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An anonymous reader writes:

Soon after my state became a “Shall Issue” state, I purchased the ideal concealed carry weapon. As you’ll see, I continue to purchase the ideal concealed carry weapon. Over and over again. Here’s a short list of my quest for the perfect carry gun:

Firearm and Purchasing Rationale:

GLOCK 26 – Everybody says you need a GLOCK. No comment regarding its attractiveness.

Walther PPK – I love PPKs. Had it customized with a hand checkered frontstrap, action job and dehorn. Waited three months for a Milt Sparks Versa-Max II IWB (Inside the Waist Band) holster, which is a work of art. It’s a beautiful gun and holster . . .

1911 Officers Model – Complete custom gun, built on a Caspian titanium frame and stainless steel slide. I added a pair of beautiful double-diamond rosewood grips. Ordered another Versa-Max II holster. A really beautiful gun.

S&W 642  – I needed to buy a revolver for my daughter. At the time, handguns were a bit unfamiliar to her so the simplicity of the 642 was very attractive.

NAA Guardian 32 – A really small gun will be a great concealed carry weapon. Upgraded by the North American Arms custom shop. A very nice gun.

Seecamp 32 – The Seecamp is the “real thing” which was copied by NAA for their Guardian 32. The Seecamp 32 is 2.5 oz. lighter than the Guardian and I had to have one.

S&W 340PD – I decided I needed a light gun in a respectable defensive caliber, such as 357 Magnum. Not wanting to leave well enough alone, I added a pair Eagle Secret Service rosewood grips and had the action completely worked over. I waited twenty weeks for a Milt Sparks pocket holster. After carrying this revolver for a few years, I upgraded it with the addition of Crimson Trace LG-105 laser grips. It’s a really beauty.

Kahr PM9 – Automatics are so…modern and the Kahr PM9 might be the best one for concealed carry. It’s small, light, extremely reliable and in 9mm. I had to have one.

Kel-Tec P3-AT – The Kel-Tec 32 ACP and 380 ACP are the lightest pocket automatics available. I went with the 380 ACP. This is a really ugly gun.

Seecamp 380 – The Seecamp 380 is identical to the 32, but in the larger 380 ACP caliber. They are in limited production with a delivery times exceeding one year. Something this hard to get must be really good. I received mine after waiting thirteen months. It’s sort of like the Rolex of pocket automatics.

Ruger LCP – The LCP is quite similar to the Kel-Tec P3-AT, but slightly heavier. It is a very well made pistol and is quite attractive. Mine has slightly customized with a reduced magazine release and the slide has been electroless nickel plated.

Diamondback DB9 – The DB9 is the smallest and lightest 9mm pistol on the market today.

So after lots of experimentation with various weapons and holsters, I’ve reached a few conclusions and recommendations that I’ll share.


Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight

Description: The 642 is the aluminum and stainless steel version of the hammerless S&W Centennial. What the weapon lacks in glamour and coolness, it makes up in simplicity and reliability. If it doesn’t fire, commence PTA routine (Pull Trigger Again).Semi-automatic pistols, while extremely reliable, do occasionally malfunction, requiring corrective action (TRB – Tap the magazine to firmly seat. Rack the slide to chamber a fresh cartridge. Pull the trigger and it should go Bang.). In forty years of shooting, I’ve never had a revolver jam. The 642 is also a great value.

Caliber: 38 Special

Capacity: 5 shot

Weight: 16.6 oz., loaded (est.)

MSRP: $449.00

Carry:  Holster, pocket or purse. Although not the smallest gun, it is great for pocket carry due to its thinness at the muzzle and rounded grip, resulting in minimal printing (the ability to see the shape of a concealed weapon through clothing). The DeSantis Nemesis is an excellent and economical holster for pocket carry. If you want the best, order a Milt Sparks pocket holster. It features a band of metal around the perimeter that lets you mold the holster to the contour of your thigh. Milt Sparks makes some of the finest holsters in America; normal delivery is about twenty weeks. Buy a DeSantis and wait for the arrival of your Milt Sparks. For traditional belt carry, talk to the people at Milt Sparks. Unfortunately, the 642 is equipped with rubber grips that grab fabric. That’s the last thing you want when drawing a weapon from a pocket or from under a cover garment. Order a set of smooth Secret Service grips (no checkering) from Eagle Grips. These grips are thin, fit perfectly and available in a number of materials. Although rather expensive, the ultimate upgrade are Crimson Trace LG-105 laser grips. Place the laser dot on the target and pull the trigger.

Negatives: Long and heavy trigger pull. Standard sights are difficult to see and use. Reloads are slower than with a semi-automatic pistol.

Smith & Wesson 340PD Airlite

Description: The 340PD is the scandium and titanium version of the S&W Centennial and is chambered for the 357 Magnum. Basically, it’s the same design as the S&W 642, but much lighter and more powerful. The very low weight and powerful caliber results in the 340PD boasting the highest power to weight ratio of any weapon on the market. Many of the advantages of this weapon are listed above, in the description of the S&W 642. When first picked up, most people are shocked at the revolver’s light weight. While dimensionally the same as the Smith & Wesson 642, the 340PD is 3 oz. lighter. 3 oz. is the weight of 12 Quarters. Due to its light weight, the 342PD is perfect for pocket carry. The 340PD is available with either a red ramp or fiber optic front sight. The 340PD with Crimson Trace LG-105 laser grips is the ultimate personal defense, “no-compromise,” weapon.

Caliber: 357 Magnum

Capacity: 5 shot

Weight: 13.6 oz., loaded

MSRP: $1,019.00

Carry: See above under S&W 642 listing. Same advantages plus very low weight and the ability to use the far more powerful 357 Magnum cartridge (38 Specials can also be fired in the 340PD).

Negatives: Long heavy trigger pull. Substantial recoil. Keep in mind that defensive handguns are carried a lot but seldom fired. Reloads are slower than with a semi-automatic pistol.



