April 19, 2019 7 min read

One of the best parts of getting into the shooting and self-defense hobby is that you get to try out a variety of new concealed carry handguns to help you determine the right fit. Your handgun should be something that is comfortable to use, has a recoil you can handle and can become an extension of your arm, especially in high-stress situations.

Each brand of handgun has a vast array of styles to choose from, but only you can determine which will be the right gun for you. The following is a comparison of five popular handguns and some tips for choosing the right one that may help you decide which style to try out on your next trip to the range.


Whether you're just starting out or looking to add a new handgun to your collection, you will want to choose the brand and style that best fits your needs. Aspects to consider for your new handgun include intended use, comfort, recoil, amount of training, and trigger pull weight.

Intended Use

While it might not seem like a major factor at first, the intended use of your new handgun will play a huge role in the brands, sizes, and styles you will be focusing on. If you are intending to purchase for concealed carry, you will likely want to select a handgun that fits your holster and your body well. Finding the right holster, such as Kydex holsters, will be just as important as the handgun, so your choice of handgun may fall in line with what best fits your holster.

Kydex Holsters

If you are intending to purchase a handgun to keep strictly in your home or to use mostly for sport shooting, size may not matter as much. Instead, comfort, accuracy, and power will be much more prominent factors to consider.

You will also want to look into styles and brands that are easy and affordable to acquire replacement parts for. If you intend your new handgun to be in your possession for many years, longevity will be much easier with a manufacturer that doesn't make getting replacement equipment an arduous or expensive process.


Your new handgun should be something you enjoy practicing with for hours at the range. It should be a gun where you can access all the essential components with ease, and it should be of a weight and size that allows you to grip it firmly in your hands.

When considering a new handgun, pay close attention to the grip, your ability to reach mechanisms such as the safety and magazine release, and how it sits in your hand. If anything feels uncomfortable, move on to the next style. Ultimately, your gun should feel like an extension of yourself; if you need to depend on it in a life-or-death situation, you don't want to second-guess yourself because something about the gun doesn't feel correct.


The recoil of the handgun is another important factor to consider when purchasing one for personal use. If the recoil is too strong, you will have a longer recovery period between fires. This pause can be a serious issue in a bad situation, and it can also decrease accuracy.

woman practicing shooting

Amount of Training

Some guns are easier to get used to than others, especially those with more mechanisms or add-ons. Consider the amount of training you will need to put in to your new handgun. If you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to training with your new handgun, you should probably look at styles that aren't very complex or complicated to use. On the other hand, if you have a lot of time to spend at the range, you might be ready to upgrade to something with more sophisticated features.

Trigger Pull Weight

One of the most important features to consider when purchasing a new handgun is the trigger pull weight. Each manufacturer and style will differ on this, and it makes a difference in your comfort and interaction with the handgun. Lighter trigger pulls can lead to accidental misfires, which can be deadly; heavier trigger pulls can lead to inaccurate shots and delays, much like a hard recoil. Experiment with trigger pull weights and see which works best for you and your intended use for your new handgun.


If you've narrowed down the most important qualities you need in a new handgun, then you're ready to start looking at some of the most popular brands and styles. From Smith & Wesson to Glock, the following is a list of just some of the fantastic handguns for you to put on your next shopping list.

S&W M&P Shield

Like other Smith & Wesson pistols, this one comes with a heavy trigger pull, but it's not as clunky and awkward as former models. This is due to the enhanced trigger on new models. Some may still want to switch out their trigger, but, for those who don't, you will still enjoy a smooth pull and feedback with minimal recoil. At less than one full inch of width, this handgun is an excellent choice for concealed carry. Its sleek design, lightweight frame, and line of sight combine for maximum accuracy and comfort. Some of its key stats include:

S&W M&P Shield

When the Shield was first introduced, it came with a safety which was a shock to many S&W pistol fans. They later introduced a model without the safety, so the S&W M&P Shield is now available in both models, according to user preference. The safety on the newer model is almost flush with the body of the gun, keeping the slimness of the model intact and lowering fears of accidental safety engagement when pulling it out of the holster.

There are very few reports of failures to feed or misfires with this handgun. From all accounts, it seems to be incredibly reliable and solid, making it one of the most popular concealed carry handguns on the market. It's also one of the most affordable.

