Want a great carry gun without breaking the bank? There are few things in the gun-owning community as hotly debated as what constitutes a great carry gun. From the cartridge, to the magazine size, weight, ergonomics, concealability, etc., there are a multitude of factors that go into choosing the right carry gun for you. For many people, one of the most important would be price. Carry guns are usually very affordable. They’re not meant to be safe queens—they’re meant to be worn every day. Here is our list of 8 modern pocket carry pistols that not only excel in their role, but they happen to do so without costing over $600.
For a retail price of around $249, the Ruger LCP is nearly unbeatable. If you’re searching for an affordable carry gun, this is likely one of the first pistols that many people will direct you to. It’s small, weighs about 9.4 ounces empty, and can easily be concealed. The Ruger LCP (which stands for Lightweight Compact Pistol) is constructed with a nylon frame, blued steel slide, and two finger grip. According to Ruger, the firearm was originally designed after numerous customers, including many in law enforcement, requested an ultra-light defensive pistol for backup. In that role, it is very popular.
It has a capacity of 6+1 in .380 ACP, so it’s not exactly anemic either.
The Glock 43 is often touted as the most anticipated Glock release in recent years, and at its suggested price of $549, it’s plenty affordable for fans of “Glock perfection.” Finally, a single-stack 9mm Glock! The Glock 43 trades some magazine capacity for its sleek exterior—including a width of just about 1 inch across—and 18 ounce unloaded weight. Capable of loading 6+1 rounds, the G43 still offers an appreciable amount of firepower for its size.
The first pistol designed and produced at Remington’s new facility in Huntsville, Alabama, a lot was riding on the RM380. At one point in time, the RM380 was called a “great gamble,” taking the design of the expensive Rohrbaugh R9 and creating a version that was not only affordable, but also desirable. In the end, the pistol was lauded for its solid construction, ergonomics, and reliability. The RM380 starts at $319 retail, but it offers a rugged, very easy to conceal pistol chambered in .380 ACP. The gun holds 6+1 rounds.
One of the more expensive firearms on this list, the Sig Sauer P238 holds a retail price tag of $599. It makes up for this by promising Sig reliability in a small, concealable platform. The P238 was announced in 2009 and modeled after the beloved 1911, coming standard with night sights. The pistol weighs less than one pound empty and, like the previous entries on this list, holds 6+1 rounds. It is chambered in .380 ACP. Rosewood grips, Ti-PVD coated slides, and various options are also available, but expect to pay extra.
Starting as low as $350, the S&W Bodyguard is a compact semiautomatic that is designed for an easy draw and rapid second-strike capability. When released the Bodyguard was well received as a good option for both a “pillow gun” and a comfortable concealed pistol. It is seen as reliable, well-designed, and generally a good alternative for the other subcompact pistols on this list. Like many others in this class, it holds 6 +1 of .380.
Perhaps the Glock 42’s greatest criticism is that it came out before the Glock 43. At the time, many expected Glock to release a single-stack 9mm, so the news of a single-stack .380 was met with a certain amount of backlash. However, after that wore down gun owners began to realize that the G42 has more than enough to stand on its own. About $100 less than the G43 ($450 retail), this tiny polymer pistol won its way into peoples’ hearts with Glock’s usual reliability and functionality. As it stands, the G42 is an outstanding alternative to its bigger, badder cousins.
The M&P Shield is a popular and commonplace pistol for concealed carry. Introduced in 2012, the Shield is thinner and lighter than the M&P Compact and features an improved trigger. Despite its relatively small size, the Shield can still pack up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm or 7+1 rounds of .40 S&W. The Shield line starts at $449, making it a great entry-level pistol.
The Performance Center version, featuring a factory ported barrel and slide, corrosion resistant frame, and other features, improves even more on the standard Shield. Expect to pay a bit of a premium for its features, as this gun starts off at $500.
The P290 subcompact is a different beast from most of Sig’s other offerings. An innovative polymer pistol chambered in 9mm or .380 ACP, the P290 is a little bit heavier than most of the guns in its class, which makes it slightly easier to control and manage recoil. Over time, shooters have learned that the P290 is actually a remarkably comfortable gun for something in its size—it really is a pistol you have to shoot before you realize its better qualities. The relatively low $500 price tag doesn’t hurt either.
Magazines come in 6-round and 8-round sizes.
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.