One of the most challenging issues to solve when considering a pistol for concealed carry is managing the trade off between size and capacity. On the one hand, selecting a handgun with a small footprint for CCW makes it easier to conceal (and therefore, less likely to print). However, smaller guns simply don’t have the room to carry as many rounds as larger pistols. Finding the best balance of these elements is something that each individual must ascertain in accordance with their specific needs.
Several companies, such as Kahr, Ruger, and Beretta, offer concealed carry pistols that run the gamut of preferences with slim sub compacts like the CM9 (Kahr), LC9 (Ruger), and Nano (Beretta). However, with many of these smaller “pocket pistols,” not only is there a limit in capacity (the Kahr CM9 carries 6+1 rounds of 9mm, the LC9 holds 7+1 9mm rounds, and the Nano carries 6+1 9mm rounds), but the short barrel (about 3in for each of the previous models) and light frames (all three are polymer framed) increases perceived recoil for the shooter (like what we observe in the video featured in this post).
Larger pistols, whether polymer or metal, are generally easier to control. Also, full size handguns that utilize double stacked magazines can carry 15+1 (like the Beretta 92FS/M9 and the Glock 19), or even 17+1 (like the Ruger SR9 and the Glock 17). However, sub compacts like the models previously mentioned generally have a 5″x5″ (or so) profile at only an inch wide. Full size pistols like the Beretta M9/FS (used by US Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the SIG MK25/P226 (used by US Navy SEALS) are large – the M9 measures 8.5″ long by 5.4″ tall at 1.5″ wide and the MK25 measures 7.7in long, 5.5in tall, and 1.5in wide. But even the slimmer Glock 17 (1.18in wide) still has a footprint of 7.32in long and 5.43in tall).
There are some compact pistols that offer somewhat of a “compromise” between size and round count, however. The Glock 26, as a double stack compact 9mm, could be considered one of these. At 6.29″ long and 4.17″ tall (still 1.18″ wide, like its full sized Glock brethren). Instead of the single stack 6 or 7 round options, it holds 10+1.
There is no single “best” concealed carry option. What may conceal well for one may obviously print for another. There is also the matter of environment and personal preference to consider. Those who work in environments that aren’t “firearm friendly” may be restricted to only the most deeply concealable pistol options during their work days. Some may feel uncomfortable living or travelling in certain neighborhoods without a certain amount of rounds. What’s more important to you: capacity or concealability?