The Best Budget-Friendly Concealed Carry Firearms

— Travis PikeCADRE Dispatch

Money, money, money. You’ll need a good bit of it to buy a capable firearm, right? Well, maybe not. You can find a budget-worthy concealed carry firearm that’s reliable, accurate, easy to shoot, and easy to conceal. You can certainly find it by yourself, but who doesn’t appreciate a little help? Let’s get you spun up on the five best budget-friendly concealed carry firearms.

That’s an open-ended term, so let’s close it in and establish a budget. In the modern era, our budget is going to be $400. With $400, you can obtain a reliable, easy-to-shoot, accurate, and generally defensive-worthy firearm.

Taurus 605 executive grade in hand
This Taurus 605 Executive Grade is slick, it’s shiny, and it’s very effective.

I’m a big fan of budget firearms and typically enjoy shooting and testing them more than the pricier options. I love finding excellent value, so I tend to shoot a lot of affordable firearms. With that experience in mind, here are my five favorite budget-friendly concealed-carry firearms.

The Best Budget-Friendly Concealed Carry Firearms

There are lots of guns out there that cost less than $400, and the term “concealable” is relative to the user. Plenty of people concealed government-sized 1911s, but that’s not typical. In compiling this list, I aimed to find guns small enough to be easily concealed and comfortably carried that were also under $400 and, simply put, didn’t suck.

Taurus 856

Taurus has completely revamped itself as a company. They have put a huge focus on quality control and innovation while keeping their firearms affordable. The Taurus 856 series represents a sequel to the classic Model 85. These new guns now hold six rounds and come in a few different configurations.

The base model is the standard snub nose variant with or without an exposed hammer. We have the Defender with a 3-inch barrel and numerous grip designs. Almost all models in the series sell for less than $400, but the Executive Grade and optics-ready models sell for slightly more than $400.

taurus 856 handgun
The Taurus 856 is a six-shot snub nose that’s surprisingly affordable. (Photo: Taurus)

With the 856 Series, we get a well-built revolver that’s easy to carry and is plenty capable of carrying the classic .38 Special cartridge.

There is a reason the snubnose revolver has been around for so long. It’s a functional, reliable choice for self-defense. With proper ammo selection, it can be one of the most reliable, hard-hitting options that won’t twist your wrist while concealing with ease. Sadly, you only get six rounds, so make them count.

PSA Dagger Compact

Good gosh, did PSA change the game with the release of the Dagger series. Let’s be clear and transparent: PSA clones the Gen 3 Glock platform with the Dagger. They used a slightly different frame, but it’s a Glock 19 clone and they now sell it for about half the cost of a Glock.

It’s the perfect budget-friendly option with an established history of performance. The Dagger Compact won’t beat the shooter up and provides a low-recoiling platform that’s plenty accurate.

There are a wide variety of Dagger Compact variants, which retail from $249.99 to $389.99. Inside that price range are base-level models and optics-ready guns with suppressor height sights, threaded barrels, and various slide cuts.

PSA Dagger Compact in FDE with threaded barrel
The PSA Dagger is a compact 9mm handgun that matches the Glock 19 in size. (Photo: Palmetto State Armory)

The Dagger Compact series packs 15 rounds of 9mm in a platform size that’s proven easy to carry. It has plenty of configurations, so you can get what you want at a budget-friendly price point.

This is an excellent choice if you can only afford one gun and need a gun for concealed carry and home defense. It’s a do-it-all option at a great price. The downside is that it’s not compatible with all Glock 19 holsters.

Ruger LCP

The Ruger LCP might be the most famous pocket pistol on the market. This classic .380 ACP helped define the genre and is a dirt cheap option.

In fact, the LCP is a family of budget-friendly firearms. These days, we have the classic LCP, the Gen 2, the Gen 2 in .22LR, and the LCP Max. Each of these guns costs less than $400. The classic LCP costs as little as $199, with the Max being the priciest option at $379 or so.

The LCP series are very small guns designed to be easy to carry. Just drop one in your pocket holster and forget about it. It’s uber convenient and takes away any excuse you have to carry your gun.

Ruger lcp 2 handgun
The LCP series comes in a few configurations, which all cost less than $400. (Photo: Ruger)

The original single stack LCPs only pack six rounds, but the Max variant brings that up to 10 without increasing much of its size.

The downside does come from recoil. Also, the sights on the classic LCP suck. If you can get past those challenges, this little gun can provide the easiest carry option on the market. It’s plenty reliable and accurate for a pocket pistol.

S&W M&P9 Shield Plus

The M&P Shield series has almost always been an affordable option. They were one of the first single-stack 9mm handguns to make it big. They established themselves as an excellent firearm overall, and the most recent Plus model brings you a micro compact for less than $400. It’s priced right on the line at $399 at most vendors for the standard model. The optics-ready option will cost a bit more.

With the Plus model, we get a 10-round flush-fitting magazine for maximum concealment and a slightly extended 13-rounder for maximum capacity.

Shield Plus weapon
The Shield Plus opens you up to the micro-compact genre of firearms. (Photo: Smith & Wesson)

The firearm remains very compact and easy to conceal. It’s that sweet-sized 9mm platform that’s easy to shoot and accurate. It might be a hair snappy, but not exceptionally so.

S&W cleaned up the trigger with the Plus model. It is lighter, easier to reach, and now flat-faced. Other than that, the gun keeps the Shield’s remarkable reliability, easy-to-use ergonomics, and overall budget-friendly price point.

Beretta APX A1 Carry

The single-stack 9mm handgun has fallen out of favor these days and made way for the micro compact. That didn’t stop Beretta from unleashing the APX A1 Carry at a crazy low price point. I’ve seen them for sale for as low as $250, but the price tends to hover around $300.

A Beretta for $300 dollars? Heck yeah.

The APX A1 Carry isn’t a dull, featureless gun either. It comes optic-ready for a micro-sized red dot. The gun uses a modular, removable chassis that can be swapped from grip frame to grip frame.

The APX Carry A1 is an affordable, name-brand firearm that might feel dated, but offers serious capability. (Photo: Beretta)

The magazine capacity tops out at eight rounds, so you aren’t undergunned. The overall width is approximately .9 inches, making the gun thinner than the micro compact genre by about 10%.

The grip design looks odd but allows you to choke up high on the gun and exercise an excellent degree of control. For such a small, thin gun, it’s surprisingly easy to shoot and control. The trigger is impressive, and the weapon is quite accurate, especially with a red dot. You can also use a smaller 6-round magazine to shrink the gun a hair if you need it to be more concealable. It’s one heckuva value.

Keep It Budget-Friendly

Expensive guns are fine, but good guns don’t have to be costly. Budget-friendly guns might miss out on features like optics mounts, ambi controls, and night sights, but they cover the essential bases, with the most important being reliability.

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to defend yourself, but make sure you leave a little room for a holster, ammo, and some range time.

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