Description: With the introduction of the full-size GLOCK 17, the modern handgun was redefined with GLOCK’s use of polymer as a material for firearms construction, resulting in lighter handguns. Now, most manufacturers offer weapons with polymer frames. Since then, GLOCK has introduced reduced sized compact models and even smaller “mini GLOCKs.” GLOCKs are, without a doubt, outstanding weapons. Due to the double stack design of their magazines, they are rather thick. GLOCKs are extremely reliable and simple to operate and are available in a wide range of calibers. They’re available with standard, adjustable or night sights that glow in the dark. All GLOCK sights are excellent and work very well. For concealed carry, standard or night sights are preferable.

Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 GAP, 45 ACP, 357 SIG. For concealed carry, 9mm and 40 S&W are the most popular.

Capacity: Varies, depending on caliber and model. The GLOCK 26 “mini” in 9mm has a capacity of 10+1.

Weight: 26.6 oz. (GLOCK 26)

MSRP: $641.00 (Standard sights); $669.00 (Night sights)

Carry: Holster or purse. Due to their thickness and weight, GLOCKs are not well suited for pocket carry. Kydex belt and IWB holsters work very well. Milt Sparks has many outstanding leather holsters for all Glock pistols.

Negatives: Notwithstanding what some experts say, an automatic is more complicated and less reliable than a revolver. TRB (Tap, Rack, Bang) is more complicated than PTA (Pull Trigger Again). Glocks are thick and heavy (even the G26 or G27), making them impractical for comfortable pocket carry.


Kahr PM9 and PM40

Description: Kahr makes some of the finest concealed carry semi-automatic pistols available. The PM9 (9mm) and PM40 (40 S&W) are single stack designs which make them thinner than double-stack configurations, such as the Glock 26 or 27, making the Kahrs ideal for IWB holsters. Compared to the Mini Glocks, the PMs are smaller, thinner and lighter. The pistols can be configured with standard or night sights, either of which are excellent. The Kahr PM pistols are outstanding choices for concealed carry.

Caliber: 9mm or 40 S&W

Capacity: PM9 6+1, PM40 5+1.

Weight: 19.4 oz. (PM9)

MSRP: $786.00 to $957.00 (Depending on slide finish and sights)

Carry: Holster or purse. Due to its blocky design, the PMs are not the best choice for pocket carry. Because they are so thin, the pistols are perfect for IWB holsters, such as the Comp-Tac Infidel. 4

Negatives: Lower maximum capacity due to single-stack design. Expensive. See notes in Glock section regarding semi-automatic reliability.


Ruger LCP

Description: Basically, Ruger copied the very popular Kel-Tec P3-AT (380 ACP), extensively refining the design. Ruger’s efforts resulted in a well-designed and highly refined pocket pistol. It’s quite thin, due to its single stack magazine and light, due to its polymer frame. The LCP can be ordered with fixed sights or with a laser sight.

Caliber: 380 ACP

Weight: 12 oz., loaded

MSRP: $379.00 to $549.00 (Depending on sights)

Carry: Due to its small size and light weight, the LCP is the ideal pocket pistol. Many companies offer holsters that will keep the pistol properly position in one’s pocket.

Negative: Some consider the 380 ACP cartridge to be underpowered.

Random Thoughts and Personal Opinions

DAO – All of the above firearms have DAO (Double Action Only) actions. This means that they have long and rather heavy trigger pulls that minimize the chance of accidentally pulling the trigger.

22 Magnum and 25 ACP – I don’t recommend defensive pistols in either of these two calibers. Both use small bullets and do not provide sufficient energy to be effective.

32 ACP – In recent years, the 32 ACP has enjoyed a renewed popularity due to the greatly increased sales of small pocket semi-automatic pistols, such as the Seecamp and Guardian. The 32 ACP is, by no means, a powerful cartridge, and should be considered a marginal choice. If, due to clothing and lifestyle issues, you are unable to carry a larger weapon in a more effective caliber, a quality 32 ACP might be a reasonable alternative. A 32 ACP in your pocket is better than a 9mm at home. Also, bullet placement is what’s most important. A 32 ACP bullet in the chest is more effective than a 357 Magnum bullet in the hand. For decades, the 32 ACP was widely used by European police. World War I was started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand with a 32 ACP FN Model 1910. Adolph Hitler committed suicide with a 32 ACP Walther PPK. Obviously, the 32 ACP is lethal.

380 ACP – Many of the same pistols chambered for 32 ACP are also available in the more effective 380 ACP. The 380 ACP uses a larger and heavier bullet than the 32 ACP and is a better choice for a defensive pistol.

Kel-Tec Pistols – Kel-Tec makes small pocket pistols in 32 ACP and 380 ACP. Due to their small size and polymer frames, these guns are very light and compact, making them a popular choice for concealed carry. They are also very affordable. Kel-Tec pistols are a bit crude but reliable.

Seecamp – Seecamp pistols are very small and are available in both 32 ACP and 380 ACP. These pistols are handmade with limited availability (delivery on the 380 ACP is approximately one year). The Seecamp could be described as the Rolex of pocket pistols. Due to their small size, they are difficult to shoot and easy to conceal. Due to its all steel construction, the Seecamp pistols are heavy for their size.

Diamondback DB9 – The DB9 is the smallest and lightest 9mm semi-automatic on the market. Let me stress one point…the DB9 is not a pistol for everyone. The combination of a serious caliber/cartridge, low pistol weight and small size results in a pistol that makes certain demands on the shooter. The pistol requires a firm and solid grip. It also requires what I refer to as, “Enough man behind the pistol.” Let me clarify that last point: On a number of occasions, I’ve seen semi-automatic pistol malfunctions with shooters of small stature. No matter how firmly they grip the pistol, their size/weight does not provide sufficient mass for the pistol to function properly. The most often experienced issues (failure to feed, failure to extract, stovepipe jams, etc.) can be a serious problem. The DB9 is small and light enough for easy pocket carry. Also, the sights are better than most found on small pistols. The DB9 can also be a bit picky when it comes to ammunition selection. Following Diamondback’s recommendation, use Hornady Critical Defense ammunition, which functions flawlessly. It’s a bit of a beast to shoot.

