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Handguns have overtaken long guns on the American firearms sales chart hit parade. With the liberalization of concealed carry laws, pistols are now dominant. Manufacturers have been cranking out dozens of new models to meet the demand, creating a wonderful problem: which one should you buy? Here are my top three picks for concealed carry.

3. Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum

Wheel guns are still a staple of concealed carry, and rightly so. They’re reliable, simple to use and easy to conceal — the go-to choice for gunslingers since time immemorial. Ruger has perfected the formula, producing one of the best concealable .357 Magnum revolvers money can buy.

The TTAG five-star Ruger LCR‘s trigger delivers the kind of smooth go-pedal control normally reserved for owners of Smith & Wesson’s heavily breathed-on Performance Center models. And while I recommend the .357 Mag version, I don’t advise loading it with the biggest and nastiest +P+ loads you can find.

In fact one of its best features is its ability to chamber .38 SPL loads, for those who find their accuracy improves when they aren’t wrestling with (or flinching from) a .357 Mag’s recoil. You can also buy low-recoil hollow-point .357 Magnum rounds.

Practice with the .38’s, load .357’s? Chef don’t judge.

2. Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911

A 1911 handgun is a lot of gun to carry. It isn’t quite as dragging around a full size SIG SAUER P226 (which I did at one point), but it’s close and pounds equal pain.

That said, the four-star 35-ounce (empty!) Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911 rates consideration for one simple reason: you can hit whatever you’re aiming at 100% of the time. For those on a tighter budget, there are other 1911 models that can do the job almost as well, but the Wilson Carry is the sine qua non.

The military might have their own ideas about “weight of fire” in a gunfight, but to my mind at least, accuracy is king. Being secure in the knowledge that you can put rounds on target no matter what is worth the massive price tag (in both dollars and mass).

1. GLOCK 43

I was never a GLOCK fan. The styling just wasn’t my thing, and none of their guns particularly struck my fancy when it came to concealed carry. That is, until the GLOCK 43 rolled off the production line.

The five-star GLOCK 43 form blends perfectly with the utilitarian function of the gun, providing a slim, sleek profile that easily conceals in a pocket or in your waistband.

The 43’s controls — while hardly state-of-the-art — are more than good enough to get a properly accurate shot off even under stressful conditions. And the magazine holds just enough rounds of proper 9mm ammunition to give you peace of mind. That’s why it’s my choice for the best concealed carry handgun on the market today.

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  1. first two are horrible choices, third is the only reasonable choice. that LCR is going to kick like a MULE! 1911 for CCW??? O…k…

    • My wife, an average sized, mostly sedentary 60+ year old woman, carries the Ruger LCR in .357 Mag. She practices mostly with my .38 SPL plinking loads but always runs a cylinder full of full-powered Magnums through it to wrap up each range session. It’s not exactly fun, but she doesn’t walk away screaming, either.

    • ‘1911 for CCW???’

      I guarantee that platform would make the top 10 list of most concealed carried weapons. Probably top 3.

        • What’s the average age of CCW permit holders? I’d guess half are over 50.

        • I do wonder what the average age of a ccp is? All the holders I personally know save 2 are under 50.

        • It’s called personal bias. Older people tend to have older friends and therefore know more people who are old and have CCW permits. Younger people will see the opposite bias. I still maintain that very few people under 50 carry a 1911 as a concealed carry handgun. There are just too many better, lower cost, and lighter competitors.

        • Mostly lower cost. Younger people are still working off their $60,000 student loans. I think you’ll find that as they age a significant portion will gravitate to 1911s and revolvers. Once they get to the point where they can own and extensively shoot several handguns and pick what they like from experience.

    • That kick is a lot less to put up with than the kick the bad guy has in store for you.
      This is one of the stupidest self defense advice comments out there. “Pick a gun comfortable to shoot”
      Fuck that! Pick a gun that is going to be the most uncomfortable to the bad guy. If you can’t handle the recoil, get the sand out of your pussy and get used to it. You don’t have to burn a whole box of magnum in one range trip but handle your shit!

      • So we should all carry Desert Eagles then? Let’s not pretend that there are tactical reasons for a soft recoiling gun.

      • Actually statistically speaking you should use whatever major caliber you can make the most accurate, fast follow up shots with.

