The Top 10 Best Concealed Carry Handguns for Women: Balancing Power and Comfort

We understand that personal safety is a top priority for everyone; and for many women, carrying a concealed handgun can offer an added measure of security. Taking the first steps into shopping and selecting the perfect concealed carry handgun is no small task. It’s about finding that sweet spot between power and comfort, something that’s easy to carry and doesn’t compromise performance.

  • Should you go with a “little revolver for the little lady”?
  • Does a .22 really have enough stopping power for self-defense?
  • Isn’t pepper spray a viable self defense option?
  • Are you just being paranoid? 

All valid questions with important factors to consider.

The answer to all of them is NO.

The chances that you’ve walked into a gun shop recently and been ushered over to the “girl gun” section, then handed some pink toy, are fairly high. Not only is that demeaning, it’s also a horrible way to learn what you actually need. Concealed carry weapons are typically marketed and designed for men, but the pink small guns “for women” are just insulting. (Not to mention they are horribly uncomfortable to shoot, so the chances of you actually wanting to carry the thing are very low.)

In this article, we’ll walk with you along your journey to find the ideal concealed-carry handgun for you. We’ll go through key factors to consider, such as size, weight, caliber, and ease of use. We’ll help you understand why striking the right balance between power and comfort is crucial. Stick around, and you’ll gain a solid foundation to make a confident, informed choice about the concealed carry handgun that’s just right for you.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t feel like reading much, skip to the guns list here.

This article is the first of a 3-part series that will provide an in-depth guide to navigating the world of concealed-carry handguns for women. It will cover a variety of topics, including what qualifies as a good gun versus a bad one, revolvers versus semi-autos, factors to consider when choosing a gun, and more. The series will also offer valuable resources specifically for women, such as women-specific firearm training, organizations & networks, digital & print resources, as well as women’s shooting & concealed carry YouTube channels. The overall aim is to empower women to become skilled, confident, and responsible gun owners while fostering a supportive community.

Table of Contents

Smallest

Springfield Hellcat

$599

BEST

Walther PDP-F

$699

Cheapest

PSA Dagger Compact

$349

What This List Won't Have On It

We want to make something clear right off the bat. This article isn’t going to patronize you with “girl guns,” those daintily designed, often pink-colored firearms that tend to lack substance behind the frills. We’re also not going to recommend revolvers, pocket pistols, or .22 pistols. While they have their merits, we believe that for everyday concealed carry, there are much better options out there that deliver both comfort and power. So, something like this is a no-go:

Tiny guns may seem like good choices at first; but trust me, they are horrible. The smaller the gun, the higher the recoil, the less room you have to hold onto the thing, and the less ammo it can carry. Small guns are certainly better than no gun at all, but there are much more reliable and affordable options that will carry more ammo and be easier, as well as more comfortable, to shoot.

Side note: if you’re really into a pink gun, that’s fine – just don’t fall for the stereotype nonsense that women should only have tiny little pink guns. Get yourself a quality, reliable handgun and have it Cerakoted pink if you want. (Cerakote is a highly durable ceramic-based paint that’s designed for firearms.) Most of the pink guns you find in stores are either .380 or .22 caliber. We’ll get into calibers and why they are important in a bit, but if you don’t know, .22 is basically a little larger than a BB gun. They are fun to play with but are definitely not ideal for a life-or-death self-defense scenario.

This is a Walther P22. It's a great gun to learn how to shoot and practice with, but it isn't ideal as a dedicated concealed carry handgun because of the very small caliber.

This list will not have any gun on it that I personally wouldn’t carry or want my wife carrying. If I wouldn’t be comfortable with her carrying something, I’m certainly not going to recommend it to you either.

And here’s one more thing we promise to avoid: condescending “advice.” We understand that you’re after reliable information, not outdated stereotypes about what a woman should or shouldn’t carry. After all, the best gun for any woman is the one she feels most confident and comfortable using. So, let’s dive into the real substance: the best concealed carry handguns for women that offer the perfect blend of power and comfort.

Side note: if you really like pink, purple, and sparkly things, check out Glitter Gunz.

The Importance of Concealed-Carry Handguns for Women

The decision to carry a concealed handgun is a deeply personal one, and it’s not a choice that every woman will make. However, for some individuals, owning a concealed-carry firearm offers peace of mind and a sense of empowerment. Women often face unique safety concerns, and the sad reality is that you can sometimes find yourself feeling vulnerable. Whether you’re walking alone at night or finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation, knowing you have a means of self-defense can provide a significant confidence boost.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: physical disparity. It’s a fact of life that a petite woman could find herself at a huge disadvantage in a physical confrontation with a larger aggressor. Yet, a concealed-carry handgun can be a great equalizer in such scenarios. By lawfully carrying a handgun, a woman can effectively defend herself against a potential threat, irrespective of size. This creates a powerful deterrent and can help women feel more secure, whether at home or out in public.

In recent times, there has been a notable increase in self-defense awareness. More and more women are taking proactive steps to ensure their personal safety. While strategies vary from person to person, one effective method that women are increasingly considering is carrying a concealed pistol.

However, this decision comes with its own unique considerations for women. From the firearm’s size and weight to its ease of use, each aspect should be carefully evaluated to ensure the chosen handgun is both comfortable and reliable. Remember, the key is to find a balance between power and comfort. After all, the best gun for any woman is the one she feels confident and comfortable using. So, armed with knowledge from this guide, you can make an informed decision that suits your personal safety needs.

In today’s world, women are breaking barriers across all walks of life, and personal safety is no exception. We understand that women may feel vulnerable when walking home late at night, traveling alone, or living in a neighborhood where crime is a concern. Having a concealed carry handgun, and the knowledge of how to use it, can offer a source of empowerment and control, as well as a way to even the playing field.

