best caliber for concealed carry

A Helpful Guide To The Best Caliber For Concealed Carry In 2024

Even the most expensive caliber is not automatically the best caliber for concealed carry. Realistically speaking, the best calibers really vary from case to case basis. There is no perfectly designed caliber, but there is always the best one for specific applications. Ultimately, you can figure out the best caliber for concealed carry by comparing them.

Buckle up because you can explore some of the most well-known concealed carry ammo in this guide here. Each caliber is detailed, so you can choose the best one that suits your needs and preferences. So, take a closer look at them below.

Amazingly, gun enthusiasts are spoiled with a wide variety of calibers when it comes to ammunition. There are too many impressive options to select from, which means a ticket to an overwhelming experience of choosing the best caliber for concealed carry. Because of that, a guide like this will truly come in handy for gun owners like you. After all, ammunition comes in a wide variety of designs and sizes, making it quite challenging to choose the best one. 

Without a doubt, when naming the best caliber for concealed carry weapons, there are essential things to consider. Simply put, it is a process that needs much thinking. Yet, there is still no single option for the best caliber, especially since some choices are intentionally created to make them perform their best in different shooting applications. Of course, they are best for self-defense applications. 

To provide a little sneak peek about the most common and popular caliber for concealed carry, 9mm is one of the choices you will surely discover in many other guides. Well, that’s no wonder since it has an excellent reputation when it comes to concealed carry, specifically for self-defense. Along with that, there are other well-known caliber ammunition options you can discover here. 

Before you discover the best caliber for concealed carry, let’s first go through the essential things to consider when choosing the concealed carry best caliber suited for your needs and preferences. Without further ado, read along to know more. 

best caliber for concealed carry

Essential Things to Consider Before Choosing Concealed Carry Best Caliber

Once again, there are really essential things you must consider for choosing the best caliber ammunition. What’s interesting is that those vital factors are helpful to help you fully understand quality. Besides practicing your shooting skills, having a good handgun and caliber are a must, especially for self-defense applications. 

Certainly, a good gun, the best handgun caliber, and excellent shooting skills are needed. You should not only focus your time on finding the best gun and caliber, but you also need to be well-trained to be successful in any shooting application. Now, if your primary concern is self-defense, that gives a much stronger reason to make an effort to practice your shooting skills for accuracy and efficiency. 

Here are the essential factors you must consider: 

Stopping Power

Realistically speaking, when shooting a gun, not all gunshots can effectively cause the target to be incapacitated. The reality is far from what TV shows present the outcomes of firing a weapon. More often than not, the target’s fat can hinder the effect of the gun, protecting the organs and preventing bleeding. This is a problem if your concealed carry weapon is for self-defense application. 

If you have a concealed carry weapon for self-defense and protection, the primary goal is undeniably to incapacitate your target or the person who threatens your safety. The only thing to ensure a successful defense is to have caliber ammunition that provides impactful and efficient shots to stop your target. This is when you must know about stopping power. 

Stopping power works exactly how it sounds. Technically speaking, it is a term to describe how successfully a firearm can penetrate and injure your target enough to prevent them from doing anything bad. In addition, stopping power implies the amount of energy one bullet transmits to the person or animal being shot. Therefore, it is no wonder that it is a vital factor to consider. 

As for choosing the best caliber for concealed carry weapons, you just need to evaluate the number of tissues you want to penetrate. To help you with that, you must bear in mind that the more grained the bullets are, the higher impact they can deliver — this means a better stopping power. Hence, guaranteeing you success in self-defense and protection. 

Primarily, the principle regarding the stopping power is the same as the bullet size. The most common requirement regarding the minimal penetration condition for ammunition is 12 inches on average. As for the best caliber for concealed carry weapons, it is not surprising that they offer varying levels of stopping power. 

concealed carry best caliber

Kinetic Energy

Another essential factor that influences bullet quality is kinetic energy. It is pretty different from the other aspects because it represents how fast a bullet can move once it is discharged. To give you an idea about that, the kinetic energy of a bullet slowly reduces as it travels through the air once you fire your gun. 

