Dear Dustin, I wear a size 2, how can I conceal a Glock 19?

I think it is great that many women have an interest in concealed carrying a firearm. I get a lot of questions from my readers who are too small to easily conceal a normal size handgun. Here is a question I received recently:

Have my license but have not purchased my carry yet. I’m very tiny,
wear a size 2, height 4’10” and really have to consider size first so
as to be able to truly conceal. Need help with this and I know you
recommend the Glock 19 but the size is just too big to hide on my
person.
Would love to participate in your forum.
Thanks,
Jo

Choose the right caliber of weapon

Before I say anything, I need to start off by saying that handguns are weak weapons. The myth of the one shot man stopper is just a myth. In the movies, if you hit someone with a bullet fired out of a handgun, they die instantly and instantly no longer pose a threat. That is not how real life works. Unless you want to try to conceal a 12 gauge shot gun on your person, then you need to realize that concealed carry guns are full of compromises. You are going to compromise bullet size for conceal-ability. Conceal-ability will be compromised for accuracy. Magazine capacity will be compromised for conceal-ability. All of that being said, you still want to find a balance between stopping power (bullet size), conceal-ability (pistol size), accuracy (larger guns are easier to shoot accurately), and magazine capacity (more bullets is better than less).

Let’s talk about bullets & stopping power

If you are going to buy a smaller semi-automatic pistol so that you can conceal it easier, then here are the things you should consider. The first thing you need to consider is caliber or bullet size. I’m assuming you are purchasing this handgun to defend your life, and in the broadest terms possible, that means you need to be shooting a bullet that is large enough to “stop the threat.” That means you should not be shooting anything smaller than 9mm. To be specific, I suggest you acquire a 9mm caliber pistol and load it with 147 grain jacketed hollow point bullets when you are carrying it for self defense. Of course, when you go to the shooting range you will be shooting standard 115 grain full metal jacket bullets, but that is just for target practice. When you want to defend your life with the gun, you need to have it loaded with 147 grain jacketed hollow points. If you don’t know why I advise jacketed hollow points for self defense versus full metal jackets, then leave a question in the comment section and I’ll explain further.

The 3 Week Diet
 

A lot of people want to carry a larger caliber bullet like the .40 S&W or the .45 ACP because they have better one shot stopping ability than the 9mm bullet. You could find a subcompact .40 S&W caliber pistol, and they even make .45 ACP caliber pistols that are quite small. Unless you are an experienced shooter, I’m going to suggest you avoid those calibers.

A .40 S&W bullet or a .45 ACP bullet will “stop the threat” (all else being equal) better than a 9mm bullet. But, as every gun person knows, shot placement is key. In other words, you need to be accurate to stop the threat. And you need to be accurate when you are: 1) in the middle of the mother of all adrenaline dumps, 2) frightened for your life, 3) experiencing tunnel vision and loss of fine motor skills, and 4) in the middle of a life or death situation. In order to be that kind of accurate you need to practice. And practice costs bullets, and bullets cost money, and 9mm bullets cost about 50% less than .40 S&W or .45 ACP bullets. You need to get private tactical shooting lessons from someone who has been to and trained for war. You need to spend a couple of Saturdays per year taking classes called, Combat Shooting Tactics, Concealed Carry Tactics, Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol I, Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol II, Concealed Carry Self Defense for Women, etc., etc. In these classes you will shoot 300 to 600 rounds. That’s about $20 for a 50 round box of 9mm bullets or double that for a 50 round box of .45 ACP, and maybe even triple that for a 50 round box of .40 S&W. And if you are not going to take classes like this, then you don’t need to purchase a handgun because when the mess hits the fan you will be as useless as a football bat.

To get a quick introduction to what these classes will be like, you can download my FREE eBook Defensive Pistol 101.

In any life or death situation, you will sink to the level of your training. So earn your stripes with a 9mm, then move up to the larger calibers if you find it necessary.

