S&W M&P Shield – 9mm/.40 S&W
The M&P Shield 9mm is currently under investigation pending a potential fault in their safety switch for their previous generations. That problem has been solved with more recent models but the lingering doubt remains over whether this is truly a reliable model. In 9mm, the Shield has a standard capacity of 7 rounds – with extended mags capable of carrying 8. The .40 S&W version carries 6. It’s a direct competitor with Glock in terms of sales and widespread use. With a base MSRP of $450, it’s a reasonably good deal. Buying one used, however, can bring the price downwards of $350.
Kahr CM9 – 9mm
The Kahr CM9 is the lower end version of its better made PM9 cousins. Made to the same exacting quality in terms of mechanics, it lacks the luster and shine of its pricier counterparts. As a concealed carry pistol, though, who cares? The only time you’ll see it is at the range or in a self-defense situation — and in both cases it performs admirably well. Chambered in 9mm, it holds 6 rounds and features Double Action Only (DAO) operation. The MSRP for these is $460 but it can easily be obtained used for less than $400.
Taurus PT-111 G2 – 9mm
The cheaper competitor to the S&W M&P Shield and Walther PPS, the Taurus PT-111 G2 promises the world – but can it deliver? Recently, Taurus had a massive recall on their pistols from a previous generation. For concealed carriers, the two biggest fears are negligent discharges and failures to fire – two traits found in the prior generation. As for the present generation, Taurus has a lot of proving to do before they get anybody’s stamp of approval. Still, with an attractive MSRP of $300 – it’s definitely in the running with other pistols of its size and caliber.
Bersa Thunder .380
The Bersa Thunder is a cheap, reliable concealed carry pistol at a pricepoint that almost anyone can afford. With a retail MSRP of $350 for the base Bersa Thunder model, it still offers great accuracy and precision in a small package. Standard, it holds 7 rounds of .380 with Single Action/Double Action trigger performance.
Hi-Point 916 – 9mm
Hi-Point is ubiquitous for being the cheapest pistol on the block. Even with the pricepoint, the pistol comes with a manufacturer’s guarantee for the lifetime of the pistol. This is exemplified in the Hi-Point 916. It comes with a standard 8-round magazine capacity and a high-impact polymer frame for less than $200.
Kel-Tec P-3AT – .380
The Kel-Tec P-3AT is the original concealed carry frame for Kel-Tec’s other concealed carry pistol models such as the P-32, P-11, and PF-9. With a standard capacity of 6 rounds and a base MSRP of $338, it certainly is a strong competitor for fiscally conservative concealed carriers. It works off DAO operation, so the safety is a bit more robust than that found in striker-fire pistols. Overall, it’s a great value for performance.
Ruger LCP – .380
For less than $300, you would be hard pressed to find a better budget-friendly, high-performance concealed carry pistol than the Ruger LCP. Much like the Bersa Thunder and Kel-Tec, it only holds 6 rounds, is chambered in .380 and retails for less than $300 new. More importantly, it has a long history of good performance and reliable customer reviews.