DEBATE: Double Stack Or Single Stack For CCW — We Match And Compare

DEBATE: Double Stack Or Single Stack For CCW -- We Match And Compare

The old adage goes, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is have a good guy with a gun.” Whether you’re a concealed or open carrier, you’ve probably debated with yourself about the various nuances of which gun that will be. Some people choose one gun and stick with it through thick and thin. Other people swear by using a different gun based upon how they’re feeling that day, what they expect to be up against, or just what feels clever.

In this article, we’re going to leverage the best of what we see as good characteristics from both single stack and double stack pistols to see how they match up against each other. We’ll be using some live examples of guns that are out on the market — because why discuss it if you can’t provide an example?

Read through and see if we hit our marks and then throw your two cents in the comments section below.

Single Stack Advantages

1. Slimmer and more compact

Example: Walther PPS M2

Single stack pistols are generally slimmer and more compact than their double stack counterparts. For those wearing warmer weather clothing, the convenience and ease of a single stack often makes it a great choice.

The new Walther PPS M2, available in either 9mm or .40 S&W, has a barrel length of 3.18″ and a width of only 1″. When chambered in .40 S&W, it handles recoil extremely well — which helps for follow up shots and tight, controlled shot groups.

2. New single stack models can match double stack capacity

Example: FNS-9C

One of the biggest downsides of switching to a single stack pistol is usually a greatly reduced magazine capacity. The Glock 43 only holds 6 rounds — an uncomfortable number for someone worried about combat viability. For those who have significant time on the range, six rounds goes by extremely fast. In a self defense situation, a big concern for concealed carriers is having enough rounds to neutralize the threat.

The FNS-9C is a very compact, slim line single stack double-action only (DAO) pistol that can hold up to 17 rounds. This makes it a perfect choice for those who love the 9x19mm round.

3. Whatever caliber you want, it’s available in a single stack pistol

Example: Springfield XD-S .45 ACP

The Springfield XD-S chambered in .45 ACP is available in a single stack model with a 3.3″ barrel.  This makes it an ideal choice where size matters and performance is required. Even though it only has a 5 round capacity in its standard magazine, its shooting ergonomics, grip features, and history of performance is good enough to make it an excellent choice when you demand .45 ACP in a single stack form factor.

Double Stack Advantages

1. Pistols designed for combat sustainability

Example: Glock 26

No one wants to be placed into a defensive gun use scenario. But, if the time comes and you’re placed in the hot seat, you probably want to have a pistol that is designed from top to bottom to handle a combat scenario. The Glock 26 is often hailed as a crowd favorite amongst former inner-city law enforcement because it is so extremely easy to shoot well. At distances of up to 30 yards, this pistol can put rounds precisely on the bulls eye.

2. Don’t have to sacrifice capacity for caliber

Example: Springfield XD Mod 2 3.3″ Sub-compact .45 ACP

If you are someone who demands a high caliber round for your everyday carry pistol, you’re probably used to dealing with single stack competitors that try to cram in as many rounds as possible into a magazine that simply can’t handle it. A great example of this, sadly, is the Glock 36. It definitely handles recoil exceedingly well but the magazine only holds six rounds. That’s little better than a revolver.

With the Springfield XD Mod 2 3.3″ Sub-compact .45 ACP, you’re not worried about magazine capacity when chambered in .45 ACP. It has magazines which can hold up to 13 rounds of .45 Auto, making theXD Mod 2 3.3″ both a viable concealed carry and everyday open carry option.

3. Greater ergonomic control

Example: FNS-40

Full size double stack pistols were designed for gritty, down-in-the-mud self defense. Ideal for home defense as well as everyday carry, pistols like the FNS-40 are highly sought after for their reliable performance under extremely stressful situations. Hailed by both military and law enforcement as a no-nonsense gun with all the ergonomic features and performance you’d expect out of a combat pistol, it’s guns like these that keep us both entertained at the range and feeling confident in hairy situations.

What do you prefer? Single Stack or Double Stack?

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Luke McCoy is the founder of USA Carry. In 2007, he launched USA Carry to provide concealed carry information and a community for those with concealed carry permits and firearm enthusiasts.
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Mr. Lanier

Fact check, the fns9-c is on my hip right now and it is dbl stack. 12 rounds flush mag (pinky dangling). It does come with a 17 round mag but that virtually makes it a full size gun. Biggest issue for me on carrying dbl stack vs single is the weight.


