How Big is Too Big for Concealed Carry?

Glock 34 vs. Kahr CM9

When it comes to concealed carry, the size of the firearm plays a significant role in both comfort and concealability.

For many individuals, finding the right balance between size and effectiveness is crucial for a successful concealed carry experience.

The question “How Big is Too Big for Concealed Carry?” depends on several factors, including the person’s body size, clothing choices, and personal preferences.

While some people believe that carrying a full-size handgun is too cumbersome, others appreciate the increased capacity and improved ergonomics that larger firearms offer.

It is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another, and individual factors such as height, weight, and hand size all play a role in determining the ideal concealed carry firearm.

Given the wide variety of handguns available today, it is essential for those considering carrying concealed to carefully evaluate their options and test multiple firearms to find the best fit for their needs.

Factors such as concealability, comfort, and shooting performance should all be weighed when selecting the appropriate firearm size for concealed carry.

One often overlooked item is holster choice.

This has a huge impact on how large of a gun you can effectively carry as well as how comfortable it is.

Anyways, let’s dig into it.

Determining Handgun Size

When deciding on a handgun for concealed carry, it is essential to consider the size of the firearm that is appropriate for your body type and preferences.

Factors such as capacity, grip size, ergonomics, and concealment options all play a role in determining the size of the handgun that is right for you.

The capacity of a handgun is an essential factor to consider, as larger guns typically offer greater ammo capacity.

For example, a full-size handgun may hold 15 or more rounds of 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP ammunition, which can be advantageous in a self-defense situation compared to a micro-compact with a 7-round capacity of .380 ACP ammo.

Grip size and ergonomics are also essential when selecting a handgun, as a comfortable grip will impact your ability to shoot accurately and consistently.

Those with larger hands may find full-size handguns more comfortable to hold and operate, while those with smaller hands may prefer a firearm with a more compact grip.

Ensure there is enough space between the side of the gun and the base of your index finger when gripping the handgun for proper trigger press.

The handgun’s size also impacts its concealment possibilities, as larger firearms can be more challenging to conceal effectively.

Some individuals may have no issue carrying a full-size handgun all day; however, this largely depends on body type, wardrobe, holster selection, and tolerance for carrying a larger, heavier firearm.

Lastly, consider the weight and your gear selection when determining the right handgun size for concealed carry.

Larger firearms often come with added weight, but you may still find options within that category that are suitable for everyday carry.

Holster and gear selection can also play a significant role in ensuring comfortable and discreet carry of a larger handgun, so you may need to consider trying different holsters or carrying methods to find what works best for you.

Factors Affecting Concealed Carry

Clothing and Holster Choice

PHLster Enigma
PHLster Enigma

One of the key factors influencing the ability to effectively conceal a firearm is the choice of clothing and holster.

One opinion is that your clothing should be tailored to the size and shape of the firearm being carried.

For instance, loose-fitting clothes can provide better concealment, while tight-fitting clothes may limit the ability to hide a larger firearm effectively.

In addition, the choice of holster is crucial, as it affects the placement of the firearm on the body and its visibility through clothing.

A good holster should provide a secure fit, distribute the weight evenly, and maintain the firearm’s position, even during movement.

Holsters matter and proper holster selection may allow you to wear more form-fitting clothes while maintaining concealability.

Some popular holster options for concealed carry include inside-the-waistband (IWB), outside-the-waistband (OWB), and ankle holsters, each offering varying levels of concealment and accessibility.

Body Type and Size

Another important consideration when it comes to concealed carry is the individual’s body type and size.

People with larger frames can often accommodate larger firearms more comfortably and with better concealment than individuals with smaller frames.

Although, this is not universal.

The placement of the firearm can be adjusted based on body shape, such as having it sit higher or lower on the waist, to find the most comfortable and effective position for concealment.

However, it is important to strike a balance between maximizing concealment and maintaining ease of access to the firearm.

For instance, a larger gun “may” be more difficult to draw quickly in a self-defense situation, especially if the individual has a smaller body frame.

Then again, it may not.

Holster selection and placement have huge impacts on this.

Ideally, concealed carry firearms should be easy to reach and draw, without compromising on concealment.

Balancing Comfort and Concealment

One significant aspect of concealed carry is finding the perfect balance between comfort and concealment.

Smaller firearms may be more comfortable and easier to conceal, while larger ones generally offer greater capacity and can be chambered in more powerful cartridges.

The key is to choose a size that suits your physicality, wardrobe, and comfort preferences.

For those just starting with concealed carry, it’s essential to consider both gun size and holster style.

Some people may find guns with an overall length of 6.5″ to provide a good balance between comfort and firepower.

Popular models include the S&W M&P Shield, Glock 43, Taurus G2, Walther CCP, and others.

Carrying a full-size gun can offer benefits in terms of increased capacity and round size, like 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP, and can be more suitable for those with larger hands.

To comfortably carry larger guns, consider the following tips:

  • Choose a high-quality, comfortable, and secure holster.
  • Adjust your wardrobe to accommodate the larger gun, such as opting for pants with a half or full size larger waistband or opting for clothes made from stretchy materials.
  • Practice carrying and drawing the firearm to become more confident and proficient.

Remember that the ultimate goal is to find a balance between comfort and concealment, as an uncomfortable setup may lead to leaving the firearm at home and defeating the purpose of concealed carry.

Experiment with different gun sizes, holsters, and carry positions until you find the right combination for your needs.

