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Best Concealed Carry Caliber

Updated: 12/26/2023
Best Concealed Carry Calibers

Choosing the best concealed carry caliber can be a tough decision. It’s a complete compromise between stopping power, round size and capacity for concealment. If you focus too much on the stopping power, like the .44 mag, then usually the gun you will have to go with a bigger gun with less round capacity. If you lean too much on the round size and capacity, like a 22 long rifle pistol, you will be almost effective as a slingshot against a charging man.

We have looked at the most popular pistol calibers with those two categories in mind and have chosen the .40 S&W as one of the best concealed carry calibers.

Stopping Power

The .40 S&W (.40 Smith and Wesson) is one of the perfect compromises of size and power available in handgun rounds today. It packs a significant punch and with hollow point or other self-defense rounds, will do serious damage to an attacker with one shot. 

Many people think that the 9mm round is the minimum you should carry for a concealed carry weapon. The .40 has significantly more stopping power than the 9mm because of the bigger and wider bullet being shot. They both have close to the same velocities and energy behind the bullet, but the action after impact of a .40 is most destructive than that of a 9mm. Many people think that the .40 is the perfect compromise between the smaller 9mm and the large .45 ACP round.

Capacity and Round Size

The .40 is a relatively small sized round, which makes it perfect for concealed carry uses. Most magazines can be double stacked for fairly large capacities, or the entire gun will be able to be smaller but still hold quite a few rounds. It’s decently bigger than the 9mm round but a lot smaller than the .45, which makes it again the perfect compromise for a concealed carry round.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the .40 S&W is one of the best concealed carry calibers available for handguns today. When combined with self-defense rounds like the Hydro-shocks or hollow point, it is one of the best all-around concealed carry systems available. You can always be very comfortable shooting with .40 (Glock 23). The recoil can be a little bit snappy at times, but the gun is not hard to control in repeated fire situations. But everyone should go out to the pistol range and shoot a variety of guns and calibers to determine what one feels best for them.

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