Moreover, the penetration power of a bullet is primarily affected by its size and velocity. Ideally, it is better to have a bullet whose grain is heavier and the muzzle’s kinetic energy higher. That way, you can ensure that the caliber you have is indeed the best for your concealed carry weapon. 

Now that you know the clear and helpful idea about the significance of stopping power and kinetic energy, let’s go through the other equally vital factors, such as the impact of the bullet, fragmentation, and many more. 

Impact of the Bullet

If you are interested and quite curious about the impact of the bullet, that depends on different factors, such as its size, design, and also on how big the cavity is. With the varying impact, some of the shots can be impressively powerful while others can perform the opposite. Hence, some can cause substantial permanent cavities to incapacitate your target. 

Of course, other bullets can only leave slight damage and just temporary cavities. Because of that, knowing how to choose the best caliber for concealed carry for self-defense purposes. You don’t need a bullet that can only cause a temporal wound because that means a low level of stopping power. That means the specific bullet is not the most suitable option for concealed carry and protection. 


There’s no doubt that every bullet performs uniquely. Realistically speaking, not all bullets can reach your expectations and the required performance needed for concealed carry. Hence, some shots won’t efficiently remain intact once they hit the target. To be more specific, some of them can break into smaller chunks, which can leave more significant damage to the target. 

Most commonly, the primary goal in self-defense is to hinder the target effectively from threatening your safety and not result in anything that is out of the line and purpose of self-defense. Basically, this is when fragmentation is a crucial matter. Well, it is unquestionably needed for shooting applications, strongly more on if it is about protection. 

If to be technical, fragmentation has the primary purpose of controlling a bullet’s stopping power. Nonetheless, the level of fragmentation varies depending on the specific design, size, and speed at which it moves. This is a significant factor in self-defense applications since there’s no intention to cause severe damage to the target. The only purpose is to hinder its harmful intentions. 

concealed carry


Recoil is the effect of shooting a gun. That’s why it is undeniably a relevant factor in managing your weapon. To be specific, choosing a caliber with less recoil can make it easier for you to manage it. When it comes to evaluating what is the best caliber for concealed carry, comparing the recoil is one of the most helpful ways to determine what is best of the best. 

Ballistics Research 

Ballistic research is a kind of analysis primarily involved in assessing a firearm’s quality, features, and capacity. The essential factors included in ballistic research include velocity, manufacturer, barrel length, rated muzzle energy, gun type, cartridge type, and weight grain. At the same time, this research is also about evaluating recoil. 

Recoil or effect of shooting the gun or the kickback is the term used to describe what you can feel when you fire your weapon. Basically, it is a pushback feeling that you, as a shooter, can feel. At the same time, when a gun is fired with a projectile forward, it will typically deliver an equal force in the opposite direction.

Clearly, recoil is an issue when firing a gun. The great news is that there are different helpful ways that you can prepare for the recoil. Following are some you can do: 

  • Regularly practice proper stance.
  • Choose a heavier handgun. 
  • Frequently and consistently shoot so you can get accustomed to the recoil. 

Best Caliber for Concealed Carry

Even the most expensive caliber is not automatically the best caliber for concealed carry. Realistically speaking, the best calibers really vary from case to case basis. There is no perfectly designed caliber, but there is always the best one for specific applications. Ultimately, you can figure out the best caliber for concealed carry by comparing them. 

Buckle up because you can explore some of the most well-known concealed carry ammo in this guide here. Each caliber is detailed, so you can choose the best one that suits your needs and preferences. So, take a closer look at them below.  

best handgun caliber


The 9mm caliber is known by different names, such as 9x19mm round, 9mm NATO, 9mm Luger, and 9mm Parabellum. Whichever name it goes, it remains the most common pistol round, being always readily available and a favorite handgun of countless gun enthusiasts. To prove its popularity, most defense agents, including law enforcement agencies and militaries, utilized it. 

Compared to other calibers meant for concealed carry, 9mm has a reasonable level of stopping power that provides an advantage for defense purposes. Hence, it is no wonder that it belongs to the list of the best caliber for concealed carry. What’s good is this caliber is flexible and compatible with sub-compact, several compact, and full-size model pistols

Almost every gun manufacturer offers a wide range of concealed carry handguns chambered in this caliber. Well, that’s no wonder since gun enthusiasts are genuinely spoiled with impressive and varying grain sizes and designs. Not only that, but the caliber is also available in different materials, such as polymer, copper, and lead bullet designs. 

