Why are short barrel guns marketed as “more concealable?”

One of the things that my continuing experiment with concealing a big handgun (Ruger GP100) has shown is that concealing the barrel is the easy part. Due to the way barrel lengths are measured, a 4 inch wheeliegun has just as much barrel to conceal as a 5 inch 1911. That’s not the hard part about concealment.

caleb carry position

This is how I’m carrying right now. What do you think in this carry position is the hardest part to conceal? The barrel? Or the cylinder, frame, and stocks? It’s definitely the latter, because the barrel of any gun just sort of disappears down the holster if you’re using an IWB. So why then do we get these little guns with three inch barrels and full size grips marketed as “concealable?”


  1. I’ve wondered the same thing. I carry my G34 on occasion, and the grip is the issue, not the longish slide. I typically carry a Glock 19, and think a thinned, single-stack G19 would probably be my ultimate carry gun — not a hard-to-handle toy with a 3″ barrel featuring a grip just a hair too short for even my smallish hand.

    I think Springfield nodded at this reality when they recently issued the XD-S 4″ single-stack.

    1. I agree, and i just wish we would start seeing some full length barrels from some other manufacturers – S&W, Kahr, etc…

  2. I am no expert, but as a daily CC holder I’ve come to learn its not just barrel people consider when labeling, looking, and/or purchasing their EDC “concealable” pistol or revolver. Width, weight and comfort level matter significantly to many folks, myself included. The S&W Shield (i.e. 3 inch barrel you mention) is extremely easy to conceal, let alone their even shorter and lighter Bodyguard. Full size grips and magazines is a bit debateble, because I own these and both have neither. (with flush magazines on the 2nd point) That Ruger GP100 sure looks like a good time to shoot, but most folks I know wouldn’t carry it daily. Not because it’s not a reliable firearm, or everyone is a sheep to marketing, but because Ruger (and of course most others) offer CHOICE to the consumer. When longer barrels ruled the day, police and citizens reflected that.

  3. The issues to be resolved, are conceal ability and comfort. Our clothing, body size/shape and how we carry the firearm also contribute to the choice. Personally I like all metal vs polymer in most cases, I prefer short barrels and small grips with finger extensions. I usually carry IWB and don’t like a barrel much over 3″ as they then begin to poke or rub against my bones or skin as I walk or drive. I would imagine that may be the issue that the short barrel resolves for certain types of carry and bodies. If I am carrying OWB in cooler weather under a jacket, then full size isn’t an issue, though I still prefer single stack grip thickness and a barrel around 4 1/4″ or less; 1911 with round heel works nice. When I put on my firearm and clothes I look in the mirror, bend down, turn around, bend over and see what looks unusual. Yes, it is always the grip with a full size weapon, but the barrel if too long is an irritation. I can carry a 1911 with 3″ barrel comfortably IWB, I cannot carry a double stack or revolver except for J-frame size.

  4. The same marketing philosophy that inspired such masterpieces as the Taurus Judge and the Heizer DoubleTap.

    Meanwhile, serious gun makers are introducing single stacks left and right, and the bobtail 1911 is no longer a custom or boutique production specialty – Para, Sig, Kimber, S&W – all have catalog production bobtails and or roundbutts.

  5. Because we are thought of as dumb-ss consumers that will believe anything the so called experts say when it means big bucks.You could conceal a 94 winchester if you had to.The problem is no one has yet made a holster I’m aware of that pulls the gun butt into the body close, MTAC,Galco and Crossbreed have tried with pretty fair results but no cigar for excellence yet.The problem is merely pivotal yet elusive.

  6. God this. I’m amazed by how few guns there are with a 4″ barrel and compact frame, you’d think there’d be plenty. The XDs 4.0 is a step in the right direction and I wish more manufacturers would realize that.

  7. Not everyone carries AIWB or even IWB. That barrel length suddenly becomes important when carrying OWB. I know, I know, everyone should carry like you do or they are a dumbshit hilljack, amIright?

  8. I carry my m&p9c in a full size IWB holster from CCC. I think that the longer holster actually helps me to conceal the grip better. Doesn’t let the grip roll out as much and I don’t have to ratchet my belt down quite as tight.

    I wish the major manufacturers would offer factory longslide compacts, but I can see where they might not sell in large numbers. I don’t think I would have wanted one until after some years of experience carrying IWB.

  9. Im 5’6″ and muscular so a short barrel is easier for me to conceal. There’s very little room between my waist and where my hip curves back out. I definitely hear what you’re saying about stock and width, although wearing a slightly loose shirt takes care of the problem for me. The frame of my build hides a .40 XD double stack width grip and length very well. If I was thin or fat it would definitely be a problem. I normally carry my full size 13 round grip mags (as oppposed to the short 10 round as it is the old subcompact design) without a problem. Im interested in a 9mm gun with a slightly longer barrel though.

  10. I carried a 4″ S&W Model 10 IWB for about a year and mostly had no troubles aside from not really being able to sit down comfortably without jabbing myself; Eventually that became enough of an issue that I switched to an SP101 and haven’t looked back (thought the K frame is definitely my favorite revolver to shoot). So no there’s no real issue concealing a service-sized gun, but why go to all that trouble?

  11. same problem. Its the butt of the gun that makes it so difficult to conceal, and the over all length, combined with bust and hips makes a full size revolver an issue under cover! But have done it with the right holster!

  12. The bottom line: they are marketed as such because they can be. You as with most anything in life, are the ultimate judge of the choices you make (when choices are available).

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