5 Outstanding Compact Pistols For Concealed Carry

By Marvin Marroquin Updated: 01/10/2023 9 min read

There are so many pistols to choose from when considering which to carry. Whichever you choose, you want to make sure it’s reliable and outstanding enough to defend yourself.

Looking for a new concealed carry gun is always exciting. Whether you’re purchasing your first one or looking to try another option, I’ve put together a list that anyone can look at and find something that fits their need and/or budget.

The criteria I used to compile this list is a combination of reliability, value, magazine capacity (15 rounds minimum), and concealability. All the guns listed are in 9mm format (for maximum capacity), but they all have options in other calibers. So without further ado, here are what I believe to be 5 outstanding compact pistols for concealed carry in no particular order.

SIG Sauer P320 Nitron Compact

SIG Sauer P320

The U.S. Army recently adopted the SIG Sauer P320-M17 as its new sidearm pistol and now you can carry the same innovative and reliable hardware our military uses. The Nitron Compact version uses a grip texture on the frame that isn’t too aggressive yet gives you a secure and confident grip. I appreciate the option to purchase a version with night sights installed as many other manufacturers do not do this. The trigger is absolutely the best feature with very little take-up, short and crisp reset, and also has a Glock style trigger safety as an option.

The disassembly on the P320 is by far the easiest I’ve seen on a semi-automatic pistol, making it great for cleaning every nook and cranny. As an added bonus, converting the P320 to a different caliber or size is just as simple as reassembling it with the appropriate conversion kit. That means if you want a full size or subcompact pistol, just replace the grip assembly. Want a .40 S&W caliber pistol, swap out the slide and barrel assembly. The modular firing control unit (trigger assembly) is the only part that is serialized, that means all the other parts necessary to convert your P320 can be shipped directly to your door.

What I like about it: Modular fire control units and caliber conversions make this Sig extremely versatile. Insanely simple disassembly. The ability to purchase night sights as an option from factory.

What I don’t like about it: Sig Sauer doesn’t include the modular grip sizes like other manufacturers, you’ll have to purchase them separately. If you’re left handed, the magazine release is manually reversible, not ambidextrous.

Glock 19

Glock 19

Arguably the most popular pistol in circulation today, the Glock is used in U.S. special operation units, police departments, and other militaries around the world. While it won’t win any beauty pageants, Glocks are best known for their reliability, durability, precision and simple construction. It is a no frills pistol that does exactly what it needs to do very well, every time. Do not hesitate to buy one used from $250-400, making it the best bang for the buck pistol on this list.

All Glock models are constructed with a durable proprietary polymer frame and steel slide. Manufactured with only 34 component parts, Glocks’ simple design is attributed to its reliably with significantly less parts to malfunction compared to other pistols. Magazine capacity comes in at 15+1 and is interchangeable with other Glock magazines of the same caliber. Both Gen4 and 5 models include 3 modular back straps to adapt to various hand sizes. The Safe Action System, which uses three passive and independently operated mechanical safeties, is built into every Glock. This safety system ensures it won’t fire if accidentally dropped or tossed around.

What I like about it: Interchangeable magazines from other Glock models can bump the capacity up to 33 rounds. While it doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally amazing, it does do everything it needs to do very well. It’s a proven and durable workhorse ready to take any abuse reliably. Three passive and independent safeties.

What I don’t like about it: The ergonomics on Glocks is noticeably different than virtually every other pistol. It does require some adjusting if you’re coming from another manufacturer. If you’re left handed you’ll have to manually reverse the magazine release, it is not ambidextrous.

Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact

S&W M&P M2.0

The new M2.0 pistols are a clear upgrade to S&W’s already remarkable M&P line. By reputation, these line of pistols are very reliable, durable and backed by S&Ws limited lifetime warranty and lifetime service policy. You can’t go wrong here. Usually, you don’t get much consensus in the gun community but the M2.0 trigger is a game changer. It’s lighter, noticeably shorter, with a crisp trigger pull and short audible reset. It includes 2 standard 15 round magazines with a design that improves reload.