Commonly, guns of this caliber can perform with incredible reliability, adequate stopping power, and low recoil. What makes them great is that even with only a good level of stopping power, the shot’s accuracy is never compromised. As for the price, the caliber is exceptionally affordable. Therefore, many choose it as a default caliber because of many good reasons driven by its excellent overall quality. 

.45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP)

Arguably, one of the default options for self-defense, the .45 ACP undeniably belongs to the list of the most sought-after calibers. In fact, it is the carry round utilized by the US Military for almost a century back then. Hence, there is no question about its defensive potential. This caliber can expand dramatically to provide impressive penetration when you secure good hollow points and placement. 

Even though the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) has not the same popularity as the 9mm caliber, the demand is there, and it is for good reasons. As a matter of fact, the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol caliber has space for space in self-defense. Thanks to its pretty high demand, it is one of the most affordable calibers you can choose.  

Performance-wise, this caliber has good penetration and manageable recoil. Interestingly, the affordable price is not the only reason the .45 ACP has high demand in the market. Its compatibility advantage with different guns is another reason it is widely used. 

.357 Magnum

In terms of flexibility, the .357 Magnum cartridge is excellent. Besides its compatibility with handguns, it is also a suitable caliber for some rifles and carbines. That’s a good characteristic since this caliber is also part of the top handgun cartridges today. It is quite a dominant defensive handgun caliber.

Even better, the caliber can be more than adequate for defensive purposes and hunting adventures, with just ensuring good hollow points. Back then, it was used primarily for revolvers. Thanks to its high stopping power and versatile compatibility, it has become a popular choice for other weapons as well. 

When it comes to volatility, the .357 Magnum caliber is known for that. In particular, a gun that utilizes it performs a high amount of recoil that can surely punch when you shoot. However, you don’t have to feel that it is a disadvantage since the stopping power compensates for the trouble of powerful recoil. Thus, it remains manageable even with duty-sized or large-framed revolvers.

Commonly, the handguns compatible with this caliber are pretty heavy. For that reason, you might not have gotten to enjoy rapid-fire shots. That sounds like a genuine disadvantage, but the weight is also the one that makes the handgun steady, providing impressive accuracy. 

.380 ACP

The .380 ACP caliber is known as the shorter version of 9mm. That’s one of its charms that makes it in demand. Handguns designed in this caliber have less magazine space and light recoil, are easier to conceal and operate, and are much more affordable. While many think it doesn’t come with much stopping power, it remains a capable defensive round. 

Moreover, this caliber is designed rimless and straight-walled. It is mainly advertised as a round for self-defense. With its good quality, the .380 ACP can be a good shot with far more to do with stopping a threat. That’s why it is no wonder that it is used as a primary weapon utilized by law enforcement. 

Overall, the .380 ACP guns can deliver less force and recoil, along with high accuracy levels at the same time. 

.22 LR

Developed back in the 1850s, the .22 LR caliber has a genuinely long history. What makes it impressive is that it remains one of the most popular and affordable handgun calibers for concealed carry. Even with tough competition, it is still an excellent caliber at this time. Impressively, it is still one of the lightest possible rounds for concealed carry. It really passed the test of time. 

Like any other best caliber for concealed carry, the .22 LR caliber is also quite versatile. That’s why many gun models are chambered for it. Primarily, it is utilized by amateur shooters and is suitable for shooting competitions. That’s all thanks to the caliber’s low noise and recoil. However, it does not have much power as other rounds can offer. 

Despite not having much power, the .22 LR remains on the best caliber for concealed carry list. Hence, it is famous for self-defense purposes. After all, .22 LR guns have a low weight, short-range accuracy because of low stopping power, and great price range. Meanwhile, it doesn’t come with specialized rounds, which seems like one of many flaws. 

