The Best Concealed Carry Pistol for a Defensive Prepper

Every gun owner has their preferred weapons that satisfy their specific needs. Some hunt and use rifles designed for that. Some target shoot. Some buy for personal protection. That most likely means carrying a handgun. Carrying a loaded concealed handgun in public can be intimidating and even dangerous if not performed properly. Then why do it? Simply because it can literally save your life or the lives of other innocent victims. That’s my reason for carrying and the only valid reason I know of.

The Concealed Carry Scenario

Not that long ago, three men entered a gas station/convenience store at an exit off a highway. They quickly held the cashier at gunpoint, grabbed the cash from the register, and proceeded to shoot and kill everyone else in the store. That included the cashier and two other shoppers. That’s why I carry. If that was me shopping in that store and I had a weapon, I would have a fighting chance against those criminals.

Concealed Carry Pistol Responsibility

Just because you have a concealed carry permit does not necessarily mean you are qualified to carry a concealed pistol. Carrying concealed means you have a responsibility to know how to use that lethal weapon. Not just know the laws, rules, and conventions, but practice with the gun to be safe and effective when it is needed. You need to continue training and learning everything about your weapon. This will keep you from accidentally hurting yourself or other innocent people. Check your state laws every so often because they change. If going to another state, check to make sure there is a reciprocal agreement with your state and learn the details of the laws in that state. That will keep you out of legal trouble.

Training? What do I mean by training for concealed carry? Go to your local range and take a class on it! Not just the class to get the permit, but a home defense or tactical situation class. They will teach you really how to use your weapon. If not a formal class, find an experienced shooter to help train you. The most important aspects of use are not to accidentally shoot yourself or innocents and to be able to draw and fire the pistol as intended.

Simple conventions like only pointing it where you intend to shoot and keeping your finger off the trigger until just before shooting will become second nature. Draw training is essential. Many ranges won’t let you draw and shoot unless you are in a class that includes that. I practice draw training at home with an unloaded pistol, but there is no replacement for the real thing.

OK, on to the best pistol!

Criteria for the Best Concealed Carry Pistol

It is crucial to me that the weapon I carry can’t easily be seen, but can be easy to draw and effectively stop a bad guy. Let’s break that down. To be hidden, it must be small. No big fat .45. Tiny, light, easy to carry, and easy to hide. “Easy to draw” means not buried in a holster in your pocket. It means using a paddle holster. To stop a bad guy, you need more than a .22 caliber. It must be reliable so it will shoot in an emergency. What weapon does all that?

The Pistol that Meets All Those Criteria

I’ve carried many sizes of pistols both concealed and not concealed. While I like to shoot multiple different guns and calibers, there is only one concealed-carry pistol that works for me. The one pistol that meets all my criteria is the Ruger LCP 380. It is an amazing little weapon just for that purpose!

Ruger LCP 380
Ruger LCP 380 and Fobus paddle holster

The Best Isn’t Always the Best

The Ruger LCP 380 is my carry pistol but is not anywhere close to my favorite overall pistol. It is too small to shoot comfortably as a target pistol, is not very accurate, and is literally no fun to shoot. But those weren’t the criteria listed above. My Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm serves as my favorite duty-carry accurate and fun pistol. The Ruger LCP 380 is not like that! Some

I’ve trained on it and dubbed it the “Noisy Cricket” (and that nickname stuck) because it is like the tiny gun in the movie “Men in Black”. It kicks too hard for such a small grip. After extended shooting, the pistol ends up hurting my hand between my thumb and forefinger. The trigger has an extremely long pull which may be difficult for a new shooter. That’s required because there is no safety switch. I don’t believe in safeties anyway, but that’s another story.

So Why Carry Such a Bum of a Gun?

Even though it is not fun to shoot, it serves its purpose perfectly. As you can see in the picture of me carrying it, it is hard to spot. But the Fobus Evolution paddle holster makes it easy to get to. It is reliable and has never misfired (I keep it cleaned and oiled). You should add the optional extended magazine floor plate so that you get two fingers fully on the grip. That makes it much more shootable and accurate. It holds 6 rounds in the magazine which should be plenty for a single event. With an expected max range of 7 yards, I won’t miss with it. Finally, load it with a good hollow point round. I use the 380ACP Federal Hydra-Shok 90gr Personal Defense round. When I practice, I use a target round with an extended magazine.

The Best Concealed Carry Pistol is Hard to Spot
The Ruger LCP 380 is hard to spot

What Else do You Need?

That’s it. A simple gun with one purpose. I carry it with confidence, force myself to practice with it, and train and prepare for potential emergencies. If you are worried about someone coming up to you and grabbing your gun off your side, I recommend a “soft-side carry” knife. I use the Ka-Bar TDI (See our full Ka-Bar TDI Review) which is specifically made for this purpose. I wear it on my back left. If someone lunges for my back right, I could use my left handle to quickly extract and employ the TDI.