Firearms don’t care about your size, strength, or gender. They are the ultimate equalizer. A well-trained, confident woman with a concealed handgun stands a much greater chance against a potential aggressor than an unarmed one.

Important note on this image: notice how her finger is on the trigger? That's a no-no. One of the four fundamental rules of firearm safety is keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

The rising trend in self-defense awareness among women is not about encouraging aggression. It’s about fostering a mindset of preparedness, about making sure you never find yourself in a situation where you’re helpless. It’s about taking control of your personal safety, about making informed choices that enhance your security and peace of mind.

When it comes to choosing a concealed carry handgun, women have unique considerations to keep in mind — how it fits in your hand, recoil, the weight, and even how to carry with different clothing styles. And that’s what we’ll dive into next, helping you understand how to choose the right concealed carry handgun that fits into your lifestyle and meets your needs.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to size, weight, and grip, the key is to find a handgun that feels both comfortable and secure in your hand. The size of the gun should be such that it can be easily concealed and carried without causing discomfort or hindrance. The weight should be manageable, allowing for steady aim and control without causing fatigue. The grip is crucial too – a handgun with an uncomfortable grip can affect your aim, not to mention make it physically unpleasant to hold and shoot.

Now, let’s talk about trigger pull weight and recoil. Trigger pull weight is how much force you need to apply to fire the gun. This is especially significant as a heavier pull can affect your accuracy, especially if you’re in a high-pressure situation. Recoil, on the other hand, is the kickback you feel when the gun is fired. Too much recoil can make shooting uncomfortable and can also affect your accuracy. Therefore, finding a handgun with a manageable trigger pull and recoil is essential.

Contrary to some assumptions, women are fully capable of handling most handguns just as effectively as men. You don’t need a “girl gun” to defend yourself. What you need is a reliable, effective handgun that you feel comfortable and confident to use. In terms of types of handguns, both revolvers and semi-automatics have their pros and cons. While revolvers are known for their reliability and simplicity, semi-automatic guns offer higher capacity, which can be crucial in a self-defense situation. You would need to assess your comfort level, needs, and preferences. Remember that choosing to carry a concealed handgun comes with the responsibility of training and practice. The more familiar you are with your gun, the more efficiently you’ll be able to use it if the need arises.

This video from Tessah Booth is a great resource to get some advice and real-world examples from an experienced woman who is actively concealed carrying different types of guns, shooting in competitions, and doing a great job of passing on knowledge and lessons learned along the way. I haven’t seen every video and article from Tessah, but from what I have seen, she appears to be a good resource for women who are learning about firearms. 

Don't Forget A Quality Holster!

Shopping for your first handgun is fun and all, but don’t forget about the holster. This is hugely important, and a quality holster can literally mean the difference between life and death. Not to mention accidental discharges (that’s when you fire your gun when you didn’t mean to). 

Check out this in-depth article I wrote about how to choose the best concealed carry holster for a LOT more detail. If you don’t have time to read, picking up a holster from any of these brands will be a great choice:

Just to name a few great options. We are authorized dealers for a few of them (Bravo Concealment, Blackpoint, Crucial, Raven Concealment, Safariland), affiliated with a few others (CYA Supply, T1C, We the People) and have zero affiliation or connection with the rest.

I put Eclipse Holsters at the top of the list because it’s a woman-owned small business and the owner, Jessica Hazelaar, is making some awesome holsters, perfect for women. She has tons of designs and patterns to choose from too. I’m not affiliated or connected to Eclipse Holsters in any way, I just like what she’s doing. :)

Handgun Sizes Explained: Full Size, Compact, Sub-Compact, Micro

In terms of handgun sizes, it’s crucial to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Your choice will largely depend on your comfort, lifestyle, and personal preference. While there aren’t strictly defined rules about what features and attributes classify a gun for a specific size group, there is a general consensus among manufacturers and shooters.

Full-Size Handguns

Kimber 1911 VS Beretta 92FS

Full-size handguns, often referred to as duty handguns, are the most common and readily available. These guns typically mirror the dimensions of the classic 1911 platform. They usually have a width of at least 1 inch, a height exceeding 5 inches, a length generally over 7 inches, and a barrel length beyond 4 inches.

While their larger size and weight may make concealment more challenging, it’s still possible with the appropriate holster. The appeal of full-size firearms lies in their ease of operation, recoil management, and accuracy. Full-size handguns often have much higher ammunition capacity (more bullets to shoot) than their smaller brothers. Most modern full-size handguns utilize double-stacked magazines, offering on average 15-20 rounds without needing a reload.

Although not the ideal choice for concealed carry due to their size, full-size handguns are often the go-to choice for law enforcement and military personnel. They offer a higher round capacity and a longer barrel length, which can enhance accuracy. Despite potential concealment challenges, these guns make excellent choices for home defense and vehicle carry.

Examples of Full-Size Handguns

Compact Handguns

Walther PDP-F 3.5" VS Glock 19 Gen 5

Compact handguns, a step down in size from their full-size counterparts, have gained popularity among both pistol and revolver enthusiasts. The differences between full-size and compact handguns are subtle, with the most significant discrepancy being the barrel length. Compact firearms typically measure less than 7.5 inches in length, less than 5 inches in height, and have a barrel length ranging between 3 and 4 inches. The width, however, remains relatively consistent with full-size handguns at around 1 inch.

In terms of ammunition, compact handguns offer a wide range of calibers, similar to those available for full-size handguns. Some compact models even allow for the use of full-size magazines, maintaining the convenience of higher capacity. Double-stacked magazines are also commonplace, ensuring ample firepower for these smaller firearms.

