The Changing Face of Concealed Carry Guns

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but there seemed to be a moment when a switch was flipped and the country became one that embraced concealed carry. The vast majority of states are now shall issue states and all 50 states offer some form of concealed carry license. This created a massive market for concealed carry guns.

The industry reacted to this trend and guns got smaller, much smaller. The 380 ACP made a major comeback, prior to this concealed carry revolution the 380 ACP wasn’t a popular cartridge. Guns shrunk, every major company offered a small, pocket-sized pistol for concealed carry or a small sub-compact double stack magazine.

After that we saw the rise of single stack 9mms. These guns were the happy medium between the pocket .380 and the double stack sub compact. The single stack 9 still has a healthy dose of the market, but it’s beginning to change.

It all started with that damn P365. The SIG P365 gave us a gun the size of a single stack 9mm with 10 round magazines, with the option for 12 rounders. People suddenly wanted something like a single stack, but they also wanted more than 6 rounds of 9mm. It didn’t end there though. People wanted thin guns, but they weren’t afraid of larger guns either.

Concealed Carry Guns Change Once More

I said it the year the P365 debuted, the concealed carry gun industry was about to change. Companies in that market are going to have to reply with something of their own. Glock replied by modifying the 43 into the 43X and the Glock 48. Instead of coming up with a fancy new magazine they made their guns bigger.

The Glock 48

Both guns have 10 round magazines but the Glock 48 has a longer barrel. Both are thinner than the Glock 26, but match its capacity. They became something we didn’t know we wanted. The larger grip is easier to handle, and the thinner design makes IWB easier. The longer slide and barrel increase the sight radius, making it easier to shoot accurately.

The 43X

People seemingly loved the idea. A compact grip and gun, with the slide of what’s essentially a full sized gun. Companies again had to react to meet this market.

Springfield introduced the XD-E 4.5″ single stack 9mm. Is sports a longer 4.5 inch barrel, but retains a compact grip. Following that S&W showed us the new 4 inch Shield that is optic’s ready as well.

Of course, SIG wasn’t going to be outdone and tossed out the impressive SIG P365 XL that sported a longer slide and barrel as well as a 15 round magazine. It’s also an optic’s ready gun.

The new concealed carry gun market means going a little bigger. You either want a bigger magazine, a bigger slide, or a bigger set of sights via an optic.

But Why?

Why has the market for concealed carry guns changed? What was wrong with subcompacts and pocket pistols? I have a few theories as to why myself.

People Just Like New Stuff

George Carlin once said Americans are professional consumers. It’s somewhat true in the gun world. We like new stuff, and companies have to keep innovating to stay relevant. Is the demand because people like new stuff? That’s one somewhat negative theory about these guns, but let’s be optimistic.

People are Training More

People aren’t just buying concealed carry guns and sitting on it anymore. They are getting out there and training. The training market is huge, big enough that gun companies like IWI are even running their own training academies. People are shooting more and seeing the flaws of those super small guns. These larger guns are so much easier to shoot in all ways.

Holsters Have Gotten Way Better

Back in the day sub-compacts and pocket 380s were the easiest guns to hide and the most comfortable guns to carry. As markets do, companies have to produce a better product to stay on top. The holster market is cut throat and competitive and holsters have gotten better. Holsters from companies like PHLSTER are outstanding and make carrying bigger guns much easier. The rise of appendix carry is another factor we have to consider. Appendix carry makes it much easier to conceal larger guns.

Bigger, but still thin guns are becoming massively popular in very short period of time. To me more options is better. I generally prefer a full sized gun, but smaller guns make it into my carry rotation when carrying a full sized gun isn’t possible. I like the added capacity, the easier grip, and the increasing amount of guns with optics mounts. I hope to see the concept evolve and see what companies like Walther, or even HK can put out to compete.

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.