North American Arms Guardian – The NAA Guardian 32 is very similar to the Seecamp 32 ACP. The pistol is slightly larger and heavier than the Seecamp, making it a bit easier to shoot.

Sights – Pistol sights are typically configured with a post front sight and a notch rear sight. They are available with many variations, including night sights that glow in the dark. With any configuration, it’s necessary to line up the sights and maintain the alignment while aiming the gun at the target. It takes a lot of practice to accurately shoot a handgun. An alternative is a laser sight, such as those made by Crimson Trace. With laser sights, a red laser beam is projected from the gun to the target. Place the red dot on your target and shoot. You don’t have to align the sights or even have the gun directly in front of your eye. Just place to glowing red dot where you want the bullet to go. Quality laser sights are expensive but are an outstanding upgrade to any defensive weapon.

Compromises – Almost all of the small pocket automatics (Seecamp, Guardian, Kel-Tec, Ruger LCP etc.) are compromises. They provide high concealability but reduced power and effective range. Some of these pistols don’t even have sights. No-Compromise weapons are chambered for higher powered cartridges and have good sights. With practice, they have an effective range of 25 yards and beyond. The Smith & Wesson 642 and 340PD, in addition to the Kahr PM9 (or 40 S&W PM40), the Glock pistols are “No-Compromise” weapons. Unfortunately, these handguns are not practical for pocket carry but are ideal when you can use a belt holster. The small pocket automatics, on the other hand, are ideal for pocket carry. Recently, Diamondback Firearms introduced the DB9, a 9mm pistol that is small and light enough for pocket carry. Still, the Diamondback is about 16 ounces, making it about ¼ pound heavier than the Ruger LCP. 6

So…What Do I Carry?

My normal, weekday attire is business casual; i.e., dress trousers and a cotton dress shirt. I will typically carry a Ruger LCP in a custom pocket holster. If I’m wearing a jacket, I’ll carry a Smith & Wesson 340PD in custom holster.

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    • I agree 100% with the custom clock 19. I have carried several guns and this is the one that works. Not to big to carry and not to small to shoot well.

  1. Always nice to read about others’ experiences. I especially like .357 Mag snubbies, but I opted for the Ruger LCR’s slightly heavier weight and substantially fewer dollars over the 340 PD. The Smith is a nice weapon, though. However, either one demands practice, patience and a reasonably high tolerance for pain. LCR + DeSantis Nemesis is a great combo.

    • Just shot my 340 PD again two days ago. It’s a snappy little beast – more uncomfortable to shoot with full bore .357 than my .460 Smith XVR. Although I carry it when I want a light, powerful gun, my Glock 27 and 23 are usually on my hip. Unless I’m on-duty, and then I don’t have a choice.

    • Very nice to see that my decision to carry a Smith 646 Airweight a few years ago is seconded by your evaluation. I thought about the .357, but the recoil concerned me. The 646 takes .38 +P, so I think that should suffice for most anything I need. I like to carry it in a Remora. A little difficult to draw quickly, but VERY concealable. I also found that it fits neatly inside one of my work gloves (when I’m not wearing it), which makes it easy to conceal inside a vehicle if I have no other options. A pair of gloves on the passenger seat is handier than trying to get it out of that Remora while I’m seated. In a pinch it could even be fired while still inside the glove.

  2. Disagree with automatics beimg more complicated . Open up a revolver and see if the clockwork is so simple. There is a reason there are few homemade revolvers.

    Good article by the way.

      • Properly designed semi-autos are actually quite easy to detail strip.

        The 1911 comes in for all manner of critical sneering here on TTAG by members of the Church of Compressed Cheez Whiz, but here’s a little known fact:

        You can detail strip a 1911 without any tools. All you need is a .45 ACP shell case. The original grip screws on a 1911 were made with slots large enough to allow the case rim to unscrew the grip screws. Once you have the grips off, the rest of the gun can be taken down to nothing by pulling off the slide/barrel first, then extracting the firing pin, and using that to push out the few pins you need to push out (eg, the one for the mainspring housing).

        Detail stripping a Glock is pretty easy, but you need a 3/32nd’s pin punch (aka “Glock Armorer’s Tool”) to get the job done. You could get alone with any thin, stiff tool to allow you to get the striker out of the slide, the rest of the gun comes apart rather easily.

        For my money in semi-autos, the 1911 design tops them all in terms of ability to field strip AND detail strip easily. Many modern semi-autos field-strip well, but their detail strip is a lot of complexity.

        • No disagreement here, although I do sometimes wonder if you’ve ever had to chase flying springs around your shop. I know that I have. Oops – shoulda remembered to keep that thingie depressed.

        • Yep, I’ve detail stripped both and they are both very straight forward. I found the glock easier (I can get one apart and back together in 5 min tops) if only because they’re ugly and I’m not concerned about scratching them. 1911 takes a little longer because I try to avoid marring the pins and whatnot.

    • Revolver lockwork is simple. I can be in and out of a S&W double action revolver in, oh, eight minutes. That’s just disassembly and re-assembly. That includes the ones with the new, very stupid, action lock nonsense.

      The fit of the parts against each other in revolver lockwork is where the subtle complexity comes in. Moreso in Colt double action revolvers.

      That said, the complexity inside some semi-autos can be daunting. I, personally, detest semi-autos like the Beretta 92 series of semi-autos. They’re a bunch of springs, roll pins and detents, held together by wishes and luck. Disassembly of the Beretta 92 is not for the uninitiated, because it will mercilessly launch springs and detents across the shop if you don’t know how to be prepared to capture them before they launch. I’ve yet to have any revolver launch something across the bench, never mind the shop.

      When I’m going through a spring-bomb semi-auto like a 92, I take my time, much as an EOD guy will take him time picking his way through a minefield. A little pick here, a little poke there, always on the lookout for the errant spring launching. I can’t be into any Beretta 92-ish gun in less than 30 minutes, never mind fixing what might be in there.

