One of the most common questions we’re asked by those who have just completed their CCW certification and licensing is “what type of gun should I carry?”

That’s a tough question to answer! In fact, ask a group of CCW permit holders this same question and you’ll get answers that range from “I only carry Glocks” to “A .22 is the ideal carry gun” to “I carry a full-bore 1911 in .45-auto.”

What these answers tell us is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to concealed carry guns, rather – you need to find the gun that fits right for you. Taking a CCW class will help you determine the right hand gun for you.

That said, there are few guns that we feel offer a terrific balance of all of the attributes you’ll likely want in a carry gun – an appropriate caliber, a lightweight frame, compact dimensions, a reasonable price tag, and most of all…reliability!

After reading this list, visit your local gun range and test fire each one. You’ll really want to get a taste of what feels like the right gun for you.

Glock 26/27 – 9mm or .40 S&W:

Glocks are universally lauded for their simplicity, long term durability, and incredible accuracy. They are also among the more affordable guns on the market today due to their use of polymers versus costly stainless steel. The 9mm version (Glock 26) delivers 10 rounds in a compact package, while the more potent Glock 27 offers 9 shots of .40 caliber. The 9mm version is a little more pleasant to shoot, but the additional stopping power of the .40 might be worth a look.

Ruger SR9C – 9mm:

The Ruger is a traditionally-styled semi-automatic pistol that is a little bit heavier than your average carry gun. While this may immediately scare some CCW holders away, it is important to note that the SR9C shoots quite softly – even with full power 9mm loads. And, this steel-framed pistol holds 17 rounds in the magazine – possibly eliminating the need to carry a spare mag at all times. The trigger is a joy to manipulate, and the price tag is quite attractive given the feature content of this gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P compact - .45ACP:

Sure, you could order one in 9mm, .40, or .357 SIG, but why not opt for the thunderous, classic .45ACP to give you the ultimate in self-defense capabilities? This medium sized pistol is built like a tank and can hold eight rounds of .45. Interchangeable palm swells offer a customized fit, and the mag extension provides room for all of your fingers – not always standard with CCW guns.

Kahr PM9 – 9mm:

The Kahr is a light, thin, semi-automatic pistol that holds six rounds of 9mm in the magazine – or 7 with the optional extended mag. This gun offers a super smooth trigger pull and a classy overall look. Kahr pistols are available in a range of styles and trim levels to suit any budget.

As with any list, there is always an element of personal preference to consider. Your ideal gun doesn't have to be on this list, but it does have to be a weapon that you can shoot accurately, manipulate safely, afford, and it never hurts to be one you like to look at.