There’s an ongoing debate about the shooting experience between full-size and compact handguns. Some argue that compact models, with their shorter barrels and larger caliber cartridges, offer less muzzle control. However, this may not significantly impact the average shooter who is aiming for center mass, regardless of whether they’re using a 5-inch or 3-inch barrel.  In other words, if you had to aim at an attacker, the size of the gun you’re using, in light of the amount of recoil it will have, would not be a concern when your adrenaline is surging.

Compact handguns mark the point where many individuals start contemplating concealed carry due to their smaller dimensions. This size is ideal for both concealed carry and home defense, providing a balance between concealment and functionality. These compact models manage to pack the power and capacity of a full-size handgun into a more manageable size, making them a preferred choice for many.

Sub-Compact Handguns

Smaller than compact pistols, there are sub-compact handguns, which have risen to prominence as the preferred size for concealed carry, striking a balance between manageable size and formidable firepower. Thanks to their smaller frames and holster availablity, sub-compacts are easy to carry inconspicuously. While 9mm, .380 Auto, and .22 calibers are common in this category, a variety of these firearms can also accommodate larger-caliber rounds.

Sig Sauer P365 SAS vs Springfield Hellcat

Comfort becomes a significant consideration with sub-compact firearms. They are particularly suited to individuals with smaller hands, offering a more comfortable grip. However, one trade-off is the capacity. While double-stacked magazines are still found in some models, the trend leans heavily toward single-stacked magazines due to the reduced size. The Springfield Hellcat is a notable exception, with its magazine capacity coming in at 11+1 with the standard flush-fit mag and up to 13+1 with an extended magazine. 

In terms of dimensions, sub-compact handguns are significantly smaller than full-size ones, typically featuring a length of 6 inches, a height under 5 inches, and a barrel length of 3 inches or less.

Despite their concealability and comfort, sub-compact handguns might pose control challenges due to their smaller size, especially for those with larger hands or novices. Nevertheless, their compact nature and considerable firepower make them an attractive option for many.

Micro Compact Handguns

Micro-compact handguns, also known as pocket pistols, are small guns made to be easily hidden. They’re usually less than 6 inches long and under 4.5 inches tall with a barrel shorter than 3 inches. This makes them fit well in a pocket or tiny purse (with an acceptable pocket holster – check out our article about How To Choose The Best Concealed Carry Holster).

Ruger LCP II vs Kimber Micro

Even though they’re small, these guns are still powerful and usually use .380 ACP or .22 calibers. However, being small also means they hold fewer bullets and have more recoil, or kickback, when shot. They might also be hard to handle, especially for people with big hands. These guns often have single-stacked magazines, which makes them thinner. Despite these downsides, micro handguns are viable for self-defense when you really need to hide your gun.

Smaller Than Micro = Dumpster Fires

North American Arms 22LLR vs Bond Arms Grizzly

Some people love super micro handguns, but here are several reasons why we strongly suggest that you stay away from tiny guns like these:

  • Very limited capacity
  • Horrible recoil management
  • Too small to properly grip
  • Awful sights
  • Slower than average muzzle velocity due to the shorter barrel
  • Very limited after-market accessories
  • Very slow to reload
  • Typically very small calibers
  • Basically no quality holsters are available
  • “Designed to be carried in a pocket” means an exposed trigger and the potential to shoot yourself in the leg

If you still want one of these abominations after reading all that, at least go rent one to find out for yourself how bad they are before flushing your money down the drain. Seriously, please don’t ever buy one of these, unless you already have several other guns and really know what you’re doing.

The Key to Choosing the Right Handgun Size is to Try Different Options

Remember, the perfect handgun differs for everyone. Figuring out what specific gun will work best for you takes time and research. It’s a personal decision that should be influenced by your comfort level, your ability to get a dependable grip on the gun, and how well it meets your requirements. You’re one of a kind, and your handgun selection should mirror that for you.

Confidence in your ability to effectively use your firearm if the need arises is paramount. You want to feel secure knowing that you can handle your gun safely and accurately. To achieve this, trying out different options before buying is key. 

Most likely, there’s a local gun store near you with an indoor shooting range. These facilities often have a variety of handguns available for rent. This gives you the opportunity to try before you buy, allowing you to get a real feel for the firearm. A lot of ranges will also have classes available, which would be excellent to get into, especially if you’re brand new to firearms.

In this article, we aim to provide as much information as possible to help guide your buying decision. We also sell all of the guns mentioned through our Gun Broker store. However, shopping online, while convenient, can’t replace the experience of physically handling several different guns. It’s crucial to understand how a handgun feels in your hands, how it fires, and how comfortable you are with its operation.

Therefore, make sure to take the time to visit a local gun store or shooting range. Try out several different types and sizes of handguns. Figure out which one works best for you before making a purchase. Your comfort and confidence in handling your chosen firearm are worth the extra effort.

How to Choose The Right Caliber For Your Gun

This section is pretty nerdy and has a little math in it, so if you don’t really care to learn about bullet sizes and weights, you should be fine to go with any of the guns recommended on our list. They are all 9mm (some are also available in .380), which is the standard size for just about every military and police unit in the United States.

The caliber of a bullet refers to its diameter or width, usually measured in either inches or millimeters. For instance, a .45 caliber bullet has a diameter of .45 inches, and a 9mm bullet is 9 millimeters in diameter. It’s important to note that the caliber doesn’t define the length or weight of the bullet — just its width.

When it comes to choosing the right caliber for your handgun, there are a few factors you need to consider. The caliber you select will largely determine the handgun’s stopping power, recoil, price, and the availability of ammunition.

