Pocket carry may not be the fastest method of concealed carry, but it certainly can be effective. There are times when carrying a full size pistol or even a compact gun inside the waistband (IWB) isn’t a good option. A small gun is going to be easy to conceal. In those instances, pocket carry might be your best bet. That means you’ve got to pick the best pocket pistol for your circumstances.
Is a Semi-automatic or Revolver The Best Pocket Pistol?
When you’re trying to pick the best pocket pistol, you need to first decide what action type you want. There are options for both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols that fit into a pocket. Although, that can also depend a bit on the size of your pocket. Tight fitting jeans aren’t going to accommodate a gun, so you need to bear that in mind when you’re picking a pocket holster.
That being said, the best pocket pistol is going to be determined by your circumstances. Let’s say your normal every day carry (EDC) is a Glock 19. It might make sense to select a similar pistol, and the Glock 42 in 380 ACP would make a lot of sense as gun to slide into your front pocket in that situation.
However, small revolvers such as the Ruger LCR or different flavors of Smith & Wesson’s ever popular J-Frame have a lot to offer here. The rounder shape of a revolver breaks up the outline of the gun in the pocket better than a flat semi-auto pistol. Additionally, the small revolver’s heavy trigger is actually an advantage for pocket carry, since it’s much more difficult to negligently discharge.
Picking a Holster for the Best Pocket Pistol
There are actually a lot of really great holster options for small pocket guns. The Simply Rugged Force Options Pocket holster comes very highly recommended. However, if you don’t want to wait, another great choice is the Galco Pocket Protector. The Galco offering is available for a large number of handguns, so it makes a good choice as a first pocket holster.
Regardless of what holster you select, the holster for your pocket pistol must meet certain qualities. Most importantly, it needs to prevent the trigger from being accessed or pressed through your pants or shorts. There are far too many reports of guns in pockets “going off” because fabric bunched up in the trigger guard.
Do’s and Don’ts for Pocket Carry
With that in mind, let’s talk about some things you should and shouldn’t do when you’re carrying. Regardless of what you believe the best pocket pistol is, sticking by these guidelines will help keep you safe. First, once you’ve selected your gun and holster, the only item that goes in that pocket is the gun and holster. No keys, no flashlights, nothing. The gun pocket is for the gun.
One good thing to do before you try pocket carry in the real world is try it around the house. Try it sitting, standing, etc. In a safe environment with an unloaded gun, try some dry fire draws to get accustomed to what it feels like. One of the best advantages of pocket carry is that you can start with your hand on the gun and no one is the wiser.
What is the Best Pocket Pistol?
As mentioned, a lot of what makes a gun good or bad is pretty subjective. So instead of saying “this is the best, get it” we’re going to give you six recommendations on what we think could be the best pocket pistol for concealed carry.
1. The S&W 340PD
Extremely popular as a backup gun, the S&W 340PD epitomizes the ideal revolver for pocket carry. It’s supremely light, so it won’t weigh you down. While personally we’d recommend avoiding them, it can fire powerful 357 Magnum rounds. While the entire concept of handgun stopping power is largely a myth, some might find the ability to carry Magnums to be comforting. However, you’re better off with a light 38 Special load.
2. Glock 42
We mentioned the Glock 42 above, and for good reason. If you’re a die-hard Glock shooter, and there are lots of you out there, this is your go-to for a pocket gun. It checks all the boxes, and really the only way it could be better was if was a 32 ACP instead of a 380 ACP. Speaking of…
3. The Beretta Tomcat
The Tomcat lineup of pistols are GREAT pocket pistols. Their tip-up barrel is more than just a party trick. It allows users with even the weakest of hands to easily load the pistol, and also visually verify that it’s loaded. The 32 ACP chamberinghas a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window, and the DA trigger offers the same additional safety as a revolver. The only downside to the Tomcat are the sights. The rear sight is small, and the front sight is barely there.
4. Ruger LCR 327 Federal Magnum
All of the double-action only LCRs are good choices for pocket carry. What moves the 327 Fed Mag model into the territory of best pocket pistol is its chambering. This capable little gun has a decent double action trigger. However, it can also chamber and fire 32 Magnum, and also 32 S&W Long. This gives you a huge variety of cartridges to pick from. The ultra-low recoil of 32 S&W Long makes this gun a dream to shoot, and even with 32 Magnum it’s pretty pleasant. The LCR series of pistols also enjoy a front sight that’s easier to see than most other guns in the small compact pistol segment.
5. The Kel-Tec P32
This might be the best product Kel-Tec has ever made. It’s not the flashiest, the most interesting, but it’s absolutely the most useful. The P32 ushered in the modern pocket pistol era by combining the features of pocket sized pistols like the Beretta Tomcat with modern polymer construction. It’s absolutely fantastic, and thanks to its 32 ACP chambering, far more pleasant to shoot than its big brother the P3AT, or the Ruger LCPs.
6. Taurus 380 Revolver
Normally we’re not big fans of pocket revolvers chambered in semi-auto calibers (for a number of reasons) but the Taurus 380 revolver is actually quite clever. The problem with small 9mm revolvers is that recoil is closer to 357 Magnum territory than 38 Special. The Taurus 380 solves this with a 380 ACP chambering. A possible drawback is the aggressive grip texture on the rubber grips. This can be solved by switching to aftermarket grips. Plus, it has a bobbed hammer, which aids in a slick draw from the pocket. It definitely belongs on a list that’s trying to find the best pocket pistol.
What the Best Pocket Pistol Isn’t
You might have noticed that there are few things missing on that list. For example, there are no single action firearms, either semi-autos or revolvers. While guns like the NAA Minis are certainly cool from an engineering standpoint, their single action manual of arms renders them nearly useless for pocket carry. Single action autos are similarly handicapped, as their small size makes disengaging something like a thumb safety difficult. The best pocket pistol on the market is going to be a double action revolver or a double action/striker fired semi-auto with a long trigger pull.
No matter what you choose, it’s important to practice with your carry gun. If you’re carrying a pocket pistol, you’re going to have to accept that the gun will be more difficult to shoot than a full sized pistol. That’s okay…as long as you practice with it. For all you know, you might have to face off against an active shooter in a grocery store with your J-frame. Sadly, not all self-defense shootings occur at close range. After all, the whole point of carrying pistols for self defense is to be prepared for the unknown.