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5 Best New Compact Carry Guns for 2018

SHOT Show 2018 is over...here's our favorite new carry guns for 2018. Stay tuned for in-depth reviews on all the ones we can get our hands on.

SHOT Show is done…

While there’s quite a lot of new ARs, hunting rifles, target guns, competition guns, and guns for every other purpose and need, one of the most exciting genres will always be new carry guns.

2018 is going to be an excellent year for those looking to pick-up their first carry piece, or for all my fellow gun-nuts that just need a few more options (always just ooooonnneee more, right folks?).

Here are some of the most exciting new compact carry options available this year.

Table of Contents


Why These Guns?

You may notice all of these guns are from long-established giants in the firearms industry… and there’s a reason for that.  These guns all have a heritage of reliability and performance.

That’s not to say there aren’t a number of excellent CCW options out there from other companies.  I’d heartily recommend Kahr, Canik, CZ, and several others, but for industry support you won’t be able to beat the guns on this list.

I’ve also left out revolvers like the Charter Arms Bulldog XL and the new Kimber K6s ($850) because most folks are carrying semi-autos these days.

Be sure to check out the review from our friends at Lucky Gunner if you like revolvers.

And…this is a list of new guns.  If you want to see our evergreen list…check out Best Concealed Carry Guns which is organized by caliber.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the guns.

1. Sig Sauer P365

The belle of the ball for SHOT Show 2018.  Ask anyone what was the top 3 coolest new things that came out during the show and I bet almost 100% will list the P365 in their list.

AND…it’s already available for pre-order.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

10+1 capacity in a micro-compact configuration thanks to a new double-stacked magazine.

Sig P365 Magazine Lengths
Sig P365 Magazine Lengths

Also three different “lengths” of the magazine to fit any sized mitts.

  • Standard 10 round magazine
  • Extended 10 round magazine
  • 12-round magazine

I especially liked how the standard 10 magazine fit my three lower fingers.

Sig Sauer P365
Sig Sauer P365

And for people with bigger hands…the extended 10 round and the 12 round will be sure to fit.

I was at the booth for around 10 minutes and everyone that came over loved the fit (great traction on the grip) and very decent striker trigger.

Stay tuned for an in-depth review coming soon.

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (2398)

Your Rating?

2. GLOCK 19 Gen 5

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

First up is a gun that was actually released in 2017, but one that will no-doubt have a strong showing this year, and  in the years to come.

The GLOCK 19 is, in many ways, the standard to which all other CCW pistols are judged.  The Gen 4 19 was one of the most popular carry guns the world over, and still sees good sale numbers, even though it’s no longer being made.

The Gen 5 19 comes with a full 20 upgrades from its Gen 4 predecessor, including a GLOCK Marksman barrel, flared magwell to facilitate faster reloads, a more robust finish, and ambidextrous slide stops (left-handers rejoice).

GLOCK also did away with the much-maligned finger grooves from the Gen 4 version, which is a decision I wholeheartedly endorse as someone who’s fingers just don’t line up with Gaston’s vision on the ideal human.

Overall, you couldn’t ask for better aftermarket support than what you’ll find for GLOCK products, and you’re getting a gun from a company that is the first and last word in reliability.

This thing was mentioned by almost every one of our writers when we asked for their go-to carry pieces, and its a gun I’ve trusted my life to, and actually defended my life with.  It’s hard to come up with a higher recommendation than that.

What’s not to love?

The G19 made our list of great GLOCKs–see what else did!

3. Ruger Security 9

Well, the price, for one. With even the older Gen 4 19s going for $550+ when not on sale, its difficult to recommend the new 19 to the cash-strapped among us.

Worry not, the Ruger Security 9 is here to fill the GLOCK 19-shaped hole in your heart without making a hole in your wallet.

ruger security 9

The new Security 9 is virtually the same size as the 19 in every direction, and even has a fairly similar grip angle.  It also comes in the same 15+1 capacity as the 19.

It comes with the same mild grip texturing as the LCP II, and is in almost every way a budget version of the GLOCK 19, aside from being hammer-fired.