      • Well, yeah, but you are using your carefully concocted appearance as a ‘harmless, fuzzy, grandfatherly’ privilege on those who size you up… 😉

      • DG, if you can carry a full-size 5″ 1911, you can carry a Glock 34 or 35, and be much better armed with a smaller, lighter pistol.

    • Carrying a full sized pistol of any type for CCW isn’t hard unless you’ve got some body issues like being very small or being very, very overweight.

      • I agree the possibility exists, in fact I have concealed my glock 17 on more then one occasion,But why? The glock 43 or the lcr can get the job done and with half the trouble and weight. As mentioned above when I do go big, I go for capacity.

        • I don’t disagree about capacity, which is something I’ve found a lot of 1911’s to lack.

          I’m just saying that carrying a full sized pistol isn’t difficult. I do it every day.

    • …..I agree!!!!! The 1911, MEH…..but it has to be a Wilson!!!!! $2000+!!!!! REALLY!!!!……i call BS and a whole lot of fake news on this top 3 !!!!!…..LMAO 🙂

    • Have you actually ever fired a Ruger LCR .357? Are just presuming because of the bad experiences with S&W? The LCR manages recoil so well that a very petite niece of mine ENJOYS shooting full house 158 gr SJSP .357 Mag loads. The modern construction used on this gun renders it in a class by itself. Have a Tritium night sight & Laser Max laser on mine.

    • Recoil with .38 special +p in the LCR is going to be comparable to the Glock 43. Unloaded the Glock weighs a bout an ounce less than the LCR. Add the ammo and they’re probably pretty close to the same weight and the foot lbs of energy in the two loads are pretty close too.

      Besides, there are no free rides. Carry the weight or accept the recoil. Physics.

      Fir the 1911, there are a lot more carried than you would think. Is it for everyone, nope. But neither is a subcompact 9 mm.

      • Yeah.

        One of the nice things about carrying a Glock is that I’m not going to give much of a damn if the cops decide it’s ‘evidence’ and decide they need to hang on to it for a while.

    • I go with the SP101 over the LCR. The added weight helps with control & reduces felt recoil. Very comfortable gun to shoot & conceals well.

  2. Can we make a rule that anything on a ‘Top 3’ handgun list cannot cost more than $1500*? Once a gun has price tag that exceeds 3 times the leading brand it is no longer the ‘best of’ anything because the price point immediately invalidates it. I know you guys want to be the Top Gear of gun blogs but try to remember the audience.

    *Unless the list is ‘Top 3 most expensive handguns’. In that case go nuts.

    • Seriously, I know dozens of fellow concealed carriers and maybe three of them carry guns that sell over the 1k mark, two of them being FN 5.7s. Most of us will never own a Wilson Combat or STI anything. Most people I know try to find that happy medium between biggest/best and comfortable/easy. So usually a polymer single stack in a mid power caliber i.e. 40s&w or 9mm. Narrowing it down to three is user preference, period. Mine would be…
      Walther PPS .40
      Kahr cm .40
      Glock 29 10mm

    • Here, here! Even with the money available, I would rather buy two or three different carry guns (plus holsters and extras) than drop that much on one carry gun. Further, if anyone ever did get into a DGU and needed to hand over their firearm as evidence, wouldn’t they rather it be in the $300 – $500 range and have a back up to carry in the mean time?

      • Bingo. I will never be able to afford a Wilson, and there are plenty of very solid choices (Springfield being one) for less than half the price, and even some very good Philippines or Turkish guns that run under $500. The only real question is “is it reliable?” I cannot imagine being willing to sacrifice a Wilson or other very high end 1911 in a DGU.

      • And that’s the reason I never carry anything that can’t be replaced easily and is reasonably priced. Case in point some asshole stole my Ruger LCR 22lr earlier in the month! After reporting it to local law enforcement, got on the phone with a gun store, have done a lot of business with them, ordered a replacement. Car locked and glove box locked. Discovered with Honda anyone can order online an un-chipped key that will open car door & glove box!
        In Texas we used to hang thieves, need to hang a few to make a point!

    • +1.

      Both my $700 Springfield Milspec and 10mm RIA Tac II works fine. If you pick a 1911 as a top carry gun any 1911 works.

    • Yeah, a carry gun should be one that won’t break you to replace while it languishes in an evidence lock-up after a DGU. If you have enough cash that replacing a $3000 pistol doesn’t hurt too much, then more power to you, but most of us don’t have the cash for that laying around.

