What exactly defines a concealed carry handgun? Is it size, weight or capacity? Almost any handgun can be carried concealed, depending upon the user’s holster and outerwear, so is there one definitive example? The answer is yes, and even after more than a century it still stands up as the one gun most people can easily visualize—the Colt 1911 Government Model. This 104-year-old design has become one of the most prolific semi-auto pistols in the world and has been copied by more armsmakers than any other. The 1911 has inspired variations by Kimber, Nighthawk, Para USA, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Remington and Taurus, among others, as well as custom-built models by Wilson Combat and others. And lest we forget the originator, Colt, which presently has its latest 1911 version, the M45A1 Close Quarters Battle Pistol, in the hands of elite U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations units. This is the original concealed carry semi-auto handgun, and in this category 1911s dominate in a variety of calibers, not just .45 ACP.
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Government-sized semi-autos also include contemporary designs such as the Glock (one of the most commonly carried sidearms for law enforcement), Beretta (which manufacturers this nation’s standard issue 9mm military sidearms) and Sig Sauer (the standard sidearm of NCIS and other military and federal agencies). Concealed carry handguns also encompass traditional revolvers, which, for the first 70 years of the last century, were the preferred handgun of law enforcement and civilians alike. The venerable large caliber revolver remains as much a staple of this category as the 1911.
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The principal advantages to any of the handguns in this category are familiarity of design, more heft and far more manageable recoil in most standard calibers. The category also features a tremendous variety of makes and models and greater standard capacity. Today, the majority of modern 1911-style semi-autos average eight rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber, and there are extended-capacity magazines available for most 1911-based semi-autos as well. For revolvers, you will find a great selection of famous makes and models, time-honored designs and calibers that are as capable in this century as they were in the last.
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