The 10 Best Carry Guns (You Likely Never Heard About) By: David Freeman

Woman shooting a Browning Hi Power with a two-handed grip

Every year, SHOT Show exhibitors and industry periodicals let us know about the new guns. Many of these are offered by the biggest companies in the business. But there are other options that are just as good, maybe even better.

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Unless you visit gun stores frequently or read gun magazines and blogs voraciously, you may not have heard of some of these. All the ones listed here are currently available. Some of these have been around for years and are priced quite attractively. I didn’t include any high-end custom guns on this list. Instead, I selected the ones most any shooter can afford. I only included carry guns that I personally, or through reputation, know to be of good quality.

Beretta APX

We all know Beretta for its M92/M9 and PX4 pistols. However, somehow the APX has alluded most shooters’ radar — at least in the circles I run in. The Beretta APX was initially designed for the U.S. Armed Forces XM17 Modular Handgun System competition.


Beretta APX 9mm semi-auto handgun
Beretta APX

The APX became available in the U.S. civilian market in April 2017. Over the next three to four years, several improved models were added to the line including a subcompact and a combat model with a threaded barrel and mounting plate for optics. In 2019, Beretta introduced the APX Carry, a single-stack magazine variant intended for the concealed carry market.


Several models followed — including a combat and target model, and the APX A1. The APX A1 is an ergonomically-improved standard APX. The slide is red dot optics ready. It features more aggressive slide serrations alongside a newly-designed frame with more aggressive stippling.

Additional features include an undercut trigger guard, enhanced beavertail, and no finger grooves. Even with the new models and improvements, Beretta has managed to keep the most popular models available at a street price below $500.

  • Model: Beretta JAXF921A1
  • Length: 7.5 inches
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 29 ounces
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 17+1 Rounds
  • Features: Striker-fired, 9mm, polymer frame, red dot optic-ready slide, tritium front sight, blacked-out serrated rear sight, crisp light trigger, aggressive front and rear slide serrations, undercut trigger guard, ergonomic grip with enhanced texturing, 3 modular backstraps, reversible controls, and a 6.1-inch sight radius
  • MSRP: $449

Bersa BP9CC

Many shooters are aware of the Bersa Thunder .380, thinking of it as a “James Bond gun.” That gun is a clone of the Walther PPK that the famous British agent was fond of carrying. But hidden in the shadows of the ubiquitous Bersa Thunder is a very nice 9mm concealed carry gun.

Bersa BP9CC 9mm semi-automatic pistol, right profile
Bersa BP9CC

Founded in the mid-1950s, Bersa is based in Argentina and manufactures handguns used all over the world. Bersa’s BP9CC 9mm pistol is a polymer-framed handgun that is accurate, lightweight, and ultra-thin. It features ambidextrous controls, a three-dot sight system, and a Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. It’s a great package for anyone who needs a concealed carry firearm without paying a lot of money.

  • Model: Bersa BP9DECC
  • Length: 6.35 inches
  • Height: 4.8 inches
  • Width: .94 inch
  • Weight: 20.9 ounces
  • Capacity: 8+1 rounds
  • Color: Urban gray
  • Features: 9mm Luger, short reset double-action-only, 3.3-inch barrel with micro-polished bore, integrated Picatinny rail, steel slide, 3-dot sights, manual safety, integral locking system, and ambidextrous controls
  • MSRP: $299

Canik TP9SF

The Canik TP9SF is a 9mm striker-fired pistol that has successfully passed 60,000-round torture tests — without any failures, still maintaining NATO standards for accuracy. With superior durability, reliability, and unparalleled trigger control, the TP9SF pistol represents an ideal option for both competition and self-defense-minded users.

Canik TP9SF 9mm semi-auto pistol, right profile
Canik TP9SF

This is one on this list that I own. I am very pleased with it. TP9SF was designed with the idea of being the world’s superior handgun. After overcoming 60,000 rounds, it has gained title as a firearm capable of participating in the law enforcement, military, and civilian worlds. It comes with a great number of improvements over others in the market. Starting with its FDE finish and black contrast parts, it carries a magnificent, yet elegant, look.

