While I am a believer in knock-down power, it has been my experience that having any gun is better than having no gun in a life and death situation. Because I've seen small calibers deter an assault as well as large calibers when the goal is to make the threat go away, these handguns fit the bill for both men and women.
#1 - Smith and Wesson Model 642 Airweight
The Smith & Wesson J-Frame has become the most popular small frame personal defense revolver on the market. With decades of reliable performance to its credit, the J-frame line offers models capable of firing .22 LR, .22 Magnum, .38 S&W Special, and the more powerful .357 Magnum loads.
The 642 is one of the most popular personal defense and conceal and carry weapons for a reason — it is light (15 oz.), powerful, accurate, safe, and extremely reliable.
Please don't let the .38 Spl deter you from buying one of these pistols. Fact is, the .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most Police Departments in the United States from the 1920s into the early 1990s.
Noted for its fine accuracy and manageable recoil, it remains the most popular revolver cartridge in the world more than a century after its introduction. And yes, for women who want something that they can handle confidently -- this no frills, extreme uncomplicated Old School .38 is the way to go.
The S&W Model 642 Airweight is very hard to beat and reasonably priced. Besides, S&W is known for their quality.
#2 - Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD 38
The BODYGUARD 38 is uniquely engineered as the most state-of-the-art, concealable and accurate personal protection possible. The BODYGUARD 38 has a stainless steel barrel, one-piece aluminum alloy upper frame, ambidextrous cylinder release, ergonomic one-piece rubber grip, a smooth trigger pull, a stainless steel cylinder (PVD coated), and integrated INSIGHT laser.
Unlike the S&W Model 642 with its cylinder release in the left side as is most double action revolvers, the S&W BODYGUARD has a push-button ambidextrous top-mount cylinder release. Besides being unique, I was genuinely surprised when I found the release very easy to use and get used to.
Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD personal protection handguns are designed and engineered specifically to include the latest in laser sighting technology for optimal accuracy.
INSIGHT Laser is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of tactical lasers. The INSIGHT laser has 3 Modes: Constant-On, Pulse, Off. Plus 5 minute auto-off timer. Its battery life is 3 hours continuous on. And yes, the laser is user adjustable for windage and elevation with no disassembly required.
This .38 S&W Special fired +P rounds, has a capacity of 5 rounds, has a barrel length of 1.9".
It is a Double Action revolver, with a 1 lb. trigger pull, an Internal Hammer, with synthetic grips.
Its overall length is 6.6" and weights 14.3 oz, which means its size and lightweight, and simple to use and featuring integrated laser sights, is the perfect piece of security for men and women who don't want something large and harder to conceal.
#3 - Rock Island Armory M1911 A1 CS Tactical Pistol
Add its 7+1 round capacity magazine, and we are probably not looking at a handgun suited for a women. Yes, while I love this handgun, that's just my opinion. For those of us who have to go Old School, like me, and want to pack a .45 ACP, this is one nice pistol.
#4 - Charter Arms Bulldog
Known for its rugged reliability and stopping power, Charter Arm’s Bulldog in .44 Special is a versatile revolver for personal or home protection.
They come with a variety of options such as their target, blue, internal hammers, and different calibers. The one above is shown in Stainless Steel, but they also come in Standard Blue. With a barrel length of 2.5”, this .44 Special is one of the larger revolvers to qualify for concealed carry.
This safe, reliable revolver is powerful enough for serious home protection, but has the size and functionality for effective concealed carry. If you are looking for a safe, reliable revolver powerful enough for serious home protection, but with the size and functionality for effective concealed carry, Charter Arms’ .44 Special is an outstanding double-duty choice for the job.
We should note that U.S. Air Marshals once carried the Charter Arms Bulldog on flights during the 1970s. If I recall, the logic at the time was a big heavy bullet, fired from a lightweight reliable handgun, was the way to go in a close combat encounter. Which, of course, sounds like most confrontations where a firearm is needed.
#5 - Smith &Wesson M&P SHIELD
The Ruger LCR is a compact .38 Spl revolver built by Strum Ruger. The LCR acronym stands for "Lightweight Compact Revolver".
It incorporates several novel features such as a polymer grip and trigger housing, monolithic receiver, and constant force trigger.
At 13.5 oz (380 g), the LCR is nearly 50% lighter than the stainless steel SP-101, and about an ounce lighter than the S&W BODYGUARD. The frame is aluminum alloy and synthetic glass-filled polymer finished in matte black with Synergistic Hard Coat.
The LCR operates in double action only (DAO) as the hammer is concealed within the frame handle's fire control housing of the gun and cannot be cocked prior to firing.
In order to create a crisp and light trigger pull that is non-stacking, it features a friction reducing cam, a feature seldom found on double action revolvers which by nature of their mechanism normally have a very heavy trigger pull.
So there is my list of handguns that I believe are the best conceal carry guns available for us today.
While there are folks who may wonder why I haven't included a Sig or a Glock, and will disagree in as far as my ranking goes, these are the handguns that I feel would fit the bill better than others on the market at the present. Which, by the way, are the best bang for your buck!
Short of a full out assault on your person by hoards of crazies all armed to the teeth, I believe this and an extra speed-loader for a revolver or extra magazine for a semi-auto is all any one of us would need to deter the bad guys out there in real world situation.