March 04, 2019 7 min read

With the number of handgun models available on the market, weeding out the handguns that don’t make the cut can be an overwhelming chore and finding all the features you need can be challenging.

You want a handgun that is comfortable to carry and shoot, but one that also features a sleek design and plenty of firing power. You need something with accuracy and a grip that makes you feel at ease and in control—something that is the perfect fit for your needs.

You shouldn’t settle for anything less. A concealed carry handgun should be so comfortable and easy to use that it feels like an extension of your arm. In an emergency, your level of comfort in handling and utilizing your handgun cannot be underestimated, and you should never feel uncomfortable with how your handgun fires.

This is why, sometimes, it’s simply better to start with the best of the best. These five firearm models are some of the most frequently purchased in the United States. Each features its own distinct character and high-performance profile, and it is likely that one of America’s top handguns may also be the right choice for you.

Glock 19

Glock 19 infographic

The Glock 19 sits at the top of this list for a reason: it is one of the most popular and recognizable handguns on the market, in part because of its widespread use among law enforcement officials.

It is a mid-sized, striker-fired 9mm pistol with plenty of power. It is easy to use and features a short recoil, making it an excellent choice for smaller carriers. The slide is smooth, and it has a full grip for added comfort.

Glock 19s are reliable, versatile, easy to conceal, and easy to learn to use. Because of this,they are one of the most popular concealed carry firearms among beginners and longtime carriers.

They feature a minimalist design, which is intended to lower your chance of malfunction or misfire. You can also be assured that they continue to fire cleanly in any climate and will last for years, making them an excellent option for home defense, as well.

Despite their popularity, Glocks are not available for purchase in every state. California, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts all have laws that prohibit the purchase of Glocks and, if you reside or work in any of these states, you will need to find an alternative.


H&K VP9 infographic

The Heckler & Koch VP9 is a striker-fired 9mm pistol known for its accuracy and ease of use.

The VP in VP9 stands forVolkspistol orPeople's Pistol, and it lives up to its name. One of the key innovations of the VP9 is that it is ambidextrous, so both left- and right-handed individuals can access the mechanisms with little difficulty. While other manufacturers produce models that can be modified for ambidextrous use, this feature is a standard of the VP9.

The recoil is short, and the charging supports on the rear of the slide make the handgun easier to hold and control. The VP9 boasts a versatile accessory rail, and the grip panels can be mixed and matched to change the size of the grip. The finger molds in the front also improve grip and accuracy.

The VP9 handles a variety of bullet weights with ease, and the trigger is smooth and easy to fire. It is designed for the long-haul, and its simplicity of design and durability will make it a reliable and dependable firearm for years of use.

SIG Sauer P320

SIG Sauer P320 infographic

The SIG P320 is well-known among carriers for its versatility and modular design. The calibers, size, and fit can be custom ordered according to your needs, allowing for a firearm that is tailored for your specific use.

The grip modules come in three sizes: large, medium, and small. The handgun itself comes in four sizes: full-size, carry, compact, and subcompact, and the calibers can be converted between 9mm, .357SIG and .40S&W.

The variability of the SIG P320 allows for ease of concealment and makes it simply fun to shoot. While the trigger isn't as light as those of some of its counterparts, the action is smooth, the recoil is short, and the versatile choice of grips make it adjustable for the comfort of your hand.

The SIG P320 is also now available in the M-17 civilian model, making it a popular choice for former U.S. Army service members who are familiar with the military-issued handgun.


S&W SD9VE infographic

This striker-fired pistol is a great option for anyone looking to find a reliable firearm that is also budget-friendly.

The grip of the SD9 sets it apart from other handguns of its size and caliber. It is specifically built for self-defense, and the grip is designed to mitigate slippage if your palms become sweaty in high-intensity situations.

The stainless-steel barrel gives the firearm a sleek, streamlined look compared to some of its duller, black polymer counterparts. The dovetailed, white dot sights on the SDVE series allow for greater accuracy, especially in the face of a high trigger pull.

There are also several models that offer HI-Viz fiber optic sights. While the trigger pull is heavy, the gun itself is light and easy to point and shoot, which makes it an excellent option for a range of self-defense situations.

One potential setback to consider when weighing the pros and cons of the SD9 is the trigger. First, the trigger needs to be replaced right out of the box. This additional cost should be factored in if the lower price tag on the SD9 is one of your key deciding points.

