There are three factors to consider when selecting the best gun size for your concealed carry. One school of thought is to conceal carry the largest caliber you can shoot accurately with a gun size that is the smallest possible. However, the best gun size strikes a balance between accuracy, caliber stopping power, and ability to carry the gun concealed. A good place to start is a compact 9mm handgun.

First, you need to select a handgun size you can shoot accurately. Second, ensure the caliber is sufficient to neutralize any threat you will encounter. Finally, select a gun size that you can carry concealed with your chosen attire.

accuracy and choosing the best gun size for concealed carry

First, lets talk about selecting the right size of handgun with regard to accuracy. Generally, those with a smaller build have difficulty shooting a full size pistol accurately. Weight, bulk, and whether the gun “feels” right in your hand impact accuracy.

Similarly, you need to select a gun caliber you can shoot accurately. I’ve yet to meet a new shooter who doesn’t agree that they shoot more accurately with a smaller caliber round. Particularly as you increase distance.

Additionally, newer shooters are less likely to anticipate the shot when shooting smaller calibers. This helps with accurate shot placement.

However, accuracy at distance is less important for concealed carry. After all, you’re not trying to be an expert marksman. Instead, concealed carry is a means of self defense. Therefore, you should be able to quickly and accurately place a shot for the purposes of self defense.

Choosing A Gun Size For Accuracy

Depending on your strength, technique, and comfort with shooting, the right size gun will vary. Generally, larger and/or more muscular shooters can more easily maintain control of larger framed handguns. Whereas, those with a smaller build or smaller hands can more easily manage guns with a smaller frame.

In the next section I’ll discuss caliber in greater detail. However, anything above .45ACP caliber round is overkill in my opinion and your accuracy will suffer. I recommend that you do not drop below .380ACP for concealed carry, which is a slightly powered down version of a 9mm round.

However, the sweet spot for concealed carry handgun caliber seems to be 9mm and is supported by this article from the Motley Fool on best selling handguns.

 Caliber Of Your Concealed Carry & Self Defense

choosing gun size and caliber selectiong .45ACP v .22lr

Next, I’m discussing stopping power which goes hand in hand with caliber selection. However, there isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between caliber size and stopping power. If you want to learn more, about the data then check out this article on American Rifleman.

Interestingly enough, one school of thought is that stopping power is effectively a myth. You can read more on that theory here. However, if that were true, then everyone would be walking around with .22 bullets, which we know isn’t true. Although the article does touch on some interesting concepts.

Stopping Power & Your Concealed Carry

I analyzed several different sized rounds and which are the best for concealed carry. Similar to the accuracy section, choosing the right caliber stopping power is going to depend on the individual shooter.

The best concealed carry gun is one you can shoot accurately and has sufficient power to neutralize the threat. There’s no point in carrying around a full-size .45 if you can’t hit your target. Similarly, a misplaced .22 round is likely to have very little effect on an assailant even if it hits them.

Choosing Gun Size For Concealed Carry

Now we’re going to discuss gun size selection and what impacts your ability to concealed carry. I won’t get into the various gun sizes, since I cover them in detail in another article. But, I will mention that for the purposes of concealed carry, the smaller the size of the gun, the easier it is to conceal.

However, just because a gun is easy to conceal does not mean it is the best to carry. Remember, we’ve discussed both accuracy and stopping power to this point. Find the caliber and size gun you can shoot most accurately.

Personally, I shoot pistols with a full-size grip better. Thus, my concealed carry gun of choice is my Glock 45. This gun has a full size Glock 19 grip, with the compact slide and barrel. However, the size of my concealed carry gun varies depending on my attire.

Fashion & Gun Size

full size gun for concealed carry in appendix holster with sidecart

As I stated previously, my Glock 45 is my preferred concealed carry gun. I carry this handgun 80% of the time when I leave the house. However, I also carry a compact Walther PK380 the rest of the time. My concealed carry pistol is dictated by my attire.

If I am carrying at the office, or anywhere I am wearing a belt then I carry my Glock. I have an appendix carry holster with a sidecart which is rather heavy (shown above). Because of the bulk and weight, I can’t carry my larger gun effectively in some situations.

Therefore, my alternate concealed carry is my Walther PK380 which is much smaller and lighter than the Glock. Not to mention the holster doesn’t have a sidecart. If I am wearing gym shorts or sweatpants with a drawstring, I can carry this smaller gun without issue.

Parting Shots

And there your have it. My instructions for selecting the best gun size for concealed carry. You need to balance your ability to shoot accurately, stop a threat, and conceal the pistol. For many, a compact 9mm fits all of these criteria. However, each shooter will need to find what is best for their needs.

If you are like me, and have more than one concealed carry handgun, make sure you are proficient with all of them. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment for the community. Stay safe, and carry on!