I like double stack … mo’ rounds, mo’ betta. My daily carry gun is a Para, full size 1911, with 14 + 1 rounds of .45 cal and a spare mag with 14 rounds. Yes, it’s a little bulky, but you get used to it, like anything else. I live in Florida where shorts and Hawaiian shirts or extra large t shirts are common, and hide a large gun easily so the clothing doesn’t scream “gun.”


Agree completely. My EDC is a Glock 21 and a spare mag. I have 13+1 in the gun, and another 13 in my spare mag. I just got back from shopping with my wife, and hadn’t bothered changing clothes or getting my gun out of my IWB. As I sat and read this article, I had to actually reach down and feel to see if I was still carrying my G21. I was, but it is so much a part of my everyday life, I didn’t even notice it there. If you carry every day, you really do get used to it and it ceases to became an issue.


Double stack. Glock 30 gen4.


I’m surprised you didn’t mention the S&W M&P 9c as a good carry gun. It comes with standard double stack 12 rnd. mags. It will also accept the 17 rnd mag. of the full size M&P. With the X-Grip added on the mag. it gives you a full size grip on a compact gun.


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Double stack is my choice. Mod2 in 9mms. 13 rounds in the flush fit mag 16 with the extension. With an extra mag in a snagmag holder that gives me 26 rounds for bad guy stopping power.

I can never land on a decision between a Glock 19 and a Glock 26. I switch back and forth and each time think that THIS time I’ve finally made up my mind.


I used to carry a XDS 45, bought a Para Black Ops Recon (Commander sized double stack 1911) but it did not work for me. I like my Glock 29, but I am carrying a XD 45 SC Mod 2. I have the Powder River trigger and I carry it with the flush magazine 9+1 and a spare 13 round magazine. Usually a Ruger LCP Custom 380 backup.


Smart man to carry a BUG. My usual kit is a G21 EDC and a PF9 Bug, both with spare mags.

John P

I carry a Beretta PX-4 Sub-compact double stack 10 rd mag. The magazine has a flip down pinky rest easy to handle and much more comfortable shooting than my Glock and more accurate.

Wayne Clark

Good choice!
Beretta PX4 compact, 2-15+1 in 9mm. Feels good in the hand. Got a S&W .357 magnum model 66, w/2 speed strips just in case.

Fed Up

I believe that a person should carry what he or she is comfortable with and can present and shoot well. The commander sized 1911 fits my hand. I believe that a gun should fit the person: Not the person trying to adapt to the gun! A guy should not get his significant other to carry a gun just because it hold umpteen rounds! A small revolver in most cases for a female is adequate because of hand size and the fact that most women do not practice as much as men, clearing jams, inserting another mag, etc. If it fits and the person is comfortable with it and can shoot it properly and efficiently: use it!
I have carried a Kimber Crimson Pro Carry II for many years and the only thing I have changed is the holster. I went to a Garret Silent Thunder Solo, because of its advantages over the previous holster that I wore for about 6 years. I will not mention the previous IWB brand, because it too was a great holster: but due to the acidic perspiration of my body I needed to change. As usual, I wore the Silent Thunder Solo yesterday, and it was so comfortable, I didn’t notice until bed time, that I had forgotten to take it off! Ron and Sheryl Garrett are a pleasure to work with, to get the holster that I needed to do the job I needed!

Go to a shooting range, rent a gun and try them out until you find the one that fits you and the one that you are efficient with. Then get a holster or the concealment type that fits your needs or wants and TRAIN with it to become proficient with, even if it is a 44 magnum with a 10″ barrel!

If you like it use it! If you don’t like it: use something else! After all there are a lot of different guns out there for people to get the one that fits their needs, wants and or abilities.


“I believe that a gun should fit the person: Not the person trying to adapt to the gun!”

Agree completely with you on this. People should carry what they like the most and are most effective with.

But I do have to say that my wife doesn’t fit your sentence, “A small revolver in most cases for a female is adequate because of hand size and the fact that most women do not practice as much as men, clearing jams, inserting another mag, etc.” She certainly has smaller hands than I do, but she comes to the range with me every week and prefers either her Beretta 92 or 1911 Government Model. And she can handle both of them very well.

I think we do women a disservice when we advise them to limit their gun choices to something small and simple just because they are women. Just like any male, they should be advised and supported in buying and carrying a gun that fits them, not the other way around. If a small revolver isn’t the ideal choice for a man because of the limitations of capacity and effectiveness, then why should it be adequate for a woman? They too should live by your very accurate comment “I believe that a gun should fit the person: Not the person trying to adapt to the gun!”