If you are searching for a lightweight starter round, you can never go wrong with the .22 LR caliber. However, if you need more power and can handle a bigger round, it is much better to conceal carry a bigger round. 

.40 S&W

Aside from concealed carry applications, the .40 S&W caliber is truly versatile in that it is a popular caliber option for self-defense and law enforcement. In addition, it is also known as a straight and rimless pistol cartridge. It is a popular choice for medium-frame handguns and pistol primers. Ultimately, it is a concealed carry best caliber.  

Interestingly, you can easily reconstruct the .40 to 9mm. All you must do is change the magazine and the barrel. On the other hand, the prominent flaw of the .40 caliber handgun is that it is quite challenging to find its ammunition. Also, the recoil of these guns is significant, so you must practice with this type of gun if you choose it. 

.38 Special

Technically speaking, the .38 Special is just a subcategory of the .38 caliber. However, it is more of an upgrade in terms of compatibility since the .38 caliber has been a century old. Hence, it has become quite challenging to find firearms compatibility with it. With that being said, the .38 Special caliber has become a more popular option for self-defense. 

Moreover, other differences between the .38 and .38 Special caliber are their pressure and case length. As for the .38 Special caliber, it comes with lower pressure and is typically slower. With those characteristics, it performs with more accuracy and less recoil. That said, this caliber suits well in small pocket, hammerless revolvers.

What’s more advantageous about being a special caliber is that the .38 Special features black powder. Because of that, it produces way less smoke. Hence, there will also be more minor clogs up on your barrels. 


An ultimate caliber for hunting and self-defense, that’s what best describes the 10mm caliber. Close to reality, it is not perfect. So, despite having superior and full-power loads, the 10mm caliber has a notable issue regarding recoil. The more power it has, the more recoil produced. However, you will appreciate the power if you are willing to put up with that flaw. 

Also, the 10mm caliber is known for its versatility, making it compatible with different firearm models. Many think it is not a good option for concealed carry because of seemingly excessive recoil. Yet, it is still up to you if you will focus more on its positive or negative sides. 

.25 ACP

The .25 ACP caliber is intentionally designed to duplicate the ballistic performance of the .22 LR. At the same time, it is made for semi-automatic pistols and early blowback pistols with no breach locking mechanisms. The .25 ACP can handle smaller pistols much better than other calibers. 

On the other hand, this caliber has a low level of stopping power, is short-range, and is more expensive than .22 LR. Besides that, it is also considered a flaw that most guns chambered .25 ACP appear too small for a regular-sized hand. Hence, they can be quite tricky and uncomfortable to shoot. Despite those flaws, it is still a decent caliber for self-defense and concealed carry. 

best caliber for concealed carry weapon

Frequently Asked Questions

Have some more questions in your mind or things you want to clarify regarding the best caliber for concealed carry? If so, check out some of the questions frequently asked about it and the other related topics below. 

Here you go, so have a look. 

Is a .40 caliber stronger than 9mm?

Initially, many will choose the stronger bullet as it delivers the much more needed performance in shooting, especially in self-defense applications. As for the comparison between the .40 caliber and 9mm bullet, the strong power is determined by the weight. It is a significant factor that influences the energy delivered in each bullet. 

Between the two, .40 caliber is heavier. Thus, according to the weight concept, it can deliver more substantial energy. Also, it comes with a great diameter which directly correlates with a higher level of stopping power. Hence, it is suitable in self-defense situations requiring the capacity to disable the assailant efficiently. 

On the other hand, 9mm is a better choice for beginners since it has a lesser amount of recoil to produce, allowing them to be more accustomed to the reaction of the gun. At the same time, it is also a cheaper bullet. Hence, there will be less of a guilty feeling about regularly practicing with it. 

What is the easiest gun for concealed carry?

When it comes to concealed carry weapons, handguns are the most accessible type of gun to always carry for self-defense. As for choosing the best handguns, that’s not an easy task. You can get confused about finding the most incredible models with overwhelming options. 

Of course, some scores are high in terms of the essential factors to consider, such as capacity, ergonomics, and shooting ability. To help you, the handguns that can perform impressively in those factors are SMITH & WESSON M&P SHIELD M2.0, GLOCK 19, SIG SAUER P365, RUGER LCR, and many more for sure. 