It also has one of, if not the absolute best, factory triggers in this price range.  I’d be comfortable calling this trigger good in a gun that cost twice as much as the Security 9. 

My only real niggles are the sights which are a similar ball-and-bucket, U dot affair… just like factory GLOCK sights, which I also don’t love.  It also comes with a thumb safety which is aggressively unnecessary in my opinion, but I’m a long-time GLOCK guy.  

I’m sure you dirty, filthy 1911 people will just loooove having it. (ED note: 1911s are awesome, Matt is just grumpy cause he can’t shoot them for shit).

Beyond that, the slide rails are aluminum, which should only be a problem if you’re a high-volume shooter.  I put 400ish rounds through the Security 9 I borrowed without any noticeable issue, but you may want to check your rails for wear after a while, and be sure to keep everything clean and lubed to get the most life out of your gun.

This is definitely something to be aware of if you’re shooting something like IDPA or other competition, but other than that it shouldn’t be a huge problem in a carry piece, just an extra thing to check when cleaning.

The big thing with the Security 9 is of course the one area that it thoroughly kicks the GLOCK 19’s ass: price.

I have seen, on numerous occasions, a brand new Security 9 on sale for less than $300.  That’s about 50% of what you’ll pay for a new Gen 5 19 at your local gun store.  I think the lowest I’ve seen it go for was maybe $275.

That’s right.  For the low price of 2 ⅔ Highpoints, or about the same as a surplus Mosin, you can have a solid shooting, accurate, near carbon copy of the best all-around carry gun ever.  That’s hard to argue with.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this for those who are looking for a first carry piece and landed on “I’ll buy a GLOCK 19 when I have the money.”  The Security 9 is a great entry into the world of carrying a firearm, and its size and affordability mean it’s perfect for those looking to start carrying for the first time.

It has a very forgiving form factor for concealment, while still remaining large enough that it’s easy to shoot.  Comparing it directly to a GLOCK 19 again, recoil is a little bit stiffer because of the lighter recoil spring, but it’s also easier to rack the slide because of this, which would make it good for shooters that don’t quite have the strength to work a slide as well as they’d like.

My mother has arthritis and is generally a bit on the smaller side and she much preferred the Security 9 to my 19, even with my tuned springs, so that’s something to think about as well.

4. Springfield Armory XD-E .45ACP

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Early last year, Springfield Armory released the XD-E in 9mm, and it was met with a lot of good press.  I personally loved my time with the 9mm version so like many of my colleagues in the industry, I perked up when Springfield Armory released the .45 ACP version last November.

The XD-E in 9mm is an imminently shootable little gun, and the same can be said for the .45 ACP version.  Its dual-spring recoil system makes for a soft shooting .45, and its Low Effort Slide means that like the Security 9 above, it’s great for shooters without the hand strength to work stiffer slides.

If you’re looking for a hammer-fired carry piece, I’d strongly recommend the XD-E series.  Springfield Armory put a lot of effort into making the hammer on the XD-E series as ergonomic and easy to work as possible, with an aggressive texture and a shape designed to facilitate solid contact in any conditions, the likelihood of fumble-fingering the hammer even in a high-stress defensive situation is relatively low.

It’s this commitment to making a gun that is imminently usable in a defensive situation that I like.  It’s already a sturdy, reliable weapons platform, and according to the folks at The Firearm Blog, the .45ACP chambering option is a direct response to customer feedback saying they’d like the additional stopping power of the .45ACP in the same form factor as the 9mm version.

“Our customer told us they’d like the fight-stopping power of a .45 ACP, with the easy carry of our XD-E Series,” says Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. “The new XD-E .45 gives them exactly what they asked for: a no-compromise .45 weapon that forges quickness and control into a pistol so comfortable against their body they’ll carry it everywhere.”

I, personally, would absolutely carry the XD-E, even given my short time on the trigger.  I’ve heard not one word of complaint regarding reliability, and I was able to put a full magazine in one ragged hole at both 7 and 15 yards, even with the combat rear sight and relatively short sight radius.

 If I was going to carry a hammer-fired .45 ACP firearm, the XD-E would almost certainly win my vote, especially with my relative lack of ability with 1911’s. (ED: See?)

