Throughout the Holiday weekend, I had a number of great conversations with friends who also enjoy shooting. One of the longest conversations we had one night over our preferred alcohol, was about what handguns we would keep if we could only own five for the rest of our life. Although highly unlikely to happen, it’s always fun to go through and pick what five handguns you would keep to carry for the rest of your life. Let’s talk about my choices out of my collections for the guns if I was stuck with only five carry options.
Why Think About This?
Some of you may ask why even think about prioritizing your carry guns. Whether it’s a fun topic for your buddies at dinner or while sitting around the living room having a drink, reflecting on your carry guns and prioritizing why you prefer them can really benefit you when it comes to carrying a concealed firearm. There are a number of factors that go into picking the right carry gun, and with the number of options on the market today, it’s certainly a good thing to figure out what comes to mind with a solid carry gun. I have a number of carry guns I prefer for various reasons so let’s just jump into my choices and why I prefer them.
1. SIG Sauer P226 Elite
I’m not sure where to even start with why I carry a P226 as often as I do. Ever since I was a poor college kid and decided to pick this gun up, I have loved and carried it on a regular basis for years. The P226 Elite is a DA/SA handgun with a full metal frame and a standard capacity of 15 rounds. Over the years, I have replaced a number of parts with Gray Guns internals as well as a unique set of grips. Despite the extra weight and old-style trigger mechanism, I completely love this pistol. I have well over 10,000 rounds through this gun and it’s one of those handguns I am fully confident with.
Even with all the striker-fired variants on the market with optics cut and aftermarket accessories, I still prefer this heavy metal framed dinosaur. There are other more modern options, but sometimes newer isn’t always better. It’s always easy to get caught up in the gun industry when it comes to the latest and greatest, but having a handgun you’ve shot for years really does pay off with having plenty of practice with the carry gun you haul around every day. It’s one of the stranger picks for a handgun on this list but my overall sentimental feelings are too strong not to include this workhorse.
2. Glock 19
This is a pretty predictable pick but for good reason. The popularity of the Glock 19 is tough to ignore with the overwhelming variety of aftermarket parts and support products. Whether it’s replacement parts or things like holsters and magazines, there are countless options available out there. You can replace every single part of the gun with an aftermarket part. Add in the fact it can take the larger Glock 17 magazines or the 33-round stick magazine if you want to go full mall ninja.
If the industry stopped tomorrow and you couldn’t buy anything new, the ease of finding replacement parts will be much easier than for something like the P226 I talked about earlier. Combine that with the well-known reliability and you have a worthwhile choice to keep if you could only have a few. As far as carrying the Glock 19, it’s fairly easy due to its overall size and weight. Every major holster manufacturer will oftentimes have at least one model dedicated to the Glock 19 so you’ll never struggle to find aftermarket support for this guy. It’s a lightweight versatile option with solid ammo capacity so the Glock 19 had to be on this list.
3. SIG Sauer P320 Line
A few years ago, I wrote a similar article about if I had to live with just one handgun in my life. When it came down to it, I had the pick the SIG Sauer P320 line of pistols because of its versatility and ability to transform into various handguns with just a few parts. There’s no ignoring the versatility of the fire control unit on the P320 since you can put it in everything from a subcompact handgun all the way up to a carbine chassis to make it a rifle.
The possible combinations are almost endless with various slides, frame sizes and combinations. I’ve modified a number of P320s and made them into exactly what I want. As far as being able to conceal them, the P320s with the smaller frames are some of the most compact guns available without going into the micro category. Aftermarket support may not be at the level of something like the Glock 19, but over the last couple of years, the amount of support has increased dramatically.
Whether it’s carbine chassis or aftermarket slides and compensators, there is a laundry list of things out there to equip on your P320 which makes it one of the most versatile handguns on the market today. I’ve carried a few different versions over the years and the smaller carry and compact models are incredibly easy to carry comfortably all day. I would have no problems building 2-3 different firearms from just one fire control unit which is what really makes the P320 shine and makes it earn a place on the list.