Stopping Power: This is a term used to describe a bullet’s ability to incapacitate a target. Bigger calibers, like .45 ACP and .40 S&W, generally have more stopping power than smaller calibers, such as .380 ACP or .22 LR. However, higher stopping power often comes with increased recoil, which might not be ideal for all shooters. The reality of stopping power and bullet sizes simply boils down to shot placement. If you’re an awesome shot with a .22 and terrible with a 9mm, a .22 might be a better choice for you until you can get more efficient with the larger 9mm. Two shots to the chest with a small bullet is better than two shots to the arm with a larger caliber any day of the week. 

Recoil: Recoil refers to the force produced when firing a gun. Higher calibers typically generate more recoil, which can be difficult for some shooters to manage, especially novices. Heavy recoil can also reduce accuracy in follow-up shots. If you’re new to shooting or have a smaller build, you might find a lower-caliber firearm, like a .380 ACP or .22, more comfortable to shoot. Check out this neat recoil chart made by Ammoforsale.com or even more calibers and their recoil compared by Sportsman’s Warehouse.

This video shows the recoil of my 9mm Smith & Wesson Shield, which is very similar to the S&W Shield EZ on the top ten list. The amount of force transferring into my arms is roughly 4.5 foot-pounds per shot. It’s not unmanageable or uncomfortable, but it can seem like a lot if you aren’t used to it or ready for it. This is one of the good reasons why you should spend some time actually shooting the gun you’re carrying.

Price: Generally, the larger the caliber, the more expensive the ammunition will be. For example, .45 ACP rounds are often more expensive than 9mm rounds. If you plan on shooting frequently or in bulk, choosing a lower caliber will likely save you money in the long run. One important note on price is that you have to spend some time and money shooting whatever defensive ammo you’re going to be carrying. This is absolutely paramount because some types of defensive ammo don’t feed properly with some guns. 

Purpose of the Handgun: Your intended use for the handgun plays a crucial role in caliber selection. If it’s for home defense or concealed carry, you might prefer a caliber with greater stopping power, like .45 ACP or .40 S&W. However, for target shooting or plinking, a smaller caliber, like .22 LR or .380, could be more suitable due to their lower recoil and cheaper ammunition. 

Terminal Ballistics: Terminal ballistics is the fancy name of how a projectile behaves when it hits its target, whether that’s a paper target, a block of ballistic gel, or an animal during a hunting trip. This includes how far the bullet penetrates, what kind of wound channel it creates, and whether it stays intact or fragments upon impact. When it comes to self-defense, we recommend hollowpoint bullets. They are designed to open up, similar to a flower, on impact. That makes the overall surface area of the bullet much larger and allows more energy to be transferred into the target rather than the bullet just zipping right through and into something (or someone) else.

Energy Transfer: When a bullet hits something, the energy it carries is transferred to the target. This energy transfer is what causes damage. The energy of a bullet is calculated using the formula:

E = 1/2 * m * v²

E = Energy
m = mass of the bullet
v = velocity of the bullet

This formula tells us that the energy of a bullet is directly proportional to its mass and the square of its velocity. In simpler terms, heavier bullets and faster bullets carry more energy. However, because velocity is squared in this formula, changes in velocity will have a much larger effect on energy than changes in mass. In even simpler terms, a smaller bullet going super fast will carry more energy than a bigger bullet moving slower.

So, if you’re looking for a bullet with high energy transfer (and therefore, presumably, more stopping power), you’d generally want a heavier bullet that’s also traveling at a high speed. However, keep in mind that other factors, like bullet design and shot placement, can also significantly affect how a bullet performs upon impact.

Remember, choosing the right caliber is a personal decision based on your comfort level, needs, and preferences. It’s a good idea to try out handguns of different calibers before making a purchase to see what fits you best. After all, the most effective caliber is the one you can shoot accurately. Like Lena Miculek (the #1 female competitive shooter in the world… eight times over) says, “A gun is better than no gun.” 

The Top 10 Best Concealed Carry Handguns for Women

During the research and writing for this article, I came across the SIG Sauer ROSE, which is a complete starter kit designed for women and developed by Lena Miculek. The SIG ROSE may very well end up as the number one gun on this list, but for now, I decided to give it its own dedicated article so you can really dig in and see if it’s a good fit for you.

The ROSE is a limited edition SIG P365 that comes with a Vault Tek safe, dummy rounds, and a complete online training course taught by the number one female competitive shooter in the world, Lena Miculek. Check out the full article here to learn more.

Claiming the number one spot as the best gun for women, and boasting the prestigious title of 2023 NRA Golden Bullseye for “Women’s Handgun of The Year” and Ballistic’s magazine “Best New Direction”, the Walther PDP-F is a groundbreaking firearm specifically designed for women. This award-winning handgun, born out of a century of engineering passion, precision workmanship, and innovative design, represents a significant leap in firearm technology.

The PDP F-Series handguns from Walther are a testament to timeless innovation. These elite firearms are designed for every situation, be it on duty or at home, and are tailored specifically for females with smaller hands. They feature revolutionary ergonomics, reduced trigger reach, reduced grip circumference, and less force necessary to operate the slide. With the addition of SuperTerrain Slide Serrations and the best striker-fired trigger on the market, the F-Series stands unrivaled.
Despite its compact dimensions, the PDP F-Series offers unmatched versatility, dependability, and effectiveness in both concealed carry and conventional service/duty situations. Its standout feature is the F-Series Reduced Trigger Reach, which makes achieving superb trigger control effortless. The trigger has been repositioned to ensure optimal trigger finger placement for any hand size, a crucial factor in accurate shooting.

"As the number of women entering the firearm industry steadily increases, we want to make sure we’re on the forefront by continuously providing what female shooters are actually needing. Creating a handgun tailored specifically for women, plus partnering with organizations with strong female-focused leadership and firearm knowledge, sets the foundation for nothing but success. The female hand contour, size, and shape is different, which was a driving factor in the adjustments we made when we created the F-Series. Enhancing the comfort, which brings more confidence overall and accuracy to everyone’s training and shooting, also makes it a much more enjoyable experience. We are thrilled to see that women are drawn to this handgun. That they've found it fits their needs much better and allows them to be more proficient shooters."

