Education|Conceal Carry

When considering what pistol to conceal carry there are so many options. You begin to look at reviews on internet to see what the market has to offer. From there you investigate prices on Rainier Arms, Brownells, and Gun Broker. Still with no clear picture on your needs and what you want. Shifting through all that information can be daunting. With so much to read and so many different price points to take into consideration it becomes hard to find out what is best for you. 

Your question becomes, “What are the characteristics of a good conceal carry pistol?” In your search to answer this question you would  ask a friend, a current conceal carry practitioner, or a firearm instructor on what a good option would be. All those people within your circle will offer you potentially very different perspectives. 

The question internally evolves to, “What is the best conceal carry pistol for me?” That answer to that question is completely subjective. What we need from a conceal carry handgun will differ from practitioner to practitioner. The needs and preferences of a shooter are completely subjective. So, what is best for you may not be best for me. Find what works for us is something we must investigate ourselves as shooters. At, the end of the day shooters needs and preference dictates the final decision when it comes to a firearm purchase.

When it comes to conceal carry pistols they can fall into a lot of categories. You have compact, subcompact, and pocket pistols. In this article we will be discussing the Top 5 subcompact pistols on the market for conceal carry.

Before, we discuss the Top 5 we will briefly discuss the design characteristics of subcompact pistols, benefits of a subcompact, and discuss ammunition.

The Characteristics Of A Subcompact

When it comes to subcompact pistols they will have certain design characteristics unique to their category. The characteristics that all subcompact pistols will have in common are: barrel length, overall length, and the use of single stack magazines. A subcompact handgun will be a firearm with 3.0-3.7 inch barrel, an overall length of 5.5-6.2 inches and a magazine capacity of 6-8 rounds. Newer subcompacts by Sig Sauer and Glock have broken that mold in the last two years making subcompact pistols with 10-15 rounds magazine for subcompact pistols. 

Benefits Of A Subcompact Pistol

Conceal carry practitioners who prefer subcompact pistols are looking for certain benefits for their conceal carry needs. Those ccw practitioners are looking for a firearm that provides concealment, portability, and reduced weight in their concealed carry weapon. They are looking for a pistol that leaves the smallest weapon footprint possible when concealing. Also, conceal carry practitioners look for  concealment and portability without drastically altering composition of their bag.

The Versatility of 9mm

When it comes to a conceal carry weapon, 9mm is arguably the most popular caliber. Some will argue that .40 S&W and .45 ACP have more stopping power. That is a debate for another day. 9mm is still a powerful and versatile round for conceal carry purposes. A lot of government agencies are switching back to 9mm from .40 S&W or .45 ACP. In this year alone, Customs and Border Protection switched to the G47 and U.S. Secret Service switch back to a Glock 9mm. It shows that 9mm has the right amount of versatility and lethality if Federal Agencies are returning to 9mm.

Top 5 Rating Criteria

When rating the Top 5 subcompact handguns I will be taking from reviews, Gun Broker’s Gun Genius Top Selling Firearms, and my personal experience with those pistols. My goal is to give you an honest opinion sprinkled in with my experience and insight.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…with the Top 5 Subcompact pistols on the market.

Top 5 Subcompact Pistols

1. Sig Sauer P365

Over the last 16 plus months Sig Sauer P365 has been on fire. The Sig P365 is all around great pistol. The Sig P365 is a smooth shooting, well-balanced, and light. You can’t ask for much more in a subcompact pistol. The Sig Sauer P365 comes in at a price tag of $499 MSRP. 

The Sig Sauer P365 has won numerous industry awards such as NRA’s Shooting Illustrated Magazine as their Golden Bullseye winner for 2019 Handgun of the Year. Guns and Ammo Magazine’s 2018 Handgun of the Year.the Industry Choice Award for Handgun of the Year just to name a few. On Gun Broker’s Gun Genius the P365 was the top selling pistol for 2018. 

Check out reviews from Pew Pew Tactical, NRA Shooting Illustrated, and Concealed Carry.  

2. Glock 43

When the Glock 43 came out back in 2015 it changed up the subcompact market by introducing a striker-fire into the mix. Every since 2015 the G43 has been a constant suggestion by many conceal carry practitioners. The G43 was number 6 on Gun Genius’s top selling pistols of 2018. The G43 is priced at $449. 

The G43 is a good shooting pistol. It tends to be a little snappy in the felt recoil department but not too over bearing, solid trigger, and a abundance of aftermarket upgrades. 

Check out reviews by Pew Pew Tactical and The Firearms Blog.

3. Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 2.0

The M&P Shield 2.0 is the darkhorse on my list. My experience with this weapon has been a positive one. I’m not an big Smith and Wesson fan but, this pistol took me buy surprise. It is one of the smoothest shooting subcompacts on the market.  The M&P Shield is great to shoot with very little bite when it comes to felt recoil. Fits well in your hands, has a surprisingly good stock trigger, and good sights. All in all a great subcompact pistol. The M&P Shield 2.0 is priced to sell at $449.

The M&P Shield 2.0 was the number 5 on top selling pistols of 2018. Check out reviews from Truth About Guns and Concealed Nation.

4. Glock 48

The G48 hit the firearms community with a lot of hype. Hype for the most part was well deserved. It increased magazine size from 6-8 to 10 and still keeping the single stack magazine. The frame was longer to accommodate for a better grip and increased ergonomics. The G48 does this while still keeping the characteristics of a subcompact. The G48 are rocking Gen 5 internals yet, the trigger isn’t as clean and crisp as the other Gen 5 models. The G48 is essential slim down G19. The Glock 48 is priced at $599 MSRP.

The G48 hasn’t hit on Gun Genius top seller list but, it is a good buy and has reviewed well. Check out reviews by Ammoland and Pew Pew Tactical. 

5. Sig Sauer P365 XL 

The Sig Sauer P365 XL is the bigger high speed and low drag larger version of the P365. The P365 XL comes with extended barrel length and frame, X-series trigger, a RMR slide cut, and (2) 12-round magazine. The Sig P365 XL shoots like a champion. The P365 XL handles recoil well not too snappy at all. Great stock sights and amazing trigger. The pistol feels good in the hands and is great to shoot. This pistol has not made it on Gun Genius on top sellers. The Sig Sauer P365 XL is priced at $579 MSRP. 

Once rumors started floating around in mid May about a potentially larger P365 XL the firearms community was excited. Sig Sauer and the P365 XL did not disappoint in that regard. Check out reviews by Concealed Nation and USA Carry


That is my Top 5 list of subcompact handguns. I am all about consumer advocacy. That means go to your local range and test drive these pistols for yourself. Do your due diligence and find out what is best for you and stick with it. It’s not about my opinion or a friend’s opinion. It is about being able to defend yourself confidently if the moment arises.

What was your favorite choice from the Top 5 subcompacts. What subcompact pistol did you think was left out? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for Reading 

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