KA-BAR TDI law enforcement knife
Ka-Bar TDI soft-side carry knife

Qualifications and other pistols considered

I’ve shot many pistols before deciding on which to carry. Here is a list of them and why they were not the best for concealed carry.

  • Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm with paddle holster: My favorite pistol! Too big and heavy for concealed.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 22 with paddle holster: Too big and heavy, under-powered.
  • Ruger SR-22: Too big and heavy, under-powered.
  • Kel-Tec P-3AT with paddle holster: Less expensive, but I question the quality/reliability.
  • Ruger LCP 380 (same gun as I picked) with pocket holster: too hard to draw.
  • Taurus Judge 45/410: Too big and heavy, front-heavy, small grip. And a canon.
  • Springfield XD(M) 45: Way too big and heavy.

The Final Word

While carrying a concealed firearm involves a lot of planning, training, and commitment, the last thing you want to worry about is the weapon itself. The Ruger LCP 380, while not the easiest or most fun gun to shoot, serves as the perfect carry pistol for me. Add the Fobus paddle holster, magazine footplate, and hollow points to make it perform at its best. Note that the Ruger LCP 380 II is now available. It has improvements including the extended floor plate and integrated trigger safety. If I was buying new, I would get that.

If you know of a better top choice of concealed carry pistol, please comment and give your criteria and qualities that fit!

Here are a few other articles our readers have found helpful

Be safe by being smart,

F.J. Bruiser

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The Best Concealed Carry Pistol - For a Defensive Prepper

FJ Bruiser

I have experience from years of actual prepping, including survival food, tools and weapons, and even a buried bunker. I am an Air Force veteran that began thinking about surviving disasters during the Cold War when the Soviets threatened mutually assured destruction. Trained in Red Cross disaster assistance, Community Emergency Response Team, and radio communications.

20 thoughts on “The Best Concealed Carry Pistol for a Defensive Prepper

  • I think you are printing pretty good.Most people won’t notice, but a Gun Guy would.The new holsters that you pull up the flap, and draw print less, but with appendix carry area .But I am afraid I might accidentally shoot off my penis with it.I’m not joking BTW.I do like where your holster is though.

  • I have carried my S&W Bodyguard 380 for several years with staggered hollow points and flat nose 95 gr bullets. I’ve shot several 380s including the Ruger but settled on my BG. It even has a built in laser. It has never had a failure and is pretty accurate out to 15′. I couldn’t find a holster I like so I made one out of leather with a metal belt clip. I can wear it inside pants or outside between pants and belt. My favorite pistol is my Beretta PX4 9mm compact but is fatter and heavier and not easy to conceal in warm weather. Good article. Several friends carry the LCP and even the LC9S. They are all good pistols and are easy to conceal.

  • I personally carry the LC380 as my back up. Larger than the LCP so it’s much easier to control. My favorite to shoot is also the M&P 9. Liked it so much, I bought a second one. I leave one at home in the safe with a flashlight on the rail and carry the other as my main carry gun. I am quite a bit bigger than most guys at 6’4″ & 390 lbs. It disappears on me pretty easily.

  • Thanks for the helpful comment! I’ve taken a look at the Smith and Wesson (S&W) Bodyguard 380. I love Smith & Wesson and I have owned 3 different guns made by them. The Bodyguard 380 seems to have better sights, better grips, final round hold-back, and smoother shooting than the Ruger LCP 380. The S&W also has an integrated laser. Downside: It has a super long trigger pull which they say takes some getting use to. The LCP 380 does too. I’m considering upgrading to the Ruger LCP II. It has better sights, integrated trigger safety, single stage easier pull trigger, final round hold-back, and better grip. Be safe. FJ Bruiser

  • I find the Smith and Wesson M&P 380 to be a superior weapon to the LCP. The Ruger has such mixed consumer reviews that I’m surprised it made anyone’s list as the “Best Concealed Carry Pistol.” If you’ve not shot the S&W 380, I would highly recommend you give it a go. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry the LCP if it’s all I had, but I think you’ll find it inferior to many of the concealable 380s, including the S&W, which is a serious value for it’s cost.

    That said, I usually carry an airweight J-frame S&W with .38 +P defensive rounds. A .22 Mag NAA revolver is a tiny, undetectable back up to that, that has surprisingly good penetration and is truly a noisy cricket.

    Though I disagree with the LCP, this is a great article and you put it very well that “the best isn’t always the best.” Well said. If there was no tradeoff I would carry my Ruger SR9C all the time, but even a compact 9 is bulkier than a 380.