I had in the past bought guns for the wife I thought she would like. That was according to her a big mistake. She went shopping for a range gun and found one that seemed to suit her perfectly. a S&W SD9 VE, we got a holster and extra magazines. After three local range trips and discovering that while the fit and controls were to her liking, the trigger was not. She is a fair shot, but accuracy with this “Sigma” was not very good. She went to another store and traded it for a Glock. I thought sure she would buy a G-19 as it seems more petite like her. No she went with a G-17 that she is very happy with, it had a full size grip. For CCW she uses a G-42 as she is familiar with Glocks now and it is most concealable. (43s were not available then and she does not think moving to a 9 from 380 is worth it)

james lagnese

While double stack magazine pistols offer an advantage with more rounds, ergonomically, a single stack works better. Take the 1911. John Browning was a genius when it came to firearms design and ergonomically, that pistol feels about the best of any. Surprised no mentioned the FNX. 15 rounds of 45 sounds pretty good if you want a high capacity pistol.


A single stack my work better for you, which is fine, but while I enjoy my 1911, i carry a double stack because i can shoot just as well with the gun and I have almost twice the ammo capacity.

Arthur Mauk

I have both in a M&P9c and a Kahr cm9, also 2 extremes with a S&W M&P 45 & a Glock 42 the M&P9c in the fall & spring, M&P 45 in the winter, G42 in the summer PS: I really like my Glock 42 now with the C. T. red laser in the front right pants pocket it’s with me all the time (shot placement is what counts).


There have been numerous examples of someone carrying a long gun concealed, I’m sure it is hard to sit, that it is heavy and uncomfortable, but it can be done. Handguns even full size, double stack, long slides or S&W Model 29 44 Magnums with a 8″ barrel can be concealed, but they have a lot of trade offs. It is all your choice based on your body and how you live. I have when needed carried my NAA 22 Magnum with one five round reload, because it was the smallest solution I had, Right now I am trying different things with my XD 45 Sub Compact, my current pocket holster, it rides too high in the jeans front pocket, but works like a champ in a cargo pocket if I am wearing that style pants. I might try a OWB holster and wear a vest that covers it, or maybe get a different make pocket holster. I am trying to adapt the gun to me and my life, If I can’t get it to work in a acceptable manner, I may have to return to my XDS 45.

james lagnese

Depends on the weather. Years ago when I lived in NY, I used to carry a Dan Wesson 44V 8″ in a De Santis swivel shoulder rig, in the fall and winter. Couldn’t tell…But it’s a lot of gun and I am 6’5. In my older age, I prefer something smaller and more easily concealed, considering I live in AZ now, it’s difficult to hide bigger pistols a lot of the year.


This article need a correction. The FNS 9c is a double stack gun. I have handled one in a store. From the FN America website. “The FNS™-9 Compact offers the same features as the standard models but have 3.6” barrels and is designed to be snag-free for better concealment and a faster draw. The front sight also has a larger dot for faster target acquisition. The FNS-9™ Compact comes with two 12-round and one 17-round magazine.” That being said it is still an excellent choice.


Don’t think I’ve ever carried a double stack of any caliber or size. Usually something of the single stack subcompact/compact size: MK40, EMP40, P938, RM380, LCP.


9mm double-stack 19+1 (or 13+1 in summer), plus 2 19-round spares, all IWB. But I’m outta belt space for my .45 single-stack BUG! A broken-down .300BLK AR-pattern pistol fits into one of the computer/college student backpacks with as many mags as I want to carry. OK, I gotta admit the backpack isn’t an EDC item, but IS possible.


S&W M&P Shield 9mm… w/ 8 round mags (x3) 1 in the weapon, 2 back up. I went back and forth for a while on the whole single or double stack. After talking to a friend who’s been carrying concealed for 20+ years (who also carries a shield in 9mm). He asked me… What do you need all that ammo for? You plan on getting in a drawn out Hollywood gun fight?… Which made perfect sense in IMHO. So a single stack it is. I do carry a G19 in my GHB w/ 3 extra mags, just incase everything goes to hell before I can get to my AR and my BOB

Michael B

I live in the smallest state in the country, RI. I choose single stack, only because if I cross the state line, something that’s easy to do in RI, both CT & MA have heartburn with anything having over a 10 round capacity. To stay out of trouble,bi stick with a single stack 1911. One or two extra mags. are often carried depending on where I’m going.

Ryan M mckinnon

Love my M&P Shield 9mm. In Mass, there is much less benefit to having a double stack for a CCW as there is a restriction on magazine capacity. No magazine over 10 rounds can be owned so it eliminates one of the major benefits of a double stack firearm.


Love my xd mod2 .45 part of my edc