Best Concealed Carry Pistol for a Defensive Prepper

by Tommy Grant

Not that long ago, three men entered a gas station/convenience store at an exit off a highway. They quickly held the cashier at gunpoint, grabbed the cash from the register, and proceeded to shoot and kill everyone else in the store. That included the cashier and two other shoppers. That’s why I carry. If that was me shopping in that store and I had a weapon, I would have a fighting chance against those criminals.

I’ve carried many sizes of pistols both concealed and not concealed. While I like to shoot multiple different guns and calibers, there is only one concealed-carry pistol that works for me as a defensive prepper. Everyone has different preferences and skill levels, so we’ll go over a few options.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

The Best Concealed Carry Pistol

Ruger LCP II

Rugged, Compact, and Reliable

The second-generation LCP provides plenty of stopping power in a compact, reliable firearm that doesn’t break budgets.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The Ruger LCP is my carry pistol but is not anywhere close to my favorite overall pistol. It is too small to shoot comfortably as a target pistol, is not very accurate, and is literally no fun to shoot. But those aren’t the criteria listed for CCW. My Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm serves as my favorite duty-carry accurate and fun pistol. The Ruger LCP is not like that!

I’ve trained on it and dubbed it the “Noisy Cricket” (and that nickname stuck) because it is like the tiny gun in the movie “Men in Black”. It kicks hard and has a small grip. After extended shooting, the pistol can be felt between my thumb and forefinger.

Here is everything you get with this pistol:

  • Compact 2nd gen model of the celebrated LCP
  • .380 ACP, 6 rounds
  • 2.75″ barrel
  • Compact polymer grip
  • 11.2 ounces

Even though it is not fun to shoot, it serves its purpose perfectly. Compacts and smaller won’t be your firearm of choice for long days at the range, but you’ll still want to train with them.

As you can see in the picture of me carrying it, it is hard to spot. But the Fobus Evolution paddle holster makes it easy to get to. It is reliable and has never misfired (I keep it cleaned and oiled). You should add the optional extended magazine floor plate so that you get two fingers fully on the grip. That makes it much more shootable and accurate.

It holds 6 rounds in the magazine which should be plenty for a single event. With an expected max range of 7 yards, I won’t miss. Finally, load it with a good hollow point round. I use the 380ACP Federal Hydra-Shok 90gr Personal Defense round. When I practice, I use a target round with an extended magazine.

With great value and an extremely compact profile, it’s easy to see why the Ruger LCP II tops the rest.

9mm Concealed Carry Pistol

Sig Sauer P365

Smooth, Easy to Use, and Trusted

This 9mm model from Sig, well known for accuracy and reliability, is one of the more popular choices for CCW among preppers.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Sig Sauer is beloved by many, and their full-sized P226 has been a workhorse for military and law enforcement for years.

The 356 takes this reliability and accuracy down to a microcompact size, making it easily concealable and one of the top options for CCW in a 9mm caliber. It’s not prohibitively expensive, like a few other models that can quickly eclipse $2,000 but instead sits at a great spot where value is important.

Here is how this 9mm measures up:

  • Microcompact, XRAY day/night sights
  • 9mm, 10+1 rounds
  • 3.1″ barrel
  • Compact polymer grip
  • 17.8 ounces

If you are looking for a quality 9mm for everyday carry, the Sig Sauer P365 9mm Pistol is the best option.

Concealed Carry Revolver

Kimber K6SX

Ultracompact, Effective, and Reliable

Revolvers aren’t known for being lightweight, but this reliable workhorse has a snub nose and compact grip to fit the bill.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

It’s a revolver rather than a pistol, but it is compact, packs a punch, and is easy to use. Many people suggest revolvers for those looking just at self-defense due to their simplicity.

Here are the specs:

  • Ultracompact, snag-free hammer, low profile sights
  • .38 special, 6 rounds
  • 2″ barrel
  • Compact texturized rubber grip
  • 16 ounces

If you need a compact simple solution with plenty of stopping power, the Kimber K6XS Revolver is a great choice.

Everything We Recommend

Ruger LCP II

The second-generation LCP provides plenty of stopping power in a compact, reliable firearm that doesn’t break budgets.

Where to Buy

$304* at

*at time of reviewing

Kimber K6XS

Revolvers aren’t known for being lightweight, but this reliable workhorse has a snub nose and compact grip to fit the bill.

Where to Buy

$660* at

*at time of reviewing

The CCWs We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several handguns that we compared: S&W, Ruger, Glock, Sig Sauer, Walther, Beretta, Kimber, Kingston, Colt, HK, Springfield Armory, and more.

Specifically, we most recently checked out:

  • Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm with paddle holster: My favorite pistol! Too big and heavy for concealed.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 22 with paddle holster: Too big and heavy, under-powered.
  • Ruger SR-22: Too big and heavy, underpowered.
  • Kel-Tec P-3AT with paddle holster: Less expensive, but I question the quality/reliability.
  • Ruger LCP (same gun as I picked) with pocket holster: too hard to draw.
  • Taurus Judge 45/410: Too big and heavy.
  • Springfield XD(M) 45: Way too big and heavy.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have a compact handgun that you love, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get our hands on one in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

It is crucial to me that the weapon I carry can’t easily be seen, but can be easy to draw and effectively stop a bad guy. Let’s break that down. To be hidden, it must be small. No big fat .45. Tiny, light, easy to carry, and easy to hide. “Easy to draw” means not buried in a holster in your pocket. It means using a paddle holster. To stop a bad guy, you need more than a .22 caliber. It must be reliable so it will shoot in an emergency.