The PDP F-Series also features a brand-new ‘PDT’ Performance Duty Trigger system. This improved system shortens the length of travel and enhances the tactile definition of the trigger break, resulting in repeatable accuracy that maximizes your confidence. The SuperTerrain Serrations on the slide are an innovation that allows quicker and more responsive engagement with the pistol. Unlike standard cuts that are carved into the surface of the slide, these serrations are raised above the surface, offering a more positive feel when operating the action.
Another breakthrough is the new operating system that results in a substantial 20% reduction in slide-racking force. Coupled with the two-piece striker, the Reduced Slide Force feature ensures a performance that is both intuitive and durable.

The Performance Duty Texture on the grip provides a non-abrasive, aggressive surface to maintain optimal grip performance. This texture has been tested in some of the harshest conditions and proven to provide the perfect grip in any situation.

The PDP F-Series is designed with a smaller grip to fit a woman’s hand better, ensuring maximum control and faster follow-up shots. The RDS Ergonomics have been engineered for both new and veteran red-dot sight system users, allowing for instant red-dot location upon presenting.
Finally, the PDP F-Series comes optics ready. Whether you intend to fit an optic on your pistol or prefer the factory look, the included cover plate ensures you’re covered. The PDP F-Series also offers unparalleled modularity, with two distinctly different frame sizes and three different slide lengths available, allowing you to truly tailor this pistol to your specific needs.

$699

Right now, we have the Walther PDP-F available for purchase on Gunbroker, the world's largest gun auction site. This reliable firearm is crafted with precision and designed specifically for women. With its optic-ready design, the Walther PDP-F offers versatility and adaptability, catering to a wide range of user preferences.

Our second pick, which was a strong contender for the top spot, until it was edged out by the Walther PDP-F due to Walther’s specific design for female shooters, is the multiple award-winning, Springfield Armory Hellcat. This striker-fired micro-compact 9mm handgun comes highly recommended, particularly for concealed carry. Its perfect blend of size, capacity, weight, and performance is truly noteworthy, and it’s clear why it is fast becoming a popular choice.

Despite its ultra-compact measurements of 6 inches in length, 4 inches in height, and a mere 1 inch in width, the Hellcat doesn’t skimp on magazine capacity. It comes standard with an 11-round magazine and an extended 13-round magazine—impressive firepower for such a compact firearm.
Weighing only 18.3 ounces when unloaded, the Hellcat promises a comfortable carry experience without compromising performance or durability. The 3-inch long barrel further enhances its compactness. You will feel slightly higher recoil from the Hellcat vs some of the larger and heavier guns on this list, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means.

The Hellcat boasts a bright front sight and a tactical rack U-Dot™ rear sight, ensuring swift target acquisition. This feature boosts visibility, adding to the Hellcat’s appeal as a concealed carry option. In terms of safety, the Hellcat adopts a passive system, including a striker status indicator and loaded chamber indicator. These features offer visual and tactile confirmation of the gun’s status, providing an extra layer of safety.

The Hellcat’s trigger pull is roughly 5.5 lbs., delivering a balanced, clean, and crisp trigger break. This design contributes to the overall ease of use and accurate shooting.
Another standout feature of the Hellcat is its adaptability. With a standard accessory rail, owners can customize their firearm with a variety of accessories such as lights and lasers, suiting their specific needs and preferences.

In conclusion, the Springfield Armory Hellcat is not just a smaller gun. It’s a highly capable, reliable, adaptable, and powerful concealed-carry firearm. Its best in class magazine capacity, high visibility sights, and easy-to-handle design make it our second choice and a strong recommendation.

We have the Springfield Armory Hellcat available for purchase on Gunbroker, the world's largest gun auction site. This best-in-class firearm is the largest capacity micro-compact handgun in the world. Optics-ready options are also available (Hellcat OSP), so you can add a red dot optic on the slide.

Taking the third spot on our list is the SIG Sauer P365. This compact and sleek 9mm handgun has proven itself to be an excellent choice for concealed carry, thanks to its superb combination of size, capacity, and performance. I’ve seen the P365 top a few other lists, so don’t be concerned with its position on our list. It’s an excellent concealed carry gun and one that I would happily carry myself.

The P365, with dimensions of 5.8 inches in length, 4.3 inches in height, and a mere 1 inch in width, is a true embodiment of a compact firearm. But don’t be deceived by its size. The P365 boasts an impressive magazine capacity. It comes standard with two 10-round magazines, one flush and one extended. For those who desire even more firepower, 12-round and 15-round magazines are also available.

At just 17.8 ounces unloaded, this featherweight firearm strikes a balance between durability and power. With a barrel length of 3.1 inches, the overall weight and size make it a versatile and easily manageable option for concealed carry. The downside to the very small size and weight is a slightly higher snappy recoil that can be a little jarring to newer shooters.

A standout feature of the SIG Sauer P365 is its unique modularity, allowing users the flexibility to swap out frames and barrels to better meet their individual needs and preferences. This distinctive capability makes the P365 adaptable to various shooting scenarios and user requirements. The grip modules can be easily changed, enabling the adjustment of the frame size and contour, which is an essential feature for a personalized and comfortable handling experience. Furthermore, the option to switch barrels provides an extra level of adaptability, making the P365 suitable for different types of ammunition and shooting situations. This extent of customization truly sets the SIG P365 apart, reinforcing its position as a top contender in the world of concealed carry firearms.

The P365’s trigger pull is around 6 lbs., striking a balance between safety and ease of use. This weight, coupled with the crisp, short reset of the trigger, ensures quick and accurate follow-up shots if needed.

