Today I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to list my five preferred carry gun categories in order of preference. Now, there isn’t anything abnormal about that. Wait—I’m not finished. I’m also going to list my five personal preferences in order of priority in each category. Next, I’m going to tell you why. Then I’m going to open up the conversation to fellow writers and readers because I’m quite certain your milage WILL vary on this one.
1. Double Stack Compact
This is my favorite carry type for one simple reason. In the event of a defensive encounter, I want all possible odds stacked in my favor. I’m not some kind of shooting savant. I am oh-so-fallible, and I need all the help I can get. Compact handguns may not be the easiest to conceal, but they ARE concealable, and they are much easier to shoot effectively. Beyond better shooting characteristics, they typically offer greater capacity, a longer site radius, and overall better site options than some other categories listed. Given the right holster, belt, and clothing combo, this option has proven to serve various body types effectively.
Now’s where things get interesting.
As I recently mentioned, the Sig P320 with subcompact frame has inched out my number one carry spot. I’ll be the first to admit that this could change. I’m holding onto this decision loosely. If I begin to have issues, I’ll let you know. I’ve seen reports of light primer strikes and other issues, but I haven’t experienced any of them. I haven’t witnessed any of them, and all my friends who actually own the P320 do nothing but sing its praise.
Glock 19– Second
I still think that if Glock would send their guns out with metal sights and a slightly upgraded trigger, they would become more dominant in the market again. The Glock 19 is a standard because it does many things very well and has been time-tested and proven.
FNS 9c– Third
I’m tempted to put the FNS in this category because it’s close to compact size. However, if I did that, it would bring all kinds of other options into play like the recently reviewed Canik TP9 SF Elite. The FNS 9c is more compact then the Glock and Sig (and therefore very concealable), yet maintains its shoot-ability. It has very positive grip traction, nice big metal sights, and a very reliable track record.
M&P 9c– Fourth
The M&P 9c is quite like the FNS 9c in every way but grip traction—something that I bet an M2.0 version will rectify. Really, if you’re looking for that slightly smaller compact carry gun, you owe it to yourself to shoot both of these guns and pick which one suits you best.
CZ P07– Fifth
Number 5 is a bit of a wild card. If you haven’t noticed yet, for carry, I favor striker fired guns. However, there are certain classic guns that I have such a fondness for that it’s hard to deny. (Cough…1911s, CZ 75s, and High Powers…cough cough.) So with a nod to the CZ 75, number 5 is the P-07. I know some of you are screaming that that’s another polymer handgun. I’m sorry guys, but polymer makes sense for carry, in my opinion. If you think otherwise, please do comment below.
2. Single Stack Carry
When compact carry isn’t viable, I used to carry a subcompact. Then I began to notice that most of the time, if I can carry a subcompact, I can find a way to carry a compact. The gun’s width is more of factor for me (when dressed up) than its length. So even before single stacks became all the rage, I was on it. Can you say Kahr Arms? Our single stack options have widely diversified in recent years, and carry permit holders nationwide are the direct beneficiaries.
Honestly, I think single stack carry makes the most sense for the widest number of people. I use this handgun type semi-regularly.
Smith and Wesson Shield– First
The often challenged, but undefeated single stack champ is the S&W Shield 9. Yes that’s my perspective, and you’re welcome to yours.
Glock 42– Second
Nipping at the Shield’s heals is the Glock 42. You thought I was going to say 43, didn’t you? I simply like the 42’s shooting mannerisms better than the 43, and I’m not afraid to say so. I know, I know, the .380 is underpowered. You can have the shot placement and power debate in the comments if you like.
Walther PPS M2– Third
Walther PPS M2. It’s just a great gun. Shoot it; you’ll see. If it was more widely circulated, it would give the Shield a run for her money.
The Glock 43 carries great and is way more shootable than many single stack 9s that came before it, but in my experience, it simply isn’t the top of the heap. It’s really good though— really good indeed.
Springfield XDS 4.0– Fifth
Springfield XDS in 3.3. and 4.0. I personally prefer this gun in its 4.0 iteration. In that configuration, it offers something that isn’t very available anywhere else (though Avidity Arms plans to fix that). The width is a bit wider and it’s a little heavier than the competition, but the XDS is a great shooting gun with really nice styling, a ton of upgraded features, and a more than manageable recoil impulse. I’m not a huge fan of its grip safety, but even that has its advantages for those tentatively considering appendix carry. The XDS deserves its place on the list.
3. Double Stack Subcompact
Glock 26– First
The G26 is a tried and true industry standard. It’s been riding in waste bands, pockets, and on ankles for years, and in my book it still does what it does better than anything else on the market.
Sig P320– Second
Sub Compact. I think I’ve made it clear how much I enjoy this gun, but it’s just a little too big to fill the top spot in my personal subcompact requirements.
M&P 9c– Third
You say, wait a second that was on the compact list…but that’s what makes this gun so good (or so bad depending on perspective). Its size straddles the fence between compact and subcompact.
CZ 2075 RAMI– Fourth
There you go, DA/SA guys and metal gun guys. Here’s an aluminum DA/SA wildcard for you.
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 Subcompact– Fifth
This gun isn’t really my jam personally but it has a wide following for a reason.
4. Pocket Gun
Kahr P380 (or CW380 if you’re trying to save)– First
This gun is tiny, but it doesn’t ask you to give up some of the quality that other pocket guns ask you to relinquish. Its quality construction is evident from the sights down.
Ruger LCP II– Second
Ruger has made some significant improvements to this design since they released it years ago. The LCP II is, in fact, better than the standard LCPs.
Kel-tec P-3AT– Third
It’s not really fair to put the Ruger on the list without mentioning the gun it’s modeled after. Yes, Ruger has made some improvements, but in design, they are basically the same gun.
SCCY CPX-3– Fourth
I don’t have as much trigger time behind this gun as the others, but the experience that I have has been favorable.
Glock 42– Fifth
Again we have a gun that straddles the fence, and I think it serves two categories well, as a result. Granted the 42 isn’t going to fit in your skinny jeans’ pockets (so just consider losing the skinny jeans), but it will fit in most average-sized pockets, and it lives to ride in jacket pockets. The G42 is a quite useful little gun.
A lot of people think that the revolver is dead. I’m not one of them. I think that the revolver has its niche. Smaller J frame type guns serve as a secondary gun quite well. In addition, they work well as deep concealment or ankle guns. They have tons of style. Revolvers may take a bit more practice, but they are quite capable once you get used to shooting them. At contact distance, they are arguably the best option, as they can’t be pressed out of battery. That’s a notable, but perhaps over-played point. It is important though.
Smith & Wesson 442– First
This gun (or an older version of it) is the quintessential carry revolver.
Ruger LCR– Second
this option is lightweight, has a great trigger, and is available in .357, .38 spl, and 9mm.
Smith & Wesson M&P 340– Third
Lightweight, rugged, reliable, and chambered in .357, which makes shooting hot .38 spl a bit more pleasant.
Colt Cobra– Fourth
Kimber K6s DCR–Fifth
Pick up a K6s, and you’ll immediately notice its refinement and quality construction.
To be clear, I’d rather have the last three guns on the list but I’m not sure they serve carry purposes more efficiently then the first two in this catagory.
So there you have it, today we’ve doubled up on our top five lists. These are my five primary carry categories. Which category is your go-to carry method? What are your favorite handguns in that category?