Jason Cloninger is a conservative writer, U.S. Navy & Army veteran, business owner, husband of 17 years, father, 2A supporter, & patriot.
.45 Caliber Concealed Carry Pistols
For those who aren't afraid of the .45, or specifically prefer it to others, there's no reason to choose another caliber for your concealed carry weapon. Yes, having a backup is always a good idea. There are those who prefer a semi-auto primary and a wheel-gun backup. Others prefer a large caliber primary, with a smaller caliber backup. Each and every person and different scenario is going to bring about a different choice as to which pistol type or caliber they prefer to have on their person.
However, nothing replaces the stopping power of a .45 caliber round when it comes to personal defense. Combine the mass of a .45 caliber round with the effectiveness of hollow-points and you'll be able to put even the largest assailent on the ground with only one to two rounds. The rest of your magazine will simply have to be for those "just in case" situations, where you have multiple assailants. We took that in mind, along with the factors of slide width, size, ammunition capacity, and price, and decide to evaluate as many candidates as possible. So, for all of your .45 caliber fans out there, here is our Top Ten List of .45 caliber concealed carry pistols!
1. Kahr CW45 & P45
Capacity: 6 + 1
Slide Width: 1.01"
Capacity: 6 + 1
Slide Width: 1.01"
So, what is the difference between the P45 and CW45? Not much for most people to consider. Both weapons are equivalent in appearance, with only a slight difference in weight. The P45 has a match grade barrel, and the CW45 does not. The P45 is only slightly shorter, and most buyers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them laying side by side on the counter at your local gun dealer. The CW only comes with once magazine, where the P comes with three. However, the money saved with the CW can buy more magazines as well as a few other choice components to complement your purchase. The differences between the two Kahr firearms may be small, but the difference between both Kahr models and other concealed carry weapons is significant.
The Kahr P45 and CW45 are the slimmest CCW pistol on the market, offering better concealability and comfort. However, while they are slim, they still have a comfortable fit in your hand. Whether you have large or small hands, the Kahr models seem to have an superior fit for a compact pistol - allowing all fingers to touch the grip, easy trigger access, as well as a comfortable 5lb. trigger pull. All in all, the Kahr CW45 and P45 are the top model pick for your .45 caliber concealed carry pistol.
Kahr CW45 & P45 Review
2. Sig Sauer - P250 Compact
P250 .45 Compact
Capacity: 9 + 1
Slide Width: 1.3"
Weight: 26.9 oz
While we are looking at a thicker and heavier pistol for concealed carry, the P250 performs far too well on the range for us not to place it high on our list. The price is extremely reasonable for a Sig Sauer, and just gun just performs too well for anyone to ignore it. Sig Sauer designed the P250 specifically to exceed all current, and match all future, needs of the military, law enforcement, and civilian shooters the world over.
The P250's custom and innovative design enables you to quickly remove the weapon's upper and place it into the polymer grip of your choice, thus achieving an instant change in caliber and size - Subcompact, Compact, and Full. Plus, after performing this change, the pistol consistently delivers superior accuracy and reliable functionality. Its modular design provides you with fast and easy maintenance plus a solution for accommodating different grip sizes. There are six different ergonomic configurations for each size, accomplished by changes in grip size and trigger style.
3. Kimber Super Carry Ultra HD
Super Carry Ultra HD
Capacity: 7 + 1
Slide Width: 1.28"
Weight: 32 oz
We all know the value and reliability of the brand Kimber. With that being said, we also know the price associated with that brand. With the Kimber Super Carry Ultra HD being one of the MOST expensive weapons on our list, it didn't make the top. After all, we are going for best value as well - which means we want to pay lower prices. However, the performance of the Super Carry Ultra HD is just too pristine to ignore.
You have all of the wonderful features of a 1911 all rolled into a compact pistol that you can use for concealed carry. The weapon isn't the thinnest, or the lightest. However, it shoots as smoothly and cleanly each and every trigger pull. With the dovetail grip safety, the weapon nestles right into your hand - just like your classic 1911. However, throw in an amazing 4 to 5 pound match grade trigger, and you'll find yourself enjoying the ease of firing the weapon as much as your ability to put rounds down range rapidly and accurately.