What caliber gun do cops carry?

Truly, it is pretty interesting to know what caliber of handguns cops carry in their gun belts. As for the latest standard duty caliber in their firearms, the 9mm caliber undeniably has supremacy compared to others. 

Interestingly, it is a stolen dominance since the 40 Smith & Wesson cartridge was the ultimate law enforcement round back then. More specifically, 30 years ago. The reason for the change is many factors, but the price also significantly contributes to that. 

Is .380 more caliber powerful than 9mm?

When it comes to power, the 9mm caliber is the more powerful of the two in overall aspects. As for the .380 caliber round, it is not entirely inferior to 9mm since it also has the edge on other essential factors, such as it is easier to handle, cheaper, and more manageable to handle and conceal compared to the 9mm caliber. 

Can a .380 caliber round stop an attacker?

If you are in the process of finding the best caliber for concealed carry in self-defense applications, you will genuinely like a .380 caliber round since it has more than enough capacity and power to stop an attacker from endangering you. 

Even though this caliber round’s muzzle velocity and power are not equivalent to the impressive 9mm caliber, it remains a capable caliber round that can effectively penetrate tissue to put down and stop an attacker. Hence, it is an excellent choice for personal defense. 

Meanwhile, you also need to practice your shooting skill because having concealed carry best caliber is not enough. Essentially, excellent shooting skill and reliable caliber must be a pair because shot placement is king for successful self-defense. 

How much ammo capacity is enough for self-defense?

No doubt, another pretty interesting topic regarding self-defense is how much ammo capacity is enough for it. When it comes to the information from the overwhelming instances where an armed civilian fires a shot in self-defense, a high percentage tells that most of them already settled the situation with just 3 to 4 rounds on average. 

On the other hand, some of the said armed civilians have already resolved the circumstances with just the help of one to two rounds. Every once in a while, some circumstances require 5 to 8 rounds. As for the exact ammo capacity needed, this is no exact number to say. What’s more vital than that is to know how to recognize danger.

In fact, many think that without the specific threat to safety from an enemy, the odds of needing to use that concealed carry weapon are not that high. That’s why it is more important to focus on enhancing your shooting skill instead. That way, you don’t need many rounds to resolve the situation. 

Is the .357 Magnum caliber more powerful than a 9mm?

9mm, as being one of the most popular concealed carry calibers, is often compared to another different caliber round. This time its power is compared to .357 Magnum caliber. Speaking about ballistics, the .357 Magnum caliber comes with more energy that helps it to outperform the 9mm caliber. What’s more interesting is that it has no problems reaching the FBI standards, even exceeding what’s expected. 

Are revolvers suitable for concealed carry?

Revolvers are one of the weapons that are intentionally for concealed carry. In fact, many revolver models are the best for concealed carry in a human body with the help of a good gun belt. The majority of the revolvers are made to be small and lightweight. For that reason, you won’t have to worry about carrying one with you always as the gun is comfortable to conceal. 

Where to buy the best caliber for concealed carry?

Online, you can find different reliable sites that offer the best caliber round. Some of the trustworthy online stores you can buy from include Cabela’s, Brownells, and Palmetto State Armory. With that being said, there’s no need to bother worrying about buying from online stores because purchasing from them barely differs from actually buying from local stores. 

Final Thoughts

There you go, the list of the best caliber for concealed carry. So, if you ever need to have a concealed carry weapon, you already have a precise idea about the concealed carry best caliber to choose. As for what’s the most suited caliber for you, you need to reflect on your shooting requirements since each caliber is excellent in particular applications. 

For instance, the .380 is ideal for smaller shooters, while the .45 caliber is meant for smaller shooters. Ultimately, most shooters think 9mm is the best caliber for concealed carry. That said, you must know what you need to get it. Hopefully, you have gained some helpful information in this guide here to find the best caliber for concealed carry weapons suitable for you. 

Check out the Survival Gear Shack website for more helpful guides and reviews on shooting, guns, and many more. Surely, you can see more useful information than you imagine, so take your time to visit our site today. 

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

Similar Posts