best 45 to conceal carry

The Best Concealed Carry .45 Is Out There

There are some who insist that there is no such thing as a good concealed carry .45. It's just too big a cartridge, they say, and a concealable .45 ACP handgun involves a certain amount compromise - namely shootability.


There are a number of decent .45 pistols out there for concealed carry that don't sacrifice shootability for the sake of concealability nor vice versa. Which one is perfect for you is of course difficult to predict, but here are 7 fantastic CCW-ready .45 ACP pistols. If you're looking for a small big-bore for daily carry in a concealed holster and gun belt, these are about as good as it gets.

Picking A Concealed Carry .45

45 acp compact want to pack a concealed carry .45. It's a great idea! The .45 ACP is a proven defensive round, and modern ammunition has made it better than ever. That said, it isn't as easy as just grabbing the nearest .45 ACP pistol and heading out the door.

You want to make sure that you pick the right compact .45 ACP for concealed carry, or more accurately, the right compact .45 ACP for YOU. The best gun out there is the best gun for you in terms of fit, comfort and how well you can run the gun. Therefore, make sure you handle and fire a good selection of pistols to find the right one for you.

You might find the smallest .45 ACP concealed carry gun isn't to your liking. You might find a Government frame 1911 isn't comfortable to carry.

What to look for, then?

First, fit. Make sure you select a pistol that fits your hand comfortably. You should be able to get a high, tight grip without issue. This is important, as the recoil of .45 ACP requires a good grip to control the gun. Second, make sure there are sights you can see and a trigger you can use, as the sights help you put rounds on target and the trigger is the heart of any gun.

You may also want to consider going down in bullet weight in a compact pistol. Plenty of 185- and 200-grain loads are very capable self-defense rounds and impose a little less in recoil.

With that said, here are 7 outstanding concealed carry .45 ACP pistols.

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S&W M&P45C

smith and wesson 45 gun

The Smith and Wesson M&P45C is the larger brother to the Shield .45, and there are a lot of similarities. The .45 Shield is slightly wider, slightly longer and slightly taller than the 9mm and .40 S&W Shield pistols. The M&P45C is slightly longer, slightly taller (half an inch on both scores) and tiny bit (0.2 inches) wider than the M&P9C/M&P40C, to accommodate the larger round.

What does that get you? Slightly more real estate on the accessory rail and 8+1 rounds of .45 ACP, in a more compact and lighter package than the standard Commander 1911. The 4-inch barrel (7.6 inches in length overall) puts it on the long side for a concealed carry pistol, but the width and height are both purely in the compact class. Choose with or without the manual safety, and with or without the optional Crimson Trace accessories. Smith and Wesson will put them on in the factory for you if you want.

If you're willing to put up with a slightly less compact compact .45 (compact-ish is an apt description) there aren't many better.

Charter Arms Pitbull

pitbull 45 gun

Normally, revolvers don't chamber autoloading cartridges because of the recessed rim without at least a set of moonclips...except for the Charter Arms Pitbull. Charter Arms engineered a dual-spring ejector that can handle rimless cartridges and therefore can chamber autoloading rounds. The pistol is also offered in 9mm and .40 S&W. So yes, this is a .45 ACP concealed carry revolver.

The Pitbull .45 is slightly larger than the 9mm/.40 S&W Pitbull, adding roughly 0.2 inches to the cylinder's diameter. However, it's still a 5-shot snubbie and easily concealed just like other snub-nose revolvers such as Smith and Wesson's venerable J-frame revolvers.

There aren't too many guns that let you use the same cartridge in your wheel gun as in your auto...but Charter Arms does.

Lightweight Commander

Lightweight Commander

One of the concealed carry .45 pistols to look for is a Lightweight Commander. Multiple companies actually make one, since the 1911 platform is produced by such a cornucopia of manufacturers. The original, of course, was made by Colt and as it happens, is still in production.

A Commander frame is a 1911 pistol that's had the barrel and slide chopped by .75 inches, for a barrel length of 4.25 inches and overall length of 7.75 inches or thereabouts. Colt changed the frame material to an aluminum alloy for easier toting, as most models weigh in somewhere between 28 to 30 ounces, depending on manufacturer.

