There are countless articles written about the best concealed carry firearm. These articles delve into round count, shootablity and price, but there’s a fourth dynamic to concealed carry pistols that are often left out — the minimum firearms knowledge needed to consider carrying and owning one of these firearms.
Minimum firearms knowledge centers around the knowledge a novice shooter needs to have in order to operate, deploy and fire the pistol successfully, as well as cleaning, caring for and maintenance of the weapon. It’s important to remember that choosing the right firearm isn’t just about pulling the trigger. It is a commitment to understanding and safely using a firearm.
I’ve employed the help of experts like Instagram influencer Baret Fawbush, otherwise known as Truexodus, and Benghazi hero Dave “Boon” Benton, who is a former Ranger and current weapons and tactics instructor, to give their take on some popular semiautomatic concealed carry options.
Glock 43 – $450
Released in 2015, the Glock 43 is Glock’s flagship for subcompact concealment. The polymer single stack is slim and small. Measuring slightly larger than the Sig P365, the Glock 43 provides adequate surface space for even a slightly larger handed shooter to get a solid grip and accurately put rounds on target.
The safety systems can be a sticking point for a novice shooter, though. Despite forgoing a traditional manual safety, the Glock is equipped with three safety mechanisms. It can be scary for someone new to concealed carry, though. It’s important to remember that nothing is more valuable or more important when it comes to choosing a concealed carry firearm than training with and shooting it. Any pistol can be a great choice with the proper training and thousands of rounds through it.
In the end, Fawbush and Benton agreed that for the novice shooter, the Glock 43 is a great choice. “It’s easy to conceal, easy to maintain,” Benton said. Fawbush added, “The 43 has never let me down and has more of a balanced recoil management.” Coupled with a great price point and a plethora of holster options, the Glock 43 rates very high for the novice and experienced concealed carry shooter alike.
Glock 19 – $500
From magazine capacity to concealability, to maintenance and price point, the Glock 19 checks all the boxes. Now in fairness, this is not a subcompact like a Glock 43, Sig P365 or Shield. And as Benton points out we’re “not necessarily comparing apples to apples;” however, the Glock 19 is one of the most common carry choices and with good reason.
The Glock 19 earns a top spot on the illustrious conceal carry pyramid because it is the most consistent handgun on the market. God forbid you should ever need your firearm in a self-defense situation, you want to know that your tool of choice will perform as intended. Fawbush has put 45,000 rounds through his Glock 19 carry gun without any issues. When you pull the trigger, it goes boom.
At a $500 price point, the novice shooter, intermediate concealed carry shooter, and expert tactical operator can’t beat it. As far as negatives to the platform, cheap out of box sights and crunchy trigger — that’s all we could come up with.
As for what makes the Glock great, Benton offered his take. “The high magazine capacity, easy to maintain and (it) requires less lube between round counts. It’s a good compromise for concealment and control when firing fast accurate shots.”
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield – $250
Easy to clean and maintain, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield is available in a variety of calibers. Shipping with or without the thumb safety the small and compact Shield might prove difficult for newer shooters due to the design of its trigger.
The trigger pulls up and into the gun which makes it very difficult for the novice gun owner to consistently get rounds on target. Benton said the “heavy pivoting trigger” and low magazine capacity made this one of the more difficult carry guns.
Fawbush agreed. “Because of the thin frame and where the trigger breaks. It isn’t set up to aid a shooter in the fundamentals,” he said. Unless you have very small hands, the M&P Shield might be a more challenging choice for the novice shooter.
Sig Sauer P365 – $499
Both Fawbush and Benton alluded to the magazine capacity as one of the biggest advantages to carrying this pistol in a civilian defense application. Being able to put a lot of rounds down range as a beginner is a big plus.
The P365’s ease of use is also a bonus for this platform. The P365 requires far less maintenance than the 1911s of the world, with any rookie shooter capable of field stripping and cleaning this firearm. Even better, it is highly concealable. Smaller than the Glock 43 and with more rounds, the P365 also sports a rail for accessories like lasers or lights. For those not interested in tossing on a light/laser combo, the night sights also stand out. “If you’ve ever picked up a Sig P226 or P229, it has a similar feel,” Fawbush commented. “It is a combat sight picture.”
It’s not all roses for the P365, though. Fawbush calls the recoil “snappy.” The handgun doesn’t shoot as smooth as other models on the market. Some shooters have also reported feeding issues with their gun, sending them back to Sig for repair. Despite its quirks, the Sig P365 is a quality subcompact firearm with a high capacity magazine that is extremely concealable, even in a t-shirt and shorts. You can’t miss with this one.
Wilson Combat EDC-X9 – $2,995
The Wilson Combat EDC-X9 is the crème de la crème of the EDC/concealed carry firearms world. “This gun shoots itself. Mechanically, it’s the easiest gun to shoot in my collection,” according to Fawbush. This firearm holds 15 rounds in the magazine, which gives it a leg up in capacity from some of the other options on our list or comparable compact or subcompact options on the market. Despite being a double stack, the EDC-X9 still maintains manageable proportions. Overall height of this pistol is just 5.24-inches and width at the base of the grip is 1.4-inches, just slightly wider than most single-stack 1911s. Aesthetically, it tops our list.
“The sliding lightweight trigger is more forgiving of poor trigger management,” according to Benton. One of the benefits of the Xframe design is that it’s smaller in size than most 1911 grips, yet it contains the same controls. The mainspring housing, front strap and front and rear slide serrations offer the Wilson’s X-TAC crosscut diamond texturing. The G10 grips feature a starburst design and pewter WC-logo medallions.
But let’s talk about the drawbacks, particularly for the novice or new shooter. “It requires more maintenance than modern designs, and more lube and cleaning [every 300-500 rounds],” Benton said. Additionally, carrying a firearm with the hammer back can be intimidating for some novice shooters. If you’re an experienced shooter, and you’re looking for the custom 1911 feel with a great trigger the EDC-X9 from Wilson Combat is pretty epic; however, the EDC-X9 isn’t the best choice for a carry gun for newer shooters, even if you can afford it.
Some will disagree, perhaps choosing another firearm that we haven’t even discussed. At the end of the day, the best semiautomatic concealed carry firearm for you is the one that you shoot the best, can carry the safest and can maintain the easiest.