Never A Victim

Now Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Small Semi-Auto Pistols

I have included a spreadsheet and listed the guns in order of overall length (smallest to largest). In case you don’t know the lingo, when you see 6+1 that means you can carry 6 bullets in the magazine and one bullet in the chamber. I have highlighted my top 3 choices and provided video of those top 3 pistols.

FirearmWeight UnloadedBarrel LengthOverall Length# of BulletsCost
Sig Sauer P290 9mm20.5 oz2.9″5.5″5+1$500
Kimber 9mm Solo Carry17 oz2.7″5.5″6+1$747
Beretta Nano 9mm19.97 oz3.07″5.63″6+1$475
Kel Tec PF-9 9mm12.7 oz3.1″5.85″7+1$400
Ruger LC9 9mm17.1 oz3.12″6.0″7+1$450
S&W M&P Shield 9mm19 oz3.1″6.1″7+1 or 8+1$450
Glock 26 9mm19.75 oz1.26″6.29″10+1$530
S&W M&P 340 .357 Magnum13.3 oz1.875″6.31″5$1,130
S&W Model 442 .38 Special +p15 oz1.875″6.375″5$430
Ruger LCR .38 Special +p13.5 oz1.875″6.5″5$450
Ruger KLCR-LG .357 Magnum16.6 oz1.875″6.5″5$879
Glock 19 9mm20.99 oz4.02″6.85″15+1$530

My top picks for conceal-ability on a small body frame are the Kimber Solo Carry, the Ruger LC9, and the Beretta Nano. See videos below:

All three of these are high quality, high dependability firearms. They are all chambered in 9mm. Being small guns they will have some felt recoil that will require training to overcome and shoot effectively. You will need to increase your grip strength and overall fitness level to shoot these guns effectively. The Ruger LC9 allows you to carry 8 rounds, which is more than the other two guns. I always prefer more bullets to less bullets. Do yourself a favor and go to the shooting range and see if you can rent all three of these guns before you actually go purchase one. The shooting range will let you rent a gun for an hour and shoot it at the range using their bullets. Just call your local range to see if they have the gun you are looking for and to see if they will let you shoot it. Trust me, this little extra bit is worth the trouble. If you decide to buy the Ruger LC9, you have tons of LC9 Holster options.

I’m serious about needing to increase your level of fitness if you are going to shoot these small guns accurately. They have more kick when they are smaller.

On the Other Hand, You Could Go With a Revolver

If you purchase a small revolver you are looking at a .38 special +p round or a .357 magnum round. I’ll talk about the .38 special + p round first. The .38 special + p round has a little more ass behind it than the .38 special round and will dump more energy into the threat than the normal .38 special round. I guess the least technical way to explain the .38 special +p round is that it is exactly the same as the .38 special round, except that it is loaded with more gun powder than the regular .38 special round and therefore travels at higher velocities, therefore dumps more energy into the threat when it impacts the threat. In terms of concealed carry for self defense, I don’t think you should carry any revolver round smaller than the .38 special +p round.

Ruger makes the Ruger LCR in .38 special +p. The gun weighs 13.5 oz unloaded, and has a total length of 6.5″, compared to the Glock 19 6.85″ total length. However, the Ruger LCR barrel length is only 1.875″ long, compared to the Glock 19 barrel length of of 4.02″ in length. These differences in size make the Glock 19 easier to shoot accurately, but the Ruger LCR is a quality gun (at $450 at Academy, little more from the manufacturer) and many people have no trouble shooting this gun accurately (at common self defense distances) with adequate training.

Smith & Wesson makes the Smith & Wesson Model 442 .38 special +p. The gun weighs 15 oz unloaded, which is nearly 2 oz heavier than the Ruger. It has 1.875″ barrel length and 6.375 overall length. Which means that it is actually a little bit smaller than the Ruger. It costs about $430 at Academy.

I like both of these revolvers for concealed carry because they do not have an external hammer that will get caught in a purse, or holster when you have to pull it quickly in an emergency. I don’t know how much easier either of these “smaller” revolvers will be to conceal than a Glock 19, but here are the details for you (costs are approximate).