If you’re looking for an optics-ready concealed carry gun, the SIG P365X is the version you’re looking for. It’s basically the same as the standard SIG 365, just with the addition of an optic cut on the top of the slide so you can mount a red dot sight on it right out of the box. 

This is a great video breakdown by Tessah Booth on the P365X and why you might want to go with it over a standard P365. Tessah’s channel was called Armed and Styled, but as she recently expanded her focus, she has rebranded her blog and channel to her name.  Her YouTube channel is a great resource for ladies getting into guns too.

Regarding safety features, the P365 opts for a passive safety system, including a striker safety and disconnect safety, in place of an external manual safety. These safeties prevent the firearm from discharging unless the trigger is deliberately pulled.
For those keen on customization, the P365 provides several opportunities. SIG Sauer offers a variety of variant models and a vast array of aftermarket accessories, allowing you to customize your firearm to your specific needs and preferences.

In summary, the SIG Sauer P365 is more than just a compact and lightweight handgun. It’s a highly capable concealed carry option. Its high-capacity magazine options, night sights, and easily manageable size make it an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable and empowering concealed carry firearm, earning it the third spot on our list.

Elevate your personal protection with the compact and reliable SIG P365, available now in our Gunbroker store. Secure this exceptional firearm for a blend of convenience, comfort, and confidence in your concealed carry choice.

4 & 5. Glock 43 or 43X

Next on our list are the Glock 43 and the Glock 43X. They are, in essence, two peas in a pod, with the notable exception of the grip size. We’ve grouped them together because of their striking similarities, so let’s delve into the details.

The Glock 43, also known as G43, is a subcompact 9mm firearm known for its slim, compact size. It measures 6.26 inches in length, 4.25 inches in height, and a mere 1.06 inches in width, making it an ultra-concealable option. It comes with a 6-round magazine, a 3.41-inch barrel, and a relatively light weight of 17.99 ounces (unloaded). The G43’s trigger pull is approximately 5.5 lbs., a reasonable weight that contributes to the accuracy and control of the firearm.

Glock 43 VS Glock 43X

The Glock 43X, on the other hand, retains much of the same DNA as the G43 but comes with a slightly larger grip. This grip variation provides more room for larger hands, which some may find adds to their control and comfort. The G43X measures the same length and width as the G43, but its height is slightly more at 5.04 inches due to the larger grip. The magazine capacity is significantly higher, holding 10 rounds. The weight, when unloaded, is slightly more than the G43, coming in at 18.7 ounces.

Both the G43 and the G43X are praised for their reliability and sleek, minimalist design. Their subcompact size makes them ideal for concealed carry, especially for those looking for discretion and ease of maneuverability. They feature a safe-action trigger system, ensuring safety without complicating the firearm’s operation. This makes both the Glock 43 and the 43X excellent choices for those seeking an uncomplicated, reliable, and manageable concealed carry handgun.

Carry confidently with a Glock 43X, available now in our Gunbroker store. Don't miss out - secure this exceptional firearm today for a blend of convenience, comfort, and confidence in your concealed carry choice.

6. Walther PPS M2

Next up is the Walther PPS M2, a sleek and slim firearm designed for concealed carry. The PPS M2 measures 6.3 inches in length, 4.4 inches in height, and a slim 1 inch in width, making it a compact choice that’s easy to carry and conceal. Its weight is slightly heavier than others on our list, coming in at 21.1 ounces when unloaded.

The PPS M2 comes standard with a 6-round magazine, but 7-round and 8-round magazines are also available, providing additional capacity for those who desire it. It features a 3.18-inch barrel, which is slightly longer than the G43 but shorter than the P365, offering a good balance of accuracy and compact size.

One distinguishing feature of the PPS M2 is its ergonomic grip, designed with a non-slip, cross-directional surface to provide a secure and comfortable grip. This design offers enhanced control, a critical factor when it comes to effective concealed carry firearms.

The PPS M2’s trigger pull is approximately 6.1 lbs., providing a balance between safety and ease of use, similar to the P365. The trigger has a short travel and reset, ensuring quick, accurate follow-up shots if needed.

In terms of safety features, the PPS M2 opts for a striker fire action system, which provides a high level of safety while still offering a short and smooth trigger pull.

Overall, the Walther PPS M2 is a reliable, capable, and user-friendly concealed carry option. Its compact size, ergonomic grip, and balanced trigger pull make it a well-rounded firearm that caters to a wide range of user preferences.

7. Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact

An impressive entrant into the market of concealed carry firearms, the PSA Dagger is largely based on the design of the Glock 19 after Glock’s patent expiration, bringing a blend of familiar reliability and innovative refinements.

The PSA Dagger measures 7.25 inches in length, 4.9 inches in height, and 1.3 inches in width, making it a compact and manageable option for concealed carry. Its barrel length is a comfortable 4.02 inches, a size that balances the needs for both accuracy and portability. When it comes to weight, the Dagger is comparable to its counterparts, registering at 22.4 ounces when unloaded. The slightly larger size and weight contribute to slightly less recoil and a very reliable pistol.

One of the salient features of the PSA Dagger is its magazine capacity, which stands at 15 rounds. This capacity offers an advantage in situations where additional firepower might be necessary. The trigger pull weight is approximately 5.5 lbs., ensuring a smooth and manageable firing mechanism.

Designed with an ergonomic grip, the Dagger enhances user comfort and control. The grip is textured for a secure hold, reducing the risk of slipping even in moist or sweaty conditions.

The PSA Dagger features front and rear serrations, which provide a very secure grip while racking the slide. The Dagger also comes with a standard accessory rail, allowing for the attachment of lights, lasers, or other accessories.