Don’t get me wrong, I love a 1911, and I compete with a 2011 which is obviously similar, but something about my hand on a single-stack 1911 just doesn’t work as well as it does with other guns.  

I can still produce good groups with a 1911, but I have to work harder at it, and they don’t point as instinctively for me as say, a GLOCK-shaped GLOCK.  For that reason, I will gladly shoot them, and compete with them, and even carry them if I have no other options available, but I wouldn’t actively choose to carry one over say, a .45 ACP GLOCK.

With the XD-E though, my groups were as effortlessly tight as with even the GLOCK 34 that is my other competition pistol, granted I didn’t stretch the XD-E’s shorter sight radius out to longer distances like I would with either my 2011 or my GLOCK.  But it’s a carry piece.

And normally, I’d say I’d want a striker-fired .45 ACP over a hammer-fired one, even with a DA/SA trigger (modern defensive ammo is almost certainly not going to misfire because of a hard primer, so the double-action capability is less of a selling point these days when it comes to worrying about light strikes.)

The XD-E’s hammer is a beautiful blend of form and function though and it is truly a joy to use, and it makes for an even lighter slide rack, which is great for some shooters, and makes the prospect of chambering a round one-handed in an emergency a much less worrisome prospect.

Of course, that’s beyond the fact that if you’re racking the slide one-handed in an emergency, something has already gone wrong somewhere.

5. Smith and Wesson M&P9C 2.0

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

I’ve already discussed my deep and abiding fondness for my GLOCKs, and so it’d be perfectly understandable for you to think that I hold no fondness in my heart for the M&P series from Smith and Wesson.

You’d be absolutely correct in fact.  I know people like Jerry Miculek swear by (and are sponsored by) Smith and Wesson, particularly the M&P series, but I have always greeted the M&P series with a resounding “meh” when it comes to both competition and carry.

The grip is aggressively mediocre, the gun is widely unintuitive to point, and its generally regarded as an exquisitely functional gun with shockingly lack-luster ergonomics.

The M&P 2.0 Series, is a horse of a completely different color.

Granted, I have undoubtedly ruined myself when it comes to grip angles because I’ve mangled my hands into thinking that GLOCK’s weird grip angle is normal, but I absolutely loved the way the M&P9c 2.0 felt in my hand.  

The texturing is extremely grippy without feeling like you’re holding onto a cheese grater with a taste for human flesh, the grip angle just…works.  It feels like you’re holding a gun designed by actual humans with human-shaped hands who wanted other humans to successfully shoot their pistol.

Overall, I’d say if you have no bias towards grip angle, or want to start with a gun that won’t give you a bias, unlike what many GLOCK and 1911 shooter’s do, I’d definitely say give the M&P9c a shot (pun absolutely intended).

The guns relatively lower bore axis and stellar geometry also makes for a phenomenally soft-shooting gun that really shines on the double-tap and rapid fire.  A lower bore axis means less vertical muzzle flip, and thus and easier time keeping your sights on the target.  A job made even easier by the 2.0 Series’ combat-style three dot sights.

I also appreciate the fact that S&W offers the gun both with and without an external safety.  Thumb safeties on a carry gun are largely a matter of preference, and its good to see both options available.  The best gun to carry is the gun you’re most confident in carrying, and I hold no grudge against those who like a thumb safety, even if I eschew them on all my guns.

Finally, we have to talk about the trigger.  The original M&P trigger was…not great, as I’m sure most of you have heard.  For the most part, I’d say the 2.0 series addresses most of the complaints leveled at the original, but as others have noted, the curve of the trigger shoe is a little bit too…curved.

I’d thoroughly appreciate a less extreme curve to the trigger face, but I like nice flat go pedals on my guns, like the ones in my upgraded Buckmark.  I just couldn’t get my finger completely comfortable on the trigger in the M&P9C 2.0, but that’s absolutely something that can be solved either with training, or an aftermarket upgrade.

Parting Shots

These guns are all relatively new to market, but have already made a big splash.  If you’re looking to upgrade your carry, or start carrying for the first time this year, these are the options I’d look at first if you’re seeking something in the compact size range.