FirearmWeight UnloadedBarrel LengthOverall Length# of BulletsCost
Ruger LCR .38 Special +p13.5 oz1.875″6.5″5$450
S&W Model 442 .38 Special +p15 oz1.875″6.375″5$430
Glock 19 .9mm20.99 oz4.02″6.85″16$530

What I don’t like about these revolvers is that they only carry 5 bullets. Some situations require more ammo. In an idea world, you would never have to deploy your weapon. In a slightly less than idea world, just presenting your firearm will discourage the threat enough to stop the threat, so that you never even have to fire 1 of your five bullets. In the REAL world, it’s going to require a 2 to 6 round volley to stop the threat. Here’s what I mean by that. When you start taking classes like Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol or Concealed Carry Tactics, you’re instructor is going to train you to fire 2 to 6 shots, then reevaluate. They say at least 2 to 6 shots because that’s what it’s going to take to actually stop the threat. They say no more than 2 to 6 shots because you need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your rounds (maybe the guy is wearing body armor, maybe you need to switch to a head shot, maybe you just need to RUN), and still have a few shots left after making that evaluation. Well, the problem with having a five shot revolver is that you now have (possibly) less than the standard 2 to 6 round threat stopping volley. But, like I say, the concealed carry game is full of compromises. Let’s move to the .357 Magnum.

The .357 Magnum round is considered by many to be a 1 shot man stopper. Many people debate as to which round is better, the .45 ACP or the .357 Magnum. Suffice it to say that when it comes to concealed carry rounds, the .357 Magnum is as good a round as you can employ. You can shoot a .38 special or .38 special +p bullet out of any .357  Magnum revolver. So the majority of your practice would be with a .38 special bullet (because it’s cheaper). A small .357 Magnum revolver is going to be even more difficult to shoot accurately than a small .38 special + p revolver, but we make compromises, and you need to start your training program the moment you buy your gun.

Ruger makes the Ruger KLCR-LG .357 Magnum. It comes with Crimson Trace Laser Grips, which will help you shoot it accurately. You can buy it for about $879 (KLCR-LG) or $599 (KLCR) if you buy it without the laser grips. I don’t know how much help a tiny red laser dot will be to you when the crap hits the fan, but maybe you’ll be able to locate that tiny red dot darting around and put it on your target in an adrenaline fueled, tunnel vision inspiring emergency life or death encounter. I’m not a huge fan of lasers for concealed carry, but the KLCR-LG is about 1 oz lighter than the KLCR without laser grips. The only size difference between the Ruger LCR .38 special +p and the Ruger KLCR that shoots .357 Magnum is the weight. While the .38 special +p weighs 13.5 oz, the KLCR-LG weighs 16.6 oz, and the KLCR without laser grips weighs 17.1 oz. The .357 Magnum revolver has the exact same length dimensions as the .38 special +p revolver. Five .357 rounds are going to be heavier than five .38 special + p rounds. If you are going to buy one of these revolvers I suggest you purchase the .357 because it can shoot all manner of .38 special rounds (.38, .38+p, .38+p+, and .357 rounds) and its just about the same weight.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 340 .357 Magnum Revolver is comparable to the Ruger KLCR, but it costs much more than the Ruger ($1,130).  The M&P 340 also employs the Crimson Trace laser grips. None of these revolvers have very good iron sights, which is probably why they include laser sights. Here are the stats for you.

FirearmWeight UnloadedBarrel LengthOverall Length# of BulletsCost
Ruger LCR .38 Special +p13.5 oz1.875″6.5″5$450
S&W Model 442 .38 Special +p15 oz1.875″6.375″5$430
Glock 19 .9mm20.99 oz4.02″6.85″16$530
Ruger KLCR-LG .357 Magnum16.6 oz1.875″6.5″5$879
S&W M&P 340 .357 Magnum13.3 oz1.875″6.31″5$1,130

 

Finally, if you have any questions regarding anything in this article, leave me a comment and I will answer it to the best of my ability.