  • Silly question here, if you are carrying Strong Side Outside the Waist Band why not carry a bigger sized gun in a service cartridge like say a Glock 19, S&W M&P 9, or about a kajillion other guns? These are better suited to OWB carry and provide useable sights, a better cartridge, and a better grip. The holster needs to go. Fobus makes a crap product. I can’t tell you how many I have seen broken in classes, or no kidding here, gotten soft from being left inside a car with a gun holstered in them on a strong sunny day. That particular setup also prints like nobody’s business, which simply should not happen with a gun as small and thin as the LCP.

    If you are going to carry the LCP, I’d suggest pocket carry in a suitable pocket holster. It’s discreet, it’s out of sight and can be “prepped” by just sticking your hand in your pocket.

  • I have shot for many years, but am now just stepping into concealed carry. I went with the Ruger LC9S. I shot it side to side with my brother in laws LCP. To me, it seemed to have equal or less recoil. The trade off it does have larger size. I matched it with a Sneaky Pete holster. That holster looks like a very large phone case, but it also allows for a super fast draw. I really like that combo for carrying, and the price is affordable enough for an average income person to carry without dipping into the hunting/fun gun budget.

  • The best small concealed carry gun is the Glock 43. Very easy to conceal and much more accurate and powerful than the Ruger LCP. I have both and would never carry the Ruger over the Glock.

  • I started carrying a SCCY CPX-2 9mm in a weird nylon like holster designed to be used either IWB or OWB. I grew to hate the holster and I had some issues with the gun so I decided to replace it.

    Next I went with a Kel-Tec P3AT .380 in a pocket holster. This served me just fine for probably a year but I really wanted a 9mm.

    Then, I went with a Springfield Armory XDS 3.3″ 9mm in an actual kydex holster. I love the gun and the holster. It has probably been a year and a half now. The only issue I had was that it made my pants sag just a bit so a couple of months back I finally entered the world of gun belts.

    The gun belt made such a difference that I am starting to think I could carry something a little bit bigger. I am seriously considering carrying a Springfield Armory XD9 Mod.2 Subcompact in the cooler months and keeping the XDS for the warmer months. My favorite gun to shoot is an XD9 4″ Service Model so I think I will love the Mod.2.

  • Lots of great comments on what works for you! I should have named the post “The best BARGAIN Concealed Carry Pistol For A Defensive Prepper. The Ruger LCP 380 is less expensive than any others mentioned. The S&W Bodyguard 380 sounds like th most popular based on comments here. So many combinations of pistol, holster, and holster style. I’ll always be an OWB guy because I don’t put anything bigger than keys in pockets and I can’t stand inside carry. What about you? Also, I got my hands on a SIG Sauer P238 and Alien Gear OWB holster. Any comments on that pistol? It cost tons more than the LCP 380, but feels like a much bigger gun. Be safe. FJ Bruiser

  • The only thing I find wrong or omitted in this article is about females carring. I am not strong enough to load a 380 or any gun with a slide, so I carry a revolver. Would like opinions on which revolver would be best for not so strong females to carry.

    • S&W (pricey) and Rossi (inexpensive) make lightweight 5-shot revolvers. I recommend getting one in 357magnum… practice with 38 specials (as magnum recoil can become heavy) and load the magnums for defense. The wife carries these for the reasons you mention.

  • Sig P938… a smidgen bigger than P238 (most holsters fit both)… but P938 packs 6+1 in 9mm! For me, the 6″ groups at 25yds is accurate enough.

    • Agreed, I carry a Sig p938 7+1 9mm with 2 extra mags and barely notice it. that is 22 rounds. I have bigger options for different situations but it is accurate and reliable and I feel most comfortable with it if I can’t get to something bigger.

  • Jim, Thanks for the revolver info. I have very little experience with those and I can’t respond to what I don’t know about :) Good info on the Sigs too. I put 60 rounds through the Sig P238 and it was a dream to shoot. Felt like a much bigger gun. Be safe. FJ Bruiser

  • My defensive carry is a ruger lc9
    In a alien gear iwb holster.
    Easy draw accurate to fire and
    easily concealed

  • I’ve carried the Kel tec 380 for around 10 years now. I’ve run several thousand rounds through it without a hitch. Keep it clean, use good ammo it will serve the purpose. When I wear it out I’ll buy another, it’s just another tool to me.

  • For concealed carry I agree with Jim. The P938 is an excellent choice. However; I rarely conceal carry. Living in Texas I mostly open carry with either a SW9VE or XDs 45 ACP 4″. The Blackhawk Serpa is an excellent choice for open carry. I know there is a big debate going on with open vs concealed.


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