Which of these carry options do you like the most?  Is there an option you think I should have included?  Let me know in the comments below.  These were the new guns…how about overall our Best Concealed Carry Guns: By Caliber?

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28 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    I bought an Honor Defense Honor Guard 9mm for c&c. I believe it was my best choice. I have big hands and for a small pistol is a nice fit. Fires well, accurate and dependable. 100% made in the USA by a veteran owned company. Give it a look some time.

    February 10, 2021 6:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kerry Murray

    I just bought the Glock 19 Gen 5. Everyone in my town was sold out. Found the last one in academy and bought it on the spot. So far I absolutely love this gun. I see why it is on everyone's list.

    June 8, 2020 5:19 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jay Meachum

    Sig P320 is GLARINGLY missing from this post. Especially "Post Drop-Gate". I would put the new version up against ANY sidearm, especially the G19. Personally, I carry that and the P365.

    August 9, 2018 4:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Peter Skroback

    Let's compare warranties. I think Ruger sucks hind teat in that department. Maybe that's why the price is so low, so you can buy 2.

    August 7, 2018 11:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ken Schaefer

    The Springfield doesn't have the double safety, springy thing on the back strap like the full size XD has, correct.
    One safety is enough. If you really feel you need one on a striker fired weapon... Personally, I like the Sig, I've seen the specs and think " size matters," when it comes to CCW.
    Thanks for the review. Ken

    July 17, 2018 6:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I am quite impressed with the Sig P365 which I've had for about a week now. It seems to be the newer generation, with bugs worked out. In any case, it functioned flawlessly with a mix of several hundred 9 mm rounds, including +P orphans and NATO fodder. All were pleasant to shoot and I could cover the groups with the palm of my hand out to 15 yards. (Once I get to the optometrist for much needed new glasses, I am sure those groups will shrink!)

    The trigger was what I'd call "eminently shootable," meaning that it is just fine and one should simply get on with the job of taking a good shot! Plus, I know a few hundred more rounds, plus dry-firing, will change it's character anyway. Nothing to change here.

    The only change I would make would be to widen the notch on the rear sight a bit more -a bold but needed modification. It is a shame they didn't do that, as the new Sig sights just pop!out! and help form a great sight picture against any background. The narrowness of the groove, however, hinders quick sight acquisition just when the sights are most needed, for longer distances.

    But this handgun has it's special secrets. The comfortable grip slyly belies the fact that the pistol conceals a full 10 + 1 rounds of 9 mm, and when I recieve my 12-round magazine, I will be embarrassingly close to matching the cartridge capacity of a Browning Hi-Power. Quite a feat! My, my, what have we here? Indeed, what have we here? Perhaps a game changer?

    July 10, 2018 2:08 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Connor H

    I’m actually looking forward to the Taurus TH compact. I know,I know, it’s a Taurus- but the G2 Milleniums have been solid, reliable, comfortable, accurate, and affordable carry guns.

    The market is seeming to start getting over the striker fired craze, my first handgun was an XDM, but I’ve moved almost completely to DA/SA. Unfortunately many newer shooters have only ever fired a striker firearm. The triggers are just so spongy.. and the TH looks like it might be a good, affordable entry level way of turning more newer shooters on to DA/SA.

    June 15, 2018 11:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you for yet another informative article

    June 7, 2018 5:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Luv my Kimber Mini .380 to Carry. A little pricey but well worth it. I like it more than the Sig 238. Highly recommend

    April 19, 2018 8:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The first pistol I ever bought was a Glock19 (gen 3 or 4 - I can never remember). I still own it, and it's a fine gun, but as boring as can be. On the other hand, the most recent pistol I bought was an M&P9 2.0 full-size (5" barrel), and I like it very much. For that reason alone I think I'd give the M&P9 Compact a try. The XD-E is tempting too, but I'm just not a fan of DA/SA guns.

    January 31, 2018 12:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      The full size 2.0 9mm is going to be my next pistol. I rented one at my local range and loved every minute of it.

      August 2, 2018 5:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I wonder why the Rex Zero 1 pistols aren't mentioned. They are suppose to be great guns.

