A Revolver Can be One of Your Best Guns for Carry
Revolvers have indeed been largely displaced by semi-auto pistols, both metal and polymer framed, and for generally good reasons. They have less than half the capacity of a mid-size semi-auto pistol like a Glock 19 or CZ 75 compact, and they are slower and more difficult to reload unless you put in many hours of practice. Additionally, while a revolver doesn’t often malfunction, if it does, you’re likely to be carrying an awkward paperweight in a holster until a gunsmith can take a look at it.
It’s also true, however, that a quality model of wheel gun with a similar grade holster can provide enough personal protection capability for someone who knows their needs, and practices enough to be proficient with one.
A smaller frame revolver particularly shines in IWB or ankle-carry applications, as the short length and slimness of such a gun are hard to match no matter which model Glock or other semi-auto gun you might carry. They are available in a wide variety of calibers which, depending on your needs, can range from .22 to .454 Casull. Ammo capacity and the need for frequent and careful training of reloads are their weak point, but if you’re willing to put in the work, you may discover that a great concealed carry handgun can be much more than what you generally see people shooting at your local USPSA match. Finding a holster for one is generally fairly simple, and other aftermarket items for concealed carriers are also widely available.
A larger frame revolver can be more difficult to conceal, even if one comes with a shorter barrel length, and is probably not the best for any but a handful of applications but can also offer you a level of firepower that’s much more difficult to match with semi-auto handguns. Such guns are popular as backups for hunters, particularly in areas one is likely to encounter brown bears. If a hard-hitting, high-velocity pistol is on the top of your list of needs, you can often get it in a lighter, slimmer package with a revolver than you’ll find in a magazine-fed pistol from any maker, from Glock to SIG Sauer.
As for which revolver to choose, there’s a lot of variety in such pistols out there. The more well-known, established ones would be the place to start, while there are some radical new designs out there, we’re talking about concealed carry, not range toys, and proven reliability is paramount (as is proper training and education of course). Smith and Wesson (S&W) and Ruger are the two biggest names in the revolver game, and you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong with any of their offerings, which are available from tiny .22 pocket guns, to enormous, big game hunting pistols, and everything in between. Price tends to follow size and popularity, though when someone complains about the price, one reply is that there is a used market for quality handguns that often offer excellent value.
Top Semi-Auto Pistol of Carry Handguns: Thinking Beyond the Glock
Glock has indeed become something of the standard for modern handguns, and many people would answer the question of “which handgun is best for concealed carry” with the Glock 19. Much of this is because Glock, and particularly their mid-size 9mm offering, is the blank slate of the concealed carry world. It’s affordable, ubiquitous, performs well out of the box, and is highly customizable, but you don’t have to buy one no matter what the guys at the gun store counter say. If you want one with more or less barrel length, or one in any standard handgun caliber, and a few oddballs, Glock can do that, and there’s likely a holster and aftermarket gear to match. It’s not difficult to see why so many people answer the question of which is the best concealed carry gun with Glock; they make a great gun, but we’re here to tell you that the story doesn’t end there.
So, what else is there besides Glock? 1911s have been popular concealed carry guns for over a century, and plenty of people swear by them. There can be issues with some models feeding hollow points, and traditional models are usually limited to less than 10 rounds, but if you’re willing to spend more, there are manufacturers who have addressed these problems out of the box. If you want a venerable SAO or DA/SA design with a steel frame, there are certainly worse choices than a quality 1911 Commander-style, or full-sized model (like Glock, there are many length and grip size options), and the market for holster and gear options is robust
SIG Sauer makes a wide variety of popular concealed carry gun options, from the venerable P226 to the tiny P238, and all sorts of options in between. They have a longstanding reputation for reliability and addressing quality control issues as they become aware of them, and you can choose from steel and polymer frames, as well as striker and hammer-fired guns, each one with varying grip size and length choices. Their P365 line is designed explicitly for concealed carry and packs at least 11 rounds into a surprisingly small gun that’s definitely one to check out.
Smith and Wesson’s M&P line is comparable to Glock, but with grips that are somewhat more naturally shaped. Many people who have issues with Glock grips prefer the M&P’s more oval lines. The M&P is the Chevy to Glock’s Ford, and just like the car makers, they have fairly comparable offerings that fill the same niches and seem to perform equally well. If you like the idea of a Glock, but want something a little different, or that feels less like a building block in your hand, S&W might have what you’re looking for.
CZ is another company with a great reputation, especially among handgun competitors. Their CZ 75 series is based on the timeless Browning Hi-Power design, and if you like all-steel handguns with a classic vibe, with double-digit magazines of 9mm, .40, or .45, then you should check this Czech pistol maker out. They have gotten into the aluminum and polymer game in the last couple of decades too, and their P-01 and P-09 are worth including on your list, even if you don’t like the Browning derivatives CZ offers.
Best Concealed Carry Handguns
We’ve covered a lot of ground and talked about a lot of different gear options for gun, design choices, and needs, but at the end of the day, the answer to what makes the top concealed carry guns great comes with a few more questions. Try out this list to check as you look at your options.
To review, starting with the gun, take a look at the best concealed carry guns, and decide which action you want (SA/DA, SAO, or DAO), whether semi-auto or revolver, which size category, and the caliber you want in a handgun. If you’re going with a semi-automatic handgun, decide what you want the pistol frame to be made of. The barrel length and profile can be a factor here, as the longer and thicker a gun is, the more difficult it can be to carry comfortably. Many makers, especially Glock and SIG Sauer, have “families” of gun models that vary by frame size and barrel length, which helps in finding a perfect balance of barrel and grip dimensions, making it easy to choose one that’s best for you. Sometimes you can even mix and match barrel and frame size. A longer barrel can make shooting accurately easier, but if you can’t comfortably sit down, it may not qualify as your best carry pistol.
From there, you’ve got a general idea of what to look for, and the options for your best handgun for concealed carry should be sufficiently narrowed to make a difficult choice easier.
Next, consider gear; if you’ve found one great gun for concealed carry, but nobody makes concealed carry holsters for it, or produces affordable magazines, sights, or optics, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, you haven’t done yourself much of a service. Concealed carry holsters can be found online or in your local gun store, and you’ll have an easier time sourcing one if you choose a more common concealed carry gun. Holsters are a vital part of successful concealed carry, and if you have a tough time finding holsters for a given gun, this may be a clue about the potential quality of that gun. While that might not always be the case, as MSRP, barrel length, and general market share affect popularity as much as quality, it’s one decent rule of thumb.
Last, consider both your method of carry and what you’re expecting fom this pistol. Are you spending lots of time wearing a gun indoors, where you can easily and legally keep rifles or a shotgun nearby? If you are carrying in such a scenario, maybe check out a smaller revolver, or see if a pocket-sized semi-auto pistol is the carry pistol for you, as you may just need it to make sure you can get to your other, more powerful gun. Are you in a vehicle all day, or maybe doing physical labor outdoors? Your needs will be different. Wearing a suit or coveralls, at home or on the road, numerous factors determine the right gun or holsters for you and your needs. Be sure to explore all of your options, keep price and quality in mind, buy used if you have to, and you should be on your way to finding the best carry pistol for your personal concealed carry needs. Above all, no matter what you wind up carrying, carry when you legally can, get the training you need, and be safe!