      • lol. I tried to change the scales on a Beretta Tomcat. “Boing!” went some invisible little spring, never to be seen again. Had to take it to a ‘smith just to change the grips.

        • The one tip I will give people on the SAA’s is this:

          There are at least four screws that are of the same diameter and thread as others on the gun, in particular the two that hold on the backstrap and the two that hold the trigger guard/loop onto the bottom of the frame.

          Don’t get those screws mixed up, especially if the gun has timed screws. Take them out and label them as to exactly where they came from, paying attention even to the right/left issue. Sometimes putting the trigger guard screws into the backstrap will result in misery if they’re too long for the holes and you bottom the screws out and then try to torque them in there.

      • I lost a spring out of my steyr once. It’s a simple enough gun but I forgot the cardinal rule when it comes to pins and springs: if a spring hinges on a pin, take that pin out last.

    • The internals of the modern semi auto are not as complicated as the admittedly dated double action revolver. But in near 50 years of shooting I can honestly say that I’ve seen exactly one mechanical malfunction with a revolver that would have put the gun out of a fight that was not ammo related. One. Every time I go to the range I see someone clearing some sort of malfunction from a semi. It happens so rarely with a revolver as to be noteworthy. And 2 of the points that people brag on about semis is ammo capacity and quick reload. Both of which require another mechanical device, the mag, with it’s inherent possible problems.

      Now, if I was to go soldiering again(not bloody likely) or being a flatfoot(even less likely) I would want a semi. But as joe citizen I prefer a revolver.

      • I agree 100%, after years of carrying autos, on duty and off, I’ve switched to carrying a revolver as my off duty carry piece. Ruger SP-101 with a 3-inch barrel when I’m out and about in town and a Ruger GP-100 with a 4-inch barrel when I’m out in the woods or hunting.

      • If you have a jam in an auto, you almost always can clear it quickly and continue shooting. If you have a jam in a revolver, you almost always are screwed.

      • I’m sort of with you JWM with a few glaring exceptions from personal experience. While I fully agree that semi’s ‘jam’ with such regularity that part of their manual of arms involves clearing basic malfunctions and that revolvers at most FTF and generally due to bad ammo under most circumstances I have little different take on the two.

        Of all the semi auto malfunctions I’ve experience (100’s, maybe a few thousand) all but one were ‘cured’ for the term of the ‘fight’ either by TRB or by swapping magazines. The sole exception was a ‘squib’ hand loaded 9mm that stuck in the barrel and required the pistol to be disassembled and the round tamped out.

        However I have seen revolvers in which the clock work skipped over itself under recoil rendering the weapon un-fireable or cycle able or even able to be rendered safe without the attention of a gunsmith. I have seen primers back out of cartridges and lock a revolver up and I’ve seen firing pins broken on S&Ws that rendered them unusable. I’ve had timing problems that seriously degraded the ability of the revolver to be used as a weapon even in high quality revolvers that were stored incorrectly with the pawl depressed.

        So while autos certainly have more malfunctions they can virtually always be put back in order in a second or two while when (admittedly rarely) a revolver does fail it’s generally out of the fight for the duration. I suppose so long as one carries only quality revolvers, well maintained and properly loaded the odds of it failing are vanishingly small, while if one carries a semi with similar conditions one should still know the failure drills for that pistol. However, the ‘unfailing’ reliability of a revolver has been forever disabused from my mind by the severity of the issues they develop when they do go south. It’s anecdotal, so maybe I’ve just seen far more than my share of revolver malfunctions, but I don’t really trust them any more than I trust that I can clear and continue to use a semi auto. YMMV

        • Personally, I own both and enjoy both. As a private citizen I feel that I’m better served with a revolver. Or since my last ammo malfunction, 2 revolvers. Or 2 semis if that’s your preference.

          Someday I’ll probably buy a Glock brand Glock. As DG says. It’s compressed cheese whiz that works and if the cops take it it’s easy to replace. I have revolvers that cost me less than the 500-600 that a Glock would cost but I’m more attatched to them.

        • I wont get into a revolver vs auto debate with anyone so I will just say this: If I’m going somewhere that I think I will need more than six rounds I will take my AR-15.

    • The complexity of a semi-auto is in the loading:
      * The slide has to pull back enough to eject the case fully (a weak wrist, dirty slide, bad ejector, or bad extractor can hinder this).
      * The slide has to be far enough back to grab the next round (a heavy spring, weak wrist, or dirty slide can hinder this).
      * The magazine has to properly present the next round to the slide (a bad spring or bent feed lip can hinder this).
      * The slide has to properly extract the round from the magazine (the spring or feed lips can hinder this, as well as a bad magazine fit in the well).
      * The slide has to seat the round in the chamber (a dirty feed ramp, weak spring, or bad ammo can hinder this).
      * And finally, the slide has to return to battery (at least in JMB’s popular tilting barrel design).

      With a revolver, the round is already chambered. All the gun does is line up the chamber between the firing pin and barrel by rotating a gear.

      Now readying the sixth round (or cylinder size + 1 for bigger revolvers) is where semi-autos have a huge advantage. Also, they are able to cock themselves from the slide’s recoil allowing for a much lighter single-action trigger in many models, or a slightly lighter safe-action trigger pull in others.

      For those two reason, I carry a 13+1 round CZ75 P-01, a 13+1 round XD9 Subcompact, or, when small is still too big, a 7+1 round XD-S 9mm.

  3. > TRB (Tap, Rack, Bang) is more complicated than PTA (Pull Trigger Again)

    How does the TRB compare to a peace of pocket lint or pebble from your pocket jamming the clockwork of your revolver and making it so that the cylinder can’t rotate and thus you cannot even get a single shot off? Or any other half a dozen things that can go wrong with a revolver….

    If a semi-auto malfunctions then TRB will clear almost any malfunction you can possibly run into short of a broken firing pin. If a revolver malfunctions you better have a armorer’s toolkit available because you are going to need it.