This gives you the ergonomic feel of the 1911 grip, but with slightly smaller dimensions for easier concealed carry along with lighter weight for more practical packing. Recoil will liven up a bit, but should still be manageable.

Which to look for? Well, Colt is a pretty decent place to start as they made the original model, though the current model offered by Colt has accoutrements such as an upswept beavertail grip safety and Novak sights. However, quality examples can also be had from Remington, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, Kimber, Dan Wesson and others, to suit almost any budget and taste.

Kahr CM45

kahr 45 gun

Kahr pistols are known for function first and everything else second, and the Kahr CM45 delivers exactly that. It's a compact DAO auto in .45 ACP and there's really not much more to it. The frame is polymer, with a stainless steel slide and there isn't any equipment on it besides a magazine release and take-down lever/slide stop.

The CM45 is a dedicated concealed carry gun, coming in at less than 6.5 inches long, just under 4.5 inches tall and just over 1.0 inches wide. Capacity is 6+1 and you get traditional white-dot sights. There isn't a manual safety; the long double action trigger pull is about all the safety device you get...and if you follow the rules of gun safety, will be all you ever need.

If you want something a bit more nice, get the PM45 for about twice the price. However, if you want a no-nonsense compact big-bore...the CM45 ticks just about every box for less than $500 MSRP. The trigger pull is noted for being long and somewhat stiff, but smooth and manageable for most shooters. Many reviewers have found recoil is more than bearable.

S&W M&P Shield 45

shield 45 gun

We already mentioned that the M&P45C was a bit different from the Shield 45...but the Shield 45 is still a very attractive option for a compact .45. Just like it's bigger brother, it's slightly larger than the 9mm/40 Shield (less than half an inch longer, slightly taller and wider but not by much) but all the same strengths are retained.

You get the same striker-fired operation, light trigger pull, and ease of shooting. You get the same easy concealment. You can choose it with or without a manual safety. You get the same reasonable price point (less than $500 in most instances) and the wealth of aftermarket accessories.

A lot of people reckon it's one of the best of the small big-bores on the market.

Glock 36 and Glock 30

glock 36 and 30 45 gun

There are two compact Glock .45 ACP pistols, namely the Glock 36 and the Glock 30. They merit inclusive mention because there isn't much difference between them save that the Glock 30 uses a double stack magazine and is slightly taller (by 0.4 inches) and wider (by 0.17 inches) and carries 10 rounds instead of 6. It will also accept a 13-round extended magazine. Both happen to be among the most popular concealed carry .45 pistols, so they are certainly a viable option.

Both are everything you can expect from a big-bore Glock. They're easily concealable and carryable. Aftermarket support is ridiculous. They're reliable and will feed almost any ammunition with aplomb, and the price is pretty nice - unaffordability is not an attribute Glock is known for.

You just need to choose the slightly bigger one with more bullets or the slimmer one.

Sig Sauer P227


If nothing else will do, the Sig P227 is one of the best sidearms in .45 ACP. Based on the P220/P226 operating system but featuring a double-stack magazine, you get the iron tough reliability of Sig Sauer plus a generous on-board capacity...if you're up to it, because this thing is a tactical brick.

The Sig P227 carries 10+1 of .45 ACP, which is not bad for a concealed carry .45. However, you will have to put up with a bit to get that. It's big, as overall dimensions are just under 8 inches long, 5.5 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide at the grips. It's heavy, weighing in at 32 ounces unloaded. That sounds huge, but it's about the same size and weight as a Commander 1911 (just a little fatter) and carries 3 more rounds in the standard magazine.

Smart shoppers: look for the Carry models. You'll have to hit the used market, but they have a 3.9-inch barrel, making them a bit easier to conceal. Don't worry about it being used: Sigs last forever with a bit of care.

The Sig P227 is a tank, so you should have no problem getting a decade of use out of it...or more. However, you'll pay the Sig premium to get it, as MSRP is $1087. Then again, the P227 is an investment that will pay dividends in terms of reliability, accuracy and longevity. You can rely on it to save your bacon if things go sideways.

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.

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