In the safety department, the Dagger includes familiar features such as a trigger safety and firing pin safety, ensuring the firearm only discharges when the trigger is intentionally pulled.

In conclusion, the PSA Dagger offers a familiar but refined experience for those comfortable with the Glock 19 design, while introducing features and enhancements that make it an attractive and reliable option for concealed carry.

The PSA Dagger is a compact-sized pistol that revolutionizes user comfort and control with its Extreme Carry Cuts™. This 9x19mm firearm, operating on a single-action striker-fired trigger mechanism, is crafted from top-tier stainless steel and polymers, exceeding modern performance standards. The base model comes feature-packed but is also compatible with numerous aftermarket products for easy customization. Its innovative Extreme Carry Cuts™ introduce sleeker edges for quicker draw times without holster snagging. With its DLC coated slide and footprint for reflex sights compatibility, the Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact offers a perfect blend of function, comfort, and versatility.

8. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ

This handgun from Smith & Wesson’s M&P line is an excellent option for those seeking a concealed carry firearm that is not only compact but also easy to manage.

Physically, the Shield EZ sports a slim profile, with a length of 6.8 inches, a height of 4.98 inches, and a width of just 1.04 inches. It has a barrel length of 3.675 inches and weighs 23.2 ounces when unloaded. This makes it an easily concealable and lightweight option for everyday carry.

One of the standout features of the Shield EZ is its ease of use, as the name suggests. The slide is designed to be easy to rack, making it more accessible for those with lower hand strength. It has a light trigger pull of approximately 4.5 lbs., contributing to the smooth operation of the firearm.

The Shield EZ comes with an 8-round magazine, offering a reasonable amount of firepower for a concealed-carry handgun. The magazine is also designed for easy loading, with a load assist button that simplifies the process.

Unique to the Shield EZ on this list, is the grip safety, a feature not common in many concealed carry options. This safety mechanism, located on the back of the grip, needs to be compressed (a natural occurrence when holding the firearm correctly) for the gun to fire. This adds an extra layer of safety without complicating the firing process.

Moreover, the Shield EZ also offers optional external thumb safety levers. This feature provides an additional safety option for those who prefer it, but it can be omitted for those who don’t, making the Shield EZ customizable to individual comfort and safety preferences. If you’re big on wanting as many safety features as possible, this is the best option on the list because of the added grip safety.

Keep in mind, however, that extra safety features can cause potential issues if you don’t practice drawing and shooting very often. There are a lot of steps required to fire the EZ, so it isn’t a great option if you aren’t planning on training – please get training. (This is literally your life we’re talking about here.)

This video from Kelly Pidgeon at ARMED and Feminine – Gun Channel does a great job explaining why tons of safety features may not be the best choice for everyone.

To sum it up, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ has the most safety features. It can be excellent for women seeking an empowering and secure self-defense tool – just remember to practice with it!

If you want your concealed carry gun to have as many safety features as possible, the S&W Shield EZ is your best option. Consider this model if you have young children that you want to make sure can't fire your handgun accidentally. (Store it safely, not in a drawer or on a night stand where a child can easily find it.)

Shadow Systems MR920

Next up, we have the Shadow Systems MR920, an great choice for anyone seeking a concealed-carry handgun that offers a blend of power, manageability, and customization. This 9mm firearm boasts a compact design, making it an ideal pick for everyday carry. Similar to the PSA Dagger, ZEV OZ9, and a few others, the Shadow Systems MR920 is based on a Gen 3 Glock 19 design, which means it will work with standard Glock 19 magazines, holsters, and accessories.

Physically, the MR920 measures 7.125 inches in length, 4.5 inches in height, and a width of 1.0 inch. Its compact size, coupled with a weight of 21.5 ounces when unloaded, makes it comfortable to carry and easy to conceal.

The MR920 comes with a 4.5-inch barrel that’s crafted from match-grade 416R stainless steel. This barrel delivers consistent and highly accurate performance, elevating your shooting experience. The gun comes with two 15-round magazines, offering you a substantial amount of firepower for a compact firearm.

One of the standout features of the MR920 is its ergonomics. The gun features a universal optics system, allowing you to install the miniature red dot optic of your choice without needing custom milling or an adapter plate.

The MR920’s versatile trigger system is a highlight, providing a clean break and positive reset for faster follow-up shots. The trigger pull is around 4.5-5.5 lbs, striking a balance between safety and usability.

Safety-wise, the MR920 is equipped with a passive safety system that includes a trigger safety and drop safety. This system ensures the gun will not fire unless the trigger is deliberately pulled, very similar to Glock designs.

In conclusion, the Shadow Systems MR920 is a robust, versatile, and customizable concealed carry firearm. Its blend of compact design, high firepower, and customization opportunities make it a fun choice for anyone seeking a reliable and personalized self-defense tool.

The MR920 is a compact, feature-rich pistol with configurable ergonomics and compatibility with G19 gear, offering enhanced controllability through its unique design. Its slide and match-grade barrel are designed for easy manipulation and debris evacuation, while a 4.5-5.0 lbs flat-faced aluminum trigger and customizable optic cut offer superior tactile reset and flexibility for shooters.

10. Glock 19 Gen 5 MOS

The Glock 19 is basically required to be on these top ten types of lists. It’s reputation for reliability, ease of use, accessories, and aftermarket parts available, make it an easy recommendation for women seeking a quality concealed carry handgun. As a compact-sized firearm, it strikes a perfect balance between ease of concealment and functionality, which are crucial for self-defense situations. Being one of, if not THE most popular handgun in the world, it’s easy to see why you always tend to find a G19 on lists like these.