    Lesson is.. if you carry a revolver be very religious about keeping it clean. Especially if you pocket carry (then be religious about keeping your pockets clean) Dirt and debris can cause it to malfunction while a semi-auto will soldier on no problem.

    Besides that modern semi-autos are significantly less complicated then a revolver. Every trigger pull on a DA revolver requires you to cock the hammer, put a 90 degree rotational force on a cylinder, and release the hammer. In comparison my S&W SD9ve just has the trigger push a bar back that pulls back a striker. The cocking and releasing is done with a just a couple pieces of metal and 3 springs in a single camming action.. only one spring is required to actually fire the the thing. Mechanically this means that the revolver is much more complicated and fragile.

  4. I am very surprised that neither the XD/s or Nano were included.

    There is no ideal carry gun. You can carry anything from a 1911 to a tiny pocket pistol if it fits your need and circumstances. I do have to admit doing these sorts of exercises are fun.

      • Either that or he ran out of money first.

        I think the reason that we all have so many “carry guns” is that there is no such thing as perfect one. As I have repeatedly noted I mostly carry full sized automatics but I have compact and sub compacts for those special needs days.

        • The “perfect” carry gun is the most powerful firearm you can manage, control and conceal. It’s going to be different for everybody. I might be able to conceal a full-size 1911 without issue. You might not be able to do that. Experiment as much as you can and do what works best for you.

        • Now that is a damned good question… The ammo that has caused problems is out of a bucket of remanufactured stuff I have used without trouble in my CZ, so it’s not a brand issue I can pinpoint.

          Doing some research apparently SOME older Nanos had ejection and/or extraction problems, and that might be what’s going on here though I did buy the thing this year.

          I had no trouble during my initial test firing (which would have been WWB, more than likely) nor when I sent some gold dots downrange to evaluate them for all my 9mm carry guns (CZ full size, CZ compact, and this Nano).

  5. SW 642 is fine for pocket carry. Plenty of time business casual khakis have not tipped off anyone to a Desantis Nemesis holstered 642. Very good article. I would put it next to the Ayoob concealed carry material.

  6. I too started with a Glock 26. I still have it, but it’s thick and not really my favorite. It’s become a winter carry only gun.

    My summer carry is currently a PPK/S .380. I have a S&W 60 .357 mag snubby as well, and it fits well enough as a summer or winter carry for options.

    Right now, I’m sorting out if I want the Shield 9mm or XD-S .45 ACP for my last CCW gun purchase to round out the collection.

    • “my last CCW gun purchase…”

      Not playing with you, but this made me laugh. A lot.
      Mostly because I’ve said it a couple times, myself. Now I always say “for now.” 🙂

  7. I wish I could afford to try that many handguns. I would wager that most of us have to “settle” at some point, if only to keep our wives from kicking us out.

  8. DA revolver triggers can be smoothed and cleaned up considerably. Go to a gunsmith that works on revolvers and ask for an “action job.” Don’t ask for the trigger to be made lighter, ask for it to be made smoother and crisper. Most of what has to be done is to polish the points where the hammer/trigger rotate on a pin cut into the frame, and (in a Smith) the rebound spring housing should be made to slide freely and smoothly on the inside of the frame.

    Properly maintained, revolvers are actually much more reliable than many people give them credit for being. While they don’t have the round count of a modern double-stack semi-auto, they have one feature that matters when the crap hits the fan: The ability to simply keep pulling the trigger and getting a new chance at results.

  9. Got a safe full of (almost) perfect carry guns & still looking for the next perfect carry gun. Problem is, I can’t bring myself to sell an (almost) perfect carry gun to buy the next perfect carry gun.

  10. I’ve considered a small Derringer or similar to keep in my jacket pocket at work. My employer is a “Gun Free Zone” but I’d happily trade my job for my life if I ever had to use it.

    That or a good take-down rifle separated into components and stashed in different areas of my cube…

    • just snagged a sig p225 at a pawn shop recently and it looked like had never been fired. $480 plus 2 mags and a sh!tty holster I sold for $10 so $470 net.

    • That’s my “summer carry.” Doesn’t like 147gr but otherwise it’s a great gun as long as you throw some lube on the rails every thousand rounds or so.

  11. I’ll stick with my Ruger LCR .38 hollow points. std XS front sight I’m retired and started up a pet sitting business 5 yrs. ago. I pet sit in some rural subdisions, properties out in the country on 5 to 10 acres. All sorts of critters that could carry rabies, I do pocket carry with a pocket holster. Choice in CC weapon is an indivual thing. Depents on stength, flexiabilty, I also recently acquired Ruger GP 100 .357/38 3″ barrel Talo version.Will wear in Winter with outside waist band, cross draw leather holster with coat cover. Never had a revolver jam and it’s worked for ranchers and farmers for years, it’ll work for me, if needed.

    Great article, enjoyed drooling over all the weapons shown!

    • Not just you. I carried the S&W 646 for a long time, especially when I was traveling, since I would frequently pass through California and wanted something I could easily conceal in the truck. (See the comment above about stashing it inside my work gloves.) Once I stopped that business I opted for the SR9c and it is in every way a SWEET piece of kit. That 17 round mag is a but of a problem to conceal, but the 10 round mag works just fine and still gives me 6 more rounds than the S&W.

  12. To save money on the Kahrs, buy a CW or a CM model. Except for some fancy machining on the slide, the same gun as the P models, but substantially less. I carry a CW9 (that has 7 + 1 capacity and a full grip) that cost, before tax, transfer and dros, $389. I added a Hogue Handsall Jr that fills out the grip nicely and eliminates the slipperiness of the side panels. Very comfortable shooter, although its slender form does require an adjustment to one’s grip. I bought a Kirkpatrick OWB holster with cant and reinforced mouth ($80 including shipping) that is of excellent quality in both leather and workmanship. The total rig provides excellent concealment and comfort under a sweater or overshirt.

