Summer Carry Pistol Options
For everything, there is a season and for warm weather there are some great summer carry guns out there. As conditions get warmer, certain firearms (usually the big ones!) get a bit less appealing to tote around every day and as a result, switching to a smaller piece is a smart move.
Heck, a lot of people do it.
So, if you’re looking to a warm-weather counterpart to a favored winter carry pistol, here are 7 fantastic guns for summer carry that can bring the heat when needed.
Sig Sauer P938
Sig made their reputation on their service pistols, but their subcompacts have made huge impacts among concealed carriers; one of the most popular is the Sig Sauer P938.
The P938 is a slightly up-sized version of the Sig P238, as they are basically the same gun. It’s just that the P938 is chambered in 9mm instead of .380. Both are somewhat reminiscent of the Colt Mustang, as all three have a similar design.
The P938 (as is the P238 and the Colt Mustang) are heavily 1911-inspired, appearing to be a half-size version though sans grip safety. Carry can be done with either the hammer let down manually, requiring cocking before the first shot, or by carrying cocked and locked.
It holds 6+1 of 9mm, but is small enough to carry in a pocket if need be – though a pocket holster is strenuously recommended. It absolutely disappears in an IWB holster. The shooting dynamics belie the small size, but be ready for the Sig Sauer premium as base models go for $700 or more in most stores.
One of the best summer carry guns is one of the best-selling carry guns of all time: the J-frame snub-nose revolver. It’s certainly the standard by which a concealed carry revolver is judged and happens to be the longest-lived example of the breed with production having commenced in the 1950s.
A J-frame holds 5 of .38 Special or .357 Magnum (or 8 of .22 LR) and a number of features to choose from. You can get a J-frame with a standard hammer, shrouded hammer or double-action only. Frame materials include blued steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium or scandium for incredible lightness – some models weigh less than a pound unloaded. Some even come with Crimson Trace lasers.
Barrel length is 1.8 inches as standard, but go up to 3 inches on select models.
What you’ll spend depends on the model – they start under $500 but go up from there – but in any case, you get a snubbie second to none. You can carry one in nearly any fashion with ease.
The Baby Glock – the Glock 26 – is one of the most popular CCW pistols on the market and for good reason. It’s small enough to easily conceal, standing less than 5 inches tall, under 7 inches long and only 1.18 inches wide. It’s light, at just under 22 ounces unloaded. It also carries 10+1 of 9mm, though more can be added with an extended magazine.
Glock people argue constantly over whether the 19 or the 26 is better for carry, but the smaller dimensions of the Glock 26 make it easier to conceal with less in terms of clothing – and that makes it a fantastic summer carry gun.
Nearly any gun store is going to have it and a bounty of aftermarket support ensure that you can alter or improve basically anything on this gun. A lot of people reckon it’s the perfect carry pistol.
S&W M&P Shield
Besides the Glock 26, one of the other guns reckoned by many to be close to the perfect carry gun is the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. The Shield is technically closer to a platform than an individual pistol, as it’s offered in 3 chamberings: 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The .45 ACP version is slightly bigger, but the format is the same: slim, single-stack poly striker pistol.
All chamberings of the S&W Shield are known for similar attributes. The Shield is known for shooting better than it should given the small size, running reliably and digesting nearly any ammunition fed to it, and carrying very easily.
Doesn’t hurt that you can pick them up in most gun stores for about $300 either.
These attributes have made the Shield one of the most popular CCW pistols on the market. While a bit too large for pocket carry, most holsters hide a Shield with ridiculous ease.
Officer Frame 1911
Some people, after all, prefer old-school pistols and a Officer-frame 1911 is definitely that. The typical Officer 1911 has a 3.5-inch barrel and the frame is cut down to an overall height of 4.5 inches or somewhere thereabouts. Combined with the slim width of the 1911 to begin with (most are about 1.2 inches at the grip and around 0.8 inches at the slide) and you have a slimmed-down compact powerhouse.
There are some drawbacks, of course. First – it’s a 1911, meaning it’s still going to be heavy; Officer pistols typically weigh closer to 2 pounds than 1. When chambered in .45 ACP, carrying capacity is usually 6+1. Carrying should be done in Condition One, which not everyone is a fan of. Also, budget-friendly examples – while out there – aren’t necessarily the most abundant.
That said, if you like an old-school gun that packs a punch but hides well with a decent holster…this is an excellent example. Just make sure to have a good gun belt. It’s easily concealed inside or outside the waistband.
Ruger LCP And LC9
The Ruger LCP and LC9 family of pistols have been a runaway success for Ruger, who branched out and away from their former P series of service pistols and big revolvers into the concealed carry market. They have quickly become one of the most popular pocket pistols available and are well worth the look.
The original LCP is a pocket .380 with a DAO trigger and few in the way of features but it is an example of a simple thing done well, as a lot of reviews found it to be one of the better shooters of the segment. Then, a slightly larger version – the LC9 – was released in 9mm Para. There’s also a slightly larger version in .380, the LC380, great for those with larger hands.
However, Ruger decided to offer some extra features, and launched the LCP II and phasing out the LC9 in favor of the LC9s. The difference is the latter two are offered with a striker-fired firing mechanism and an integrated trigger safety rather than relying on a hard DA trigger, yielding a lighter trigger pull. The exteriors have also been revised; the LC9s and LC380 both feature adjustable sights that can be upgraded if desired. Sights on older models require remachining the slide.
What you get depends on what you’re willing to part with – the base LCP starts at about $250 MSRP and it goes up from there, but tops out around $500.
Springfield Armory XD Subcompact
One of the most popular double-stack subcompacts out there is the Springfield Armory XD Subcompact, holding 13+1 of 9mm or 9+1 of .40 S&W in a seriously compact pistol. Overall length is just 6.25 inches, height is 4.75 inches and width is a svelte 1.2 inches and it weighs in at only 26 ounces with an unloaded flush-fit magazine. Like many comparable pistols, there are extended magazines available as well.
The XD is rather spartan, though folks who like bells and whistles can upgrade to the XD Mod2, which is offered in the same size – just with more stuff!
Springfield doesn’t advertise prices, but you can expect to pick one up in the neighborhood of $400 or so.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.