The best answer is, “The largest one possible!”
I was asked by a friend today the following question: “Do you have an opinion on a good gun to conceal carry? I wear a suit and my suits and shirts are custom fitted clothes. I want something super small. The 380 guns I’ve been looking at seem good, but it’s really expensive ammo.”
Normally, I don’t prefer to answer questions such as, “Which gun should I buy?” because the answer depends on so many factors. If the asker is a novice with guns then typically, I answer with: “You don’t need a gun, you first need training. Go get pistol training (and not the watered-down nothing class for concealed carry permits) at a 2-day course from a reputable range where you can try a few pistols.”
But my friend’s question today was qualified enough that I actually do have an answer that I believe is one well-suited for anyone needing a tiny, concealed weapon that is effective and whose ammo doesn’t cost a fortune.
But I can tell you what I would get: The super-small 1911 Springfield Armory EMP.
A couple I am intimately associated with have gone through several small guns for the wife over the years and she never liked any of them until the EMP. From small titanium revolvers to the Ruger LCP, they just were not right for her, they had too much recoil given their tiny frames, or ammo was just too cost prohibitive.
The EMP is the hands-down winner after lots of tries.
I’ve shot it a lot. Surprisingly, the EMP feels to me a lot like a full-sized Government Model, 5-inch 1911 only it’s incredibly small. The 9mm version would be better than the 40 due to recoil concerns on such a small pistol at 40 cal. Plus, there is extremely potent 9mm self-defense ammo these days available.
(I mock the 9mm but it’s all in fun. I would trust the 1911 EMP for self-defense. I’d rather carry my full-sized Colt .45 but it is HUGE.)
Pros and Cons
Drawback? It is costly.
Advantage? It is reliable and a full-functioning 1911-style pistol made by arguably the BEST manufacturer of 1911’s on the planet. AND IT’S TINY!
So what is the REAL answer to “What is the best gun to carry?” The REAL answer is always, “The one you actually WILL carry.” And I suspect you will fall in love with the 1911 EMP. Especially if you’ve fired a larger 1911 in the past.
If you’re a Glock person, you may be biased against the 1911 style. I am biased against Glock. But again, it’s all what we are used to and all in fun. In battle, I’d take a Glock guy next to me in a heartbeat.
Plus, you can still get several thousand rounds of 9mm for under a grand from places like AmmoMan.com.
If the 1911 EMP’s price seems high (about a thousand bucks probably), consider the price of 380 ammo vs 9mm. You should not price a gun on its purchase price but on the lifetime price of ammo the gun requires.
And if you want to deal hunt, you stand a very good chance at getting a better price if you first read my book on how to do just that:
Guns Galore! How to Buy & Sell Guns, Knives, and Ammo in Online Auctions Easily!