  13. I’ll chime in – I’ve personally carried the following:

    Ruger LCR .357mag w/CT grips (DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster)
    – Sold it… wish I hadn’t. Will likely buy another in the future.
    – Pros: Excellent trigger, CT grips were fantastic, concealed well in anything but shorts. While I carried it loaded with .38spl +P, having the .357mag frame gave me more confidence in the strength of the frame considering the fact that I purchased one of the first polymer revolvers on the market. Gun is very light and fires a proven man-stopper.
    – Cons: Gun in very light… i.e. brutal to shoot (especially .357mag) but perfect for what it was designed for – the recoil could discourage training, though. Factory sights are worthless (though I checked out a newer gun at a show recently, and they are slightly improved over the first batch… sight edges are just a tiny bit more defined). Factory “Tamer” grips are too sticky for pocket carry, and hinder the use of a speed loader. Empty cases would rarely drop completely free of the cylinder, slowing reload time even further.
    – Holster: The DeSantis Nemesis is THE holster to get.

    H&K P7 PSP 9x19mm (Stronghold Phoenix IWB holster)
    – Had the pistol refinished. It came back looking like a museum piece and I have a hard time wanting to carry/train with it now.
    – Pros: Reliable if you research and follow proper ammunition requirements for the gun (15-20 minutes of reading, tops). Very accurate. Great sights. Manual of arms is very efficient once you learn it (i.e. squeeze-cock drops slide). Firing the pistol requires a VERY deliberate action, making a ND unlikely – I felt completely comfortable with a round in the chamber at all times. Pistol points well, naturally, and is fairly small for a full-size pistol. Practice ammo is cheap.
    – Cons: Heel-release on the magazine – I prefer this, but the pistol can be had with a side-release, as well (for roughly double the cost). Probably requires a little more practice than most pistols due to the unique squeeze-cock design. Parts are expensive and occasionally tough to get – magazines in particular, as I’ve never had an actual part wear out. Gun is fairly heavy but can disappear with the proper holster. Low capacity, and some people don’t like 9x19mm… but my response would be that the most effective caliber is whatever you are looking down the barrel of.
    – Holster: Fantastic holster for everything but driving. The holster is made by Occidental Leather but was designed by TT Gunleather. Same holster for a fraction of the price and wait time. The weight of the pistol was unnoticeable with this holster.

    Bulgarian Makarov in 9x18mm ($5 CZ-82 surplus shoulder holster)
    – My current go-to carry gun… though I have a new one waiting for a holster. If I didn’t, I’d probably be looking into an IWB holster for this gun.
    – Pros: DA/SA w/safety and de-cocker in a pistol with like ~19-20 total parts. Parts are cheap and readily available (online), though I’ve never had a single malfunction or broken part. Training ammo is dirt cheap if you shop around online. Sights are small, but dead-on accurate. Gun is small, and relatively light.
    – Cons: Similar to the H&K above – heel-release magazine and low capacity (notice a trend in my carry guns?). Ammo selection isn’t great, especially in defense loads. Drawn out training sessions will tire your firing hand a bit, but nothing like the LCR. I don’t have a lot to complain about with this gun…
    – Holster: For $5, it’s better than nothing. I actually have a preference for shoulder-carry (if I’m wearing a jacket) after carrying this gun. I don’t have to take it off (or suffer) when I’m driving, and I can draw just as easily (and safely) after some practice. If I were not replacing this gun, I’d be getting a sturdier shoulder holster and probably an IWB holster for it, as well. This holster was absolutely amazing for backpacking, as a pack doesn’t constantly grind against the pistol as it would with a belt holster.

    H&K 45C-T in .45ACP (will be buying a custom shoulder holster in early 2014)
    – I’ll limit the review, as I haven’t yet carried this regularly, but I am having a holster custom-made because this is definitely one of the finest pistols I have fired that I would consider for concealed carry.
    – Pros: Not many people will argue with the choice of cartridge. Multiple magazine options (8- or 10-rd, flat or hooked floor plate on the 8-rd mags). Quick-change safety/firing mechanism – I personally have it configured as a DA/SA w/de-cocker only. Relatively light and compact. Heavy, but manageable trigger that can be improved with a few small parts if you want, though it takes a little research. Has an accessory rail, if that interests you.
    – Cons: Price of both the pistol and the ammunition. Magazine release takes some getting used to. Rail is short enough to limit options if you are into things like lights. While it’s not “big” it’s definitely not a pocket-carry gun…

    That ended up being a little longer than I planned, but my recommendation is to start with something you could see yourself carrying, regardless of caliber, capacity, etc. and transition based on features you like. The low capacity of single-stack pistols or revolvers has never really bothered me much, and neither has the heel-release of some of the pistols I mentioned, above. If you really need to dump 15+ rounds, then slam a new magazine home, lightning fast… you’re probably already in hot water, regardless of what you’re carrying.

  14. For folks with smaller hands or storage availability, the Kahr K9 is also pretty sweet, a bit heavier than the PM9 but with a metal frame.

    I’d consider picking up a G26 if only to carry a backup 33rd mag with it. I wonder if a long slide/short grip variant would be good for concealed carry, at least with IWB if not in a pocket.

  15. The road to the ideal carry setup is usually a long and expensive one, if you got there in less than a few guns and several grand consider yourself lucky.

    It’s took me several years and several training classes to finally figure out the setup and weapons I’m most comfortable with. Now that I know my setup works for me, I don’t even both looking at new guns and gear.

  16. One factor I did not see mentioned was ease of adding night sights, while I like being able to slip my LCP into a pocket every time I step out the door, the night sights on my G26 make it a difficult decision sometimes.
    I would rate the lack of night sites as my only real issue with the LCP, but at it’s price point it is unrealistic to expect such niceties.

    • I find that some bright paint on the front sight hump and the addition of a laser makes the LCP a much better pistol.

