4 Best Subcompact Pistols For Conceal Carry

In this gun guide, let's talk about the 4 best subcompact handguns for conceal carry and personal defense.

Our recommendation is based experience, looks, ergonomics, reliability and cost with the stock gun right out of the box. Their potential to be upgraded later is also a key factor we considered when recommending them.

Let's check them out

Top Subcompact Pistols Up To Date

Glock 43X Railed - Best Overall

glock 43x

Why Stick With Glock - Glock 43X is the slimmest profile single stack 9mm Glock pistol for conceal carry with its full grip length like the G19 for better grip and recoil control. It's by far the highest demanded CCW handgun in 2020. 

Tons Of Upgrades - Many aftermarket upgrade parts available for the G43X including weapon lights for railed G43X frame

Improved Trigger - By far the best stock Glock trigger among other models. Crisp pull, positive reset and almost zero pre-travel. Can be upgraded later

MOS Model Available - Optic ready 43X MOS model is milled for RMSc footprint. Check out which optics mount directly to the slide here

Big Mag Release Button - Easily reachable mag release button for all hand sizes

Sig Sauer P365XL - Best Grip

sig sauer p365 XL

Why Buy This One - The Sig P365XL is like the Glock 48 with a slightly longer barrel, and it has a much more aggressive grip texture and streamlined handling ergonomics.

Fast Sight Picture Acquisition - Low tang grip angle helps shooters align sights much better than handguns with high tang grip

Built In Chamber Indicator - Increased safety measure (Press check is recommended to positively make sure chamber is loaded or empty)

Optic Ready - Mount any RMSc footprint optic directly to the slide for accurate shooting

Fast Trigger Reset - Fast trigger reset back to the wall for fast follow up shots 

Non M1913 Rail - Special weapon light compatibility required (Click here to see best weapon lights for P365)

Springfield Hellcat - Highest Mag Capacity

springfield hellcat pistol

Why Buy This One - The Springfield Hellcat is what you need if you're looking for a high capacity magazine without increasing its size.

13+1 Capacity ! - The Hellcat is similar size of the Sig P365, and it's just slightly wider as a double stack CCW handgun. 13+1 with the extended magazine makes the gun almost a Glock 19 but way smaller.  (11+1 for short magazine)

Fast Iron Sight - High visibility tritium & luminescent front sight paired with a Tactical Rack U-Dot™ rear sight for easy target acquisition in all lighting conditions

Optic Ready - Check here to see which optic mounts directly to the slide

Aggressive Grip Texturing - Similar grip texture as the P365XL. The tighter you grip the gun the less it slips so the shooter don't lose the grip after each shot

Serrated Slide - Much better gripping from the top, front and rear of the slide without slipping

Canik TP9 Elite SC - Best Price

canik tp9 elite sc

Why Give Canik A Shot - This Turkish steel is an amazing handgun for people looking for a budget self defense handgun. It's a very reliable handgun just as its full size duty models, and it's a gun that just work without all the fancy bells and whistles.

Interchangeable Back Trap - Adjust the grip to your best 

Optic Ready - No milling required. Optic ready right out of the box just like the pistols we recommended above

Ambi Slide Release - Operate the slide from both sides. Works for lefties and righties!

Smith Wesson Shield Plus - Best Old School Upgraded

smith wesson m&p shield plus 9mm

Why Still Buy This Older Gun - The Smith Wesson Shield 9mm is still one of the best single stack CCW handgun today with a much more crispier trigger 

Smith Wesson M&P 9C - Best Old School 2

smith wesson m&p 9c

Why Get This One - Instead of getting a super small Glock 26 with short grip, the Smith Wesson M&P 9C has a much better grip. It's just slightly longer for a more positive grip and the gun functions just like the full size M&P 9.


Common FAQ

Which Calibers Are Most Popular For Sub Compact CCW Pistols?

9mm are the most popular caliber for sub compact pistols today.

Are Holsters Readily Available For These Handguns?

holosun 507k x2 conceal carry

For the handguns we have recommended in this guide, there are tons of holsters already available to buy right now.

Please check out MyEDCHub.com our partner's website for more information.

Optic Ready or Standard?

springfield hellcat best optic mount adapter

As pistol red dot sights become more common for conceal carry users, subcompact guns do offer optic ready models right out of the box. The user can choose to put an optic on or just leave the cover plate on.

fn509 trijicon sro pov in action

A well trained user can focus their eyes on the target while placing the dot right on top. This translates to fast target acquisition. Other users like to stick with the iron sights.

If you would like to learn how to pick up the dot faster on a pistol, please check out this guide on our sit to learn more.

Manual Safety Needed?

Most subcompact pistols offer two models: 

  • With safety (Added peace of mind)
  • Without safety (More streamlined)

Safety lever is a good feature to have, and they can be removed if the user desire for a peace of mind for new gun owners.

For a trained individual with confidence operating a striker fired pistol, safety lever isn't necessary. It eliminates the possibility that the shooter forgets to switch the safety off when stress and tunnel vision are induced

Most modern pistols feature safe action trigger system where they can't go off unless the trigger is pressed all the way back deliberately.

So firearm safety is paramount and always make sure the finger is out of the trigger guard when not ready to engage.

Is A Subcompact Handgun Easy Shoot?

range day with hellcat

Today's sub compact handguns have great grip and slide ergonomics for most people to operate them comfortably.

Magazine extension gives shooter's pinky area a full grip for better handling and recoil control.

However, sub compact handguns have much more snappy recoil than full size handguns because they are small and they don't have much overall body mass to absorb the recoil impulse.

When shooting a sub compact gun like the Springfield Hellcat will strain your hand after just 2 magazines. The gun will keep performing, but your hand might get so tired afterwards.