Glock 43

The Glock 43 has made several improvements to its trigger pull since the introduction of their 43 model, an upgrade to the 42. While older models featured a trigger pull nearing eight pounds, current models now come with a much more manageable 5.4-pound pull. (For older used models, Glock does offer a connector to address the pull weight issue.) The lightweight frame, slim body, and reasonable trigger pull all make this Glock an excellent choice for concealed carry:

Glock 43

The Glock 43 features a beaver tail design which allows your grip to remain tight and high up on the rear of the pistol. The textured grip allows for maximum comfort and accuracy, and it fits easily inside the waistband in Kydex holsters. The primary complaint for most users seems to be its 7-round capacity limit. While its single-stack operation allows for the gun to remain slim, seven rounds is a little disappointing for a Glock.

The recoil is smooth and manageable, and the firepower of the 9mm is dependable and reliable every time. It fits easily in the hand, and it's ready to fire right out of the box. In that sense, it's everything you expect a Glock to be, and it doesn't disappoint.

Springfield XD-S MOD.2 3.3"

The Springfield XD-S 3.3" single-stack pistol is definitely one to put on your range list. It comes with an extended magazine kit, finger molds, and a high hand grip to adjust to your perfect fit. Light, with an easy recoil, this handgun is ready to shoot with great accuracy and ease:

Springfield XD-S MOD.2 3.3"

It's a serious upgrade to the original XD-S model, mainly in the grip. While the older model featured a checkered indented pattern, the newer model features the more seamless tape texturing that isn't so rough on the hands after long shooting sessions. The great thing about this handgun is that it comes with extended magazines for larger hands.

For a subcompact pistol, this one packs a lot of punch. While other subcompacts can leave you wishing for a full-size double-stack pistol, the Springfield model compares pretty well in terms of firing power and weight. It's heavier than other subcompacts, but not to its detriment. It's still light enough to aim with accuracy and low recoil. With a width of under an inch, it's still easily concealable and comfortable for concealed carry.

SIG P365

Boasting a long line of awards from publications such as the NRA'sShooting Illustrated Magazine andGuns and Ammo Magazine, the SIG Sauer P365 is touted as "America's Most Popular Handgun." This micro-compact handgun delivers on both magazine round capacity and power. The standard capacity is 10+1, but there is an extended magazine option that lets you bring the capacity up to 12+1:

SIG P365

It's not hard to see why this handgun has become so popular among concealed carry users. Extremely lightweight and easy to conceal, with a smooth trigger pull, extremely low recoil, solid accuracy, and comfortable in any-sized hands, the SIG P365 brings a lot to the table. The secret to its small size and large round capacity is in its "stack-and-a-half" design.

It does not come with a manual safety, so that is where the heavy, but smooth, trigger pull comes in. The SIG P365 also features XRAY3 Day/Night sights, which increase accuracy without distracting rear vials.

The P365 is a bit more expensive than other subcompact handgun models, but it makes up for it in power and capacity.  

Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 (Single Stack / Compact)

The Taurus Millennium G2 series looks expensive, but it's actually quite affordable. Sleek, compact, and textured, this handgun is ready for concealed carry. Its large capacity magazine sets it above other, more expensive concealed carry handguns. The contoured, textured grip and lightweight frame add to its appeal. Here are the specs:

Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 (Single Stack / Compact)

A few of the key features of the Millennium G2 include an adjustable rear sight, single-action firing with restrike, a loaded chamber indicator, and three safety points. The option to fire with a restrike if the round doesn't fire on first pull is a feature some people like, while others do not. For some, it just takes a little getting used to, especially with the full trigger pull poundage in use.

The loaded chamber indicator is another feature many users like and prefer for added safety reasons. There are also three safety points on the gun: trigger safety, a manual key-lock safety, and a thumb safety. The rear adjustable sights are good for elevation and windage, and unique compared to other handguns, although this gun isn't great for long-distance shooting. One disadvantage is that this gun is decidedly for right-handed users.


When you're looking for a dependable concealed carry handgun, there are many options to choose from. You will need to do some research, decide which carry capacity works best for you, and then head to the range to try them out. Don't forget to look for a good holster, too. Your holster and gun both need to fit comfortably for ease of access and all-day wear.

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Comparing Popular Handguns Part 2: S&W M&P Shield vs. Glock 43 vs. Springfield XD-S MOD.2 3.3" vs. SIG P365 vs. Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 (Single Stack / Compact)