It’s no surprise that concealed carry is becoming more and more popular. With a continued increase in violence around the country, as well as a decreasing police force, more are turning inward for protection. In other words, more people than ever before are carrying a concealed gun.
In response to this, I thought I’d put together a list of what I’d consider to be the top 5 best budget handguns for concealed carry.
I’ve already covered a few other different lists for guns, like the best optics ready guns and a few others. But, this time around, I want to share with you what I think are the best budget handguns for those of you who have less funds to spend.
Best budget gun criteria:
In order for a gun to be included here, it needs to meet a few important criteria. For one, I need to have actual experience with each gun on this list. It’s not okay when a gun publication recommends things that you trust your life on, only to never have shown actual experience with these guns.
It is my promise to you that I’ve shot all of these guns and have extensive experience with them. Heck, I even own a couple of them.
In all cases I’ll be able to link to my review, or show you a video of me shooting it.
What is the budget of the gun?
What I call a budget gun and what you call a budget gun may be two totally different things. For the purposes of this article and to keep things as simple as possible, this list is made up of guns that you can buy for under $400.
A couple of them can be found for under $300.
In all instances, the gun works as it is supposed to, which I have verified myself at the range. Let’s get started.
Top 5 best budget handguns for concealed carry:
- Charter Arms Off Duty
- SCCY CPX-3
- Mossberg MC1SC
- Canik TP9 Elite SC
- Ruger LCPII
Let’s review them each in more detail.
Charter Arms Off Duty –
The Charter Arms Off Duty is a gun that I own and have had for more than half of a decade. This is a 38 Special revolver that is great for deep concealment.
This is the only revolver on this list of the best budget handguns for concealed carry, but not because it’s the only good one out there. This is the one that I have the most experience with, and can say firsthand that this is a great revolver.
A snubby is a good option for those of you who want to deep conceal your gun, or to hide it on your ankle in a proper holster as a backup gun. The goal is to get a few extra rounds, if needed.
There are some draw backs to a revolver like this, however, as a primary duty gun. Any snub nose revolver will come with the ability to shoot less ammo at one time, due to cylinder capacity. This one, for example, only holds 5 rounds of 38 Special.
Another drawback, that serves double duty as a good thing, is the long, hard trigger pull that a double action only gun has. In the case of this revolver, the trigger pull is very long and takes a lot of effort.
My wife has arthritis and is unable to shoot this gun because she lacks the finger strength to do so.
MSRP on this little revolver is $420.
Read my Charter Arms Off Duty Review when you press that link.
SCCY CPX-3 –
I included the CPX-3 on this list for those of you who are looking for a lighter recoiling gun that is still very affordable. If that is what you’re after, then this is a great option.
The SCCY CPX-3 is chambered in 380 Auto, and offers a full size grip that allows the shooter to get their pinky on. For those of you unaware, the pinky makes or breaks your recoil control, as it acts like a fulcrum to counteract the movement of the muzzle when shooting.
That full grip, coupled with the naturally lighter recoiling 380 ACP is a good combo for someone with weaker hands, or my wife with arthritis. She can actually manipulate the slide and control this gun while shooting.
In contrast to the Charter Arms Revolver above, this one also has a double action trigger, but it is much lighter and easier to pull.
And because it is so affordable with an MSRP of 305, it’s well within reach of most folks.
The main problem you’re going to have as of this writing, is finding ammo for it, but it is out there. In fact, I just bout 100 rounds of 380 off of Federal’s website, which is where I do most of my shopping for ammunition these days.
This is a gun that I currently own, and is actually my wife’s gun because of how easy it is to shoot. I’ve got about 1,000 rounds of ammo through it and it has eaten every single one of them.
Overall, the 380 chambered SCCY CPX-3 is a great gun that is easy to shoot, with solid controls. It’s also easy to break down. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel because I’ve got a video coming out on how to take it down.
Mossberg MC1SC –
I had the chance to get one of the first Mossberg MC1SC pistols released, and of course I was there when they were announced at SHOT Show a couple of years ago.
I’m a huge fan of this pistol for several different reasons. First, Mossberg has always made great guns. I’ve had a few, and still own a Mossberg 500 shotgun that is a last line of defense in the home defense scenario.
But their pistol line, specifically the little sub compact I’m talking about here, is fantastic. The ergonomics on it are great and it has a grip texturing that is just aggressive enough to hold on to.
The magazine release is also in a great spot and easy to hit, allowing the mags to drop free.
The MC1SC is chambered in 9mm, which is super hard to find right now, but easier to get than some other calibers, like 380. Because it is chambered in 9mm, it is more than sufficient as a defensive weapon. When I had the one Mossberg sent out to me it ate all the ammo I could throw at it, to include JHPs and FMJs.
Here is a short shooting video featuring the Mossberg MC1sc:
You can read my full review on the Mossberg MC1sc when you press that link, and just so you know the MSRP is a little more expensive than some of the others at $435, with a price in the store well under $400.
Canik TP9 Elite SC –
The Canik TP9 has a great history behind it. A couple of years ago when Century Arms, who owns Canik, announced the TP9 Elite sub compact, I was all over it like a fat kid on a cake.
I was lucky enough to be able to shoot the heck out of one with a friend of mine who got one in, and I fell in love. Here is my shooting video:
The trigger on this pistol felt like it belongs on a much more expensive gun than this, and it really allows the shooter to place those 9mm Luger rounds on target.
The grip on this pistol feels great, and one of my favorite aspects is the extended slide stop/release to help aid in one-handed manipulation.
MSRP on this one is a little more expensive at $439.99, but the in store price is going to be under the $400 price point.
You can read my more in depth Canik TP9 Elite SC review when you press that link.
Ruger LCPII –
The LCP II is, as far as I know, the only handgun on this short list of the best budget handguns for concealed carry, available in another caliber. The one I’d recommend to you is the 380 ACP version with an MSRP starting at $349.99.
They also just released the 22LR version of the LCPII, at SHOT Show 2020. I included a shooting video of the 22 version, below.
The price rises a bit if you add a laser or if you’re after any other options. For example, you can add another round of ammo, taking it to 7+1 of 380 ACP, but you’ll add 50 bucks or so.
Again, the price you’ll actually pay in the store will be much less than that, and of course you also get Ruger’s fantastic customer service which is second to none.
The LCP II is a great gun that is super affordable and a lot of fun to shoot. The 380 will recoil harder than the 22 will, and the LCPII recoils harder than the above mentioned SCCY does, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a lighter recoiling gun.
No review on this one yet, but stay tuned because it’ll happen at some point.
There is a market for the affordable concealed carry handguns. As far as I’m concerned, these are the 5 best budget pistols for concealed carry out there, at least of the ones that I have fired in the past. I’d never recommend a gun to you that I didn’t have experience with, and you should NOT trust someone who does.
Which of these is your go-to? Let us know in the comments below.