4. Glock 48
Some of you may be somewhat surprised by this pick, but my time with the Glock 48 has been very positive over the last few months. Having a slightly longer barrel with the 43X style frame really makes the Glock 48 seem way thinner than most double stacks on the market. The standard capacity with Glock magazines is 10 rounds but with the addition of Shield Arms 15-round magazines, the Glock 48 for its overall size packs a punch when it comes to capacity. My version is the MOS variant so being able to grab a plate and mount an optic is super easy.
The aftermarket support for this firearm is growing and more people are really starting to enjoy the 43X and 48 with their overall weight and size. For its size, the Glock 48 offers some of the highest capacity of the really small carry pistols and the addition of a Shield Arms 15-round magazine really does make a difference. If you feel really wild they also sell a +5 round extension magazine bringing it to 20 rounds for a backup magazine. Combine the capacity with the new front serrations and crisp factory trigger and I am really starting to become a big fan of the Glock 48. I dropped my review on it a while ago on TFB so if you want more information on it, I highly suggest you check it out.
5. Dan Wesson 9mm Specialist
Besides the P226 on my list, this Dan Wesson 1911 is the other wildcard from me. Some of you may be asking why I have a 40oz 9mm 1911 on my list if I could only own five carry guns. One of my firm beliefs is having a formal occasion firearm. One of those guns that really is a safe queen and something rather special. Between the choices above you will have a firearm for all occasions but they don’t have that rarity it’s sometimes fun to carry with.
Something like this Dan Wesson is the perfect suit carry gun and chambered in 9mm, it doesn’t take special ammo so everything on this list is consistently chambered in 9mm. Out of my collection, the Dan Wesson Specialist is one of my favorite guns to take out to the range just to relax after a long day and shoot just for the sport. This isn’t a high-speed low-drag firearm or something super tactical but it’s an incredibly nice firearm to shoot. Having a carry gun that’s a bit of a special occasion can make a certain occasion feel that much more fun. Every other option can conceal better than this, but sometimes it’s fun to carry a well-built high-end gun for the fun of it and that’s why this Dan Wesson made my list.
These were the top five out of my list that I own but there were a ton of honorable mentions and I really struggled to nail down five out of everything. I think it’s important to pick just a couple of other options to show that were close to being on the list but ultimately were filled by other positions. This does not mean they are bad choices by any means and are certainly worth consideration. Let’s take a look at a couple of my honorable mentions.
SIG Sauer P365
When the SIG P365 came out a few years ago, it really was a groundbreaking achievement for the time. A 10+1 capacity in such a small package was unheard of at the time and it really was a true innovation in the gun industry. Fast forward five years and there are a number of variations in the line from larger XL variants to the new X Macro with a 17-round capacity.
As far as concealing the P365, it’s one of the most comfortable summer carry options on the market in my opinion. The overall size and weight are incredibly easy to conceal with just a simple t-shirt and shorts. Having the ability to switch out frames and slides like the P320 is also a huge plus for this compact pistol. Quickly switching a grip from the standard 10-round magazine to the XL frame or even Macro frame allows you to have anywhere from a 10-round capacity all the way up to a 17-round capacity giving you plenty of options depending on what you need. It’s an incredibly modular handgun with a ton of configurations for every user to create their perfect small gun setup.
Smith & Wesson Snub Nose
The classic option is the Smith & Wesson Aiweight or Airlite when it comes to concealed carry. A revolver isn’t a bad option and I’m sure if some of you make your own top 5 list, some sort of snub nose will be included as well. It’s lightweight compact and easy to conceal so obviously it’s an option in the sea of choices. The overall reliability and ease of use are a huge plus as well since they work in almost every condition and won’t malfunction if you have to shoot out of a jacket pocket or something like that.
They make fantastic ankle guns and backup guns for someone who carries concealed. If you are unfortunate enough to use all 5 rounds in the cylinder, you can always use it as a blunt object. It may be older compared to the modern polymer semi-auto options but it’s still an incredibly viable system when used correctly with some practice.
There are countless options for your top five picks and since it’s all about picking from your personal collection, there’s really no wrong answer either. If you could only pick five options to carry for the rest of your life what would you decide to keep? There are no wrong answers here and all I ask is to keep it civil in the comments since other people have had different ideas from you. Let me know what you would pick down in the comments below. If you have questions about concealed carry or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @frideoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you next week for another edition of Concealed Carry Corner.