  3. Renner’s 3 best CCW weapons:
    1. SR9C
    2. 92FS Compact
    3. LCR
    Why? because that’s what I use and you should too.

    Apparently TTAG had a meeting and decided to put out as many top three lists as they could possibly come up with, at least one per day.

    • I’d actually add a fourth to my list, an LC9S. I could spell out all the reasons for the above selections but I doubt anyone would much care about my opinions.

    • Before I bought my GP 100 Wiley Clapp, I carried a full sized Beretta 92fs for a while. Nothing a decent leather belt and a loose fitting shirt can’t handle.

      • You and I would get along just fine. I open carry a GP100 when I’m kicking around in the woods, my “Huntin’ Gun”. Everyone that shoots that GP absolutely loves it.

      • I tried hard to conceal carry my 92s, but there was just no way. Even under a field jacket, that thick round handle just gave it away every time.

        • I carry kind of halfway between apendix and on the hip, canted forward. If you’re carrying in the 4-5 o’clock position that grip will stick out like a sore thumb. Different body types make a big difference though.

    • Thanx for the Ruger love, Renner!
      As much as I may love my SP101, I honestly couldn’t recommend it to a noob – too heavy. All-steel guns are for stubborn jackasses like the Gov and myself.

      • When one regularly packs around with a Beretta or a GP-100, an SP-101 isn’t bad at all. My 3″ SP-101 is CCW selection #5. IWB and you hardly know it’s there. Heck, I strap it on my ankle just as often as IWB, although admittedly that isn’t exactly the most comfortable arrangement. Agree with the Gov, a good stiff belt makes carrying almost any gun reasonable.

        • I’d also add that no one notices or would even care when an OFWG adjusts his cargo shorts.

      • Depending on mood & circumstances: Ruger LCP Custom, LC9S, SR9C, 9E, LCR .357, SP101 .357 snub. GP100 .357 with bear loads for deep woods. Wife loves a SP101 3″.

      • And grumpy senior citizens such as myself.
        Gave my sister in law my GP100 WC since they live out in the country with gray fox, cayotes and occasional feral hog. And have 3 small dogs. Her’s is 3″ barrel, SS. The replacement I purchased is GP 100, 4″ blued. I have a nice black craved bear paw holster with a pretty stout leather gun belt.
        Actually I’m a very nice woman just don’t threaten me or mine?

  4. When I worked at a gun range a few years back we called the LCR in .357 “The Noisey Cricket” in loving reference to the diminutive energy-gun that Agent J in Men In Black totes that can fit in a pocket but blow a hole the size of an elephant in a Semi-truck trailer. What a gun! I was the only one that worked there that loved the absurdity of it though.

    • If you want to try something different (one of the bonus’ with a revolver), shoot it from a jacket pocket (my own private range). If it was a good jacket, it won’t be anymore; hole damn near big enough to put entire gun thru. Tried it recently with my LCR loaded with +P ammo. I now have two old jackets with these funny huge holes around the pockets. Make damn sure where your non shooting hand is. Never know when this could come in handy.

  5. ‘And while I recommend the .357mag version, I don’t advise loading it with the biggest and nastiest +P+ loads you can find.’

    As a hard core .357 magnum fan (and owner of 2 GP 100s) I’d like to know where you can buy +p .357 am mo, because I’ve never actually seen such a load. I think the stuff you’re thinking of (Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc) are actually just run of the mill full pressure .357 magnum loads. The weaker stuff (Federal, Reming ton, Win chester, etc) are actually downloaded to lower pressure (I blame S&W for that).

    That said, I wouldn’t recommend full pressure .357 for ultra-lightweight revolvers because even if you’re masochistic enough to enjoy the experience, the bullets could jump crimp, jamming your edc right when you need it.

      • +p+ .38 special is probably what I’d recommend for the LCR, or maybe one of the lightest ‘magnum’ loads. Otherwise you might as well carry the .38 version that’s a few ounces lighter.

        • Gov. I think part of the problem is going too light with the pistol. I would much rather carry a super light 357 mag with 38 +p+ then a super light 38 ( which weighs less then the 357).

        • Yes, I’m guessing the felt recoil would be about the same between the .38 model with standard pressure am mo and the .357 model with .38 +p+. I don’t see the point of carrying the .357 with standard .38 in it unless you’re fairly recoil averse.