Because the SD9 does not have a manual safety, it relies on a heavy, hinged trigger system to prevent drop-firings. With a pull rate between 8-10 pounds, some users report lower accuracy because of the weight of the trigger.

It is also a hinged trigger and similar to the Glock hinged trigger system. This means that, while Glock users will be accustomed to the trigger, other users may dislike or be unaccustomed to using it.

Despite these potential incompatibilities, the SD9 is very reliable and requires little to no break-in period, and it features consistently at the top of most pro shooter’s lists.

Springfield XD (Full Size/Double Stack)

Springfield XD infographic

The Springfield XD 4" and 4.5" Service Models boast an ergonomic design and an impressive capacity. The striker-fired 4" full-size model is intuitive and easy to use, while the striker-fired XD(M) series .45-caliber handgun packs a lot of punch in a small design.

Although they are not the smallest guns on the market for concealed carry purposes, they do fit the bill, and you can rest assured they will not disappoint in an emergency.

The Springfield XD, while touting a high capacity and double-stack magazine, still features accuracy and an optimal grip. The gun also comes standard with high-visibility, low-profile sights and features an ambidextrous magazine release, making it versatile and easy to shoot for any user.

This firearm is also surprisingly narrow, even with the double-stack magazine capacity. It has a contoured trigger guard to prevent snagging, which makes it simple to carry with your IWB Kydex holster.

Choosing the Right Concealed Carry for You

Man drawing a concealed carry pistol from a holster

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right handgun for concealed carry or sport, but there are five key areas that should never be compromised.

1.) Size and comfort

Hand shapes and sizes vary considerably and choosing the right-sized handgun for your grip and making sure that it fits comfortably in your firing hand is a key factor in determining which handgun will be the right fit for you.

Selecting for comfort and size will narrow down the selection substantially and allow you to focus on the other aspects of selecting the correct handgun for your needs.

You should be able to reach and work all the mechanisms of your gun with ease, including the safety, magazine release, and slide locks. Even if it feels correct, it is a good idea to have a  firearms expert examine your grip to ensure the proper fit for your hand.

2.) Recoil

Every handgun has a different recoil impact on the shooter, depending on the weight of the gun and the caliber of the cartridge. The design of the gun and the height of the bore axis will also be determining factors in the amount of recoil that users experience when firing their handguns.

Users who experience a stronger recoil with certain handguns will have a difficult time recovering from the recoil to fire again, which will impact the user's experience and ability to shoot the weapon with accuracy. After selecting for fit and comfort, test your weapon at a range to determine how much recoil you are comfortable with when firing consecutive rounds.

3.) Training

Another factor to consider when choosing the right handgun is how much training you will need to put in to become comfortable using it.

Every new handgun requires time and dedication. You will need to become keenly aware of how it fires, how you feel while firing it, and how it will perform in different situations. Take the time to become familiar with all the mechanisms on your handgun, as well, and practice so you can draw and manipulate your weapon with total ease.

man firing pistol

4.) Trigger pull

The trigger pull is the measure of force (pounds of pressure) you must exert on the trigger with your finger to fire the gun. Some handguns have a lighter trigger pull, but others require quite a bit of force.

At first, it may seem to make sense to purchase a firearm with the lightest trigger pull for ease of use. However,using a firearm with a lighter than necessary trigger pull can lead to accidental firings, especially for individuals who do not train with their firearm.

At the same time, you do not want a trigger pull that is so heavy that it makes it difficult to fire the gun, especially if you are in a high-stress situation. Additionally, the trigger pull is impacted by whether you are purchasing a single-action, double-action, or striker-fired pistol.

Experiment with different handguns and their trigger pulls to test the amount of pull that you feel comfortable maneuvering at your local range.

5.) Intended use

The final factor to consider when purchasing a firearm is its intended use. An effective concealed carry must be more compact and concealable than a home self-defense weapon. Additionally, it should feature a higher capacity and a substantial, proven grip.

If you intend to use your firearm as a concealed carry, you will also need to research and try on the various concealed carry handgun holsters available on the market to find the right fit.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to purchasing a handgun, there are many factors to consider. Take your time and do your research before settling on the best firearm for your needs and comfort.

One of the most enjoyable parts of shopping for a firearm is having the opportunity to try all the varieties available, so be sure to spend plenty of time at your local range sampling each gun's power, accuracy, and comfort.

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Comparing Popular Handguns: Glock 19 vs. H&K VP9 vs. SIG P320 vs. S&W SD9VE vs. Springfield XD (Full Size/Double Stack)