    • Dan did mention the Crimson Trace for the LCP. (I have CT on my SR9c.) Not exactly night sights, nor always practical, but they are very effective in low light if you are not trying to be covert. Let’s face it, in MOST DGUs with these pistols the BG already knows where you are. Paint him quick with the laser, pull the bang switch, and get ‘er done.

    • IMO- Have one gun that suits you, doesnt matter how/where you hide it, what type or calibre it is as long as it fits you and is 100% reliable, then practice with it until you drop, when you can produce it and quickly hit a paper dinner plate at 30 feet without thinking too much you have arrived. Alternatively you could collect guns like guys collect fishing tackle and never be outstandingly competent with any of them, just saying …………………………..

  17. I haven’t really shot my first choice above (h&k p2000) but friends tell me its a good scaled down version of the USP Tac, which I have shot…and oh man it was great. But…for what I know I’d use if the above wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, I’d go with a S&W Model 19 or 60, perhaps a Ruger SP101 2″. I’m more inclined to trust my life to a revolver and I’d be very comfortable carrying them and, unlike most people I talk to, I like their weight. Plus my grandpa taught me to shoot with smaller revolvers (I wish I remembered what kind) even before the kid-mandatory 10/22 carbine and I’m used to a heavier, deliberate trigger.

  18. There’s one point I think we are overlooking here. No matter how perfect the gun is, and how reliable it is, there is another equation that must be considered. The ammo! All it takes is one faulty round out of your batch of 5000, or that box of 50 pills. If you have an auto loader, and you have a FTF, or stove pipe, you might get the round cleared in time, or not! With a wheel gun it’s a simple matter to just pull the trigger again. Don’t get me wrong, I love automatics and own a few, but when you life is on the line, you better make the right choice.
    Personally, I have a titanium framed .38 Special, that I often carry, AND, a small .22 magnum North American revolver that I keep in my pocket 24/7.

    • I only ever had one revolver malfunction on me and I’ve had several semi automatics malfunction. With all the semi automatics, tap, rack fixed it, with the revolver, it locked up and was unusable until I got home and worked on for awhile…

      For what that’s worth.

  19. Hmm, I have *conceal* carried a Beretta 92, an S&W 1006 (special circumstance on that one), a Russian Makarov, a Beretta Nano, and now, almost always, a CZ75 (or sometimes the compact version thereof, it’s analogous to the G19 vs the G17). I have open-carried a G20. These days it’ll be the Nano if I *have* to conceal and can’t wear a jacket, or one of the CZs if I can do a jacket and/or just want to be open.

    But the nano is currently in the doghouse while I figure out why it malfs (there is a convo going on about that further up thread). I’ll be perfectly happy to go back to it, even if it chokes on practice ammo, provided I am sure it won’t choke on gold dots.

  20. The Walther PPK is indeed a gorgeous piece of art, and function. I don’t really know the last part; never has the fortune of shooting one.

    It has been said endlessly: the best carry piece is the one you will always carry. Take it from there. Lately, though, I’ve been more inclined to open carry. If I were to carry, I mean. If I’m going on a car trip, I take my EAA Witness .45 in an OPMOD bag. That Robert turned me onto. It’s a great, durable bag, with tons of different sorts of pockets and compartments. Mine carries 3 backup power sources for my NSA-stool pigeon iPhone. However, I’m ordering a Faraday bag for it…..

  21. I have a Glock 21 for CCW. I CC everyday after work…even in the house. When I go to sleep, I always put it down in a certain position, including the two extra mags that I carry. I used to CC the Glock 17. I much prefer the Glock 21. It just feels right.

  22. glock 26 is my go-to. compared to my other guns, well, the glock is just right. and it provided more incentive for me to work out and drop a few pounds for IWB (that and Shannon likes her men a little skinny so I need to up my scoring ability.)

  23. Cool article but was this written 5 years ago? M&P Shield 9/40? M&P 9c? XDS 45/9? Glock 30s? Xdm 3.8?

    I carried the G26 IWB for years. I now carry a Shield in 9mm unless I am in the woods where I carry a Glock 29. I am breaking in an M&P 9c that will soon be the go to. I shoot the M&Ps better than Glock.

  24. If you have to actually shoot someone – i.e. the whole reason it’s with you instead of in the safe – it WILL be impounded. You might get it back but I wouldn’t count on it. If you aren’t prepared to have your custom 1911 or Kahr melted down then don’t have it on your hip.

    • I believe that is preventable in some parts of the country. Still, I wouldn’t carry around a gun that had three thousand dollars invested in it to make it a competition tackdriver.

    • You are correct. They will impound it in evidence and even if you’re cleared of the charges, they will try to convince you that you’re not entitled to get it back.

      I did get mine back plus my CHP and even got my dna sample that was taken BEFORE I was even charged removed from the State and Federal dbs (at least I have a Letter of Certification from the state CBI stating such),

      Now all I’ve got to do is get the arrest expunged and I’ll be back to original condition before the WRONGFUL ARREST with the exception of course of the little over $4.000.00 it costs me.

      Like they say, FREEDOM AIN’T FREE.

  25. I carry a 642 daily. I love that gun but hate the round count at only 5 plus 5 on a speed clip. On the weekends when I can get away with a little more bulk from the IWB, it’s a Glock brand Glock 27 or 23.

  26. I have had a revolver jam. EDC is a Glock 19(1st gen) since 1988. Never an FTF. When teaching college, a Taurus Slim on the ankle sufficed. Before that, a Kel-Tec P3AT on the ankle. Otherwise, the 19. Best of all compromises for me.

  27. While I have multiple handguns, I decided the G27 was “ideal” for me. I committed to THAT gun being my EDC. So, I created a “carry system” around the G27 that would work for me regardless of dress. And, so I carry the G27 every day, all day, comfortably.

  28. I will add yet another option – the Boberg XR9. Guys, try one before you knock it. I find the XR9-S “Shorty” to be the perfect pocket pistol. The accuracy,size, super smooth trigger,and very light recoil make it hard to beat. Its +P rated and with Underwood +P+ you get 357 Magnum Power in a pocket pistol. Yes $1000 is a lot of money, but I bet if the author had purchased a Boberg as his first concealed weapon, he’d have a much smaller collection or perhaps only one.