4. Ruger SR45
Capacity: 10 + 1
Slide Width: 1.27"
Weight: 30.15 oz
The Connecticut based firearm company, originally with WWII German 9mm design influences, Ruger is just as popular as any other major brand, if not more in some circles. The SR45 is a highly desirable concealed carry weapon which shows that sometimes less is more. The only obvious faults with this weapon are the tiny sized external switches, and the highly unpredictable trigger breaking point. While the tiny switches make things difficult for anyone trying to safe and unsafe the weapon, and will get easier over time with practice, the trigger breaking point is a problem for all shooters. This means that for a beginner self defense shooter, it will definitely be a challenge to master. However, a highly seasoned and trained self defense shooter will have no problem with this - as the decision to pull is made after the decision to shoot. It's also a bit larger than most of the guns on our list. However, with its economical price, thin profile, and excellent shooting performance, we can't deny that the SR45 would be an excellent option as part of our concealed carry arsenal.
5. Springfield Xd-s 4.0
Capacity: 5 +1 or 6 +1 With X-Tension™ magazine
Slide Width: 0.9"
Weight: 23.5 oz
In the battle of concealed carry firearms with the slimmest profile, the Springfield XD-S has finally taken the crown! With its 0.9 inch slide width, it has overtaken the KAHR pistol as the concealed carry .45 caliber pistol with the slimmest profile. It comes in the 3.3 and 4.0 models, equating to 3.3" and 4.0" barrel lengths respectively. I am a larger man and will choose the larger of the two models, as it feels more comfortable in my hand and the extra inch equates to better accuracy and control from past experience. However, with the close proximity of assailants during most concealed carry encounters, there is no noticeable accuracy concerns for its intended purpose.
With features such as a dual spring with full-length guide rod, fiber optic front and dovetail rear, forged steel slide with Springfield's proprietary Melonite® finish, and their every reliable black polymer frame, you are getting an amazing pistol at a bargain of a price! Plus, Springfield has a history of providing their purchasers with more high-quality included accessories with every single firearm purchase. They are also available in the standard black on black Melonite® finish or the black and stainless steel two-toned configuration.
6. Colt Defender
Colt Defender O7000D
Capacity: 7 + 1
Slide Width: 15/16"
The Cold Defender is a good concealed carry firearm. It is reliable, has adequate ammunition capacity, has a slide width that is less than an inch (also beating the KAHR). It performs well, both in draw action and while firing. The price point is a little high in comparison to some of the models on the list, but we almost always expect that when looking at a few manufacturers - Colt being one of them. However, we have yet to be disappointed by a Colt firearm, which means that (at least with them) you get what you pay for.
With features such as Novak® low-mount carry sights with dots, enhanced hammer, standard safety lock, Colt up-swept beavertail grip safety, solid aluminum trigger, and lowered and flared ejection port, you are getting a lot of high quality features with your purchase. Also, with the Colt name, you're getting a quality firearm that is built to last. We just wish that you didn't have to pay as much to get them!
7. Boberg XR45-S
Capacity: 6 + 1
Slide Width: 1.08"
Learning about the Boberg has been a treat, but it may be outside of the price range for most persons looking for a concealed carry weapon. It's priced like a 1911, is one of the smallest concealed carry pistols on this list, and packs a serious punch. Why isn't it at the top of this list you ask? Well, the $1,400.00 price-tag makes it one of the least economical pistols on the list. However, if you are without a spending limit on your budget, it is definitely a serious contender as one of the top performers. The design and technology behind the gun makes it have one of the lowest felt recoil in its class, and offers more effective power to the projectile by reduction of out-gassing.
With Boberg Arms patented reverse feed technology, D.A.O. trigger and passive firing pin safety, aircraft-grade aluminum frame, rotating-barrel locked-breech, and low-profile, dovetail windage, you are looking at a completely new handgun in the market. Because of the reverse load magazines, and the reverse feed technology, the barrel actual extends ABOVE the magazine, giving you a longer barrel in a smaller pistol! After-market purchases such as Tritium night sights and red and green grips and magazine floor plates are also an option. It is definitely the priciest, but again, with the Boberg, you DO get what you pay for.
8. Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Compact
Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Compact
Capacity: 8 + 1
Slide Width: 1.2"
The Smith & Wesson M&P .45 Compact is just as reliable as its full-size big brother. It was designed as a police and military duty pistol, allowing for versatility, reliability, and accessibility in any live-fire tactical scenario. Its larger than a lot of the weapons on this list, but the price point isn't too high. Plus, if you're active duty military or a veteran, Cabella's is offering a $100.00 mail-in rebate on all M&P firearm purchases!
With its reinforced polymer chassis, ambidextrous controls, Picatinny rail for light and laser-sight mounting, Zytel polymer-frame stainless steel barrel slide, white-dot dovetail-mount front sight and steel low-profile carry rear sight, and no magazine safety, the M&P 45 Compact allows for concealed carry and versatility in various self-defense and combat situations. It is larger, allowing for limited concealed carry locations depending upon your size. However, you get a combat designed concealed carry firearm!
9. Walther PPQ M2 .45
Walther PPQ M2 .45
Capacity: 12 + 1
Slide Width: 1.3"
The Walther PPQ .45 is a truly high quality pistol. For concealed carry, it's a bit wider, heavier, and larger than its competitors. It does have a larger ammunition capacity, but is also towards the higher end of the price spectrum. It extremely accurate firing, no jamming, and the fact that it is a Walther, makes it one of the superior guns you can add to your arsenal. Walther has a history of making compact and sub-compact guns extremely well, and was looking at a 100% versatile duty-pistol for police and military the world over with the PPQ. It's large enough to be used as a holster carry pistol, but small enough to use as a concealed carry for plain-cloths police offers or undercover agents.
With features such as the ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release, tactical grip, three safeties to prevent accidental firing from dropping, enlarged and checkered trigger guard for two handed tactical grip and for use with gloves, the Walther quick defense trigger, custom accessory rail, and three-dot polymer sites, this firearm is ready for immediate personal defense use. Again, depending upon your size, you may be limited as to where you can conceal this weapon on your person. However, it can be effectively concealed, and provide you with a reliable and powerful ally when it comes to self defense outside of the home.
10. Glock 36
Capacity: 6 + 1
Slide Width: 1.1"
While one would normally associate Glock as being a top contender for any caliber and utility, the Glock 36 was a bit under par for the normally superior manufacturer. The size and weight are wonderful for concealed carry, and the price isn't too high either. However, suffering repetitive ejection failures is not something that you wish to occur on a weapon that needs to be capable of being drawn and expected to put all rounds down range.
I don't know what to say other than that it needs to be fixed. Yes, you can probably get the gun worked on after your purchase it to fix the problem. However, as a gun owner, I want it to work consistently and dependably ESPECIALLY right after I purchase it (or before I do before that matter). The gun shoots extremely accurately and has less kick than our #1 slotted KAHR, however all of the other weapons had no ejection failures where the Glock had multiple ones. Get to work Glock!
Concealed Carry and The Law
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the smallest .45 semi-automatic pistol?
Answer: The smallest I’ve seen is the AMT.45 Backup.
Question: Should I upgrade my 9mm to a 45 caliber to deal with grizzlies and mountain lions as some Montana locals have warned me? Any opinions from residents in the Montana area will be helpful.
Answer: For Grizzlies, you’ll definitely need a larger round. Mountain lion hunters have carried 9mm and .357 as their backups. However, grizzlies are so dense that a .50 caliber round may be necessary if you are being attacked. Smith and Wesson 500 is an excellent model that is easy to fire, but you should do your best to avoid an encounter if possible.
Question: What are some of the best 45 caliber double-action pistols?
Answer: I would say look at Charter Arms Bulldog (.45LC), Taurus Raging Bull & Judge (.454 Casull), SIG 220(.45ACP), HK P9S(.45ACP), and Beretta PX4 Storm(.45ACP).
Question: Why does the Walther .45 look like a pellet gun?
