Best Pistols & Guns For Concealed Carry & Self Defense

Best Concealed Carry Pistols In 2021

Below are the best compact and sub-compact concealed carry pistols in 2021. These are all exceptional, highly reliable pistols perfect for self defense and survival when needed. Most of these top concealed carry guns are the newer super slim polymer pistols.

Some models are several years old, but they are still best in class guns for concealed carrying. Keep reading to see pictures, watch videos, and learn more about all of these outstanding guns. is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why you might need it

With the world becoming more and more dangerous, it is becoming increasing more important for responsible citizens to obtain conceal carry permits and know the laws on owning and using firearms.

Responsible citizens will train how to safely use these weapons for self defense and also be available to assist police in thwarting or reducing terrorism when the bad guys start shooting at the general public.

In a Doomsday long term survival scenario, the world would become exponentially more dangerous, so stockpiling a variety of firearms and ammo, including small compact pistols that can be conceal carried would be valuable if and when SHTF.

When the police are not around to protect you and your loved ones, if you believe in the 2nd Amendment then you also know that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

The "S" Version - Ruger LC9s - 9mm Pistol

What the experts recommend as the best caliber gun for Concealed Carry (click to expand)

The experts recommend a bullet no smaller than 9mm for concealed carry purposes. If you or others are threatened with bodily harm, you would probably just have seconds at most to react, and such a threat calling for a concealed carry weapon would likely occur in close quarters. In such close range, you need stopping power because, if for example, you shoot someone charging at you with a knife from 5' away with a .22 or .380 caliber bullet and the shot is not perfect, there is a high chance even if the attacker were fatally wounded, that they still may be able to follow through with stabbing you. Smaller .380 ACP, .32 caliber, or .22 LR guns are more comfortable and easier to conceal, but have less stopping power. The best stopping power comes from a .44, .45 or .357 magnum. However, any gun larger than .40 caliber is generally too large for concealed carry purposes. There are some compact .45 caliber pistols that could be considered for concealed carry. 9mm and .40 caliber rounds seem to have just the right compromise, but it is really a matter of preference. Some people will still conceal carry a full sized .45 caliber or .357 magnum.

The best recommendation is to make up your own mind on which pistol is right for you. Consider how you will conceal carry, what kind of clothing you will wear, what kind of holster you will use or if you will not even use a holster. After you make decisions on clothing and holsters, you then need to see the guns in person and ask the salesperson to allow you to try out the unloaded gun for how it feels and for concealment right in front of them (so they don't think you are trying to steal it). You should also fire the pistols that you like at a firing range. Firing ranges really like people to test fire their demo firearms so they can increase their sales. Firing ranges generally just require that you purchase the bullets. You may find that the pistol that you think is the best is not the pistol for you. You may want more or less power, larger or smaller size or width, or decide that you want to have a pistol that carries more bullets and you can figure out a way to conceal carry that larger pistol without creating an "imprint" so that others can easily detect that you are conceal carrying. When making your decision consider the price of ammo. 9mm rounds have a better price point compared to the larger rounds. So check ammo prices before buying your gun(s).

The best concealed carry gun is the pistol that you will actually wear every day, is 100% reliable, and that you can shoot accurately. It needs to hold enough bullets to provide adequate protection, and needs adequate threat stopping power. The choice is always going to include a compromise between comfort and number of bullets. If you need a lot of bullets, the Glock 19 Gen 5 (9mm) Pistol is a great choice as it holds 15+1 bullets and is a fantastic highly reliable weapon. But with a 1.34" barrel width, it is less comfortable than some of these other pistols that hold less rounds, so does it work for you?

Glock 19 Gen5 - 9mm Compact

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm is a terrific gun for conceal carrying. It is thin and light and has a 7+1 or 8+1 Bullet Capacity. At .95 inches wide and just 19 ounces, the Shield is easy to carry, easy to conceal and shoots very well, considering its compact size.

S&W MP Shield - 9mm Compact

Two of our favorites are the Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm and the Springfield XD(M) 9mm. Both of these Compact sized pistols hold a lot of rounds, and we personally prefer having more rounds over the comfort of a smaller Sub-Compact for normal every day carry. However, there are times when we prefer to carry a Sub-Compact when clothing choices dictate the need to carry a smaller slimmer pistol. The PX4 Storm also comes in a space aged looking Sub-Compact version that is very nice and is shown in one of the videos below. In fact, you'll find variants of most of the guns shown on this page in different calibers and sizes (Full, Compact, and Sub-Compact). The manufacturers really provide a wide variety of choices. You really need to handle them in person, but you'll make a better decision if you educate yourself first.