The best concealed carry pistols have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Reliability
  3. Stopping Power
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find the perfect firearm for concealment. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the pistols that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a gun shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. There is a huge price range for firearms and it can be tempting to go overkill on specific models and collections.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, even when it comes to personal security. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.


What’s the point of a concealed carry weapon if it snags, jams, or misfires when your life is on the line? This is not the place to be cutting corners and going with an unreliable firearm.

All handguns will need regular maintenance after shooting to prevent issues. Get a gun cleaning kit and make sure you know how to properly care for your weapon to keep its top-tier reliability.

Stopping Power

Caliber and ammo specifics have a lot to do with stopping power, but you can’t just use any ammo in any firearm. Larger calibers typically mean more stopping power, using the old formula of force = acceleration x mass.

The downside to larger calibers, especially with handguns, is that they can reduce the number of rounds you store, accuracy from recoil, and cause hand fatigue.

For compact concealed weapons we prioritize stopping power over all of these, but also want it to stay small enough to conceal easily.

Size & Weight

One of the biggest factors with a CCW is the profile. The size needs to be small so you can tuck it away and not have it readily visible. That is the point of it being concealed- otherwise, you could just carry a full-sized firearm exposed on your hip or leg.

Weight is another factor- once you get past a pound you can start to feel it regardless of the holster. With aluminum frames on compact and microcompact handguns, weight usually isn’t an issue.


Versatility doesn’t have to go out the door with a CCW. You can still get great sights, extended magazines, and solid holsters for concealed weapons. Once you pick your firearm, you can usually find plenty of accessories to make it just how you want it.

How to Carry a Concealed Pistol

Just because you have a concealed carry permit does not necessarily mean you are qualified to carry a concealed pistol. Carrying concealed means you have a responsibility to know how to use that lethal weapon. Not just know the laws, rules, and conventions, but practice with the gun to be safe and effective when it is needed. You need to continue training and learning everything about your weapon. This will keep you from accidentally hurting yourself or other innocent people. Check your state laws every so often because they change. If going to another state, check to make sure there is a reciprocal agreement with your state and learn the details of the laws in that state. That will keep you out of legal trouble.

Training? What do I mean by training for concealed carry? Go to your local range and take a class on it! Not just the class to get the permit, but a home defense or tactical situation class. They will teach you really how to use your weapon. If not a formal class, find an experienced shooter to help train you. The most important aspects of use are not to accidentally shoot yourself or innocents and to be able to draw and fire the pistol as intended.

Simple conventions like only pointing it where you intend to shoot and keeping your finger off the trigger until just before shooting will become second nature. Draw training is essential. Many ranges won’t let you draw and shoot unless you are in a class that includes that. I practice draw training at home with an unloaded pistol, but there is no replacement for the real thing.

That’s it. A simple gun with one purpose. I carry it with confidence, force myself to practice with it and train and prepare for potential emergencies. If you are worried about someone coming up to you and grabbing your gun off your side, I recommend a “soft-side carry” knife. I use the Ka-Bar TDI (See our full Ka-Bar TDI Review) which is specifically made for this purpose. I wear it on my back left. If someone lunges for my back right, I could use my left handle to quickly extract and employ the TDI.

Who Needs a CCW?

Every gun owner has their preferred weapons that satisfy their specific needs. Some hunt and use rifles designed for that. Some target shoot. Some buy for personal protection. That most likely means carrying a handgun. Carrying a loaded concealed handgun in public can be intimidating and even dangerous if not performed properly.

Then why do it? Simply because it can literally save your life or the lives of other innocent victims. That’s my reason for carrying and the only valid reason I know of.

We do suggest that you consider a CCW for this kit (if you are trained):

We also suggest handguns for a wide range of kits, though not specifically compact models:

Stowing a firearm in a kit can be dangerous if it is not secure, if you do not have proper handgun training, or if you neglect to maintain it. Be familiar with your weapons by practicing with them and caring for them.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best concealed carry pistol are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Ferguson, B., et al. (2014). Concealed Carry Permits: Catalystor Deterrent? A State-by-State Look Into How a Change From No-Issue To Shall-Issue Affects Crime Rates. Journal of Law and Criminal Justice. Volume 2. Issue 1. Pages 241- 272. (Source)

Espohl, F. (1997). The Right to Carry Concealed Weapons for Self-Defense. Southern Illinois University Law Journal. Volume 22. (Source)

Stroud, A. (2010). Good Guys with Guns: The Appeal and Consequences of Concealed Carry. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, NC. (Source)

The Final Word

While carrying a concealed firearm involves a lot of planning, training, and commitment, the last thing you want to worry about is the weapon itself. The Ruger, while not the easiest or most fun gun to shoot, serves as the perfect carry pistol for me. Add the Fobus paddle holster, magazine footplate, and hollow points to make it perform at its best.

If you know of a better top choice of concealed carry pistol, please comment and give your criteria and qualities that fit!

Here are a few other guides our readers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our combined experience found the Ruger LCP II to be the best solution given its value, reliability, stopping power, size/weight, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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