  29. Here’s my short history of carry guns, starting with when I was discharged from the military.

    9mm IWI Baby Eagle – Because I hadn’t figured out how civilian carry was going to work. Great gun, ergonomics are perfect for me, all steel, never jams, low recoil, quite accurate. Weighs approximately as much as Ohio, left a dent in my hipbone when I tried to carry it all day.

    Rethought things.

    .38 +P S&W 646 Airweight in a Desantis hip holster. Ugly, two finger grip, kicks like a mule under full power loads, and I wouldn’t shoot it any farther than I could throw it. But I can forget that it’s on. I can carry it every day, under a T-shirt if necessary. It’s reliable, there are only two controls – the cylinder release and the trigger. Point and click. Trigger job to tame the insane factory trigger. Practice a lot. The perfect carry gun. Small, limited capacity, bad accuracy, uncomfortable to shoot. Very comfortable to carry. Oh, and all things considered, cheaper than anything else that would come close. ~$320, plus another 70 for the holster pulls in at less than $400.

    I carried the first gun for a week. The second I bought eight years ago, and I’ve never once thought about changing.

  30. I’ve owned the first 4 guns on the list. My observation is that neither the Walther nor the Colt Officer’s were reliable enough to depend on, especially the PPK which consistently failed to feed. The Glock is actually small enough for me to carry in my pants pocket as long as I wear loose-fitting pants and the 642 is light and easy to draw from a pocket. After a trip to a gunsmith, the 642 has buttery smooth trigger pull, a Hogue grip improves handling and a little Testors paint on the front sight blade improves sight acquisition tremendously. After changing the Glock sights to Meprolights, replacing the Glock recoil spring assembly with one from Wolff, attaching Pearce grip extensions to all my G26 magazines and taking a Dremel to the obnoxious high points of the finger grooves, that home customized pistol is everything Glock should have made it originally.

    But the Glock is still heavy and thick as a brick and the 642 is not easy for me to shoot with accuracy past about 10 yards so I’ve been experimenting a little. So far the SIG P290RS looks promising. It’s small enough and light enough, it comes with night sights and it has been totally reliable for me with all the ammo I’ve tried. However, the trigger pull and small grip area have been challenges. If I can adjust to the gun or adapt the pistol to myself, it could be my perfect carry gun.

  31. The only reason it’s been a long, winding road is because you haven’t carried a Sig Sauer. One range day with a Sig tends to make up a person’s mind, quickly.

  32. I’ll chime in on behalf of another Walther. I carry a PPS in 9mm. It is, hands down, the best carry gun I’ve come across.
    Like anything in these lists a great deal comes down to personal preference, use and fit/feel. I can, and have, fired the little PPS all day long. I’ve fed it every kind of ammo I can lay my hands on, fired off hand, limp wristed it, fired it dirty. Just over 1500 rds to date. I’ve had exactly zero operational failures. And as far as accuracy goes. I don’t have a single complaint.
    I would, and do, trust this firearm to just plain work. And like almost all single stacked pistols, it’s an absolute breeze to carry concealed.

  33. Noticeably absent from your analysis was any realistic assessment of your ability to draw the gun quickly and get accurate hits. Sadly it’s a common failure of people trying to figure out what gun to carry. The point of carrying is to be prepared for that situation where you might actually need to draw and fire and get accurate hits to survive. Accurate hits means something in the A-zone of an IPSC target or the 0-ring of an IDPA target, not “anywhere on a B-27”, and “fast enough” means the ability to draw and fire 3 shots in 3 seconds or less.

    Similarly, paranoia about printing and fear of having someone notice you are carrying drives people to carry tiny little guns in tiny little calibers. It’s possible to comfortably carry a Kahr CM9/PM9 or an M&P Shield 9mm in the front pocket of khakis, with a good quality pocket holster, and go unnoticed in the typical business casual environment, and possible to carry a Glock 19-sized pistol in an IWB holster with any reasonable cover garment.

  34. When did Seecamp become the “Rolex of pocket automatics”? I’ve never seen one in a gun store, but seen a lot of them in pawn shops. I always considered them a “throw away” gun.

    • Wow, you must be REALLY rich! 😉 As I carry a 1993 Seecamp and typically wear a 1972 Rolex Submariner, 2005 Omega Sportmaster, or any number of about 100 other watches, I happen to like my pocket Seecamp FAR better than the Sig 9mm or Colt 1911 in 45acp which seldom leave my safe. Frankly, I think Omega uses much better movements than Rolex, so I happen to think the Seecamp’s quality is more like an Omega — rugged, practical, and works every time as long as I do my job. The ones you see at a pawn shop were likely ruined because someone was too stupid to use the recommended ammo and went cheap and tried 71 grain FMJ’s and got frustrated because they either jammed or didn’t fit in the magazine.

  35. Its a given that its overkill by far,but.. Back when I lived in SD CA I met some ‘Bloods’ who told of carry/concealing a 12 gauge shotgun… In his pant leg. Dumb, really. Can’t pull it out quickly, guaranteed way to lose a foot if went off. But yea. What’s a 9 or .45 of you got a shotgun?

  36. Well written article.
    I have been wearing a firearm for quite some time and I have found some very basic”truths (for me; not a edict from Above)).

    1.) you are concealing the grip, butt, handle – NOT the weapon entirely.
    2.) fins one place 0 ONE PLACE- to conceal & no matter what holster ( high-side hip, cross-draw, shoulder, etc).
    3) Comparing a high capacity weapon to a lesson one makes sense. I had been noted in DoJ and FBI statistics over and over that A single .45 “long” in the gut slows the fight at a snail’s pace and allows you to begin to imagine the adrenaline dump.
    4.)Wearing a small, rock-like weapon the “center of back” CAN put you seriously injured (if you fall, or even roll. so that should be taken as much care is “issue #1.


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