Best .45 Pistols for Concealed Carry


In 2020, we have a plethora of options in .45 ACP carry-sized guns.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does highlight many of the best options for .45 pistols.

We’ll separate our picks by three categories: single-stack pistols, stagger-stack pistols and revolvers.

Single-Stack .45 Pistols

As you will see in the chart below, from a size perspective there is not a lot of difference between the five options I have chosen to highlight.  The barrels all run from 3” to 3.3”.

The overall lengths range from a hair under 6.5” to just a bit over.  The weights range from 19 to 25.6 ounces.  The capacity does vary a bit, in that it runs from 5+1 to 7+1.

In absolute numbers, that is not a lot, but a 25% increase is significant.  With that being said, people routinely carry five and six-shot revolvers.

The biggest differences are going to be user ergonomics, 1911 (pattern) or not, and price.  There is no way to really discuss ergonomics, as everyone feels them differently.

For some, all of these guns are just too small for their hands.  For others, one will fit them quite well.  The Colt Defender and the Kimber Ultra CDP are 1911-style guns.

This means that despite their diminutive size, they have the grip angle and manual of arms of a 1911.  For those who are comfortable with that, it will go a long way towards working for them.

The XD-S is sort of a hybrid, in that it has some of the attributes of a 1911 married to a plastic-fantastic package.  The other choices are very much not 1911’s in any way.

As far as price goes, really all you can say is the 1911-style guns tend to be much higher.  However, retail prices are quite varied, so no attempt to compare by price will be done.

Not to mention, paying a bit higher price for a gun that WORKS for you is money well spent in comparison to one that does not.

Firearm Barrel Length Overall Length Capacity Weight
S&W Shield 45 3.3″ 6.5″ 6+1 20.8 oz
Kahr CW45 3.64″ 6.32″ 5+1 19 oz
Springfield XD-S 45 3.3″ 6.5″ 6+1 23 oz
Kimber Ultra CDP 3″ 6.5″ 5+1 25.6 oz
Colt Defender 3″ 6.75″ 7+1 24 oz

Stagger-Stack .45 Pistols:

There are fewer options in what I call the “stagger-stack” mags.  These guns do not have single-stack mags, but in an attempt to reduce width, they are certainly not double-stacked either.

By widening the magazine a bit, a few more cartridges can be stuffed in without changing the height of the gun much.

The differences here are a bit more pronounced, but just barely.  The barrels are all fairly close to 3.75” long.  The overall lengths are pretty close to 7.25”.

The GLOCK is quite a bit lighter, at just over 20 ounces, while the other two are very close to six ounces heavier.  This is slightly odd, as the GLOCK has the larger capacity at 10+1, but it does have a thicker grip and polymer magazines.

Again, just like with the single-stack options, the real determinants will be the things that do not show up on the spec sheet.  Is the GLOCK too chunky to hide easily or is extra width of the grip less comfortable?

Does the weight of the other two make you less likely to carry them?  Does one of them fit your hand and shoot really well?  Is price a large consideration?

Only you can tell, and it really takes shooting guns like this to know what works for you, or more importantly what doesn’t.

Firearm Barrel Length Overall Length Capacity Weight
GLOCK 30S 3.78″ 6.97″ 10+1 22.75 oz
Tanfoglio Witness Polymer 3.6″ 7.3″ 8+1 28 oz
H&K 45C 3.94″ 7.24″ 8+1 28.5 oz

There is one other option that is in a class by itself, or at least I can’t find any other .45 pistols with a similarly small footprint.

.45 ACP Revolver:

This may be a great choice for those who want to avoid having to deal with the manual of arms of a semi-auto carry gun and also want a .45 ACP.

I am not sure how large that demographic is, but it seems large enough for this option to have some staying power in the market.  Compared to the lowest capacity of the single-stack options, it is only down one round.

The weight is right in the sweet spot of the middle.  Additionally, this .45 ACP revolver does not require the use of moon clips.

Reloading is a lot slower and a speedloader is much bulkier than a spare magazine, but according to the FBI, the average defensive shooting is over after 1.8 rounds are fired.

That number is certainly HIGH, as they are not counting all the firearm uses when zero rounds are fired.

The great news for those who must have the .45 ACP as their defensive round, there are literally dozens of options.  I have shown a few quality representatives to start your pondering.

Firearm Barrel Length Overall Length Capacity Weight
Charter Arms Pitbull 2.5″ 7.38″ 5 22 oz

What firearms do you actually carry concealed? What makes them work for you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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