  6. Best compact 9 for many years has been and still is KAHR PM9. None of the newest sub compacts match it in width less than 1 inch, weight 15 oz, trigger pull & capacity 7 +1. My everyday gun is a Kimber compact in .45, 25 oz., just about 1 inch width, standard night sights, 8 + 1, 230 grains of Fed Hydro shok.

    I’ve had trigger work done on both guns, not necessary just anal that way. Added nights sights to the KAHR and crimson trance lasers to both guns. These two pieces cover every conceivable CC situation.

    • My carry is a Kahr CW9, which at 7+1 and 16 oz empty is hardly noticeable. I also have a compact Kimber (27 oz, I believe) but don’t carry it because if it is tight enough to conceal it stabs me in the ribs, and even 30- oz loaded is a boat anchor compared to the Kahr. Plus I’ve been though three holsters so far and haven’t found one I like. the best working of the lot is a belt slide, but since it doesn’t completely cover the gun it is at high risk of being spotted, and it isn’t protected from every day knocks and dings.

    • I’ve carried a PM9 for years. It’s super reliable and remarkably accurate with Federal +P 124gn HST’s. It conceals when wearing a suit, jeans, shorts, or even biking gear. Still haven’t worked out effective shower carry though…

      And every time a new sub-compact comes out I compare it to the PM9. The PM9 is still the King. It’s lighter, smaller, thinner, and has a better trigger than any other 9mm I’ve fired.

  7. small .38 revolver, check.
    compact single stack nine, check.
    1911 carry, check.
    all solid choices and available in many flavors.
    i’d prefer a diminutive 1911 in 9mm.

  8. I know these are opinion pieces, but, a lightweight .357 mag snub nose? That’s a horrible choice, for many reasons. 1) It will kick so severely which will cause people to not practice as much as they should with the heavy hitting load. I don’t even like shooting my wife’s S&W Model 638 airweight with +p rounds. 2) Round count – only 5 rounds! Not really sufficient nor ideal. 3) There’s almost no point to using .357 mag in a snub nose as the velocity is not much higher than a .38 spc. +p round out of the same gun. Sure, it’s a tiny bit higher, but not much nor is the extra muzzle flash or recoil worth the slight ballistic gain over the .38 special +p. By the way, it takes a 3″ revolver .357 mag, to match the energy of a 4″ 9 mm +p. Might as well carry a 9 mm. A 9mm +p out of a 3.3″ barrel (i.e., XDs-9) still has a lot more energy (~375 ft/ lbs) than a .357 mag out of a snub nose (~250-275 ft lbs).

    • You’ll get around 600ft/lbs of energy out of a 3″ revolver with full pressure (not +p as I pointed out above) .357 magnum am mo and around 475 out of the lighter loads. Both 9 mm and .357 magnum run at a max pressure of 35,000psi and the .357 has over twice the case capacity. No amount of +p pressure can overcome that.

      That said I’m not a big fan of ultra-short .357 snubbies. Even an extra half inch would make a huge difference in ME.

      • Double Tap claims 544ft/lbs out of a 1-7/8″ S&W with the load I carry. If you’re not taking their numbers with a grain of salt that would be more like 650 with my 3″. I’m guessing the snubby gets <500.

      • I’d like the source. The reason that manufactures don’t take advantage of the full capacity of the .357 case capacity for self defense ammo is that the bullet has left the barrel before the energy of the powder charge has even peaked.

        As you can see the bullet velocity drops like a rock once barrel length falls below 4″ adding more powder doesn’t change this.

          1245 x 1245 x 158 / 450400 = 543.75ft/lbs.

          BB claims nearly 1400fps with a 158gr. out of a 3″ J frame. That’s 685ft/lbs.

          Personally I’m convinced that they find a revolver with a ridiculously tight cylinder gap, run 100 roun ds over the chronograph and pick out the highest one and go with that. Your mileage is likely to be somewhat lower. But I’ve seen enough reviews that chronoed around 470-490ft/lbs out of 3″ revolvers with the light stuff and combined with the noticeable boost in recoil, 600ft/lbs seems about right. But 540ft/lbs out of a 1-7/8″ snubby does sound a bit dubious to me too. I’d guess 450 is doable though.

        • Also a note on hot snubby loads; heavier bullets spend more time in the short barrels and will glean a little more energy out of them. And most of the bullets are manufactured with the lighter loadings out of a 4″ barrel in mind, so velocities should be near or even higher than the bullets were designed for.