  • Model: Canik HG4865-N
  • Length: 7.28 inches
  • Height: 5.27 inches
  • Width: 1.45 inches
  • Weight: 1.77 pounds
  • Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
  • Features: Semi-auto striker-fired pistol, 9mm luger, 4.19-inch match-grade barrel, improved single-action trigger, strike status indicator, extended ergonomic slide stop, ambidextrous slide release, Picatinny rail, Warren Tactical fiber-optic front sight, standard dovetail sight cuts that are compatible with a large variety of aftermarket sights, polymer grip and frame, interchangeable backstraps, and front/rear slide serrations
  • MSRP: $399

Diamondback DB9

The Generation 4 Diamondback DB9 comes chambered in 9mm and is dubbed as one of the smallest micro-compact 9mm carry guns on the market. Its small dimensions make it a great carry option for a purse or pocket. It holds 6+1 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and there are 15 different variants to choose from. The DB9 comes with one magazine and two base pads. One of the base pads extends below the grip for pinky support and the other fits flush.

Diamondback DB9 9mm semi-auto handgun, right profile
Diamondback DB9

Sights on the DB9 vary depending on the model. Some are just small bumps, but others are available with a three-dot sight, or a sight that resembles those used by Glock. It’s a gun you’ve got to hold to appreciate. Like any small gun, there’s a bit of bite when you shoot it. I know the DB9 has — at times — had a bit of a bad rap, but I suspect most of that is shooter-related due to limp-wristing.

  • Model: Diamondback DB0200P001
  • Length: 5.73 inches
  • Height: 4.51 inches
  • Width: .9 inch
  • Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Capacity: 6+1 rounds
  • Features: Semi-automatic 9mm, 3.1-inch stainless steel barrel, 1:10-inch right-hand twist, 3-dot sights, short-reset trigger, striker-fired double-action-only, 5.5-pound trigger pull, and all-steel captured recoil system
  • MSRP: $305

IWI Masada

This striker-fired, semi-automatic pistol was designed by Israel Weapons Industry to provide an advanced solution to modern battlefield requirements. The Masada features a low-profile barrel that helps reduce perceived recoil during shooting. IWI makes some of the most durable firearms, and the Masada is no different.

IWI Masada semi-auto handgun, left profile
IWI Masada
  • Model: IWI USA M9ORP17FD
  • Length: 7.4 inches
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 1.43 pounds
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds
  • Features: Striker-fired semi-automatic pistol, 4.4-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, 1:10-inch right-hand twist, polygonal rifling, 3-dot sights, integrated Picatinny accessory rail, optics-ready platform, low profile barrel for reduced perceived recoil, fully ambidextrous controls, interchangeable backstraps, modular serialized high-grade steel trigger mechanism, 6-pound trigger pull, crisp trigger break with positive reset, built-in trigger safety, optics-ready platform, large trigger guard, and enhanced grip texture
  • MSRP: $480

Kahr CW9

Kahr Firearms has been a “carry gun” market leader since 1994. The company’s founder, Justin Moon, started carrying when he was 18. He wasn’t happy with the small carry guns on the market at the time, so he designed his own.

Kahr CW9 9mm semi-automatic pistol
Kahr CW9

Kahr handguns are striker-fired with a somewhat unique fire control system that is DAO, but with an easy double-action trigger pull and simpler internal operation. The guns are single-stack, 7+1 rounds in most models. The CW line is less expensive than the K9 and P9 because several mostly cosmetic changes were left off to save manufacturing costs.


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Therefore, the CW9 at around $400 is a bargain. The narrow width is one of Kahr’s strong selling points and is the direct result of Justin Moon’s design for which he holds five patents. This has been a popular pocket-carry backup gun for the New York police as well as many civilians over the years.

  • Model: Kahr Arms CW9093
  • Length: 5.42 inches
  • Height: 4 inches
  • Width: 0.90 inch
  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Capacity: 7+1 rounds
  • Features: Semi-automatic, 9mm, 3.6-inch barrel, passive striker block, Browning-type recoil lug, locked breech, double-action-only, textured polymer grips, integral steel rails molded into the frame, black polymer frame, 416 stainless steel slide, and drift-adjustable white bar-dot combat sights
  • MSRP: $485

Rock Island MAPP

This lightweight, low-recoil firearm is chock full of features. This mid-size (full-size grip) semi-auto pistol is built with a steel slide, lightweight polymer frame, and polymer grips. The RIA MAPP features a 16-round capacity and a durable Parkerized finish.

