapacitation of an assailant.
9mm is considered as the standard for concealed carry and EDC, and for good reason. It is a plentiful cartridge that has many applications for self-defense. Hollow point rounds are still effective and 9mm holds the record for the most kinds of self-defense-oriented bullets. While most 9mm rounds available on the market are 25gr, 40gr 9mm bullets are also great options for self-defense, upping the stopping power of an otherwise mid-tier caliber enough to be suitable for a lot more situations.
While slightly lower powered than the 9mm, the .380 ACP is a very popular round for concealed carry. Stopping power may not be the most important thing to the individual, but rather, recoil control. The .380 ACP is much smaller than the 9mm, meaning smaller pistols may have more ammo capacity with it than pistols of the same size chambered in 9mm. It’s a lighter cartridge as well, which means carrying it for extended periods of time will be much easier, especially when paired with a compact or micro pistol.
In terms of stopping power, the .45 ACP takes the cake as one of the best out there. A large pistol caliber, any concealed carry firearm hurling this chunk of lead through the air is bound to have some killer recoil. While this is a larger round reducing ammo capacity on more compact frames. Confidence and one or two well-placed shots ought to do the trick on any armed assailant making the .45 ACP a valid option for use in any concealed carry arsenal. A firearm carrying the .45 ACP is bound to be a tad heavier, limiting reasonable points of carry, but it does make up for its higher recoil and weight in a greater ability to quickly incapacitate threats.
How to Holster a CCW
Holstering a CCW isn’t so cut and dry. It’s not like an everyday carry that can be holstered in the open. Yet, there are several types of concealment holsters available. They are as follows:
- Outside Waistband
- Inside Waistband
Holstering with an outside waistband format is a bit more difficult to conceal due to the weapon being fastened to the belt as opposed to tucked away inside the waistband. This can be quite a risky method for concealment but has obvious advantages in a quicker draw without the need for specialized training.
Inside waistband holstering is one of the most popular forms of holstering for concealed carry purposes. Inside waistband holsters are much easier to conceal than outside waistband holsters but are not as quick at the draw without proper training. While these are the most popular, there is a general consensus that inside waistband holstering typically resides with the sacrifice of comfort. Appendix carry, back carry, and hip carry are all viable options for IWB holstering, the configuration of which merely depends on the size of the CCW and the comfort of the carrier.
An ankle carry is one example of a specialized kind of concealed carry that is really only viable for micro and compact pistols. Having a large firearm holstered at the ankle can be cumbersome, and the draw may seriously be affected, despite already having a much slower draw time than the others in this list. An ankle carry is great for secondary concealed weapons usually in the micro pistol category.
The shoulder is by far one of the cooler methods for concealed carry, but it is specialized in that it is only really concealable with a jacket or a coat. In a shoulder holster, the firearm is held underneath the armpit. While shoulder holstering requires a bit of extra clothing, it allows for the use of full-sized pistols because of the added space and security. The draw is still generally slower compared to waistband holstering without training.
Some of the more nuanced parts of holsters for concealed carry go over the different sides and their ease of use. Strong side, weak side, and small of back are terms that refer to where the gun is holstered in relation to the main hand. The strong side is typically the fastest at the draw, while the small of the back is typically in the middle or as fast as the strong side holstering. Weak side holstering is the slowest, however, and is typically better for drawing while sitting.
The best way to find the best holster position is to experiment with different kinds of configurations. Become comfortable with the configuration of walking about the house while performing tasks. Ensure that there is no problem drawing the firearm as quickly as possible from standing, seated, prone and kneeling positions.
Function over Feature
Choosing a great CCW does not have to be a complicated process. The way to make the process a little simpler is by focusing on the function of the firearm rather than its features. The function of the firearm and your ability to fire it with ease is paramount compared to the firearms bells and whistles, which may actually serve to hinder draw time and overall performance. Even features as far as manual safeties, while practical, reduce the amount of time a defender has to efficiently draw and fire.
In the case of an adrenaline-packed few seconds that a shootout might start, every millisecond spent trying to get the gun with too many features to work is time wasted. Fiddling with safeties or relying on an electronic sight, while seemingly safe and performance-enhancing may actually be a detriment when in the time comes that it is actually necessary.
- Choosing a firearm based on its function incorporates these considerations:
- How many rounds does it carry?
- What kind of holster position will be best?
- How wide is the CCW?
- Does my hand properly fit the grip?
- Do I want more stopping power or reduced recoil?
- What is my budget for a CCW?
Finding the right CCW might seem like a daunting experience, but it’s actually pretty simple with a flair of open-ended decisions all geared towards finding the perfect concealed carry/ EDC for you. The difference between pistol sizes matters for most configurations of concealed carry holstering, but some specialized holsters can hold virtually any type of handgun. While concealed carry is itself a specialized form of carrying, there are some nuanced things that may seem hard to understand like the stopping power of different cartridges based on the size and speed of the projectile.
All of these things matter much more than the bells and whistles you might find on typically high-end firearms. However, it is important to understand that draw time, comfort in the holster, and the faith that it will work every time it is needed are the most pivotal criteria for choosing any concealed carry firearm. Here at Concealed Carry Academy, we believe that arming yourself with the right tool and the proper knowledge is essential to confidently carry a firearm. Defend yourself and your loved ones today with the help of our concealed carry and Everyday Carry classes today!