    • Well I see the problem: you are used to the inferior performance of S&W. If you actually try the LCR with an open mind, you will be impressed with the superiority of the Ruger.

  9. The .38 spl. LCR with 158 lswc is the most painful gun I’ve ever fired. No thanks.
    The Wilson? Asking more than for it than my ’04 Camry with 268,000 on it is worth ? Fugeddaboudit !
    Best carry guns, IMHO and actually owned/carried ?
    1. First and best, G19.
    2. Colt Officer’s 1991 in.45acp
    3. G43. Goes anywhere with a dress code short of a nudist colony. My daughter says the recoil is less than the G19.

  10. Ruger SR1911 LW Commander in 9mm. Only 29 ounces, 9mm, SA trigger. What not to love?

    I have used the 1911 LWC in 9 and a Shield in 9mm to shoot IDPA matches. The Ruger wins hands down. I have no more trouble concealing it than the Shield, but Kentucky is an open carry state so who cares if it is concealed. Times and scores are much better with the Ruger over the Shield.

    • Just got my Ruger LWC 9mm last week. Had it out once so far, 320 rounds without a hiccup. I haven’t carried it yet, as the rear sight needs adjuustment, got my sight pusher today, so looking forward to that. Great gun so far.

  11. “A 1911 handgun is a lot of gun to carry. It isn’t quite as dragging around a full size SIG SAUER P226 (which I did at one point), but it’s close and pounds equal pain.”
    What a wuss! Try the Wilson Combat Low Profile holster! I carry a Combat Commander all day, everyday in one.
    BTW, by the looks of all the bullet holes / strikes it appears The Range will be replacing ceiling panels in short order. ?

  12. M1911-A2 TCM ROCK Standard MS HC Combo

    17+1 rounds, and it does triple duty as a flashbang and flamethrower. 🙂

  13. I shot the g43 here times, one of the three the mag dropped because my finger in seeeming normal grip rests on the odd mag release

    Is that common? Seems like a strange design

    • The only time I had that issue with my 43 is when shooting it left handed (or shooting it right handed when I switched the mag release to the other side). The large gen4 magazine release may need a bit of practice before you can grip it “wrong” handed without dropping the mag accidentally.

  14. To say those are the best choices seems a little crazy. The Glock 43 sure, but the other two ? Those are terrible choices for most “average” people.

  15. wow…
    was this article really to see how many of us have shot these and disagree?
    Sorry but in my opinion “it” is the gun you actually carry, regardless of who makes “it”, caliber, etc etc..
    If you’re carrying “it” and you know how to shoot “it”…not at an expert level; just well enough; then “it” is the best carry gun. People are too different to say these three guns are the “best”; sorry I disagree.

  16. I carry a Springfield 1911 that I have owned for over thirty years. The best three guns to carry are: 1. What you are confident in your ability to use. 2. What you are confident will operate as and when needed. 3. The largest you can carry daily.

  17. LMAO!

    They are his picks. Get over it.

    The 1911 is just too pricey for my tastes and I would replace it with an SR9c.

    Ive never seen so many dilletantes whining about a gun like the LCR 357.

    It’s a great gun – if the recoil hurts you then don’t carry it.

    I shoot mine as well as any mini 9 (with 125 JHP) and it is faster for me to get into action.

    The 43 is the only Glock I like. Still rubs my knuckle though.

    Maybe we’re tougher when we get past 50.

    • “The 43 is the only Glock I like. Still rubs my knuckle though.” I absolutely agree, though I still won’t buy one. If Glock was smart, the 43 would have the same dimensions as the 42 or would have a similar overall profile as a 19, but still single stack without finger grooves. That gun is too big for Pocket carry, and too small to bother with IWB.

  18. Such hate for the .357!

    Like any other small frame gun, practice and its not a problem.

    Yes, learning curve for a stubby is high, but if you get to the end of that curve, you will be much happier than any short barrel automatic ever created.

    • I *LOVE* the .357. It’s brilliant. But it’s a joke out of a 2″ barrel. It’s a manstopper from a 4″ barrel, and a black bearstopper from an 8″ barrel. And from an 18″ barrel, it’s a gen-you-wine rifle.