The Glock 19 stands out due to its impressive reliability and durability, promising consistent performance no matter the conditions. It sports a 4.02-inch barrel and weighs 23.63 ounces when unloaded, making it manageable for daily carry. The gun measures 7.28 inches in length, 5.04 inches in height, and 1.34 inches in width. This compact size ensures it fits comfortably in your hand and is easy to handle. The Glock 19 is tied with the PSA Dagger as the largest handgun on this list. That being said, my wife has no issues at all handling a G19.

With a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds, the Glock 19 provides ample ammunition without being overly bulky. You can also use any standard double-stacked Glock magazine, including 17 rounds, all the way up to 100-round drum magazines if you’re feeling especially spicy. Its relatively light trigger pull weight (around 6.29 lbs.) ensures ease of use and reduces the potential for shooting inaccuracies due to strain. Moreover, the recoil of the Glock 19 is manageable, allowing for quick and accurate follow-up shots.

One of the significant reasons the Glock 19 is on this list is its simple design and ease of operation. The lack of manual safety makes it quick to deploy in high-pressure situations, ensuring you don’t fumble in a moment of urgency. This simplicity extends to disassembly and maintenance, making it a very user-friendly choice. It’s not much to look at, but thankfully, there are plenty of options out there to spice up the look of a boring standard Glock.

In terms of customization, the Glock 19 is highly versatile, with plenty of aftermarket accessories available. This means you can modify and enhance your firearm to suit your specific preferences, providing you with a truly personalized self-defense tool. We can also laser engrave any design you’d like in the slide, as well as the grip, so if you have something in mind, let us know – we would be happy to make your new Glock truly unique. 

In summary, the Glock 19 offers a blend of all the key factors one should look for in a concealed carry handgun – reliability, size, firepower, and simplicity. This makes it a great choice for women looking for a handgun that offers a sense of security and empowerment. Just don’t expect many compliments on how cool it looks (unless you modify it, of course).

No Revolvers on The Top Ten List? What's Up With That?!

When it comes to choosing a concealed carry gun, the debate between revolvers and semi-automatic pistols is a classic one. However, modern semi-auto pistols have several advantages that make them a superior choice for women’s concealed carry guns.

  1. Capacity: Semi-automatic pistols typically have a higher ammunition capacity than revolvers. While a revolver usually holds five to six rounds, a semi-automatic pistol can hold anywhere from seven to 17 rounds, depending on the model and caliber. This higher capacity could prove crucial in a self-defense situation.

  2. Recoil Management: Semi-automatics generally have less felt recoil than revolvers due to their design. The recoiling slide absorbs some of the recoil energy, which can make shooting more comfortable and manageable, especially for those with smaller hands or lower hand strength.

  3. Ease of Use: Modern semi-automatic pistols are often easier to operate. Loading and unloading is simpler and faster with a removable magazine, compared to individually loading each round into a revolver’s cylinder. Additionally, malfunction clearance (if ever needed) is a straightforward process in semi-autos.

  4. Concealability: Despite their increased capacity, many semi-automatic pistols have a slim profile making them easier to conceal than many revolvers. Their flat shape fits more comfortably against the body and is less likely to print through clothing.

  5. Ergonomics and Customization: Semi-autos often offer better ergonomics with adjustable grip sizes and angles, which can be tailored to fit the user’s hand perfectly. Many also offer the ability to attach accessories like lights or lasers, and some even come with built-in accessory rails.

  6. Availability of Training and Accessories: There is more training available for semi-auto pistols, and a wider range of holsters, aftermarket parts, and accessories. This makes it easier for women to find a setup that works best for their needs and lifestyle.

  7. Accuracy: The barrel length of a snub nose revolver like the one pictured above is significantly shorter than the average barrel of a semi-auto. The shorter length means the bullet has less dwell time to stabilize, less rifling, and less muzzle velocity.

  8. Trigger Weight: Double-action revolvers have a heavier and longer trigger pull for every shot, which may affect accuracy. The hammer can be cocked for a lighter pull, but it’s just an added step that takes time you may not have. 

While revolvers still have their place and can be a good choice for some, the advantages of modern semi-automatic pistols make them a compelling choice for women seeking a reliable, comfortable, and effective concealed-carry firearm. Choosing a firearm is a deeply personal decision, and it’s crucial to try out different options before making a final choice. But with their blend of capacity, ease of use, and concealability, modern semi-auto pistols are well worth considering.

Conclusion

Whew! You made it! This was a pretty long article packed with a lot of information to digest, so here’s a quick recap. 

  • Don’t fall for stereotypes about what women “should” carry. 
  • Just because a gun is pink doesn’t mean it’s ideal for women.
  • Don’t buy a gun before trying at least two others that are similar.
  • Don’t buy a revolver. They are terrible.
  • The Walther PDP-F is purpose-built from the ground up specifically for women, and it is our number 1 pick as the best gun for women right now.
  • The Springfield Hellcat is the highest-capacity micro-compact handgun in the world, and it’s another great choice for concealed carry. 
  • If you’re on a very tight budget, the PSA Dagger Compact is an excellent gun for the money.
  • Just because someone points you to a .22 or .380 doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you.
  • Buying your first concealed-carry gun is just the first step in protecting yourself and your family.
  • Make sure to pair your gun with a quality holster and not just the first thing you see in the shop. We wrote a detailed article about choosing a proper holster that is well worth the read from here.
  • Memorize, understand, and implement the four universal firearm safety rules into your day-to-day life with your new gun:

1. Always treat every gun as if it is loaded.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

3. Do not point a gun at anyone or anything you do not want to destroy.

4. Know your target and what is behind your target. 

  • Invest time into physical training with your new gun, drawing and holstering, using any safety levers, drawing from awkward positions, etc. Also, invest time in your mindset and pre-game scenarios that can help you prepare. 

This is only the first step in a lifelong journey of self-reliance, self-defense, and transforming yourself from a potential victim to a viper. Welcome to the journey.

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