Rock Island MAPP 9mm semi-automatic handgun
Rock Island MAPP

The MAPP Series pistols provide everything you want at the price you want to pay — all with the backing of Rock Island Armory. This is a pistol I have known about and used for years as the EAA Witness. An Italian company, Tanfoglio, makes the parts for both guns. Rock Island assembles the MAPP in the Philippines.

  • Model: Rock Island Armory / Armscor 51656
  • Length: 7.48 inches
  • Height: 5.31 inches
  • Width: 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.65 pounds
  • Capacity: 16+1 rounds
  • Features: Double-action/single-action pistol, 9mm Luger, 3.6-inch barrel, 6-groove rifling, 1:16-inch twist rate, integrated front sight, snag-free (police standard) rear sight, Picatinny accessory rail, single-action trigger (4–7 pounds), double-action trigger (14–15) pounds, steel slide (Parkerized finish), and polymer frame (black)
  • MSRP: $499


The Sarsilmaz B6 is a Turkish-made, single/double-action, semi-automatic pistol designed to provide you with reliable service for many years to come. Based on the iconic CZ 75 design, the SAR B6 features a polymer frame and steel slide. The polymer frame is easy to grip and provides a high bore axis grip. I have considerable experience with this gun. I have recommended, and sold, a bunch of them to new concealed carry clients. It is a great gun and a joy to shoot. Although the MSRP is $429, street prices are typically under $350.

SAR B6 9mm semi-auto handgun, right profile
  • Model: SAR USA B69ST
  • Length: 8.1 inches
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Width: 1.1 inches
  • Weight: 28.2 ounces
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds
  • Features: 9mm Luger, 4.5-inch barrel, single/double-action, 17-round capacity, fixed sights, manual thumb safety, external hammer, polymer frame, and steel slide
  • MSRP: $429

Taurus TH9C

While Taurus is known for its striker-fired G2, G3, and G4 models, I’ve always been drawn to the hammer-fired TH series. Taurus makes these in full and compact sizes. They are chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W and decked in O.D., cyan, gray, tan, or black. The 9mm holds 17+1 rounds, and the .40 S&W features a 15+1-round capacity. As for size, these hammer-fired guns compare to the striker-fired G3 models.

Taurus TH9 9mm semi-automatic pistol
Taurus TH9
  • Model: Taurus 1-TH9041-3X10
  • Length: 7.72 inches
  • Height: 5.98 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 28.2 ounces
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds
  • Features: Semi-auto, hammer fired, double/single-action, 9mm luger, 4.27-inch stainless steel barrel, Novak drift-adjustable front and rear sight, manual safety and decocker, firing pin block, loaded-chamber indicator, polymer frame with finger groves, adjustable backstraps, front and rear cocking serrations, steel alloy slide, picatinny accessory rail, and ambidextrous safety/magazine release
  • MSRP: $381.67

Steyr Arms M9-A2

Steyr is an Austrian company that has been building dependable and iconic firearms since 1864. It is most often recognized for its unmistakable AUG rifle. Steyr designed this handgun with a 4-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, steel slide with front and rear cocking serrations, and a distinctive trapezoid sight that provides a unique but quick-to-acquire sight picture.

Steyr M9-A2 handgun, right profile
Steyr M9-A2

The frame presents an optimal grip angle making the pistol extremely pointable. Combined with the aggressive texture, it sits well in the hand. All of this is built on a modular chassis system that is designed to be flexible and reliable. Color choices include black and green. The Steyr M9-A2 is offered in two sizes, full and compact.

  • Model: Steyr 78.225.2H0
  • Length: 7.4 inches
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 27.5 ounces
  • Capacity: 17+1 rounds
  • Features: Semi-auto, striker-fired, 9mm luger, 4-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, Steyr trapezoid sight, drop and firing pin safeties plus a manual key lock, modular polymer frame with adjustable side plates and backstraps, front and rear cocking serrations, steel slide, enhanced grip angle with low bore axis, picatinny accessory rail, 5-pound trigger pull with trigger reset system, and black Mannox finish
  • MSRP: $745

I could probably keep going, and I imagine many of you could add other carry guns to my list. It’s interesting how certain manufacturers can introduce guns that get great publicity, while other carry guns that are just as good (sometimes even better) are not widely recognized for their quality.  Perhaps we can change some of that by touting our favorites here.

What say ye, shooters? Are there other carry guns that out there that you’d love to tell our readers about? What is your experience, if any, with the carry guns I’ve mentioned here? Share your answers in the comment section.