      But from a 2″ barrel? It’s about as enjoyable, fun, and effective as lighting and holding on to a firecracker as it explodes. .357 magnum in a 2″ barrel is like hiring Kobe Bryant to play basketball for you, but chopping his legs off before he even gets out on the floor.

      A Glock 26 carries twice the ammunition and each bullet hits harder, with about 1/10 the recoil and 1/2 the cost, as a 2″ snubby .357.

      .357 snubbies are like buying a V8 Mustang GT, and then pulling six of the spark plugs out so it only runs on two cylinders.

      Friends don’t let friends get suckered into a .357 snubbie. There’s an old saying that “real defensive calibers start with a 4″; well, real .357 magnum starts with at least (at LEAST) a 4″ barrel, preferably 6”. A 6″ .357 is a hell of a gun. A 2″ .357 is just hell.

      • Yes Ted it does bellow and buck.
        But it also launches 125 grain hollowpoint at anywhere from 1150 to 1275 fps.
        I don’t have any 9mm 125 grain ammo that will do that out of a 3 inch “tiny-nine” barrel.
        The best I have does around 1080 out of a short-tube 9.

        So you may recoil in fear at a 357 snub, but it does perform. Easy to carry. Easy to draw,

        Until Ruger makes one with a 3inch barrel, I’ll carry the LCR 2inch. If you can’t handle it, you’d do well to carry something else.

        • “But it also launches 125 grain hollowpoint at anywhere from 1150 to 1275 fps.
          I don’t have any 9mm 125 grain ammo that will do that out of a 3 inch “tiny-nine” barrel.”

          According to BallisticsByTheInch, the 9mm Corbon 125gr JHP does 1170 fps out of a 3″ barrel; I’m sure some of the Buffalo Bore or DoubleTap loads get up there too but they didn’t test those. But the real competition would be something like the Glock 26; with a 3.5″ barrel it probably matches the .357 when using 9mm +P, in what is likely a smaller overall platform, with all the aforementioned benefits too.

          “So you may recoil in fear at a 357 snub”
          Fear? No, no fear — I recoil in revulsion at what a bad idea it is! 🙂

          Being disparaging about something silly is not the same thing as being “afraid” of it. I’m not “afraid” of the .357 snubbie, I just think it’s preposterous when there are such better choices available.

          “it does perform”

          Yes, it does – but you left off the rest of the sentence — the full sentence is “it does perform – just like a tiny pocketable Glock 26, but with 10x the recoil, 10x the muzzle blast, half the capacity, and twice the ammo cost.” 😀

        • TED. It is obvious you know as much about physics as guns.

          10x recoil. Not how it works.

        • Well, no, sorry, it kind of is. I mean, sure, 10x is an exaggeration, but a reciprocating slide on a semi-auto disperses a lot of the recoil energy. With a revolver, there’s nowhere for the energy to go but into your hand.

          So — if you want to argue theoretical physics, fine, whatever — I’m talking about how it feels in your hand.

  19. If I am going to be handicapped by a low round count, I want at least 6…..and a good revolver like a Smith 66 (if the bullet doesn’t kill them, the fire may).
    I guess it takes an expensive 1911 to make it reliable with hollowpoints… thanks…

    I am thinking:
    Revolver-S&W 66
    Full Size-Glock 21 (and it sucks your soul right out of body too)
    9MM-if you must have a nine (think tired 40 short and weak)-then good luck with that….plenty of choices

  20. The LCR .357 Magnum is 3.6 ounces heavier than the LCR rated for .38 +P., so it will be more durable and make .38 +P even more comfortable to shoot. Yet it’s still light enough to be very comfortable to carry all day. That’s why I chose it over the regular LCR.

  21. The LCR in .357 Magnum? Are you insane? That’s about the worst CCW gun anyone could buy. There is zero reason to get it. The only worse CCW gun would be an Airweight in .357 Magnum. 🙂

    If you want an LCR, get it in 9mm. 9mm +P is every bit as powerful as the .357 from that 2″ barrel, it launches the same size & weight bullet at the same speed, but the 9mm has dramatically less recoil, the gun is the exact same size and weight, and the ammo for it costs half as much as .357 Magnum.

    .357 Magnum in a 2″ barrel is not just a bad choice, it’s a stupid choice. It wastes all the potential of .357 Magnum in noise and muzzle flash, and ends up sending the bullet along at speeds no better than 9mm+p. .357 out of a 4″ barrel is a manstopper. .357 out of a 2″ barrel is just silly.