Pros and Cons of Larger Firearms

Glock 19 with Holosun 509t


Larger firearms can offer benefits in terms of shooting experience and accuracy.

With their heavier weight, they tend to produce less felt recoil, making them more comfortable to shoot.

The longer grip and sight radius can also aid in accuracy and handling, allowing for better control and precision when shooting.

Another advantage is the larger ammunition capacity.

Full-size handguns tend to hold more rounds, which may be essential in certain self-defense situations.

For example, a barrel length of 3.5 inches versus a sub-compact’s 3-inch bore allows for better velocity and ‘potentially’ more stopping power.


While larger firearms offer benefits in shooting experience and accuracy, they also present challenges when it comes to concealment.

Their size and weight can make them more difficult to conceal and keep concealed on a daily basis.

This can create issues for an individual who wants to maintain a discreet and low-profile appearance.

Additionally, the larger size may not be suitable for all body types or personal preferences.

A full-size 9mm with a 15-round magazine can be considered large for a person who is shorter or weighs less.

It is important for anyone considering a larger firearm for concealed carry to consider their physical attributes and comfort level when selecting a firearm.

Ultimately, those considering carrying full-size handguns should weigh their advantages and disadvantages, taking into account their personal preferences, shooting skills, and concealability needs.

Pros and Cons of Smaller Firearms

Glock 43x with Holosun 507k X2


Smaller firearms offer several benefits for concealed carry purposes.

One of the most apparent advantages is their ease of concealment.

Due to their compact size, these guns can be more comfortably and discreetly carried in various holsters or clothing options.

Another advantage of smaller firearms is their lightweight nature, which can make carrying them all day less cumbersome.

This ease of carry can increase the likelihood that an individual will consistently carry their weapon for personal protection.

Some say the smaller size of these handguns often allows for faster drawing and target acquisition in self-defense situations.

I’m not 100% sold on this.


While smaller firearms have their advantages, they also come with some drawbacks.

One disadvantage is the increased recoil and muzzle rise when compared to full and mid-size firearms.

This can make them more challenging to shoot accurately, especially for inexperienced shooters or during rapid-fire situations.

Another downside is the limited ammunition capacity of smaller firearms.

Due to their compact design, they usually hold fewer rounds than their full-size counterparts, potentially limiting the user’s ability to defend themselves in a critical situation.

Lastly, smaller handguns can be more difficult to shoot accurately at longer distances due to their shorter sight radius.

Full-size guns typically feature longer barrels and sight radius, making them easier to shoot accurately beyond 15 yards.

This disadvantage may become a limiting factor if the user needs to engage a threat from a distance.

Finding the Right Balance

When considering the size of a gun for concealed carry, it is important to strike a balance between its size, weight, and capacity for personal comfort and optimal concealment.

Factors such as barrel length, grip size, and overall dimensions play a significant role in the comfort and effectiveness of a concealed carry firearm.

Individual preferences and physical characteristics will greatly influence the choice of a suitable gun.

For instance, people with larger hands may find a full-size gun more comfortable and easier to shoot, such as the Glock G17, which offers the benefit of higher capacity and more powerful rounds compared to a micro-compact firearm.

Width is another crucial factor when selecting a concealed carry weapon.

A gun with a narrower profile may be more comfortable and easier to conceal, especially for those with slimmer body types.

I suggest evaluating different aspects of a gun, such as barrel length, grip length, and overall weight, to better understand individual preferences and limitations.

In addition to size and weight, the holster and carry position also contribute to the comfort and concealment of a firearm.

Some popular carry positions include the 1-2 o’clock (appendix) and 4-5 o’clock positions, as they provide a balance between accessibility and comfort.

Testing and Training

When considering the size of a concealed carry firearm, it’s essential to spend time testing and training with different handguns to find the optimal balance between concealment, comfort, and shootability.

To do this, one needs to become familiar with the shooting characteristics of several gun models in different sizes.

To make an informed decision, a person should try out various guns by renting or borrowing them from friends or shooting ranges.

This hands-on experience will provide valuable insight into handling, grip, and overall feel.

If possible, test each firearm with different holsters and carry positions to understand how well it conceals and how quickly it can be drawn in a self-defense scenario.

Besides testing different guns, it’s crucial to develop proficiency in shooting at typical self-defense distances.

Finally, a person must invest in regular training to maintain and improve shooting skills, especially when carrying a larger firearm.

A full-size gun may offer more substantial capacity and improved shootability for those with larger hands, but it requires adapting to different concealment challenges and adopting specific techniques to handle its size and weight effectively.


glock 19 with holosun 509t and glock 43x with holosun 507k X2 and Streamlight TLR-7 Sub

When choosing a concealed carry firearm, factors such as size, weight, and capacity should be carefully considered.

Larger guns offer benefits such as increased round capacity, power, and stability for the shooter.

However, they also come with drawbacks like added weight and more difficulty in concealing the weapon effectively.

For some individuals, a full-size handgun may be a suitable choice if they are able to accommodate the increased weight and size while maintaining a concealed carry position.

This may require additional consideration in terms of wardrobe and carrying method, as well as investing in a quality gun belt to support the added weight.

Ultimately, choosing a concealed carry weapon should be a personal decision based on individual needs, capabilities, and comfort levels.

Regardless of the size of the firearm, responsible gun ownership and continued training will enhance the user’s abilities in self-defense scenarios.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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