  • The Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm Compact

    • Includes a high capacity 13+1 magazine and is a beautiful high performing pistol

    • Has a very nice Talon grip for a more secure hold on the gun

    • Has a Cerakote slide that is equipped to stand up to daily exposure to perspiration and moisture without corroding

    • Is equipped with Ameriglo night sights that are more conducive to low light shooting

    • Has a contoured design that insures the sights won’t hang in your clothing when you draw the gun

    • Has a brand new trigger which helps improve accuracy and allows you to deliver faster follow-ups

Beretta PX4 Storm - 9mm Compact

  • The Springfield XD(M) 9mm Compact

    • Has two high capacity magazines (13+1 round & 19+1 round) that allow you to convert from a Compact to Full size gun just by changing the magazine. How awesome is that! Besides being a high quality, terrific, beautiful pistol with superb features, you can convert your concealed carry pistol into a full size pistol just by changing the magazine! Watch the YouTube video below for the XDM-9.

    • Is easy to shoot with minimal kick-back

    • Has an extremely customizable grip

    • Includes a hip holster and a magazine holder

    • Is simple to take apart and clean

Springfield XD(M) - 9mm Compact

New Concealed Carry Clothing

With the ever increasing popularity by women to conceal carry pistols, there are now a lot of new concealed carry options on the market that will appeal to ladies. Belly band holsters made of neoprene are super comfortable and are the latest craze among women and men like them too. Also, there companies like Gun Tote’n Mamas that make a wide assortment of beautiful purses and handbags that are specifically designed for concealed carry. Concealed handgun corsets, concealment leggings and shorts are also very popular with women.

The Highly Popular Ultimate Belly Band Holster For Women & Men Is Super Comfortable

UnderTech Undercover Has Both Front & Rear Holsters

Concealed Handgun Corsets Can Hide Two Handguns For Women

Gun Tote'n Mamas Concealed Carry Purses & Handbags

The Inexpensive KKUP2U Belly Band Concealed Carry Holster For Women Or Men Can Conceal Carry Small To Full Size Pistols

Pistol Sizes

1. Full Size Pistol - 4.5" or greater barrel length - grip easily fits in hand without a magazine inserted - usually too large for concealed carry.

2. Compact Pistol - 3.5" to 4.5" barrel length - grip fits hand with or without magazine inserted - good candidate for concealed carry.

3. Sub-Compact Pistol - 3.0" to 3.5" barrel length - grip is insufficient without magazine inserted - good candidate for concealed carry.

4. Pocket Pistol - < 3.0" barrel length - grip is insufficient even with magazine inserted - easy to conceal carry but could be too small.

At A Glance Comparison of The Best Concealed Carry Pistols (click to expand)

Click on the link for any pistol to see more options, specs and details at any of these fine online gun dealers -, Palmetto State Armory, GritrSports, Sportsman's Guide, or Cabela's. All five of these stores facilitate safe and easy firearm sales online via a FFL (Federal Firearms License) transfer. They have everything you need in firearms, ammo & accessories, and all of these sites are great for getting specifications, features, and customer reviews on firearms, ammo, and accessories.

  • Glock 19 Gen 5 (9mm), Compact, 23.99 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.34″, Barrel Length 4.02″, Overall Length 7.28″, Bullet Capacity 15+1, Cost $539.99

  • Glock 29 Gen 4 (10mm), Compact, 26.83 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.18″, Barrel Length 3.77″, Overall Length 6.88″, Bullet Capacity 10+1, Cost $579.99

  • Beretta PX4 Storm (9mm), Sub-Compact, 26.1 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.2”, Barrel Length 3.00″, Overall Length 6.13″, Bullet Capacity 13+1, Cost $549.99

  • Springfield XDM (9mm), Compact, 27 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.2″, Barrel Length 3.8″, Overall Length 7″, Bullet Capacity 13+1 or 19+1, Cost $699.99

  • Walther PPQ (9mm), Compact, 21.2 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.30″, Barrel Length 3.5″, Overall Length 5.4″, Bullet Capacity 10+1 or 15+1, Cost $519.82

  • Glock 23 Gen 4 (.40), Compact, 23.65 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.18″, Barrel Length 4.010, Overall Length 7.28″, Bullet Capacity 13+1, Cost $499.99

  • S&W M&P Shield (9mm), Sub-Compact, 19 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.95″, Barrel Length 3.1″, Overall Length 6.1″, Bullet Capacity 7+1 or 8+1, Cost $379.99

  • Beretta Nano (9mm), Sub-Compact, 19.97 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.90″, Barrel Length 3.07″, Overall Length 5.63″, Bullet Capacity 6+1, Cost $429.99

  • Ruger LC9s (9mm), Sub-Compact, 17.2 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.90″, Barrel Length 3.12″, Overall Length 6.0″, Bullet Capacity 7+1, Cost $419.99

  • Sig Sauer P290 (9mm), Pocket, 20.5 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.9″, Barrel Length 2.9″, Overall Length 5.5″, Bullet Capacity 5+1, Cost $500

  • Walther PPS (.40 S&W), Sub-Compact, 20.8 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.04″, Barrel Length 3.2″, Overall Length 6.3″, Bullet Capacity 6+1, Cost $560