Answer: They replaced my provided photo because it wasn’t in HD. I’ve replaced their photo.
Question: Are there any tactical classes in Georgia?
Answer: Check with your local Concealed Carry instructors. They usually also offer intermediate and advanced courses.
© 2015 PrometheusIV
Gabriel on February 23, 2020:
Witch.45 is the best and smallest
Roger on January 20, 2020:
Colt Defender lightweight-refinished in Desert Tan-blends into my typically worn khakis-Novak night sights and I've added Crimson Trace green laser grip sight-always functions-very accurate.
Bob on June 03, 2019:
I've carried a Colt Defender lightweight since 1999. Deadly accurate and always goes boom. For specialty carry, a Glock 19 with aftermarket night sights and Talon grips. A S&W Shield 9mm and a S&W 638 snub nose 38 special. The 38 has the covered hammer and unlike automatics can be fired from a pocket, without jamming. As with autos, as I assume we all know ,aren't as reliable from a pocket, sleeping bag etc. To some that might not seem important, but it's a tried and true method from a NYPD detective, whose job was to get mugged. Best I can recall he was mugged a very high number of times. All this with a hammerless 38 for defense. I've tried it from an old jacket . Surprise on your side is a really good companion in bad situations.
PrometheusIV (author) on February 26, 2019:
BigBob70 on February 23, 2019:
Having had 4 of the pistols on this list and an RSO for 7 years I've gone to the Shield 45 it replaced the G36 I carried so for me its a tie, either would serve a person well both reliable no issues. Both shot well. The Kahr was a cheap purchase after a student hated it. After breaking the pistol in properly it's been reliable son #3 bought it M&P compact 45 was 100% son#1 bought it Sig 250 DAO was not as fast for follow up shot like the G36 or Shield, traded it but was reliable. Seen the Ruger SR45 compact it was nice and no problems H&K was nice also but a little pricey. Do your home work rent one if you can. I think the Kahr should be #10 seen too many Kahr's with problems. Kahr's seem to have a long break in period, Seen a lot of novice shooters buy a pistol dont shoot them then show up to qualify then bitch the pistol is a POS. For me I carry either a full size 45 or the Shield depending on circumstances, but the 45 acp is a proven SD option, just train with it become confident in your abilities and hopefully if needed you will prevail. Cultivate a mindset of avoidance deterrence and desecalation, remember nobody wins in a gunfight you either survive or you do not. My 2 cents. Stay Safe!
PrometheusIV (author) on January 31, 2019:
Thanks for letting me know. Sometimes when you submit pictures, they will replace them if they're not in HD. I fixed the Walter PPQ photo.
PrometheusIV (author) on January 29, 2019:
Did you ask them for a replacement? They have an excellent reputation regarding making their customers happy. I've never seen an ejector problem with their XDM or XDS .45, and I've seen them send out replacement parts or even a whole new gun to customers in the past.
B2cmu on January 28, 2019:
XDS 45 has terrible failure to go into battery problem caused by ejector spring and poorly designed ejector. Sent mine back to Springfield
B2cmu on January 28, 2019:
I have a Glock 36 and have never had an ejection issue or any issue
Nick on January 25, 2019:
You mention m2 ppq then used a m1 photo. Also definately not a 45 acp bore.
Larry on January 10, 2019:
If you will look for unbias reports/records, you will find that shooting takes place in no gun zones. He/she preys on the unprotected innocent. The shooter does not want to be shot, so he/she is safe when no others have guns for their protection.
Roger Phillips on December 25, 2018:
Clips are also for M1’s. Haha
PrometheusIV (author) on December 12, 2018:
I've fixed that "clip" reference three times already. Whenever an editor gets ahold of one of my articles, they take certain liberties. As a Navy and Army veteran, I know what a magazine is. Clips are for hair, and movies from the 80's and 90's.
Jason Cloninger on December 12, 2018:
I have fixed that "clip" reference three time already. The problem is that some editor keeps altering it.
Rich on December 12, 2018:
You lost me at the use of "clips".
Doug hildebrand on November 27, 2018:
Had a 629 44 mag S&W too big to conceal. Yesterday I picked up a Mod 2 45acp I really like it got talon grips can’t wait to shoot it.