The frame feels beefier due to new steel reinforcements and includes 3 additional grip sizes to accommodate any size hand. The grip texture is much more aggressive than previous M&P models. Like, 60 grit sandpaper aggressive. If you prefer IWB style holsters, you’ll want one that protects your side from the grip. It’s also no surprise either that the M2.0 is very accurate thanks to the grip angle and high bore axis.

What I like about it: The ease of use and beefier design is impressive. Great magazine design helps increase reload time. The confidence that comes with the M&P brand, reliability.

What I don’t like about it: The new texture on the M&P M2.0 line is like holding sandpaper. That won’t matter when you need to quickly use it during an altercation. However, it’s not fun when you have to hold it for over an hour at the gun range while you put hundreds of rounds through it.

Ruger SR9c

Ruger SR9c

The SR9c is a phenomenal all around gun that is fun to shoot, consistent, and great EDC size for concealability. Ruger consistently makes great reliable guns that are built in the USA, and the SR9c is no exception. They have a strong reputation of standing behind the build quality of their guns. It includes 17 round magazines which is awesome for its compact frame. Instead of including extra grip sizes, the SR9c is a one size fits all pistol. It has a unique reversible back strap that allows you to customize the size and feel of the grip, definitely a nice touch.

The SR9c has an adjustable rear sight designed to easily adjust with a simple flathead screwdriver. Shooting was very accurate with a light recoil. It comes with ambidextrous thumb safeties and magazine releases. The trigger is very light compared to other manufacturers, yet very consistent. It also has a magazine disconnect feature that won’t allow the gun to fire without a magazine in the well, even if a round is chambered.

What I like about it: The size is great for EDC in any scenario. Light recoil and trigger makes it fun to shoot. It’s a very well rounded pistol from a reputable manufacturer.

What I don’t like about it: The magazine disconnect feature needs to go. A model without a thumb safety is not available. There are aftermarket kits that will remove it, but nothing from factory.

Springfield XD(m) 3.8” Compact

Springfield XDm

Springfield’s XD line of pistols are generally accepted as an outstanding pistol among law enforcement and civilians. In the box, it includes one 13 and one 19 round magazine. The grip texture could be better but it’s comfortable and does include 2 additional back straps to adjust grip size. It features a nice crisp trigger, a clear audible rest, and a Glock style safety lever. I do find that it does require a bit longer travel to fire. The slide controls are fairly simple and easy to use and it includes an ambidextrous magazine release.

Springfield XDs are known for their 1911 style grip safeties. This is where a lever located on the grip must be pressed in order to fire. It does allow for a small margin of error to tolerate a less than perfect grip. The XD(m) is a great pistol, but average when it comes to shoot-ability and accuracy. It gets the job done but the wide grip, the weight fully loaded, along with the safety grip does make shooting awkward. One thing that can’t be contested is reliability, Springfield makes damn good pistols.

What I like about it: The XD is equipped with a crisp trigger and a clear audible reset. It has proven to be an exceptionally accurate pistol. And who doesn’t love a 19 round magazine?

What I don’t like about it: This pistol is slightly wider and heavier than most compacts. I don’t care for the 1911 style grip safety. If I become injured or shot, I would not trust a grip safety with my life. The wrong grip in addition to fear and adrenaline during an altercation is enough for me to pass on the XD line.

Honorable Mention: Smith & Wesson M&P 9c Compact

S&W M&P 9c

This S&W features the great brand recognition and reliability of the M&P line and is the predecessor to the newer M2.0 mentioned earlier. Known for its durability, the 9c is capable of handling thousands of rounds with ease. The 3.5” barrel makes it smaller than the M2.0, but larger than the subcompact M&P Shield, giving it a sweet spot for concealment. It also comes with 3 interchangeable grip sizes to accommodate various hand sizes.

So why didn’t it make the cut? Magazine capacity. Coming in at 12+1 rounds, it doesn’t reach my minimum 15 round threshold for magazine capacity in a good compact pistol. Although, if I were in the market for a carry pistol, this would get serious consideration. It’s an all around versatile gun for anyone looking to carry.

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Marvin is a nonpartisan, unapologetic, no-compromise advocate of the Second Amendment. He encourages his readers to value the principles of individual liberty and responsible gun ownership. He enjoys going to the range and helps people feel comfortable around firearms. Our Second Right is an outlet for his passion of firearms and the unalienable right of self defense.