slide width

Wondering If A Gun Is Too Fat? Check The Slide Width

One aspect that might turn people off of a potential new concealed carry gun is the overall width...but it's actually the slide width that you need to pay attention to. You see, what makes a gun too fat to conceal is not so much the overall width but the slide.

How is this? We'll get into that. There are a few things that people don't take into account as far as the size of a carry pistol, of which width is an example.

Slide Width Is Usually Manageable

handgun slide width

Why does slide width matter more than overall width?

Think of a gun that a lot of people would say is too big to conceal and carry. Say, the 1911. It's a full-size pistol, to be sure, with a 5-inch barrel and 8.5-inch overall length. It's also a darned boat anchor, as most Gov't models tip the scales at close to 40 ounces unloaded.

That's a gun that needs to go on a diet. Why is it so darned popular for concealed carry?

You see, that hugeness of a gun has a slide that is less than an inch wide. It's about 0.9 inches wide at the slide. Less than an inch across, and since it isn't a pocket pistol slinging a 9mm (unless you have a 9mm 1911, then it does) that's a pretty slim pistol shooting a flying ashtray.

Granted, it goes up to about 1.2 inches at the grips with a standard safety and up to 1.4 inches wide with ambidextrous safeties. That said, a pair of slim grips and a right-hand only thumb safety can bring that width down to less than 1.1 inches wide overall.

So, if you're going to carry inside the waistband...that makes a pretty significant difference. After all, the amount of horizontal space taken up inside the waistband is the width of your holster plus the width of the pistol. Since the 1911 is slimmer than other full-size pistols - and a good number of compacts besides - that means you can conceal and carry a big gun pretty easily.

With a bit of creative positioning and the right shirt, that big 'ol Sig, CZ or Beretta may not be so much of an issue if the slide width is just right.

Grip Panels Can Reduce Width...Plastic Frames Cannot

grip panels

As you can tell, the slide width matters and it is in this respect that the old-school pistols with grip panels can come good as concealed carry guns in a way that the poly striker pistols just cannot.

Thing is that Sig P320 Compact you've been eyeing (because it's cool as heck!) is 1.33 inches across at the grips and that's an end of it. If the fat(ish) width (that's a bit big for a compact) of the P320 Compact makes concealment difficult without going up a size in shirt or other concealed carry clothing then you're out of luck.

However, the 1.4-inch width of, say, a CZ-75 Compact...now in that case, something can be done about it. In fact, you can even swap the grip panels on some CZ clones because a number of them actually wear the same ones. Slim panel grips can often take .25 inches (in some cases more) off the overall width on guns that have panel grips as opposed to a molded frame.

Granted, you can't do much about the controls in most cases, so nothing you can really do there.

This isn't to knock the double-stack poly-striker guns. Most are excellent and a number of them are perfectly slim enough to carry with, the single-stack models especially. That said, some people do prefer a bit more capacity in a carry gun.

The gun-buying public prefers striker-fired pistols by and large, and the industry loves them (because of the higher profit margins than on metal-frame guns...sorry, but it's true!) so the market has spoken. 50 million tactical Elvis fans can't be wrong.

Pick The Concealed Carry Gun That Works For You

concealed carry gun

With that all said, you should pick the concealed carry gun that works for you. If that's a big, fat Sig Sauer, then that's awesome. If it's a slim S&W Shield, that's awesome too. This bit about slide width is good to know if trying to look for a new carry gun, but it only goes so far.

So much of what concealed carry set up will work is down to what works for you specifically, and that will be different than what works for someone else.

Ultimately, the best carry gun is what conceals and carries easily for you, that you also happen to shoot well. So, if you can pack it every day and can put shots on target, that's all that really matters, whatever that happens to be.



Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

purchase gun belt