Some people carry different concealed carry guns during different seasons. Once summer comes around, they tend to scale down to something smaller and lighter, then bulk up for winter.
You’ll find plenty of people packing a Shield or G43 when it’s hot, then gear up to something like a GLOCK 17 or 1911 pistol when the weather gets cold.
Summertime is also when some people change how they carry. Instead of a leather pancake OWB holster, they switch to an IWB rig or a pocket holster for their main carry gun. Sizing down in firearm makes concealment with fewer layers easier. After all, you aren’t going to wear a shoulder holster in July…probably.
Summer is a perfect time to switch to that Summer Special instead of that all-leather scabbard. Or to a hybrid holster with a comfortable backing…sort of like what we make over at Alien Gear Holsters.
Yes, that’s a shameless plug, but a lot of people like our products for precisely that reason. However, it’s all up to you; you get to carry the gun and holster you like to carry.
With that all said, what are some great CCW pistols that make concealed carry a bit easier in summer? Here are a few.
Bear in mind this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; these are just a few pint-size pistols to get a person started. There are plenty more, both at the typical gun store and online.
One very popular concealed carry pistol for summer – and indeed, for all seasons – is the SIG SAUER P365. In fact, it’s one of the most popular concealed carry guns on the market at the moment.
The P365 is a slim, light striker-fired subcompact. While its dimensions are similar to that of other popular striker-fired subcompacts, the SIG P365 has a party piece. The P365 has a half-staggered magazine, which brings capacity to 10+1 of 9mm with the flush-fit magazine and 12+1 or 15+1 with extended magazines. That’s nearly full-size capacity in a not full-size gun.
Expect to shell out about $500 in most stores.
Speaking of subcompact striker-fired pistols, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield is also wickedly popular. The Shield has been around for some time, and has some distinct advantages as it’s small, slim, has a decent trigger and is quite comfortable to shoot.
In fact the latter attribute was somewhat revolutionary at the time of its release; small guns have long been known for being a little nasty. The Shield made it easy.
The Shield is also offered in multiple calibers, including 9mm, .40 S&W and a slightly larger model in .45 ACP. The 9mm model holds 7+1 with a flush-fit magazine and 8+1 with the extended magazine. HYVE and other magazine extensions can bring total capacity up to 10+1, which is appreciable in a pistol that measures around 5 inches tall, 6 inches long and 1 inch wide, and weighs less than 20 ounces unloaded.
The other great thing about the Shield is that it’s cheap. While MSRP from Smith & Wesson is $350 for the base model, you can easily find them online for around $250.
If you prefer Smith & Wesson’s older guns – and who doesn’t love a classic? – you can also get into a J-frame .38 Special for around $300 in-store. You get five shots of .38 Special, and most models are rated for +P ammunition…though you’ll want to shoot +P sparingly, as hot loads in a snubby get a bit lively.
There are so many variations on the J-frame that one could pretty much write a novel about them. To my mind, the best of them is the Model 638 Airweight.
The frame is aluminum alloy, reducing carry weight to less than 1 lb unloaded, and the finish is stainless. Barrel length is the classic 1.875 inches. The party piece of the 638 is the shrouded hammer. The pistol is streamlined for a snag-free draw from concealment, but the hammer can be cocked for single-action fire if so desired. You get the best of all worlds.
Having shot a few snubbies in .357 Magnum, I don’t think there’s anything redeeming about them, so I’d stick to .38 Special if you were to ask about that. Yes, you get a few hundred feet per second more, but it hurts so much to shoot them that I doubt the extra “oomph” is worth it. That’s just my opinion, so feel free to disagree in the comments.
Obligatory tip of the hat to the GLOCK fanboys here. However, instead of the ordinary mention of the GLOCK 43 – a single-stack subcompact much along the lines of the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield, except it’s a GLOCK – I’m going to tell you instead that you should get the GLOCK 43X.
Why the 43X instead? For a few reasons.
First, the 43X carries 10+1 of 9mm instead of 6+1. Second, it isn’t so much bigger that it becomes impractical. The G43X adds a little more height (5 inches tall) and a few ounces, but unloaded weight is a very manageable 18.7 ounces.
Third, the GLOCK 43X allows for a better firing grip for more shooters, as the grip is a little wider and a little taller, allowing for a high, tight grip that fills the hand a little more. What this means is that it’s more comfortable to shoot but still plenty packable.
When in doubt, carry a gun that’s easier to run.
If you prefer a small, simple and economical gun, the Ruger LCP series are all of those things. There are models in .380 ACP and 9mm, with both striker-fired and DAO (internal hammer) models being available.
If even a small 9mm pistol is too big, the LCP II is the one to acquire. The LCP II holds 6+1 of .380, and can easily be concealed in a pocket (with a pocket holster; NEVER carry a loaded pistol in a pocket without one) and measures 5.17 inches long, 3.71 inches tall and just 0.75 inches wide at the slide. Unloaded weight is a scant 10.6 ounces.
Sights are fixed and features are few, so it’s pretty basic. However, some people will notice the LCP II is more expensive than the LCP; MSRP is $359 for the former and $259 for the latter. What justifies the extra Benjamin?
The LCP II has a striker-style trigger that – while far from perfect – is WAY better than the DAO trigger of the LCP, which is awful. The grip also has better texturing and the magazine has a pinkie rest, which makes it a little more comfortable to hold.
Another good budget option is the Taurus G2C. The G2C won’t win any beauty contests, and doesn’t have the best trigger. However, it does have several virtues worth mentioning.
It carries 12+1 of 9mm or 10+1 of .40 S&W, if you elect to buy the .40 S&W version. The trigger has double-strike capability, a rare feature among striker-fired pistols and the bang switch is very usable. It’s slim and compact, at about the same dimensions of the Shield or P365 (6 inches long, 5 inches tall, and just over 1 inch wide and around 20 ounces unloaded) so it’s very easy to conceal and carry on a daily basis.
The other great thing about the Taurus G2C? It’ll run you about $250 at most. It’s as accurate and reliable as the Shield is. While build quality isn’t quite the same, it runs as well as pistols costing more and with a more prestigious name on the slide. And they are EVERYWHERE.
For those who don’t mind dropping a little cash, the Kimber Micro series gives you easy concealed carry with a touch of class. You can opt for the standard Micro – a micro 1911 in .380 ACP – or size up a little bit to the Kimber Micro 9, scaled up for 9mm.
There are a variety of finishes available and price point ranges accordingly.
However, you will have to adjust to a single-action operating system. These and other micro 1911s also lack the grip safety of the larger models, so that is something to be aware of. I would recommend carrying one in a waistband holster for that reason.
Again, this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; this is just some examples of some very good smaller pistols that make summer concealed carry a little easier. Have a different gun you prefer? Want to just start an argument for no reason? Sound off in the comments!