Mitch on November 10, 2018:
I have owned a G-36 for years (gen2) have fired hundreds of rounds thru it. Never had any ejection problems with it. Its a good solid firearm. It is my carry gun.
Father Time on September 09, 2018:
I second the Glock 36. Married with Pearce PG36 mag extension and a wolf extra power spring is the deal. No issues with a firm grip. 7+1 capacity. Compared to a C3 sig, or a p239 it is light weight. I think it got a bad reputation from limp wristed shooters. It’s a .45 hold on to it, and lock your wrists.
Wasichu Tacanta on September 09, 2018:
I own both the Kahr K9 and PM9 for years, and they've worked flawlessly, and am now looking for a 45acp, and I'll go with the CW45. I do find it interesting that Dave311 owned a CW45 for years before trading it in for something that works; why would anyone own a gun that doesn't work for years?
Heinz Doofenshmirtz on August 30, 2018:
I carry a Glock 30s with 9 round flush fit mag 9+1 45acp in an Alien Gear holster. Also carry a back up 10 round mag and a Smith and Wesson border guard 7 folding knife. I'm 6'3" 200 and can hide it all wearing a tee-shirt and shorts. Yesterday I went to the barber, Walmart and the hardware store and no one was the wiser.
Old Soothsayer on July 18, 2018:
Agree on the Glock 36. Had one but did not keep it although I kept the 26 and 17. Glocks are good for what they are but they leave me cold. My carry .45 acp is a Kimber Ultra II CDP. They are not inexpensive but my CDP is more accurate than it needs to be and it fits my hand like any other quality 1911. It conceals well. I consider it money well spent.
John on March 30, 2018:
I have both the Springfield XD Mod 2 .45 and the Walther PPQ M2 in 45. The XD is very comfortable as concealed carry and is accurate. The PPQ is friggin' amazing! I use a belly band or sticky holster and can conceal pretty easily. I've never had a pistol sooo accurate as the Walther!
Jon bircher on March 24, 2018:
This article was very helpful! I have a full size 1911, however its so heavy that its hard to conceal. Thinking of buying something that weighs a lot less! Thanks!
xoyeeuemail on March 20, 2018:
i like the cold defender gun! After reading your content i have found its a cheap product and it in my budge man! great work thanks
Chris S. on February 12, 2018:
I like the 45 acp. 1911 full size but now looking for a practical compat 45 as a full time carry that won' t PMO if i have to use it and it gets taken for a while or for good. i don't like glock or sig squair and fat. ??
Robert Bottorf on January 24, 2018:
I was thinking about getting the newer xd45. I have shot the 40 once and really liked it. does anyone have any opinions about the .45?
Cubefarmer on January 22, 2018:
Glock 30, Colt officers model,
Phil on January 04, 2018:
I like the sig and the M&P the Kahr should not be on the list
DavidBo on December 15, 2017:
I liked my CW 45 Kahr so much that I ended up buying the P45. I haven't had one ftf or fte in the CW or the P45. I have had my CW pistol for more than 3 years and it has never let me down. So much for disposable guns.
Dave311 on October 13, 2017:
The Kahr CW45 making the list is a joke right? The CW pistols are pretty much disposable guns. I'm serious. I owned a CW45 for years and finally got smart and traded it in on a pistol that worked. Look at how these guns are built. They are NOT BUILT TO LAST at all. They are generic single stack pistols. Save your money and your time and avoid these.
Scott on October 11, 2017:
I think Kimbers are costly but I also agree when looking at what your going to be using it for money is not a consideration. As far as a glock I would throw it at somebody and hope it hit them. The luck I have had with glocks has been horrible.
Adrian on September 19, 2017:
Kimber is over value...
deano55 on July 25, 2017:
As far as the Kimber's cost... consider the epitaph, "I got a great deal". Never scrimp on a self defense weapon, a parachute, or contraceptives.
Jesse James on June 06, 2017:
I disagree with the Glock 36 being number 10, I have fired as have others I've known 100o's of rounds without failure. Glock 36 easy top 4