  • "Baby" Glock 27 Gen 4 (.40 S&W), Sub-Compact, 21.89 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.18″, Barrel Length 3.42″, Overall Length 6.49″, Bullet Capacity 9+1, Cost $629.99

  • Glock 36 Gen 3 (.45 ACP), Compact, 26.30 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 1.27″, Barrel Length 3.77″, Overall Length 6.88″, Bullet Capacity 10+1 or 13+1, Cost $649.99

  • Springfield XDS (.45 ACP), Sub-Compact, 21.5 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.975″, Barrel Length 3.3″, Overall Length 6.5″, Bullet Capacity 5+1 or 6+1, Cost $459.99

  • Springfield XDS (9mm), Sub-Compact, 21.5 oz unloaded, Barrel Width 0.975″, Barrel Length 3.3″, Overall Length 6.3″, Bullet Capacity 7+1 or 9+1, Cost $550.00

WALTHER PPQ M2 SC 9mm LE PS Night Sights 3 Mags Black Pistol

Springfield XDS .45 ACP Pistol

Springfield XDS - 9mm ACP Pistol

Glock 29 Gen 4 - 10mm Pistol

How To Trade New & Used Firearms Online (click to expand)

Buying or selling firearms online is a lot easier than you think. You can do pretty much everything online, and you'll be in less direct contact with people versus standing in line at a gun store. You do have to pick up your firearm, but chances are there is an FFL closer to you than a gun store. is an FFL and is the easiest online place to buy or sell new and used handguns, rifles, shotguns, magazines, ammo, & accessories! They have the easiest online process and do all of the hard work for you including locating and verifying the license of the closest FFL to you.

Not going into too much detail, follow these easy steps at most online firearm stores:

1. Find the closest reputable FFL Dealers at a site like FFL Dealer Network. Call the FFL dealer and/or drive by their location to check them out.

2. Shop online for just about any gun made and comparison shop at stores such as, Palmetto State Armory, GritrSports, Sportsman's Guide, Bass Pro Shops, or Cabela's. For example, stores like Palmetto State Armory have over 10,000 firearms online. Use filters and search functions to narrow your search. Firearms are in demand so you may want to filter by what is currently available.

3. All online gun stores will have basically the same steps/directions. Check out these simple online firearm purchasing instructions as outlined by Palmetto State Armory.

4. It's that easy. Make one trip to your FFL to pick up your new firearm.

For ammo, we really like Palmetto State Armory & GritrSports, but comparison shop for ammo just like you would for firearms and also check out, Sportsman's Guide and Cabela's for ammo.

"Baby" Glock 27 Gen 4 - .40 S&W Sub-Compact

Sig Sauer P290 - 9mm Pistol

Recommended Accessories (click to expand)

No matter what pistol you choose, you are going to be interested in checking out the following recommended accessories:

Beretta Nano - 9mm Sub-Compact

YouTube Videos

The Compact & Sub-Compact Pistols in this article are the best concealed carry pistols available today. Watch the YouTube videos below to get a good feel about several of these terrific guns. It's the best way to start learning about features, and you'll already begin to make up your mind about which guns you like and what is important to you in a concealed carry pistol.

The following video reviews the Springfield XDS (9mm) Sub-Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews the Walther PPQ 9mm & Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm Pistols.

The following video reviews the Glock 29 Gen 4 (10mm) Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews the Springfield XDM-9mm Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews the Beretta PX4 Storm Sub Compact Pistol.

This is smaller than the Compact version.

The following video reviews the Glock 43 vs S&W M&P Shield vs Ruger LC9 vs Keltec PF9.

The following video reviews the Beretta Nano 9mm Sub Compact Pistol.

The following video compares the Ruger LC9s to the S&W M&P Shield 9mm Sub-Compact Pistols.

The following video reviews the Sig Sauer P290 9mm Sub Compact Pistol.

The following video compares the Walther PPS vs S&W M&P Shield 9mm Sub-Compact Pistols.

The following video reviews the "Baby" Glock 27 .40 S&W Sub-Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews the Glock 36 Gen 3 .45 ACP Compact Pistol.

The following video reviews two of three pistols that our in our top list of Concealed Carry pistols above. The S&W M&P Shield (9mm), Springfield XDS .45 ACP, and Glock 19 (9mm) are reviewed.


Use at your own risk. Please note that the information provided on this web site is for information only. and it's owner have no liability or responsibility for anyone using any items described on this web site including firearms. Please take proper care of your firearms, learn how to use them responsibly and train frequently. Understand the gun laws in your state and always properly secure your guns.

See Our Other Firearm Related Pages

For more information on firearms, ammo, and accessories for the typical American who is thankful for our 2nd Amendment rights, see our additional firearm related pages.

Glock 36 Gen 3 .45 ACP Pistol

Walther PPS - .40 S&W Pistol

Glock 23 Gen 4 - 0.40 Compact

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