    January 31, 2018 11:18 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Matthew Collins

      Honestly the reason a lot of niche guns like that won't be on a list like this comes down to parts availability and availability of the actual guns. AREX stuff is really hard to find, and the list of aftermarket manufacturers is basically nonexistent.

      February 13, 2018 10:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Haley

    I often wonder why some don't appreciate a thumb safety. It seems to me that if you don't like it you don't have to use it, but you have the option. Kind of like the emergency brake on your car.

    January 31, 2018 8:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Matthew Collins

      I can't speak for everybody, but for me, I like the manual of arms on all my carry guns to be as similar as possible, with as little opportunity for mistakes. If I'm practicing my draw, I want to always have the same draw a thousand times, not a different draw depending on whether or now my gun has a thumb safety. And if my gun has a thumb safety, I HAVE to check it and make sure it's disengaged on the draw, just in case its been bumped, or otherwise accidentally engaged. That's time wasted, and an extra variable that I, personally, do not want.

      That being said, there are tons of people who won't carry a gun without a thumb safety which is totally, absolutely, 100% fine. It's just not for me.

      February 13, 2018 10:54 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      True, and many now have the option to buy with or without. But I would caution against having one and not using it since it could end up engaging. Then when you need it...you never trained to disengage.

      February 13, 2018 9:08 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        You shouldn't carry then.

        April 14, 2018 10:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      EXACTLY, I have been thinking the same thing !!!!!!

      March 17, 2018 10:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David Chapman

      I agree regarding external safeties. BTW - for the "you have to check it, I can't get used to it" crowd - you are MUCH more likely to have an AD than use your concealed handgun for its intended purpose. Go look at the statistics. And the You Tube videos. Dozen's of "experts" letting a loose round go; especially during re-holstering. AD's have been on a constant rise since the introduction of striker fired handguns without external safeties. Those same AD's were not nearly as common with SA/DA's like the Beretta 92/96 and S&W 3rd generation. It's all in the training. You can manipulate any firearm if you train enough.

      November 26, 2018 9:37 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      it' s just unnecessary , trigger safeties are more than enough and adding more steps to make your weapon usable in a situation that may well depend on time is just redundant. And 1911 safeties in particular are in a bad spot, I grip high on my pistols and have, on several occasions engaged the safety without meaning to.

      April 1, 2022 12:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have been carrying a S&W Shield 9mm, sans thumb safety of course, for about 2 years now. Every year new features are released or a new "gen" or a new dot-o version hits the market. You can spend a lifetime chasing features, but find one that is comfortable both in your hand and on your waist, one you can manage the recoil, and one you are confident in and then spend time on the range. There is no substitute for practice, accuracy, and confidence. I have never, and hope to never be, in a position where I have to pull the weapon, but I am sure the "bad guy" is less interested in the features, angles, aesthetics, etc... of the gun vs you putting your rounds right where you want them. Just my $.02. .

    January 31, 2018 8:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Matthew Collins

      This is definitely a good point as well. This list is more for folks who either don't already have a carry gun in their life, or are actively looking to upgrade or expand your collection. At the end of the day, the gun you're most comfortable shooting is going to be the gun you should carry. In many cases these new guns like the Gen 5 Glocks or the new M&P series have features that make them a little easier for the general populace to carry, but sometimes the gun that's designed for everybody fits perfectly on nobody, and there are always going to be people that prefer the model they first got comfortable with. And that's totally fine.

      February 13, 2018 10:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I sort of have my eye on the Walther PPQ sub-compact :-)

    January 30, 2018 5:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Personally I'd go with the H&K VP9sk if you're looking in that size range and capacity. Love mine!

      March 14, 2018 12:56 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        John Davis

        Oh shoot. I forgot about that one. It has better ergonomics. Smooooth!

        March 30, 2018 8:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John Davis

      Great gun. Good eye!

      March 30, 2018 8:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    american Patriot

    You should at least be original, but I guess if your articles are geared for individuals that know nothing about guns then you can talk like a pro...

    January 30, 2018 5:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I’n reference too??

      March 18, 2018 6:32 pm
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