Top 5 EDC Guns Small Enough to Conceal, but Big Enough to Use

We’re living in the golden age of concealed carry. Those of you who lack the perspective provided by decades of frustration may not understand how well the Glock 26 was initially received. But now, look at what’s happening; we have scads of well built, easily controlled EDC 9mms with exceptional magazine capacity that are still easy to conceal.

What’s too large to conceal?

The premise here is simple. I’ve carried 5” 1911s with an inside-the-waistband holster. The length of the barrel and weight of the gun can make it a challenge. And the draw stroke needs to allow for the barrel to clear. For most, a 5” gun is too big.

It is for this reason that many of us gravitate toward the Glock 19 size. The G19 remains the standard for IWB carry for those who train seriously, but it is fast losing ground to the list we’ll create below.

And with a comp, the G19 is as long as the G17, which—despite being only a bit larger—most would hesitate to carry IWB.

What’s too small to conceal?

Smaller is easier to conceal. But at what cost? Those of us who carried IWB saw an odd race to get to the superlatives of “shortest” and “thinnest” EDC guns. And in the process, we gave up a lot of control and ergonomics.

Short guns have wicked muzzle flip, as there’s not enough grip to hold onto. The grips are thin. The mags shed capacity in an attempt to reach that thin width. I’d go so far as comparing these guns to anorexics.

The answer?

Let’s look at concealment. Concealing a longer barrel isn’t too complicated. The barrel goes conveniently down inside the pants. With a bit of work on your body mechanics, this is easy.

Grip length, though, is more complicated. If you’re 6’4” and topping the scales over 250, well…. Concealment is effortless. But talk to a woman who is weighing in around 100 pounds, and you’ll find an entirely different wardrobe and body profile.

Find the right gun. That’s first. Then pick a holster that helps conceal the gun.

The Top 5 Guns that are Perfect for Do-it-All EDC carry

Here’s the premise. These aren’t super short. These aren’t single-stacks. I’m looking for capacity and control, and the ability to really perform.

The Hellcat Pro

When these new double-stack (or staggered stack) guns hit the shelves, many of us who had stars in our eyes from the Glock 42, 43 launches took note. The first one I added to my EDC line-up was the Hellcat.

The Hellcat Pro is functional and concealable. And the texture on the grip is great.
The Hellcat Pro is functional and concealable. And the texture on the grip is great.

The Hellcat Pro is even better. Springfield made serious changes to the Hellcat line that put this gun in a different class than their older EDC guns. Their improvements have focused heavily on mag capacity, optics capabilities, and performance features like comps and the Pro’s slide extension.

I’ve been working with this Hellcat Pro for more than a year now and I’ve had no complaints, no failures, and no hesitations about carrying it.

The price? A Hellcat Pro, if you can find one in stock, will run you under $600. Springfield makes optics, but a solid Holosun 507 works, too. And get a light.

The Sig P365 XL

Sig has crushed it. The P365 came in kicking ass and knocking other EDC guns to the “obsolete” lists. Capacity is outstanding. There are various grip lengths that allow for restrictive mag capacities (10 rounds) or small grips with 12-round capacities, or larger mags.

There are two main sizes to the P365—the X and XL (which includes the Macro in the same slide length). Barrel length is determined by both slide length and the use of compensators. Aftermarket barrels allow for threaded options, too.

The P365 Macro adds length and capacity to the P365, and a picatinny rail.
The P365 Macro adds length and capacity to the P365 and a Picatinny rail.

As I’m writing this, there are at least 12 stock variations in the Sig catalog. This may make choices confusing, but it basically comes down to combinations of binary variables. Compensator, or no? Shorter slide or longer slide? Shorter grip or longer grip?

From my perspective, the Macro takes it. Long slide (I’m not a comp guy). And it comes with a standard Picatinny rail. Stock, this sells for about $650 (maybe more). Add a light, an optic, and a holster, too.

The Staccato C2

The Staccato C2 has an aluminum frame that cuts out some weight. It is still the heaviest on this list. But the 16 round mags are a bonus, and fans of the single-action platform have few solid choices for IWB carry in 9mm. Or fewer.

Want something with a big more weight and class? The Staccato CS is a 2011 built for EDC.
Want something with a bit more weight and class? The Staccato CS is a 2011 built for EDC. Image by Travis Pike.

The build quality on these is outstanding. The triggers are dialed in just at or above four pounds. From the classic ergonomics to the top-of-the-line fit and finish, the Staccato line has earned its place as the benchmark for 2011s.

The price, though, and the wait to get one may put off some. These run north of $2,500, and you can add an additional grand on a light, optic, and holster. Is it worth it? Of course. There wouldn’t be a waiting list if it was all hype, right? Finding mags, though, can be just as hard as finding the guns.

The Taurus GX4 Carry

Taurus owns retail volume. The G2c and G3C are consistently at the top of best-selling gun lists. And they’re making a big push to attract a more intentional EDC buyer with the GX4 line. I reviewed these when they launched and the ergonomic upgrades make it a solid choice for EDC. And the GX4 mags have solid capacity (17 rounds? Not bad).

The GX4 Carry comes with an optic cut, or without. This gun is changing the way many think about Taurus.
The GX4 Carry comes with an optic cut, or without. This gun is changing the way many think about Taurus.

As the price on these is higher than most of Taurus’s other lines, you’d expect more features. The GX4 TORO Carry is longer, optics-ready, and has a traditional Picatinny rail. Will this be the gun that finally gets the Glock and Sig Sauer fanboys to take Taurus seriously?

The H&K VP9

The last of the small guns on this list is, in my opinion, one of the real pioneers of this narrow class. While you could argue that the Commander has some influence on the Staccato, most of the other guns I’ve mentioned grew out of shorter versions of the same gun. Not the VP9.

Could it be that HK got it right, from the start, more than a decade ago with the VP9? Everyone is building to this size now.
Could it be that HK got it right, from the start, more than a decade ago with the VP9? Everyone is building to this size now.

H&K dropped the VP9 at a time when its next closest competition was the Glock 19. And the smaller size made it immediately popular. Yet it wasn’t long after that the market swung hard toward the smaller 9mms from Glock and even Springfield Armory (with their XD-S)—but H&K seemed to stand in a class all its own.

The design remains a strong seller and has everything you’d want from an EDC gun. The ergonomics are exceptional and the aftermarket support is there, so finding sights, optics, lights, holsters, and mags… too easy. I like the 17 round mags for holstered carry, but there are 20 round mags, too.

The VP9 will set you back about $800 +/-.

Now a new wrinkle emerges

Did I just write an entire EDC article that didn’t include a Glock? Indeed.

The Glock 45, though, is the fly in the ointment. For most of 2023, I carried three guns. The Hellcat Pro was my go-to. Some holster development work required that I carry a Macro, and I moved to the G45 and finally put my old G19 in the safe for a spell.

Should the Glock 45 be on the list above? As I have no difficulty concealing it, I’d say yes. It is even larger than these guns—but not by much. The extra few rounds in the G17-length mags, though, are compelling. The wider slide allows for a wider optic, too.

But I’m hardly a small individual. Maybe I’m biased by my girth. I’ll leave the G45 here at the end as something to think about.

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. David is a former backcountry guide in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area who was a college professor for 20 years. He ultimately left behind the academy for a more practical profession in the firearms industry and was (among other editorial positions) the Managing Editor for a nascent Mag Life blog. In that Higginbotham helped establish The Maglife's tone and secure its early success. Though he went on to an even more practical firearms industry profession still, he continues to contribute articles and op-eds as time and life allow.

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