    If you want a .357, don’t even consider one with a barrel less than 3″ long. Anything less is just crippled and therefore foolish; spending a ton of money and dealing with insane recoil for no practical benefit does not make something one of the “top 3 best CCW weapons”.

    • The 9mm is good out of an LCR but it is not in league with full power 357s.

      The moon clips are nice but they are more fragile to carry than a speedloader or speed strip.

      They have their own issues with crimp-jump and some ammo sticking in the cylinder.

      The 9mm in the LCR is equal to autos with 3inch barrels but not to 357s out of an LCR.

      You may whine and say 100 fps is no difference but I say the 100 fps may mean the difference in bullet expansion and penetration.

      I also carry a 9mm SR9c and sometimes an LCR in 38 spl.

      The only stupid choice is believing the 9mm is ballistically equal to the 357 out of a 2inch barrel.

      • “The only stupid choice is believing the 9mm is ballistically equal to the 357 out of a 2inch barrel.”

        You know, this is something that could be easily settled by anyone who happens to have both. But why would you believe that a .357 from a 2″ barrel is somehow superior to a 9mm +P (don’t leave out the +P part) from an effectively 3.4″ barrel, which is what the 9mm LCR is?

        Look at the Gold Dot Short Barrel, for example. Unfortunately they’re not identical weight, but it’s still close enough to illustrate the point. From a 9mm 3.5″ barrel like the Glock 26 (or the LCR 9mm), a 124+P Gold Dot reaches 1150 fps. From a 2″-barrel .357, the 135-grain Gold Dot hits 990 fps. Now, the weight is 8.9% heaver with the .357, but the velocity is 16% slower. Run the kinetic energy calculations and you’ll see the 9mm is delivering 364 ft/lbs, and the .357 is delivering 294 ft/lbs.

        I’m not making this stuff up. This is just the truth. The .357 Magnum is a brilliant cartridge, but the 2″ barrel chops it off at the hips and sucks all its power out, to where it is no more ballistically powerful than a Glock 26 or something comparable running +P ammo.

        • Because I have a chronograph and several LCRs. And I also have tiny nines and +p ammo.

  22. There are so many good 9mm polymer framed striker concealed carry handguns out there, it should just be a generic entry. I have a Kahr P9, but I got it before the CCW laws became so widespread and generated so many choices.

    An aluminum framed 4″ 1911 is not that bad to carry. I’d choose one that had a bob tailed grip, preferably in 9mm or 38 Super for more capacity.

    I don’t know enough about revolvers, other than shooting a S&W Airweight 357 was painful. If I were limited to 5 or 6 rounds, I want them to count when they hit.

  23. I have a 6 inch S&W model 19. Recoil stings with 158 grain bullets at 1100 fps. I’m not sure I could even hold onto an LCR loaded with full power .357s. If I chose to carry one, it would be in .22 LR. Eight rounds that I could shoot accurately instead of five I couldn’t. Before that, I would choose a Kahr P380 in a Recluse pocket holster.

    My next choice upward in size would be a single stack 9 mm. Although my personal preference would be a Kahr P9, S&W Performance Center Shield or Honor Guard, there are many other good choices.

    If I didn’t care about deep concealment, I would want an S&W M&P 9c. More capacity than a single stack but not as bulky as the full size model.

    I shot my new 5 inch, ported, Performance Center M&P better the first time out than I have ever shot the Gold Cup I’ve owned for more than 30 years.

    • I will have to stop by your place & have my 5 foot barely over 100 pound niece show you how to shoot full power 158 gr American Eagle SJSP from an LCR .357. It’s one of her most favorite combos to shoot. To quote her “I like this.”

  24. I sometimes carry my 5.7X28. I went to my defensive class and somebody said “who is shooting a .22 cal. and I said it is me, but it was a center fire .223 or a 5.56X28 round. No futher comment. Now be safe out there and shoot whatever you want that can knock down the BG.

  25. 3. LCR in .357…when .38sp +P wasn’t effective enough to separate skin from hand.
    2. Wilson Combat 1911…does it count if I use WC mags in my SR1911?
    1. G43…or any other polymer striker fired sub compact from a major manufacturer is cool.

  26. I like my LCR 357. Handles and shoots great, and has one awesome double action trigger. My problem with the LCR is dumping empty shells, there is always at least one that hangs up, usually more. I have polished the cylinders to no avail, it will remain a range toy. I’ll stick to my single stack semi autos.

  27. Maybe you should call these “Favorites” instead of best. I know TTAG is trying to be the new click bait and all that,.. but, c’mon man. These are good choices. Not the best. 357 in the LCR is a nightmare. 38 +p is perfect. I mean if 9mm is on the “Best List” then the power and controlability of the 38+p should be all kinds of bueno. The 1911 will pants me and most folks. I know the TTAG crew have gun diva issues so the 1911 is your thing,.. but most folks want to carry comfortably and not dress like the “weird uncle” in the safari vest hiding his 1911.

  28. The LCR and 1911 are almost comical choices for CCW…except that someone who takes Mr. Leghorns’ advice may end up dead. The LCR like any “snub-hose” revolver is low capacity (forget about reloading any revolver when under stress) and will likely be difficult to master for the average shooter. Albeit they are simple to operate. As for the 1911, in the training I’ve attended and conducted, the 1911 platform by far malfunctions more often and more severely than any other platform. Yes, this includes Wilson Combat. It’s just too finicky and complex a system to rely upon for life-saving reliability. And let’s not forget with a base price of $3,850.00 for the Wilson Combat puts it out of reach for most people. The Glock 43 is a good choice but only for deep concealment or as a backup. The G26 which practically has the same length and height but twice the capacity with the mag extension is a much better option for a primary CCW platform. The S&W M&P series, the Springfield XD series and even the Ruger LC9s Pro are much better options than the LCR and Wilson Combat. I don’t know who Mr. Leghorn thinks he is helping, but he needs to take a few more thought cycles before he goes around recommending a CCW gun.

  29. The range I work at on the weekends sells hundreds of these for small carry guns.
    1) S&W Shield 9mm first ,.40 S&W second , .45 acp third.
    2) Ruger LCP / S&W Bodyguard.380’s
    3) Glock 42/43
    4) Ruger LC9

    We do sell a lot of full size guns but, the last couple years more people are carrying the smaller guns.

  30. I love myself some 1911, but this is just fail. It’s also why i’ll never recommend this site as an expert source of news and opinion. Can you conceal a 1911? Absolutely. Can and have. Should it have ever made the top 10? Not a f*cking chance. And if you’re going the conceal 1911 route, there are so many other more concealable choices that would make the top 10.


  31. WOW! Lots of opinions and preconceived ideas.

    If anyone has taken a professionally given CCW course you would know that you should be able to hit a B-27 target at 25 yards consistently. Your CCW gun is not only for up close and personal defense work.

    A quality IWB holster is a key element to both concealment and also accessibility. You would be surprised at the size of the gun that can be concealed with the proper holster.

    I carry a Browning HP in 9mm (147gr HP) in an Alien IWB holster with no problem as well as easy access.

  32. In leftist Kalifornia, the Glock 26 (3rd gen) is the ideal combination of small, accurate and maximum capacity (10+1).
    Fits perfect IWB. The closest equivalent would be the Springfield XD9 sub-compact if you like lots of extra safeties.
    The LCR is cute and has a great trigger, but wastes the potential of the .357 Magnum cartridge while taking up just as much space as a G26 (in a holster), though it may pocket carry. I have found the pants pocket is a terrible place for a gun of any kind, and completely untenable with anything that holds more than 6 rounds of center-fire goodness regardless of style.
    That said, I’d totally own any of these 3 fine firearms.

  33. You know what they say…opinions are like a-holes…everybody’s got one. Concealed carry is not one size fits all. If you live in a warm climate and wear light clothing most of the year, full size pistols are not always the best choice. If you are not wearing a belt, it doesn’t matter how great your holster is. If you are on a budget, a 2-3K WC 1911 is absurd. If I could only own one pistol for concealed carry I would be thinking versatility (pocket carry or holster), conceal-ability, capacity and caliber. I’d probably go with a Springfield XDs in .45 (or 9mm). I have pocket carried it and it does work. Ruger LC9s is another good choice…slim, light and accurate. If you want a really light gun that you can carry all day, I think the LCR or comparable S&W’s are still reasonable choices despite the 5 round capacity. Not fun to practice with but .38 +p or .357 still get the job done if you are up close and personal. If you have the luxury of owning a bunch of guns, have one for every occasion!


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